Detox your communication - Rethink Central

Detox your communication

by | Mar 12, 2013 | Communication

“Just as we sometimes need to detox our bodies, sometimes we need to do the same for our communication. Some words and phrases are just plain poisonous and should be expelled from our vocabulary.”

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Ever felt as though you’ve just offended someone, but you’ve no idea how it went wrong?

Can you remember being on the opposite side of that equation? It happens, and it can happen without our realizing it.

Just as we sometimes need to detox our bodies, sometimes we need to do the same for our communication. Some words and phrases are just plain poisonous and should be expelled from our vocabulary.

If you’re ready for a communication detox, here are three things you need to pay attention to:

Stop accusing : watch your words

Although most of us know what a blatant accusation sounds like, there are other ways of condemning people, which aren’t so obvious. What feels like a simple statement to you may be an insinuation of guilt to your listener. “We need to file reports on time next week,” makes it sound as though it is someone else’s fault. Even if it is their fault (and it may just be), this could be rephrased in a more positive way. “Please let me know if there is a problem filing the report next week,” sounds more like help will be given when it is needed.

 Stop blaming : watch your phrasing

This sounds the same, but it isn’t. Imagine a new project (or a piece of bad news) was inadvertently released to the press. If you approach your employee (who may or may not be the way the information got out), with the words, “I told you to keep this under wraps, now look what’s happened,” chances are you’re not going to get terribly far towards the truth of the matter. On the other hand, a question which doesn’t arbitrarily blame the other person, might. Try saying, “do you know how this happened?”

 Stop shaming : watch your location

Ever been embarrassed by a conversation just because of the place in which it happened? Just because something isn’t a secret, doesn’t mean it’s not private. Think about where you are before you speak. A chat about not repaying petty cash in the middle of an open office can make your colleague appear untrustworthy to his colleagues. Some conversations are more productive behind closed doors.

Usually these toxic words slip out unintentionally. In fact, many of them happen when emotions are running high. It sounds like something extra to consider when there is already too much on your plate, but unintentionally hurting the feelings of others may set you back a lot more than you planned.

 Take Action!

Set yourself up for a communication detox.

• Take a few days (or meetings) to listen to your words, perhaps record yourself so you can play it back later.

• Think about what you’re saying, and whether you’re accusing, blaming or shaming when you don’t mean it.

• If you’re upset, take the time to relax and breathe for a minute before speaking.

You won’t believe the difference these simple steps can make.


It’s communication month on the Rethink Retreats blog. Next week we’ll be looking at critical communication mistakes that may just be holding you back.

Till then look at these other great posts:

5 ways to improve your communication, right now!

Grow your business exponentially

Your posture affects your brain

Have an experience you want to share? How about an idea for choosing better phrases? Please do post it below. Your experiences (good or lousy) might make all the difference for our readers.

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