Most often when we are happily thumbing through articles, books, magazines, and the like, looking for something to read (you know personal growth), we typically will look for subjects that are appeasing to us (and rightly so) and seldom take the time to look at where we are in life and take an honest inventory.

If you work with people, there will be times of great joy and times of brutal sorrow. Why? Because we are humans and make mistakes from time to time, but more importantly, we each go through periods of highs and lows.  Who then are we to pass judgment on our clients or team members when they are navigating hard times?

What happens is this natural fading away from each other when one person is struggling and often the other one doesn’t know, see, or realize what is happening.


I decided to look at what happens to our communication when we find ourselves struggling or are on the receiving end of another person struggling, yet we need them to follow through on an assignment, a project, etc.

Here are three poor communication habits that we all need to stop doing… and that we are all guilty of.

  1. Interrupting 
  2. Instigating
  3. Identifying

Remember the last time you found yourself in a conversation with someone and they were constantly interrupting you? Maybe it was you!  We all have the need and the desire to speak what’s in our mind and to be heard, yet when we interrupt or get interrupted, no one wins.

Interruptions come when we feel the loss of control, threatened, or disrespected. A unique quality (if you will) around people who interrupt is that being ion the receiving end of an interrupter doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing it because of you.

Often when we are feeling a loss of control, threatened, or disrespected our natural defense mechanism is to be on guard, and ultimately everything around us gets heightened.

There is relief. If you are the one on the receiving end a simple clarifying question is all it takes to determine if it’s you or someone else. The question can take many forms, however starting out with saying ‘help me understand…’ levels the communication field.

Next, are the nasty instigators that pop into our world. What exactly are they instigating? They are justifying. You can spot an instigator when you hear phrases like “don’t take this personally” or I know what you’re thinking” or other similar sayings. Instigators are trying to ‘qualify’ you before the conversation starts, most often to maintain control of the conversation.

These conversations are almost never avoidable, however the takeaway here is that when you hear them, you can immediately decide where the conversation boundary is and how much you want to share.

Left out of check, an instigator can immediately become an identifier. Identifying is equating your personal experiences or expertise without being asked. This sounds like “I know exactly how you feel…” and it typically turns into a conversation about how better the person is than you and how whatever it is you are going through they are the answer.

This type of conversation can be handled in many ways. If you are a witty person (and sarcasm is your primary language) responding in this way can bring levity where the other person will just quickly and quietly calm down what they are saying. Another way is to let the person finish talking and then move onto another subject or simply walk away.

Additionally, there are other poor communication channels that are present, although these are the three that we often encounter the most.

Have you / do you struggle with any of these?

Can you remember when you were in a conversation with one of these three types of people?

Communication can be a challenge sometimes and making it tougher on someone doesn’t help anyone. Share in the comments how you have overcome any of these three habits or how you handle a conversation with someone using one of these habits.