New Communication Tips

My book, Sharpen Your Verbal Edge: 101 Tips to Enhance Your Professional Communication Skills is available on 

Starting with Tip 102, here are the tips I’ve written since the book was published.

Enjoy! And thank you for your continued involvement.



Negative phrases: Let’s reduce the number we use! They consciously or subconsciously communicate negativity and are confusing. I’ve collected negative phrases for 8 years, and many are in my book. I continue to collect them, and here are two I’ve heard in the last couple of weeks:

An employee who was preparing to talk to his boss said:

  • “I’m going to ask if I couldn’t explain what just happened.” (could not?)

He could have said:

  • “I’m going to ask if we can talk about what just happened.”

And here’s a negative phrase older readers will recognize:

  • “You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.”

Bob Dylan wrote the “Mighty Quinn in 1968 and Manfred Mann’s version was the most popular.

If you’ll not see nothing, then you’ll see something—maybe a lot of—mighty Quinns. In fact, they might even be ubiquitous! I doubt that Bob was envisioning a plethora of mighty Quinns.

If I could gently cajole him to re-write that sentence, he could change the lyrics to: “He’s unique and charismatic, the mighty Quinn.” (Quinn was also weird! Read the lyrics!)

My book, SHARPEN YOUR VERBAL EDGE, contains an entire section of tips dedicated to changing negatives to positives. Even Mr. Dylan would enjoy them!



Fun with transforming negatives to positives. Below are additional words, phrases, and sentences I’ve read or heard since SHARPEN YOUR VERBAL EDGE was published.

Additional examples of often-confusing negatives—followed by solutions:

  • “I asked if I couldn’t talk to her.” (…could talk to her)
  • “It’s anything but complicated.” (It’s simple.)
  • “In the real world, it is not otherwise. (It’s the same in the real world.)
  • “Look at these verses and see if they don’t make sense.” (…if they make sense.)
  • “That team has no shortage of confidence.” (That team is highly confident.)
  • “I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to learn different skills.” (It’s okay to learn different skills.)
  • “I would not have been able to achieve my goals if it were not for my teacher.” (I achieved my goals because of my teacher.)
  • “He is no stranger to St. Petersburg.” (He knows a lot of people / is well liked / travels here often / knows the layout of the city.) It could mean any one of those things. The speaker needs to be more specific.
  • “Our political campaign is nothing if not positive.” (Our political campaign is positive.)

Yes, I did hear that last sentence—verbatim.

If you want to delve into a wide range of communication skills essential to achieving successful and effective professional lives, consider purchasing SHARPEN YOUR VERBAL EDGE: 101 TIPS TO ENHANCE PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS. And then let me know what you think. I look forward to that.



“What is your word for the year?” That’s what my pastor in St. Petersburg asked us last week.

So, I’m asking you: What word is going to self-define you and be used when people describe you?

Last year, my word was gratitude, the results of which I’ll share in my next Communication Tip.

This year, my word is positivity. The topic of positivity is pervasive in my workshops and consultations—I want positivity to be pervasive in my life.

Back to you: When you choose your word, tell others. That keeps you accountable.

With my posting this, I know people will be scrutinizing my positivity in what I say, do, and write. I welcome that. I want the blessings and rewards—for myself and others—of a consistently positive mindset.

So, what is your word? Is it: Integrity? Relationships? Successful? Teachable? Respectful? Confident? Connected? Wealthy? Grateful? Fulfilled? Family? Capable? Involved? Focused? Leader? Responsible? Listener? Volunteer? Generous? Dependable? Effective? __________?

And who will you tell?

Be prepared for an immense change! (By the way, that’s a positive embedded command.)



Here are the words!

Last week, I asked you to choose a word that, this year, would define you to yourself and others. What word would keep coming to mind so your mind would keep coming up with ways to be that word?

And I recommended you tell someone else so the word would be more than a thought—it would be something for which you would be held accountable.

I posted that my word this year is Positivity. And I explained why I chose it.

Even though I didn’t ask you to divulge, some of you did what I did: Shared your word with a much wider audience—those who read the Communication Tip.

Here are those words:

Beacon, Centered, Change, Determined, Driven, Forward, Intentionality, Joy, Kindness, Patience, Perseverance, Present, Progress, Simplifying, Strength

Whether you publicly proclaimed your word or privately shared it, the results you and I will experience will be life-enhancing for ourselves and others. Throughout these 12 months, keep that word in front of you—mentally and physically—and seek feedback from your accountability partner.

And enjoy the experience!



How thanking God—gratitude—changed me.

A few weeks ago, I encouraged people to think of a word for 2019 and said my word this year is “Positivity.”

I mentioned that last year it was “Gratitude” and that I would share what happened as a result of focusing on that word/concept. Here goes:

For 5 years and counting, every day during my time with the Lord, I thank him for who he is and what he has done—whatever comes to mind that day. I have amassed a plethora of adjectives. (Yes, the vocabulary-building is a bonus, and the Lord knows that about me!)

About 4 years ago, I felt prompted to write a second paragraph thanking him for my husband Greg. I wrote as many adjectives as I could think of each day and came up with new ones as the weeks and months went by. And, meanwhile, something amazing occurred: my love for Greg deepened beyond anything I could imagine! (And every year on our Anniversary, I give Greg a card containing even more reasons why I love him. It’s the gift of words—the ones I’ve added over the past year.)

Last year, I felt a prompting to add a third paragraph thanking God for someone I found challenging. Sometimes I had to think long and hard to come up with new positive adjectives. What I didn’t expect was that those adjectives replaced any negative thoughts I had! I continued thinking and writing about that person each day until I felt released. And then I chose another person to thank God for—and then another—one at a time. And I’m still doing that. Now I look at those people and delight in them.

The power of words. The power of thoughts. The power of God. (Romans 12:2)



What questions do you love to ask that elicit fascinating conversations?

I’m presenting a workshop I’ve titled “Ask Fascinating Questions” and, as part of it, I’m going to share my favorite questions—some of which are in my book, “Sharpen Your Verbal Edge:101 Tips to Enhance Professional Communication Skills.”

Here are two of my favorite questions:

  • “What are you working on that excites you?”
  • “What makes you feel most fulfilled?”

These questions are perfect for networking or business luncheons, and the answers often eclipse the world of business and generate magical rapport.

Many of you have perfected questions that garner responses that fascinate you—and you end up enjoying the conversation as much as or even more than the person doing the talking. That’s what building rapport—and friendships—is all about.

I’d like to hear those questions, and I know others would also.

Thank you, in advance, for sharing your favorite question(s) so we can learn from one another and be even better equipped to engage others—and be fascinated!