Humans speak their first fully-formed words sometime between 9 – 12 months of age. It’s a big deal, delighting our parents and launching us into the world of interactive communication. For the rest of our lives, words are the foundation of (almost) everything we do. Psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson says, “If you can think, speak, and write, you are absolutely deadly. Nothing can get in your way.”
If Dr. Peterson is right, why are ambitious hospitality professionals so often inattentive to and careless with their words? How can hospitality leaders communicate effectively so that their words matter? Here are six techniques to try:
Pre-Game The Conversation
This is, without question, one of the most valuable things you can do. Before speaking or writing – whenever possible – prepare mentally in advance. What do you plan to say? How do you plan to say it? Speak it out loud so you hear how it sounds. You will be amazed at how often it improves both the actual words and the volume of words you use.
Eliminate Unnecessary Words
Great communicators are masters of efficiency. They do not waste words. Consider the word “just”, for example. Try eliminating this word. Why? Because it diminishes whatever follows it. Other words that fall into this category are “really,” “quite,” and “literally.”
Say What You Mean
“Being direct” gets a bad rap. One can be direct in a manner that isn’t unpleasant. Being direct conveys confidence. It positions you as authentic and transparent. It saves time and reduces the risk of being misinterpreted.
Use Simple Words
Simple words are sharp, clear, and to the point. Our brains, eyes, and mouths don’t struggle with them. Simple words get your message across fast. In today’s attention-deficit world where so many don’t want to listen, simple words are a competitive advantage.
Try Bullet Point Theory
Talking too much is often caused by social anxiety and can dilute your point. Thinking and communicating around a small number of bullet points can be extremely helpful. Concise bullets are mental anchors that provide comfort and keep us from drifting too far off track with our words.
Practice the Two-Second Rule
This is easy to say and harder to do. Count for two seconds before replying to something that’s said to you. There are several benefits to this practice, one of which is to allow yourself a moment to formulate a response – enough time (hopefully) to avoid one that is thoughtless or impulsive.
Stand Out in Your Field
We spend a huge percentage of our waking hours with words. A University of California, San Diego study estimated the average American consumes over 100,000 words every day. The ambient noise level in our lives has never been higher. How do we break through so that we can be heard? By making sure our words matter.