Five Simple Acts to Amp Up Your Communication Skills

Small gestures and simple acts make a significant difference in how your communications go, specifically how the other person feels about you and the conversations you share.

Here are simple tips from The Way to Say It to amp up your communication skills:

mom with teenager

Sit down – By sitting down opposite your listener, their experience of the communication changes. They feel more heard, more valued and they get the feeling you have spent more time with them. Taking a seat improves connection and communicates caring and interest.

 

 

 

Beautiful Eyes

Make eye contact – It’s easy to get distracted by any number of activities happening around you. Might be a text coming in on your cell. Or emails appearing on your computer screen, or other family members competing for your attention. If in the midst of these “distractions” you can maintain good eye contact, the person you’re talking with will feel valued when speaking and more interested when you are speaking.

 

 

 

respond baby

Confirm interest verbally – An occasional “I hear you, that makes sense, or I’m sorry to hear that,” goes a long way in demonstrating to others your interest and attention. This is a habit generally more common among women than men.  Make a habit of a few verbal confirmations in every conversation, especially the emotionally-charged and difficult ones. Your listener will really feel you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree.

 

 

office conversation

 

Face your listenerUse your body language to communicate “approachability” rather than distance. That means facing the person you are speaking with, focusing in on them and what they have to say.

 

 


open door green 
Communicate To communicate receptivity, openness, and a willingness to listen, unfold your arms. Uncross your legs. A relaxed body stance invites trust and demonstrates you are open to their thoughts and comments. It doesn’t mean you agree, just that you are open to other points of view.

 

 

Use Your Senses

Great communicators use more than one sense to communicate. That means auditory skills to listen; visual senses to observe another’s body language, facial expressions and gestures; kinetics to feel and sense the emotion and energy of the conversation; and even an occasional appropriate, supportive touch to connect and say what words cannot (it goes without saying the “touch” is non-threatening, non-sexual and appropriate to the situation). Don’t forget your intuition as another sense to utilize!

By implementing these simple steps and using multiple senses in communications, your talks will be more connected, more powerful, and more trustworthy whether you are chatting it up at home or at the office.

What simple acts make YOU a great communicator? Got any tips to share with our readers?

Put on Your Big Boy Pants: Have that Tough Conversation NOW

road block

Road blocks to difficult conversations exist only in your head!

What’s stopping YOU from having the difficult conversation lurking in your head?  

Is it……?

Procrastination……Fear of rejection……Fear of anger……Embarrassment……Not knowing the way to say it……Fear of reprisal……Shoot the messenger fears……Your own discomfort…..You’re afraid you’ll be emotional……Your fear of their reaction–uh oh!……Not wanting to face the truth……You’re STILL waiting for the right moment……Your refuse to own your own your stuff..….Fear you might lose control……They should come to YOU…..Certainty that YOU’RE right……You are much too hurt……You don’t believe in talking about such things……You can’t admit you were wrong……You’re waiting for THEM to go first……You just don’t know where to begin……You tried already……You think, “Oh, it will all just blow over”……You don’t believe it will make a difference?

ostrich

Is this you?

Whatever the reason is (or reasons) for your delay, the end result is the same. Nothing and I mean NOTHING improves when you avoid an uncomfortable, difficult conversation regardless of all the excuses you make in your head.

According to J.D. Schramm in Harvard Business Review, “Often our fear of having the conversation with somebody about a sensitive subject can be worse than having the conversation itself. We put off bringing up a tough subject because we are waiting for the “perfect opportunity.”

But the uncomfortable truth, the truth we all know, is this:  there is no perfect opportunity. If we wait, the conversation will never happen.

