Communications Resolutions

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Well…it’s the time of year when people make resolutions. Rather than resolve to cut out all your favorite foods (virtually impossible to maintain), why not choose a couple of these attainable Communication Resolutions?

1. I will stop saying “just”.

“I’m just thinking…”,  “I am just writing to say…”, “I just want to mention….” The “just” diminishes the importance of what you are communicating, and by extension, you.

2. I will watch out for “Up-speak”.

I call it “Up-speak”: that Valley girl style where you end each sentence by raising the pitch of your voice, as you would when asking a question. It’s fine for, “Are you coming for dinner” but not so good for, “I had a great idea?” It makes you sound uncertain about what you are saying, as if you are looking for approval with each sentence. To maintain the power of your words, drop your pitch at the end of sentences.

3. I will simplify my sentences.

When writing – or even when speaking – it’s a lot easier for your reader/listener to follow when you keep your sentences simple and in an active voice. Too many clauses (and commas!) can make it hard to keep track of the original direction of the sentence. Complicated and convoluted do not equal sophisticated.

4. I will eliminate “filler” words and sounds.

“Uh”, “uhmmm”, “you know” and the like distract your listener and detract from the meaning of your words. It’s okay not to fill every second with sound. Pausing and breathing is better. Awareness is the first step. Have someone you trust listen to you tell a story and ask them to raise their hand every time you say your “filler” of choice. Then tape a little piece of paper with your filler onto your phone, computer, watch…wherever. That will remind you to simply be silent while thinking.

5. I will slow down

Most people speak faster when they are nervous, for example during a presentation or when talking with the boss. When you’re in an anxiety-provoking communication situation, prepare yourself before with 5 deep belly breaths, and remind yourself that speaking at the correct, slower pace will probably feel excruciating. Pause in between thoughts. Not only will you will come across as more confident, you will have time to be more thoughtful in what you communicate.

Happy New Year and Happy Communications to all!

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