Before You Speak

While the majority of communication advice focuses on things that come into play once a conversation has begun, such as body language, tone, and listening skills, there are some things we should think about even before we start a convo. We often overlook them, yet they can really make a difference in how well we communicate.

Here are two super important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to have this conversation at all?
  2. If yes, what do I want to get from it?

Asking/answering these two questions can save you a lot of headache.

Not all conversations are worth it, so deciding which conversations you’re NOT willing to have is precious. Like do I need to write a bad product review? Do I want to talk about others’ private matters? Do I need to give unsolicited advice to my coworker? You might discover that silence is the best option sometimes.

Once you know you want to have a conversation, you need to decide what goal you are hoping to achieve. When you talk to a partner, friend, or a customer service representative, what do you want to get from it? Info? An idea? Reassurance? Maybe you expect to change someone’s opinion, build a relationship, or just have fun.

Or, let’s be even more specific.

When you bring up your accomplishments in conversation with your boss, what goal do you hope to achieve? Recognition? A raise? More autonomy?

Starting a conversation without knowing what you want to achieve is like going on a trip without knowing your destination. You never know where you’ll end up. While surprises can be fun, you probably want to avoid awkward or pointless conversations. Asking the two questions mentioned above can help you with it.