Communicate to Influence: Avoid 7 Major Talking Traps

Communicate to Influence: Avoid 7 Major Talking Traps

Unprofessional communication can throw your fast track career into reverse faster than you can say “oops.” That’s why I like to warn my clients to beware of what I call the seven deadly sins of communication.

1) Loose Tongues Lose Credibility

If you wouldn’t say it to their face don’t say it, period.
When you are overheard speaking in a derogatory manner about a client, colleague, boss, or your organization it can undermine years of upward movement.

2) Inappropriate is Never Appropriate

There is absolutely no justification for using language that is racist, sexist, or otherwise disrespectful, cruel, and crude. I’m amazed that some people just don’t get it – inappropriate speech is never, ever appropriate!

3) Gossip is Career Poison

One of the fastest ways to kill your career is to feed it gossip. In the same amount of time it takes for truth and facts to move across your desk, falsehoods and rumors can circulate throughout the whole office. Gossip also eventually gets traced back to the source. Earn a reputation as a gossipmonger and your résumé will not be welcomed anywhere.

4) Impersonal Equals Aloof or Phony

Express yourself to let others know you as a multidimensional person, otherwise you risk coming off as a stuffed suit or cardboard cutout. Share your interests, hobbies, and personal narrative so that your leadership is perceived as warm and accessible, not distant and uncaring.

5) Body Talk Can Betray You

When your body language contradicts your words it undermines your message and can make you seem untruthful. Ensure that body talk confirms and supports what you say so that your spoken and unspoken communication is totally in synch.

6) Think Twice Before Speaking Once

Chew your food before swallowing and process your thoughts before expressing them. Otherwise your career could choke on your words. Also be aware that a slight shift in tone or meaning can make the difference between clear communication and inadvertent misunderstandings.

7) Never Go Off Message Online

Cyberspace can seem like one great big video game. But online communication can have profound and permanent offline repercussions. What you blog, text, tweet, post, and email cannot be undone once you put it out there. A momentary lapse in judgment can wreck a lifelong reputation.

Listen to yourself when you speak. Do you hear the brand and image you want to project? Communication is the most vital business skill, so polish yours with professionalism while avoiding these common pitfalls.

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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion System™.

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Copyright © 2012, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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