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6 Communication Mistakes You’re Probably Making—And How to Fix Them

Stef Ziev  |  July 5, 2023

Making sure you're understood isn’t always easy. Here are ways to fix some of the communication mistakes you’re probably making.

Effective communication is the backbone of building and maintaining healthy and productive relationships, personally and professionally. When done with intent, a partnership is created, and doors open for collaboration. An explicit sharing of ideas allows people to feel more connected, and better equipped to resolve conflict and create solutions. Unfortunately, many people unknowingly communicate in ways that can hinder all of this. Here’s a look at six major communication mistakes you might be making — and strategies to fix them. 

Lack of active listening

One of the most common mistakes in communication is failing to listen actively to the person speaking. Instead of being present and fully engaging in the conversation, people often focus on formulating their response while the other person is talking. To improve your listening skills, practice giving your undivided attention to the speaker. Avoid distractions, maintain eye contact, and listen from the perspective that this is an opportunity to be fascinated by another. Show interest by reflecting back what you’re hearing and asking relevant questions. By doing so, you create a supportive environment and demonstrate that you value the speaker’s thoughts and opinions.

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Making assumptions

Assuming you know what someone is thinking or is going to say before they finish speaking can lead to misunderstandings and create friction. Instead, practice coming from a beginner’s mind and suspend judgment until you’ve heard them through. Then, from a place of curiosity, ask clarifying questions and encourage the speaker to elaborate on their thoughts. This approach ensures that you are seeking to understand their point of view and allows room for possibilities.

Using ambiguous language

Vague or unclear language can also result in a disconnect and miscommunication. Strive for clarity by being specific and concise in expressing your needs or requests. Be mindful of your choice of words, and if necessary, provide examples or further explanations to ensure your message is understood accurately. Check for alignment by asking the listener to summarize or paraphrase what you said. 

Ignoring nonverbal cues

Communication is not just about words. Nonverbal language plays a significant role as well. Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, and the energy of a room, as they often convey additional information or emotions that will inform the best way for you to communicate effectively. Likewise, be aware of your own nonverbal cues and ensure they are in sync with your intended message. If you notice any inconsistencies, adjust accordingly.

Lack of empathy

Empathy is essential for effective communication. Failing to consider and appreciate the emotions and standpoint of others can lead to rifts in communication, which may lead to rifts in relationships. Practice empathy by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, acknowledging their feelings, and responding with compassion. Call people IN vs. calling them OUT, by validating their experiences and show that you genuinely care about their thoughts. Empathy creates connection and can quickly shift communication for the better.

Poor feedback delivery

Providing feedback in a constructive, respectful, and kind manner is vital for fostering healthy communication and development. Avoid criticizing, blaming, or shaming others or making it personal, and focus on specific behaviors or situations. Use “I” statements to express your observations or concerns, as this helps to avoid sounding accusatory. Additionally, offer suggestions for improvement and be open to receiving feedback yourself. Frame feedback as an opportunity for growth and use it as a gateway for partnership. “How can I help you implement this feedback?” It also always helps to begin delivering feedback by sharing what you appreciate about this person and what’s working. 


By recognizing and addressing these common communication errors, you can enhance your ability to connect with others, build stronger relationships, and minimize misunderstandings. Remember, effective communication is a skill that can be developed with practice and mindfulness. And this begins with your choice to do so. The more we choose to show up with this intent to communicate in healthy ways, the more peace, trust, understanding and compassion there will be in our homes, workplaces, communities and beyond. 

The power is in your hands. What will you choose?


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