Communicate for Success

Words are the basis for all successful communication. There are certainly nonverbal factors that come into play but your choice of words has a huge impact on how your message is heard.


How effectively a person communicates is a key determinant in their level of success. 


Poor speaking or writing skills can distort your image as a capable, knowledgeable professional. When you hem and haw, trying to find the right word you can give the impression that you lack confidence….or worse.


There is a temptation to over compensate by using a 25 cent word when a 5 cent word will do. I could use an obfuscated, byzantine and problematical word here but instead I’ll just say it’s best to use descriptive, simple words in short sentences when communicating. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking or writing, clear and concise is always better. 


If someone needs to look up a word to figure out what you’re saying then you have likely missed the mark. 


You’ll seldom impress someone with your communication skills by using big words they don’t understand, you’ll impress them by being understood. 


Another killer of successful communication is waffle words. 


Certain expressions, phrases and word choices can rob people of their opportunity to communicate effectively. These words and phrases can turn an otherwise crisp, powerful message into soggy ineffective mush.


“I guess”, “I hope”, “I think”, “Maybe”, “Sort of”, “Kind of” and “Probably” are just a few examples of commonly heard waffle words. The more they sneak into your presentation or document the weaker your message becomes.


Waffle words easily become habit forming. We start using them without thinking of the impact, or lack of impact on the message we’re trying to convey. Instead of saying things out of habit, try to be more aware of what you say and create new, more effective habits when you speak or write.


Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” 

Make sure your habits are good ones!

Do You Do the Waffle?

Effective use of language is the start of effective communication. While there are additional tools like our eyes, heart and experience that we use to communicate; it all really begins with the language or words that we use.  How well a person communicates will often determine their level of success. You can have the greatest idea in the world but if you can’t find a way to communicate it to others it will likely never get off the ground. 

Successful people know how to talk with their audiences when giving presentations. Even if it’s a one-on-one meeting, you are still giving a presentation, and the same rules apply as if the meeting was a large keynote before hundreds of people.

All too often, our speaking skills distort our images as capable, knowledgeable professionals. We hem and haw, trying to find the right word. We may even discount ourselves and our ideas without realizing it, or we might unknowingly offend others with our language. Descriptive, simple language and short sentences are best.

One key to effectively using your language, whether it’s English, French, German or Pirahã, is to avoid the use of waffle words.

Certain expressions, phrases and words can rob people of their “communication power.” These “Waffle Words” should be avoided. Verbal communication shortcomings can detract from your confidence, authority and professionalism. A few examples of waffle words are:

“I guess”, “I hope”, “I think”, “Maybe”, “Sort of”, “Kind of” and “Probably” 

It’s pretty easy to get into the bad habit of inserting these waffle words into our sentences as “filler.” If you pay attention to what you’re really saying you may be surprised how often you use these Waffle Words. 

Instead of saying these things out of habit, be aware of what you say and create new, more effective habits when you speak. 

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” 

Make sure your habits are good ones.