Home » 5 Workplace Miscommunication Examples (& How to Avoid Them)

5 Workplace Miscommunication Examples (& How to Avoid Them)

5 Workplace Miscommunication Examples (& How to Avoid Them)

For a business to be successful, it’s essential that its employees effectively communicate and work together to ensure that tasks are done correctly. But language is a complicated art, and miscommunication can always occur, even when people are trying to make themselves as clear as possible. 

But while miscommunication can’t always be avoided- especially in the workplace- there are ways that people can respond to it to help correct the situation. Please continue to learn about the costs of workplace miscommunication, examples of common miscommunications, and how they can be addressed. If you would like even more information regarding workplace communication and how to facilitate effective employee teams, please check out the range of expertly crafted resources and professional services provided by the specialists at B STATE today.

Related: 5 Best Examples of High-Performing Teams

Unlock Secrets to Rapid Change Management & Culture Transformation.

The Cost of Workplace Miscommunication

Miscommunication in a workplace environment can lead to a wide range of issues, including ones that can end up costing businesses a significant amount of money. Suppose miscommunication goes unchecked or is left uncorrected. In that case, companies can expect to see impacts to both their revenue and their ability to retain quality employees over an extended period. Because of this, businesses must create plans and procedures to correct potential miscommunications. It’s also essential that managers, supervisors, and other leaders are fully trained in conflict resolution and understand how to fix instances of miscommunication between their employees to ensure that individuals and teams are functioning as optimally as possible.

5 Examples of Miscommunication in the Workplace

The causes of miscommunication often come down to how specific statements are phrased by one person and then perceived by others. The following includes a selection of five common instances of miscommunication that often occur between employees within a workplace based on poorly phrased statements. Each example will describe what these phrases actually indicate and how supervisors, managers, and other business leaders can respond to them appropriately to help calm a situation.

Do you want to put together a more effective work environment through solid team cooperation and individual accountability? Check out B STATE or reach out to contactus@bstate.com today to learn about everything they can do to help.

Workplace Miscommunication Examples

Example 1: “I feel like my work is going nowhere.”

What employees mean: 

I need a greater purpose or a better understanding of the vision we are trying to accomplish.

How to handle the situation:

As a supervisor, manager, and overall leader within a business, it’s your job to ensure that your employees have the proper morale needed to get their work done effectively while also feeling that what they are doing is essential. Look for ways to connect the work they do to the company’s overall mission and explain why it’s so important. Employees need to feel that their work means something and contributes to something more significant than themselves.

Related: How to Be a Team Player in Business

Example 2: “I do all the work, but they’re getting all the credit.”

What employees mean: 

I’ve noticed that my peers often get recognized without me despite the important work I’m doing. Am I doing something wrong? Would you please provide feedback so I know what I can do about it?

How to handle the situation:

It’s essential to take a step back to analyze the meaning of the comments that employees make. Even if their words may seem a bit harsh, there is value to what they’re saying. This is why business leaders must read between the lines of what their employees say. Consider whether the employee is being overlooked, and if they are, why might that be happening? If you find their work deserves recognition, make sure to show your appreciation. Remember, it’s crucial for employees to feel that their work is valued.

Example 3: “It’s easier if I just handle it myself.”

What employees mean: 

I’m scared to fail and would rather handle things on my own because I don’t trust those around me to do what needs to be done effectively.

How to handle the situation:

The delegation of specific tasks and assignments can be difficult for many supervisors and leaders to handle within a company. The correct people must always be chosen for the job, after all. That said, it’s also essential to understand how employees work together and what their perspectives are regarding their teams. If someone feels that they are better off working alone, there’s likely a reason for that. 

They may have noticed problems in the work of fellow employees and want to make sure the job is done effectively. Talk openly with them to get their opinions, and try to develop ways to encourage a more cooperative work environment where everyone’s ideas and concerns can be recognized. You can also establish written team agreements to ensure that all team members know what needs to be done to work together effectively.

Behaviors That Help Develop Personal Accountability

Example 4: “It’s better to say nothing at all than to be misinterpreted.”

What employees mean: 

People will only misunderstand me, so it’s better to stay quiet and keep to myself.

