Good communication skills are crucial everywhere, from the boardroom to the bedroom. When you commit “commikaze,” or communication suicide, it probably creates more misunderstandings and problems in human relations than any real insults or attacks do. Recognizing those communication minefields is the first step towards improving your communication skills and therefore your personal and professional success.
Here are some of the ways you could be committing communication suicide:
Wimpy word choices. Suppose you asked a colleague to handle something for you, and he replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” How convinced are you that he’ll really get it done? Suppose, instead, he said, “I’ll take care of it.” Doesn’t that instill your trust in him?
Instead of: You shouldn’t use that kind of language.
Try: I don’t like that kind of language.
Instead of: You didn’t complete the entire form.
Try: Some parts of the form are still blank.
Instead of: You’re doing this wrong.
Try: I wonder if there’s a better way to do this.
How you sound. While what you say is important, how you say it is what really conveys the meaning. Sarcasm or boredom in your voice is a turn off. Mumbling is frustrating to hear. A speedy rate of talking can lose listeners. A monotone will put people to sleep. Employ vocal variety so people will want to listen to you.
How you look. Nonverbal qualities account for 55% of our communication impact. Facial expressions, posture, eye communication, attire, body language and gestures all communicate volumes. When you don’t smile, sit slouched over, employ closed, defensive body language, can’t look people in the eye when you’re talking (or listening), or wear inappropriate attire for the workplace or the occasion, people will automatically discount you without you ever having opened your mouth.
Lax listening. When people believe you’re not listening, it creates a disconnect that’s almost impossible to overcome. There is an art to effective listening, and it’s called active listening. Think of your EAR: Engage the speaker; Actually hear what he’s saying; and Respond appropriately.
It’s all about me. If you’re compelled to show off your knowledge or dominate the conversation or force your opinions on people, it won’t matter how witty or smart you are. People are more interested in those who are interested in them. It’s an ironic but undeniable truth that if you show interest and a sort of wide-eyed wonder in other people, they will find you more likable and appealing.
A tendency for “you”phemisms. Casting blame is a sure way to impede communication. No one likes to be accused of wrongdoing.
Bump on a log syndrome. If you can’t show any energy, conviction, or passion for your product or service or company or self, then you can’t expect anyone else to get excited about it. If your presence is not adding value, then why are you there? Show up with energy, project enthusiasm, and get excited about other people’s ideas.