The top 5 Communication Mistakes made every day? # 2

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The top 5 Communication mistakes we make everyday, number 2; do you experience this?

2: Lack of common ground

As humans we naturally tend to stick with what we know.  As such, when you come across what you don’t know the gap can be huge.  This is not a problem if you are aware of it because you can ensure you identify the unknown and address it.  It is when you don’t know and don’t address it that problems arise.

When I am working with a Team I encourage them to;

  • Recognise
  • Identify, then
  • Bridge the gap

Many years ago I was working with a Gentleman from Africa.  When we spoke he would not make eye contact with me. I tried over and over to address this with him, so I had Recognised the gap, I had tried to Identify the gap but had struggled, as he just would not engage.

I sought the assistance of a worker from the same cultural background from the local migrant resource centre.  Until this time, I interpreted his reaction as fear, shyness or a lack of respect.

However, what I learned later was that in his culture for a man to look at a woman particularly a younger woman from another culture was seen as complete disrespect.  So what I was interpreting as disrespect was actually him showing me the highest respect from his culture.  Because we lacked common ground culturally, we did not initially understand each other’s perspective.  This helped me to Bridge the gap.

Once this Gentleman felt that I was willing to understand and accept him he was able to open up. When he learned that eye contact in my culture was not disrespectful.  With support and encouragement he was willing to begin to make a change. This was a big challenge for him.  However we had built trust and mutual respect so he was willing to try and do something outside of his comfort zone.

What gaps do you have in your relationships?  Is there someone at work you just don’t get, someone who just pushes all the wrong buttons?  These are examples of gaps.  Sometimes it g=can be cultural, age related, background, personality and many more.  The first step is awareness.  S when you would like to build a better connection remember to Recognise, Identify and Bridge the Gap.

Next time we will look at the third of the top 5 communication mistakes made everyday. If you have found this helpful please share it with someone who would benefit.

For tips, free resources and information on our upcoming Master class “The Art Of Difficult Conversations” or check out loads of other free resources at our website at


Until next time, Care, Connect and be a Courageous Communicator.  Let’s change the world we live in one conversation at a time.



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