Monique Helstrom Helps Us Understand and Refine Our Communication Habits

Home > Podcast

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with speaker, coach and consultant Monique Helstrom on understanding and improving our communication habits at work.

A few reasons why she is awesome  —  she is an international keynote speaker, coach and consultant, focused on helping us unlock and activate our human potential to actually help us and our teams progress through our careers. And formerly, for almost a decade, she was the executive assistant, producer and Chief of Simon Sinek, a best-selling author and leadership expert.

Connect with, and learn more about Monique on…



  • How communication habits are formed.
  • What bad communication habits can look like.
  • How self awareness can help in understanding and redefining our habits.
  • The importance of knowing who you’re communicating to in any situation.
  • Where nonverbal communication skills fit into our habits.
  • The challenge of remote work in creating better communication habits.

“Some of the habits that we pick up are ones that are not great communication skills, that are not transactional, that are not empathetic, but they’ve worked.”

Monique Helstrom


Russel Lolacher: And on the show today we have Monique Helstrom and here is why she is awesome. She’s an international keynote speaker, coach and consultant focusing on helping us unlock and activate our human potential to actually help us and our teams progress through our careers.

Formerly for almost a decade, she was the executive assistant producer and chief of Simon Sinek. You may have heard of him. If not, please Google. Her love of mastering communications and building relationships felt like an obvious for a show like this. So welcome to the show, Monique. How are you?

Monique Helstrom: Thank you so much for having me, Russel.

Russel Lolacher: I love our topic today. Communication habits. I, I have a lot of them. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. And I think a lot of people listening will probably know that too, but also need to identify maybe some things we can do differently, but before we get into it, Monique, I have to ask you the question I ask everybody, cause you’re not getting off the hook.

What’s your best or worst employee experience?

Monique Helstrom: Okay. Oddly enough, they, they slightly mimic each other, I would say. It’s, it’s a worst experience that turned into a best experience. Back when I was an event planner in 2000 or… probably around 2000. I was planning a huge event, our biggest event, 1500 people, 10 different breakouts, it was just insanity.

And my boss at the time was pregnant and fell ill. And so she was unable to attend the conference and I remember working really late at night and my CEO coming into the room and sitting down and saying your boss can’t make it. This is up to you. I think I was, I wasn’t even 21 yet. And so I had to run this entire conference myself.

It was 1 of the most stressful experiences in my life. And taught me so much about believing in myself, about believing in what I know, about believing in my skill set, and to be slightly adaptable when things like that happen and they come your way. And if you, if you put your heart and mind into it, anything is possible.

Russel Lolacher: But what a way to also understand, like, so I’ve mentioned the show multiple times, the importance of self awareness. And what an amazing, I want to say, I can’t think of a better way of thinking of as a gift of understanding your competence, your resiliency, your resourcefulness in a situation like that, whether you like it or not, but what a way of better understanding yourself.

Monique Helstrom: Absolutely. And it was also what I needed to put away the, the self esteem issues and the lack of confidence issues that I had. I had to put those in a suitcase and keep moving forward. Again, at the time, I think I was 20 years old and I was holding this conference for people that were forties, fifties, sixties, seventies.

And I was this young, and I was very intimidated about being young, but I had to put that away. And I had to put my vulnerabilities away. And I had to put that all away and I just had to truck forward. It really kind of made me who I am.

Russel Lolacher: It’s a funny thing about perception too, because I’ve heard when it comes to ageism a bit too, in the workplace. And that’s an interesting one because I can see those in their forties and fifties and sixties, looking at a 21 year old running around barking orders telling everybody what to do and go… “who are they?”

But at the same time, if you’re that 20 year old with a lot of confidence. And just the whole “fake it till you make it” thing, but literally in it doing it, they almost have to shut up because you are doing the work. So it’s this interesting yeah, I just find that interesting from an ageism standpoint, because I’ve heard that a lot on the show.

Monique Helstrom: Absolutely. It was hard, but again, you, you have to hold your shoulders down and puff your chest up and run, run for the finish line. That’s all you can do at that point. Yeah, it taught me a lot.

Russel Lolacher: It’s going to be a learning experience whether you want it to be or not. I love starting every episode with explaining things. So because everybody seems to have different definitions or we do a horrible job at defining what things are. I bring up leadership a lot because we talk about leadership like it’s a buzzword.

