Before you hit send: Communications can leave lasting impressions
As humans, we communicate in many ways. Through our spoken word, written text, and our body language. Some of the things we say often well-considered and purposeful, such as crafting an email to a senior manager or a handwritten letter.
Other communication methods such as body language or certain facial expressions may be subconscious, yet can reveal a lot.
Although we may say one thing, our words can be interpreted in ways we may not have intended. Our words say more than we may realize.
Every time we speak to someone, we can never be sure how it will be interpreted or perceived by someone else.
It will be more important now than ever to consider the impact that our language, the tone we use, and the purpose behind what we are saying can have on others.
An example of an ordinary conversation changing and potentially turning foul is where the word “just” is used such as:
“Yeah, you can start drilling the wall. I’m just on the phone to Susan.”
By including the word “just” we’ve diminished the importance of speaking with Susan. Where “just” is used, it minimizes the importance of whatever follows. Imagine if you were Susan in this situation. How would that make Susan feel?
As a manager, if you are delegating work to your staff, the term “just” has the potential to diminish the importance or difficulty of what is being asked of them.
“I just need you to manages this project for us.”
A potentially unintended consequence of the sentence above is that it has the subtext that the task shouldn’t be THAT hard. Re-read the above sentence and remove the word “just” and it sounds like a far more critical task: “I need you to manage this project for us.”
How can we prevent others from feeling upset by a statement that doesn’t have the intention of causing any harm? Ask yourself these questions before having an important discussion or writing an email:
- Who is the intended audience?
- What impact will I make by saying this?
- How will this be interpreted?
It is important to consider the impact that our words can have and ensure that we are making a positive impact every time we speak.
About the author:
Theo Kapodistrias is a multi-national award-winning lawyer and keynote speaker. He holds leadership positions in the not-for-profit sector and is considered a thought-leader in the legal environment. He is passionate about being involved in the community and holds several voluntary positions. He recently launched his keynote speaker business helping individuals to be seen, be heard, and make an impact www.theokap.com.au