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Avoid these communication mistakes
Yati Doshi |
March 07, 2006
Paul Arden, former executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, has a mantra, 'It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be.'
Arden has clearly stated what ought to be any professional's mantra. We all have talents and strengths. We also have areas of weaknesses, and one such area is poor inter-personal communication skills. This can be detrimental to your career since these skills are important in any area of life, but more so in the professional arena.
They go a long way in boosting job satisfaction, growth, promotion, network building, relationship management, etc. It is, therefore, important to hone these skills.
Here are some common communication problems and suggestions on how you can tackle them.
Talking too fast
Problem: If people normally look a little lost or confused when conversing with you, it would be a good idea to evaluate the speed at which you speak.
Saumil Doshi, 26, a consulting financial analyst, speaks so fast that most of his clients lose out on approximately 70 per cent of his conversation. Unfortunately, not many people are able to trust fast talkers, especially fast talking financial analysts.
Solution: Saumil recorded his speech on a dictaphone and listened to himself in an effort to improve the way he spoke. He also used tongue twisters to help clarify as well as slow down his speech. These included:
~ The three things that those three thought are thoroughly trashy.
~ She sells seashells on the seashore.
~ We wash white vests very well and vouch for well-washed vests.
Talking too much
Problem: Manish Parikh, 32, a store manager at Avanee Boutique, Mumbai, is well read. He loves sharing his knowledge with everyone, including his customers.
Initially, they were impressed but, as time went by, they got bored. Slowly, customers started avoiding him. His boss, the storeowner, asked him to focus on running the store and not chatting up customers to show off his knowledge.
Solution: Remember, nobody wants irrelevant information. At work, ask yourself if what you are going to say will make sense or add any value to what is being discussed.
Then, and only then, go ahead and say it. This one requires practice and discipline, as we all want to share our knowledge and, of course, show off a bit at times.
Talking to boss/ client
Problem: You are standing in front of your chairman at your company's annual bash. When you are introduced to him, all you do is blurt out a "How are you?"
You have lost your chance to interact with him, and he has moved ahead to greet other people.
Do you tongue-tied when it comes to speaking with/ before your seniors/ important clients?
Solution: Use a three-pronged approach to tackle this particular block:
~ If the situation permits, decide what you want to say in advance and practise it a couple of times in front of the mirror. There are times this may not be possible; you could then mentally imagine scenarios where you are communicating successfully with your seniors.
~ Before going for the meeting, ensure all the supporting documents and necessary stationery are with you.
~ Cultivate your confidence by knowing your self-worth (please don't go to the other end of the spectrum and develop an ego). Build a rapport with those people who share time or space with you.
Get rid of your shyness step-by-step and, before you know it, a throat block is history.
Negative body language
Problem: Fidgeting, shuffling from one foot to the other, cracking your knuckles, fiddling with accessories, scratching your head -- all these take away from the impact of what you are saying.
Mamta Parikh, 28, PA to the technical director of KC and Sons (a marketing company), had the habit of snapping her hairclip open and closed. She never realised how distracting it was during meetings. One day, her boss pointed this out and she made a conscious habit to stop.
Solution: Be aware of your body movements and language. The minute you start fidgeting, make yourself stop. Curb irritating habits like tapping feet, rocking squeaky chairs, humming, whistling and jostling. Again, getting rid of these habits will take you time.
Mind your manners
Problem: Param L*, 22, a part-time sales person with a leading bookstore, disliked the way his colleague would interrupt him when he was helping a customer. Param finally spoke to his colleague about his habit. Lucky for him, the latter changed his style of working.
Solution: It pays to be polite and aware of your bad habits. 'Please' and 'Thank you' go a long way in building good relationships. Little things like asking for permission before borrowing stationery and helping a newly recruited colleague, etc, go a long way in cultivating relationships.
So, what's stopping you from scaling that ladder? Go ahead, climb up to dizzy heights and reach your own cloud nine.
*Names changed on request
Yati Doshi is a corporate trainer based in Mumbai. She has eight years of experience in the corporate arena and two years of experience in training.