And yet one organization has a completely different aspect of leadership than another might. And unless they define it, it means nothing. So communication habits is another one because communication is such a vague term. It’s used interchangeably for, for technology or how we communicate. So when it comes to communication habits, how would you define it?

Because I think habits are I eat properly. Bad habits are, I chew my fingernails. What’s a communication habit?

Monique Helstrom: Well, it’s interesting. And I’ll, I’ll give you a slight background that these are things that were never taught. I don’t know about all the listeners out there and watchers out there, but in school, in elementary school, in primary school, in high school, I never had a course on communication. I never, somebody never taught me how to handle conflict or give feedback or have a conversation with someone that’s hard or difficult.

You don’t learn these things. And I went to college and… I actually studied communication in college, and I honestly think I learned much about that there. And then we all go into the workforce, and we’ve already had these habits from childhood. Maybe we got them from our parents, or whomever raised us.

Maybe we picked up things from school. But we, we gather these habits, and then we go out into the workforce, and we don’t know why these aren’t working with other people. We don’t know why we can’t communicate with other people and it’s because we’re never taught. Communication isn’t something that you have or you don’t have.

It’s a skill. You learn it. You practice it. You’re not born with the ability to communicate well. So when you put intention and attention into it, you can figure out how to tweak some of these habits. Now some of our habits are things like thinking about communication is what I have to say rather than what does the other person need to hear.

That’s one of our biggest communication mess ups these days is that we think it’s this outbound, I’m throwing a ball at you and then I’m done… That’s how we communicate. And I’m going to say whatever it is I want to say in whatever way that I want to say it. And you better get on board and figure it out and understand what I’m saying and reply well and all of these things.

And it’s like… when we can switch our focus to the receiver and figure out what do they need to hear in order to understand what I’m trying to say, opens up a whole world of possibilities. So I think probably our biggest communication habit is thinking that it’s an outbound action where it’s really a transactional model.

Russel Lolacher: So how did these get formed over time? If you’re not being taught, if you’re not, unless you go to school, like both of you and both you and I both did in communication, people make us like my immediate gut reaction is looking at your parents in looking at, as I communicate. If I get away with saying it this way, mom lets me do this, but that doesn’t work for dad okay, I got to change how I communicate.

I see that forming, but then as it moves to the workplace, how do they get formed that way?

Monique Helstrom: How did their habits get formed?

Russel Lolacher: Yeah.

Monique Helstrom: Honestly, by what works. So when we communicate with other people and we get our way and we win the bid and we succeed at making the money. Then we unconsciously or potentially subconsciously say to ourselves “that worked let me try that again,” and that’s really how habits are formed.

Habits are just behaviors that you do over and over and over again. That’s how habits are formed. And so when we again, consciously or unconsciously say that worked for me, we keep repeating them. And and exactly like you said, we learn a lot of these habits from whomever raised us from our parents or grandparents or whomever brought us up and we tend to mimic one or the other, or go in the complete opposite direction. I, I honestly grew up in a house of a yeller and an avoider. So I, I picked one or the other of those and, and you, you mimic that until it doesn’t work anymore. And then you figure out, okay, well, being a yeller all the time doesn’t work, so what can I do instead?

And then you take those and you, you, you move forward in life and you kind of figure it out and you you, really unconsciously go for what worked and what didn’t work. And unfortunately, some of the habits that we pick up are ones that are not great communication skills, that are not transactional, that are not empathetic, but they’ve worked.

I’m thinking of in sales and in things like that, where we pick up poor habits. But they work. The money is gained, the client is won, and we run with that. But then we also think that that’s how we should talk to everyone.

Russel Lolacher: Are we talking about communication style or, or is this different than communication style?

Monique Helstrom: I think it is communication style and it is the habits that you have. Your skills, your personality, your style are all the basis from where your habits come from. So who I am as a person, I represent that in my communication habits. I represent that in my writing skills. I represent that in my work ethic. And so we take all these things that are these Lego blocks that we’re all made up of, and we represent them out into the world. And so we take these habits and behaviors and if we’re a commanding individual, for example, and if we if we speak our mind and speak up and speak out, we tend to do that all the time, even in situations where that’s not supposed to happen.

