Here are six common communication mistakes that people—especially professional women—make in the workplace, according to communications consultant Colette Carlson (www.speakyourtruth.com):
- Failing to speak up early in meetings. Ideally, speak up in the first third of the meeting. The earlier you jump in, the more you’re seen as a contributor.
- Using phrases that signal a lack of confidence. Examples: “I could be wrong …,” or, “I’m probably forgetting something …” Such defensive phrases protect the speaker, says Carlson, “so that, if you don’t like my idea, you’ll still like me.”
- Adding “tag lines” to your statements. Examples: “We’ll send the contract on Friday … OK?” or, “It would be better if we scheduled lunch before 1 p.m. … don’t you agree?” Tag lines make it sound as if you’re asking for approval.
- Over-apologizing. Example: “I’m sorry, but I need to ask what business you have with Mr. Smith.” Saying you’re sorry implies fault and undermines your credibility.
- Looking unprepared when entering a room. Example: Fidgeting, making hurried movements, shifting your eyes from person to person. “The fewer movements you make,” says Carlson, “the more people perceive you as prepared, confident and under control.”
- Deflecting praise. Don’t immediately shrug off praise or minimize it. That makes people think you don’t deserve it. Instead, say: “Thank you. I worked really hard on that, and I appreciate your noticing.” If you recognize praise, you’ll hear more of it.