These Top Tips for Effective Communication Don’t Work

A boy singing into a studio microphone
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Ever asked Google about tips for effective communication skills that don’t work? You’ll be shocked at the tons of results you’ll get.
You may wonder why some of the tips ended up in your search results, because they look like good stuff, but on many occasions they’ve been found to backfire.
I recently spoke with a friend who wanted to be a better communicator at work. He read about the tips online and one said he was to smile always; that smiling was a sign of optimism. So he did just that. Poor guy was disappointed at the feedback he received. No one liked the smile as his colleagues told him he looked phony.
Effective communication skills that work will always remain essential. However, there will be effective communication skills that don’t work too. You need to know how to differentiate between the two.

1. Expressing yourself just the way you feel

It’s a good thing to express yourself verbally or in written form. It helps everyone know and understand you better. Everyone can easily predict what you can say or do and that’s not necessarily bad. It’s a good thing to be assertive. It’s fine to be confident and bold.
But it’s not always best to express yourself just the way you feel because you’ll injure people with your words. When you use words in a cruel or insensitive manner with people, their emotions remember.
Dan (not real name) was a staff in an advertising agency. Everyone knew Dan was an ideas machine and he could propel people to work and get the job done. When he was to be promoted to the Assistant Manager position, HR asked his colleagues their most memorable experiences with him. Everyone had a memorable event of how he hurt them with their words. This had a negative effect on his appraisal.
Speak kindly to people. If you need to correct them, make sure its constructive criticism. You can be assertive without being aggressive.

2. Embrace cool and calm dialogue

Everyone wants peaceful communication. We all want smooth roads and a bed of roses without any difficulty. But life doesn’t work that way.
Sometimes, to get the peace you crave, you have to go through difficulty. It means you must have difficult conversations and not avoid them. I know how tempting it can be to avoid difficult situations, but guess what? You’re piling it up, and one day the river will overflow, the volcano will erupt and you’d wish you had confronted a one-headed dragon instead of seven. You get the picture.
What you can do is prepare to handle difficult conversations. Use simple, kind and clear words. You can try to think through possible scenarios to prepare yourself. But don’t avoid it.

3. Using technical terms and jargon

It’s a great idea to be familiar with your niche. It’s wonderful to know the terms that exist and the appropriate way to use them.
However, no one wants a robot. For people to communicate with you effectively, they want to feel that they are speaking with another human. If you use technical terms and jargon always, people will avoid you because it can be tiring.
Not everyone will be able to understand or communicate with jargon. If you’re a software developer and you have a presentation with colleagues in marketing and sales or HR, use plain words. If you use a term they aren’t familiar with, explain with a simple example everyone will understand.

4. Putting your feet on the ground

It’s great to be the boss. If you’re the type that always wants to have the last word, you might succeed in maintaining order, but you’ll end up stifling effective communication and interaction. You may end up making your subordinates feel pressured or intimidated. If there’s a brainstorming or creative session where people can bring in ideas, they may feel intimidated by what you’re going to say and withhold useful information.
You need to be flexible when interacting with others. Listen to others, receive their input, thank them for it and carry everyone along when making decisions. You don’t need to be on-stage or take the front seat — sticking it to everyone’s faces that you’re in charge — when making decisions.

Mary is an Editor at the online women’s magazine, AmoMama, and is passionate about improving quality of life for the African girl child.