And that’s not going to be what’s most helpful for the situation, but it worked at one point. So we repeat it. And again, repeating an action makes a habit and that’s where our bad behaviors come from.

Russel Lolacher: So what’s a couple examples of bad behaviors? Because obviously we’re going to be, anybody listening here is going, okay, well, what are my habits? So is there anything we can spotlight sort for an example of this is the kind of things that you may need to be paying attention to.

Monique Helstrom: Well, first and foremost, listening. We are very poor listeners these days. There’s a lot of data out there about how our listening skills are being reduced day by day, year by year. I read a study that said we used to spend 42 percent of our day listening to people. That’s come down to 24 percent because we’re scrolling. Because we’re scrolling, and we’re scrolling, and we’re scrolling, and we’re not communicating with other people, or we’re in the matrix all the time. And we have lost our ability to listen. I think the pandemic probably had a lot to do with that as well. And so we’re not, we’re not listening for what the other person needs.

We’re not listening for their non verbal habits. We’re not listening for their tone. We’re not… trying to be empathetic. We’re just pushing our own agenda onto other people for what we think they are going to say, what we think they mean, what we think they want. And so I think first and foremost, that’s, that’s one of our worst habits is poor listening.

And that leads into a lot of other things. Interrupting. Interrupting absolutely drives me crazy. It is one of my pet peeves of the world is people that consistently interrupt you. It’s a way of saying that I’m more important than you. So if you’re noticing that you’re doing these habits, it’s actually born out of self esteem to be perfectly honest.

The interrupting thing or lack of self esteem. So if you’re noticing that you, that you’re doing any of these habits these are the things that. You should pay attention to and again, your own perception, blanketing your own perception of what they need, what they are saying, what their emotions are, what they mean by their words.

We tend to put words in there that were never there. Well, you said this and I’m like, no, I didn’t say that. Well, that’s what you meant. Well, is it? So we’re, we’re laying our perception on top of it instead of being open and responding with curiosity and saying, these are things that I’ve never heard before.

Tell me more. So off the top of my head, those are a few.

Russel Lolacher: I mentioned this at the top about the importance of self awareness and not everybody has that. So are there any tricks you’d recommend for people to monitor those habits so they can adjust, either reinforce good behavior or try to tweak bad ones?

Monique Helstrom: Well if you’ve ever heard me speak before I’m a huge fan of personality tests and skills tests. And I think more than anything in my life, those have taught me who I am and how I represent myself. I took a CliftonStrengths, for example, and you understand what your top 10 skills are.

You also understand what your bottom five skills are and what was what weaknesses you have. And how that affects my communication, understanding I’ll just use CliftonStrengths as an example. I’m a number one achiever. That is my number one skill set. That is the number one focus that I have. I am a get shit done kind of person. And I enjoy it.

I like being busy. I like being productive, but that comes out in my speech. I speak very action oriented. I speak very solution oriented. I talk fast. I. Look for more representation of, of achieving skills. I bark or at least I used to bark orders at people because again, I’m action oriented. I used to speak to everyone like they were action oriented, like they were all a bunch of me.

So I can speak in bullet points. All of these things that come out of this one skill set are the habits and, and that’s how we learn. That’s how we learn how our habits are formed or what our, our skills represent. Thank You know, if I’m low in something, if one of my weaknesses is adaptability, I’m slightly rigid.

It’s just who I am. I can’t help it. It’s just part of me. And that is represented in my speech. Sometimes I get sick of hearing people talk about ideas over and over and over and over again. And I, I blank out and I stop listening. If we’re like in this unconscious brainstorming session that goes on for three hours.

Like I checked out after 15 minutes. I can’t help it. So again, you understand take personality tests, DISC or Enneagram or StrengthsFinder. I don’t care what you do, but figure out who you are and figure out what that means for your, your outbound habits or just pay attention, talk to people that you love and ask them, what are my communication habits?

People that are going to be honest with you. And the trick there is you have to listen, you have to be open, you have to take their feedback. You can’t push back. The only thing you could say at that point is thank you. Thank you for the information. So those are a few ways that you can figure out your communication style.

