Workplace Communication Tip — Week 15: “Why are you talking so weird?”

“The key to moving through the learning curve and building confidence is practice.”- Ike Lasater, Words That Work In Business

“Why are you talking so weird?”

As you learn and use a new way of communicating, people who know you are likely to take notice, perhaps wondering what motivated the shift. They might even ask, “Why are you talking like that?” The curiosity – or even the judgment – of those around you might be enough to send you cowering in self-conscious embarrassment.

Practicing our NVC skills out loud is an essential part of the learning process, and finding the “right” practice partner is key to practicing safely and confidently. Ike Lasater suggests finding a practice partner either in your outermost or innermost circle.

  • Innermost circle — your intimate relationships with partners, family members, or even close colleague who are the most familiar with you.
  • Outermost circle — people you interact with who don’t know you and whom you aren’t necessarily likely to stay in contact with, such as a taxi driver, salespeople, or others you interact with in the course of daily life.

If you choose a practice partner in your innermost circle, it’s important to get their buy in first so you know you have permission to stumble without judgment.

You can even create a verbal agreement with them such as: “I am interested in something called Nonviolent Communication, and I’m going to start trying to use it more, so I’m going to be saying some things in ways tat are a little different from before. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or don’t like what I’m saying, I’d really like to hear it right away, and for us to deal with it.”

This type of agreement tends to build a safe place for you to practice without fear of criticism, and openness on your partner’s end to provide helpful feedback in the moment.


Mindful Practice for the Week

In the week ahead, think about someone in your innermost circle you might make a practice agreement with. Practice how you might phrase this request.