Career Trends: December 30, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS
Most of us want to be great communicators. Many of us pride ourselves on it. However, it is easy to fall into common traps that confuse our audience and set us back. Being an exceptional communicator means that we are constantly considering how we come across to others, especially those dissimilar to us.
If you are leading a team or looking to progress in your career, it’s important that your words don’t unintentionally alienate or conflict with others.
Here are a few examples to avoid:
1. Obscure or even semi-obscure references
- Sometimes, when we like a popular sport or movie, we’ll make the mistake of assuming everyone does.
- Then we’ll make references to it, without noticing that we might be losing some of our audience.
- Especially in large groups, outstanding communicators speak in ways that everyone can understand.
- In any kind of mixed group, it’s important to recognise that not everyone will understand your sports or movie references, even if they are popular.
- Those who don’t can easily end up feeling lost in the conversation because they simply aren’t familiar with the terminology.
- When this happens, you run the risk that an audience member will feel ignorant or unworthy, and then disengage or check out because they don’t feel included in the conversation.
- Find literal ways to say what you mean.
2. Gross generalisations
- As a society, we love to generalise.
- We’ll say things like “this happens a ton,” and “everyone feels this way.”
- Generalisations are rarely helpful or accurate.
- If you’re trying to estimate how long something will take, try to narrow it down to a specific amount of hours, days or weeks.
- If you want to discuss how commonplace something is, find data on how many people are actually affected by it.
- If you’re describing someone’s behaviour, see if you can detail it in a specific and objective way, instead of a subjective way.
- Words like “a ton,” “a lot,” or “everyone” have different meanings to different people.
- When we can report data and discuss situations with language that’s specific and measurable, it’s less likely that our words will be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
3. Excessive analogies and metaphors
- Analogies and metaphors have a place in speech, especially if you’re confident that your audience will understand.
- When you insert an analogy or metaphor into a conversation, it should serve a purpose.
- This is the case when you draw a comparison of something that’s well understood to something that’s less well understood.
- However, the overuse of analogies and metaphors can be distracting.
- Each time you make one, you’re asking your audience to travel somewhere else in their minds, which takes them away from what’s going on at the moment.
- Those who constantly liken one thing to another also run the risk of avoiding simple and straightforward communication.
- Valuing differences is such an important part of leadership and teamwork.
- Buzzwords are a great way to say something without really saying much at all.
- There is almost always a more illustrative or descriptive way of describing something.
- Saying “think outside the box” conjures up imagines of being more innovative or creative, but it doesn’t really address what’s wrong with the proposed solutions.
- For most, especially if you have a diverse group, it would be more helpful to say: “I’m worried that these ideas are focused on the short-term, and they centre on things we have already done. What if we took a totally different approach with this strategy by focusing more on how we expect our clients to shift their use of digital technology over the next five years?”
- Now, you are actually communicating how you feel, what you think and what you’d like the future to look like, instead of allowing everyone to draw their own conclusions.
Remember, when you are communicating, it’s for the benefit of your audience, not yourself. Avoiding these four parts of speech help you from alienating, losing or confusing others. That will allow you to be more effective with your message, which is what we all want.
Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)