We have to just put on our big boy pants and do it. WE need to make the first move regardless of who spoke last, or who we think is wrong, or exactly what happened, or who we think SHOULD reach out first. We need to take a breath and begin.

go sign

Follow these tips to help you get started on that difficult conversation you’re avoiding:

  1. Write out your thoughts – If time allows, write. Write how you think you’d say it, without the anger and without the judgment. Consider it brainstorming. You’ll find both things not- to-say, and things very well said. Use your writing as a guide.
  2. Make a commitment.  If you’ve been procrastinating, set a time frame. Say to yourself (or even better, to someone who will hold you accountable) I’ll have this conversation by tomorrow, two days from now, a week from now. Just set a date that is close enough to break through your procrastination.
  3. Come up with a few good openers. Make sure you have one or two good opening lines to start off the conversation. Rule of thumb is:  be real, express yourself honestly (even if you have to say you are somewhat nervous), and be direct. Get right to what you want to talk about. No beating around the bush.
  4. Keep it private. If the topic is stressful enough to qualify as a tough conversation to you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, then privacy is a must. Never begin one of these talks in earshot of others, unless they, too, are part of the conversation.
  5. Tolerate imperfection. These talks are challenging. That means they often won’t be perfect. With that in mind, congratulate yourself for facing the issue instead of judging yourself for not saying it perfectly.  Even an average job of a difficult conversation IS an accomplishment.

None of us can avoid difficult conversations in life. They are a part of life. Unless you are a hermit, you might as well begin to develop this skill now.

Instead of avoiding the conversation, you’ll avoid the drama that unexpressed issues create. Problems, misunderstanding and disagreements not brought to light, create relationship issues and ongoing stress. As Kevin O’Leary (also known as “Mr. Wonderful” from The Shark Tank), would say, “Stop the madness.” Have the conversation and the sooner you do, the easier it will be.

Seven Tips on How to Share Your Ideas So Your Boss Will Hear You

skeptical attitudeThe bosses and business owners I talk to all agree on this issue. They want their employees to offer solutions, not just problems. But that doesn’t mean off-the-cuff ideas that have not been thought through or prepared.

Here’s the way to say it soyou’ll know how to deliver your suggestions with the problem you’re addressing:

Be confident, not apologetic – This especially applies to women who can be too apologetic. When presenting your ideas your boss wants to see YOU believe in them, otherwise why should he?

Be concise, not detailed – Your boss will let you know if she wants detail after hearing your suggestions

Be prepared, not off the cuff – In order to be heard, taken seriously and not be viewed as a time- waster, you must have your thoughts in order. Organize yourself. Anticipate questions and be prepared to address them.

Be responsible, not a blamer – Should your solution require talk of the problem in detail, make sure you don’t throw others under the bus. This will only hurt how YOU are viewed.

Be transparent, not manipulative – Good chance your boss is savvy enough to read through manipulation, if not at that moment then further down the line.  Manipulative behaviors will damage your credibility. Not worth the risk.

Be neutral in tone, not dramatic – When reviewing problems, leave the theatrics for Hollywood. It won’t help your case. Just report the facts, the situation and address them.

Be respectful of time, not self-absorbed – Don’t let your opportunity for time with the boss turn into an all-about-me session.  If you do, there won’t likely be much time for you in the future.

listeningConsider implementing these approaches when you deliver your next problem…and its solutions, of course. It will go a long way in your boss valuing your input and not seeing you as part of the problem too!

P.S. Don’t forget to offer more than one workable solution for consideration!

Office Talk: Ten Changes to Make Now

watch your mouth

 To immediately improve your communications at home and in the office, make these “don’ts” rules to live by.

Don’t begin sentences with “honestly, truthfully, frankly, or to be honest.”  Doing so implies that what you said before might not be honest. If you are honest in your communications, you will never need to say so. Your words will speak for themselves.

 

Avoid adding “but” between sentences. Use “and” instead. “But” negates everything you said before it.

 

Don’t use absolutes like “you always” or “you never.”  It’s rarely true and doing so exaggerates, quickly making people defensive.

 

Don’t let your tone and body language contradict each other. Get all aspects of yourself in line. If your tone is carries a different meaning than your choice of words, your listener will always go with the tone.

 

Don’t be a steam roller  OR  a pushover.  Neither extreme is effective in business or in relationships. Find a balance of being firm and assertive, while also being open and flexible.

