You can tell a lot about a person by the way they communicate. If you pay close attention, you might notice things like a coworker struggling with confidence or a potential boss with impressive levels of emotional intelligence. Those insights allow you to make better decisions — say, lifting your coworker up in meetings so you can produce more impactful team work together or sizing up whether you want to accept an offer based on your impression of your future boss.
“Through a person’s communication style, you can tell their level of emotional intelligence. You can tell how authentic and sincere someone is by their willingness to speak from a vulnerable place,” says Rina Rovinelli, speaking coach and co-founder of global speaking competition Speaker Slam.
But what about what your own communication habits reveal about you? Knowing how others might potentially perceive you and gaining more self-awareness can only help you navigate professional waters more smoothly and improve the way you carry yourself at work. We’ve asked Rovinelli, who’s coached and judged hundreds of professional speakers, to share her insights on what different communication habits say about a person. Whether you’re an awesome listener or tend to learn information by heart before meeting a prospective client, take notes and elevate your speaking skills.
If you are a good listener
“If they are a good listener, I see them as being introspective and considerate. I see their emotional intelligence in their willingness to hear me without thinking about what they’ll say next. I see their desire to understand me fully. In a business sense, I want to work with people who understand me and who are willing to meet me where I’m at,” says Rovinelli.
So if you are an introvert who prefers to pay attention rather than talk for the sake of talking, you’re doing something right. Tap into your natural sense of empathy by using your understanding of other people to be more effective, whether you’re delegating work to reach team goals or personalizing a business proposal.
If you communicate vulnerably
Think vulnerability at work is a recipe for disaster yet you just can’t stop sharing your true feelings? You might want to rethink your stance — times are changing and showing your human side without worrying about appearing perfect can actually help you connect with others and build trust, according to Rovinelli.
“If they communicate vulnerably, I see their authenticity and realness. I trust this person more. I resonate and connect with their honesty. I see them as a person beyond an employee and it allows me to trust them,” she says.
If you are well-spoken and articulate
If you are a seasoned public speaker who loves to command attention in a room full of people, you project confidence and make those who work with you feel secure in your abilities. “If they are well-spoken, and articulate I feel a level of confidence in their abilities. I feel secure with people who I view as intelligent and well-versed. I assume that someone who is so profound and well-spoken must represent a business that has integrity,” says Rovinelli.
If you are rehearsed and repetitive
Do you tend to get so prepared before important professional interactions that you rehearse at home over and over again? Are you overly concerned about staying on message around your company’s mission and values? You might have good intentions, but it could be hurting your chances at building rapport. “If they are rehearsed and repetitive, I lose trust. I feel that they are sharing the company propaganda and I tune out. So often in business, professionals are taught the company lingo and it ends up feeling contrived and insincere.”
In this case, less is more. Try prepping by understanding the information you want to convey rather than learning what you want to say by heart. And trust your ability to internalize the information well enough to speak about it in a more organic, spontaneous way when needed.
If you struggle and use a lot of filler words
If you struggle to speak and tend to use filler words such as“like” or “um” every two seconds, you might be unknowingly hurting your credibility as well — especially in a customer-facing role, according to Rovinelli. “If they struggle to speak and use a lot of filler words I lose confidence and feel a lack of security. If a company’s best salesperson or representative can’t speak powerfully, it says a lot to me about the lack of credibility of the organization,” she says.
Don’t fret just yet, the habit of speaking confidently can be cultivated. It’s all about practice.