12 Communication Killers People Use Regularly

It’s incredibly hard to find people that can effectively and brilliantly communicate these days. Communication as a whole is so essential to life as we know it.

I’m not claiming to be perfect, but I’d rate myself above average when it comes to “communication”. I’ve also received high praise from colleagues and friends. The role of a good communicator is an active one; you need to choose to take on the role. However when you do, you’ll be rewarded for it! People in general respect a person who can truly listen to a problem and it builds stronger personal and professional relationships.

Needless to say, communication is something I’ve taken an active interest in for a few years now. I’m sharing some of my experiencing and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

It is not unusual to see people injecting these communication killers into conversations regularly. Unless communication is supported and nurtured, it will break down leaving all parties unsatisfied.

Remember, we always communicate with a goal in mind. If your focus is to be a supportive communicator in the role of a manager, health professional or just a good friend – these are 12 points to facilitating effective communication that you should know.

Judging

  • Criticising – Mother to daughter: “Well that was a silly thing to do” – I do not know anyone who enjoys being put-down or receiving any type of negative feedback. It halts and locks down communication and you’ll likely see the receiving party withdraw.
  • Name calling – “Don’t be stupid…” – Is a form of loaded negative attack intended to invoke a behavioural/mindset change. Any derogatory remark however will immediately put the person into defence mode. Usually prevents further constructive dialogue.
  • Diagnosing – “You’re very negative / naughty / disorganised / annoying / chirpy today” – A one second assessment and diagnosis of a person’s behaviour, attitude or problem that shows a lack of consideration for the other person. People do not like to be told how they feel, particularly when it is already obvious. It is generally “a label” and sometimes a psychological attack to force a shift in mindset or inflict a behavioural change in the victim.
  • Evaluative Praising – “You’re such a good boy” – Is typically an attempt to manipulate or change a type of behaviour condescendingly. Placing yourself above another rarely helps.

Sending Solutions

  • Ordering – “Take out the trash” – A forceful type of communicate that people resent. It is rare for a constructive relationship to bloom from. Generally speaking, people don’t appreciate being told what to do. Being given orders can be demeaning.
  • Threatening – “If you’re late again I’m going to dock your pay” / “Get to bed now or there’s no television tomorrow” – An order with a threat of punishment. Full of negativity. Places both the sender and receiver in a difficult position of having to enforce / backdown and concede / resist. Creates more problems than it solves.
  • Moralising – “You know what the right thing would be” / “What would Jesus do?” / “You really should visit your grandparents.” – That feeling of being guilted into doing something. Yes, you know the one, moralising is demoralising and often arouses resentment.
  • Excessive Questions – “How was your day?”, “Fine”, “What’d you do?”, “Nothing”, “You must have done something?”, “No”… – Inappropriate questioning can actually dry up the conversation pool and make the conversation awkward. These types of responses are “nagging” and the other party often resigns themselves to not participating.
  • Advising – “Well I wouldn’t if I was you” / “I wouldn’t do that, I’d do this…” – Giving advice is essentially an insult to the intelligence of the other person. It says to the other person, you’re making a big deal out of nothing when the solution is easily apparent to me. A situation is rarely as simple as it initially appears. If you’re supportive and listen, you’ll learn more than you would have otherwise.

Avoiding Another’s Concern

  • Diverting – “Would you like to have a look at my holiday photos?”, “Sure, tha… Oh that reminds me, I have to call the travel agent to get our booking confirmation! Did I tell you? John and I are taking the kids to … and hopefully get some time together. John has been working a lot of overtime recently and…” – Um, we’re not talking about you right now… Diverting shows a lack of interest and respect for the other person or a lack of interest / comfort talking about the original topic.
  • Logical Argument – “Look, it couldn’t have been me who left the light on, I wasn’t here, so it couldn’t have been me.” – Logic is awesome, but not in times of stress or conflict. It’s reception can be quite frustrating. It has a byproduct of emotional distancing from the “issue” and you will lose the insight the person could have offered.
  • Reassuring – “Don’t worry, it’ll all be okay” – Usually seen as a nice thing in cultures right? But it sends a less than desirable message. If person A shares a problem and you reassure – it indicates you’re not really taking their problem seriously. You’re essentially arguing with them that their problem is not even a problem. It also gives the illusion of being helpful without actually being willing to help – a form of distancing. This can cause the person to withdraw and/or change the topic.

As you can see, a number of these points are extremely prevalent in daily conversations. I struggled with some of these for a long time but I’ve come to realise the damage they do.

To be clear, these are points to avoid in order to facilitate solid and effective communication with another party. You can ignore them, but if the goal is indeed to communicate and achieve a result, it’s best not to.

I hope these help someone out.

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2 Comments

  1. I wish I could have a complete copy of your article 12 Communication Killers People Use Regularly. I’m a Psychiatric Nursing professor and your article will be of help in their related learning experience in handling and dealing with their patients in the clinical and community setting. Thank you

    1. Hi Aida,

      I was inspired by a chapter in a book I read, and decided I needed to get the information out there. In hindsight, it was wrong of me not to reference the work correctly, and I apologise for that.

      The book is ‘People Skills’ by Robert Bolton. See chapter 2, Barriers to Communication. It’s not a new book, originally printed in 1987 and reprinted many times since, but conversational communication barriers haven’t changed much since.

      I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. 😊

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