3 Communication Mistakes That Destroy Your Believability & How To Prevent Them

Image Source: pexels-photo-1138245

The importance of communication skills in our day-to-day life cannot be underestimated.” — Mahtab Alam Quddusi, The Scientific World

Your most important asset in relationships and reputation is your credibility.  

This is true in all areas of life, at work or outside work. And, it’s true whether you are communicating through actions, words, or decisions. In every aspect of our lives, no matter where we are, our messages either strengthen, weaken or maintain our credibility.  

There is a striking interdependence between our quality of life and the quality of our communication. It affects the way people perceive your believability. It even influences your likeability.

Building credibility takes time, but, as we know, it can be damaged or even lost due to a single inaccuracy, misunderstanding, or breach of trust. 

Research Identifies 3 Mistakes That Impact Other People and Damage Your Credibility

  1. Inaccuracy
  2. Ambiguity
  3. Inadequacy

In the workplace, we need others to want to work with us. Colleagues depend on our communication to do their jobs effectively. When we provide inaccurate information, omit key details, muddle the delivery resulting in unclear or confusing messages, and fail to follow through, we’re creating a breakdown in communication.  

You’ll Prevent These Mistakes by Focusing on 3 Priorities

Image Source: immo-wegmann-DX3_dXuHVl8-unsplash

  1. Accuracy
  2. Clarity
  3. Continuity

   1. Accuracy

Accuracy is vital. Accuracy is about truthfulness and factual correctness. Relaying inaccurate information is putting your credibility at peril. We take unnecessary risks when we don’t take the time to fact-check our information before we deliver it.

Accuracy also includes details. Grammar is important for both oral and written communication. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation need to be among your communication priorities.

Small mistakes often lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Further, these types of errors imply a lack of caring about Accuracy.

To ensure Accuracy, take steps such as these:

  • Verify the truth and correctness of what you’re going to communicate.
  • Confirm and improve your knowledge of grammar by taking a course or purchasing using an educational workbook such as “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation” by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern. 
  • Use tools such as Grammarly to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation; use a plagiarism checker such as Plagiarism Detector to make sure you haven’t used any quotes that require permission. 

2. Clarity

Keeping our communication free of ambiguity and mixed messages will help ensure that people can interpret your words with confidence that they understand your message fully. Communicating concisely and focusing on expressing your key points helps your audience quickly and easily find take-aways. Rambling can defeat your purpose by causing important points to be lost among other details, causing your audience to become distracted or stop listening.

Tailoring your communication to your audience makes it interesting and easily understood. Tailoring includes choosing vocabulary, terminology, and content others view as relevant.

Don’t assume that others process information the same way you do. For example, do you prefer people state the bottom line first and then follow with the background information? Organizing information this way enables deductive thinking. You can provide for Inductive thinking by sharing the background information, allowing the recipient to experience the thought process first, leading up to the bottom line.

Organize your communication to fit their preferences. At work, consider shaping your message to add value for people who have different needs, expectations, and different uses for the information. 

To ensure Clarity, take steps such as these:

  • Prepare in advance. Write down your purpose in communicating; be specific. What is your central idea? What key messages do you want them to hear, understand and lock into their minds?
  • Consider your audience. Ask yourself questions such as these:  
  •  How will the information you’re sharing be used?  
  • Should you include context or background information? 
  • Is there specialized language such as acronyms or terminology?
  • Once you’ve written your message, review it for conciseness. Remove filler and clutter by cutting out unnecessary words or details. Use an editing app, such as the Hemingway App or Grammarly.
  • Bullet points and headings make it easier to read and highlight important information and action items.
  • If you will be communicating vocally, practice to help express your thoughts out loud. Listen to your voice. Practice helps organize your thoughts, speak from the heart and mind, and polish your speech. Practicing will cue you to speak at an adequate volume and avoid speech mannerisms that detract from your message, such as mumbling or talking too fast.

3. Continuity

Communication needs to flow adequately and smoothly in all directions. Proper repetition and frequency create consistency and open doors to two-way dialog. Continuity ensures mutual understanding and provides opportunities for discussion of questions and concerns. It enables people to build awareness of help address unexpected issues or obstacles and to enjoy recognizing progress together. It keeps people connected.

To ensure Continuity, take steps such as these:

  • When leading or managing people, don’t be afraid to repeat your key messages. Repetition is an excellent tool to keep people on track and continuously aware of what’s essential.
  • When you’re working on tasks and projects as a member of an organization, remember to provide updates on status and progress to others who work with you.
  • Communicate regularly, at a frequency that people agree will work well.
  • Responding promptly and being proactive in your communication shows you are accessible to others, committed, and competent. 
  • Be open to and ready to listen to reactions and concerns.

What’s Next

Credibility is a primary survival tool.” — Rebecca Solnit

Now, you’re equipped and ready to move forward with your communications, confident in three things:

  1. You have the information and tools you need to avoid 3 of the most typical mistakes.
  2. You can build and strengthen your credibility through your communication.
  3. You have a more systematic process for communication that will serve as a framework you can use and build on in the future.

We love feedback!

Please share your thoughts, experience, suggestions, questions, and opinions! 

Image Sources – Thumbnails

Accuracy: Unsplash by pexels-photo-6620743 (1)

Clarity: Unsplash by brett-jordan-POMpXtcVYHo-

Continuity: Unsplash by malachi-brooks-U6RdTT9kSOU-unsplash

Links to Tools

Note: Using the links below will take you away from this page.

“The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,” by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman and Tom Stern LINK: “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,” by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman and Tom Stern

“Grammarly” LINK: https://www.grammarly.com/?transaction_id=1029f24f784292b9a504e9184c1b93&affiliateNetwork=ho&affiliateID=57175

“Hemingway App” LINK: https://hemingwayapp.com/

“Plagiarism Detector” LINK: https://plagiarismdetector.net/

P.S. It can be very helpful to ask a friend or colleague to review and provide feedback on your communication during your preparation. They can provide helpful feedback that helps you to improve it.

I’m pleased to thank Anthony Cheung for telling me about the Hemingway App, Plagiarism Detector and other writing and editing tools. Anthony is a writer on Medium.com who has generously given me feedback in the past.

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