Sound More Professional at Work

Have you ever felt brushed off by your boss because you couldn’t talk fast enough? I used to volunteer for an organization where the leader was always in a rush. Whenever I needed to approach him, I’d always try to speak as quickly and succinctly as I could. Yet the faster I tried to get through whatever it was I needed to say, the less he paid attention. Eventually, I stopped giving feedback and did just what was expected of me. This might work for a volunteer position, but in the professional world, it’s neither a good option to speak too quickly nor withhold your ideas if you value your career.

What’s a better way to handle the potential brushoff? Here’s some wise advice from a post by Bill Murphy, Jr., a columnist for “Young people often want to prove themselves, and they speak fast so they get heard at all. They need to slow down. … For all ages the rule of thumb is: The more time you give yourself, the more status people give you.” In other words, respect yourself enough to value what you have to say.

If your boss always seems busy, you might approach her by saying, “I’d like to share an idea with you. When could we schedule a few minutes to discuss it?” Chances are she’ll ask you to share it right then, but if she arranges a later time, it allows you to carefully order your thoughts and be intentional but succinct.

If speaking too fast rings a bell with you, you might want to read Murphy’s list of 12 speaking habits that Millennials need to change if they want to sound more professional at work. Even if you’re not a Millennial (I’m not), it’s worth a read to raise your awareness of pet phrases you may be overusing.

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Speaking in a professional manner is great, but how are you at listening?

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