5 Ways to Improve Your Communication

Success can largely depend upon how effectively you communicate.

With this in mind, there are five common habits of speech that alienate coworkers and vastly limit your ability to inspire and lead others.

  1. Speechifying

Strong business relationships emerge from conversations. Speechifying is the opposite of conversation; it’s a one-way street where you end up talking AT somebody rather than talking WITH somebody.

Mostly this happens in presentations, when the speaker hasn’t left room for the audience to participate. It also happens in meetings, though, where somebody starts spouting information and opinion that are of interest to nobody but the speaker.

Fix: In conversations and presentations alike, remain conscious of how many statements you’ve made. Never let that count exceed three without asking a question.

  1. Interrupting

If you’re quick-witted, you probably know what many people are going to say, especially if they’ve begun to speak. If so, it’s mighty tempting to save yourself time by interrupting to move the conversation forward.

There are two problems with interrupting: 1) it’s disrespectful to the other person and deeply resented, and 2) the other person might have said something valuable.

Fix: Always let the other person finish his or her sentences. If they’re saying something predictable, listen more deeply to sense tone and nuance. You’ll be surprised how much you learn.

  1. Badmouthing

If you’re in a political battle with somebody else at work, it can be mighty tempting to point out their personal shortcomings to whomever is willing to listen.

Whenever you badmouth, however, the other person is usually thinking “What’s he saying about ME behind my back?”

Fix: Before saying something about someone who is not present ask yourself three questions: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? and 3) Is it necessary? Unless the answer is “yes” to all three questions, it’s best not to keep silent.

  1. Profanity

Despite what your mom told you, there are definitely moments in life and in business where an expletive is the only sane and satisfying response.

That being said, letting profanity slip into your everyday sentences marks you as a person whose anger lies just below the surface and who lacks the imagination to think of something original.

Fix: Habitual use of profanity is exactly that: a habit. To break the habit, monitor your speech and consciously substitute weaker, less offensive terms even if it means repeating yourself.

  1. Horn-Tooting

Contrary to popular belief, personal branding isn’t about you; it’s about what you or your services mean to other people. (This is true of all branding, in fact.)

Bragging about your accomplishments (or those of your group, company or product) doesn’t increase your credibility; it just bores people.

Fix: If you must talk about yourself, don’t bother defining who you are; instead be specific about how you’ve helped others and how you can help them even more in the future.

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