After months of selling a prospective client on your company’s excellent products and personalized service, you finally… FINALLY… seal the deal! You congratulate yourself for bringing them on board, and full speed ahead, you shift your focus to other leads. A year or two later, however, they call you for help with an issue that you know will take time and many phone calls to resolve. Are you as quick to get back to them now as you were before the contact was signed? Be honest!
Our interactions flow so well when we say what we think others want to hear. We get their nodding head, their smile of agreement and approval. But…do you remember your words later and follow through with action if needed? Or do you basically lose track of what you said as your mind moves to the next issue or conversation? Schmoozing can be fun, but we need to think about how responsible we are with our words. Disingenuous, feel-good talk may ease or put a Band-Aid on challenging interactions, but it can also lead to anger, pain, and disillusionment in others. Just like reckless driving leads to car accidents and fatalities, reckless speaking leads to communication breakdown and relationship demise!
Most of us don’t intend to mislead or misrepresent, but often this happens because we lack awareness of our true feelings and motives. Here are a few pointers for more mindful communication:
1. If you make a commitment to someone – your time, a favor, money, etc. – write it down on your calendar, notepad, or recording in your favorite app. Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT rely on your memory to be accountable to what we promise others.
2. Get in touch with how you feel when someone fails to keep a promise they made to you. For instance, remember when you lent that coworker $20 and he promised to repay you “after he went to the bank?” It’s been a month now with no payback, and you’re ticked off. Do you want someone else to feel those same negative emotions with respect to you?
3. Be mindful of your limits, and don’t commit to things you know you won’t be able to provide. Remember, everything takes twice as long to accomplish than you allow time. This requires applying some realistic boundaries to yourself and others.
4. Practice being aware, in the moment, of your motives for saying certain things, or making specific promises. Are your words consistent with your true motives and intentions, or are you simply looking for attention or approval? While you’re at it, consider your motives as well. Are they honorable, or more in the self-seeking category?
5. Cultivate consciousness and authenticity in your words. Basically, this means aligning your words with your thoughts and behavior. Being anything other than genuine in any interaction, whether personal or professional, may work temporarily, but eventually the facade – as well as the relationship – crumbles.
Fear of rejection and need to people-please are two major causes of irresponsible speech, and it’s easy to get swept away by pressure from inside ourselves as well as from others. Let’s not forget the universal truth, though: if our words reflect who we truly are, we’ll attract the people and circumstances that are right for us, right now.