Sunday, 21 July 2013

What's Your Annoying Communication Habit?

Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC Apr 8 | Comments (2)

After a day in Cambodia, my American travel companions and I found ourselves modifying our language when speaking to those with limited English skills. We'd traveled abroad enough to know to speak slowly, enunciate every syllable, avoid contractions, use simple words and basic sentence structure. But in our quest for clear communication, we soon matched the syntax of the local shopkeepers we encountered.

This meant we eliminated most articles of speech (the, a, an) and even some verbs. So when talking to a local with limited English, instead of "We will go with Tov to the restaurant" we'd say, "We go with Tov to restaurant." And nearly all communication was accompanied by simple charade-like gestures illustrating, as best we could, the concept we were wanting to communicate. When requesting a foot massage at a downtown establishment, we'd say, "One-hour (holding up one finger) foot massage (pointing to one's feet). How much?" The practitioner would respond nodding, often writing  the amount on paper or a calculator.

We got so used to this that without thinking we began talking to others of our group members this way. One day I said to a travel companion, "Jana want lunch?" She looked at me bewildered, "You know I speak English, right?" We both  laughed hard. I'd become so engrained in the rhythm of "speaking local," I forgot to turn it off!

It made me wonder what other communication habits we get into without noticing. Sometimes a friend or colleague will help us see we annoyingly end every contribution with "Sooooooo" when really there was nothing more coming. Or we repeat ourselves -- within the same sentence: "She said, 'I know' she said, 'I really have to try harder." Or we interrupt while someone's finishing a thought. The list can go on and on. We all have communication habits that could be pruned. But most of us aren't aware of them.

If you have a friend brave enough to speak up, as Jana did when I was being unconscious, thank him/her for pointing out your habit. Better yet, invite him/her to help you clean up your communication and be the best communicator you can be. Then make sure not to get mad when s/he does!

Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC, is a bestselling author of 25 books, speaker and consultant on workplace effectiveness. For more information on her services go to Send your suggested issues to cover or questions to If you want to discuss working with Rebecca, give her a call at 408/998-7977 (Pacific).

Her most recent books are:

Remarkable Customer Service ... and Disservice: Case Studies and Discussions to Increase Your Customers' Delight

Grow Your Key Talent: Thought-Provoking Essays for Business Owners, Executives and Managers on Developing Star Staff

I lesson I take from your example is that we sometimes get so lost in context that we need someone to hold a mirror to our performance - and it doesn't have to be a painful experience! Thanks for a great reminder that inviting honest feedback is a powerful tool if we are sincerely seeking to improve our performance. Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC 2 minutes ago Thanks Dan! Want to read more from Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC? Check out the blog archive. Keyword Tags:  COMMunication   management development   people development Disclaimer: Blog contents express the viewpoints of their independent authors and are not reviewed for correctness or accuracy by Toolbox for HR. Any opinions, comments, solutions or other commentary expressed by blog authors are not endorsed or recommended by Toolbox for HR or any vendor. If you feel a blog entry is inappropriate, click here to notify Toolbox for HR.

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