How many roles are you filling these days? Besides family needs, maybe you have a primary job, but also have a skill, hobby or talent that calls you to work a “side hustle”. If you are like me, you may be contracted to support more than one client and are also serving in officer-type duties in non-profit organizations. With multiple roles, you likely find that you must closely watch over your schedule to be sure you don’t over-commit. Yet, you don’t want to miss out on a tantalizing or provocative assignment that will advance and promote at least one of your skills. When collaborators observe your talents, requests for your time likely increase. Although you want to cultivate your skills to utilize, practice, and improve them, you must control your “schedule monster”.
Enter the world of “discretionary” communication choices. At our Toastmasters meetings we practice our impromptu speaking in the “Table Topics” section of each Agenda. In everyday life we speak without preparation much more often than we deliver prepared speeches. It’s the seemingly “casual” conversation when we are “caught” agreeing to something we didn’t intend to do. The dangerous questions that come to mind are “What are you doing tomorrow night?”, “Are you going to be home this weekend?”, “Can you attend our preparatory meeting regarding the upcoming Board meeting?”. Without practicing the possible impromptu response choices, it’s easy to reveal details of your schedule, unintentionally giving up control of your availability.
In a recent Toastmasters exercise we discussed these response types that can be considered when answering a “leading” question:
Blunt – yes or no, often plus a judgment, eg, “No, I don’t want to go to the dance. I am not a fan of ballroom dancing”.
Definite – yes or no, period…no explanation.
Evasive – dodge the question and maybe even be secretive, as in “Who will be there?”
Cautious – “I’m not sure…when is it?”
Innuendo – “I used to go to dances in the past, but I found there were some issues.”
Wondering – “I have a few questions before I can answer or commit.”
Curious – “I never thought about it. Why do you ask?”
If you need practice in thinking and speaking when faced with minimal or no preparation, Toastmasters provides you with this training. For more information on attending a meeting as a guest, contact our VP of Education Tom Island at 661-313-3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.