Russel Lolacher: And I want to flag that people, they don’t have to agree with it either. Like I’ve taken a few of those tests and I’ve seen it and they’ve been really, really helpful, but I wouldn’t say they’re a hundred percent accurate. And that’s okay because at least it flags things for you to go, :maybe I need to investigate that more. Maybe I need to learn about that more. It’s not a cookie cutter. I mean, it sends you in the right direction, but it might not be everything, but at least it should inspire curiosity to, to go maybe why, maybe there’s, why is that coming up? Maybe it looks like this a little bit and, but that’s enough that you should be investigating it.

Monique Helstrom: Sure. And even if you don’t like personality tests or you don’t think that they’re right, look back in your history. Look back at things that always went wrong. Where were you always met with friction? Where were you always met with miscommunication and misunderstanding? What usually happens when you talk to a certain person, your family or your spouse or, or your boss?

You know what? What typically happens over and over and over again, and then peel back the onion and figure out where did that come from? How did I get that? How can I use that? Because when we can identify the, the tools that we have in our toolbox, then we know how to use them for good.

Russel Lolacher: Can this change depending on who’s in the room? Because sometimes you get into rooms with executives or colleagues and you, for whatever reason, maybe it’s even subconsciously, you’re a different person or you show up differently in how things work. How does, how does that look?

Monique Helstrom: So I actually am a, I’m… Encouraging of you changing your communication style, depending on who you’re talking about. I’m not a, I’m not saying change who you are. I’m saying change your communication style. And I use again myself as an example. I’m a high achiever. If I go into a room with other high achievers, I can talk in my bullet points.

I can talk in spreadsheets and, and whatever it might be, and they’re going to understand me, but if I go into a room of all visionaries of all idea people of, of a certain type of person, even executives, I’m going to use my achiever in a way that they can understand. I understand how to use the tools that I have, I just use them differently.

It’s like a hammer on your tool belt. I could bang something in the wall with it, or I can pull a nail out with it. I can use it, the one tool that I have, I can use it multiple different ways. I am a fan of using your external awareness to understand your audience, and just make little tweaks so that they can understand you better.

Russel Lolacher: Which hammers home how much you should do research ahead of time before you go into a room to understand who you’re talking to and how many of them are in that room.

Monique Helstrom: Yes, and even things like age, gender, ethnicity, race all of these things, the education level, what industry they’re in, there’s so many factors into it. Just take a few of them, take a few little bits and just here and there, again, I’m not saying change your entire personality, but when you make these teeny weeny little tweets, it means so much for the receiver.

Russel Lolacher: I was thinking, the question I’m going to ask next, I thought was kind of funny as I watch you present the last question because I’m talking about nonverbal skills and you’re a hand talker.

Monique Helstrom: I’m a hand typer. Big time.

Russel Lolacher: I’m like, oh, this is relevant. There you go. Nonverbal skills is a huge communication habit that many of us have that we do not even realizing we’re doing almost even more so than those verbal skills. How are there good nonverbal skills? Cause I only hear about the bad ones about either, you roll your eyes or you don’t make eye contact.

What am I missing there?

Monique Helstrom: Yeah. So you’re exactly right in that nonverbal skills are intensively most important. You may have heard the statistic that 55 percent of the message that’s received is nonverbal. 55 percent. 38 percent is our tone and only 7 percent is our words. So it’s not that our words are not important, but it’s when all of these three things line up and are in our congruent with one another.

That’s when your communication is stronger, more powerful, more able to be understood. But if I’m sitting here and my nonverbal skills or my tone don’t match what I’m saying, you’re either going to lose trust in the person, you’re going to trust their nonverbals over what actually they’re saying. So if I’m sitting here with my arms crossed and I’m like, yes, I care about you, like, what, what are you know, you’re probably going to take, no, she doesn’t.

So we have to make sure our nonverbal skills line up with our tone and line up with the words that we’re using. And again, that’s self awareness. We have to be aware of everything that’s going on below our chin. We tend to only be aware of what’s happening in our brain and what’s happening with our mouths when we’re…

Speaking with some other person, but we have 43 muscles in our face. Those are important. Women use our face different than men do as well. We’re very facially expressive. So we have to pay attention to, are their eyes curling? Are their lips curling? What’s happening in their face?

