Beep. Buzz. Ring. Tweet! Text, e-mail, and cell phones have created a whole new world of competition as you struggle to make
yourself heard among the spam, junk mail, and telemarketers fighting for attention. If you feel that clients and co-workers
are tuning you out, it's time to take the static out of your words and create targeted messages that grab attention and offer
Tailoring your message is a good place to start, says Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and hospital administrator at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic in Indianapolis. People have different
communication styles—some need just the facts, while others prefer the details, including all of the possible outcomes, Tassava
says. That's why her team uses the True Colors profiling program to learn about each team member's communication preferences.
In fact, Tassava wrote a veterinary-specific version of the personality identification system called Canine Colors and serves
as a master certification coach. (Click here to learn more about Canine Colors.)
"Whenever we need to express ourselves or communicate with another person, it's our personal responsibility to adapt to that
person's communication style," Tassava says. "So everyone should become a bit more diverse and versatile."
Communication tends to shut down when people get frustrated because others don't communicate the same way, she says. That's
why it's important to get outside of your own comfort zone and help make that communication happen.
"If you can be aware and open yourself up to speak and express yourself more in line with the way other people receive and
process information, you can become a much better communicator," she says.
If you're not feeling heard, it's time for a quick gut check. Have you developed any bad communication habits that encourage
others to tune you out? Consider these characters and make sure you steer clear of their bad behaviors:
- Glenda Gossip knows all the up-to-the-second juiciest tales, and she'll spill everything the second the boss's back is turned.
But don't turn your back on Glenda, or before you know it you'll play a starring role in her next lineup of stories. "When
you talk about co-workers and say things you wouldn't say face-to-face to a person, that's a real problem," Tassava says.
"And the people who hear you start to wonder, 'What are you saying about me when I'm not in the room?'"
A good guideline: If you feel you need to stop talking when someone enters the room, you're gossiping.
- Ira Interruption interjects his opinion into every conversation—often before you're done speaking. He likes to think he's
one step ahead when he finishes your sentences, but you just can't wait to leave him behind. "Interrupting others is a bad
habit," Tassava says. "It really shuts people down if you don't let others express themselves thoroughly."
- Cora Chronic-Complainer has a long list of gripes, and you're not going to scoot out of any conversation until she's told
you every one. "If you're chronically complaining but you never take your problems to the person who can help fix them, you
become a very ineffective person," Tassava says. "And eventually, people don't want to hear it anymore. They don't want to
be around it."