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16 Effective Ways To Break Bad Communication Habits

Forbes Coaches Council

Regardless of industry, a leader's role often involves managing the flow of information between team members, departments and other company stakeholders. That's why it's critical for all professionals to practice good communication habits and ensure that all involved parties are receiving messages loud and clear.

But even the best of us sometimes slip up and don't communicate as well as we could. We interrupt others during meetings; we send typo-riddled emails from our smartphones; we get defensive and react instead of truly listening and processing the words we hear.

Members of the Forbes Coaches Council offered 16 simple and effective methods for breaking bad communication habits and building better ones.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss the worst communication habits and how to break them.

1. Don't Filter, Just Listen

At work, we screen information at lightning speed and focus on what is most important. However, this skill is detrimental to effectively communicating with others. When listening, turn off the filter in your head that says, "Not important right now," and instead reserve your judgment and ask questions to clarify. Breaking this habit will enable you to connect and actually get more done. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

2. Put The Phone Away

We're all wired these days to see our latest emails and notifications from social media outlets. However, continually checking these when we are in the company of others can communicate that you're not tuned in, and can be perceived as rude. When I am with people, my phone is put away where I can't see it, the ringer is off, and notifications are off. - Rebecca Bosl, Dream Life Team

3. Stop Interrupting Others

If you have a habit of interrupting, challenge yourself to count to five before responding. This discipline will ensure that the other person has finished relaying their thoughts before you begin sharing yours. It also has the added benefit of giving the impression that you’re carefully reflecting on what they just said. - Shawn Kent Hayashi, The Professional Development Group LLC

4. Practice Periods Of Unavailability

One of our worst communication habits happens to appear as a strength. The majority of us are constantly connected to the world through an array of devices, so we never have down time to stop giving and receiving communication unless we are intentional about it. Carve out periods during your day when the technology is turned off or removed from your presence, and relearn how to communicate! - Billy Williams, Archegos

5. Ask And Learn What Works Best

Start by asking what works best. Every organization, department, team, and individual has practices that work well. Avoid making assumptions or establishing what worked for you in the past from the start. It is as simple as asking, "If I need to get a critical message across, what is most effective?" Learn what works, and improve what doesn't over time. - Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

6. Proofread Anything Sent From Your Phone

Short, terse and often not-well-thought-out emails sent via your smartphone can damage communication because it invites the impulsive and emotional. I see executives and career professionals make some egregious communication errors on this platform. Any worthy communication that deserves thought should be read and reread or you risk a problem message that often reads "Sent From My iPhone" or the like! - John O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.

7. Pick Up The Phone

One of the leading causes of misunderstandings is a lack of effective communication. Technology has us hiding behind keyboards and smartphone screens as texting has become the most widely used avenue of communication. Nothing beats picking up the phone to quickly communicate what's needed. Instead of sending an emoji, hit the call button and allow someone to hear your smile in your voice. - Maleeka T. Hollaway, The Official Maleeka Group, LLC.

8. Confirm Your Understanding Of Problems Before Trying To Solve Them

Most of us have been rewarded in school and at work for quick solutions and being right, so we tend to jump to an answer before better knowing the situation. Ask questions to be sure you’re getting to the real problem, and then listen with curiosity to get to the root cause. For example: “What is the real issue we need to tackle?” or, “What else is going on that we haven’t yet explored?” - Bonnie Davis, Destination Up

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