Wise men speak because they have something to say;
Fools because they have to say something. ~ Plato
Good communication skills are key for success in business. During project explanations, elevator pitches, presentations, training, networking, etc…
Ineffective communication impacts your productivity, sales, business relationships, opportunities, negotiations and is often the cause for working harder and not smarter.
Here are ten ways to improve your communication skills and become effective and successful in business and in life:
1. Be an Active Listener
Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Ask open-ended, probing questions. Request clarification on anything you’re uncertain about. Paraphrase what they say and repeat it back to them. Tune into their feelings and your own. Summarize at the end so everyone has the same understanding…
2. Ask Effective Questions
Be specific when you ask for information. Ask questions to clarify, with open-ended questions. Give the other person time to think before they answer. Ask questions that they will enjoy answering. Sympathize with and recognize emotions before asking a question. For example, “you don’t seem too excited about this – what’s going on?”
3. Be Authentic
Speak clearly and simply, make sure your voice matches what you want to say. Be aware of your posture. Make eye contact. Take full, deep breaths. Keep your goals in mind. Speak for yourself by using the word “I”…
4. Speak Up About Your Thoughts and Ideas
Make sure you’re expressing your own needs. Nobody will ever know if you don’t tell them. When you’re open and honest in your communication, you’re setting an example for them to do the same.
5. Try Not to Make Assumptions
It can be easy to assume you know what someone else wants. But this is a huge cause of misunderstandings and conflict. When you ask questions, listen closely to the answers, and repeat back what you think they want.
6. Practice Self-awareness
Stay calm when you’re reacting to something you don’t like. If you feel your heart start to race, or your face start to get hot, take a break and calm yourself down. Another part of self-awareness is being able to admit when you’re wrong – so you build respect and integrity.
7. Be Brief and Clear
Have you ever sat through someone’s long and winding story when you have a lot of work to finish? It’s rough. Try to get to the main points quickly so that you’re not that person.
8. Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
Silence has a purpose in all conversations. Stay calm and relaxed to make the silence more comfortable. Be aware that small talk usually has less silence than deep conversation. Practice waiting 2-3 seconds after someone’s stopped talking. And make it a habit to reflect before you speak.
9. Don’t Ignore Nonverbal Communication
To communicate clearly and confidently, adopt proper posture. Avoid slouching, folding your arms or making yourself appear smaller than you are. Instead, fill up the space you are given, maintain eye contact and (if appropriate) move around the space.
10. Ask for Honest Feedback
Receiving honest feedback from your team, clients and network connections is critical to becoming a better communicator. If you regularly ask for feedback, others will help you to discover areas for improvement that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Now It’s YOUR Turn
For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… how could you improve your one-on-one communication?
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
Top Commenters – last 30 Days
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
Currently I'm studying to become a neurolanguage coach. This study provides the tools, information and practise to improve my communication skills. In addition, it also teaches me how my questions (and choice of words) can affect my clients' brain. In order to learn your brain has to be in a calm state. A learner in flight or flight (due to, for example, lack of confidence in speaking in English) cannot learn, so it's important to calm their brains down first. Now, I've learned to communicate in such ways that it's possible to create this. It has been super insightful so far. Communication especially active listening and asking the right questions are of such significant importance in conversation with clients. As an English coach I help Dutch entrepreneurs and professionals to transform their expertise into English, be authentic and communicate effectively. Needless to say, I truly love this topic.
1. Ask questions:
- Clients love sometimes to just release some of the stress.
2. Ask questions about what they already did.
3. Ask questions about what they want as a result and what they expect from you.
- When is our working together a succes from you.
Most of the time I found out since I am doing this, I would go in the totally wrong direction if I did not.
4. Then when it is my turn, I summerize
5. I often come with 3 options. This is important because then clients still have to think.
6. I always send a written proposal, so that they can still think about it.
If they have to decide on the spot, it will always bite me in the ass.
7. Be crystal clear in what you can and will not be doing
I learned the hard way, that I was willing to do Cito trainings, with younger kids. Although this is only good for kids in group 8.
