Talk So People Listen

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It can be hard to hold people’s attention these days.

So many distractions!

We can do what we can to reduce distractions.  For example, be thoughtful when setting up a meeting place, whether it’s for a large group or one-on-one. I know one company that has a bucket in each conference room. When people enter, they put their smartphones in the bucket.

We can also do our best to speak in a way that enhances listening. 

In a TED Talk, Julian Treasure lists seven deadly sins when speaking:

  1. Gossip
  2. Judging
  3. Negativity
  4. Complaining
  5. Excuses
  6. Exaggeration (He jokes, “What word would we use if we were trying to describe something that was, in fact, truly awesome?”). The bigger sibling of exaggeration is lying.
  7. Dogmatism — the confusion of facts with opinion

He then lists characteristics of speech that enhance listening:

  1. Honesty
  2. Authenticity — be yourself; “stand in your own truth”
  3. Integrity — speaking consistently with your actions and values
  4. Love — wishing people well

It’s not a coincidence that the first list breeds mistrust and the second list enhances trustworthiness.

Ask a truth-teller to make you aware when you fall into the trap of the first list.  

Reward your teammates with a compliment when they speak in accordance with the second list. 

Be a High-Trust Leader: speak in ways that enhance listening and communication.


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