October 25, 2021

Career AdviceLeadership

The 3 Scariest Communication Habits, and How You Can Fix Them

By: Krista Mitchell

With Halloween coming up , many people are putting together spooky costumes, watching the most frightening movies to celebrate, and more. 

While communicating with others, sometimes we enlist interpersonal communication habits that are less than ideal—one may even call them scary. I picked out the most gut-wrenching mistakes that happen in the workplace, during interviews, and between friends and significant others, and how you can work to fix them. 

1: Interrupting 

Interrupting happens often in policy circles, as commentators  want to get their thoughts out about a particular topic or idea. It is especially prevalent on cable television, where pundits battle out the time limit to get their point across. This practice is harmful because it makes your fellow conversation participants feel like you don’t care what they have to say because your point is more important. While this may not be your intention, reforming the behavior will help you avoid this misconception in the future. 

To mend this, I recommend writing down your question or point quickly and pausing until the other person is done talking. That way, you can finish listening to them, digest some ideas you may not have considered, and still be able to remember your point. 

2: Forgetting to Listen

Active listening is a difficult communication skill to grasp because while you may feel you are listening, your thoughts may be straying and distracting you from the conversation. According to research from Penn State, “Active listening comprises three basic elements: attention, comprehension, and acceptance. The listener demonstrates careful attention to the speaker through body language. The listener also demonstrates comprehension, often by restating what the speaker has said. Additionally, the listener shows that they are open to the speaker’s point of view and concerns.”

The Penn State researchers find that active listening can significantly improve manager and employee relationships and trust. And it can improve your personal relationships, too. 

3: Refraining from Asking Questions

The previous points are about keeping an open ear. But, I’m not trying to get you to keep a closed mouth! Speaking up or asking questions can be one of the hardest parts of a job or friendship, but it is one of the most valuable skills to finding success. Many folks however fear looking wrong or risking their reputation, especially in the workplace. A Forbes piece on the topic notes that “the key is for employees to truly believe that their speaking up can have a positive impact on them, their team, and for the wider organization. If they lack this belief then it makes speaking up much less appealing.”

To learn more about how and when to ask good questions, I recommend a few resources:

With these tips, I hope you can refrain from scaring friends, family, and co-workers with these less than ideal communication skills. What’s one big communication mistake you frequently see from others?