I was reluctent and the commuications were bad
8. Be carefull with planning digital.
I was stressed out of the communications through whats app, going back and forth about changing dates. However, even on the digital planning system things can go terribly wrong. So make absolutely certain you know what you are doing. In my case, people even used other peoples phone numbers as a prank, to book an appointment with me. So in stead of earning time. I lost even more time.
9. Make absolutely certain you know what the problem is of the client when they so spam you. There is often a reason, that things do go so well.
Even if you think it is their fault. Just relax and come up with a great solution.
10. If things do frustrate you, that is chance for you to go pro. In my case I had the greatest ideas after frustration.
11. Ask Vered to help you. Vered has the capacity to have very short conversations, leaving you just with everything you need, feeling relaxed, because you can let go. (I still really want to learn that)
There are all kind of one on one conversation. If I request a conversation with an employer, colleague or fellow MT member I have a clear purpose in mind
Next to all the things stated by Nisandeh I would state the purpose of the meeting in the invite so that we are both on the same page. This will also give the other person time to prepare him/herself.
If a person request a conversation with me I’ll inform what the meeting is about and which outcome the person desire.
I’ll listen respectfully toetje meaning and ideas of the other person. If emotions are involved I’ll make sure we lift the conversation to another level looking only at the objective elements leaving the subjective elements behind giving room for a fruitful conversation.
Have an agenda for the conversation
Let the other person (or yourself) tell why you are together and then let the other person speak.
When live, mirror the other person
Use the same language
Summarize every now and then so the other person knows you clearly understand the other person.
At the end, summarize again: why you have this conversation, give a conclusion, and where you're heading.
I always do my homework. About the business, the sector and any relevant news
15min before the meeting a stop for a coffee and I am not thinking anything!
Let them talk, observe body language and facial expressions. People love to talk!
When the time is right impress them, adjust what you learned from your homework and from what they said so far.
Don't respond to what someone says, but where it comes from the other.
Make sure your intentions and your goals align. That requires a lot of self-examination whether your intentions are always pure. If your goal is to get acquainted and your intentions are to sell something. Then make sure that you adjust either your intention or your goal.
Be credible in what you say, because by exaggerating, bluffing or stretching the truth, people see through it.
Get to know your blind spots as much as possible, because this also contributes to your credibility.
Don't be a clown like some come across with their reactions here. That super enthusiastic is in fact fake.
Don't think you're a great communicator, but be a learner who learns from every conversation and thereby gives himself the space to improve his conversational skills.
Download for free improve your conversation skills on my website.
'Communication is being set by the reaction that you get" (from NLP)
When we talk, we repeat what we know. When we listen, we might hear something new.
Put our own thoughts or assumptions "on the shelf" when someone else is talking.
I totally agree with your second summary, Maria. If we really listen, we also hear what is not being said.
Get personal. People will talk more freely and tell you more when you have a personal relationship as well. I always ask people about there private live when we first meet and regularly ask about wife and children or share funny stories about my own life. This really helps communication because you have some idea about the others 'world' and where they are coming from.
Don't Assume. Somebody used to tell me: when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME. It is 100% true 😉
Frequency and medium. Try to figure out the preference of the other person. Some of my clients or partners really like to have a short call frequently, while others really prefer emails. I try to always take this into account and make time to call some of these people regularly. Even if it is just 5 minutes.
Ow almost forgot: Always be honest. Even if you F*cked up. People will know that you are open and honest with them and will trust you more.
If you ask personal questions, how do you make sure that the other person also feels safe to give personal answers, Rowan?
People regularly ask about the secret of the GUNFACTOR (I have no idea how to translate this word in English. Favor Factor? Does anyone have a clue?) How do you become a successful salesperson and what role does the gunfactor play in this? I explain it to you here! Because I believe that when it comes to one-on-one communication this factor plays a huge part.
