Recognize Any of These Annoying Communication Habits?

Telephone Voice, Uncategorized

In today’s constantly-connected and always-communicating environment, why is it that–it seems to me, anyway–communication skills are worse than ever?

Perhaps it’s because of the texting, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, emailing and whatever else people are hooked on, that causes their actual speaking skills to erode, or perhaps they were not refined to begin with.

In cleaning out the idea file I carry with me–OK, it’s in an app on my phone — I notice that several of my points are regarding poor speaking habits. Let’s look at a few.

“May I Ask… ?”

Here’s a common one: prefacing questions with “May I ask…”, as in “May I ask how many locations you have?”

When you analyze it, this is a waste of words and also implies that the inquirer is tentative and not confident in asking for the information. Those who are guilty might argue that they don’t want to appear pushy with their questions.


As long as you’ve shown the prospect what you can do for them, you’ve earned the right to ask for information.

Plus, you can make your questions sound non-threatening with your tone of voice. In a sincere tone, simply say,

“How many locations do you have?”

“Can I Ask You a Question?” IS a Question!

Here’s another slightly different, but related offense:

“Can I ask you a question?”

If you say this, you just DID ask a question! (Plus, it should be ‘may.” If you are able to speak, you can ask a question.)

The problem here is that their thinking now focuses on whether or not they want to answer any questions.

However, contrast that with,

“Tell me about how your organization is structured by region.”

Now they aren’t debating as to whether or not they want to answer your questions. They’re thinking about the answer to your request. That’s why questions are so powerful.They prompt the person to think about precisely what you ask them.

Do you Do This, Or……..?

Another habit annoying to some is asking a question, and then ending with the “hanging or,” giving the impression that they have more to say, when in fact they’ve stopped. For example,

“Would you say your department will meet your objective for this fiscal year, or …?”

“Is that something you’d like to take a look at, or … ?”

This can confuse the listener, and as with any poor habit, can be irritating if it’s persistent. Instead, ask the question, then, shut up.

Don’t Penalize Your Customers for Being Customers, Reward Them Too

OK, I’ll get off the speaking habit thing. But not the annoying thing.

If you’re like most people, your customers included, I bet you get irked when you see an attractive offer or discount by a company you’re already doing business with, that’s better than the deal you’re getting, but it’s only good for new customers.

I’ve contacted companies and asked for the special offer, but was refused because I was already a customer. In a couple of cases I fixed that and quit being a customer.

Marketing guru, Dan Kennedy talked about the stupidity of this in a recent issue of his “No B.S. Marketing Letter,” and suggests that if you will be running a promotion to attract new customers, reach out to current customers in advance and say something to the effect of

“You’ll soon likely see Promotion X created to get new customers. While that is its purpose, I certainly wouldn’t want to fail to reward you , our most valued and honored great customer. So, if you’d like to take advantage of it too, you can do so anytime before the deadline date. Ask I ask is that you give me two referrals I can send some information to and use your name with.”


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