We all have our habits…like brushing our teeth every morning, eating meals at a certain time of day, purchasing products from particular stores.  Of course the list goes on and on.  According to Merriam Webster, habit is defined as something a person does often in a regular and repeated way.  As you can see from the three examples I provided, these habits usually don’t require much thinking–we simply do them and that’s that.

Now let’s see how having habits applies to our daily communication.  When we fall into a rote pattern and don’t stop to think before we act, the results are not always optimal.  Again the list may be lengthy so for now, see if you have any of these 7 communication habits and if so, you may wish to re-evaluate them.

1. Speaking more than listening: Do you tend to dominate conversations? If so, pay attention to how much time you spend expressing your ideas.  Strive for turn-taking when communicating.

2. Interrupting others: Do you feel a need to insert your thoughts before someone finishes speaking?  If so, resist the urge to do this by focusing on what you hear and jotting a note to yourself so you won’t forget what you want to say when it’s your turn.

3. Rambling: Do you find yourself doing what’s known as a “data dump”?  If so, work on being more organized and succinct with your message.  Remember that often less is more.

4. Using a rapid rate of speech: Do you speak too quickly and even find yourself gasping for air?  If so, practice what I refer to as the power of the pause.  By spacing out what you say with a slight pause, others can more readily grasp your point.

5. Speaking with a low volume: Do you notice others struggling to hear you?  If so, you may need to learn more efficient breath control.  When you have adequate breath support your listeners don’t have to work hard to hear you.

6. Repeating yourself: Do you find you’re saying something more than once? Unless you’re intentionally reinforcing a particular point, repeating yourself tends to get on the nerves of your listeners and may be viewed as a waste of time. Say what needs to be said with confidence and trust that if its not understood, your listener will ask you to repeat.

7. Not maintaining eye-contact: Do you tend to multitask and as a result forget to look directly at others when communicating?  If so, you may not be establishing trust or exhibiting the respect that your listeners are seeking. Be fully present when you interact; one of the best ways to achieve that is by maintaining consistent eye-contact.

Habits have an upside as well as a downside.  Always think before you act, especially when you communicate.

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