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9 Reasons People Tune You Out (And What to Do Instead)

If you want to be heard, you should avoid these all-too-common mistakes.
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Business is all about communication, so when you're speaking, you want people to pay attention and listen. Their minds will wander, though, if you indulge any of these all-too-common habits:

1. You go on too long.

Life is short, time is money, and brevity is the soul of wit. 'Nuff said.

Fix: Never spend more time talking than you spend listening.

2. You go over well-treaded ground.

If everything you say sounds exactly like what everyone else is saying, there's no particular reason to listen to you.

Fix: Before you speak, consider whether you're adding to the conversation or just recapping. If the latter, don't bother.

3. You're not truly committed.

People instinctively know when you secretly don't believe what you're saying.

Fix: Either change what you're saying or change what you believe.

4. Your mind is elsewhere.

People can tell when you're preoccupied with something else, like your personal life, some other meeting, or what you'll have for lunch that day.

Fix: Don't "phone it in." If you truly can't focus on the conversation at hand, explain why, then reschedule the conversation.

5. You're not speaking clearly.

You can't expect people to listen when any part of what you're saying comes out in a mumble.

Fix: Speak up!

6. You're talking too fast.

When you cram too many words into too short a time, you come off as either nervous, impatient, or wired on too much coffee. All good reasons not to listen.

Fix: Slow down!

7. Your accent is annoying.

Some accents are just grating to people who didn't grow up where you grew up.

Fix: If you're from, say, New Jersey, as far as possible, tone down your accent when talking to somebody from the Deep South. And vice versa.

8. What you're saying is irrelevant.

Nobody in the workplace really wants to know about anything that's not immediately applicable to his or her current job or the task at hand.

Fix: Before saying something, take a second to imagine that you're the other person. Ask: Is this something I need to know? If not, don't say it.

9. You've lost your credibility.

In business, reputation is everything. Once people decide that you're not worthy of attention, it doesn't matter what you say. You're just noise.

Fix: Follow the advice in these posts:

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Last updated: Aug 4, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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