Improve Your Communication Skills By Cutting Out These 7 Bad Habits

By Chelsea Babin

Numerous job ads request great communication skills, but what does that really entail? In a collaborative environment, it’s more than simply speaking and writing in clear English, it’s also about the ways you communicate throughout the day and how those habits can affect your coworkers, bosses, clients, and others. Psychiatrist William Glasser identified seven deadly communication habits that may be holding you back from improving your communication skills, developing solid professional relationships, and advancing your career.

1. Criticizing: There is a major difference between constructive criticism, or criticism someone can use to improve their efforts in the future, and negative criticism that’s meant to be hurtful or delivered out of sheer frustration. When you do the latter at work, people will become more reluctant to work with you. Negative criticism not only fails to offer a solution, it limits the potential for effective communication in the future, which could isolate you from your coworkers and get in the way of any good collaboration.

2. Blaming: Whether someone on your team dropped the ball or you all messed up but you think that person messed up more, blaming solves nothing. When you blame someone you either look like you can’t be held responsible for your own actions or you look like you can’t find solutions to problems when they arise. This not only reflects poorly on you as an IT professional, it jeopardizes your communication skills. Stop playing the blame game and start owning up to your mistakes or offering solutions when someone else makes a mistake.

3. Complaining: When you complain, you burden other people with your worries and make them feel like they need to do something to fix your problems. When you complain on the job frequently, you may appear to be incapable or a slacker. Be careful who you vent to and how often you do it. Too much complaining can seriously limit future opportunities for raises or promotions and, in extreme scenarios, your boss may just opt to find someone who actually wants the job, rather than someone who constantly complains while doing it. Complaining limits your communication skills because it places a major burden on someone else without allowing the conversation to be a two-way street. If you’re the kind of person who complains frequently at work, your coworkers might start to believe that you don’t want to be there and they won’t be as eager to work with you.

4. Nagging: If you feel the need to persistently remind someone of something they need to do, you’re nagging. The root of nagging is always caused by a communication breakdown. Instead of doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, try to encourage, offer solutions, or offer help. Your coworkers will respond to these positive communication tactics much more often and you can stop nagging for good.

5. Threatening: Fear has no place in the workplace or in an effective communicator’s wheelhouse. It doesn’t matter how mad someone makes you, how much you want to control their behavior, or how quickly you need something to get done, when you threaten someone in the office you not only break down the communication pathway for good, you can also get slapped with a major HR problem or even get fired.

6. Punishing: Bad communicators use negative reinforcement to make sure something doesn’t happen again. Great communicators use positive reinforcement, like a goal or a prize, to make sure something doesn’t happen again. Even if you’re in a leadership or managerial role, punishment is not the way to go in a professional workplace. In some cases discipline may need to be used but the difference here is that punishment comes from a place of control and retaliation while discipline comes from a place of trust, consistency, and improvement. Punishment rarely leads to improvement and often leads to extreme communication breakdowns.

7. Bribing, rewarding to control: When you offer a reward, you hope it inspires people to put their best foot forward and deliver top-notch results. However, if you offer a reward to a child throwing a temper tantrum, you’re simply bribing them to stop an actively terrible behavior. Bribery doesn’t produce effective results with children, and it certainly doesn’t produce effective results with adults. If bribing is in your workplace wheelhouse, it’s time to remove it.

As more and more employers look for IT professionals who have great communication skills to go along with their technical talents, it’s important that you rid yourself of these 7 deadly communication habits. In order to improve you need to get rid of these communication barriers as soon as possible!