Equipping Professionals to be Effective Communicators
Equipping Professionals to be Effective Communicators
Equipping Professionals to be Effective Communicators
Equipping Professionals to be Effective Communicators

Communication Tips

COMMUNICATION TIP #116

Are you giving “it” all the credit?

 

  • Instead of saying, “It has come to my attention…”
  • Say, “I have learned…”.
  • Instead of saying, “It is recommended…”
  • Say, “I recommend…” “The board recommends…”
  • Instead of saying, “It is a pleasure working with you”.
  • Say, “I enjoy working with you.”
  • Instead of saying, “It has to be settled.”
  • Say, “We need to settle this.”

 

In the above examples, we changed the subject and verb from ‘it is” to words that have precise meaning and action—we moved from passive to active voice.

 

  • So, instead of saying, “It is active voice that makes your ideas clear and strong.”
  • Say, “Active voice makes your ideas clear and strong.”

 

 

June 26, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #115

You’re at a networking event and it’s your turn to stand up and introduce yourself. YIKES!

Here is one way to get and keep your prospects’ attention:

Stand tall, smile, and then confidently, clearly (pause between key words), and energetically tell the group your first and last name, your title, and the name of your company. Then say, “I help (name the target group(s), state the results they will experience, and tell them how they will feel.)” Then repeat your name and company because NOW, you have their attention.

Here’s one way I would do it:

I’m Elizabeth MacDonald. I’m a communication skills advisor. My company is The Verbal Edge.

I help teams and individuals who value communication skills excel in presenting themselves and their messages so they can feel confident when speaking, writing emails, and engaging others.

I’m Elizabeth MacDonald, The Verbal Edge.

Oh, the amazing power of words and the delivery!

 

June 20, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #114

Choose “to.”  Eliminate “try.”

 

Instead of using “on” or “and,” use an infinitive (“to” + a verb).

Example:

  • Avoid saying: “I’m planning on introducing the boss.”
  • Say: “I’m planning to introduce the boss.”
  • Avoid saying: “I will try and contact the client.
  • One option: “I will try to contact the client.

 

To transform the above sentence into a confident statement, eliminate “try:”

  • In that sentence, “try” is a confidence-robbing word that sabotages the speaker’s determination and tells others, “This isn’t going to happen.”
  • The best option: “I will contact the client.”

 

June 12, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #113

Write them as two words—not one.
The words? “All right” and “a lot.” (Instead of alright and alot.)
To remember this, think of the opposite: Would you write “alwrong” and “alittle?”

 

(“Alright” is acceptable in informal writing; however, if you write a lot, you’ll want to automatically default to the spelling that is all right all the time.)

 

June 5, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #112

Is it “we” or “us?”

We writers need to know the better choice for us wordsmiths.

The rule is simple: Pretend the word after “us” or “we” is not there and choose what sounds better. (We * need to know the better choice for us * .)

More examples:

  • We neighbors are concerned.
  • He will be speaking to us employees.

For us professionals, knowing this rule means we communicators can write and speak with even more confidence.

 

May 22, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #111

Best is not always better.

When comparing TWO persons, concepts, places, or things, the word to use is “better.” Use “best” when comparing THREE or MORE.

This rule also applies to other words ending in “er” versus “est.”

Examples:

  • Between options A and B, the better option is B; however, the best option is D.
  • Jack is the older of the two sons and the oldest of all the children.
  • Anna is taller than Rae. She is also the tallest in her class.
  • The audience voted Derrik the funnier of the two finalists and the funniest comedian of the year.
  • We are accepting the lower bid of the two proposals.
  • Make this a better week than last week…and the best week ever!

 

May 15, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #110

Reduce verbal clutter by eliminating redundancies.

Here are some examples of redundancies:
(added) bonus, (honest) truth, (close) proximity, every (single), consensus (of opinion), (advanced) planning, (unpaid) volunteer, collaborate (together), nodded (his head), eradicate (completely), evolve (over time), follow (after), gather (together), kneel (down), revert (back), report (back), (mutual) cooperation, (over) exaggerate, PIN (number), postpone (until later), (sum) total, surrounded (on all sides), (temper) tantrum, tall (in stature), (usual) custom, visible (to the eye).

Many more exist.

What verbal redundancies drive you crazy?

 

April 24, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #109

Where’s the subject?

