4 types of phrases that make people zone out while you're talking


Being an effective communicator means that we're always considering how our words may be interpreted by others, especially those who may not have the same background or experiences as us. If you're leading a team or looking to advance in your career, it's important that your words do not unintentionally offend or alienate anyone. Here are some common mistakes to avoid: 

1. Making obscure references: When we like a popular sport or movie, we can easily make references to this without considering that not everyone may understand. Sports references are especially common, such as phrases like "we should punt on that decision," "we're in a holding pattern on this project," or "I don't want that meeting to be a no-hitter." These might make total sense to us, but not everyone. When in mixed groups, outstanding communicators speak in a way that everyone can understand. 

2. Using gross generalizations: We often use words like "this happens a ton," "everyone feels this way," or "she's acting crazy," but these are rarely helpful or accurate. If you're trying to estimate how long something will take, try to narrow it down to a specific amount of hours, days or weeks. If you want to discuss how common something is, find data on how many people are actually affected by it. If you're describing someone's behavior, see if you can detail it in a specific and objective way, instead of a subjective way. 

3. Excessive analogies and metaphors: Analogies and metaphors can be useful if you're confident your audience will understand, but their overuse of them can be distracting. Each time you make one, you're asking your audience to travel somewhere else in their minds. Those who constantly liken one thing to another also run the risk of avoiding simple and straightforward communication. 

4. Buzzwords: Buzzwords are a great way to say something without saying much at all, but they should serve a purpose. If you draw a comparison of something that's well understood to something that's less well understood, that can be helpful. However, the overuse of buzzwords can be distracting and take people away from what's going on at the moment. 

Remember, when you're communicating, it's for the benefit of your audience, not yourself. Avoiding these four parts of speech can keep you from alienating, losing, or confusing others. That will allow you to be more effective with your message, which is what we all want.

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