Top Ten Business Communication Mistakes–a guide for Gen Y

by Lee Hopkins on November 14, 2011 · 0 comments

in internal communications,miscellaneous,training

Guest post by Brianna Davis

Communication in a bygone era

Communication is an essential part of getting things done. However in the age of emails and iPhones, communication mistakes are perhaps more likely to happen as ever before.

To help avoid the most common mistakes, have a look at the list of top ten business communications mistakes below:

One: Failure to review – Although it is tempting to let Spell Check and Autocorrect do all the work, computers still aren’t quite up to the task of editing messages and memos the way that people are. Taking a minute to review your work can save you tons of apologizing time later.

Two: Too many words – The sheer volume of communication hitting us means that time can’t be spent writing or reading anything that is too long. For example, if you just need an approval on a request, send the simple request. Reading over the reasons why or how bad things are going for you just makes things worse and can even lead to further delays.

Three: Appropriate-ness – You may be really mad about a setback, but the words you use to express your anger can be remembered long after the setback is corrected, especially if sent in written form. Act, react, and speak appropriately, or forever be remembered as “that guy who goes crazy.”

Four: Venue – With texts, emails, IM, phone calls, and good old-fashioned letters, there are many ways to communicate what you want. Each venue has its own pro’s and con’s and should be taken into context before utilized. For example, a formal business proposal is best left to a letter format, while an invitation to a casual lunch can be done electronically.

Five: Failure to praise – If someone is doing something right, let them know. Not only can it boost the self-esteem and productivity of whoever is hearing it, praise can also ensure that the thing you like is done the way you like it time after time.

Six: Criticism – Like ‘Praise’ above, getting criticism right is also important. If someone is doing something incorrectly, it is important to highlight it as soon as possible to ensure it is done correctly in future. Unlike praise, this should be done carefully after considerable thought and not haphazardly, which brings us to:

Seven: Say it to the right person – The chain of command isn’t just for the military. If someone else’s assistant is making a mistake, consider going to their boss rather than telling the assistant directly. It is also advisable to check with your boss before you do so, and definitely if you have some criticism for someone in your own department.

Eight: Say what you mean, mean what you say – Being taken at your word is still as important as when previous generations did business. The only difference is that instead of a handshake, there are now emails and much more to prove what you said. Even if you bite off more than you can chew, finding a way to get it done is better than not accomplishing what you set out to do.

Nine: No answer is an answer – If someone sends you a request, ignoring it is a mistake you don’t want to make. Even if it is something minor, answering with a polite “no” and a short explanation is far better than not answering at all.

Ten: Being closed off – Whether you’re the CEO or working in the mailroom, others should feel as if they can come to you, or at least your office, with their comments, suggestions, etc. Having others fear communicating with you—or that communication with you is a pointless process—can hinder you far more than help you.


Brianna Davis runs the site Bachelor of Arts. Her site helps students find the right college to get a degree in the arts.


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