Time to get your communication skills upgraded. Let’s start with a quiz. What are the two most annoying words that we all misuse?
Don’t cheat and look at the end of this. Just keep reading. It will make more sense that way.
Here’s the story Carol told me about a situation at work. It locked her into using simple words that were causing lots of difficulty in her relationships. Especially with David.
They were on the same leadership team and she had to find a way to work with him.
Her complaint about David? “He’s always right. Or so he says. And more than that, he always has to have the last word.”
And then she said with frustration, “He never asks questions, only tells his point of view.”
Her worry was, “He’s up for a promotion and all I can tell you is, I could never report to a jerk like him.”
And what about David?
He thought Carol was a control freak who would never ask questions, only give her point of view.
Two peas in a pod, so to speak.
Did they have personality conflicts? You betcha.
However, it goes beyond personalities. They are stuck with words that deflate ad defeat.
They were stuck, as so many are, with the words ‘always’ and ‘never.’
These are two of the most destructive words you can use because they shut down communication rather than set the stage for new possibilities.
Think about how you use these words.
Where do you ‘always” and where do you ‘never’?
I bet you are so familiar with these words you really don’t even give them a second thought. They were ripe for most of us from our childhood.
Stuff like your mom saying, “You never do what I tell you to do.” Or, a sibling jealously saying, “You always show off in front of my friends.”
What do these words do?
They start a power game. Sadly, a game that can’t be won.
These words create antagonism.
They set it up so the other person must prove to you that you are wrong. Or they feel defeated and a barrier is created that cuts off real communication.
Now you know the two destructive words. Here’s what you can do to upgrade your communications skills…
Filter before you speak.
Look, just about everything in life is fluid. It really isn’t an always or never world. It’s a world of change, change, change. And even the most offensive of relationships has the power to be redirected with good intentions.
Rather than make the ‘always’ and ‘never’ claims, use words like ‘often’ ‘regularly’ and ‘habitually’ when you want to make a point when you are frustrated.
Then give room for someone to respond. ASK don’t tell.
Dale Carnegie, author of the well-known book “How to Make Friends and Influence People” suggests that “90 percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.” Notice he didn’t say ‘always.’ He left room for other possibilities.
And here is what happened with David and Carol.
David was promoted and became Carol’s boss.
And Carol proved herself right. She soon left the company because she could never report to a jerk like David. And guess what? In her next job, there was another David who always drove her nuts.
She’s now looking for a new job where she never has to be bothered by people who always want to tell her what to do.
Want to hire her?
Yes, words have power. Take the time to really clean up your choice of words so you can upgrade your communication skills.
My book, “79 Power Sentences” can give you great ideas on how to change the way you express yourself.
Let me know by emailing me if you would like a copy.
Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and it’s yours for free.