We often don’t think about the way we speak while we’re chatting with a coworker or sharing our latest inspiration at the Monday meeting, but many of us unknowingly speak in a way that can cause others to dismiss us. Do you feel like you’re not being taken seriously at work? If so, read on to see if you’re committing any of these speech blunders in your daily communications.
You may not know what “upspeak” is, but we guarantee you’ve heard it. It can best be described as the tendency to raise one’s voice at the end of a phrase or sentence, as if your tone is turning all your statements into questions. Someone using upspeak might say, “We had this really great meeting the other day? But then the client didn’t call? And I couldn’t figure out why? It was really strange? Because, you know, they seemed to love our ideas?” Upspeak resembles teenagers chatting at the mall, and many people speak this way without realizing it. It’s fine for gabbing with family and friends, but it can make the speaker sound juvenile or unconvincing if used in a professional setting.
We all give excuses occasionally, but some folks seem to have a Rolodex of excuses to accompany their frequent dilemmas. If you’re late or miss a deadline, it’s best to simply move on and commit to doing better next time rather than providing excuses for the mishap. Unless there is a compelling reason--or unless your superior demands an explanation--it’s not worth telling a long story about how or why you couldn’t come through. Simply stating “It won’t happen again” demonstrates maturity and accountability, rather than giving reasons why “It’s not my fault.”
Speaking Too Fast
There are many reasons why some of can’t get our words out fast enough, especially on the phone. The biggest causes behind this are repetition and habit. If we have to give the same spiel repeatedly throughout the day, we often don’t realize that people can’t absorb our words as fast as we can say them. Remember that although a message may be familiar to us, the listener is hearing it for the first time and needs more time to process it. Slowing down and focusing on enunciation lets your audience understand you better and shows that you respect their time.
Excessive use of words and phrases such as “Like,” “Literally,” or “I Can’t Even”
It should go without saying, but overuse of casual words and expressions can make us sound like we don’t take our job seriously. Overuse of the word “like” can sound inappropriate to a seasoned supervisor or business owner. Keep in mind that all of our work interactions are a constant reflection of our company’s culture. Each one of us is a walking marketing opportunity: the words we choose represent us on both on an individual level and a corporate level. Speaking in a professional manner not only means we will be taken more seriously by others, but opens the door to new clients and business opportunities. You never know who’s behind you in line for coffee--it could be your next great employer!