If you enter the word "gunfactor" on Google, the number of useful search results is strangely disappointing. The positive side is that everyone who writes about it is convinced that you can increase it. This is in contrast to the X factor. You either have it or you don't. As a result of all the questions I get about this, I started thinking about why I have the gunfactor. This is quite difficult to determine because you get the favor factor from others. It's something that doesn't lie with you, but something that is attributed to you.
So how can you still influence it? Read below my 7 golden tips:
1. Do business with the right intention
What I, among other things, have come up with is the following: genuine interest and a good, positive intention! And that comes from within. You are genuinely interested in the other person and their problems. Or you pretend to be. The latter doesn't work. People are always quick to poke through that.
2. Be honest and not socially desirable
In my work, I always have the intention and drive to help another person move forward. To lift them to a higher level, to solve the pain for them. This means that sometimes you have to stick your neck out by not paying a compliment, but rather by giving a knock to wake up your prospect. So don't be socially desirable, but give your prospect the naked truth. All parties benefit more from this.
Based on my experience, my conversion rate is around 90%, I know that you can say and make a lot if your intention is positive. You can get away with a lot so to speak. And believe me; I've said some very pithy things to prospects at times. Positive intention transcends handing out compliments, sitting up straight, and throwing in charms. What is the value of asking good questions if your intention is wrong?
3. Do what is best for your prospect
All you have to do is go in there and ask yourself, "What is my intention with this potential client? Do I want to score and impress or do I want to help?" You want - if it's right - the best for your clients and prospects and you're radiating that. You take yourself and the pain of your prospective client seriously. If you show that you think along and are willing to give good advice for free, this increases your reliability and thus your gunfactor. After all, we like to do business with someone we trust. That in combination with all your skills and qualities makes that you get the job and not the other.
4. Be empathetic!
Selling professionally means building relationships with prospects, highly recommended contacts (leads), and customers. Successful relationships are based on empathy. The people you have contact with need to feel that you genuinely understand them and care about their problems. You build empathy by getting to know your target group. Go where they are. Do what they do, read what they read. Get into their heads and hearts and look for the button. What exactly drives them? What triggers them? Choose your target group not only based on where you think the money is but because from within you have the drive and motivation to want to help that group.
5. Show courage, guts, and boldness!
You have to be willing to take risks as an entrepreneur. Try new ways of doing something. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to take action while being afraid. Courage can be built up by first taking small steps and taking small risks and step by step taking bigger and bigger ones. Another way is by developing new skills in territory that is unknown to you. Step out of your comfort zone! My experience is that this is picked up by the people (and therefore your future clients) around you. Courage is always appreciated and sooner or later rewarded. That too is gunfactor!
6. Show perseverance and be consistent
The gunfactor is not a trick that you use to get quick results. It is a combination of factors, personal attributes, and learned success habits that will ensure you receive it. You must make yourself heard regularly and continue to actively approach your prospects to get to know them better. Be prepared to do this without immediate payoff. Make sure you are consistent in the message you send out. Repeat the benefits that your product or service has for the customer, continue with the (sales) strategy that you have chosen, and remain consistent in the way you approach your customers and prospects. It happens all too often that the interest for the customer and the enthusiasm to help them disappears like snow in the sun if it is not converted into a deal quickly enough.
7. Do everything you do with passion!
In addition to doing things with the right intention, it's also about your fire! The degree of passion you possess reflects your favorability factor. And vice versa. Your gunfactor reflects your degree of passion. The more passion you have for your profession, your clients, and prospects, the more people will give you the assignment. Why do you do what you do? Where is your drive?
WOW Muriel, that's a lot of value in there... I love the third point. I think we so often forget that we're here to help our customers because we're scared to be seen as selling... I am writing a lot of content but I'm not even talking about what I'm offering! Why not? Because I'm freaking scared:) And I shoudln't be. I know that what I am offering is amazing and can bring a team to the next level. So why be ashamed of it?
And I have exactly the same in my conversations too. It's not about selling so much... but there is nothing wrong in being honest about how i can help them.
