According to numerous surveys, approximately 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication and relationship building skills.
That means that no matter how ambitious someone is or how much they overcome their fears or how high their level of education, they’ll still have a low probability of going far in life without effective communication with skills needed to really connect with people.
And when I say connect with people, I don’t mean the ones that you naturally connect with from time to time. It is likely that those people have values and temperaments that closely match your values and temperaments. It doesn’t require much effort or skill to connect with those people.
Communication and success
I’m referring to the people that you like but you often find it more difficult to build a connection with them because you’re not sure what to say or do.
It takes skill to expand outside of that small circle of people that you’re used to and learning how to connect with the majority of people you come across. It is this kind of power that is guaranteed to catapult your success in life.
Developing your communication skills
When you’re trying to connect with the majority of people, you need to ask yourself 5 questions:
- Are you finding a common ground between you two?
- Are you making them feel comfortable?
- Are you making them feel understood?
- Is your relationship clearly defined?
- Are they feeling positive emotions as a result of interacting with you?
In order to fulfill these goals, you might want to consider the following…
14 Effective communication skills
1. Give them the impression that you’re enthusiastic about talking to them. Give them the impression that you would rather talk to them than anyone else in the world. When you give them the impression that you are excited about talking to them and that you care about them, you make them feel supremely positive and confident about themselves. They’ll be more likely to open up to you and have deep, personable conversations with you.
2. Ask open-ended questions about their interests. Ask questions that will get them to talk about their interests and their life in a way they never have before. Go into as much detail as possible and help them gain a new perspective about themselves and where they want to go in life.
3. Adapt to their body language and feelings. Get a feel for how they are feeling at the moment by observing their body language and voice tone. From this standpoint, you can tailor your words, body language, and voice tone to the ones they are more likely to respond positively to.
4. Show them approval: Tell them what you admire about them and why. One of the best ways to instantly connect with people is to be forthright and tell them exactly why you like or admire them. If being too direct isn’t appropriate, insinuate with a few indirect statements here and there. Either approach can be equally as effective.
5. Listen attentively to everything they say. Don’t focus too much on what you’re going to say next as they are talking. Instead, listen to every word they say and respond back as relevantly and smoothly as possible. This shows people that you are truly listening to what they have to say and you are fully engaged and in the moment with them. Also make sure to ask questions whenever there’s something they say that you don’t quite understand. You want to avoid all possible lapses in communication if you want to develop a fully engaged relationship with that person.
6. Give them prolonged eye contact. Strong eye contact communicates to the other person that you are not only captivated by them and what they have to say but that you are also trustworthy. When done in moderation, they will also assume you are confident in yourself because of your willingness to face them directly. As a result, people will naturally want to pay more attention to you and what you have to say.
7. Reveal as much about yourself as possible. One of the best ways to earn someone’s trust is to reveal yourself as openly as you can. Tell stories about interesting events from your life or just describe zany instances from normal everyday life. As you do this, make sure not to mention things that stray too far from where their interests and values lie. You can let them find out more about you as the relationship progresses.
8. Give the impression that you’re both on the same team. Use words like “we, us, we’re, our, and ourselves” to instantly build a bond. When you use those words, you make it seem like you and the other person are on the same team while everyone else seems more distant from the two of you.
9. Give them your best smile. When you smile at people, you communicate that you like them and their presence brings you happiness. Smiling at them will cause them to subconsciously want to smile back at you which will instantly build rapport between the two of you.
10. Offer helpful suggestions. Recommend restaurants you’ve been to, places you’ve been to, movies you’ve seen, helpful people they’d like to meet, books you’ve read, career opportunities and whatever else you can think of. Describe what was so great about those people, places and things and how they might appeal to the other person. If you suggest enough ideas that interest them, they will look at you as a “go to” person when they need to make a decision about what to do next.
11. Give them encouragement. If the person you’re dealing with is younger or in a more difficult position than you, they might want to hear some words of encouragement from you since you are more experienced or you seem to be doing well in life. This helps even out the relationship. If you want to have a healthy relationship with that person, you don’t want to seem like you have it all while the other person has nothing. Convince them that they can surpass their problems and limitations and they will look forward to having you as a person to talk to.
12. Appear to have a slightly higher energy level than the other person. Generally, people want to be around those who lift them up, instead of bringing them down. If you consistently have a lower energy level than other people, they will naturally gravitate away from you in favor of someone who is more energetic. To prevent this from happening, consistently indicate with your voice and your body language that you have a slightly higher energy level so that they’ll feel more energized and positive while around you. Don’t be so energetic that you put people off, but have just the right amount of energy and aliveness that will slightly build up their enthusiasm.
13. Say their name in a way that is pleasing to their ears. A person’s name is one of the most emotionally powerful words for them. But it’s not necessarily how often you say someone’s name that has an impact but how you say it. It may help if you practiced saying a person’s name for a minute or two so that you’ll induce just the right emotional reaction you’re going after. Invariably, if you state their name the most eloquently out of everyone they know, they’ll find you to be the most memorable.
14. Offer to take the relationship a step further. There are a number of things you could do to advance your friendship with someone: offer to eat with them, talk over a cup of coffee, see a sports game, have a beer or two with them, etc. Even if people don’t take you up on your offers, they will be flattered that you like them enough to want to take the friendship to a deeper level. In a way, they will look up to you because you have the guts to take charge of your life and build friendships instead of expecting those friendships to magically appear for you.
Become a skilled communicator
If you can develop only a few of these techniques, you’ll dramatically improve your ability to connect with people from all walks in life and social circles. Take some time to observe the most sociable people in your life and you’ll see many of these methods in full use. And they aren’t done in a way that is rigid or in a way that would be too noticeable by most people. They are done naturally and in a way that fits in with the current situation.
For the best results, just relax and let these techniques flow out of you naturally. Be as close to your true self as you can. Choose the techniques that fit best with your personality and what your motives are when you interact with people. Learn to get a feel for which ones to use for particular situations and the ones that don’t match so well with who you are as a person.
Communication skills lead to new opportunities
Since people play such a big role in your life, your entire life will go much smoother if you develop not only the techniques that fit best with who you are as an individual but the ones you can think of that aren’t on this list.
Before long, you’ll learn to connect with the people you’ve always wanted to get to know better but couldn’t because you weren’t quite sure what to say or do to build a more meaningful relationship with them. And as a result of these new relationships, you’ll open up an abundance of new opportunities for yourself that weren’t available to you before. That’s the power of effective communication skills.
If one of your goals in life is to become a fearless and confident public speaker, my friend and colleague Andrew Rondeau can help. He has put together a truly comprehensive resource for mastering public speaking.