Tiny Traps that Reduce Your Effectiveness

In a conversation with one of my former colleagues from Deloitte, we got on the topic of little things that people do that diminish their effectiveness. It’s amazing how seemingly small things can make a big impression. Take a look at the list below to see if any of these apply to you. If you’re not sure, ask others for feedback:

Assume that others understand

Sometimes when you have worked in an industry or functional area for so long, you can easily overlook how much jargon you use or the complexity of your world. So, periodically confirm that the other person understands your train of thought and the technical terms you are using. If you’re on the receiving end of the confusing jargon, ask questions in the spirit of making sure you understand their key points.

Focus more on your own message

Have you ever found yourself chomping at the bit to get your point across while someone is talking? Maybe you’re just really excited about your idea or you strongly disagree with what the other person is saying. If you fall into this trap often, practice being “in the moment” to fully receive the communication from the other person—not only their words but what they are saying with their body language and tone. This may ultimately lead you to an ever better idea.

Immediately show your feelings on your face

At one time or another, we’ve all found our faces showing exactly what we feel:

  • “You just don’t get it—and you never will!”

  • “You’re an idiot. That was the dumbest thing I have ever heard anyone say!”

  • “You are so irritating.”

  • “I don’t have time for this. What do you want?!”

As you think about the last time a situation like this occurred, ask yourself a few questions.

What was the impact of your reaction? How did it affect your effectiveness as a leader (e.g., the relationship with the person, results, etc.)? What assumptions did you make?

If you can make yourself pause even for a second or two, you may be able to contemplate a different possibility—that they have positive intentions, that they may have valid points, or that your assumptions may be incorrect. So, instead of judging, what could you ask them to confirm your understanding about their intent, goals, or point of view?

Use “filler” phrases

As you move further and further up the ladder, clear and concise communication matters a lot. Filler phrases like these—and, so, actually, um, right—can detract from your message, especially when you use them over and over.

I discovered mine when I recorded my new program. Yes, it’s always enlightening to hear yourself speak! Unless you have the opportunity to hear a recording of yourself, ask others to tell you what they notice and how it impacts your effectiveness.

I challenge you to identify one tiny trap that you might fall into. If you’re not sure, ask for feedback. I want to help you notice the little things that add up to a lot— and be much more intentional about how you “show up.” Remember that taking small steps to improve your effectiveness can go a long way.

© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.