Julian Treasure, founder and chairman of The Sound Agency, is a world-renowned expert on sound and communication. He is a businessman, public speaker, author, and musician. His experience and advice, sought by global businesses and executives, is applicable to business and marketing, and relationships and life as well.
In 2013, Mr. Treasure gave a speech about communication at TEDGlobal. Entitled “How to speak so that people want to listen,” his presentation is in the top 50 TED talks of all time. I routinely recommend it to my clients, family, and friends, and I commend it to you. Communication affects every aspect of life, and I find Mr. Treasure’s advice to be universal and timeless. It’s particularly relevant to marriages, divorces, parenting, co-parenting, and even estate planning. For your convenience, I’ve summarized some of his main points below.
We all have bad habits. Our communication tendencies, developed in our formative years, exhibit bad habits too. These habits have a continuing impact on our lives and relationships. The following listing, so-called “7 deadly sins of speaking,” is not as much a set of communication secrets as it is a listing of habits to avoid. Watch for, and train yourself to avoid, these:
1. Gossip – “speaking ill of someone who is not present.” Gossip is bad not only because it is negative, but also because it is unfair. It’s simply not fair to condemn someone behind their back. The Golden Rule nips this bad habit in the bud.
2. Judging – it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who is judging your words. Don’t judge when you’re listening, and avoid being judgmental when you’re speaking.
3. Negativity – simply put, it’s hard to listen to negativity. Negativity always reduces the effectiveness of communication.
4. Complaining – another form of negativity, complaining breeds negativity. According to Mr. Treasure, negativity is actually “a form of viral misery.”
5. Excuses – excuses are little more than a refusal to take personal responsibility. Excuses are almost never received well. Excuse and its close cousin, blame, always reduce the effectiveness of your communication.
6. Exaggeration – using superlative language to define ordinary, average, or normal things. According to Mr. Treasure, this tendency is “demeaning to our language” and tends towards lying and deceit. No one likes to listen to a liar.
7. Dogmatism – “the confusion of facts with opinions.” We all have opinions, but when we treat our opinion as a fact in communication, we’re less effective. If what you’re saying is your opinion, simply say “in my opinion.”
The following communication secrets are, actually, not really secrets at all. In fact, they’re so simple you may think they merely reiterate the obvious. Sadly, most people don’t practice these. If you focus on these straight forward communication cornerstones (together with working to eliminate the communication killers above), they will transform your speaking, your relationships, and your life.
Honesty -“being true in what you say. Being straight and clear.” We should all learn to abhor and avoid dishonesty in all forms.
Authenticity – Remember to always simply be yourself, and let this cornerstone characterize your communications. Mr. Treasure calls this “standing in your own truth.” Always be yourself. There’s only one “you” (everyone else is already taken).
Integrity – doing, and being, your word. Trust is the foundation of every relationship. Integrity is trust’s bedrock. Without it, none of your other attributes matter much.
Love – not romantic affection or feeling, but instead “wishing people well.” If your driving force is love, your communication will demand attention and consideration.
In his TED speech, Mr. Treasure continues to discuss tools and techniques for improving your speaking. It is well worth your time and I encourage you to watch the whole video here.