To discover the subject and clearly see if you need a singular or plural verb, ignore all prepositional phrases between the subject and verb. (I’ve bracketed the propositional phrases below.)

Example:

  • One [of the projects] is finished.
  • The projects [for that company] are on schedule.
  • Ten minutes [before all the meetings], Bill, [without his co-workers], walks the halls.
  • The employee [with the skills] and [over all the interns] deserves a bonus.
  • Prepositional phrases, [if they are non-essential], are separated by commas. That’s another clue!

Look again at the examples and notice which prepositional phrases are non-essential—and are, therefore, separated by commas.

 

April 3, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #108

Are you having “guy” trouble?

When speaking professionally to groups, refrain from saying “guys.” You’ll sound more professional.

The first meaning of “guy” is “a man or a boy: fellow.” Its 2nd meaning is: “informal: persons of either sex: people.” (Dictionary.com). The British Dictionary doesn’t’ include the 2nd meaning.

I hear, “you guys,” from professional speakers, church leaders and staffs, and executives giving presentations.

When I started teaching English, I was surprised to hear myself saying, “Okay, guys, I need your attention.” I worked to eliminate it immediately. It took a few days.

That’s because the reward—for the listeners–is immeasurably greater:

  • Instead of saying, “Good morning, guys. Are you guys ready for…?
  • You say: Good morning. Are you ready for…?

We relate more personally and less like, well, coaches talking to their teams of all men.

And if you’re still thinking of using “guys,” think of the 2nd meaning: “Good morning, people. Are you people ready…?”

Do you really want to communicate that way?

 

March 27, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #107

Subject/Verb Agreement:

To accomplish this, ignore all prepositional phrases between the subject and verb.

Examples:

  • One [of the projects] is finished.
  • The projects [for that company] are on schedule.
  • The employee [with the skills and over all the interns] deserves a bonus.
  • Grammar, [throughout the years], has changed.

 

March 6, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #106

Don’t use an apostrophe to pluralize numbers or abbreviations.

Treat them as you treat traditional words.

Examples of plurals:

  • YMCAs, 1930s, VPs, 100s, PTAs
  • CEOs in the 1990s retired in their 50s.

To show possession/ownership, use the apostrophe:

  • The VP’s vocabulary is similar to1960’s music lyrics.

And if you are among the increasing number of people who are inserting apostrophes to pluralize traditional words, please stop! What we all learned in first grade is still the rule:

  • Correct: The boys are here.
  • Incorrect: The boy’s (or boys’) are here.

 

February 27, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #105

Is it “your” or “you’re?”

This confusion is just as widespread as “too” vs. “to”. (See my previous Communication Tip.)

Simply put: “You’re” means “you are.” “Your” does not.

“Your” is possessive. Period. Examples: Your cat. Your career.

Your use of the words you’re writing communicates its own message. You’re the composer of your thoughts and words.

Oh, and don’t trust your spell check. Many times, my spell check erroneously prompts me to change “you’re” to “your.” Test your choice.

And when in doubt, write out “you are” instead of “you’re.” (It’s more professional, too.)

 

February 20, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #104

Singular or Plural?

The words “or” or “nor” indicate you have a choice, and the noun or pronoun closest to the verb determines if the verb is singular or plural.

For example:

  • Either the girls OR their PARENTS STAY.
  • Neither the dogs NOR the CAT LIKES caviar.
  • He guesses either his father OR his sisters ARE SINGING.
  • Either the salespersons OR the BOSS HELPS me. (Your mind OR EARS NEED to adjust to that one!)

 

January 25, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #104

Singular or Plural?

The words “or” or “nor” indicate you have a choice, and the noun or pronoun closest to the verb determines if the verb is singular or plural.

For example:

  • Either the girls OR their PARENTS STAY.
  • Neither the dogs NOR the CAT LIKES caviar.
  • He guesses either his father OR his sisters ARE SINGING.
  • Either the salespersons OR the BOSS HELPS me. (Your mind OR EARS NEED to adjust to that one!)

 

January 25, 2017

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COMMUNICATION TIP #103

Think before using GET or GOT.

The correct word might be HAVE, HAS or HAD. In fact, most of the time, that’s the case!

  • Avoid saying: “I got to go now.”
  • Say instead: “I have to go now.”
  • Avoid saying: “Do you GOT your gloves?”
  • Say instead: “Do you HAVE your gloves?

