Make Your Point!
Bill Cottringer

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw.

Consider the beginning of communication: We first invented words to stand for objects we couldn’t carry around on our shoulders to show and tell others firsthand. Since then, we have invented so many words that have so many definitions and so many meanings with so many layers in between the letters of the words and the objects that they are supposed to stand for, that nobody has a clue as to what’s up and what’s not. It is really time to stop the babble and get to the point. We all need to get much better at making our points—with maximum simplicity, brevity and impact. Here is a simple and easy prescription for doing just that:

Make your point. But before you can do that, you must know exactly what your point is and then use these other methods for making it with simplicity, brevity and impact. But, when you start with the right intention, the outcome is usually better.

Always listen more than talk. If for no other reason this is because it is the polite thing to do. But another good reason is that listening to others often gives you the edge in knowing how to better make your point and get it received as intended. In other words, you are in a much better position to know what to say and how to say it.

Keep it simple. The current information overload is burying us all and the excessive unnecessary details are killing us (just like this sentence!). We really can’t make any point that really matters, by trying to express abstract ideas in complex and complicated ways. Keep it simple by getting to the point you are trying to make without needless delay.

End with something positive. It is always good to end a conversation on a positive note, because it is so difficult to avoid putting a negative spin on something even when you consciously try not to do that. It is easier to try to be positive than try to avoid negativity.

Yield when appropriate. The right time to do this is when the other person has more invested in a preferred outcome, when you don’t have that much to lose. Giving in during an argument is not a bad thing that makes you dumber or weaker in any way. Even letting someone think they have won an argument is okay too, especially when you know so and don’t have to say anything.

Open up communication. You can do this by not conveying defensive things like dishonesty, insensitivity, superiority, control or manipulation, but instead taking interest in and asking questions of the other person, without thinking you already know the answer to before asking!

Use feedback smartly. This is the type of feedback that you get from honest people who you are asking, especially when you aren’t making your point very well. Good communication is always a road under constant construction and improvement. At the right time, ask for how you are being heard and perceived. But be prepared to hear and apply something that may be bothersome to you.

Resist providing too many details. Redundant, repetitive, and rambling speaking usually falls on deaf ears and really never makes any point very well. When there is nothing more to say, then don’t feel compelled to elaborate details than nobody is really interested in, even you.

Practice good timing. As the wise saying goes, “in anything timing is everything.” Time your points and pauses for maximum input. The same goes for asking good questions at the right time and clarifying something that is misunderstood right away.

Offer advice sparingly. Advice should only be given as a last resort in order to help someone else avoid an inevitable disaster. And imposing your views and opinions never get received as intended

Increase interest. You can do that by asking questions of the other person and then talk about something that is more personal. But remember to impersonalize potential negative reactions you may have about what is being said. Not doing that can end conversations quickly.

Never interrupt. Interruptions convey two things and they are both negative and unproductive: (a) you don’t really care enough about the other person to let them finish (b) you have your own personal agenda you must get out at all costs, which just adds some doubt as to its value.

Think before talking. Sometimes your mouth is faster than your mind and that often causes confusion that needs further clarification, which wastes more time and effort. The wise carpenter’s saying applies to communication: Measure twice and saw once. That rule saves costly mistakes.

Do you part in eliminating babble and make your point better by practicing some of these useful Baker’s dozen suggestions.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or