 

Don’t “collect stamps” saving up old “wrongs” to use later as surprise attacks in conversation. Deal with issues when they occur. Don’t collect them for later. Stuffing issues only makes them fester and expand.

 

Don’t beat around the bush. Good communications can be challenging enough. Don’t complicate things by beating around the bush and making your listener work to figure out what your words mean.  Just get to the point with direct, clear statements.

 

Don’t deliver your feedback and bad news in a “sandwich” surrounded by positive words. Combining good and bad news as a sandwich is confusing and misses the point. If you have bad news to deliver, or negative feedback, speak up. Be honest and straight so your listener can hear the real message. 

 

Don’t come in guns blazing without thinking through your intentions and approach for a difficult conversation. Especially when the news is hard to hear, be sure you don’t just shoot from the hip unprepared. Think things through….then speak.

 

Don’t say “You  made me feel……..”  When sharing your feelings, own them. Don’t shift your feelings to be someone else’s responsibility. Start your sentences with “I”, not “you.” 

 

Making these simple changes in your conversations will have an immediate impact. Your listener will feel more at ease and you’ll find the entire communication easier, and less tense.

Give it a shot…try a few of these and then let me know in “comments” how your next difficult conversation goes using all or any of these rules. After you’ve mastered these rules, share them with your department and watch communications improve for everyone!

Are These 20 Phrases Damaging Your Career and Holding You Back at Work?

holding woman back at officeSome phrases we learn from our parents. Some we pick up listening to others. Some are just filler that make us more comfortable when we’re speaking. Many, unfortunately, are ineffective in creating great communications.

Check these out. Do they sound like you?

 

1.  “You really should…”  –  No one wants to be told what they SHOULD do.

2.  “You really shouldn’t…– And possibly even more what they SHOULDN’T do.

3.  “You made me feel…” – No one makes us feel anything. Our feelings and reactions are our choices.

4.  “You never listen” – This phrase is sure to shut down listening even more!

5.  “……… but ……….” – Any phrase followed by “but” negates anything said prior. Use “and” instead.

6.  “To be honest, I ________” –  This infers that maybe you weren’t being honest before, or that you aren’t always honest.

7.  “Basically”– It’s filler. It weakens your message. Learn to just say what you need to say without this lead-in.

8.  “You never” or “You always” – These generalizations are sure to shut down conversation or spark conflict.

9.  “We need to talk!”  – It sends heart rates up and folks running, as it is NEVER followed by good news.

10. “Why can’t you be more like …….?” –  You may have heard this as a child, but even there this phrase can produce nothing positive.

11. “You do that every time we …..– It’s accusatory, generalizing and will shut anyone down.

12. “Maybe” (when you really mean “no”) – If you are thinking “no”, learn to say it. Clearly, honestly and appropriately. Maybe leads to confusion down the road.

13. “It’s not my fault!”– True or not, let that fact be made clear by your conversation and explanation, not by sounding like a child defending themselves.

14. “What you have to understand is………”– No, it’s not true. No one HAS to understand anything. What you mean is “what I hope you understand is”…

15. “That’s not fair” – Unless you are under the age of 5, omit this phrase from ALL communications.

16. “With all due respect”– This phrase usually precedes passive/aggressive communication and is not offering respect at all, and it’s overused.

17. “That’s not a good idea” – You may think that, but a better way to respond might be, “Here is a concern I have about this idea” or “let’s examine that idea together.”

18. “Why would you do that?”  This one is usually full of “tone” and judgment. If you can deliver it as a genuine, neutral question of curiosity, it might work. Otherwise, skip it.

19. “Don’t take it personally– First of all, this phrase never stops someone from taking it personally and it usually precedes feedback that is potentially upsetting and personal to the listener. Just learn to deliver your feedback well…without this phrase.

20. “You need to …… – Another form of telling someone what to do. It’s not up to you to determine what someone else needs. You can request or suggest, or as a boss you can say, “Here is what I need you to do.”

If these expressions are part of your communications at work, it’s time to delete them and master some new, healthier responses.

Let me know you’re out there. Which ones do you struggle with? What expressions do you need a new response to substitute?