What’s happening with their hands? Are they closed off? Are you hiding your sensitive parts? That means that you’re scared or you’re fearful or you have something that you’re, you feel unsafe when you show your chest, when you show your wrists, when you show your belly and your soft spots… that means I trust you. That means I care about you. That means I’m comfortable and I feel safe in this situation. So little things that you can pick up. And again, we. We tend to not pay attention to our nonverbal skills. And I will say that men tend to pay less attention toward their nonverbal skills than women do.

And it’s not, I’m not saying that in a derogatory manner, it’s just how we process information. Leaning back in your chair, that’s something that’s very common for men to do. But when you’re having a heart to heart with someone or you’re speaking with your spouse about something really important, lean in, come closer.

This means that I care about you, that I trust you, that I’m, I trust to be so close to you that I know you’re not going to hurt me. So little things like that, we have to pay attention for what’s happening in our bodies. And again, I think the pandemic took a lot of that away because we’ve been talking in, in this square box, like I’m in for you right now for so long that we’ve lost this ability to pay attention to what happens from our belly buttons.

Now we’ve got to get it back.

Russel Lolacher: And I’m glad you led me there because remote work has changed a lot of us who had great, maybe communication habits, or at least we’re trying to work on our communication habits in the hallway, at the cubicle, in the office. And now there’s a completely new piece of technology in front of our faces. And the frequency of which we interact with other humans in person has changed. So what do we need to be more aware of in our communication habits in this new remote and hybrid world?

Monique Helstrom: Absolutely. The, the, intention to speak verbally, I think, is one of the biggest things we have to bring back. When we would go into the office, we would have those conversations at the water cooler. We would, if we needed to ask someone a question, we would get up out of our seats and go to the other person’s cubicle or office and ask them a question.

Now we do this. Everything is done via text, via Slack. be it email, be it whatever program you use, Teams. And we are replacing our ability to verbally speak with the written communication. That will kill us as a society. Make no mistake about that. Our ability to verbally communicate is incredibly important.

So I think that has to be, you use verbal communication for, Anything emotional, anything feeling, any way to solve a complex problem. If you have more than one point to give, use verbally. Pick up this thing is not just to doodle on. You can actually use it as a phone. So pick up the phone and call someone.

If you have a need a five minute communication with someone and you’re really confused about a subject, Hey, can you jump on zoom for five minutes? Let’s get back to verbally communicating and stop doing this. You’re not going to build relationship with someone through text or through the email system.

I’ve seen people that have fights. They have text fights. What? And it’s like they said paragraphs to another person. You text us. What do you think is going to come across? It’s never going to work out because we’re missing nonverbals and we’re missing our tone. So that means that I am assuming what your tone is.

I am assuming what your non verbals are. And that depends on how I have been feeling that day. If I’m in a bad mood, if I, the kids missed the bus, if I had a rough morning, if I did, and someone sends me a message that says, Hey, do you have that report? I’m going to think about that as, Hey, do you have that report?

That’s how we’re going to interpret it. Cause that’s, what’s going on in my body. So having someone call me instead and said, “Hey, Monique, do you have that report?” Different, less misunderstanding.

Russel Lolacher: What would you say to someone who’s a Gen Z, Gen Zed, who’s listening to all this and go, “Yeah, that sounds like an old person talking. That sounds like a person that’s in their Gen X’s and Boomers that want to just… what’s a phone? I have emojis for that.” Now, I’m not trying to belittle Millennials or Gen Zed because they have different ways of communicating that is effective for them.

But in the workplace…is it?

Monique Helstrom: We have to understand our biology. We are social animals. Our ability to communicate has to do with our survival. This will never enhance your survival. I want to be perfectly clear about that. I do not care what generation you came from. If you’re millennial, if you’re Gen Z, if you’re Gen Zed, Doesn’t matter to me.

This does not solve problems. This is not communicating. We need to get back to using text and email for who, what, when, where, and how. That’s it. That’s what, that’s what email communication should be. Anything more than that should be verbally communicated. And by evidence of that, I want all of the young folks out there to listen and think of how many times you have felt misunderstood.

How many times have you gotten into a fight with a friend or a partner or someone when you didn’t intend that? How many times did you have to say the words, ‘That’s not what I meant.’ Think about those before you pick up that machine and do the same thing over and over again. Repeating a habit is insanity.