Thank you so much for saying this. I'm happy to hear you think it's valuable. And what your saying is true. A lot of entrepreneurs are scared to be seen as pushy and a person who does nothing but is only after your money. And please let your audience know what it is you can do for them. You will see they appreciate and if you are the answer to their problems, they will be very willing to pay you.
I'm happy to join in on this, Muriel. If you really want the best for your customers, then you dare to say everything, even if this is a bit of a swallow for your customers. They will notice that you do it with the very best intentions to help them further and not to criticize them.
And in my experience when your customers feel safe and know that you have a good intentions they accept and appreciate this honesty. My directness is one of my best USPs.
WOW Muriel!!! - This is AWESOME!! As someone who communication is my strength and what I have been teaching for years, this is absolutely GOLD!!!
Thanks so much for adding this valuable information here.
This is a very nice response Vered and coming from you means a lot. Thank you so much. I'm pleased to be able to add value to this wonderful platform, community.
How do you manage to write this down in five minutes, Muriël? 😉
Oh the writing is easy. The thinking part took me years 😉
Thank you so much for sharing this with us Muriël. To answer your question about the Dutch word 'gunfactor' and whether there's a translation for it in English that means the same thing or something similar, I thought about the word 'likeability factor' (Tim Sanders wrote a book about the likeability factor) when it comes to a person and perhaps 'customer goodwill' when talking about companies. What do you think?
Most have already been said here.
I use KOE (kaken op elkaar, jaws toghether).
Keep asking questions and listen carefully, also what is not being said.
What I am still learning to do is to use words /sentences which include seeing, hearing, feeling. In that way you can connect with the visual, auditory and kinesthetic people. And when I manage gustatory (taste) and olfactory (smell) should be added as well.
1. I like talking to people, one-to-one, preferably on a terrace with a cup of coffee.
2. In case it is not possible to meet eachother, having a talk via Whereby, Zoom, Teams or whatever, with a homemade cup of coffee will do some of the job too.
3. I experienced in the lockdown period that it was difficult to keep focus and attention when learning online math to teenagers.
More inspiration was found in statistics in the papers, looking into journeys to Mars, and models of two predators eating the same prey.
4. I like to talk, and I am aware that I should listen more.
5. And not only listen, but also remember what is said and ask about what happened afterwards.
6. What I feel important in one-to-one communication is honesty, do what you promise, do not make the other small.
7. Also, not have prejudice, is important for me.
8. I strive for an open communication with my pupils, where the other person feels happy and more self-confident
9. Thanks for the inspiration of this one!
Wauw.. I feel so thankful of all of you. I truly learn a lot and this Challenge is just a Golden treasure Map we all need to re-open and repeat every day! Especially being away for the last 4 days: Well! I missed a lot and so Here I am back again :))
After reading all your tips, I don't really have new ones to add, but just a lesson I learned long time ago from Vered.
There are 4 different Communication Styles and untill today I am using them in every 1-on-1 conversation. It is just amazing how "Spot-on" these 4 styles are and how much a difference they make in my conversations and communication.
I don't know if this training ("Communication 4 Success" ? i guess?) is availabe in the University or not, But I would recommend every one to study and implement it.
Do you mean the training about the promoter, controller, analyzer, and supporter? I still remember we had to demonstrate what a meeting would look like if every participant had the same style. I laughed my ass off. I do hope it is in the Business University cause it is really valuable.
I'll focus primarily on 1:1 sales meetings. Even though I have lot's of coaching sessions they all start with a sales meeting.
👉 Selling is not telling, balance in a good sales meeting? 80% customer 20% salesrep.
👉 Ask questions, listen and ask more questions...
👉 Have a 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 rather than a script, I personally use my own OMZET structure.
👉 Master performing these 1:1 meetings by practising, training, coaching and feedback.
👉 As I already noticed with some others: NIVEA (Niet Invullen Voor Een Ander), Bring ANNA (Altijd Navragen, Nooit Aannemen) en leave Grandma at home (OMA Oordelen, Meningen, Aannames).
