Communication Mistakes in the Workplace
Communication mistakes abound in the corporate arena. One reason for this is that there's a lot of room for error. But a bigger and more insidious cause is a lack of forethought on the part of the communicator. In many companies today, there is an absence of rules governing communication etiquette, which makes it even more important to understand how to convey messages appropriately. Generally, there are three causes of communication etiquette mistakes:
- not understanding your audience
- assuming knowledge on the part of the audience
- not using the appropriate medium
Consider the following voice-mail message, in which several communication errors are made.
"Hi, everybody. This is Mike in facilities. I'm supposed to tell you how to access your mailbox from your phone. So here it is. First get your new voice-mail access number. Then dial that number, and press the message key. Press the key sign when asked for your mailbox number. When asked for your password, dial that and follow it with the number key. Okay, bye."
How would you rate the communication etiquette for Mike's telephone message? Did you think it was appropriate or inappropriate? Did you think he communicated what he wanted to, or did he fail?
While the technical details that Mike communicated to his peers were correct, he failed to anticipate other problems. Some of his peers on the receiving end of his message had the following things to say about his communication style. Their comments address the three causes of communication etiquette mistakes:
- "I think Mike gave us directions over the telephone because he doesn't understand his audience. We're a group of writers who relate best to the written word. He is more verbal, hence the telephone is his medium of choice." As you can see, Mike didn't understand his audience.
- "I'm confused by what he said about getting our 'new voice-mail access number.' What new access number, and where do we get it? There seems to be something missing in Mike's message." One of Mike's mistakes was that he assumed knowledge on the part of his audience.
- "I just couldn't understand Mike's directions. They should have been sent in an e-mail or at least distributed in paper form. That way, those of us with short memories could have read the directions as we were implementing them." In other words, Mike did not use the appropriate medium to convey his message.
Poor Mike. He's intelligent, friendly, and good at his job, and he just confused the heck out of the people he's trying to help. Obviously, there's more to communicating appropriately than simply presenting the facts. When it comes to communication etiquette, it's also necessary to understand your audience, avoid assuming your listeners have knowledge they may not have, and use the right medium.
Of course, there are other ways to spoil communication as well. For example, if you don't plan what you're going to say, conversations or meetings can wander and never touch on important points. It's also important to set a goal when communicating with others. If you fail to plan ahead and fail to set a communication goal, you will wind up confusing and aggravating others, and wasting other people's time.
While errors in communication sometimes may be unavoidable, knowing their causes will naturally lessen their occurrence. An absence of guidelines for communication etiquette doesn't mean you shouldn't worry about communicating appropriately. Instead, by being aware of the major types of communication mistakes, you can take a positive step toward communicating more effectively in your workplace.
Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
- The Five Components of a Communication Model (44.4%)
- Barriers to Effective Communication (33.3%)
- The Communication Process (33.3%)
- Communicating for Clarity and Direction as a Manager (22.2%)
- Integrating Barcode Reader with Siebel Applications (22.2%)
- Handling Interruptions at Work (22.2%)
- Best Practices for Replying to E-mails (22.2%)
- The Use and Impact of Confident Communication Behaviors (22.2%)
- Communication Style and Diplomacy and Tact (22.2%)
- Listening Essentials: The importance of listening (22.2%)