Clear, compelling communication skills aren’t just for marketing. How well (or unwell) you communicate can make or break your professional career. While you may be extremely qualified for a job or project, a lack of communication skills can leave people questioning your professional credibility and knowledge.
Lorrie Thomas Ross wrote an article for the Daily Press titled “Want to be taken seriously at work? Avoid these 6 pitfalls”. Her article outlines how understanding and avoiding major communication pitfalls can make a big difference in your career.
Here are Professional Communication Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Relying on Filler Words.
While in school, you may have found ease in adding filler words to reach a required word or page count for an assignment, but, now that you’re a professional, adding filler words makes getting to your point take longer. Be kind to the people you want to listen to you. Keep your communication simple and straight to the point.
Resist the urge to start a sentence with ‘so’ or use ‘like’s, “honestly’s” or ‘um’s to fill in space while formatting your thoughts. It’s OK to pause mid-sentence and form your following words. Silence can feel (and sound) scary, but embracing comfort in a pause echoes louder than your ‘like’s or ‘um’s.
2. Over Apologizing
While saying sorry for things on behalf of yourself or your company may be a requirement in some situations (and we believe in taking radical responsibility when needed), over-apologizing gives off vibes that you’re submissive and weak instead of confident and strong. Apologizing is not a requirement in all situations and do not apologize unless you really mean it.
One way to stop apologizing if you aren’t responsible is to validate how the other person is feeling. “Thank you for being patient. I’ve had a busy week.” sounds a lot better than “I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.”
3. Not Being Prepared.
Being illy prepared is a big communication misstep. If you are speaking to an audience, do your research on the project that you are presenting. Do not just read off of a slide show or wing the proposal. Show your client that you respect their time and care about the information that you are sharing with them.
Preparing for a meeting or presentation doesn’t mean hours of practicing and memorizing your words but going into the situation knowing what you want to say. If you need to have notes or keywords written down to trigger reminders of talking points, that is fine. We don’t plan to fail with communication, we fail to plan. And if you get into a subject and forget what you’re going to cover, take a breath and fake it until you catch your next thought. Do it confidently, and no one will be the wiser.
Using certain vocal inflections to convey your message, but if used incorrectly, can make you stand out in a not-so-positive way. You should feel comfortable saying what you need to say without needing to change the tone, pitch, or volume of your voice. Speaking in a non-intelligible way comes across as insecure and can impede your trustworthiness. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian coined the 7-38-55 Percent Rule which indicates that only 7% of all communication is done through verbal communication, the words we speak, whereas the nonverbal component of our daily communication, such as the tonality of our voice, make up 38% and 55% from the speaker’s body language and facial expressions.
5. Lack of Communication.
For a business to run smoothly, communication is critical. This means talking to clients about their projects, checking in with other members of your team, and voicing your thoughts and needs. Silence is death when it comes to career management.
When you’re working on a project, make sure all parties involved are up to date with what is going on. Do not feel like you are bugging someone by keeping them informed on a project. A lack of communication can make or break relationships, hurt your bottom line, leave clients unhappy, and teams confused.
6. Replying (or Not Replying) to All.
Knowing when to reply to all can be another communication pitfall. Netiquette matters, When trying to share information with your colleagues or clients, replying to all allows all parting involved in a project to know what is going on. In these situations, only replying to the sender can leave the rest of the people involved in the dark or make them think that you have not replied at all.
However, if you’re on an email thread and need to strategize with a colleague before sharing the information with everyone, Reply works best.
To read the full article on professional communication pitfalls to avoid, click here.
Own your content and role in the workplace. You are there for a reason. Speak confidently, and you’ll command the attention and respect you deserve.
-Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO, Web Marketing Therapy, Inc.