Five Ways to Walk Your Talk

May 8th 2014

No matter what level of education or experience we have, we all get stuck in the same communication traps. One of these strikes me as particularly impossible. It is the universal desire to coerce, cajole, or convince someone else to communicate better. This is a sure road to unhappiness. 


I suggest you take a different route by changing your own approach. Think about the impression you make on others because of how you communicate. Determine whether your style contributes to the happiness in your firm, or diminishes it. Then, decide to Improve your own skills. Forget what others are saying and doing. Concentrate on how you can do better and be better.


By adopting the five traits below, you create several opportunities. You increase the likelihood that the other person or people involved in the communication will actually stop what they’re doing and pay attention to you. You paint a very professional, engaged picture of yourself that others will notice. And you stand a far greater chance of getting what you want out of a conversation, negotiation, instruction, presentation, or anything else where communication comes into play. 

  1. Articulate. Whether you’re writing or talking, be clear. Vow to erase murky communication from your personal style. Then, lead by example: stop writing lengthy, boring, rambling emails that you send to everyone. Learn to close the information loop so you can get clarity on whether the other parties understood what you said. And think about what you want to say or write before you say it or write it.
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  3. Listen. So much talking, so little listening these days. You will increase your credibility and trustworthiness just by doing another human being the favor of listening to what they have to say. And you just might learn something in the process.
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  5. Focus. Whether you’re in a meeting with one person or 20, put your e-devices away. Look at the person who’s talking. Make eye contact. Show the other humans in the room that you are totally present.  
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  7. Participate. Conversations, like relationships, are by definition dual. They require a give-and-take. I’ve sat through plenty of meetings where at least one person appeared to be sitting on a mountaintop, quite removed from the activity in the room. No matter their reason for checking out, they don’t look wise; they look arrogant and foolish. And ultimately, they won’t get through to anyone.
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  9. Be courteous. My mom always said you catch more flies with honey. While I have yet to understand why one would want to catch flies, I understand her point. We frequently get more of what we want if we are decent human beings in the pursuit. The trick is to remember that when others have forgotten it.
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All of these things are simple; not easy, but simple. If you want to be happier and more successful at work, this is a good path to walk. Every day. In every conversation.


communication, leadership, professional development


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05/12/2014 11:28am
I love these 5 traits. What would you suggest as next steps for a leader that wants these things to become part of the team's new way of communicating with each other? Is it enough to just put them out there and try to model as best as you can or is there a process for incorporating these into a team that has dysfunctional communication?