Prevent Losses: Avoid These 5 Costly Communication Mistakes

Poor communication is more than an inconvenience. It could mean a tremendous hit to your bottom line. Data from The State of Business Communication reveals communication failures account for an estimated $1.2 trillion annual loss among American businesses— that’s about $12,506 per employee per year in potential losses. 


Can you afford that? If not, it’s time to dig deeper. Understanding some of the foundational communication mistakes professionals make helps you and your team anticipate and avoid them more effectively. 

#1: Failing to Invest in Communication  

It doesn’t take long for leaders to get overwhelmed with meetings, calls, and obligations. When you’re already busy, it’s tempting to dismiss improving communication as low priority compared to closing sales or generating leads. Making that choice could cost you some of the most effective people on your team. 


Dynamic Signal learned some amazing insights about communication from employees they surveyed:


  • 90% called communication key to a healthy work environment.
  • 85% considered it an employee benefit.
  • Almost 70% would be less likely to quit if their team communicated more effectively, even when making less than they hope to


Communication is critical because it determines the success or failure of everything we do in the workplace. If a plan isn’t communicated well, it’ll be that much harder to follow. If people don’t know exactly how they need to grow, they may not use their time wisely. And if your team doesn’t feel appreciated, don’t be surprised if they leave in favor of a leader that affirms their valuable contributions regularly.

#2: Blaming Poor Communication on Lack of Experience 

Yes, communication is a skill that can be shaped and strengthened with time and practice. But long-term employees and team leaders aren’t immune to communication breakdowns. If anything, leaders incur a greater responsibility to communicate changes, expectations, and needs to team members, clients, and vendors than newer team members since they know the company and its products so well. 


Team leaders often shape workplace messaging at the outset. That means efforts to improve communication must start at the top, and must be reinforced for leaders often. Otherwise, your leadership team could be spending untold hours (and untold dollars) doing damage control rather than enjoying return on your investment of time and resources.


Yours is the only communication style you can control. Taking responsibility for missteps and making an effort to model healthier communication are two essential steps every leader must take to prevent workplace toxicity and ensure your team stays upbeat and motivated.

#3: “One-Way” Communication

Communication is a two way street. Even the most articulate leaders risk being misunderstood without strong listening skills. If you don’t fully grasp the meaning behind what someone’s telling you, you risk missing critical pieces of information that could make you a more effective leader. Active listening includes any proactive steps you take to stay engaged in the communication process while someone else is taking the lead. Some examples include:


  • Being fully present without distractions from devices or outside noise
  • Being sure the other person finishes their thought before you respond
  • Restating ideas they shared so you know whether they were correctly understood


Working to take this approach in every meeting could help you uncover solutions faster while building a stronger sense of trust with everyone on your team.

#4: Fighting the Wrong Battles 

It’s natural to be passionate about the work we do and the projects we invest so much of our time in. And putting a bunch of passionate people together can often mean great things for creativity and innovation. But spirited discussions and debates can also become arguments that put the future of entire initiatives at risk. Don’t wait until things boil over. Develop a communication strategy that helps you take a proactive approach to resolving conflict and balancing differing perspectives. You could explore multiple concepts, including:


  • De-escalating and diffusing tension
  • True compromise (without playing favorites)
  • Harm reduction


When you and your team are all clear on how issues like these are approached, you decrease your likelihood of unnecessary conflict and get back to working together faster. 

#5: Starting Big

With so many opportunities to improve communication skills, deciding where to start may feel overwhelming. Or you may feel tempted to “tear everything down and start over” when it comes to how your workplace communicates. In either case, it’s best to move toward the middle so your efforts are realistic and sustainable. Rather than taking it all on yourself, seek support from experts you trust. When it’s time to get to work, focus on areas where you already have a communication structure or process in place, and make incremental improvements to improve effectiveness. You can save the bigger, large-scale improvements for the long-term once you’re confident your day-to-day communications have improved enough to reach your current goals.


For Further Reading:

  1. The cost of bad communication is skyrocketing — what CMOs need to know”, SEMRush, February 2022. 
  2. The Surprising Reason the Majority of Employees Are Ready to Quit Their Jobs”, HR Daily Advisor, April 2019.
  3. “Dynamic Signal Study Finds U.S. Workforce Stressed and Ready to Quit, Compounding Concerns From Tight Labor Market and Possible Economic Downturn”, Global Newswire, March 2019.
  4. Cunic, Arlin. “What is Active Listening?”, VeryWellMind, November 2022.


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  • Improve Relationships
  • Increase Productivity
  • Reduce Conflict

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