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Want to improve how you communicate forever? There's only one word to focus on…

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26th November

In 2004, I lost a third of my body weight (I was very fat). And I’ve pretty much kept it off since.

I remember this weight-loss having three distinct phases:

  • Initial euphoric “I can do this”
  • A slow drift-back to the bad old ways
  • Starting again

I also remember phases two and three happening a few times!

I found it easy to diet in the short-term. In fact, it was quite invigorating to start again – “this time it will be different”.

But long-term change was hard. After all, I’d spent years mastering how to over-eat. And I kept finding my long-term habits were more powerful than my short-term motivation.

Eventually, I cracked it. I’ve been able to look down and see my feet for years now. And all because I changed the most important thing of all…

habit

Habit is the strongest motivator of action there is. It’s why it’s so desperately hard to change (“I’d love to lose weight, but Sunday night is pizza night”).

Like wanting to become thinner, many people want to improve how they communicate. I guess that’s one reason you read Tuesday Tips.

And, like weight loss, it’s easy to change in the short-term – an interesting e-mail here; a more professional presentation there. But in the long-term? Well, that’s entirely different.

Here are some simple, effective ways to help you change your habits. They work for both communication and weight-loss (believe me, I know):

  • Recurring diary entries regularly remind you to keep doing things the new way
  • Tell your Manager you’re changing, so you are accountable to her
  • Tell your Team, so you are accountable to them
  • Ask for it to become part of your formal appraisals
  • Hire a coach
  • Choose a mentor
  • Create best-practice templates that you have to follow for every communication
  • Diarise prep time, so you do things properly
  • Diarise follow-up, so you make sure things get done
  • Put reminders in places that you will always see them – screen savers, pop-up screens etc.
  • And so on…

All these help. In fact, they are all pretty essential – doing just one or two probably won’t be enough.

But as well as these practical, tactical things, remember the most important thing of all about changing habits - you have to want to.

And when you do, and when you use reminders to help you, you will be amazed how much easier it is.

Action Point

What one permanent change would you like to make to your communication style?

Identify the first time you can do this thing better (I bet you can do something about it today); and do it.

Then, put reminders in place to help you break your current habits forever.

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