6 Reasons Why Miscommunication Occurs at Work


As an ambivert with many introversive tendencies, conflicts are my least favorite things to experience. However true that is for many people, it doesn’t mean they don’t still have to endure them when the occasion arises. The questions that this article will focus on are how conflicts are initiated in the first place at any workplace, and how they can be prevented. 

At this point, it should be a universal fact that where there is a group of people working together on something, there are bound to be disagreements. Arising from miscommunication, these disagreements will possibly lead to conflicts. It’s common sense; that’s the way the world works. Now, why do they take place? Let’s look at a list of the reasons:

  1. Poor team dynamics
  2. Jumping to conclusions
  3. Passive listening
  4. Mix-ups
  5. Lack of transparency
  6. Closed-mindedness 

If a team doesn’t share the same interests, there is a high possibility that it will have a poor dynamic. Lacking similar interests will make it difficult for the team members to relate and affiliate themselves with one another. This will result in an unhappy team that will have trouble communicating with each other and where there is a gap in communication, conflicts are likely to follow. What could be done differently that might help a company avoid this? 

Gee, I wonder! Just kidding (wink wink). To avoid misunderstanding and conflicts in a workplace, the company will have to establish a dynamic that is positive and easygoing that allows people to be themselves while maintaining a level of professionalism. Fun team-building activities, daily standup meetings, weekly project calls, individual check-ins, etc could be a good way to implement this.

This is a good one. I already mentioned that I have introvert tendencies and one of them is overthinking every single little thing that transpires. That has never bode well for me or any other person who has followed the same path. Simply because many of us end up jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. 

On top of that, most times it is without any real proof or an inkling of the assumption being a fact. Yet, we may overthink and draw silly notions, that’s what we do as overthinkers. The only way this can be remedied is if we started asking follow-up questions and confirming what we know about a project or a certain task to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Being there but not being there, doesn’t exactly help avoid conflicts. Not to sound like your yoga teacher but you have to be present at the moment not for the sake of your own mindfulness – that’s important too- but also for the sake of the project or task at hand. While living your fantasies in your head or recalling what Jake Peralta said in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you missing out on important details about the task assigned to you. Now, who is to be blamed here?

Me, of course, me. Your exalted self can do no wrong. How dare I suggest anything else?

What ‘I’ could have done here was tried to pay full attention during the meeting and make sure all my alerts were turned off. Heck, even my laptop – given the meeting was not taking place over Zoom. Additionally, maintaining eye contact and occasionally repeating details, and asking questions to clear any confusion might help ‘me’ avoid any conflict. 

Aside from the team dynamics, overthinking and unattentiveness, confusions are also a likely cause of miscommunication and consequently, conflicts. The confusions can be about something as little as not knowing what to do and how to do it; or something as huge as not knowing where to be for an important formal event. 

The only way to avoid this to limit the choices of communication channels you present to your employees as a company and stick to them. Also, ensure that direct communication is taking place or everyone involved in a certain task is kept in the loop at all times so that no detail is missed.

As an employer, you must be transparent with your employees in every aspect that relates to work. If you’re not and are only letting them know the things that they absolutely need to know to get the job done, you might just be asking for trouble in the shape of miscommunication. Do you want that? I don’t think so. 

As the CEO of monday.com, Roy Mann has said, “When you create transparency, you can harness the full intelligence of your team, more faster and smarter, and achieve so much more together.” Now, don’t you want to do this instead? Uh, yeah, you do. 

People who have narrow minds are sometimes one of the most difficult people to work with since they lack the capacity to fully understand a creative idea. What lies in their realms of comfort is what you can count on getting approved. A new idea? Not so much. It’s a different thing to have strong convictions and an entirely different thing to have a wrong mindset that limits the creativity of others and the success of the company. 

When that happens, I guess, it’s not so hard to imagine that this type of culture could become a breeding ground for misunderstandings and consequently, conflicts. The only way to avoid this from happening is by creating a team culture that initiates the idea and sees it through the end. Maybe, just maybe, when such people are made a part of the process, they might be more open to an idea.

In conclusion, there’s a possibility for miscommunication in quite literally every aspect of your work life and it varies for every individual, team, and organization. So, all one can really do is play smart and work hard until they get the right formula that works for them. 

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