Success frequently comes to those who know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. And those with talent who don’t communicate effectively often never get the satisfaction of fulfilling their potential.
In the busyness of life and work, we can sometimes forget the impact of our words. A few words spoken hastily can ruin a relationship or an opportunity. So can a few words gone unspoken. Sometimes the people around you need to hear you speak clearly about where you stand on certain issues or how you feel about them. The missing piece that will solidify success in your relationships, job or entrepreneurial endeavors may be right under your nose! I have five simple ideas to share with you this week about the words that come out of your mouth:
1. Learn when to be quiet.
Some of us are more inclined to speak than others, but those who find the most success are often those who know when to be quiet. There may be a situation in your life right now that is hindered and not helped by more talking. Don’t be afraid of silence. Sometimes life’s best answers appear when we are quiet enough to listen.
2. Give yourself time to think.
We have all heard the saying, “think before you speak.” Consider this a reminder that it is always wise to consider the impact your words will have after they are spoken. Think of the best way to communicate what you need to say before you even open your mouth. Even when you are in a conversation and must respond immediately, take a few seconds first to gather your thoughts. You will come across as being more thoughtful and will likely feel more confident about what you say. If you need more time to think about how to respond, simply say, “Let me give that some thought.”
3. Refuse to murmur and complain.
We can always find something to complain about if we focus on the negative. Make a decision to appreciate the blessings in every situation and refuse to waste your words complaining and murmuring. Instead, ask, “What solution would help me eliminate the challenges I find myself complaining about?” Complaints drain your energy—and the energy of the people around you. Use your words to renew your energy, not deplete it.
4. Tell me something good!
In the ‘70s, Chaka Khan had a funky song that became her first hit, Tell Me Something Good. I still love to sing it when I hear it on the radio.
Fourteen years ago, I wrote a newsletter asking you to ask yourself and others every day, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you lately?” Are you still asking yourself that question regularly? Stay in the habit of acknowledging the good things that are going on so that you don’t find your conversation out of balance and focused solely on the negative realities you may face.
5. Speak your goals into existence.
One of the most common reasons many people never reach their goals is that they don’t really believe they can. Not only do they not believe it, but they speak negatively about their chances for success. Sometimes you have to speak your way into believing all that is possible for you. Speak positively about your vision for your life. “I will accomplish my goal by doing XYZ….” Even if you hear your doubts swirling around in your head (“You can’t do that!” “Who do you think you are?!”), refuse to verbalize them. Eventually your thoughts will catch up with your words.
This article was published in April 2008 and has been updated. Photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock