Do these situations sound at all familiar? Maybe you can’t get a conversation started or you can’t think of how to respond to a question or you can’t keep any momentum going once a conversation is underway.
If you’ve had this happen then guess what…you’re totally normal because at some point in time we’ve all encountered these situations. Of course we’re usually not too thrilled when it happens to us but what’s more important is that it’s fixable!
The phenomena I described is typically referred to as being or feeling tongue-tied. Just in case you’ve heard of this as a medical condition that’s not at all what I’m referring to. For clarification purposes, when someone has a short lingual frenum (muscle underneath the tongue connecting it to the floor of the mouth), this is known as ankyloglossia or more commonly, tongue-tied.
Let’s go back to the non-medical problem of being tongue-tied, where your oral anatomy is not involved. This can feel like you’re at a loss for words or blocked from expressing your thoughts. One common cause for this is being nervous or feeling uncomfortable with the other person or people with whom you’re conversing. Who hasn’t experienced that? Another possible reason is being distracted and trying to juggle multiple thoughts in your head. Often we will continually self-edit which can also be a barrier.
Wondering what to do? Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Give your full attention to the person or people with whom you’re conversing.
2. When offering your thoughts or comments try to build on what someone else has said.
3. When initiating a conversation, present an open-ended question (using the words what, where, who, when, why or how) to get the other person to start speaking first.
4. If you’re in a group, don’t feel compelled to jump in until you’re ready to speak or have something to add. Speaking for the sake of speaking doesn’t benefit anyone.
5. Communicate in an authentic way that is consistent with your style vs. trying to compete with someone else. Go ahead and say what you need to say without doing a monologue.
Try these ideas and you’ll be unstuck before you know it; let me hear from you about how you’re doing.