Saturday, May 12, 2012

Whoops- I so didn’t mean to say that!

How many times have you heard someone say “Whoops! I didn’t mean to say that!” or “Geesh, that didn’t come out the way I wanted. My bad!” or something along these lines.

As a speaker and an attendee of many tradeshows, events and meetings, you would not believe what I hear people say.  At a book event, I heard an exhibitor say “I only got an hour sleep as I was out partying all night- hope I don't wreak of alcohol” and another exhibitor at a conference who said “obviously they don’t know how to plan an event, no one is coming to my booth!” (saying this to a lady passing by who was helping the event organizer, which she found out later). YIKES!

When you are representing your business, your brand, or product, you must discern between what a conversation is for close friends you trust (and not in front of customers or event attendees) and what is for public consumption, and what is sometimes just better left unsaid or to yourself.  Your words leave lasting imprints in people's minds about your credibility, professionalism, and most importantly, how you do business!

After facilitating hundreds of dialogues between individuals through mediation and facilitation processes, I have watched people over and over again speak first, and think later. I have witnessed the judgments that get made and how words can hurt others, or your business. I love this quote by Earl Wilson…”If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it.” As well, sarcasm is not always understood (or appreciated), be careful when and with whom you chose sarcasm. This is great advice for communicating, especially at events. The reality is – what you say often gets back to others.

Here are three tips to careful and mindful communication:

- Think before speaking (consider “is this comment appropriate for this particular person?”,

- Am I prepared to “back my words” if I needed to in future?

- Would I be comfortable putting what I am about to say in writing? If not, you may want to rephrase.

Bonus tip... ask yourself "why am I sharing this with the other person?"

Communication doesn't have to be perfect, but it does need to be mindful, otherwise you find yourself in lots of re-do situations.  And the re-do is always more uncomfortable than the first time around. Each communication is an opportunity to learn and refine your message.