Improving your internal and external business relationships can give you a powerful edge. But that doesn’t mean you need a talent for sparkling conversation to get ahead. The truth is our collective brains are hardwired to promote successful interpersonal interactions. So, once you’ve learned a few basic communication secrets, you’ll be primed to make the most of all your business connections.
Effective Communication: The Not-So-Secret Path to Success
It’s no secret that the most successful leaders in business are also some of the most effective communicators. Since you probably spend a large part of your day interacting with others, there’s a great deal riding on how you express your thoughts and ideas.
Here are four communication secrets that will help pave the way to better business relationships by upping the quality and outcome of every conversation you have.
Secret #1: Enthusiasm Makes You More Likeable
Thanks to a common behavioral tendency known as mirroring, sharing your enthusiasm for the topic at hand when you meet someone new is likely to:
- cause that person to mimic your upbeat attitude,
- generate a shared sense of excitement and positivity around your conversation, and
- result in the other person liking you more
And that’s important.
Because not only does likability score high on the influence scale - an important consideration whether you’re dealing with customers, suppliers, or your own team - it makes a strong first impression that leaves its mark long after your initial interaction is over.
Just be sure your enthusiasm is legitimate, and that it’s backed up by empathy. Emotionally intelligent interactions focus as much as possible on understanding and responding to the needs of others. They also form the core of all effective communication.
Secret #2: Personalized Communication Convinces People You Care
Personalizing your communication is a must for establishing meaningful business relations. When someone believes you truly care about what’s important to them, you’ll not only gain their loyalty, your interactions will be far more successful.
One of the simplest ways to connect on a more personal level is to learn the name of everyone you meet - and use it every time you interact.
Do you have trouble attaching names to faces? You can train your brain to get better at this by working a new acquaintance’s name into your initial conversation several times: “Hi Jane, it’s nice to meet you. And so, what do you do, Jane? It’s been great meeting you, Jane!”
If you’re concerned that dropping your formal business persona will make others question your competence, you needn’t worry. Research suggests that clients are more likely to buy (and your ideas are more likely to be accepted by others) when they genuinely relate to you, than they are when they simply respect your abilities.
Secret #3: Your Body Language Can Motivate Trust
You’ve probably heard that as much as 93% of what we communicate is nonverbal. By paying attention to what your body is doing when you converse, you’ll not only show employees and associates you’re interested in what they’re saying, they’ll be more likely to trust and agree with what you’re saying.
Fix Your Feet: When someone’s feet are turned away from you, it can signal a lack of interest and attention on their part. Make sure your feet are always pointed firmly in the direction of the person you’re speaking with.
Show Your Hands: Watch any accomplished public speaker and you’ll notice they make a point of holding their hands open, with palms facing out. This is a classic posture that sends the message they can be trusted.
Nod Your Head: Thanks to behavioral mirroring, nodding your head as you speak (or ask a question) is not only likely to have others nodding back, it can:
- help them better understand what you’re feeling,
- encourage them to acknowledge the truth of what you’re saying, and
- inspire them to agree with the ideas you’re expressing
Remember, if you want clients and business partners to believe you’re authentic, make sure your physical messaging agrees with your words.
Secret #4: Embracing Silence Improves Conversation
Many people find conversational lags uncomfortable and will go to great lengths to fill the silence with talk. Staying quiet during a lull offers certain advantages, however - especially if you’re negotiating, or are engaged in a difficult conversation.
Avoiding the temptation to always be the one moving a conversation forward forces the other person to answer that awkward question, or to respond to your proposal with a counter-offer.
Just as importantly, your silence leaves room for others to speak while you listen. Although it can feel counterintuitive, getting your message across effectively is less about bombarding the other person with your thoughts and ideas, and more about allowing them to participate in a discussion about them.
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