👉 Hold your horses - don't come up with an offer until the customer is ready to buy and has asked for an explicit solution to solve his problem.
WOW . I love those tips! Especially the last one Franck. Very valuable. Could you tell more about the structure, what does it mean?
Great points, Franck! 😉 Nivea, Anna, Oma!
Those are the old acquaintances that still have their value, Franck. May I add to your list with prepared a conversation well.
I love one on one communication!
Great things are already said.
For me, there is one main thing I’d like to deepen:
It’s a love affair. 😉
To make sure the communication is on a high positive level (even when it is a difficult conversation):
I look for what I can appreciate in the person (or the surroundings).
It has several positive effects:
- It boosts my selfconfidence
- I come in flow
- I much better feel what is important or necessary for the client
- I see the greatness of this person
- It feels great
Do you see other positive effects?
What is your experience with the above regarding online versus offline communication @Inge?
Hi Frank, it's quite the same for me.
I perfectly can coach/facilitate a person, or a group, online.
Maybe because I let them work, keep it very interactive and we're dealing with real stuff that confronts them and gives other perspectives. So they stay focused.
I really love working with people. So ... it doesn't matter so much if it is online of live.
How is that for you?
Great having you more often here @Inge! Love your tips and Idea's and yes! It is a Love affaire at the end of it... 🙂
Love to hear your idea's on all the other topics as well: Thank you for sharing!
Ohhh finaly a topic that I feel more knowlagable about, though I'm much more comfortable with the written communication than face-to-face, which I find many times confronting... The page can tolerate anything I say while people...mmm. less often...
Here are my ideas:
1. LISTEN - Listen not just to what the person is saying, but also to what they are NOT saying. Many times, those things they avoid saying is what is TRULY important.
2. STAY IN THE NOW - Many times we react as what the other person is saying is triggering something from our past. You better stay in the Here & Now to make sure you're communicating with the person who is in front of you and not some image from your past.
3. NEVER ASSUME - Like Nisandeh wrote assumptions are a HUGE obstacle in any communication and lead to so many disappointments and conflicts. Instead if you have a hunch ort assume something - CHECK IT with the other person before jumping into conclusions
4. TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE - Don't become a representative of others. Speak only about YOUR experience and what YOU FEEL or better what you experience. Others might have similar experiences or feelings but they did not give you the right to speak for them, you can only speak for yourself and it will be much more accurate.
5. SEE IT FROM THE OTHER PERSON'S POV - No matter if it's a conflict, or negotiation, or even just a "first-date" scenario - take some time to see things from the other person's point-of-view (POV). It doesn't mean you need to agree, but at least you can create a connection that way.
Love your #4... this is sooo true!! that would be something I can totally improve in. THank you.
Stay in the now! So important!
Your number 3 is a very well known pitfall for salesreps and entrepreneurs. They think they've seen it all. But making assumptions is the mother of all f*ck ups. Besides it's not a good sign of active listening and showing genuine intrest, actually rather disrespectful.
yes yes yes @Bina! Your #4 and #5... Wooww! Such Spot-On! Thank you for sharing and still waiting for your next book to get published... 🙂
If you apply this, Bina, you no longer have to be afraid of one-on-one communication 😉 I also mentioned your first point, because if you get that information to the surface, you have gained maximum trust from the other person.
1. When you have an important conversation with a person you will meet again, make a summary afterwards. Write down names, dates and details. They will appreciate it when you remember their kids' names (and, when your conversation continues by email, spell them correctly).
2. Support your story with lively examples and anecdotes. It increases the involvement of the people you talk to.
3. Be aware of the position you're in related to your conversation partner. A dialogue with a prospect in grieve needs an other approach than a conversation with the CEO of the biggest funeral insurancy.
4. Be aware of the details in the story they tell you. For example, when someone talks about 'my brother, my sister, my mother' without mentioning a father, his/her parents might be divorced or the father passed away.
