Is Your Communication Style Hurting Your Career?

Maurice Kerrigan Africa Your Communication Style

Our communication style and approach speak volumes about how we view ourselves and others.  It also reveals important clues about our sense of worth, power and ability to lead and manage effectively.  Let’s have a look at some examples of communication problems that may be hurting your career and possible solutions.

Mismatch in communication styles

Have you ever told someone who was venting and being totally irrational to calm down? Your instinctual and intuitive reaction may be to try to calm them down, urge them to cool off, suggest it’s not worth getting so upset about. Asking them to calm down when they haven’t finished venting is like adding fuel to the fire.

Don’t even think of telling them to calm down. Instead, if you struggle to listen when someone is venting because intense negative feelings make you feel upset yourself, try this: Look them straight in the left eye and imagine you are looking into the eye of a hurricane, allowing whatever they’re yelling to go over your shoulders instead of hitting you straight in your eyes.

After they get their feelings off their chest, that’s when they can then have a constructive conversation with you.  Simply say “What you just said is way too important for me to have misunderstood a word, so I’m going to say it back to you to make sure I’m on the same page with you.”  Then repeat what they said to you.  After you finish, ask “Did I get that right and if not, what did I miss?” Forcing them to listen to what you said they said, “Because it was important,” will slow them down, will help you stay centred and in control, and will earn you their and your own respect.

People don’t respond

Think about the times you presented your ideas at a staff meeting – what happened? Did your colleagues respond positively?  Did they want to follow up on your initiatives and suggestions, or shoot them down?  Did they support you, or criticise your contribution?  Do you engender loyalty, support and trust, or do people walk over you or put you down when you communicate?

Make sure that you’re taken seriously. No one gives raises or promotions to people they consider a joke. Your communication with your colleagues must convey your intellectual and professional abilities. If there’s a negative reaction whenever you attempt to offer your suggestions, then you probably need to take a look at what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Maybe you’re coming off as a show-off or overly aggressive. Effective communicators know how words can incite certain emotions and thoughts to the listeners. Be sure to use your words carefully and correctly.

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Your point doesn’t get made

Another indicator of your communication effectiveness is if you feel you get your point across, and that your input is considered.  When you speak, do others listen well, and get what you’re saying?  Does the conversation build on what you’ve offered, or does it veer off immediately to focus on another topic, or another person’s input?

If your objective is not clear it will be difficult to formulate a strong and convincing message. There is no time to handle unclear or mixed messages and so instead you must define a single clear-cut objective. Ask yourself what exactly it is that you want to achieve. The right approach is the single thought or sentence that will best lead you to your objective. It could be referred to as the premise, concept, focus, plan or theme of your message. The approach is of course influenced by your objective and it must take into consideration the needs and interests of the listener.

To make sure the listener really understands and remembers what you are saying your words should paint a full picture. This can be done by using descriptive words that can both be remembered but will also touch the heart and evoke some feelings.

We have all had similar encounters in which communication style disconnects wreaked turmoil on the people involved and the jobs they were doing. One fundamental question for managers and human resource professionals is: How do we skill ourselves to effectively understand team members’ styles and respond to them? Moreover, how do we skill our staff so that they can do the same?

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Maurice Kerrigan Africa offers an Influential Business Communication course that will equip you with the communication skills you need to have a greater influence within your organisation and with other people.

You might be interested in their upcoming 2-day course in Johannesburg, South Africa.

To find out more about the training courses offered by Maurice Kerrigan Africa or to arrange an appointment, simply call +27 11 794 1251 or email


Was It Something I Said? Your Communication Style Can Hurt Your Career