If you want to get One Grip Higher today… force yourself to speak in sentences.Humans are conversational creatures. Two of us in close proximity become extremely uncomfortable if we don’t start talking. The problem is that when we are unfamiliar with others and are forced to talk in order to avoid social awkwardness, we either say too much or not enough.

Last week I was in a meeting with several other people and none of us knew the others very well. Several people quickly began to dominate the conversation with extremely long, run-on-sentences. If the meeting were transcribed the comma to period ratio would have been in the neighborhood of 50- 1. Periods, were extremely rare. When we ramble on like this people stop listening and start looking for an opportunity to interrupt and share their perspective. If people are tired of hearing what we are saying, we loose the ability to influence them.

After several people in the room had finally wrapped up rather long and loquacious diatribes, a lady who had not said anything up to that point, summarized the conversation with on succinct statement. She said, “All of this stuff is interesting, but we need to connect our thoughts back to the main purpose of our meeting.” One short sentence (with a 1-1 comma to period ratio) redirected, focused and influenced thee entire course of our meeting. We began to respond to the main ideas and actually got productive.

Some of us (myself included) have a tendency to blabber on and on when we are trying to avoid social awkwardness. Others resort to one word utterances. Neither approach leads to effective communication. We need to learn to speak in succinct well thought out sentences if we want to be able to maximize our influence in these situations. Speaking in short sentences works to maximize influence whether we are in meetings at work, conversations with friends or fleeting interactions with strangers.

Action Point #1: the next time you are in an awkward situation, try to figure out what your comma to period ratio is. If it’s more than 1-1 you might be talking to much!

Action Point #2: stay tuned for the next post on One Grip Higher, titled “Ask the Second Question” for tips on how to lower your comma to period ratio.

Speaking less words, increases the power of those words. Speaking word with more power = more influence. When you speak with more, influence, you are One Grip Higher.

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