Habits that can make your communication go horribly wrong

Habits that can make your communication go horribly wrong

Can communication go horribly wrong? It certainly can if you have bad habits. You know that communication is one of the cornerstones of a good relationship. And harmful interactions can be the death of a relationship. In the previous article, Secrets to successful communication that you did not know,” you learn what communication is. Read Your ultimate guide to good communication” to see how you can improve your communication skills. However, it is valuable to recognize negative communication patterns in yourself and others. 

So, let’s look at negative interactions.

Ways that communication can go wrong 

The following are some of the essential habits that can wreck a relationship. Being aware of your own patterns can enable you to change to more beneficial ways of communicating. Some of these habits can be a red light to the quality of your relationship.

Passive-aggressive interactions

This happens when you are angry but passive. Instead of clear and honest communication, you will show your anger with subtle and indirect remarks and resentment.

Sarcasm can make communication go horribly wrong

Sarcasm is often used to insult someone. You say the opposite of what you mean to show your irritation and annoyance. When you are frustrated with slow service in a restaurant, you may remark that the service is speedy. 


When you interrupt someone, you are not listening. You do not allow the person to express her thoughts. You do not have all the information to continue with a constructive conversation. Interrupting may indicate that you are self-absorbed and impolite.

Not listening can make communication go horribly wrong

By now, you know that listening is most important during your interactions. When you do not listen actively, you will not hear and understand what the other person says. You may make incorrect assumptions and totally misunderstand her. It leads to hurt feelings and distrust, which will weaken the communication.  

You cannot listen when you are distracted or trying to multitask. 


InSecrets to successful communication that you did not know,” we discussed the importance of your attitude towards the other person during successful interaction. You can convey disrespect in subtle ways. What you say, your tone of voice and your body language can indirectly express your lack of respect. Examples are showing contempt, name-calling, or insulting someone.

Being overly emotional

communication go horribly wrong

An emotional person may find it challenging to communicate clearly. And it may be tricky to understand what she means. A moody person is not pleasant to live with. When you yell or shout at a person, she may feel disrespected. On the other hand, continuous crying can make her feel used. Staying cool is extremely important for effective interactions.

Invalidate feelings

Everyone has the right to her own feelings. And feelings are not right or wrong. It is not your job to judge if a feeling is necessary or accurate. When someone tells you how she feels, you must validate the feeling. You may disagree with her but do not dismiss or make jokes about her feelings. It shows a lack of respect.

Expecting mind-reading can make communication go horribly wrong

Nobody can read another person’s mind. When you want something from another one, she will not know it unless you tell her. Staying quiet, being angry, and sulking about it, are not conducive to successful communication.

Assuming you know what the other person is thinking

Likewise, you can not identify what another is thinking. You may have an idea, but it may be totally wrong. It will mean that your line of communication goes astray.

Negative body language

Remember that actions speak louder than words. Your body language conveys more than your words. It will show when you are disengaged and not interested in the conversation. Negative body messages are turning your back on someone, eye-rolling, bored sighs, folding arms, inappropriate eye contact, or lack thereof. 

Universal statements can make your communication go horribly wrong

With this statement, you generalize. You use words like “always” and “never.” You may say, “You never answer my calls,” or “You are always too busy.” It implies that you do things without any exception. It is seldom the truth.


We all tell lies in one way or another. Little white lies may prevent you from hurting a friend. You may lie about how you are feeling or what you are thinking. Lying is not clear communication, and you cannot expect your desired outcome in an interaction if you do not tell the truth. The truth may sometimes hurt, but lies are more destructive.

Being defensive

communication go horribly wrong

You use a strategy to take the focus away from you. Instead of owning up to your faults, you attack the other person. When you are defensive, you avoid taking responsibility and become a victim. The resentment is communicated through words, tone of voice, and body language. Defensiveness builds a wall between you and the other person. 

Criticism can make communication go horribly wrong

Criticism means that you attack the person’s character instead of addressing the problem. Focusing on the person may lead to unfair criticism, which will not resolve the issue. Judging someone can be hurtful, and she will be inclined to explain and defend herself. 

Testing boundaries

When a person sets boundaries, and another person infringes on them repetitively, you are testing her boundaries. Testing boundaries is an indication that you do not listen, lack respect for that person, and are selfish. 


Stonewalling means that you shut the other person out. You may give her the silent treatment, walk away, or be dismissive. This is a dead communication stopper because there is no conversation if you do not speak, and you cannot solve the issue at hand.

Threats and intimidation

Name-calling, threats, condescending allegations, harsh words, and foul language cannot be tolerated in good interactions. Threats may be the most harmful way of interacting with someone. The following are examples of intimidation: 

  • Physical violence 
  • Screaming and yelling
  • Hostile body language
  • Insults in front of friends or family
  • Setting someone up for failure

“You” messages

It is the opposite of “I” messages. When you use the word “You,” it puts the focus away from yourself. And it puts the responsibility on the other person. It can be a demand, an accusation, or an order, making the receiving person defensive. 

Always being negative 

When you are habitually negative, your relationships will soon turn toxic. You may declare your negativity through harsh and unkind language, criticizing, and negative body language. Imagine living with someone who never has anything positive to say about anything. It elicits negative emotions like defensiveness, frustration, and resentment. None of these are conducive to effective interaction.

Lack of compromising

A good relationship should balance both person’s needs and wants. It implies that both must be willing to compromise. When you cannot compromise, you have a rigid attitude. An inflexible person does not consider other people’s thoughts and feelings but will enforce her ideas and preferences on the others. It certainly can make your communication go horribly wrong.

How to deal with an adverse communicator

You will recognize the poor communicator by how you feel in her presence. If you feel anger, frustration, resentment, guilt, or other negative emotions, you are most likely interacting with an adverse communicator. The following tips may help you:

  • Keep your cool
  • Listen, but do not interrupt or judge
  • Acknowledge her feelings
  • Keep your body language neutral and open
  • Respond but do not react
  • Be respectful

Final thoughts

Effective interactions serve to make relationships smooth and comfortable. It enables you to communicate your needs and wants while accommodating the other person. But it also allows you to have fruitful conversations on many exciting topics. 

Perhaps you can use the points above to evaluate your own communication skills. And the article Your ultimate guide to good communication” will show you ways to improve your skills.

Writing this article made me acutely aware of how easily communication can go horribly wrong. And then we are surprised at the reaction we get. We can all benefit from better communication skills. Please share this article with family, friends, and co-workers.


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