Clear Speaking

clear speaking in PR

Clear Speaking

Clear Speaking


Sometimes, all that’s needed to solve a problem is some clear speaking. Communication. Many of us struggle with finding our voice in the workplace. Lack of experience, or confidence, can make us feel tongue-tied and less likely to put our own thoughts forward. The problem is that speaking our opinion, such as what we really think about that out-dated idea, is what is going to get us noticed in the workplace. Within OR, it’s even more important, as it’s all about communication.

There are few things more empowering than saying what you think. That is, what you truly think. I’m not talking about hurting people, you have to respect for people’s feelings. Still, imagine how simple life would be if you could tell a colleague that her idea isn’t going to work in the way that she thinks. Or that your client may be better off thinking about sales than engagement.

However, that’s easier said than done. Even when we are writing we couch our communication in little add-ons like “I was just thinking…” . We say stuff like “maybe, if this isn’t too left field.” Even worse, we adopt the emoji. Fun, but pure laziness in many ways.

Language and Confidence

When I coach around clear speaking, language is the first thing we address. It’s something even I had to consider for myself when I worked in PR. I realised that I hid what I meant in woolly phrases to avoid confrontation. Everything had to sound nice, jolly even. If I was annoyed or fed up with someone I was still concerned about coming over as the nice girl. This showed up in the language I used. This was true both in real day to day life, and in my emails and online communications.

So, how did that change?  I made it a mission to drop the “I was just wondering..if…when you had time…you could possibly pay me?” Instead, I deliberately used straightforward language. “I am just checking to see when you’re going to be transferring the money.” This is totally unambiguous. If they didn’t respond, my spidey sense was allowed to go into overdrive. There’s no mistaking the meaning here. No response means something’s up.

Tips for clear speaking

Here are some ways you can work on becoming more clearer and saying what you think…

  • Changing your language to communicate more clearly first means adding in breathing space. No rushing to reply to that text or email straight away. When you’re in conversation, practise slowing down and pausing. Give yourself time to think and time to phrase what you’re going to say next
  • Listening is just as important. It allows you to really understand who you are talking to and adjust what you want to say accordingly
  • Don’t be afraid to rephrase yourself.”I haven’t seen you around much..hmmm…actually I meant to say why does it feel like you’ve been dodging me all week?”
  • Be brave and say, “I don’t understand that, would you mind explaining it again.” Do this, even if it’s in the middle of a conference call or conversation. No need to say I’m sorry, just ask for clarification. Often, someone else will be relieved that you’ve asked the question
  • If you have to say something that you are nervous about, especially in a meeting, consider putting what you want to say in an email first. Do it clearly and succinctly and offer it up for discussion at the meeting
  • There’s no need to drop the niceties in an email but get to the point quickly, before people get bored
  • Practise saying “I think”, “I believe”, “I want”, “I’d advise”. You could choose a phrase of the day and see how it feels to use it
  • Stay away from sharing your emotions as much as possible. If you’re hurt try not to whine or sound upset as this is what people will hear, not the words

Time Out

You also need to know what you are thinking. This means taking ten minutes to ponder what’s going on in the office on the journey home. Don’t be tempted to switch off straight away. Rather, take a little time to consider. It also means tuning into your gut instincts. This is how you can recognise this new project isn’t making full use of your strengths, perhaps.

Saying what you mean is a journey and not achieved in one swoop. The rewards are more clarity, confidence and respect from other people. Plus, your emails will be shorter and easier to type!

Communication and clear speaking is something we can address via coaching. Book a chat to find out more.

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