Effective communication is a beautiful thing. When your teammates’ messages are crystal clear, projects run more smoothly, teams work productively, and employees have an easier time relating and connecting with one another.
It’s also hard. When we get caught up with work, life and seemingly never-ending to-do lists, mindful communication can get pushed to the wayside, leading to frustration and inefficiency. Remote work makes it even more challenging. When connecting over email, chat or even Zoom, it can be difficult to gauge reactions and make sure our messages are received as intended.
As you think about your interactions with team members, consider if you’ve made any of these 13 communication mistakes:
- Assuming your preferred communication style is everyone’s preferred style
- Relying too much on one form of communication
- Concealing the purpose
- Not sharing your perspective
- Being unprepared
- Failing to validate feelings
- Avoiding difficult discussions
- Assuming, rather than clarifying, intent
- Not listening
- Creating a communication void
- Getting tunnel vision
- Multitasking in conversation
- Not seeking other ideas and perspectives
If so, try implementing our fixes to enhance your working relationships.
#1 – Assuming your preferred communication style is everyone’s preferred style
It’s natural to lean into your own preferences, especially when working remotely! However, people are more likely to understand your intent and respond productively when you share information in the way they want to receive it.
How to fix it: Remember the Platinum Rule (to do unto others as they would have done unto themselves) and incorporate Emergenetics®. By referencing the Profiles of your team members, you can discover their preferred ways of thinking and behaving and tailor your communication to their needs.
#2 – Relying too much on one form of communication
Over the past several months, I’ve heard of some teams experiencing extreme Zoom fatigue and others who haven’t met in weeks! Neither is ideal. Depending on your Expressiveness preferences, you may be more inclined to use phone and video, or email and messaging. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to communication.
How to fix it: Reflect on the intent of the message – does it require conversation or a simple update? Consider the urgency as well as how your audience prefers to receive information. If your email is long, consider picking up the phone or at least follow up with a call.
#3 – Concealing the purpose
Messages can get lost if the objective isn’t clear, and that clarity is particularly important when connecting with individuals with an Analytical preference who want to understand the bottom line.
How to fix it: In written or verbal communication, state the intent of your message up front so your audience can quickly comprehend what you hope to accomplish with the exchange.
#4 – Not sharing your perspective
While some messages are intended to simply share information, many exchanges should lead to a next step, outcome or resolution. In these instances, inefficiency and confusion can occur when you don’t explain your positions up front.
How to fix it: Clearly state your preferred outcome or opinion. For those in the first-third of Assertiveness, it may be scratchy to be direct if you do not know the interest of others. Try using “I” statements to clarify your preferences and needs as you explore the concerns of other team members.
#5 – Being unprepared
A lack of preparation can show up in communications in small ways (like typos in an email) or large ways (like missing pieces of data in a presentation). Errors may be particularly disengaging for those with a Structural preference who appreciate accurate details.
How to fix it: Reread written messages before you press send and schedule planning time for meetings or presentations to catch errors and prepare. Also, use the Emergenetics template to help anticipate follow-up questions based on the perspectives of each Attribute.
#6 – Failing to validate feelings
In remote working environments where individuals are more isolated and may not see one another, it’s more common to overlook emotive responses. For those with a Social preference, this communication mistake can be particularly difficult as they tend to value feelings as much as facts.
How to fix it: Allow for time, space and, if needed, a sounding board to help your audience to take in information. Provide a safe space for them to share their feelings and empathize.
#7 – Avoiding difficult discussions
It can be easier to dodge challenging conversations in geographically distributed teams where you may not have to interact with a person regularly, and failing to provide feedback that could enhance a working relationship or avoiding bad news only inhibits effective collaboration.
How to fix it: Take time to plan your approach prior to having a difficult conversation. Identify specific, clear examples and keep feedback focused on situations or behaviors rather than a person.
#8 – Assuming, rather than clarifying, intent
When working alone, it’s more common to make up a story in the absence of information than when you are communicating in person. Jumping to conclusions or projecting feelings onto a situation can hurt relationships with colleagues, impede progress on projects and impact our teamwork.
How to fix it: Reflect on the message and identify any gaps that may exist between what was said or written and your understanding. Ask questions to fill those gaps and paraphrase your understanding to make sure that you truly comprehend the message and its intent.
#9 – Not listening
An essential part of successful communication is effective listening. When your colleagues have space to share their thoughts and you actively listen to their input, you can benefit from their insights and ensure all team members are on the same page before moving forward.
How to fix it: When asking for questions or sharing information, try counting to five in your head to give others a chance to speak up. Also, be sure to restate the feedback that others offer to bolster understanding.
#10 – Creating a communication void
With staff working in different locations, siloes may form from a lack of communication as employees worry that they may be oversharing or believe teammates are already aware of changes and project updates.
How to fix it: It’s best to overcommunicate while also setting expectations about how and when information should be shared in your team. Identify norms around chat channels, emails, phone calls and video chat so that your teammates know where to look for updates. After you complete a project or task, you may also consider getting in the habit of asking yourself who (if anyone) needs to know about it.
#11 – Getting tunnel vision
When we get focused on work, we may neglect to connect with colleagues to ensure we’re aligned. This error can lead to inefficiency and frustration, particularly for those in the first-third of Flexibility if work that has been completed needs to be redone to address misunderstandings.
How to fix it: Check in regularly with team members. Share status updates on projects and consider employing project management software to ensure essential information and updates are being shared.
#12 – Multitasking in conversation
Multitasking may be seen as a gift for those in third-third of Flexibility. When it comes to giving or receiving information, , it’s often best to focus your energies on the communication to avoid confusion, mixed messages or irritation.
How to fix it: Shut out distractions. While you may not be able to avoid a dog barking or a child entering the room, don’t worry about those disruptions – they often make coworkers smile anyway. Instead, focus on the things in your control like closing out of email and putting away your phone.
#13 – Not seeking other ideas and perspectives
Remote and hybrid teams may suffer more from a lack of idea sharing as they work independently, which can be particularly challenging for team members with a Conceptual preference. It also can stifle innovation.
How to fix it: Schedule team meetings for brainstorming and major projects. Proactively reach out to team members for their perspectives, especially those who may have a different Emergenetics Profile than you, to bring cognitive diversity to your work.
While it may take a little extra effort to communicate effectively when working remotely, it’s well worth the time and energy! Mindful communication can speed up your work and ensure that you stay connected even if you’re half a world away from your team members.
Pay attention to your habits and refer to the list above. Fixing just one of the mistakes above can have a positive impact on your teams and working relationships.
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