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Is your communication style limiting your career success


Kim Meninger - Expert Author

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If you are struggling to advance your career or achieve your specific career goals, your communication style may be to blame.  Many otherwise competent professionals with great leadership potential lack the skills or self-awareness to effectively communicate with others.  Despite their strengths and accomplishments, their careers begin to stagnate as they fail to influence, persuade, and connect with key leaders.

Communication is a powerful skill that comes naturally to some, but not all.  Even the best communicators likely had some help in the development of their communication skills.  Communication is intimately tied to other important career success factors, such as the ability to effectively lead others, build a powerful brand, and navigate organizational politics.  If you are committed to maximizing your career success, you must make the effort to strengthen your communication skills.

Here are five important steps you can take to maximize your communication with others:

1. Be clear and to the point

Whether you are speaking to your manager individually, or you are presenting to an audience of executives, know your message.  This means avoiding the anxiety-induced tendency to provide unnecessary details or stray off topic.  Begin with a clear and focused message.  Save the backup data and supporting details for questions.

2. Stay away from language that weakens your message

Women, in particular, need to be mindful of this.  When delivering a message, do not dilute its power by making statements such as, “This may not be important, but…,” or, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but…”  Another common message-weakening statement is, “I think.”  Make a statement; don’t offer an opinion.  The more powerful your language, the more likely you are to be heard.

3. Know your audience

This is critical.  It is human nature to consider issues in terms of your own needs and wants, but this is ineffective if you are looking to persuade or influence others.  Before you speak, know what interests and motivates the audience with whom you are speaking.  For example, if you are presenting to a team of data-oriented professionals, stay away from the theoretical and focus on the facts and numbers that support your case.  Likewise, if you are presenting to the CEO, be sure that you emphasize the impact on the bottom line.

4. Speak the language of your organization

Every organization has its own unique culture and language.  The more closely you fit the culture, and the more proficiently you speak the language, the more likely you are to be perceived as an influential communicator.  Pay attention to how influential leaders communicate in your organization and adapt your own style accordingly.  Also, find a mentor that knows the ins and outs of your organization and can help you understand its values.

5. Don’t try to fake it

One of the greatest ways to dig a hole and bury yourself is to venture into unfamiliar territory without a strategy.  Many professionals are more afraid to admit that they don’t have the answer than they are to risk losing credibility with their audience.  Particularly when speaking to an executive audience, don’t try to fake it!  If you are asked a question that you can’t answer, don’t make something up.  Let them know you will follow up with the response and then follow through as soon as possible.

Your communication skills can make or break your career.  If you are struggling to get promoted, earn a higher income, or otherwise advance your career, take a look at the way you communicate with others.  It can be helpful to seek candid feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors.  Once you identify areas in need of improvement, prioritize them in your professional development plan.  Your career success depends on it!

About the Author

Kim Meninger works with professionals who are feeling stuck in their careers, struggling to reach higher levels, or navigating challenging career transitions.  Kim helps professionals clarify their career vision, identify career options that best align with their skills and interests, and apply job search strategies to more quickly and effectively find new opportunities and achieve their unique career goals.

Prior to coaching, Kim had a highly successful corporate career managing strategic business partnerships at EMC Corporation and Monster Worldwide.  She attributes much of her success to her strategic approach to career management.  Kim is passionate about helping other professionals use similar strategies to reach their full potential and maximize their career success.

Kim is a certified career coach and founder of Great Heights Coaching.  She has a BA in psychology and an MBA with a concentration in organizational leadership from Boston College.  She also holds certifications in career and life coaching from the Life Purpose Institute.  Kim is a CCE Board Certified Coach and an authorized facilitator of Now What?®, a Life Blueprint program.  For more information, visit

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-02-28 13:27:07 in Personal Articles

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