Communication: consider your audience

Women often use more words than men to deliver their message.

Whilst more words soften your message, fewer words make your message more memorable – so flex your language style depending on your message, audience and intent. When communicating with a male audience your message can often get lost in verbal ‘padding’.

‘Padding’ includes words and phrases such as:
I don’t know what you think but…
Well, in my opinion…
I don’t mean to sound ‘…’ but…
Can I just say…
Any other words or phrases that do not contribute to your message

Q: Which is the most memorable and, more importantly, likely to be acted upon?
“I don’t know what you think, but maybe it would be a good idea to undertake some further market research.”

“We need to undertake further research.”

It’s a good idea to become aware of the difference that adding or reducing words has on your communication, a great place to start this is looking at the emails you draft. Once you get to know your written language patterns it’s easier to spot and flex your verbal language patterns.

‘Minimising’ words and phrases

The most damaging of all communication ‘padding’ are minimising words and phrases. They add nothing to your message and, when used frequently, can undermine your credibility and confidence:
• I only…
• Probably,
• Hopefully,
• I’m quite good at…
• It was nothing, really

Would you buy a car if the sales person opened with:

“This is quite a good car, it will probably be reliable and hopefully you will enjoy owning it”

People in the workplace will invest time (a good sponsor or mentor) and money (a pay increase or promotion) in you and your ‘brand’ if you start speaking with more confidence (and less modesty) about what you have to offer.

Next steps:

If you frequently use minimising words and phrases:
• Start a ‘swear’ jar to help cut them out.
• Set up a reciprocal agreement with a friend or colleague to highlight to each other’s language styles.
• Start varying your communication style, depending on your audience and objectives, and notice the different results you get.

Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

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