The Right Words to Turn Down a Reference Request

testimonials2

Just because you have been asked to provide a reference or testimonial,
doesn’t mean you are obligated.

Recently I’ve gotten numerous requests for testimonials and references.  Providing references is a great way to support those in our network. But suppose the reference request is from someone we hardly know? Or from an individual we never worked with, never purchased from?  What’s the right call then?

The answer is simple.

We tell them the truth.

We tell them we are not in a position to give what they are asking.

We remind them we have not worked together, or not worked together in years, so offering a testimonial feels out of sync.

We tell them we don’t know them well enough to speak to their strengths with confidence.

We wish them well.

It’s perfectly acceptable to not provide the reference. Opting out of such a request is always an option. The challenge is doing it honestly. Wording it well. Finding the way to say it.

Of course, saying “no” to a reference request might be slightly uncomfortable. Saying “no” usually is.  But it’s better than writing a testimonial we don’t feel comfortable giving.  To film a video testimonial, or write a letter of recommendation, or provide a verbal job reference that we can’t honestly stand behind, compromises our integrity.

And I am never never “for” that.  Saying yes when we want to say no is a people-pleasing act.  Helping is great. Supporting others is gracious, but doing so when it conflicts with our own feelings is a bad choice.

The question becomes how do we say “no” to a reference request?

 We start by:reference

 * Being truthful and genuine
* Saying it courteously and with kindness
*  Keeping  it simple, keeping it short
* Valuing our own integrity
* Not being overly apologetic  (Once will do)

 

As to the way to say it, here are some one line responses to graciously turn down a request for any kind of reference:

“You know, it’s been so long since we worked together that I can’t comfortably write you a reference.”

“Should we successfully work together in the future, I would gladly consider providing you with a reference then.  I’m sorry but till then, it’s premature.”

“I’m honored that you asked for my reference. Please know that I only provide references when I can really attest to someone’s work. I just don’t know you well enough.”

“I’m not in a position to really speak comfortably about your skills and attributes.”

“I wish I could help you out, but our working relationship is too new.”

“I’d love to see you get the job, but I won’t be able to help you with a job reference since I don’t know you in that capacity.”

These are just a few simple, honest ways to say “no” without offending the requester or looking unsupportive yourself.  You can always follow these statements with softeners like, “I’m sorry I can’t help you” or “I’m sure you understand” or even “I wish I knew you more. It’s just too soon.”

Occasionally someone will ask you to provide a testimonial anyway. Just remember, should they become pushy, it will be even more important for you to maintain your professionalism and obviously, NOT write the reference.

just say noIf you want to maintain the value of your opinion, your word, and your integrity, make it a personal rule:

Only give references for those people you feel certain about backing,

whether it’s for their skills, their character or their abilities.

Your references will carry so much more weight and substance when you do write them.

The Way to Say It Tips: Telling Your Guests “It’s Time to Go”

empty wine glass end of partyIs there really an acceptable way, a polite and appropriate way to let guests know it’s time to go?  I mean, no one wants to be rude to friends and visitors. It’s not as if we didn’t enjoy them or didn’t want them to visit in the first place. Even so on occasion, we want our guests to go home.

Maybe  our schedule the next day begins early.  Maybe we’ve been running too fast and are just exhausted. Or maybe we tend to be early-to-bed people and are ready to call it quits.

Can we say express that? What do you think? Have you ever suggested gracefully, or even awkwardly for that matter, to your guests that the night is over?

In situations like these most of us watch the clock. We say nothing. Some of us dance around and drop small hints, hoping our guests will get it. Sometimes we go so far as to begin the cleaning up as a signal it’s time.

Most of us don’t know what to do. We just wait. Few people actually tell the truth.

Let’s start with one of the easier, more clear-cut situations to see what we might actually say.

When Illness Is Involved:  

At the moment a dear friend of mine is home recovering from a serious, life-threatening infection.  Everyone in her circle wants to help and stop in to wish her well.  That support is a huge part of recovery, but it can also be a bit much. For her, some boundary-setting requests would help her preserve her limited energy and let guests know “it’s time to go.”

