Speaking: Saying what you mean

Speaking with care enables people to understand and dialogue with your ideas.

Think Before You Speak

Your best wisdom is not far away. Look for it before you speak.

Your Voice and Body Communicate Volume, Tempo and Tone

Face and posture tell a lot. Think about the clues you are giving.

Stick to the Topic

Talk about the topic at hand rather than all of the other things that go through your mind.

Speak with the Person or Group

When you are in conversation, think about the person or group. Use their terms, speak to their context and respect their pace.

Say What You Intend

Speak for yourself. Use “I” rather than “we.” There are few substitutes for clarity. Clever phrases and cute cliches often obscure meaning.

Imagine the Results

How will others respond to what you have to say? Take it into account as you speak.


Listening: Hearing what others mean

Listening is about trust, respect, involvement and information more than it is about ears.

Stop Talking

To others and to yourself. Work on stifling thevoices within. We can’t listen while talking.

Look, Act and Be Interested

Avoid reading, doodling, shuffling or tapping while others are speaking.

Don’t Interrupt

Resist the temptation to jump in before the other person has finished their statement.

Try to Get Inside the Other’s Perspective

Put yourself in the other person’s position. What would be your viewpoint?

Listen Between the Lines

Try to hear implicit as well as explicit meanings. Look for things unsaid or unexplained. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

Watch Body Language

Observe the nonverbal behaviour to glean more meaning beyond what is being said.


Asking: Interacting with intention

Questions are the vehicle that takes us to interaction and understanding.

Clarify What Has Been Said

“Could you clarify that a bit more?” “Could you say a bit more about that?”

Probe to Find Deeper Meaning

“Would you explain what leads you to that conclusion?” “What are the implications?”

Generate Non-linear, Creative Thinking

“Are there other possibilities?” “ Suppose we had no constraints?” “What if….?”

Promote Looking Below the Surface

“What are some of the underlying issues?” “Why is this important?”

Encourage Reflection

“How have you experienced this?” “What are you feeling?” “What have we learned?”

Move Toward Action

“What are the next steps?” “What might we do differently next time?”


Created by Wayne Nelson and included in our Meetings that Work course.