Leadership Fails: 7 Miscommunication Examples That Make Us Cringe

examples of terrible communication in the workplaceSometimes, communication in the workplace sucks. That's real life.

And despite their responsibility to lead the team and reduce miscommunication, managers and supervisors are often the worst. Don't be surprised if your organization struggles with communicating clearly and effectively: according to recent research, only half of all workplace conversations can be described as "great."

Download this ebook for tips on effective leader communication.


We took to Reddit to find the worst miscommunication examples—and we promise you won’t be disappointed.


1. The Unsympathetic Manager.

"I had a boss who refused to let me take an "unplanned vacation" to see my grandma on her deathbed. I quit on the spot." - ostentia


2. The I’m-Better-than-You Executive.

"I once worked at a company where the CIO sideswiped a woman's car as she pulled into a parking space. The woman who had the car that got hit got out and stood beside her car to see what damage was done. The CIO got out of her Mercedes and brushed right past the woman without so much as speaking to her. Completely ignored her and walked away. Even with witnesses."- lets_start_a_cult


3. The Condescending Supervisor.


"Nothing was ever said to me in a normal tone of voice...if it wasn't sarcasm, it was condescending. EVERYTHING was condescending. Nothing I ever did was right; if a Fed-Ex envelope was sealed even the tiniest bit crooked, I got yelled at and scolded for being messy. If it was perfectly straight? I got asked 'Did you use a ruler to get that line? What, can't you just close an envelope like a normal person?'

Forget trying to have any sort of regular conversation with the guy. If I agreed with him, he would sneer and say things like 'That's how you really feel? Yeah, right,' or if I asked a question, I got 'figure it out yourself. You're so SMAAAART.' That still haunts me...the way he used to draw out SMAAART in my face." - prdxthrowaway


4. The Obligatory Question.

"Half the time after my shift my supervisor would come to me and go 'Hey we don't have any cart guys scheduled to come in soon, mind going out and getting every cart from the parking lot and bring it up to the return?' Of course I say yes because it's not really a question so much as a 'do this or do it after an argument.'" - tatsuedoa


5. The Vague VP.

"The vice president told me I was being disrespectful during a conversation. I asked how and she told me that I 'knew what I was doing'. I asked again, stating that I had asked because I didn't actually know and was told she didn't have time for me because 'I know what you're doing and I don't have time for this.' You're the vice president, not a 15-year-old angry at her boyfriend." - thatskyguy

6. The Invisible Man.

"It's just that he's never around. Ever. Whenever you need him, he's not in the office, not in the building, and his car is gone." - 1800fullytorqued


7. The Micromanager.

"His department spanned multiple disciplines of engineering though he only had any clue what was going on with the electronic group (not my group) so he was clueless about specifics. This isn’t a bad thing as a manager should be familiar with how things are done generally and not need to know the specifics in each case. Regardless he acted as if he was the supreme authority on everything and would get personally involved with big issues.

Instead of actually helping though he would berate people if they didn’t solve problems fast enough in his opinion. If a reasonable amount of time to fix an issue was 3 days he would start calling you an idiot if it took you more than 4 hours and the next day would call your whole family morons." - [deleted]



We hope none of these situations are happening in your office—but honestly, we wouldn't be surprised if they are. Download The State of Miscommunication to see why workplace communication sucks and what your organization can do about it.

 Ebook Download: The State of Miscommunication