It is strange how one can find another person’s habit irritating without realizing that you sometimes do exactly the same irritating thing yourself. My husband and I recently shared some of these habits with each other. I shared that he overuses the word “right.” This is very annoying to me as it seems like every other word is “right.” He shared with me that after nearly every sentence I say, “you know what I mean?” Sometimes I don’t even finish my thought, but instead say, “you know?” Now anytime we talk and he says “right” or I say “you know” we just laugh.
So what irritating communication habits do you have? While it’s easy to say “None!”, I’ve compiled a few tips that might help sharpen your communication skills and make you aware of a communication habit others may find less than effective!
- Expand your vocabulary – try to be aware of what you say and avoid overusing words or phrases. When you uncover a new word, look it up in the dictionary to get both its pronunciation and its meaning(s). Also, there are many websites that provide a “word of the day” like this one: http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/
- Avoid interrupting – interrupting conversation is a bad habit that can lead to poor communication, fractured relationships, and missed opportunities. Some people interrupt because they don’t want to forget their idea, they’re excited about an idea, or they want to finish the other person’s sentence to imply they’re in agreement. You may not intend for your interruption to cause any harm but unfortunately this could appear to others as lack of respect, impatience, or poor listening skills. In an effort to avoid interrupting, try taking notes or wait at least two seconds after the other person finishes speaking before you begin speaking.
- Control the tone of your voice – some people tend to raise their voice when they get worked up, excited, or nervous. However, by raising your voice you could be causing the other person to become upset, defensive, or uncomfortable.
- Use “I” messages – rather than saying things like, “You really messed up here,” begin statements with “I” and make them about yourself and your feelings. “I feel frustrated when this happens,” is less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.
- Look for compromise – remember the goal of effective communication skills should be mutual understanding and finding a solution that pleases both parties, not “winning” the argument or “being right.”
We all have communication flaws that we can work on. Have you identified yours?