Think before you speak - be aware of how you're perceived

Written by
Robin Kermode

24 Jan 2017

24 Jan 2017 • by Robin Kermode

When the pressure rises in the workplace, nerves often affect our communication skills. We can end up bigging ourselves up to try to make ourselves sound important, but it usually makes us sound pushy and pompous. Alternatively, stuttering or mumbling indicates a lack of confidence and self-doubt. So, how do we impress our colleagues with our calm and collected people skills?

Here, communication coach Robin Kermode highlights five things not to do when you’re talking to colleagues…

1. Dont big yourself up.

How many times has a colleague asked you at the coffee machine or at a networking event, ‘What are you up to this weekend?’ only to follow it up immediately with ‘Well, we’re going a mini-break to Paris’ - or something that they think is equally smart? That isn’t really a question, it’s just an excuse to boast about themselves, which makes you feel small, and no one likes to be made to feel small.

In the same vein, often people can end up sounding self-important when giving a talk at work because nerves make them wear a public mask of formality. To avoid this, make sure you speak with your natural, genuine voice, avoiding jargon or phrases you wouldn’t normally use. This ensures you stay down to earth and colleagues get to see the real ‘you’.

2. Dont underplay yourself to impress others.

Nerves can also make us put others on a pedestal. When you bump into a celebrity that you idolise or the CEO of the company that you really admire, it’s hard to have a regular conversation without getting nervous.

We think that by underplaying ourselves, even knocking our achievements will make ourselves more likeable, but in fact, it does the opposite! When you display self-doubt, people will struggle to believe in you and you won’t be taken seriously. Show respect, of course, but speak on a peer-to-peer basis. People will only connect with us if we give them respect and we respect ourselves. 

3. Dont ride the roller coaster of emotions be consistent!

Consistency is important when it comes to ensuring that your colleagues respect you. As a manager, if you are clear and consistent in your expectations, your team will know where it stands and will know how to meet your targets.

This is true across the corporate world. Consistency is vital when it comes to a customer’s expectations of a brand. When we visit a business’ website or see an advert on the TV, we immediately recognise the design, colour scheme and font. Consistent branding, across all platforms, helps us to feel a particular way about a corporation and as a result, we know what to expect from that business. Conduct yourself in the same way.

In the workplace, your colleagues, clients and friends will have set expectations about you, and if you aren’t consistent, they will be uncertain about you and your character. 

4. Dont speak before thinking.

In the same way that you shouldn’t write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper, you shouldn’t say things before thinking about the consequences. Although this is easier said than done, it can really help prevent any awkward situations with colleagues and clients. 

Not only can you look foolish by jumping in too soon, it can actually pay off to sit back and see what’s really going on in a meeting, so you can take an intelligent and measured approach.

5. Dont be dishonest.

Authenticity is about being genuine, saying what you mean and what you believe. Your colleagues will spot inauthenticity a mile off. It pays to be honest and it will gain you respect in the long run. 

The HR department is a good example of an authentic body in the workplace. It provides honest feedback in appraisals and in times of crisis, is the first point of call for a helping hand. In order for the department to work within the wider company, there needs to be a level of trust and this is the same for individual relationships.