Communication Tip of the Week - Avoid Putting Your Foot Directly in Your Mouth

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What's the Problem & Why Is It Important?

We've all done it. We said something and immediately regretted it. This happens especially as we get more comfortable in relationships. When we're first dating, we are very careful not to offend our partners. First, we think about their feelings and opinions and then respond. As our relationships progress, we respond with the first thing that comes to mind without a thought. Psychology Today has a great example. Imagine your significant other asks you if they look fat:

Early in the relationship, we respond with:

"I think you look beautiful no matter what you weigh. You'll always be exciting to me exactly as you are."

> When the relationship is established:
"You know, you're getting a little rounder than you used to be. Your hour-glass is definitely bottom heavy. "

This issue can also happen when asked a question at work or school. We don't take the brief moment to collect our thoughts and put together a coherent thought. Instead we use filler words like 'uh', 'uhm', 'well', and 'so' before answering. Any chance of sounding intelligent is lost.

What Can You Do?

Pause. Think about what the other person said. Collect your thoughts and then begin speaking. Saying the first thing that comes to mind is rarely the best comment.

Toastmasters meetings have a section specifically designed to practice this area of communication. They are called table topics. You are given an impromptu question or topic and then you have 1-2 minutes to respond. The best table topics are given by those speakers who take 5-7 seconds to think through the question, devise a plan, and then start talking.

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