Also, using HAVE or HAS as helping words doesn’t dignify the faux pas.

  • Avoid saying: “He’s got three sisters.” (The “he’s” means he has, so you’re saying, “He has got three sisters.)
  • Say instead: “He has three sisters.”

Do you HAVE the concept?

 

December 27, 2016

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COMMUNICATION TIP #102

Let’s stretch our vocabulary. And let’s do it by eliminating the qualifier words “very” and “really” and choosing the perfect word.

Instead of saying, “That’s really easy.” Say, “That’s simple, effortless, feasible,” etc.
If you feel ambitious, how about also eliminating the word “pretty” (as in “pretty tasty”)?

To read more on this, check out  “This is Pretty Interesting,” my article on this website.

 

December 12, 2016

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COMMUNICATION TIP #101

Are you writing “to” when you mean “too”?

I see this mistake frequently–even in emails from people who are, otherwise, excellent writers.

“Too,” the longer of the two words, has the longer list of meanings: extremely, more than desirable, also, very or indeed.

“To” is a preposition: it connects.

Examples:

  • People may be too hurried or too distracted to focus on these words.
  • These two misspellings are too frequent and may be the result of being too indifferent to the difference.
  • They could be too confident, too.

Here’s to learning!

 

December 5, 2016

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COMMUNICATION TIP #100

De-murking the WELL/GOOD conundrum: When do we use WELL and GOOD?

WELL is an adverb. It modifies verbs and answers the question How: He slept well, ran well, spoke well, worked well.

GOOD is an adjective. It modifies nouns and answers the question WHAT (kind/type): He had a good time, good run, good speech and she did a good job. Usually when you use “good,” the noun it modifies follows it.

And sometimes that noun precedes it: This example is good.
So, heed well this good advice!

 

November 7, 2016

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COMMUNICATION TIP #99

When speakers appear uncertain, their listeners doubt their credibility, remain unconvinced, and struggle to relate.

To exude confidence, use a strong voice, maintain eye contact, and eliminate words such as “um, kinda, sorta, I guess, I’ll try.”

Replace with intentional pauses and confidence-exuding words such as “I will, I can, I agree, absolutely, YES.”

 

September 26, 2016

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COMMUNICATION TIP #98

Word proximity can be your nemesis.

Double-check your word order. We don’t want to confuse (and misinform) our readers.

For example:

  • The jury convicted him for murdering her today. (Same-day decision!)
  • Dust the picture of the children on the shelf. (They must be cramped!)
  • Fortunately, the mouse was entrapped before the meeting. (Fortunate mouse?)
  • Seen on a furniture store sign: We have tables for families with thick legs.
  • Randy was criticized by the boss because he was late. (The boss was late? Write instead: The boss criticized Randy because he was late)

Most of us accidentally misplace words in sentences, and that’s why we need to re-read and correct what we write.

 

August 22, 2016

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Communication Tip #87

I just returned from Europe, and in England, I was fascinated by the differences in sentence structure.

Here’s an example: In a restaurant, we in the U.S. usually ask, “Where are the restrooms?”

One person said to me, “You Americans talk as if you rest or bathe in those rooms.”

In England the phrase is: “The toilet. Where is it?”

When I started saying those words—in that order, I was amazed that people immediately understood. Prior to that, they hesitated and some seemed confused.

In Italy and Germany airports and train stations, I also saw versions of the word “toilet” on signs and doors.

So, I’ve learned to not rely on the “restroom” euphemism abroad.

And all along, I thought I was “minding my manners.”

March 23, 2015

Communication Tip #86

Do you think of the opera (or a football game) as “Half over already?” or “Dear God, when will this ever end!?”

Words reinforce our positive attitudes or sabotage them.

Here are some negative phrases I have heard or read recently. How would you make them positive?

  • What I don’t do for you!
  • That’s no small request.
  • This isn’t an attempt to humiliate or intimidate you.
  • Isn’t that not cool?
  • He is no less committed than…
  • You are not wrong.
  • She doesn’t live far from here.
  • It’s not uncommon to talk this way.
February 24, 2015

Communication Tip #85

I just returned from Europe, and in England, I was fascinated by the differences in sentence structure.

