"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place." George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the most powerful leadership discipline in existance. Great leaders influence, motivate and inspire. These activities could simply not be executed on behalf of the leader without excellent communication.
Too often, leaders and professional communicators get trapped in self-deafeating tactics, and fail to influence people in line with their desired goals.
Here is a list of common communication pitfalls that typically work against us. They're not necessarily wrong and at times, difficult to entirely eliminate but the idea is to be conscious of when you and others use them and to not let them get in the way of great communication.
1.Needing to be right
This common trap can come from an innate need to be respected. The desire to be right, at all costs, can be very destructive. You begin to close your mind to other ideas. Innovation occurs at the cross road between two contrasting ideas but if you are not willing to see any other inputs you stagnate creativity. Instead of responding with "No, I think this.." Respond with "Why do you think that?..." You can always learn from everyone around you, you just need to tweak your mindset. Further, when those around you feel included in the decision making it boosts morale and increases productivity in the workplace.
Our basic human instinct of wanting to come across as the most knowledgable can often get in the way of good communication. This tendency often interjects into conversations in the following way "I know", or "I've done that too". This can ruin communication because quite simply it's deflating to be around someone who is impossible to impress. Remember this Zen proverb next time you feel compelled to compete, or rise to someone competing with you in a conversation, "Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”
3. Repetition instead of direction
It's common for people to repeat and reframe when they feel they didn't accurately get their message across. This is a redundant solution. In fact it makes your message less credible. What you should do, is be direct to the person your are communicating with, "I see that you're not responding to this point, is there a reason?" This takes the conversation to a deeper, more connected level and equally ensures more efficient communication.
4. People pleasing
When we see another person "people pleasing", i.e deviating from their beliefs in order to adhere to another, we immediately lose respect for them. Leaders cannot afford to loose this kind of influence. Honesty and authenticity are the key foundations for strong communication. While we all have this innate desire to have other people like us, it’s a question of degree. Ultimately, this is not a communication issue but a self-awareness issue. Leaders must be aware of how they are perceived and of what innate human drivers can hinder their influence to others.