Breaking bad communication habits in the workplace - Enspark

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Breaking bad communication habits in the workplace

May 20, 2024

In our last blog post, we explored the importance of active listening and its impact on a team’s effectiveness. We covered: 

  • The benefits of training team members in active listening 
  • The consequences of team members not feeling heard
  • How to listen with both the head and the heart
  • How to practice active listening 

In part two of our active listening series we will look at bad communication habits and how to break them. 

The consequences of bad communication habits in the workplace

In the last post, we looked at the benefits of active listening, including: 

  • Increased levels of trust between co-workers
  • More information obtained from team members
  • Maximized productivity
  • Decreased conflict and misunderstandings

Bad communication, on the other hand, when left unchecked leads to dysfunctional teams in the form of: 

  • Lost trust between team members
  • Disrespect for organizational leadership
  • Unresolvable conflicts
  • Team members becoming uncomfortable to engage with the rest of the team
  • Stressed employees, leading them to mental and physical health issues
  • Confusion about objectives, leading to ineffective teams
  • A lack of diversity in the organization 

Learning how to communicate better takes a lot of intention and is something that can be achieved over time. As with the formation of any habit, it is often taking a look at our bad habits that can help us determine that it is time to make a change. 

Some bad habits to break to improve our listening skills

Deflecting 

Changing the course of the conversation by inserting information about yourself, telling a personal story, or asking an off-topic question. Always keep the focus on what the other person is attempting to communicate.

Advising

Unless directly asked, avoid giving advice when seeking to understand someone. This is particularly important in professional settings.

Assuming

Beware of the danger of making assumptions about what the other person is thinking or what they “really mean.” Assumptions can be related to biases or misperceptions about a particular culture, things you have heard about another person, or because of a person’s communication style. When implemented properly, effective listening should eliminate misunderstandings based on assumptions.

Over-focusing on body language
Avoid relying on body language to make determinations about how a person thinks or feels. Remember, nonverbal queues and habits differ between cultures, sometimes drastically. Rely on your listening skills and the words heard to understand your co-worker.

Give it a try

One easy way to practice your effective listening skills at work is during your Monday morning conversations. When you ask “How was your weekend?” listen to the responses and notice if any communication “bad habits” come up for you. Or, intentionally use your active listening skills. 

Remember, as human beings, we all have the right to have our feelings acknowledged. When team members decide to improve as listeners, not only can conflicts become things of the past, but bridges against differences can be built.


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