5. Give genuine compliments. So do it just when there is really something you admire in that person. By the way it's nice to give compliments anyway, to people you meet in the streets. Great hairday? Say it! You will make them feel happy - and yourself.
6. After the conversation, say 'thank you'.
After reading Binas #3 I realize I have to add something to my #4
4. Be aware of the details in the story they tell you. For example, when someone talks about 'my brother, my sister, my mother' without mentioning a father, his/her parents might be divorced or the father passed away. If appropriate, check what's going on or keep in mind something painful happened there.
Such a Fantastic idea's @Ine! I am making notes once again.
Love Your #3... !
1: SHUT UP. This was soooo hard for me in the beginning. I was still constantly busy with what I would say and trying to come up with intelligent questions. So instead I did this: I forbid my self to talk, and I would only listen. That made such an incredible difference.
2: instead of not trying to make assumptions which is impossible for me, I simply try to be aware that what I assume IS an assumption, and verify. Just check. I tend to make more assumptions when I am sad or the day before my period:)
3: Prepare. Maybe this is not always possible, but ANY talk goes deeper when I think about what my purpose is of this talk. Do I never have chats just for the chat? Of course (also because I am still learning). But a purpose to just enjoy being together is also a great purpose. And one thing I always try to keep in mind before a talk:
4. Set an intention that whomever you meet should feel better about themselves when you leave, not worse. When I learned this it made a huge difference in my life- and I'm sure in the life of others too. This is also one that's a lot easier when I am at ease, instead of angry or sad or hurt...
Love your input, Gerdy, especially #4. Your self-awareness, self-reflection and honesty seems very well developed 🙂 that's inspiring!
LOVE your ideas, especially the last one @Gerdy... The world will definitely be a better place if each of us would make sure that each of our conversations would lift up the other people around us instead of trying to be right or putting them down...
This one I will certainly cherish! THANKS so much for this WISE input.
hahahahah @Gerdy! Love your #1 ofcourse... as It also many time happend to me and stil happening. It is still a huge amount of training, NOT to interumpt and give MY idea's to the person...
And yes: The finishing touch of #4 is brilliant... and soooooo freaking easy cheesy to do! thanks!
I will now also remember your number four, Gerdy. I am your student. Thank you for that.
Thanks Gerdy for your honesty. I can totally relate to one and two.
# Make sure your head is clear. Don't rush from one meeting to another. Take a couplet of minutes to breathe and prepare.
# In order to be calm 'arrive early'. Be the first one there.
# Adjust your speed of talking to your conversation partner. Tune in to their speed. I think there is some YouTube material on that.
# Build up your story, first make them feel comfortable, don't push (straight away). By all means 'pulling' is a better strategy
# explain what the meeting is about, ask what their goal is or explain yours.
# There it comes again: focus. Like my first remark... don't be distracted by other thoughts, environmental noise, phones, etc.. but be fully concentrated on your conversation partner.
# Practise: Just practise your talks, presentations, pitches, and conversations on others.
# Beforehand take some notes on a high over plan of approach, but be very flexible to let go and adjust when the situation asks for it.
# In that line: always give attention to the here and now. If your conversation partners' head is occupied with something else... there's no way. That should be dealt with first.
These are my 50 cents for today
I really like your first tip Frans. Brilliant. Not just in between meetings for instance but also in between work and home.Take the time to let go of what bothered you in the first one instead of taking it with me into the next meeting or talk.
I love this 'dealing with your conversation partners' occupied head'! And the 'pulling'. I think the pulling would be even better when you add 'gently'
Your 50 cents of the day certainly worth a lot @Frans - I LOVE them all especially #4 of "pulling" vs. "pushing"... GREAT ONE!
Thanks for this valuable input
Focus/distraction fair point, make sure to schedule enough time!
Fantastic Tips and Idea's @frans! You are on fire, my friend!
What I most like: #4... It is all about them and creating Safety! Thanks alot for sharing these Tips! I made a lots of notes!
Thank you for so much valuable information, Frans. This entire blog is a great resource for communication. Really great.