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  • Lacking clarity. Avoid abstract, overly-formal language, colloquialisms, and jargon, which obscure your message more than they serve to impress people.
  • Using stereotypes and generalizations. Speakers who make unqualified generalizations undermine their own clarity and credibility. Be careful not to get stuck in the habit of using stereotypes, or making generalizations about complex systems or situations. Another form of generalization is “polarization” or creating extremes. Try to be sensitive to the complexities of situations, rather than viewing the world in black and white.
  • Jumping to conclusions. Confusing facts with inferences is a common tendency. Do not assume you know the reasons behind events, or that certain facts necessarily have certain implications. Make sure you have all the information you can get, and then speak clearly about the facts versus the meanings or interpretations you attach to those.
  • Dysfunctional responses. Ignoring or not responding to a comment or question quickly undermines effective communication. Likewise, responding with an irrelevant comment — one that isn’t connected to the topic at hand — will quash genuine communication. Interrupting others while they are speaking also creates a poor environment for communication.
  • Lacking confidence. Lacking confidence can be a major barrier to effective communication. Shyness, difficulty being assertive, or low self-worth can hinder your ability to make your needs and opinions known. Also, a lack of awareness of your own rights and opportunities in a given situation can prevent you from expressing your needs openly. See Eison (1990)’s “Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers” for a set of maxims to think about when reflecting on your own confidence as a communicator.