7 Reasons Communication Goes Wrong and What To Do About Them

Frankie Kemp

21 December 2023

Communication is the key to success in any field, especially in tech. But sometimes, communication can go wrong, causing misunderstandings, conflicts, and missed opportunities.

Here are seven common reasons why communication misfires and how to put them right.

1. You say one thing, but they hear another.

Sometimes, what you say is not what they hear. This can happen because of different interpretations, assumptions, or expectations. For example, you say “I’ll do it later” but they hear “I don’t care”.

How to put it right: be clear and specific about what you mean and what you want. Use concrete examples and evidence to support your points. Check for understanding and feedback from the other person.  Don’t assume people understand. Making them show you is one way you can test this. Look at this clip from the TV series, ‘House’:

2. Your body language is saying one thing, but your lips are saying another.

Sometimes, your body language is not consistent with your words. This can happen because of nervousness, stress, or dishonesty. For example, you say “I’m fine” but your body language is showing signs of discomfort or anxiety.

How to put it right: be aware of your body language and how it affects your message. Using gestures in tandem with emotions and intentions helps to prevent misunderstanding.  Helping clients align body language with their words and meaning is something that we explore in communication skills training.  

3. Your communication style is not aligned with theirs.

Sometimes, your communication style is not compatible with theirs. This can happen because of different personalities, preferences, or backgrounds. For example, you are a direct and assertive communicator, but they are more subtle in their communication.

How to put it right: making an effort to understand and adapt to different communication styles is an aspect covered on my influence skills training courses and coaching. By learning to recognise and respect the other person’s communication style and preferences, you can more easily convey your intention in a way that maintains rapport and drives your message home, adjusting your tone, pace, and level of detail accordingly.

4. You dodge situations rather than dealing with them.

Sometimes, your communication is too avoidant or evasive for the other person. This can happen because of fear, insecurity, or conflict-avoidance. For example, you say “yes” when your body screams a big NO.

How to put it right: be honest and courageous in your communication. Express your opinions and needs clearly and confidently. Say “no” when you need to, without feeling guilty or apologetic.

5. You don’t bother trying to speak up as you can’t see the point.

Sometimes, your communication is too passive or silent for the other person. This can happen because of low self-esteem, lack of motivation, or indifference. For example, you don’t bother trying to speak up as you can’t see the point: missing out on opportunities? Feel like you’re being overlooked? Maybe because they forgot you’re there.

How to put it right: be proactive about your visibility if you don’t want to miss out or get side-lined. Share your ideas and insights with others. Make yourself visible and they’ll see you’re valuable.

6. You don’t tell Senior Management or others about your achievements.

Sometimes, your communication is too modest or humble for the other person. This can happen because of cultural norms, false modesty, or imposter syndrome. For example, you don’t tell Senior Management or others about your achievements as you think they’re not worth mentioning.  Another common reason is the assumption that what you’ve accomplished speaks for itself.  This isn’t necessarily true.  Those that need to know may be outside your immediate circle.

How to put it right: have some confidence in your communication.  Here’s how to share accomplishments with others without being a bragger. Highlight your strengths and skills in reviews and promotional interviews, using this structure.

7. You’re assuming a certain knowledge your audience may not have.

Whether you’re in an inter-departmental meeting, a review or presentation, so much of my influence skills training includes talking to mixed audiences.  One instance may be when you’ve someone from the commercial side of the business in a meeting with the technical team: you need to ‘translate’ for them.  Not doing so will cause frustration and confusion.

How to put it right: running a presentation or rationale by someone who doesn’t have your specialism is a handy way of obtaining feedback about your presumptions.  The use of analogies is an excellent way of clarifying the technical or simplifying the complicated – without dumbing down your communication skills.  Here are some more ways you can do exactly that.

These are some of the reasons why communication goes wrong and how to put it right. By improving your communication skills, you can enhance your influence, impact, and career in tech.

Your Action:

  1. Note one of the seven communication issues above.
  2. Look up any links to know more.
  3. Not enough?  Need some more help? Of course you do!
  4. If you want to become a Communication Ninja, my interpersonal communication skills training and coaching will give you the confidence and skills you need to be persuasive in any situation.

I use theatre techniques, psychology and business to make geeks shine with people skills. Be less robot and get in touch here!

Photo by Pixabay

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