No doubt you’ve had that feeling. The feeling of a creative breakthrough. You’re immediately charged with the energy of a new idea. Your skin literally itches, you want to share this with someone.
So you find someone to tell. You are about to birth this genius to the world, and then……crickets. Ouch. It’s not even anything they say. They nod, they mmhhm, they’re polite. But the lack of enthusiasm shows in their face. It’s almost as cold as a rejection.
Frustrating isn’t it? But what if there were ways to carry ideas from your mind to theirs, without any thoughts getting lost on the journey? Well, there are, it’s simply a matter of improving your communication skills.
Here are 19 communication tips that are known by movers and shakers the world over, from Steve Jobs to Oprah Winfrey:
1. Follow the 3 second rule
When someone stops talking and you’re worried about interrupting them, count to three before you jump in. Some people talk with extra-long pauses and it’s hard to build rapport, in this case the 3 second rule will stop you from coming across as rude or abrupt.
2. Move and speak 30% slower
Quick and erratic movements and speech communicates uncertainty, nervousness, and a general inability to manage your energy. On the other hand slow and deliberate movements communicate power and a confidence that comes from experience.
3. Relax your neck and shoulders
We hold a lot of tension in our upper body, by letting your body communicate how comfortable you are, you allow the person you’re talking to to feel more comfortable.
“I remember Tyra Banks giving me encouraging advice during my first Victoria’s Secret commercial shoot. I was so nervous, and she told me to just relax and be confident – that made me feel very comfortable.” – Adriana Lima
4. Listen and Repeat
By paraphrasing what the other person has said you show that you’re really paying attention and absorbing their input.
5. Put your phone on silent
Although it’s very common for people to let their phones ring mid conversation, that doesn’t mean it should be done. Think of a conversation like two people dancing, every time a phone rings it’s like the DJ has changed the song abruptly and the rhythm of the interaction is interrupted.
6. Nod your head
Don’t just sit there stiff and staring blankly while the other person is talking. Nodding your head is a simple way to show that you’re still listening.
7. Point your body and feet towards the person you’re talking to
When we want to leave a conversation, we unconsciously point our feet towards where we want to go. Show they have your undivided attention by pointing yourself in their direction.
8. Don’t touch your face
This is a nervous tick that most of us have, it subtly conveys uncertainty or even distrust.
9. Sit up straight
What your 4th grade teacher used to screech at you actually has some merit. It’s good for your confidence, charisma, and even digestion—but again, make sure you are relaxed and not tense.
10. Assume the best of people
People to a large extent mirror what you expect of them. Johann Goethe said “If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take him as he should be, then we make him capable of becoming what he can be.”
11. Stop thinking about your next brilliant sentence
When the other person is speaking, most people spend 90% of the time thinking about what to say next, and only 10% actually listening—don’t be most people.
12. Mirror and lead
When talking to someone with lower or higher energy than you, you want to match the tone, cadence, and tempo of their speech, then slowly lead them in the direction you want them to go.
13. Break eye contact to the side
Looking down is another way you might be conveying discomfort, it can also suggest the end of a conversation.
14. Speak in human terms
Whenever trying to get an idea across you want to talk about it in terms of the benefits for the other person. For example, if you are telling them your idea for a book or product, explain how it could help someone like them before you talk about what you consider are interesting features.
15. Memorize quotes
Quotes are an effective and memorable way to reinforce the points you’re making, just make sure to use them sporadically.
16. Know your ticks
Everyone has small ticks in interpersonal conversations, whether it’s rubbing your hands together or scratching your nose. Watching yourself on camera is a great way to identify and eliminate them.
17. Never text and talk
If you need to text mid-conversation, say excuse me I just need to message X for X reason, and when you’ve sent the message, put the phone away.
“I like to talk to people. I’ve got one assistant, one Blackberry. That’s my overhead. I don’t text that much or email. I like to sit down face-to-face and have a conversation with you. I’m old-fashioned.” – Mark Wahlberg
18. Emphasize with gestures
When you are making a point, it’s good to emphasize with gestures.
19. Show appreciation
Take every opportunity to tell someone that you appreciate them, whether it’s their work, their ideas, their influence on you—people will always enjoy it and even start returning the courtesy.
Communication is such a basic a skillset, that most of us don’t learn it unless we take a course on it. Follow these tips and you’ll start to see a big difference in the way you are communicating with people and how receptive they are to your ideas.