Select the right words. Say them well.


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The huge advantage of being around smart people is that they will say something brilliant, which I can then share with others. During a recent talk I was giving, my friend and colleague, aviation expert Pete Agur, mentioned a breakthrough happened when he asked his first boss to access his communication style. A light went on inside my head immediately. Why don’t we ALL do that? Have you ever asked those you work with you or work for you for feedback on your communication style?

Imagine the possibilities: Whether it is in everyday conversation around the workplace or during critical conversations or presentations, wouldn’t it be great to make that a regular metric you measure, just as you would gauge success rates or customer satisfaction? Why do I get the feeling we would actually impact all of the metrics when we think regularly about our communication style and ask about it? (Oh, and perhaps you are thinking about a similar conversation you might have with your significant other? I’ll leave that for you to sort out #NotDrPhil! 🙂

When we track sales numbers and customer complaints and a hundred other items we are immediately saying ‘these things matter.’ Well, many times when we drill down through these metrics, the improvements can be found in smarter communication. Listening skill, clean direction giving, crisp writing and succinct messages are the foundation posts for a successful business. Maybe it’s time we turned the assessment process upside down and STARTED with communication skill.

Suggestions on what and when to ask: When I am in a client’s conference rooms, I see the “Meeting Rules” memo posted on the wall many times. Usually I wonder how often anyone pays attention to the note. These suggestions only work when we come up with a plan to make it ‘part of the DNA’ of the organization. So, just these questions can start an interesting dialogue within your team or company. “Could you give me feedback on my communication style?” or “What are the strengths and challenges in my communication?” “When am I most effective?” “What are the little things that I can do to improve the way we communicate?” “What long-term communication goals can we set together?”

As for when this conversation should take place, how about right now? If not now, set it on the schedule for your next meeting and make it a priority. If you champion this cause, no matter what your job title, your leadership skill will shine through pretty clearly in any thoughtful organization. So, thanks Pete Agur, for sharing your experience and giving us all great food for thought!


Follow along with Cary on Twitter @CaryPfeffer


Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: