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Smart Ways to Skip Conversation Stumbles


Sometimes in the heat of the moment, I think we all put our words out there without thinking first. I am often tempted to do this when I am talking with my family or close friends, and I am really concerned about them.

My passion speeds past my judgment, and because we are close they forgive me. But some of those moments would have definitely been better left unsaid.

I also tend to become enthused in new groups and jump right in. Sometimes, in retrospect, I realize I might have phrased my thoughts better or just left a comment unsaid. New groups can produce great contacts and lead to new friendships, but it is always better to learn a little about a new group before you sail into uncharted waters.

Just nodding and listening before commenting can do a lot to make a strong connection. Of course this can backfire, if you pause too long and people wonder if you have simply had one too many margaritas or been out in the sun too long!

Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart gets this as he lists “foot in mouth” phrases and suggests we pick up on people’s emotions and experiences as we polish our social awareness. He advises us to focus all of our attention on the people we are talking to and avoid saying:

“You look tired.”

Ask instead,”Is everything OK?”

“Wow! You’ve lost a ton of weight!” 

This can make the person wonder just how bad they must have looked.

“You look great for your age.”

A relative of mine actually topped this by saying, “Well you are finally starting to look your age!”

“Good luck.

This could even be interpreted as a sarcastic remark. Think of a more imaginative send off, like, “I know you have what it takes.”

Other comments I have heard people blurt out that make my ears go straight up are these:

“Well I am sure you don’t remember..”

This implies the listener is careless or is a candidate for dementia!

“As I was saying before,”

This usually means repeating a favorite story that may have already been trotted out too many times.

“I don’t want to brag but…”

That, of course, is  the first line of an ego parade. Better to let your efforts speak for themselves, or say you want to share some good news.

“I just have a few thoughts.”

This often signals a long list of opinions, when a few perceptive questions might be way better. 

Communication can be a funny, crazy, dynamic, amazing experience. But the more you pay attention to the other person and think before you leap, the better it can become.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Al Lloyd

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