Here’s an example: In a restaurant, we in the U.S. usually ask, “Where are the restrooms?”

One person said to me, “You Americans talk as if you rest or bathe in those rooms.”

In England the phrase is: “The toilet. Where is it?”

When I started saying those words—in that order, I was amazed that people immediately understood. Prior to that, they hesitated and some seemed confused.

In Italy and Germany airports and train stations, I also saw versions of the word “toilet” on signs and doors.

So, I’ve learned to not rely on the “restroom” euphemism abroad.

And all along, I thought I was “minding my manners.”

February 23, 2015

Communication Tip #84

Do you think of the opera (or a football game) as “Half over already?” or “Dear God, when will this ever end!?”

Words reinforce our positive attitudes or sabotage them.
Here are some negative phrases I have heard or read recently. How would you make them positive?

  • What I don’t do for you!
  • That’s no small request.
  • This isn’t an attempt to humiliate or intimidate you.
  • Isn’t that not cool?
  • He is no less committed than…
  • You are not wrong.
  • She doesn’t live far from here.
  • It’s not uncommon to talk this way.
February 6, 2015

Communication Tip #83

Between Steve and Jordan, Steve is taller.

Among Steve, Jordan, and Marcus, Marcus is tallest.

When referring to more than two people or things, use “between.” Use “among” when referring to three or more.

When comparing two people or things, end the adjectives with “er.” (or use “less, more or better”)

When comparing three or more, end the adjectives with “est.” (or use “least, most, or best”)

Incorrect usage: Among the two animals, Dinah is most rambunctious. Correct: Between the two animals, Dinah is more rambunctious.

Now you can make the better decision when faced with these two choices.

January 20, 2015

Communication Tip #82

Three words many people misuse:

  • PRODIGAL means being wastefully or recklessly extravagant. Being a spendthrift. It does not mean leaving home or falling into disgrace—except for that spendthrift thing.
  • PENULTIMATE means second to the last. It does not mean exceptional. This is my penultimate word. The last is the word awesome.
  • AWESOME describes something that is magnificent, horrendous, or inspires overwhelming inspiration or fear–anything that causes us to drop our jaws in awe. God, the Northern Lights, a multi-car pile-up are awesome. However, most clothes, TV shows, songs, everyday comments, etc., are not awesome. Please take an additional second to think of the appropriate adjective. I thank you for that.
December 15, 2014

Communication Tip #81

Just say “said.”

The words “like” and “go, goes, went” have become ubiquitous slang for “said:” I was like, “You won’t believe this!” And he goes, “Try me! So I went, “Okay!”

Regardless of the popularity, it’s not professional-speak, and your listeners are aware of that.

Imagine a news anchor saying (notice I didn’t say “going”), The CEO was like, “We enjoy helping our employees.”

Start today to eliminate “like, go, goes, and went” from your dialogue recreations—regardless of how exciting the story is!

December 8, 2014

Communication Tip #80

Effective paraphrasing requires paying attention, summarizing the messages, and clarifying / validating feelings.

My recommendation: Create and continually update a list of adjectives describing positive and negative feelings. That way, you will be prepared when stating, “This is what I HEARD you say…”

Examples:

  • You’re relieved the CEO approved the project and are eager and apprehensive to begin. Is that accurate?
  • You feel belittled and ignored being constantly passed over for a promotion.

People appreciate being listened to. Using the appropriate adjectives separates you from the person who says, “So, things are going well at work. Cool!”

November 10, 2014

Communication Tip #79

This morning I dropped off a document for my husband and thanked the receptionist for delivering it to him. She said, “No worries.”

I was taken aback because I had not thought to worry.

This is another example of a negative embedded command. It’s in the same category as “no problem.”

Remember, our mind skips over the words “no” and “not” (Do not think of a lime green squirrel: You have to first think of one before expunging the image. The same goes for worries and problem.)

Respond, instead, positively: “My pleasure, I’m happy to do that, any time, you are welcome, etc.”

October 27, 2014

Communication Tip #78

People will grow into the conversations you have around them and about them. Compliment people in front of others: colleagues, friends, family members. Also, choose stimulating conversations that set expectations and show you believe in the person. This, according to Business Author John C. Maxwell who recommends you then personally follow up on these third-party compliments with reaffirming, empowering comments.

What a positive, affirming way to begin this week!

October 6, 2014

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