Here are some of “the ways to say it” that I recommend:

 “I’m so appreciative of your coming by to see me. Now unless I want my doctor, and my husband to yell at me, I have to get some rest. I hope you will visit again .”

“This has been such a gift having you visit.  It really makes me feel great. Unfortunately, if I don’t keep my visits short, I really pay for it the next day. I get so tired!  I’m planning on heading to bed in about 15 minutes.”

 “You know, I hate for you to leave, but if I don’t get lots of naps and rests each day, it really wears me out. I hope you understand I need to cut our visit short now. It’s time for me to rest.”

 “Oh, this has been a great visit. Now, if I am to get well I’m going to have to boot you guys out and go take a rest. Hope you understand! Thanks.” 

 Another skilled way to handle these communication challenges is before the fact. Instead of having an awkward moment trying to bring the visit to a close, set your time limits up front. When guests arrive, thank them and give them a head’s up of how long your visit can last.  Say something like:

“Oh it’s great to see you. I love visits but they do drain me so can we plan on about a ____ long visit?”

Or a bit stronger,

 “Thanks for coming to see me. Let me give you a head’s up….I turn into a pumpkin after about an hour and just completely run out of energy. Let’s keep our visit within that time frame.”

 Most people would agree sickness is a justifiable reason to limit our guests.  That doesn’t mean we must have such a dramatic reason to set boundaries on our time. The question remains, what about other situations?

boundary

When It’s a Normal Get Together:

 Here are some ideas to try out in your personal life:

  1. Communicate in Advance:  If you know you have friends who tend to stay long, or an early commitment, or some reason you need to limit your time together, communicate that up front. We have great friends who told us they wake at 4:30 most mornings and are in bed early.  This helps us respect their preferences. We tend to meet early and depart early as a result. No awkward moments.
  2.  Make Your Invite Specific:  When you are a host you get to call the shots.  When inviting, communicate clearly a beginning time and an ending time! There’s much less chance of needing to say anything more.
  3. Work Your Needs into the Conversation:  At some time in the visit, talk about your early commitment the next day and what time you need to be up. Or share how little sleep you have gotten and that you plan on an early night tonight. Whatever your need is, find a casual comfortable way to share it over the course of the night long before it’s actually time to leave.
  4. Be Open, Be Yourself:  Develop friendships that allow you to be yourself, that support honest communication. Get in the habit of using a casual, kidding, light tone of voice to share your preferences and habits. The more your friends know you, the more they will respect your needs and preferences, as well as express their own.

Taking these steps and having these kinds of conversations will take some practice. It won’t necessarily be smooth and easy the first few times. But we can work up to the more difficult conversations and start small.

My commitment is to honest, open conversations, even when it’s difficult. That may not be your choice. It’s really a personal decision each of us make. Just know if you don’t choose to communicate  your boundaries and limits on your time and get-together, you will occasionally have some friends who overstay their welcome. And given that you won’t have stated your needs, you’ll be part of the problem. Why not try speaking up instead?

What to Say….. When You Forgot What You Were Saying

Ever been in the middle of a conversation when suddenly…..huh? …..  what? You’re lost. Sometimes it’s age-related. But it can also be a result of fatigue, anxiety, or even food allergies that affect mental clarity.huh

Whatever the cause, it’s helpful to have ready-to-go responses for those moments. Rather than struggle with embarrassment or self-criticism, it’s important to keep in mind, this happens to everyone. The more anxious we become over these moments, the slower our minds clear and “reset.”

Imagine this.

You’re on a phone talking business about an important project. Suddenly you’re blank. You experience a momentary loss of memory. Most of us stutter and stammer, unsure of what to say, unsure of how to deal with the gap.  A better alternative is to have some ready-responses, even if they have to be written down in front of you for just such an occasion. After all, if you’re on the phone, who will know?

