8 Bad Communication Habits Often Found With Leaders

The 8 Signs Show That You Are A Bad Communicator

Communication is one of the most important skills in the world today. It is practically impossible to achieve anything without an exchange and understanding of ideas. 

 Communication is central to civilization and everything that human beings have done in historical times and in our contemporary time. 

Productive communication becomes an even more indispensable tool for people and organizations that seek to record impactful outcomes in a profitable manner. Communication is a catalyst for relationship management owing to the critical role it plays in harmonizing varying positions, conflict resolution and other engagements.

Bad communication is a function of many factors but they can be broadly categorized into nurture and nature – nature for innate ability or inability, nurture for the ability acquired through learning. Many people are not self-aware to know that they are bad communicators because they have not been exposed to an environment that has challenged what they perceived to be normal. Possessing great communication skills in today’s world is learnt, it is both a science and an art but there are unmistakable signatures that expose the lack of productive communication – these are eight signs that you are a bad communicator.

  1. Using Universal Statements

There is a world of difference between, “John is a bad person” and “all men are bad people”. The first expression speaks to an opinion (whether accurate or inaccurate) you hold of a particular person based on your experience or engagement with the individual. The second is painting everyone from John’s gender with the same brush. It is clearly an error to define an entire demography by the actions or inaction of one person or a few people; this error in communication is sometimes known as fallacy of composition or fallacy of generalization.

Bad communicators sometimes have great intentions but they fail in using the right language or wording to convey their message. This isn’t necessarily just a function of lack of appropriate vocabulary but a mind-set that is prejudiced and uses unfounded claims to validate such blanket bias.

To be a productive communicator, you need to rid your mind off the biases and prejudices you have about your gender and the other gender; your race and other races, your religion and other religion; your generation and other generation; your country and other countries and other biases that show up in your interaction with others.

  1. Using Harsh Words

Another sign that you’re a bad communicator is your inability to refrain from using words that offend sensibilities. Your unbridled communication, whether spoken or written shows how crude you are and your unwillingness or inability to refine it is a symptom of toxicity. As human beings, left to ourselves we want to operate on our basest instincts and express ourselves in the most unhinged language. However, just like conventional laws that govern our interactions with the world, (rein in these vile predispositions) there are etiquettes of communication and linguistic decorum.

For example, instead of describing a person describing a person as an “idiot”, you can choose to state that the person is “lacking in understanding” regarding the particular subject of discussion. It shows that you do not have a personal spat or hold a grudge against the person but against the actions or inactions of the person. The use of harsh words is also a sign of an unhealthy self-esteem because your choice of words shows that you are projecting your insecurities on others.

  1. Focusing On The Person Not The Issue

You’re a bad communicator when you demonize people instead of addressing their actions or inactions. It smacks of a lack of emotional intelligence when you attack a person’s personality and embark on a campaign of calumny, what you should strive to achieve is a solution not gain an enemy. For example, if your colleague doesn’t have a grasp of a new technology that was introduced to the production process, you should address his or her level of competence; how it is making the entire team operate sub-optimally and what the person can do to get better.

His or her skill level is where the issue is, it has little or nothing to do their character per se. A person can be a great father, husband or son but is a terrible colleague. So by abusing their person instead of the problem, you miss a good chance to find add value. By using disparaging remarks on people, you’re implying that such people are a problem themselves and not that you want their co-operation.

  1. Making Assumptions

Bad communicators are usually indolent when it comes to interrogating issues, if you find yourself becoming lazy to have an open-mind – you are a bad communicator. Such people prefer to go for what they erroneously consider low-hanging fruit of superficial conclusions. Assumptions are at the lowest levels of intelligence, it isn’t only just an ignorant approach to communication but also an arrogant one because you feel too proud to submit yourself to new knowledge about a person or a situation before deciding to take a course of action or not.

For example, most people make unfortunate assumptions about people of colour especially when they are visitors in other countries that have racist culture entrenched there – black people for them are profiled as aggressive, having criminal tendencies and unsophisticated. Also, even among people of color, some make assumptions of superiority when relating with black people from developing countries. Bad communicators harp on such unacceptable stereotypes instead taking time to understand others for who they are.

  1. Being Judgemental Instead of Being A Listener

Bad communicators are prejudiced; they take positions on a matter before hearing the other person’s point of view. You are a bad communicator if you’re more insisted in proving the other person is wrong and that you’re right. Bad communicators usually absolve themselves of all blame and ascribe fault or complicity to the others. When communicating with others, listening is perhaps a much greater virtue than speaking. Listening is a sign that you are giving the other person and opportunity to either confirm or debunk a claim.

In my work with C-level Executives, I have redefined communication as listening, thinking and speaking or not speaking. 

When you are a boss that judges an employee for arriving late to the workplace and sanctions him or her before hearing the reason for such occurrence – you aren’t listening. By choosing to listen, you may find out that there was a road accident involving a vehicle which obstructed the flow of traffic. A simple investigation can show that the employee was being honest and that answer was accurate – especially when that employee isn’t known for being late to the workplace.

  1. Constantly Interrupting The Speaker

Another sign that you’re a bad communicator is your intolerance to other people’s opinion which is exhibited in your constant interruption of their speech. When you don’t regard the opinion of others, you can barely stand when they talk. It is a dismissive disposition by bad communicators to harass and heckle others into silence, they love to hear the sound of their own voice and are quick to shove their thoughts down the throats of others.

It happened a lot during the third and final debate between then presidential aspirants, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton – Trump kept interrupting Clinton and the moderator had to intermittently pause the conversation and reiterate the ground rules. Even though these guidelines were shared ahead of the debate, Trump’s intolerance for any other opinion other than his was visible. As an elected president he continued on the same path and this flaw could have been one of the critical reasons why he lost his re-election bid.

  1. Not Using Proper Eye Contact

Bad communicators either intentionally or unwittingly avoid looking directly into the eyes of their audience. Establishing proper eye contact speaks to many things: first it shows that you’re a person who has nothing to hide. Psychologists deduce that the lack of eye contact can be a sign of deceit or even a lack of confidence. Either way, it erodes the impact of any conversation when the speaker shies away from having an eyeball to eyeball conversation. It shows smartness and confidence when you are negotiating a deal and the other person sees that you’re all in.

For example when you’re making an elevator pitch, the investors aren’t just listening to what you’re saying – there are looking for unspoken answers in your eyes which are said to be windows into a person’s soul. There want to see that you believe in the idea yourself – by constantly maintain such eye contact, you’re making a case for your pitch with more than words.

  1. Negative Body Language

People don’t just hear what you’re saying, they also see what you’re saying. Bad communicators don’t have the awareness that what they are saying with their mouth should align with what they are saying with their body. This is because our non-verbal communication is just as important as our verbal communication. Your mannerisms can sabotage your spoken communication, when the weight of what you’re saying is not matched by your physical disposition – the message will either be diminished or entirely lost.

For example, you made an unforgivable mistake at the workplace and you’re invited to by a disciplinary panel to share your version of events. In your spoken communication, you accepted responsibility for the default, explained the circumstances surrounding the decision you took and asked for leniency with a sincere promise that such will not repeat itself. On paper, you’re saying all the right things but if the panel observes that your body language is out of sync with your words, they may conclude that you not repentant or your apology is performative.

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