Ten Communication Mistakes to Avoid in Relationships

By Lou Solomon

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Communication is the key to human connection which applies to both personal and business relationships. I’d even go as far as saying communication mistakes in any relationship can cause irreparable damage. With that said, in my experience, there are ten communication mistakes to avoid in any relationship – and it’s never too late to unlearn some bad habits.



A Lesson Learned

Many years ago, I used to show up five minutes late everywhere I went, believing that the universe generally accepted a margin of five minutes.

One day a client and mentor named Nancy looked me in the eye and said something in a kind but no-nonsense way: “Part of the image you are projecting to people is that you are always late. Don’t let it get in the way.”

I’ve been five to 10 minutes early ever since.

Ten Relationship Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone gets “out of shape” from time to time when it comes to first impressions. As a reminder, here are ten relationship mistakes to avoid if you have hopes of taking a new connection further:

1. Running late.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in damaging a relationship is running late. If you make it a habit of running late, we will think of you as being disorganized and undependable overall. A proactive, self-motivated person is always on time, if not a few minutes early.

2. Dominating the conversation.

This is a big mistake to avoid in all relationships. Talking too much makes you a boor. Just waiting for your turn to speak is not actively listening. People will pick up on this and eventually be turned off from furthering the relationship. Asking intelligent questions and listening thoughtfully is classy. In fact, listening is your first level of positive influence in any relationship. It shows you have an interest in the person you are connecting with. 

3. Glancing about the room.

Do you look into the eyes of people when you meet them, or just glance quickly at them? Trusting relationships begin with meaningful eye contact. Utilize the power of eye contact to connect and grow any relationship. 

4. Weak handshake.

At a minimum, a weak handshake says you are low on energy and assertiveness. Worse, women may interpret a weak handshake from a man as patronizing. Any form of human touch is powerful. Avoid the mistake of a feeble handshake. It will leave a lasting impression on your relationships. 

5. Absent from the moment, multi-tasking.

How often you check your phone when being with others says something about your lack of emotional intelligence. Given the negative impact on relationships, it’s surprising how widespread this habit has become.

6. Impatience.

If you are impatient and short with people in service positions we will assume you have little empathy and lack leadership insight. Treat all people equally. People will take notice of your treatment of others no matter what position they hold. Avoid this mistake if you want to build lasting relationships with people. 

7. Negativity.

If you begrudge others’ success, you are playing small. Studies show that talking about your co-workers in a negative way says something undesirable about your personality. Avoid the mistake of downplaying your co-workers’ successes. If your team succeeds, you succeed. 

8. Poor Posture.

Rounded shoulders suggest low self-esteem while standing tall suggests healthy confidence. This mistake may not seem as important but your posture is a form of non-verbal communication

9. Too serious and humorless.

People who can lighten up and not take themselves too seriously allow us to relax and enjoy their company. Being too serious can make people feel uncomfortable and less likely to want to build your relationship. Let your true self shine through. It will make your work more enjoyable, too. 

10. Slang.

If your vocabulary is packed with slang, you may seem unoriginal and shallow, “Right? I mean, it’s like, you know–.” Be more intentional with your communication. Being eloquent but not too wordy will win you the respect of your co-workers and strengthen your work relationships. 

How do you practice new behavior to improve relationships?

Habits are the result of many small decisions. To begin, notice what you experience with others. This “noticing” of what works will bring you into the present. Build a muscle for noticing and begin to consciously choose new behavior (again and again) until it chooses you. New habits will improve your communication skills and, in turn, grow your relationships.



Some Closing Thoughts


The human connection is the fundamental spark that makes things go. And avoiding these ten mistakes in communication in relationships can be applied to many facets of life. From helping you nail your next big presentation to building trust with your in-laws.

The ability to build relationships is essential to life and leadership–and a happy life.