Choose from these ideas, or use them to create your own response:

  • “I hope you won’t mind if I take some time to think this over. I’d like to give it just a bit more time and call you back to finish our conversation.”
  • “Let’s review for a moment….can you recap for me?”
  • “Sorry, I have a call I’ve been waiting for and need to take. Can I call you back?”
  • “Tell me, what are your thoughts here?”
  • “So, in your mind, what’s next?”
  • “Do we have time to think this over and talk later today or tomorrow?”
  • “Someone just walked into my office, are you available to talk about this more later?”

Obviously, not all of these are appropriate for every situation. It will be different if you are speaking with your boss vs. a team member, if you are in front of a group, or one on one. But each of the above responses should give you food for thought to come up with your personal favorites.

Let’s suppose your short-circuit moment is in a personal conversation. Depending on who you’re talking to, it might be best to say, “Can you remind me where we were? My mind drifted for a moment.” Or even, “Tell me that again. I’m not sure I got everything you said.”

I forgot

Or, try one of something like this:

  • “Ugh….someone just interrupted me, where was I? “
  • “Ok, let’s backtrack a moment. I need to review. Where were we?”
  • “Give me a hand here, I got so ahead of myself in thought, I lost track of what I was saying. Can you refresh my memory?”

The less fanfare, the less apology and overreaction to these mental skips, the faster your mind will reboot and come back to the topic of conversation.

Everyone occasionally loses track of themselves, with no memory of what was just said. But in business situations or pivotal moments with an employee or boss, it might not be best to share that. Instead, take a breath and find a graceful way to resume the conversation. You’ll be able to move on without embarrassment and without missing a beat.

Check out our next post this week for more ideas on how to handle a mental gap in your conversation.

‘The Way to Say It’ Tips: How to Disagree without Conflict

different directions - test - it works in firefox and chrome.

It’s insanity to even begin to think we could be in agreement with others all the time. With so many different cultures and religions, a multitude of life experiences to draw from, so many diverse areas of expertise and education, and even just different family values, it’s a wonder we ever agree!

Even so, for some of us, the idea of disagreeing out loud is scary and something to be avoided at all costs.  As children lots of us were taught not to disagree, not to express ourselves openly, and not to share differing points of view. We learned to keep our mouths shut. We learned to avoid conflict, friction, and above all confrontation. 

But over time, that just doesn’t fly. At work, we must make difficult decisions. We must face opposition to our views. We must stand up for employees and defend funding for projects. At home, we must set boundaries on our time. We have to decide how to spend joint monies, how to raise children. In every area of life whether that means at work, at home, with friends, with family or with strangers, we are faced with differing opinions and ideas and contradictory points of view.

Rather than continue to avoid or be in fear of these other beliefs and opinions, how about learning to step into them? How about learning the art of difficult conversation and even some phrases for the way to say it when one disagrees?

disagree blackboard - test - I was able to edit the image via the icon on the image in firefox.

Here are some simple, but not necessarily easy, steps to take to work through disagreement with grace and an open mind.

Step One:   Offer Mutual Respect

Recognize the other has as much right to their point of view as you do.  And believe it; don’t just give it lip service. Come from that mindset right out of the gate. Before you even open your mouth, tell yourself multiple times “They have the same right to their opinion and beliefs that I have to mine.”

Step Two:  Establish Understanding

Now that you recognize you both have the same right to your point of view, take the time to hear out the other person’s perspective. Really listen and try to put yourself in their shoes. Can you see how they drew these conclusions? Why they feel the way they do?  Allow their perceptions while still having yours.

Step Three:  Seek Agreement

Once you have heard each other’s story, work together to determine where there is agreement.  Don’t expect total agreement. Simply find where you share the same point of view. Where is there overlap in your perceptions? What perspectives and beliefs do you share? Where do you agree? Where do you see things the same or similarly? Finding that common ground creates a great foundation to build on.

Step Four:  Clarify Points of Difference

While maintaining that there is some agreement, get clear on exactly where the point or points of difference lie.  After listening to each other’s positions (Step 3), most likely you have discovered there is more agreement than originally thought.  With that in mind, take a fresh look at where the gap is, where you each see things differently.  Is there room for compromise? Cooperation? Has anyone’s perspective changed?

