Principle: There is no casual conversation. Every word you say tells us who you are.

Highlights: Conversation is an everyday, no-cost opportunity to promote your personal brand. Business conversations are your #1 communication tool: online and on-ground. Use every interaction to show you are trustworthy, clear-thinking and collaborative.

Because you may have a lot of imperfect practice and few guidelines for making great conversation in business settings, let’s do a check-up from the neck up.

Are you making these five killer mistakes in business conversations and meetings?

Let’s take the conversation you’re likely to engage in during a meeting.  A typical meeting is scheduled to discuss an issue, get consensus or a decision, and set in motion some action plans.

These are the five ways you damage your personal brand, by unknowingly behaving badly

Killer Mistake #1: Scattershot

Scattershot is random, unorganized and haphazard talk. Your unprocessed stream-of-consciousness frustrates, irritates and bores the people around you. It might be a habit, but it often surfaces when you are nervous, tired or unprepared.

Here’s an example of scattershot.

Example: “Choosing the ideal location with weather in mind for our association’s event makes me think about global warming and polar bears, which I haven’t seen since I visited the San Diego Zoo in 2010, when my mother was here for a visit from Chicago, which is where they had that world exposition to introduce ice cream cones. It’s the windy city. Remember that old song ‘Wendy?’ by The Association?”

Solution: Stay laser-focused on the topic.

Killer Mistake #2: Hijacking

Hijacking means to commandeer, stop and steal from. This often happens when you subconsciously resent a leader’s authority or you disagree with the mission of your group. You try to wrest control of the conversation and steer everyone off course.

Example: “I know we’ve been brought together so we can accept or reject the offer, but let’s brainstorm about other vendors!”

Solution: Before you engage, accept you are there to advance the assigned mission.

Killer Mistake #3: Dog-piling

Dog-piling occurs when someone has already made your point, but you jump on top of the comment to add nothing of value. If you need a lot of attention or feel jealous when others get the spotlight: this may be a pretty common mistake you make in business conversations.

Example: “Yes, me, too! I agree! That’s what I would have said! Exactly my point!”

Solution: Just nod at the person and say: “Yes.”

Killer Mistake #4. Hoaxing

Hoaxing is an attempt to trick someone into believing your interest is genuine or your intention is good. You try to disguise your disapproval or agenda, but your true intention is transparent. Hoaxing makes you unsafe in the moment and taints future interactions.

Example: “Would you really want to tell clients that?” “Do you think they would be offended?”  “Do you think we can afford for you to do that?”

Solution: Be straight-forward. Say: “I’m concerned that will cost us some prestige or leverage later on.”

5. Round-abouting
Round-abouting happens when you take a circuitous or indirect route to make your point. It occurs when you attempt to conceal your real request or bury your true agenda. You might do this when you feel insecure about asking for what you want.

Example: “I wanted us to come together to discuss the financial investment in marketing. I also wanted to address the facilities management costs in the budget that was submitted. And finally, can I ask you a favor? Could I get Friday off so I can go to my financial planner’s wedding?”

Solution: Ask yourself why you feel insecure. Are you making a legitimate request? If not, don’t ask.

About Nance Rosen, MBA
Nance Rosen, MBA is author of Speak Up! & Succeed: How to get everything you want in meetings, presentations and conversations. She is also on the faculty of the UCLAx Business and Management continuing executive education program. She is a member of the elite Forbes Coaching Council. Formerly, Nance was a marketing executive at the Coca-Cola Company, president of the Medical Marketing Association, first woman director of marketing in the Fortune 500 technology sector and host of International Business on public radio. She is a serial, successful entrepreneur and coach for career and business success.