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It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s When You Say It

June is official Effective Communication month. And as I often point out, when it comes to communication, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say things that matter. But what about when you say things? Are you considering when the most effective time is to communicate an important message to your boss, colleagues, employees or clients? A few thoughts to ponder. . .

•If you’re making a pitch to someone or trying to have a serious conversation with them, are you timing the conversation for when the person is going to be most receptive? Trying to talk to someone on their way out the door on a Friday bigstock_Out_Of_Time_-_Clock_5221360afternoon or before they’ve had their first cup of coffee might not be the most effective approach. Make it a regular practice to ask people if it’s the best possible time to talk before sitting down.

•If you’re a leader, consider setting regular open office hours each week, where everyone knows you’ll be available and that they’ll have 100% of your attention during those regular hours for conversations.

•Positive feedback ought to come with an expiry date – if you’ve got some positive praise to pass along, don’t wait for the moment to pass.

•If you need to clear the air with someone and discuss a difficult situation make sure you leave enough time that you have cooled off and can approach them in a rational manner (in other words, put down the stapler and sleep on it), but act on it quickly enough so that it doesn’t balloon into something bigger and so that you’re not dumping on someone for something they did seven years ago!

•If you are on the receiving end of a conversation, be up front about the timing if it’s not the best time for you and reschedule it for when you know you can give them their full and undivided attention.

•Finally, since timing is also everything in comedy. . .if you are going to try out a new joke, be sure to tell the joke near the middle of the month…on a sunny day…at 6:03 p.m., when, according to research from Dr. Richard Wiseman’s Laugh Lab, people are the most likely to laugh at your joke.

Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and very funny motivational speaker. For insights, inspiration and ideas on building a more inspiring, fun workplace culture, sign up for his weekly e-zine; Inspiring Workplaces – Humor at Work.

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