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Articulate - ahr-tik-yuh-leyt

verb (used with object)

1. to utter clearly and distinctly; pronounce with clarity.

2. Phonetics. to make the movements and adjustments of the speech organs necessary to utter (a speech sound).

3. to give clarity or distinction to: to articulate a shape; to articulate an idea.

I have to thank Shaune for this one. She discovered that the more time I spent with kids the worse my speech articulation was becoming. Too much “baby talk” and not enough educated adult discussion can create bad habits. Its tough enough to maintain a vocabulary that reflects your level of education and maturity in a normal work environment. It is an absolute critical skill as a leader.

There are work environments such as factory floors or bustling contact centers where it is difficult to hear people speaking. Your first clue that your are having trouble with articulation is when the most common response to your speaking is a confused look followed by “what?” It can get frustrating because we all hear ourselves speaking in our own ears but our brain plays tricks on us. We think we are articulating well and speaking with appropriate volume so our common reaction to the “whats” is “aren’t you listening?”

Another problem with poor articulation is that the communication channel becomes noisy. What we are trying to say without paying attention to articulation is not being picked up by the intended receiver. For example when you ask a subordinate to take a break and they hear take a hike. Their break becomes a hike to the HR office.

Lastly let’s say that people do judge one another in many ways through many filters and biases. Remember the last time you went to a group gathering and spotted the most popular person based on how many people were gathered around? People wanted to hear what they had to say and when you stopped by, discretely of course, you could hear how well that person spoke and it made sense why people were flocking. Even though I agree with the philosophy that we learn more from listening than talking, I believe when you do talk, do it well!

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