Communication Tips

Communication Tip #77

Use the words “less, much, and amount’ if the next word is un-countable. If you can count the word, use “fewer, many, and number.”

For example, use “less, much and amount” if you’re talking about money, clothing, fog, fun, boating, and traffic. Use “fewer, many, and number” if you say dollars, clothes, clouds, games, boats, and cars.

I put much effort into creating many more examples; however, I am limited to a certain number of characters. Even though fewer words and less teaching reduced the amount of information I could impart, please increase the number of examples on your own.

September 29, 2014

Communication Tip #76

Is this correct or incorrect usage? Chris had us literally cracking up.” “That sunset literally blew my mind.” “She was literally a limp dish rag after that run.”

(All three are incorrect.)

Literally means actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy. So, eliminate the word literally and use it only to emphasize the truth—especially if that truth is usually conveyed as a cliché:

For example:

  • “When John finished planting the moss, he literally had what he always wanted: a green thumb.”

“The miniature house in the museum was literally made of money.

September 1, 2014

Communication Tip #75

“Really” does not mean “very.” They are not synonyms. “Really” means actually, truly or indeed. If you say, “The movie was really good.” You are saying, “The movie was actually good.”

Now…back to the word “very.” I recommend my clients not use it. “Very” allows the speaker/writer to mentally coast by selecting a favorite stand-by adjective and bolstering it with “very.”

The movie was more than very good. It might have been intriguing, or spell-binding, cathartic, suspenseful, mesmerizing, life-changing, etc.

Listeners/readers will appreciate the effort and results of this more precise communication.

They really will.

August 25, 2014

Communication Tip #74

“People never become defensive about what you’re saying. They become defensive because of why they think you’re saying it.”  Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, shared that with thousands of us who attended the Global Leadership Summit last week.

When embarking on those crucial conversations, think about your desired outcome. Grenny said to show mutual respect and to start with defining your mutual purpose—to help the person know you care about his/her interest, problems, and concerns.

I’ll add: Think about how your comments MIGHT come across and adjust your words, tone of voice, and expression so they align with how you WANT your message to be received.

Often, after I’ve established mutual respect, I use the phrase, “Are you aware…?” It’s non-threatening because you are asking about their awareness. However, the other person also receives the intended message.

August 19, 2014

Communication Tip #73

Do you Skype as part of your career?

Here’s how to visually show professionalism, confidence, and credibility:

  • Frame your face so your eyes are in the upper third of the screen. That means very little—if any—“head room.”
  • Avoid light backgrounds—white skies, windows, bright lamps, white walls—anything that forces the iris in the camera to close down and consequently makes you look darker and harder to see.
  • Sit or stand where light (artificial or natural) shows your face.
  • Set up at least a couple of feet away from your background—this is not a mug shot.
  • Make sure nothing grows out of your head or ears: you may have to move the plants and lamps behind you.

There. That’s TV News / videography 101.
Contact me to learn more—and to become proficient. I’d love to work with you.

August 5, 2014

Communication Tip #72

Have you sat through a presentation wondering who is the person speaking, why was that person chosen, what’s the message, and why should I care?

I have.

That information needs to be in the introduction.

When I present, I always write an introduction, email it beforehand, and take a copy with me-written in large font so the person introducing me can easily read it.

An introduction is not a bio. It needs to be short, engaging, and informative.

When writing your introduction, think SIN—David Greenberg uses that acronym in his book Simply Speaking!

  • S: Subject / title of the presentation
  • I: Importance: Why the subject is important to the audience and why you are important (credentials)
  • N: Your name.

I tell my clients to even write the transition. Say something like “Let’s welcome…”  That way, the person introducing won’t resort to the cliché “Without further ado” which could be translated as without wasting more time. (So much for that professional introduction!)

July 21, 2014

Communication Tip #71

When in doubt, leave the other word out.

That’s my mantra when teaching individual clients and workshop attendees whether to use “I, she, he” (subject pronouns) or “me, her, him” (object pronouns).


  • “John and me went to the meeting.” (Test it: Leave out John: “Me went to the meeting.”) Correct: “John and I went to the meeting.”
  • “This is the email her and I sent.” (Test it: “This is the email her sent.”) Correct: “This is the email she and I sent.”
  • “The VPs praised Chris and I.” (Test it: “The VPs praised I.”) Correct: “The VPs praised Chris and me.”

Another clue: You never use the pronouns “him” or “her” with “I”.  And you never use “she” or “he” with “me.”

  • “Him and me completed the project.” (Test it: “Him completed the project. Me completed the project.”) Correct: “He and I completed the project.”
July 7, 2014

Communication Tip #70

Are you communicating precisely? Or are you using ambiguous words open to your listener’s interpretation?

While doing a workshop in the Tampa Bay Area, I asked participants to rank the word “awesome” on a 5-point scale. Awesome describes anything that is jaw-dropping—that elicits awe. It could be something magnificent or horrendous.

And it is indisputably a 5 on the 5-point scale. I thought.

However, one of the groups at the workshop ranked the word as a 2. Those participants were in their 20s and they said it means “so so.”
They admitted they had never looked up the definition.

For years, they have heard people use it as a knee-jerk adjective for many things (awesome pencil).

If you want to ACCURATELY convey your thoughts, work harder at choosing the precise words—and then ask your listeners what they HEARD you say.

June 30, 2014

Communication Tip #69

You will appreciate this!

That phrase is invaluable. When you use it, you tell other people how they are going to feel and you compliment them on their ability to be discerning, to learn from, and to appreciate what you are about to tell them.

If what follows is corrective feedback, you have communicated respect for them and the belief they will, indeed, appreciate the correction instead of feeling guilty or ashamed.

Which would you rather hear: “This might upset you…”  or  “You’re going to appreciate this…”

Remember: You are telling people how to feel and how you feel about them. Use that influence wisely. You and your team will appreciate it.  

May 19, 2014

Communication Tip #68

Solving the pronoun conundrum:

The phone rings. You answer. The caller asks for Jane. (Pretend you’re Jane). You correctly say, “This is SHE. The caller wants an update on your project. You correctly say, “Joe and I are working with Jen and Marcus.  HE and I work well with HER and HIM.”


  • Even though it sounds strange, use: I, SHE, HE, WE and THEY after linking verbs (am, is, was, were, seem, appear) because they continue to define the subject.

Here is an example of using all WRONG personal pronouns:

  • “This is ME. HIM and John will give the card to Chris and I.” 

(Between you and me, now you have something to think about all day!)

March 24, 2014

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