By Larry Rosenberg
Every one of us can do a better job of communicating – face to face, by phone, and in writing – especially in the workplace, where professional and personal feeling tend to get mixed. To improve our communication performance to get the outcomes we desire starts with taking in the constructive feedback from one or more persons, who we trust and who respects us.
You may want to regard this constructive feedback as less about asking you to stop or change what you have been doing, and much more about inviting you to broaden and deepen your communication repertoire – for greater flexibility, adaptability and creativity. In this way, you can be even more successful in the future – in a wider range of business and social situations, and with a larger variety of important people.
Below are several ways to communicate more successfully. Only you can identify the ones that you need to work on.
Slow down and vary the speed of your speaking. And shorten your longish flow of words before making a genuine pause.
It tires people to hear a speaker go on and on, and at top, almost super-human, speed -- which does not feel natural in conversation (although it might has showmanship value). The result may be that they are hearing you, but actually not listening to all you are saying. This listening editing may mean that they do not get the key points you really want to convey.
Listeners need more time -- just a few second of quiet -- to take in, digest and consider your new, creative and sophisticated statements. This we cannot do easily or well when you jump from idea to idea. We do not always believe that you are thinking things through. It may come across as more force of performance than power of thought; and not always realizing the nuances and consequences of your ideas.
Pauses would be welcomed as they would better enable us to take in every one of your substantial ideas and respond to or ask a question of you. And they would better allow you to consider your previous statement (do you want to modify it?), and to reflect momentarily on your next statement (considering its implications, exceptions, consequences and/or risks).
Machines, such as robots, now or someday, will speak long and quickly. But that is not the affect (the root of affection) that people feel comfortable with and trust. The human touch – smiling, empathy and connection – is what really counts, rather than the quantity and rapidity of information.
Inevitably in a long/fast performance, there is the increased presence of gratuitous information. Aldo, a running-on speaking approach increases the repetition of points, which are not necessary and can become annoying.
Put another way, in conversations too much quantity (your tendency) can overwhelm and obscure genuine quality.
While not your conscious and explicit intent, the tour-de-force, long-and-fast statement style at can comes across as pushy (rather than engaging and inviting), selling (rather than explaining), and desperate (rather than poised, confident and sincere).
The long/fast speaking delivery approach may result in an immediate and apparently positive outcome, but may just as well be a reflection of a forced agreement – which later is regretted, resisted and rescinded.
In a long presentation done at a fast speed, it is more difficult for the listener to discern which are your major and which are your minor points. An effective way to make the major points stand out is to speak them at a slower speed – and with a heightened smile and leaning forward.
When the goal of your presentation/persuasion is for people not just to hear your points, but to understand, remember and act upon them, then pausing after each point, with the major ones having been spoken at a slower speed, would be a desirable speaking strategy.
It is believed that most top-of-the-food-chain persons (VIPs) appreciate class, finesse, quality, conciseness and precision. Following the recommendations outlined above can better convey this impression.