“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” ~ Brian Tracy
Do you know one of the main factors that defines your ‘success propensity’? No, it’s NOT your education or your looks or your career choice. It’s not even how much you know, who you know or how much money you have on your bank account.
The ‘secret ingredient’ that I am referring to here is your ability to communicate! We use the word ‘communication’ often in professional and personal life and there is a very good reason for it. It is a tool, a lever and a ‘secret weapon,’ figuratively speaking. It allows you to come across as a true professional, to set boundaries and convey your message with clarity, respect and assertiveness.
Good communication at work leads to having professional relationships that are based on respect and mutual benefit, and to achieving your goals while allowing others to achieve theirs. It’s a ‘must have’ skill for overall success in life.
You probably know that there are two types of communication: verbal and non-verbal. Both are equally important, so let’s look at a few aspects of communication.
You Don’t Have a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
When you have an interview or any other meeting for that matter, your personal image and body language are critical. Whether your meeting is set in a formal environment where professional attire is expected or more casual clothing is appropriate, make sure that you are aware of the ambiance and the custom at this organization and that your image is a good match for the occasion. Even more importantly, your listening skill (yes, it is a skill), confident posture, eye contact, firm handshake, friendly smile, respectful manners and positive attitude can make or break your chance of success.
Way too often there are smart, skilled people that lack awareness of their body language or their manners (non-verbal communication). I’ve seen too many people who would be so focused on what THEY want to say that they forget to listen attentively to the other person! The assumption that having skills, knowledge and even experience should be enough to land a good job or have a successful business rarely works.
The way you present yourself – whether it is through eloquent verbal self-expression, a confident handshake, direct eye contact or respectful demeanor – creates an immediate initial impression about you. And you can control these ‘levers’ if you are aware of them!
If you exude arrogance, superiority or disrespect for other people’s opinions, beliefs or boundaries, you cut your chances of a good outcome and lasting relationship.
If you come across as ‘high maintenance’ due to your opinionated attitude or ‘what will I get in return?’ expectations, people will try to avoid your company no matter how much knowledge or experience you have. As the old adage says, “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.”
On the other hand, when you are genuinely considerate and attentive to others, exude kindness, respect and confidence through your demeanor, words and actions – you attract people and earn respect effortlessly. Once you feel confident and come across as a considerate and respectful person, your energy becomes naturally more inviting and peaceful.
Make Effective Phone Calls
Have you ever received a phone call where the caller starts with, “Hi, I need to find out…” or “Hi, can you help me with…?”
I have, and my immediate reaction was “Why should I?” When a caller doesn’t use words like ‘please,’ ‘how are you today?’ ‘would you be able to…,’ ‘would you be so kind as to help/clarify/resolve…’ – I feel disturbed. Do you?
Unfortunately, we don’t get lessons on verbal and non-verbal communication at schools or colleges but it is so important! When you want a person on the other side of the phone line to help you resolve a problem, find information or clarify something for you, using words that convey respect for his/her assistance can motivate or the responder to assist you.
If you express your questions or request using a respectful intonation and polite words – most of the time, you will get adequate assistance and a reciprocal polite attitude. Realize that people can choose to be very helpful and attentive or unsupportive and indifferent. You can influence others’ response by choosing your own attitude.
Acknowledging people for their willingness to assist you, recognizing their effort, time and good will leads to better connection, motivation and a more satisfying experience for both the giver and the receiver. Always recognize and acknowledge good work, great attitude and positive results.
Honest and heartfelt acknowledgement always makes a difference in communication, sometimes a profound one. Don’t withhold your sincere praise for the assistance you receive due to fear of inappropriateness or for any other reasons. Find ways to express your appreciation and acknowledgment and be prepared for miracles!
Below are a few suggestions for making effective phone calls:
- Opening: Always start the conversation with, “Hello, how are you today?” Then, introduce yourself and, if appropriate, ask the responder whether it’s a good time for him/her to speak with you right now. This question is very important because it displays your respect for the other person’s time and schedule. If you receive an OK to continue the conversation, then you may proceed. Otherwise, ask what time would be convenient for a call back.
- Express the reason for your phone call: Be clear and concise while expressing your inquiry or posting questions. You may choose (if pertinent) to confirm that the person on the other line understood you well by asking, “Do you follow me?” or “Have I explained the situation clearly?”
- Follow up: if pertinent, ask if it’s OK to follow up on your inquiry and ask when would be a good time for this person to receive another call from you.
- Closing: Always finish your conversation with a sincere, heartfelt acknowledgement. Express appreciation for their help, assistance, time, attention, etc. (e.g. “I really appreciated your help today,” or “Thank you so much for your assistance,” or “I appreciate you taking time to talk with me.”
Be aware of how you conduct your phone calls. Pause, take few moments before calling to collect your thoughts, and practice your acknowledgement skills on people you don’t know well or don’t know at all. This skill alone makes the world a happier place.
I’ll write more on the topic of professional communication next week.
* Some of the text is taken from my International Bestseller book “A Shift toward Purpose” available on Amazon HERE
With Love and Gratitude,