Communication Tips

Communication Tip #67

The lie / lay conundrum. Many Intelligent business leaders are foggy on this:

  • If you / another person / an animal reclines, the word is lie. (I love to lie in bed and read. The cat prefers to lie next to her kittens.)
  • If you / another person / an animal positions something or someone, the word is lay. (Lay the baby in the crib. He will lay the book next to the baby.)

Stay with me: Here are the other tenses:

  • lie / lay / lain.  (I lie on the beach. I lay on the beach all last week. I have lain so long I am sunburned.)

Now, for the easy part:

  • lay / laid /laid: (Lay the proposal on the desk. I laid it on the desk. I have laid it on the desk.)
February 24, 2014

Communication Tip #66

Ubiquitous negative or knee-jerk responses to “thank you” warrant another reminder for all of us.

When responding to “Thank you,” please SMILE and say something positive such as:

“My pleasure.” “Glad to do it.” “Any time.”

Think content. Don’t just respond:  Two days ago, a TV meteorologist responded to “Thank you” with “You bet.”  What does that mean?

Refrain from saying, “Yup.”  “Uh huh.”

Avoid “No problem.” (You’re saying it could be a problem, but you’ve decided, in this case, it isn’t.)

A positive, intentional response to “thank you” communicates you are a positive, intentional person.

January 13, 2014

Communication Tip #65

Here’s a challenge: When giving corrective feedback, make it totally positive.

For example:

  • “What do you think went well during your presentation? What do you think you could have done even better?… Let’s talk about making that happen!” 
  • “I know you will appreciate this observation: When you talk with clients, instead of ending your phrases and statements with upward inflections (up-talking), how about if you speak with downward inflections? That way, you will sound more confident as you continue to look and be confident.” 

Using positive corrective feedback involves time-consuming, intentional composing—especially the first few times.

I recommend it. The results are win/win: Your employees correct the situations AND they feel valued, encouraged, and empowered.

December 2, 2013

Communication Tip #64

In my quest to share misleading or confusing negative phrases, here are the most recent ones I’ve heard:

Enjoy—and in no uncertain circumstances, refrain from using.

This takes not one minute to read. It is not unlike what you might do for no other reason than to smile.

Most thoughts are more easily understood if phrased in the positive–I know you couldn’t agree more!

We are nothing if we are not conscientious. (What I don’t do for you!)

November 18, 2013

Communication Tip #63

“It will not take a minute for you to read this.” So, how long will it take?

Add one word and the sentence gets even more confusing: “It will not take but a minute…”

For succinctness and clarity, use positive construction and active voice (subject / verb / object) whenever possible.

Example. “You will read this in less than a minute.” (and love it, I’m sure!)

October 31, 2013

Communication Tip #62

Are you ready for a grammar challenge of which many people are aware?

Find the incorrect word in this sentence: You coming in early last night meant we could leave early too.

The compound subject is “coming in early” and it belongs to “you.” So, “you” needs to be possessive: “Your” coming in early…  More examples: “My” laughing is loud. “My” laughing with friends is even louder.” (Not “me” laughing with other people…)

Now, share this rule with your team members. Their wanting to learn it will surprise you.

October 15, 2013

Communication Tip #60

When you send an email to a client from your smart phone (and the transmission, at the bottom, indicates you did), do you get a pass on grammar and punctuation?


Except for tweeting, regardless of how you transmit your message, professionals uphold business standards. What may save the sender 30 seconds often erodes that sender’s image.

That’s one of hundreds of tips you’ll receive if you attend Equipping Exceptional Leaders on 9-27-13.  See the information on this website’s Events Page for more information.

September 16, 2013

Communication Tip #59

Preparation is key–even if you have only seconds to prepare.

“The only thing worse than saying nothing is spending a long time saying it.” (Toastmasters Magazine)

This morning, a TV host interviewed a professional couple. The woman spoke first:  Her words and delivery communicated confidence. The next question went to the man. His first words were, “Um, I guess, you know…kinda…”  (The topic was one with which they were both familiar–no surprises.)

If the man had eliminated the verbal clutter at the beginning of his sentence, he would have engaged the listeners. Instead, he rambled, tuned out his listeners, sabotaged his message, and communicated insecurity.

What a difference some quick mental editing would have made!

September 9, 2013

Communication Tip #61

When tactfully confronting a negative situation, lead with facts instead of opinions or emotions. According to the authors of Crucial Conversations, facts are the least controversial, the least insulting, and the most persuasive.

So, instead of saying, “Because you couldn’t get your butt out of bed this morning, the project we worked on blew up in our faces!” State the facts: “We were to present our proposal at 8:00. You arrived at 8:25. At 8:10, XYZ Corporation awarded the account to ONTime, Inc.”

(This was one of several topics I covered in EQUIPPING EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS, a seminar Karen Hickman, Joe Wolfcale and I presented last week.)

September 6, 2013

Communication Tip #58

The power of questions:

“It’s not only the questions you ask but the questions you fail to ask that shape your destiny.” That catalytic statement is from Tony Robbins.

In business, the focus is on relationship selling. According to Brian Tracey, much of that is listening, paraphrasing and asking questions such as, “Are you saying…?” or “If this makes sense to you, why don’t you give it a try?” or his favorite: “How do you mean?”

For me, questions define and enrich my life and career; They always have!  What are some of your favorite questions?

August 5, 2013

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