What causes breakdowns in communication?

Have you ever worked somewhere where you felt forgotten? Disrespected? Mocked?

Bad communication can ruin any good working environment. Oftentimes we don’t think too hard about how we are coming across – we’re too busy to focus on our own flaws and needs. But it’s often our own communication habits that are making our lives harder, pushing our colleagues and employees away from us.

Let’s take a look at what causes breakdowns in communication.

Leadership Development

4 reasons for breakdowns in communication

1. Leaders not communicating properly

People model their behaviour after what they see their boss doing. If the boss doesn’t model good communication, then why should the team? Leaders must set a good example, particularly for less experienced employees who may simply be mimicking the behaviour that they think is the norm in the working world. Leadership communication skills are vital to a healthy workplace because they set a precedent, which could be good or bad. Have an open-door policy and that’ll help keep your communication clear and on point.

2. Management keeping everyone out of the loop

Lots of companies take the ‘need to know’ approach to communication but this often translates to someone feeling deliberately left out of the conversation. Team members who are not included in memos, emails, or meetings, for whatever reason, often begin to feel left out and resentful, and thus lose interest in their job. Make sure to include everyone – sometimes the advice of “good communication” needs to be taken literally.

3. Lack of tone awareness

Often, when we don’t watch our tone, we can easily end up patronising our team members. We don’t mean to do it, but it’s nevertheless perceived as such, and many people can take offence. When employees feel inferior because they’re being spoken to as if they’re unable to keep up, they can put a guard up and go on the defensive with us – even if you’re the one who is trying to help them. Always watch your tone.

4. Saying too much or too little

When we talk and talk, the important details get blurred, and things get lost in the haze. On the other end of the spectrum but similarly enough, when we don’t say enough, the details also get lost – as they never come out in the first place! Never assume that the person you’re talking to already knows the parts that you’re not saying, and don’t waste anyone’s time with extended word salads. Your employees are fully competent, but they are not mind readers. Make your points clearly, and then move on. 

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Once you know where to start, improving communication skills is easy – all it takes is a little practice, and the rewards you reap can be huge. Find out more about communication skills training for a better business life – just click here.

Leadership Development