Communication Mistakes – Listening or Making Assumptions?

Active and attentive listening is not always easy to do-but it is critical to success.  Poor listeners can damage their reputation and hurt their careers. Today I want to talk a bit about making assumptions vs. really listening.

You might be making assumptions if you answer yes or sometimes to the following questions: Do you frequently finish other people’s sentences? Do you use phrases such as “I already know that” before your have heard a complete sentence?

If you do the message you send is, “I know more than you do, so let me help you out.” This is not only rude (and arrogant) but it will brand you as a know-it-all.

Instead listen patiently, ask clarifying questions, and paraphrase the speaker’s words to ensure you really do comprehend what they are saying and intending. Seek to understand the speaker before making suppositions. This positive behavior will brand you as an excellent communicator.

What do think?

Excerpt from the book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Pick up your copy at Amazon today.

Communication – Maximize Your Message with Your Voice

Communication is more than just your words. Your voice also adds to the  meaning of your words. The message the sound of your voice sends is so powerful it may override your actual words.

Consider the words, “everything’s okay.” This phrase can mean a variety of things depending on how you say it:

“Everything’s okay.” Reassuring or soothing.

“Everything’s O-KAAY.”  Sarcastic.  As in, ” I told you already!”

“Uh…everything’s uh…okayyyyy.”  Unsure or still checking.

Everything okay? a question.

What makes each statement be perceived differently are the three characteristics of the voice: pitch, volume and quality. Maximizing these will make you a more powerful and confident communicator.

You can learn to control all three voice characteristics. Here are a few tips:

Pitch: How high or low your voice is. Talk in a high pitched voice, as if you are speaking to an infant, and you’ll notice your voice is a bit hollow and thin. This happens because you are speaking from inside your mouth.  Drop to a low voice and you can feel the sound coming from deeper in your throat.  The best pitch for normal conversation is the sound that comes when you breathe fully from abdomen causing your diaphragm to expand.  When you are nervous or fearful your voice may sound high or pinched because you’re breathing from the top of the lungs.  Take a breath.

Volume: This is how loud your voice is. Again, the volume must come from your diaphragm and not your throat. Throat volume sounds like shouting not confidence. If people continuously ask you to speak up you’ll want to increase your volume, otherwise you may notice others ignoring you. You can practice increasing your volume by “pushing” someone across the room by the volume of your voice. Your practice partner can only move backward if  they feel your voice moving them. Try it. You’ll begin to hear what a powerful voice sounds like  even though it may sound too loud at first.

Quality: This is the richness, emotion and meaning your voice sends. Pitch and volume adds to the quality but so does your feelings and overall health.  Notice the difference the quality of your voice has when you’re feeling sad as opposed to when you’re feeling on top of the world. This is why it is so important to smile when you are talking on the phone–people can tell!

Put the sound of your voice to work today!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of “Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Everything you need for workplace communication at your fingertips. Get it here.

Communicating with Powerful Questions

Asking questions can be one of the best ways to enhance a conversation, but the wrong questions can actually hinder conversation. Not all questions are created equal! Open-ended questions are friendlier and more effective than closed-ended questions. They usually start with “What” or “How”.

Here are some examples of how to change closed-ended questions into open-ended questions:

Instead of “Did you like it?” you could ask, “What did you like about it?” or “How did you like it?”

Ever try to get information from a team member or co-worker and received one or two word answers? Get more specific with the questions above.

Instead of “Are you upset?” you could ask “What’s bothering you?” or “Tell me more about how you are feeling?”

This works at home as well as at work.

Instead of “Would you like to do something else?” or you could ask “What would you like to do?” or “What would just make your day?”

Truly an invitation to share!

Instead of “Any questions?” you could ask “What questions do you have?” or “Who has the first question?”

Commit this one to memory!

Using open-ended questions requires effort. However, the effort is well worth it, especially in a tense situation. The next time you are in a tense conversation, make your questions open-ended, and watch the dynamic change. You will have a much better conversation, and the other person will appreciate your communication skills.


Get your copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up – The bonus downloads are chock full of the critical communication answers you’ve been asking about. Get your book here!

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