I like to think of myself as a good communicator – but recently I’ve made a few ‘schoolboy’ errors and felt a little foolish. I was really surprised and decided it was time to sharpen up. That’s because our communication not only affects how others see us – but also our own self-confidence. What a great opportunity to share these common communication mistakes with you!
So, do you make these 5 Communication Mistakes?
- Asking for Permission. This concept was a huge learning for me: There’s a saying that women ask for permission, but men ask for forgiveness. Of course this isn’t true for all men or all women – but it did make me think! All too often people don’t trust themselves and instead of just doing it, we stop and ask for permission. The downsides? 1) It transfers your power to whomever you’re asking, 2) It makes you appear lacking confidence and 3) It sets you up for a ‘No’!
TIP: Just do it or say, “I’m going to ________” rather than asking.
- What’s Your “Cool!”? Recently, at a local government meeting I said “COOOOOOOL!” in response to someone’s update – as opposed to “That’s great news!” or similar. Now, I’m the youngest person in the room so if I’m trying to be taken seriously, “Cool!” is probably not the best language. Think this isn’t an issue for you? I bet if you begin to pay attention to the words you use, you’ll be surprised. How many “Eh?s”, “Right ON!s” do you use in situations where making an impression is important? What’s your, “COOL!”? Because whether you’re at a parent’s meeting, ordering coffee at the local coffee shop or at a job interview, make sure you’re giving the impression you want to give.
TIP: Simply observe your language for a day. This simple act of observing is enough to sharpen up your language – and make the impression you deserve!
- Asking Questions instead of Making Statements. When we ask questions instead of making statements what we’re communicating is, “I’m unsure about this”. All too often we use questions as a way of protecting ourselves (maybe from getting it wrong or appearing pushy). BUT, when you ask a question INSTEAD of making a statement, you not only reduce how confident you appear to others but you’re also telling your ‘self’ that you don’t believe in you. In addition, you risk annoying someone as they wonder why you asked their opinion in the first place!
EXAMPLE: You: “Do you think we should spend more time on social media and build relationships with our fans?” Paul: “No, I think we should buy some more Google Ads.” You: “I really think we need to build relationships rather than advertise more.” Paul (annoyed): “Well why did you ask me what I thought?”
TIP: When you have something to say, use “I think ____” or “I propose _____” instead of asking a question. Have FAITH in yourself!
- Plunging in without thinking first. Recently at a gathering for coaches I was asked to introduce myself. I was feeling tired and scattered and when I was put on the spot I launched into my introduction, talked really fast and missed key information. And to top it all, I remembered everything I wanted to say just seconds afterwards. All I needed to do was take a deep breath and gather my thoughts for a couple of seconds before speaking instead of plunging in.
TIP: If you feel put on the spot, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts for a couple of seconds BEFORE speaking. It really makes a world of difference.
BONUS: When the spotlight is on you and you sit and breathe for a couple of seconds pulling your thoughts together it actually makes you APPEAR more confident as well as allowing the room to quiet and be ‘all ears’ for what you have to say.
- Not getting to the point. Do you give long descriptions, explaining WHY you’re going to tell someone something and give the whole back story? Do people people switch off as they wonder when you’re going to get to the point – because I know I still do sometimes! We like to explain everything first because we’re worried that people will take what we’re saying the ‘wrong’ way. We’re afraid that people might judge or misunderstand us – instead of trusting that people can see the real person and positive intention behind what we’re saying.
TIP: If you must explain, keep it to ONE sentence – this will focus your mind AND if it ends up being two sentences, well that’s still a vast improvement!
POINT TO PONDER: AND, if you really do have to share a long explanation first – it may be better not to tell the story at all…
Which of these communication mistakes, if any, do YOU make? Let us know by commenting below.
If you liked this article on communication mistakes and self-confidence, you may also like:
- Why You Must Trust YOUR Intuition and Decide for Yourself!
- Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone
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