I’m not a stupid person, but if you could hear me talk, you’d probably deduct a few (dozen) IQ points. While sounding a bit like a hick is not, IMO, a character flaw, I have other speaking habits that sometimes get in the way of good communication, and it’s an area I would like to work on.
As I was going through boxes last week in preparation for the big garage sale, I found some notes I took at a communications workshop I attended several years ago. So many years, I’d actually forgotten the class. The title at the top of notes is “Conversational Quirks.” I like that title, probably because I like quirky people, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intent of the workshop.
Anyway, here are the quirks and their “treatment”, as I listed them:
Quirk: Too many speech tics like er and uh, like and you know.
Tics like these are usually used when we’re planning what to say next and feel a need to fill the silence. Instead, we should slow down our speech, which will allow time to plan ahead. (This is very difficult for me, especially when nervous.)
Quirk: Over-using phrases like “I know exactly what you mean” or “I agree completely”
We often use these when we’re uncomfortable with a lull in the conversation and/or we’re unsure how we wish to respond. Unfortunately, using them too often can imply a lack of confidence in our own opinions and viewpoints. Nodding and/or smiling are good nonverbal cues that we’re listening. Meanwhile, we can (silently) plan our responses.
Quirk: Frequently losing your place mid-sentence
This can be a sign of simple nervousness, or it could imply that you’re a perfectionist, always searching for a better word. Unfortunately, many folks would likely view you as a space cadet. Instead of groping for words, go with your first instinct for the best choice, and if you should lose your place, relax and go back to the last words you remember. You might also use verbal bridges, such as “My point is..” or “What I’m trying to say is…”
It’s wonderful to care about offending someone, but saying I’m sorry too many times can make you seem weak or insincere, almost as though you’re distancing yourself from you own opinions. So often we don’t want to appear argumentative or confrontational, and we resort to phrases like, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it that way.” Instead, consider using a substitute “softener phrase”, such as “That’s interesting. I see it differently…” If you’re the one initiating the discussion, consider a simple “I believe” or “In my opinion”, as opposed to “I’m sorry if this offends you…”
Quirk: Finishing other people’s sentences
I worked with a woman who did this constantly. She probably thought it showed how hard she was listening, but I always felt as though she was rushing me. A better choice might be those lovely nonverbal cues–nodding and smiling–to show interest and a firm clench of your tongue between your teeth.
I suspect the items I listed weren’t all the items discussed but were limited primarily to what I perceived to be my own issues or those of a co-worker. As always, if you have others to toss into the arena, please feel free.
If I should ever have the opportunity to talk to you in person (and I hope I will!), please overlook the fact that I still have most of these quirks. Perhaps if I hadn’t buried the notes in the bottom of a box of paperwork, I would have been more successful.
But it’s never too late to try again! If anyone exemplifies that, we do!
I’ll leave you with a teaser…tomorrow just might have another giveaway!
Happy Monday to all!