I made this mistake – too often...
Here now are FOUR proven conversation ideas you’ll use immediately.
I know from personal experience they’ll make you more fluent in both your spoken and written communications.
Here’s what happened:
A little while ago I was listening to one of my own audio programs – I do so from time to time just to remind myself of my own ideas. My publishers for the program, Nightingale-Conant, had suggested to me – because the program had been so popular with their customers – it was now time I revisit it, update the ideas where necessary, and rerecord the whole program.
So, to do so, I listened to all 6 CDs to make notes of any changes I wanted to make.
I was shocked and surprised and slightly annoyed with myself.
Simply because I used the word situation27 times just on the first CD. Yes – 27 times!! And in the first writing and recording of the program I simply hadn’t noticed this – habit.
And it’s habits, particularly in our spoken and written communications, I want to give you some “insider thoughts” about now.
So as you can imagine...
When I rerecorded the program under its new title: The Best-Kept Secrets of the World’s Great Communicators – I was particularly careful to use a variety of words to describe a – situation.
Now, I’m certain, already – as this idea is now on your radar – you’ll be aware, more than ever before, of the habit words and phrases you’ve been using over time.
Some of those...
Habit words will be great – and naturally you’ll keep using them. Some of them will be robbing your speech and writing of power – by interrupting the eloquence of what you say and write as people begin to notice the repetition or inappropriateness of the words you use.
There are three particular areas I like to discuss where these habits perhaps more than any other areas come into play.
In a moment I’ll share with you the “one word” to remove from your conversation and writing which will make such a powerful difference to your persuasiveness.
Those areas are...
The opening we use for most of the conversation we have each day, the filler words we use during the body of our communications, and the ending or goodbyes we use – particularly the spoken goodbyes.
So let’s start by looking at the opening:
No doubt you, like me and most other people, have similar conversations throughout your normal working days. If we’re involved in business and talk regularly to either suppliers or customers, many of those exchanges will have similar content – and it’s easy to get into the habit of using the same words, sentences, or even paragraphs of speech. And especially the opening we use.
So my suggestion would be to listen carefully to what you say as you open your regular discussions, conversations, or telephone calls – to notice if there’s a habit either helping or hindering the communication process.
And if there is – a habit – and it’s hindering rather than helping, change the words, change the expression!
One of the easiest ways to recognize these habit patterns – whether in an opening, in an ending, or in the body of what you say – is to record the conversation.
Now I’m not suggesting you record what the other person says – as this may take permission, which may be something you don’t want to request. I am suggesting you record your side of the dialogue – by simply recording it into your computer or onto a small dictating machine.
You’ll be as surprised as I was when you do this to hear the exact words you use – and just how repetitive we can be.
OK – now into the body of the exchange with another person. Be aware of the filler words you use which really do rob your speech of power. Those are such words as: Um, er, like, you know, sort of, kind of, absolutely, and any other habit words and phrases which have crept, over time, into your language patterns.
The solution with ‘filler words’ is in two parts:
One, recognize them and their regular occurrence, and two, simply replace them with – silence. It’s the gaps between the words which make the language work – whether this is in written or spoken communication.
We wouldn’t write without the gaps between the words; we wouldn’t write um, er, basically, and the rest of the filler brigade. So why do we use them in spoken language?
The technique of Dynamic Listening:
This technique is called Dynamic Listening. Often people think talking and listening are on two ends of the scale of communication. And yet, the person you should listen to more than anyone else is – yourself.
Yes! When we start to actively listen to what we’re saying rather than just hearing the noise of our words, we begin to really notice what we say. For some people this will be the first time they’ve ever consciously and truly “heard” what they say.
What to do...
Simply listen carefully as you speak, and replace the “filler words” with silence. So simple, so easy, and yet so powerful! As you start this new habit, you may well speak more slowly, and for some people this is not such a bad idea!
Once you get used to the idea of using silence instead of filler words, you’ll soon be able to speak as quickly as you wish to – without ums, ers, and any other distracting sounds.
Now let’s look at the endings of our talks...
Again, the habits come into play. Be aware of what you usually say, consider whether or not it is appropriate, and, if not so, change it to a new habit – or a variety of new habit words.
As you carry out your day-to-day interactions with others, listen for their habits, as this extra listening attention will rub off into listening to yourself and you may recognize habits of others which you’re also using.
One of the easiest ways to remove habitually used words is to use the thesaurus. Dr. Peter Mark Roget started his lexicon of words (Roget’s Thesaurus) in 1805, and he used it as his own secret source until he published it 47 years later, aged 73, in 1852.
It’s just so powerful...
For example, when I wanted to change the word situation so I didn’t keep repeating it, I easily found numerous synonyms.
Here they are:
Circumstances / location / conversation / speech / setting / occasion / report / letter / web page / persuasion / delivery / talk / tete-a-tete / exchange / natter / chat / verbal communication / dialogue / discourse / oration / sermon / address / account / statement / description or even commentary.
And now for the One Word to remove...
There’s a four-letter word which is overused in spoken and written communication, and it spoils the flow of so many great sentences. It interrupts the naturalness of communication and puts a “stutter” in the listener’s or reader’s mind.
The word is – THAT!
Just look at the subtle difference in the impact of these two sentences:
Because I continue to learn about communication skills, I know that I become more persuasive.
Because I continue to learn about communication skills, I know I become more persuasive.
The word that didn’t help the first sentence at all, did it?
The removal of the word that in the second sentence made the sentence flow more smoothly, didn’t it?
There will be times...
When you can replace the word that with different words. Words such as: It, this, which.
Take a look at your written communications – your website, your emails, your reports, your brochures, your sales letters – and see just how many times the word that appears. Then remove the thats and see just how much more fluent the communications become.
Throughout this explanation of these ideas for you, there isn’t a single use of the word that – except, of course, in the description of the idea of removing it. Did you notice it was missing? Probably not – the words just flowed without its use.
So there we have it – four simple ideas – changing habits – and yet ones to make such a powerful and distinct difference to any (shall I use it?) situation in which you find yourself.
When we are consciously aware of the habits helping and hindering us, then we can keep the one, change the other, and always have the edge.