Keep an Eye on Your Tongue!



Last month, ex-General McChrystal resigned after making offensive comments about senior officials in the Obama administration.  This month, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade is apologizing for an insensitive comment referencing the World Trade Center.  Nonetheless, a person does not need to be a high-ranking military general or an All-Star basketball player to make blunders that can negatively affect a his or her image.  Whether related to one’s personal or professional life, effective communication is key to building stronger relationships and solving problems.

Offensive remarks or use of vulgar words are both unprofessional and inconsiderate.  For example, remarks or jokes related to race, politics, and religion have the potential of offending some people.  In addition, the use of curse words are often interpreted by others as ignorant and rude.  When negative comments are fueled by anger, a situation can quickly escalate in which further damage is done and the other person(s) are likely to be less cooperative. 

Here are several ideas to consider when communicating to others during difficult situations:

  • Understand the other person.  If a particular comment makes the other person feel uneasy, avoid it.
  • Communicate negative thoughts in a positive manner.  Being able to use words that do not make the other person feel as if he or she is being attacked ensures better cooperation.   
  • Avoid communicating to others when your feeling mad or angry.  Often things are said that were not meant.  Once said, the words are difficult to take back, thus losing trust from the other person.
  • Don’t speak without first thinking about what you are trying to say.  A good way to ensure you are not being misunderstood by others.
  • Remember body language is important.  If you are standing with your arms crossed and legs apart, others may interpret that as being defensive or confrontational.

Share a situation in which a lack of communication skills caused the outcome to be worse.  How about a situation in which effective communication improved the situation?

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