Do you think before you speak?

Clive Lobo

Discover 10 simple steps on how to be a more well spoken individual. If you are anything like me than you have blabbed a few times without thinking first. I have always joked that the filter between someone’s thoughts and words somehow did not develop in me. Joking aside, a colleague of mine came across this article and I found it to be brilliant and helpful.

The brilliance of this article kicked in for me when the authors said that “Recognizing that we do not always say what we would like to communicate is an important realization…” How many times have we all been in sales meetings, staff meetings, or social functions and have said something that just didn’t come out right? I know I have had this happen to me. The worst part is that not only did what you mean not come out in words correctly but it may offend another person unnecessarily or send them the wrong message entirely.

To slightly digress for a moment to a personal story. I was in a staff meeting about 4 years ago when I used to be a district manager for a retail chain. The message to the team was about the restructuring going on in the company and the scrimping we were all going to have to do during this time of transition. Only one of the three stores that I managed were there and by the end of the meeting their faces were absolutely somber and depressing. The entire room thought that I was about to conduct a lay off. When the realization came that I was referring to additional Christmas staff, the entire room let out a huge sigh of relief. Talk about sending the wrong message with my words! I remember feeling so concerned before the meeting about how upset the team might be that I was going to be making them work over time during the holiday season.  I didn’t even consider how the message was coming out of my mouth. It was a huge misunderstanding and when I had the same discussion with the other two stores, I DEFINITELY corrected my delivery of the message.

The steps, tips and warnings that are outlined in this article are very helpful and I want to share some of them with you. Feel free to share your own “That time I…” stories! The authors break down 10 steps to consider when in any situation.

Step 1: Observe yourself

When does this situation occur for you? Are you with friends, colleagues, potential customers? Figure out what triggers the speaking before thinking incidents. The article recommends starting a journal of events that you can refer back to when identifying the pattern. As a part of this journal I would recommend that you journal not only the situation but also acknowledge the way you feel when having these occurrences. For example, if you know that you are angry every time it happens…there is your pattern.

Step 2: Recognize your situation

Pay attention to your surroundings. If you are in a similar situation to that of your last communication blunder; acknowledge that. If you know that you tend to have a verbal blunder when in a staff meeting with your boss; don’t try to deny it…recognize it!

Step 3: Observe the conversation

The article lays it out perfectly: “If you know that you’re in one of ‘those’ situations, the goal is for you to process information.” Mentally step back and out of the conversation. Listen to what everyone else is saying…keep your mouth locked shut during this time. Next time you are in that staff meeting, keep your opinions, jokes, thoughts, ideas or comments to yourself.

Step 4: Observe the people

How are the people in the room communicating with one another? Are they drawing pictures to illustrate their thoughts? Using fast and short sentences? Complex verbiage? The article notes that people generally speak the same way that they understand and absorb information. You married couples out there…take note of this step! I know I will.

Step 5: Formulate responses

As humans, we tend to think everything revolves around us as individuals. It takes discipline to break out of this thinking. What is important to remember is that your communication should be based on how others absorb the information. When formulating responses, consider Step 4: Observe the People. Recall how others were communicating. If you notice that a prospective client is drawing images on their notepad to communicate their thoughts; possibly include a diagram in your responses to their questions.

Step 6: Consider the Information

Consider the following acronym; ENATA.

E ffective

N ecessary

A ccurate

T imely

A ppropriate

Don’t just speak to hear your own voice or say something because you think you should. Others will recognize your inauthentic attempt and not consider your words to hold any value in the future.

Step 7: Gauge the reaction

As you are considering how to contribute to the conversation…be mindful of just that: you are making a contribution. Generally, most people notice they are having communication issues when the reaction of those they are communicating with are less than pleasant. Anticipate the reaction and attempt to formulate a positive and constructive comment.

Step 8: Be thoughtful of your tone

Tone can translate into a stronger message than the actual words you are using.  Consider sarcasm, sincerity, excitement, boredom and other emotions.  A change in your tone could dramatically change the type of reaction that you get from those that you are communicating with.

Step 9: Communicate

Okay, you are prepped.  You have observed the conversation to gauge the possible reactions, prepped what you will say, the tone in which it will be delivered and why it is ENATA.   Go for it…say something…remember not to interrupt or talk over anyone else because that will throw off your delivery.

Step 10: Repeat

Consider and reconsider all 10 steps while in conversation.

The steps above sound like a long process and they very well may take a long time the first few times that you try this.  Once you are doing these steps regularly and practicing the “think before you speak” cycle; it will be as easy as brushing your teeth in the morning.  Communication blunders may not only occur in negative situations when you are upset or angry.  They can also come in the form of an inappropriate joke or insincere response.  There are some additional tips and warnings in the article if you would like to read more about this topic.

Check out the full article by clicking here.

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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