Your Words Matter: Have Conversations that Make Things Happen

Words matter. A short but very powerful statement, this old saying feels especially timely right now in Washington.

So, let’s talk about how we can be more intentional and get better results when communicating with others.

It doesn’t matter if you are having a face-to-face, phone, or email conversation—or if you are trading quips over Twitter—how you approach a conversation directly impacts the outcome.

You probably think about your approach before giving a presentation or holding a project meeting. But what about those small, quick conversations throughout the day with team members, leaders, or project stakeholders?

All day long, we hastily grab a coworker for a quick chat, zip off emails to get or give important information, and (if you are like me) often multitask while commuting home by catching up on missed phone calls from the day.

How often do you pause to consider what you want to achieve through conversation before you start talking or typing?

Being more strategic when communicating will not only help streamline the number of conversations you have throughout the day, but also improve what you (and others) get out of a conversation.

Taking just a minute before we engage in a conversation to determine a desired outcome helps to clarify what we want to relay/achieve and what we want others to do.

You may have used the SMART method to set personal or professional goals, but try using it to articulate what you want to achieve in a conversation. Before you go into a conversation, think about a SMART outcome statement:

Specific. Identify and state your desired outcome so that what you are trying to achieve is clear.

Measurable. Make your outcome quantifiable. Provide some sort of numerical indicator (e.g., 95%, 3 times a year, 4 out of 5 attempts, etc.) when defining what you want from a conversation.

Achievable. Will you motivate yourself and/or others through what you are saying—or will your words shut them down? Are your nonverbals helping or hurting the conversation?

Realistic. With the time and/or resources available, can you (or others) achieve what you need to do?

Time bound. Be clear about any timeframes you need to set so others aren’t left to wonder when they need to do what you are asking.

If you can articulate what you need through this SMART lens, chances are you can wrap up a conversation faster, get better results, and get on with the rest of your day. Let us know in the comments below

And if you want to work on more strategies for efficient, influential communication, check out upcoming offerings for our class on this subject: Communicating Strategically.

Leadership & Management
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