We held a People Matters HR Seminar* on 25th June 2019 at Bury FC. The theme for this talk focussed on communication. More specifically how avoiding communication mistakes can benefit businesses. Will Kintish served as our guest speaker.

We spent some time looking at communication and the impact it can have on relationships and businesses. We previously talked about what communication actually is. This time we are going to look at what the key barriers to communication can be.

Are you guilty of any of these communication mistakes, either in your personal or professional life?


We’re human, which means as part of our very natures we can be a little judgmental.  At times those judgments keep us safe – is this person or situation a threat? Do I need to run or fight? However, more often than not our judgments can actually be barriers.

When you enter in to a conversation, dialogue or any form of communication with someone try to do so with an open-mind.  It might be the case that there has already been some conflict in your past encounters, which could be making you apprehensive or nervous about this latest discussion.  However, it is essential that your previous experiences do not become barriers to you making progress in this new wave of communication.

Judging someone on their past behaviour, or things they may have said previously, is not conducive to good communication now, and may actually be stopping you from making progress.

Not paying attention

When you’re talking to someone you should give them your undivided attention. Not only is it the bare minimum of politeness, it’s also essential for ensuring you are fully engaged, and able to understand what is being discussed.

This might not always be easy in a busy work environment; for example, if someone has interrupted your train of thought, you may be reluctant to fully engage with them. However, it is far better to be honest and perhaps request that you pick this conversation up in 10 minutes or so, once you have completed your current task, rather than resent the intrusion and ignore them anyway.

Equally, it is simply good manners not to be scrolling through your phone whilst you are in the middle of a discussion with someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s work related emails you’re dealing with – the person talking to you deserves your attention.

Overdoing jargon

In order to communicate with someone effectively, you both have to be speaking the same language.  Unfortunately, many of us can get in to the habit of assuming that everyone knows what we’re talking about, especially when it comes to using technical language or jargon.

Just because an abbreviation or acronym is an industry-standard doesn’t mean everyone you might talk to about it fully understands.  Equally, it doesn’t mean that it’s always an appropriate way to explain something, especially if you are not talking to a colleague, peer or industry expert.

Always be conscious about what language you are using and whether the person you’re talking to can actually understand what you’re saying. Are you making your point clearly and concisely?

Giving solutions/unwanted advice

Have you ever been in a situation where you were talking to someone about something, and before you knew it, they were given you advice?  Advice you didn’t ask for, and which turned out to be pretty irrelevant (because they weren’t really listening in the first place)?

Not only can it be frustrating in that moment, but it can also ensure that they’re the last person you’re likely to talk to in the future, should you need to express concern about something. Make sure that you do not fall in to the trap of trying to tell other people what to do – unless they have specifically asked for your words of wisdom, of course.

Avoiding other people’s concerns

If someone comes to you with a problem, worry or concern it can wind up being quite a sensitive and difficult conversation. Of course, none of us really relish having those; however, trying to avoid the situation makes matters even worse.

Unfortunately, it can be a very easy habit to fall in to. Communication mistakes such as simply responding with “Yes, I can see what you mean but …”, or “It’s probably just a phase …” or “Things will get better …” are common examples of how people’s feelings can be dismissed, or avoided completely.

When you say something like this you are not only not communicating effectively at that time. You are also telling the other person that they are over-reacting to a given situation, their feelings don’t matter and dissuading them from coming to you in the future should things not improve or other issues arise.

Communicating effectively is not as easy as we might automatically assume it is. Next, we’re going to look at ways technology can help (or hinder) communication.