Poor Communication: Too Much or Too Little?

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poor communication

Poor Communication: Too Much or Too Little?

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Communication is such a complex topic. Often I talk with clients about communication, about factors that influence communication, and about trust issues or even about information overload. Is it possible to have too much communication? Is that poor communication?

Too Much Communication

Many people incorrectly make the assumption that communication break downs are the result of someone not providing a different person with information that they need to know. Here are a few common statements that might be misdiagnosed as a signal for more communication:

  • No one told me!
  • I guess I missed the memo! {sarcasm}
  • I wasn’t in that meeting.

While it might be true that there are times when important information is not shared, there are often many reasons which are not directly related to having an awareness of the need to share information. Things like trust, the fear of causing a conflict, and poor listening skills also substantially contribute to a break down in workplace communication.

too little communication

When a team member, the entire team, or the entire organization come to the conclusion that their communication problems are the result of not sharing enough information the problems sometimes don’t get better, they often get worse.

Too Much or Too Little

Too much communication is just as bad as too little. What happens when people decide to email everyone in the company, use to much courtesy copy, or get a little sneaky with the blind copy function? What if those people don’t necessarily need to be in that loop?

You guessed it, people grow tired of seeing email from a sender which doesn’t apply to them and so they just stop reading, and they don’t just stop reading that email, they stop reading all of them! After some time an email received from Jack or from Jane simply does not matter. The technology savvy employee might even set up a rule in their email management software to file them in a folder that they seldom view.

Communication and Meetings

Email is not the only pathway to providing too much communication. Similar to the email problem management teams sometime decide that they need more meetings or to involve more people in the meetings.

poor communication meeting effectiveness

This might work out okay if that is really a problem but if more people attend the meetings and the information being shared gets more restrictive because of low-trust issues then you have additional problems. Now you have more people removed from otherwise productive work and the meeting content is narrower and important information is not being shared.

So more time is being wasted and the communication has weakened. Should we go a step further?

Productivity Impact

Okay, so if the team has decided to invite more people and yet the additional people are not productive (because they are stuck in the meeting) and less information is shared with the people who definitely need to know then what happens?

You guessed it, another meeting happens because now people need to meet separately with the people who really need to know and of course they can’t disrupt the concept of more people in the original meeting because that is counter intuitive to the decision that they made to share more information.

Poor Communication

When it comes to poor communication, can it get any worse? You bet and often it does.

Yes, there can be too much communication and yes the wrong choices to improve communication in organizations can make things worse, much worse.


Originally posted November 17, 2016, Last updated March 17, 2018

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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