If so, wrap up by talking about the common ground and the understanding gained.

It’s perfectly ok to disagree. The object is not to convince each other of your own point of view, but to educate each other on new viewpoints and to create understanding. If you can accomplish that, you have succeeded! You can each go on your way seeing things differently. But now you have an expanded view of the issue having  shared your perspectives.

Here are some phrases that will prove helpful in the art of disagreement without conflict:  

  • “I appreciate your point of view and I think I understand your feelings. Here’s how I see it. “
  • ” I wish I could agree with you. Unfortunately, I see it differently.”
  • “I respect your opinion and hope you can respect that my viewpoint is different from yours.”
  • “I understand your position and I agree on xxxx points. Here is where I think we see things differently.”
  • “We have some common ground and some points where we disagree.”
  • “Wow, I had never thought of things from that perspective. Thanks for sharing that point of view. It opens things up for me. “
  • “Thanks to your insights, I have some thinking to do on this topic. Thank you.”
  • “Now that we have talked it through, I see your point of view more clearly and I respect your opinion. We do agree in some areas and we do not in others, and that’s just fine.”
  • “I so enjoy that we can hold different points of view and respect those differences. Thanks for sharing your perspective.”

Having a different opinion than your spouse or co-worker or even your boss is not the end of world. Considering the wide range of factors that lead us to our conclusions, disagreement is to be expected and accepted. The key is doing so without judgment and criticism. If we give the level of respect we want, everyone wins. 

Respectful disagreement is healthy.

 

25 Habits that Kill Great Communication

Stop making difficult conversations harder than they need to be.

Stop making difficult conversations harder than they need to be.

The Way to Say It  is about more than just choosing the right words.  It’s also about what NOT to say and how NOT to behave.  It’s about conversational habits we need to break and remove from our difficult conversations. 

Many of these behaviors are so habitual we don’t even realize how they block powerful communication and sabotage our very efforts. Each of these 25 habits undermines trust, creates distance and keeps us from our conversational goals.  

What’s the point of stepping into a difficult conversation only to make things worse with your attitude or tone of voice, or even passive-aggressive behavior?

Learning to master difficult conversations takes effort. Make sure your tough talks don’t include any of these bad habits. 

Here are the behaviors that need to go:      

    1. Blaming others  while believing we are guilt free
    2. Using a sarcastic tone of voice
    3. Blind siding with a surprise attack
    4. Taking a defensive stance
    5. Attacking by using “you” statements
    6. Avoiding the actual subject
    7. Dancing around the issues with implications and vagueness
    8. Pretending all is well
    9. Fighting dirty with name calling or intentionally hurtful dialog,
    10. Talking over others
    11. Being a poor listener
    12. Playing the “I’m right, you’re wrong” card
    13. Saying the right words with the wrong tone
    14. Wanting to prove your point rather than resolve issues
    15. Making the issue public
    16. Not owning your stuff, your feelings
    17. Dismissing others’ opinions
    18. Patronizing and belittling others
    19. Interrupting others’ talk
    20. Not acknowledging honest effort of others
    21. Being dishonest
    22. Withholding the truth
    23. Avoiding eye contact
    24. Multi-tasking rather than being present
    25. Making excuses for your behavior

Which of these habits are yours? Most likely some, if not many, of these habits are things you have done when conversations are challenging. We all do. Especially  when we’re angry, hurt or impatient. To really lean into tough conversations and create dynamic, clear, honest connection, we need to eliminate these behaviors.

It may not be reasonable to expect to break all your bad communication habits, after all we generally learn them from our families and these habits go back years. But that is no excuse for continuing what is counter productive. One by one, we can learn the way to say it with respect, without tone, listening and owning our part and really breaking through to resolve issues and create powerful results.                                                                                           

something newFirst, we need to raise our awareness so we realize which destructive communication habits are ours. Once we identify the communication styles that are hampering our success, then little by little we can substitute a healthy alternative  that fosters trust, builds connection, and breaks down barriers rather than creating  new ones.

It’s a new year! How about starting off by observing your communication habits and admitting which ones are killing your communications?