11 Dangerous Misconceptions about Communications

Communications is full of misconceptions, that are part of the fun and folly of working in this field, but there are some misconceptions that can prove fatal to your brand.

  1. The Assumption that Communication has Happened – Sometimes people assume that the act of delivering a message is the same as receiving a message. Nothing could be further from the truth.  With all of the people, devices and activities vying for our time, most messages never get near their intended audience, its why you never assume communications has happened until you see an action, answer or outcome that confirms it.
  2. Fluency – This misconception is related to the idea that your proficiency in a language is somehow a measure of your effectiveness in communicating.  If that were true, then if someone had a large vocabulary, they need not worry about minor things like listening well or ensuring that their message was actually heard, understood or retained.
  3. If People Don’t Agree, Then They Misunderstood – Sometimes people hear your message just fine but they simply don’t agree with you.  This is not necessarily a prompt to restate, repeat or say it louder.  It is a prompt to rethink.
  4. You Can’t Plan for Crisis Communications – Not having a crisis communications plan is a strategic blind spot that can result in a hard and fast fall. Consider conducting a vulnerability audit, ask people responsible for various departments to consider potential weak spots and plan for worst-case scenarios. Make sure that your response process is efficient. Slow responses in times of crisis can grow the crisis.
  5. Always Stay Positive – While having a positive and happy brand has become the default for many organizations, sometimes you have to disagree with people. Avoiding conflict or negative conversations can result in tarnishing your brand.  This is particularly true if customers expect your brand to take a stance on a social issue.
  6. One Size Fits All  – If all humans had identical needs, experiences and aspirations, perhaps one type of communication would be feasible. Since we have unique needs we have to tailor communications to match our various audiences. Not only do people learn and understand things in different ways, they have different expectations and priorities. By keeping communication styles responsive and flexible you will be better at delivering messages.
  7. Any Problem Can be resolved with Communications – Communications is not a magic wand.  There are some challenges that communications simply will not overcome. In some situations, the best that communications can do is make the position of both sides clear.
  8. The More Communications The Better – Whether you are talking about interpersonal communications or the media, more is not necessarily better.  If you want press coverage sending countless press releases may only result in reporters learning to ignore your messages. As with most things, balance is important.
  9. Good Logic Makes for Good Communications – This misconception assumes that emotions play no role in communications. The reality is that you can get different reactions to the identical message depending on how it’s delivered when it’s delivered and how you and the recipient are feeling at the time of delivery.
  10. Ignore Social Media In A Crisis – It’s hard to believe that anyone still thinks they can ignore social media during a crisis, but every year someone does. Not only do you have to engage on social media during a crisis, you have to do so quickly or risk having your brand negatively affected. Being responsive means having a clear policy in place letting employees know what they can and cannot respond to in case of a crisis. It also means being available to respond after hours.
  11. Communications is Easy –While most people can learn to be better communicators with time and practice, good communications take work. Communicating effectively with broad and diverse audiences requires research, skill and training.

Have you fallen victim to any of these misconceptions?  Can you think of others?