How to handle the situation:

Many employees choose to hold off on sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions for fear that they won’t be understood or will be brushed aside, but this can create many limitations for success within a business. Take the time to meet with business teams and individual employees and encourage everyone to share what’s on their minds. To be as successful as possible, employees need to feel respected and listened to when they talk. 

Not communicating at all can be even more problematic than outright miscommunication, so you need to ensure that all employees are willing to contribute without feeling judged or devalued. 

Related: The Importance of Multidisciplinary Teams

Example 5: “Workplace meetings are a waste of time.”

What employees mean: 

This information could have been provided to us in a better, more efficient way that saves time and doesn’t confuse us.

How to handle the situation:

According to survey data collected by Quantum-Fierce, more than 55% of respondents feel that meetings were a significant source of miscommunication in the workplace compared to one-on-one meetings. This is due to several reasons, such as the limited structure of meetings and meetings not including enough time for questions and discussions. Ensure that you talk to employees individually to help resolve any miscommunications and leave enough time to address comments, questions, and concerns before dismissing team meetings.

How To Reduce Miscommunications in the Workplace

While not every situation is avoidable, it can help to be mindful of these good practices to ensure reduced miscommunication in the workplace. Because miscommunication is a leading cause of uneasy environments, it’s best to first attempt to reduce miscommunications in the workplace. 

Provide necessary documents

Some people take notes. Others don’t. However, it might be in your favor to hand out printed agendas or other important documents when offering critical information. You can hand these out before, during, or even after a meeting to make sure that everyone has the same information. 

Furthermore, having a printout that requires the employees to follow along and fill in the answers can help keep them focused on the topic at hand during the actual meeting. Some employers even notice an increase in participation during the discussions. 

Write Better Emails

We’ve all at least heard the phrase “this could have been an email.” However, sending emails can be a great way to share information. But not all emails are good. Keep your emails simple yet on topic, and don’t be afraid to be thorough. 

Furthermore, use headings, subheadings, or even bullet points throughout the email to keep things organized and easy to reference later if someone runs into a question. Similar to having printouts during a meeting, these resources can help keep everyone on the same page.

Clarify Expectations

Miscommunication can happen easily when teams are starting a new project or if a new leader is taking over a project. Make sure that you are clear on what you are expecting from your team. 

Elaborate on each individual person’s responsibility and what their day-to-day objectives are. It also can be helpful to go over new projects’ value and the final outcome expectations. There are different ways to offer reminders, such as printouts on the project or even task manager apps like Asana to keep everyone on track with assignments and avoid miscommunication about deadlines. 

Listen Actively

Just like any relationship, listening actively is a must to reduce miscommunication. Between multitasking and large workloads, it can be hard to remember to take time out to listen to those who are talking to you. Stop messing around in your email, close the door, no calls, and you can even take notes about key points. Truly listen.

Related: Best Books on Accountability 

Observe Non-Verbal Cues

Because humans are naturally social creatures, we rely on social cues such as body language while we communicate. While you don’t need a master’s in the subject, it can help you reduce miscommunications. 

For example, if a sensitive topic is brought up, an employee may become uncomfortable. If you pay close attention to their body language, you can understand that they are uncomfortable. These hidden clues can help to prevent miscommunication in the workplace. 

Open Door Policy

Being accessible helps to reduce the miscommunication that can happen in the workplace. Having an open-door policy helps employees feel comfortable and builds trust between management and employees.

Does Your Workplace Team Struggle with Communication?

Our B STATE Consultants have helped countless teams improve communication both within their team and cross-functionally with other workplace teams. We have found that most communication breakdowns start with misalignment at the ends, means, or coordination level of team operation. This means that teams are either not aligned or not clear on their purpose, expected outcomes, or how to achieve those outcomes. Giving your team just two days with a B STATE consultant can transform the way your team communicates with each other, drastically improving workplace execution and business results.

Do you need to improve your workplace environment with better, stronger, and more effective employee teams? Reach out to the experts at contactus@bstate.com today or check out B STATE to learn about how their superior-quality services can help turn your business into a well-oiled machine of productivity.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top