Have You Been Communicating Mixed Messages?

Posted in News, Insights, Motivational, Emotional Intelligence

If you're sending mixed messages, you may be hindering relationships. Our self-awareness skills play an essential role when communicating and expressing our feelings and emotions.


Do you ever send mixed messages?

Sending mixed messages happens more often than you might think. You can avoid this communication nightmare by aligning your body language, including facial expressions, emotion, voice tone, and feelings. Each of these modes plays a key role when communicating with others. Many of us aren’t conscious of what we’re projecting to the world when interacting with others. It’s easy to send mixed messages unless we're very self-aware. 

Have You Been Communicating Mixed Messages, Marshall Connects, Ontario

As the old saying goes – actions speak louder than words!

Self-awareness skills are instrumental when communicating and expressing our feelings. Our emotion plays a vital role in all we do. Those around us will get a sense of our feelings and emotions through our facial expressions and body language. People often trust what they see more than what they hear, which can develop mixed messages when you're communicating with others.

Imagine that you receive a call informing you that you were unsuccessful shortly after interviewing for an internal position. You immediately attempt to come to terms with your feeling of disappointment. As you're processing your emotions, the manager floods you with feedback about what a good candidate you were and how well you interviewed. This situation is a prime example of communicating a mixed message! This type of insincerity is very hurtful sends mixed messages and confusing emotions. There are numerous occasions where employing honesty is the best practice to facilitate clarity and sensitivity in our communication with others.

A strategy to avoid sending a mixed message

  • When we mix our messages, we are confusing the emotional response - the feelings - we trigger in the receiver. In the first part of our message we are leading the person down the path of either good or bad, for example, and then we confuse the message - the person's emotional detectors - by diverting them down the other path. Given our hardwired instinct for loss aversion, when we mix our messages, the negative one dominates. The negative emotion becomes the memory of the event.
    - Andrew O'Keeffe, Hardwired Humans

If this is a skill you want to develop, I recommend you focus on how your voice tone and body language reflect the emotions you are attempting to project over a two-week period. As you become more aware of your feelings and emotions, it becomes easier.  The next time you respond to someone and your body language or voice tone send different signals; you need to adjust these mixed messages to match the reality of how you’re feeling. This becomes easier as you become more aware of your feelings and emotions. If it’s appropriate, be authentic and share this information with the person you’re interacting with. 

When you develop the ability to self-correct your mixed messages in real-time, it will positively enhance your self-awareness skills when communicating with others. Keep in mind; people trust what they see more than what they hear. Marshall Connects offers Emotional Intelligence Assessments and Coaching to enhance skill development in all areas, including self-awareness strategies enhancing your focus to improve overall productivity.


This article was originally published on March 3, 2018, and has been updated (April 2021).

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