How to Stop Struggling to Be an Effective Communicator

After work one night, a woman engineer was sharing with her friend about a difficult team meeting she had had during the day. She said humorously, “I sounded like my mother!” Then, she noticed her friend wasn’t laughing. The woman asked, “What’s wrong?” Her friend replied, “You often sound like a critical parent.” She said, “Wow! I had no idea.”
image of woman speaking in group setting

Have you ever noticed words coming out of your mouth that you vowed you would never say? Have you ever noticed your tone sounds harsh or critical? Believe it or not, you may have no idea the number of times you sound like a critical parent when speaking with your boss or teammates.

As an engineer, and, in any profession, developing effective communication skills are required to develop positive working relationships and achieve intended results. When there is a lack of respect, a negative tone of voice, poor choice of words, and failure to keep promises, people become hurt or offended by your communication style. They stop listening and miscommunication expands exponentially.

It’s up to you to improve your communication style, regardless of how others are communicating. It’s the #1 career builder!

Practice These 8 Habits to Be an Effective Communicator

  1. Honor Your Word. Believe it or not, your actions speak louder than your words. If you fail to fulfill promises, not only do people stop listening to you, you will lose all credibility.
  2. Change Beliefs. Set aside your judgments and beliefs about how people should think, act, talk, dress … ad nauseam. Others can sense your true feelings since 80% of communication is non-verbal. Instead, responsibly expand your beliefs and transform your biases by participating in workshops or listening to podcasts.
  3. Learn to Influence. Become an influencer by asking for input, incorporating others’ ideas, and building alignment instead of telling others how the work “should” be done.
  4. Be Curious and Present During Meetings! Respect others and set aside your electronic devices. (Remember, multitasking is a myth!) Ask good questions to get on the same page with them. And remember, you don’t have to agree with them…you can agree to disagree.
  5. Understand Your Style. To gain objective insights into your communication style, use scientifically validated assessments. Then, work with a coach to address bad habits and nuances that get in your way.
  6. Pay Attention to Tone and Word Choices. Your words and tone of voice tell a much deeper story than you consciously realize. Roleplay with teammates (and with your mirror) before a presentation or important conversation.
  7. Journal for Clarity. Writing engages your brain differently than typing. It gives you a chance to work through your emotions and incorporate objectivity into issues. Use this process to uncover what the core issue is. NEVER send a letter, email or text spewing your upsets no matter how justified you believe you are.
  8. Develop Confidence. Often, your innermost and deepest fear is that you are a fraud and everyone is going to find out. Developing confidence is a process that requires practice and more practice. Know there will be times you fail. Keep going, talk it out with your mentor and coach, and create learning moments.

About the Author

Jeannette Seibly photographJeannette Seibly has been an award-winning champion for people and results, guiding bosses and teams to excel. During the past 27 years, she has been an executive coach and keynote speaker, and, the author of, It’s Time to Brag! Business Edition and It’s Time to Brag! Career Edition. She was recognized in 2019 with the SWE We-Local Denver’s “People Choice Award for Best Speaker.” Learn more about Jeannette Seibly and “Straight talk with dynamic results.”


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