Just like Robert Albert Einstein said, it’s insanity. We keep doing it over and over and over again and feeling misunderstood instead of trying something new. Try something new..

Russel Lolacher: There’s all, there’s conversations all the time about how personal and professional lines blur when it comes to how we show up at work, what influences which, work life balance, like they’re two separate, complete things. I believe they are not. They are obviously, it’s, you’re the same person in both places, but so can be your communication habits.

So is there, there. Some things you would recommend we can do… morning routines, evening routines… to better prepare communication habits in the workplace. Like how can we better arm ourselves before we get you into a workplace culture?

Monique Helstrom: Sure. So I completely agree with you, by the way, that we are one human being. We have one body. We have one brain. We are not two separate people. And if you feel like you have to change who you are to go into work, let me be clear. You’re not in the right job. If you can’t feel like you can be yourself, you are not in the right position.

I’m obviously very blunt. I’m from Philly, so what can, what can I say? I think the, the, the biggest thing I would say is prepare yourself. We live in a society that moves so fast. And you’re home and you’re doing all the things and you get the kids ready for school and you boom, boom, boom, and you drop them out of school and then you go into the office and blah, blah, blah.

And then you sit down and you just, and you’re still in that momentum from whatever happened in the morning. We, we feel like this constant energy to keep moving and go so fast and not take a breath. We have pause-aphobia in the world these days where we feel like we have to fill every single silence with a word or an action or something like that.

So things to do is take a breath. When you go to work, if you’re going into an office and you park your car, take one walk around the block before you go in. Breathe. Calm yourself down from whatever happened in the morning. Separate where you are from where you were. And move forward. Same thing if you’re already in the office and something just happened and you’ve got bad news or you’ve got bad feedback and you’re all worked up about it and it’s all sitting in your chest.

Calm your breath, calm your central nervous system, again, take a walk, get some sunshine on your face. I have an alarm clock on my phone that three minutes before the hour of every hour I go outside and I stand in the sun for two minutes. I just get some vitamin D on my face. It’s not a long time. It’s two minutes.

If you have to open up YouTube and watch a video about cute puppy dogs. I don’t care what it is, but figure out a way to calm that central nervous system so you don’t feel like you are running on a treadmill constantly. We can pause. We absolutely can. We can stop. We can breathe. We can meditate.

We can do any of those things to calm ourselves down. We just feel like we can’t anymore.

Russel Lolacher: I’ve started doing this thing where I use post it notes and I put them at the bottom of my monitor at work and it’ll say things like, be kind or are you responding in a way that helps them? It’s just this little reminder for the day or the week, whatever it is, but it’s just sitting there. Immediately before I talk or while I’m talking, it forces me to reframe while I’m communicating. So that I found extremely helpful and I do that before I even start the day at work at home.

Monique Helstrom: Absolutely.

Russel Lolacher: And just write that down.

Monique Helstrom: Write on your mirror. I don’t care. Get some erasable markers and write on your mirror. Write on your refrigerator. Write notes to yourself everywhere. Or if you don’t want to do that, have symbols. Have symbols of things around you that, that make sense to you. I got Gizmo on my, on my thing here because that tells me that you can be, you can be a kind, wonderful, loving human being, or you can be the bad version of the Gremlin, which one are you choosing?

So put symbols somewhere, use the tools that you have around you, put a picture up that calms you down. Put your picture of your family, whatever that takes to get you back to where you need to be to be the person that you should be.

Russel Lolacher: I want to wrap up our conversation with maybe focusing on one goal and talk about some of the habits that can get in the way and habits that can help get us there. For example, clarity is a big one at work, especially around communication. So many. Could you give me a couple of ideas or thoughts around things that could help communication habit wise in helping with clarity versus what can cloud it.

Monique Helstrom: Absolutely. So clarity is, to me, is all about accountability. We need to take accountability for the words that come out of our mouth. We are responsible for being clear. It is no one else’s responsibility to mind read or interpret what you’re saying. Somewhere along the lines in society, we went from like, Oh, let me explain this to you so that you understand.

