When you communicate with others, either one on one or during a presentation, are you aware of how you are speaking; your default settings? You know, umm, ah, er, actually, so, are words that don’t add any value and can be distracting. In general a pause is better than a ‘fill-in’ word, so if you find yourself about to fill a space with a meaningless word, try a pause instead. Similarly your body language can be distracting and not support your message. For example do you fiddle with a pen, play with your hair or jiggle the change in your pocket? (Or as AFL footballers Mark McVeigh and Nick Natanui have found out the hard way, do you scratch your privates in public?)
Being aware of your communication default settings – the things you do without being conscious of doing them – is the first step to improving your communication. It’s useful to video yourself so you get the opportunity to see how others experience you. This is why we use a camera in all personal brand, public speaking and media training and coaching. You get to see what others already see.
When you are sitting in a meeting with loud extroverts, how do you behave? Do you try to compete or do you become intimidated and not say a word? We often behave in a way that is unconscious i.e. we don’t really think about how we want to get our message across. Often we react to situations the way we always have. If a team member comes to you with a problem, you can choose to react in a number of ways. You may appear distracted and carry on with what we were doing while listening with half an ear. Or you could fly off the handle and shoot the messenger. You might take the problem away to fix it. Ideally you would probably support and help your team member solve the problem.
You don’t have to react the way you always have. You can choose more positive communication by taking charge of – and responsibility for – the way you react to situations. Sometimes it’s enough just to pause, breathe and reflect on how you are going to respond, rather than reacting without thinking. At the core of REDgum training is the question what 3 words would you like others to use to describe you? If you communicate with others in a way that supports these words, you will ensure that their experience of you will be aligned with your personal brand.
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