Tag Archives: pet peeves

Avoid sounding too excited

Don’t allow your enthusiasm for a subject to undermine your authority when you speak about it. You will be more persuasive when you avoid these faults:

  • Speaking too fast. Listeners don’t trust people who talk exceptionally fast. Speak at a moderate pace to hold your listeners’ attention.
  • Being too animated. Hand gestures and inflection are important to convey your enthusiasm. However, if you look like you are trying too hard to make an impression, that will distract from your message.
  • Not taking a break. It’s easy to become caught up in offering an explanation and forget to stop for air. People are more receptive to speakers who pause naturally for breath and approach their presentations as conversations.

— Adapted from “Pause & Pitch: The Surprising Keys to Persuasive Speaking,” Rebecca Mazin, http://www.allbusiness.com.

What to say when … a discussion has stalled

Your team members have discussed a subject to death without reaching consensus. Break the deadlock by “polling” team members. Polling allows team members to cast a nonbinding vote based on the information they have so far.

Say: “We’ve been going over these same few points for more than 45 minutes. Let’s take a quick vote and see what everyone would do if we had to make the decision right now. If we agree, we’ll move on to the next agenda item. If not, we’ll keep talking.”

If members resume their bickering, say: “Yes, you made that point earlier. But if we had to come up with a solution today, how would you cast your vote?”

Quick tip: The right pronoun prevents conflict

Using the right pronoun can head off conflict. Examples:

  • Replace the blaming “You did this” with “Here’s what I think took place.”
  • Supplant the accusing “You shouldn’t have done it that way” with “Here’s how I think it could have been done.”
  • Substitute the aggressive “Why didn’t you do as you were told?” with “Help me understand why what we agreed to didn’t happen.”

Source: The Bad Attitude Survival Guide, by Harry E. Chambers.

Be direct when you communicate

You have heard of passive-aggressive behavior. But have you heard of passive-digressive behavior? A passive-digressive speaker skirts an issue, hoping that the listener will pick up on the hint and make desired changes.

Example: “I went by your cubicle first thing this morning, but you were not there.” That may seem like a nonaggressive way to clue the person in to your displeasure with his or her tardiness. However, such a statement leaves the person in doubt.

Better: Ask directly for what you want. Say: “This week you have been 15 minutes late for work twice. That concerns me. I need and expect you to be here at 8 a.m. every day.”
— Adapted from “Do You Communicate Clearly and Directly, or Are You Passive-Digressive?” Colette Carlson, WomensMedia, http://www.womensmedia.com.

Set employees’ priorities straight

Some employees refuse to put their jobs first—even at work. Job duties take a backseat to personal obligations, and that is often a huge drain on other employees’ time and patience. As slacking employees spend their time taking care of personal matters or interests—rather than completing their work correctly and on time—their coworkers pick up the slack.

Strategy: Don’t let them get away with it. Pull those employees into your office to discuss the problem. Provide evidence of the issues, and communicate your expectations.

Say: “You left early for a dentist appointment and failed to finish the inventory. Daniel and Cory had to finish it for you. That is unacceptable. You need to fulfill your work responsibilities before you take personal time. In the future, unless it’s an emergency, I expect to you finish your work and meet your deadlines before you leave this office to tend to personal obligations.”

Then monitor them closely and step in as soon as problems surface again.

Keep people from hijacking your time

small__8080742303Being a good listener doesn’t mean you have to let someone else control the conversation—especially when the other person wants to engage in unproductive whining or gossip. It’s OK to take charge with these tactics:

  • Feel free to interrupt long-winded people and encourage them to state their points succinctly. Example: “I’m sorry to interrupt, Lisa, but I have to get back to work. Is is this a story you can sum up in two minutes? If not, let’s schedule a meeting for later today.”
  • Don’t let conversations veer off track. Most discussions derail when the conversation flows from one subject to another and back again. Assign a “title” to each major point. Example: “John, we’re talking about your salary right now—is that right?” and then finish that conversation before you go on to the next.
  • Limit discussion time. Do not allow any individual point of discussion to take more than five or 10 minutes to complete. Any time in excess of that is usually about the emotional issue, not the subject at hand.
  • Wrap it up. A few minutes before the end of the time you have allocated for the conversation, tell your talkative colleague that you need to wrap up the discussion. Then summarize the main points, identify what action needs to be taken and, if necessary, schedule anadditional conversation.

— Adapted from Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs, Eric Yaverbaum, Dearborn Trade Publishing, http://www.dearborn trade.com.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tschiae/8080742303.

Remain in control of conversations

Don’t allow someone to hijack a meeting by interrupting you. Be polite but assertive with one of these responses:

  • Don’t stop. Continue talking and raise your voice slightly if necessary.
  • Acknowledge. Say something that recognizes the other person and your intent to continue. Example: “I’ll be happy to listen to your suggestions after I finish my point.”
  • Resume. When the other person pauses or stops, pick up the conversation. Example: “The point I was making is …”

— Adapted from “What to Do if You Are Interrupted,” Barbara Pachter, Pachter’s Pointers, http://www.barbarapachtersblog.com.