Now we’re like, well, she better understand what I’m saying or else I’m going to get mad. I don’t know where that, that came from. So a number one, take accountability for the words that come out of your mouth. Use simple language don’t, don’t use acronyms or slang that somebody else might not understand that is going to inhibit that clarity, inhibit that understanding, do that use positive language.

We are inherently positive people. We are born positive and we understand the positive better than we understand the negatives. Our brains actually. Turn negatives into positives so that we can understand it. So if I said, don’t think of an elephant, you’re thinking of an elephant. So speak in a positive language that helps people understand you better.

Get rid of your don’ts, shouldn’ts, couldn’ts, wouldn’ts, nevers, nos, nots. Start talking instead of don’t do this, tell people what they should be doing, help people understand the good habits. So those are just a few off the top of my head about how you can be clear. Get rid of your speech disfluencies.

I actually have been listening to myself and I’ve been saying quite a few times during this podcast and that’s really driving me crazy, but get rid of the likes and the I means and the I thinks and the, the speech disfluencies that stop us from understanding. Yeah. Replace “but” with “and”.

There’s, there’s little tricks that we’ve heard along the way, but we don’t take them in or do anything about it. It’s, it’s an intentional practice to upgrade your communication. You have to do it. I can sit here all day long and think about abs, but if I don’t do something about it, I’m not going to get abs, it’s the same thing.

You can’t just sit here and be like, I should be a better communicator and wait for some magical fairy dust to come and sprinkle it on your head. No, this is intentional. Pick the something that, that you need to work on and do it, figure it out, figure out new ways and be open to change.

Russel Lolacher: Intention is such a great way to wrap this up too, because by me saying “clarity”, I’m defining a goal of an outcome that I want by doing communication, by providing the steps it takes to get to that goal. And I think a lot of people miss the intention step of what are you trying to get out of this meeting?

What does success look like? They just go there to go there and go, okay, I’m done. And then they walk out and like, did you change, did you move the needle? Did you, did somebody get buy in? What were you trying to achieve? And I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people where I ask that after the fact, and they’re like, Oh yeah, that would have been…. yeah, I, I wanted this. I’m like, did you do those things? Yeah, no, no, I did none of those things.

Monique Helstrom: And speak towards your goals. What’s the goal of the conversation that you’re having? What is, what do you need to get out of it? Are you trying to repair a relationship? Are you trying to enforce action? Are you like, what are you trying to do? And then speak to that instead of what do I need to get out of my mouth?

Because that’s usually where we go. These are things that I need to say, and we’re not pointing towards a goal. 100%.

Russel Lolacher: What’s been the hardest habit for you to overcome?

Monique Helstrom: Oh, so many. Oh so, many. Where do I start? I mean, I talked about the Achiever thing. I think that was a really big one for me to get over, was how I speak to other people, understanding that not everyone understands things like I do. Not everyone thinks in Excel spreadsheets like I do. That was a big one.

My mouth has gotten me into a lot of trouble in my life.. I tend to be blunt. I tend to be honest. I am a Philly girl through and through and sometimes my mouth gets me into trouble. That’s, that’s a constant, that’s an example for me of a constant thing that I’m working on. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to get to the point, nor do I want to get to the point, where I’m quiet and submissive and not saying what’s on my mind. I just have to do it in a better way

I have to express myself in a lower tone, in a low register, slower. I have to use facts and figures, not talk about the person. So these are things that I have to work on constantly, constantly. It’s not that it’s ever going to go away. My mouth still gets me into trouble occasionally, but I’m conscious of it and I know how to fix it.


Russel Lolacher: So Monique, what is one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Monique Helstrom: At work. External awareness. Who are you talking to and how do they need to hear you? This is a big lesson in my life. If I’m talking with someone who might be quieter and more reserved and more introverted, again, I lower my register. I talk slower. I lean in. I use my hands. I talk more emotionally than I do factually.

There’s certain things that you can do so that I can… Connect on a deeper level more than just the words that are coming up.

We need to connect with people. We need people. I know it doesn’t seem like we do, but trust me, we do.

Russel Lolacher: That is Monique Helstrom. She is an international keynote speaker, coach, and consultant trying to help us unlock and activate our human potential and give us a lot to think about about communication habits. Thanks for being here, Monique.

Monique Helstrom: Thank you so much.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *