Bad Communication Habits To Ditch ASAP

Bad Communication Habits To Ditch ASAP ©iStock/skynesher

We can’t really get around the fact that life requires a lot of communication. In fact, it’s pretty much the biggest factor in how our relationships develop and survive, whether it’s in the work environment, at Christmas dinner with the family, or in our romantic relationships. Doing it wrong just causes all kinds of problems we don’t need. Here are some bad communication habits to ditch ASAP:

  1. Not standing up for yourself. We all have those moments where we think of a great response to a pesky person later in the shower, and it’s not always appropriate to call them up and lay it on them. It is, however, important to stand up for ourselves when it’s deserved. Be firm and don’t back down — you’re worth better.
  2. Not returning emails. Sometimes we get into the habit of putting off email responses to work matters, especially when we’re a little resistant to completing the task. However, those are the sort of things that can build up in the back of your mind and keep you up at night worrying about how much you have to do, so just do it and get it over with.
  3. Having an attitude with service people. So many of us act like we’re ready to throw down with the guy on the phone at the cable company when whatever the issue is isn’t actually his fault. In general, it usually works out better to be nice, even when you need to be firm.
  4. Being defensive. Sometimes, in an effort to protect ourselves, we build up a little defensive wall so we’re ready for any attacks, large or small, that might come our way. The problem with that, however, is that we end up defending ourselves against things that aren’t actually attacks, and that can make us kind of hard to get close to.
  5. Meddling. Inserting ourselves where we don’t belong is just asking for drama. The many of the people who claim to hate drama but attract it everywhere they go are simply inserting themselves into conversations and situations where they don’t belong.
  6. Overanalyzing texts. It’s impossible not to think about what’s being communicated over text, but tripping over it too long really starts to waste time. Half the time, we come to a conclusion about why someone isn’t responding to us and then we hear from them a few minutes later and realize we were totally digging in too deep for meaning. Just chill.
  7. Asking questions that aren’t neutral. When we ask questions with the intentions of being nosy, trying to make a point, or going after a narrow interest of our own, they can come as uncomfortable to other people and make them respond in defensive ways. Notice when you ask questions that come from a place a general curiosity, as opposed to an attempt to badger.
  8. Overreacting. We don’t generally try to overreact, but when you’re aware of when and why you do it can help you to avoid those situations or find new tactics to deal with them. If your sister sets you off every time she calls, make the intention ahead of time not to let her get to you, and then practice that every time.
  9. Letting our emotions choose our words. In the heat of the moment, we tend say a lot of things we wouldn’t normally say, or at least pepper those phrases with some strong words we could have left out. When we can stop for a minute and think through what we want to say, it can totally change the way we argue.
  10. Not listening. Listening is a huge part of communicating, but sometimes we forget to do it, either because we’re sidetracked with our phone, in our own heads, we’re being stubborn, or just downright disrespectful. The thing is, listening is crucial for keeping up healthy relationships, and we owe it back to the people who are listening to us.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog