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The ONLY way to be a better communicator

Tags: Be interesting | Impact | Save time | Do more | Influencing

21st March

Today, you’ll communicate hundreds of times.

And you’ll probably do it the same way you did yesterday.

So your emails will be similar to yesterday’s.

As will your conversations, meetings, presentations, conference calls, documents…

Why?

Because we’re creatures of habit.

We’re wired that way. Our brains seek to automate things. Which is great, because it means we can do them without thinking. Like, when you pick up your toothbrush every morning, you never think “how do I use this again?”

In fact, habits are so powerful, they’re the overriding reason we behave as we do. In other words;

       Habits trump logic.

       Habits trump desire.

       Habits trump common sense.

In fact, habits trump everything.

Habits are the reasons why…

  • You know that Monday morning meeting you’ve been going to for ages – the one that’s a total waste of time? Well, next week, you’ll go to it again … even though everyone hates it
  • And that presentation you delivered that didn’t go well? Well, for next time’s presentation, you’ll probably go back to that one and copy bits from it … even though it didn’t work
  • And that person who never replies to your emails? In fact, you’ve sent him eight already? Well, I bet you’re about to send a ninth … even though he never replies
  • And last week’s proposal that didn’t win? I bet you copy bits from it in your next one … even though it lost

You see? Habits trump everything.

And this means that the only way to become a better communicator is to change your habits.

Using logic, desire, common sense… they just don’t cut it.

As author Octavia Butler said, when asked why she was so prolific: ‘Well, first, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. It will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not’.

Now of course it’s easy for me to say “just change your habits”.

But that’s really hard to do. After all, if you’re 36 years old, you’ve spent 13,000 days mastering the habits you’re currently in. One Tuesday Tip is never going to change something as hard-wired as that.

So how do you change habits?

Well, there are three steps…

#1 Start

The first step is to take the first step. This means identifying (1) exactly what you want to change and (2) when you’re first going to do it.

#2 Regular reminders where their eyes habitually go

After you’ve identified your start (#1), you then need to keep going.

But it’s easy to forget. After all, you’ve spent 13,000 days never doing it.

So put reminders in places where your eyes habitually go (don’t put them in a drawer you never look in – because you’ll forget it). For example, reminders about improving your meetings, change your standard agenda – the one you always use as a basis for your agendas.

#3 Be accountable to someone else

The trouble with changing habits is that, after a while, we can’t be bothered anymore.

So we drift back.

To stop this, be accountable to someone else. That way, it’s not just upto you to keep you motivated.

And so…

I love that my Tuesday Tips help people improve their communications on Tuesdays.

But what about Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays? What about the week afterwards?

That requires you to change your habits.

And why’s it so critical you do?

Well, one month from now, you’ll communicate hundreds of times that day. Will you do it better than you did yesterday?

Action point

Identify one thing you’d like to improve when you communicate. Then follow the three steps:

  • First step – choose your first communication where you can make this change
  • Reminder – think where your eyes habitually go when you make this type of communication. And put a reminder there
  • Accountable – identify who you’ll be accountable to, to make sure you keep going

Another way to remind yourself (#2 above) are my videos. Anyone who joins my video club gets regular reminders to their inbox (where you’re habitually looking!) to watch the best ones to help you communicate better.

In fact, many teams have subscribed to them, because it helps build accountability (#3) too. They discuss them in their meetings – “Which video did you watch? What technique did you use? What improvement did it cause?” and so on.

To see how they can help you change your/your team’s habits have a quick look here.