How to avoid the Top 10 Communication Mistakes
Your communications both in person and online have a big impact on how you are perceived by clients, customers and prospects. According to a new study of over 260 senior executives, you must be viewed as a leader in order to get promoted into top jobs. That takes “executive presence,” which is defined as having gravitas, excellent communication skills and a polished appearance. I extrapolate that many of the same principles apply to how we conduct our businesses and business communication skills.
Understanding and practicing these skills are essential. In our modern culture that mandates “political correctness,” you get severally penalized for your mistakes, as potential customers and clients cross you off their good lists.
Here is a list of my personal top 10 worst communication mistakes that will instantly derail your hopes for business success:
Online communications can oftentimes become problematic. 1st off it is not always simple to get an accurate understanding of context, emotion or intent from discussions we encounter in cyberspace. Not paying close attention to the details and responding without thinking can get your reputation into deep trouble. I recently sent out a group communication to a Meetup group that I manage. Several members of my group are actually part of another group that I am affiliated with. The Owner of that other group was on the receiving end of my group message. She assumed that I was sending messages trying to poach from her membership. Without thinking, she responded harshly and the entire group got to read her rantings. A simple phone call or private message would have saved her a bunch of embarrassment.
This three-step drill will help avoid your own pitfalls:
Like I mentioned above, our online communications and emails are not especially known for their ability to communicate tone. It is very easy for straightforward messages to be misunderstood. Jotting a short direct response may be a time-saver for you, but also may appear abrupt or snippy to the recipient. While you don't have to pepper your response with emoticons, you should review your email, posts and texts before you hit send to make sure you're not coming across as unintentionally abrasive. Softening a direct response with a salutation (such as "Hi, Joe" or "Great to hear from you, Mary.") or signing off with "thank you" or "best regards" takes a few more key strokes, but can prevent your message from being lost among hurt feelings or annoyance.
Of executives recently surveyed, 72% said racially biased comments are a major blunder for men and 70% said the same for women. This is the top offense for good reason. These remarks easily offend or insult, reflect poor judgment and reveal low emotional intelligence, according to the researchers.
Telling inappropriate jokes makes people uncomfortable, revealing an inability to properly read the audience and environment. On the flip side, 61% of executives believe being able to sense the mood of others and effectively adjust your language, tone and content is one of the top skills required to advance.
It’s important for business leaders to portray gravitas, worldliness and intellectual horsepower. Thus, sounding uneducated will immediately undermine your chances of ascension. One IT manager told the researchers, “I’ve been with bosses who look like they would be competent, and then they blow it when they open their mouths and sound like complete buffoons.”
Many dismiss this item as "old-school," and out dated, but cursing is a gender-neutral faux pas should be avoided. It’s generally considered unprofessional and unfitting of a leader. Interestingly, it’s also a major mistake online, which in itself is a communication minefield. Those polled said the top three online communications blunders are posting unflattering messages about colleagues, posting unprofessional photos and being too personal.
Even though some believe flirting can be a currency in the office, nearly half of executives say it will undercut your professional reputation, regardless of whether you’re a man or woman. Flirting–the subtle suggestion of the possibility, but not the probability, of something sexual occurring between two individuals–can easily be taken the wrong way.
No one wants to read wallowing, complaining or mean-spiritedness. If you engage in this type of communication on a regular basis, you could be hurting your image. At the same time, if you're being authentic and sharing your feelings about a certain matter, it makes you more accessible and people get a better sense of who you are.
Experts say that avoiding eye contact makes it seem like you might be lying or have something to hide. If you’re in a meeting, it may also give the impression that you’re uninterested. On the other hand, looking people in the eyes makes them feel like you’re listening.
If you can’t keep your message succinct and coherent, you won’t appear in control. You also weaken the power and impact of the points you’re trying to make. If you leave spaces around your important thoughts, you give weight and gravitas to what you say.
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