Archive for ‘internal conversation’

13 Common Sentence Starters that Kill Your Independence

It’s the day of our Nation’s independence and celebration abounds. Funny how it takes a holiday to remember that our freedom wasn’t always an entitlement.

We’d long ago been given a beautiful gift of exercising the right to say what we think.  The potential problem is that, far too often, we tend to do exactly that.  Say what we think, instead of saying what would make us sound stronger or more direct. “Aren’t we supposed to say what we think in order to be direct,” you say?  Sure. But hear me out…

Your brain has an inner dialogue that speaks to you long before you choose the words that escape the mouth.  I urge you to consider that some of these initial thoughts/dialogues between you and your brain should stay there, rather than audibly display any doubt, uncertainty or insecurity. By uttering those first fleeting sentence starters, you virtually hand over the control of the conversation to the listener, allowing them the opportunity to accept or dismiss what you’re saying.

To be truly direct is to make an independent statement that is not subject to qualification. Holding back on the weaker sentence starter gives the rest of your message the power it deserves.

In honor of the first 13 colonies who made their direct statements of independence, I offer you a quick list of 13 examples. These sentence starters kill your verbal independence and give the power of your speech to the listener;

  1. If you don’t mind, I’ll….
  2. What I was thinking was…
  3. I’m not sure about this, but…
  4. Don’t you think we could…?
  5. I’m hoping it’s OK to …
  6. Why don’t we try…
  7. Maybe you’ve already thought of this…
  8. I know it sounds strange, but…
  9. For lack of a better option…
  10. I’m wondering if …
  11. May I ask a question? (Just ask it for Pete’s sake)
  12. Anything starting with the words “Well,…” or “Um,…”
  13. Anything starting with the combination of the words “Well,…” and “Um,…”

How often do you find yourself using a weak sentence starter, even though you are clear on what you intend to say?

The Conversations in Our Head

“Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me as my own thoughts.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

The brain is on a constant mission to process the information going IN and coming OUT in order to communicate any given message at any given time. Not only do we need to remember that intended messages become lost in translation between recipients but that some of our confusions come directly from the thoughts running ramped through our own heads!

Let’s take the example of someone offering a simple compliment. In the moments before our mouth opens and we form a response, the following thoughts might course through the brain;

  • What a fake…I knew I couldn’t trust that guy!
  • They’ve gotta be fishing for a return compliment…
  • I bet she’s buttering me up because reports are due today!
  • I’ll just blow this off…poking fun of myself could be seen as humility.

And so on, and so on.

What with all this converging and provocative internal dialogue, it’s a wonder we ever finally mutter “Thank You”, truly the only response necessary after a compliment.  To understand how we can better communicate with others, we should first identify our own communication delays and roadblocks. After all, how is anyone expected to comprehend us, when our very own messages are uncertain, ambivalent or unclear?

How often does your internal dialogue force you to fudge an appropriate response?

Try these 4 Tips on squelching internal dialogue;

  1. Listen to the WORDS someone has said, not the TONE. Do not assume added meaning.
  2. Reply ONLY to what someone has said to you, not to what you think they may have meant.
  3. Leave judgment out of what you hear. You don’t need to AGREE with what someone has said in order to reply.
  4. When your brain says, “Huh????”, admit to the lack of understanding. Ask them to REPEAT the message.