Bill Cottringer

"It is usually impossible to get a conversation going when everybody is talking too much." ~Yogi Berra

If you want to avoid terrible talk, improve your communication skills and get better results with people, try these ten non-nonsense tips for thoughtful talk:

1. Accept the reality that miscommunication is far more prevalent today than good communication—especially without openness to this reality, focused attention and a lot of hard work. It is worth the effort to try and straighten out all possible misunderstanding in miscommunication before it gets worse. Miscommunication can easily become a bad habit that is hard to break.

2. Know your audience. Some people need a lot of details and others just need a quick summary. And some people need pictures, some need verbal instructions and some need to fiddle with real objects. The more things you learn about who you are conversing with, the better. Relevant things like intelligence, personality, geography, learning styles, outside interferences, cultural, gender or age differences, etc. will always help facilitate a much better connection and improve the impact of what you are saying.

3. Avoid any conversation “flavor” or words or that imply or insinuate the main things that create defensiveness. These are superiority, judgment, over-control, negativity, rudeness, manipulation, poor listening, self-centeredness, and insensitivity. All people want to be treated in ways that reassure equality, acceptance, freedom, positivity, politeness, real spontaneity, good listening, understanding, empathy and the give and take flow of conversation.

4. How you say something always out-speaks what you are saying. Make sure your message is delivered in the right way to best connect with the audience, especially your non-verbal gestures. Spend some time thinking about the main purpose of what you are trying to say and then think about the best way to say it, complying with the Five C’s—clarity, correctness, concreteness, completeness and conciseness.

5. Choose your words carefully and avoid the ones that tend to be ambiguous or have negative connotations. Define the key words you use to emphasize your main points so there isn’t any chance of misunderstanding with private meanings and interpretations. Loose the jargon and buzz words too, as they are usually a turn-off.

6. Be most careful with your answers to other people’s questions. That is when they are listening carefully. Pause to make sure you completely understand the question, then offer a thoughtful response and finally, be prepared to explain yourself.

7. Learn to listen aggressively with both ears and talk assertively with one mouth. After all there is a good reason for that amount of anatomy! Hear what is being said apart from the noisy package in which it comes, and hear what isn’t being said that needs to be heard. Don’t interrupt and display respect and genuine interest in what the other person is saying. Quite your own agenda of wanting to respond to what someone is saying before you really understand where the person is coming from and going with what he or she is trying to say.

8. Collect interesting stories that you can work in to conversation s appropriately, as people are usually more inclined to be attentive to them so long as you don’t ramble. Too much is said or read that is boring and void of any relevant personal stories. Always make important points with short stories that have visual impact.

9. Develop your own special signature style of communicating based on your prevalent personality characteristics that make you unique. If you are a naturally likeable persons, don’t try to push people’s buttons. If you are a good button-pusher, do so with warnings, disclaimers and a sense of kindness to help. If you are funny, then don’t try to communicate serious things that need to be taken seriously. If you are a vernacular sort of person, then play that hand. Be you in your communication.

10. You should probably establish a fairly reliable and dependable way to get relevant, accurate and complete feedback about the quality of your present communication. Just how well do you avoid terrible talk? You can’t make the needed improvements, without useful feedback as to how well or how poorly you are doing and why. But don’t ask if you aren’t open to listening to healthy criticism, and of course actually applying it to change things.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, and Reality Repair Rx coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net