4 Common Communication Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t make the same mistakes as us!

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #116

Communication Mistake #3: “Crap, I Forgot the Attachment” Error

When I shared this story with one of our new interns, she told me that she used to have a bad habit of sending emails too quickly and often forgetting details such as attachments. Usually she would remember and quickly send another email with the subject line “Oops, here is the attachment.”

She didn’t think anything about it, until one day, she did it once again to her boss. He was furious with her. He sent her back an email written all in capital letters telling her to include all attachments with the relevant email and to stop crowding his inbox.

To me this was a perfect example how little unspoken communication mistakes add-up to a bigger problem. She told me that she not only apologized, but also came up with a strategy to prevent the problem from happening again.

Communication Mistake #4: A Math Mistake That Caused Me Embarrassment

On another occasion I was delivering a status presentation to the CEO of the company where I was working. The second slide contained a simple arithmetic mistake. The CEO loudly pointed that out and then berated me. He told me to sit down. He wouldn’t let me finish the presentation. I was SO embarrassed.

Communication mistakes like these teach us that different people have differing levels of tolerance for mistakes. Some people may overlook (or may not even notice) seemingly minor errors whereas others may form a significantly negative impression of overall competence (of the person and the organizations which they might be associated with) based on sloppy communication errors. (In fact, one study looked at the effects of spelling errors on the perception of the writer. The results suggested that spelling errors can affect how people perceive writers, especially when there are many spelling errors.  

Mistakes Cost Money and Negatively Impact Relationships

Most recently I had another communication mistake. I had a big mix-up with a proposal for one of my best customers. Not only did I end up apologizing, I also decided that my error was big enough that I needed to make up for this mistake. I asked what I could do to make up for the error and I ended up offering two speaking programs for free. In this case my communication mistake cost me money, but the solution and apology saved the relationship--which of course, is most important.  

So, I’m sincerely hopeful that the communication blunder that sparked us to write this episode is now behind us. And in second part of this program, we’ll pick up from here and talk about concrete steps you can take to prevent common communication blunders.

This is, The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication, your success is my business.  Thanks to Zoe Ogilvie and Whitney Punchak for their contributions to this episode. 


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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.