It’s Not What You Say That Matters Most
Communication in its simplest form involves the act of transferring information from one place to another. It is the interaction between two or more people being actively engaged on a certain idea or message that results in a desirable action. In more simpler terms, successful communication happens when both parties are on the same page.
There are many parts that make up effective communication and only about 10% of it is made up of words, be it online or in real life. In the world today, we are constantly flooded by millions of different messages every day, all vying for a piece of our attention. This constant need to process things then causes us to only focus on things that we find most relevant to us to a point where we even start picking up on things that wasn’t there in the first place.
Instead of concentrating on the words that are being presented to us, we tend to get distracted by so many different other things and although it is unfair to discredit the message just because we feel it doesn’t seem to relate to us; even the best of us simply do not have the time and energy to want to break down string of sentences together to decipher its true meaning.
Most experts say that it is not what you say, but how you say it that matters most. Below are five elements that we can try the next time we share our ideas to another person.
1. Speak With Conviction
What makes people most engaging is their ability to draw us into their world, to open our eyes to things we have never seen before, and to shed new light on certain subjects that do not usually catch our eye.
There is this sparkle in their eyes and a fire that burns within their souls, that enthralls us almost like a moth to a flame and that is because we are naturally attracted to people who have a sense of purpose that guides them. Speaking with conviction replicates that process of having a passion.
To be able to speak with conviction we need to first be convinced of the idea we are trying to sell. This can be mastered through thorough reading of the subject and rehearsing your speech. The ability to speak with conviction can be duplicated for any situation, be it to pitch an idea to investors or to convince people to buy something. People usually buy into an idea if they are convinced of the general notion.
2. Tell A Story
The best way people react to any information is when it is told through stories. Research has shown that stories does wonders in keeping people engaged. Stories can also help people retain information more accurately and effectively.
In any good story there needs to be a beginning, a middle and a twist. In order for us to really capture our audiences and have their undivided attention there needs to be some kind of information that challenges their preconceived notion of the world, to challenge what they already understand, to make them think and to decide whether or not to buy into what we are saying.
What most great speakers or story tellers do is to start out with a contradictory statement, something out of the norm and yet at the same time totally plausible. Take for example Malcolm Gladwell, he says that the underdogs win about 80% of the time (this challenges our preconceived notion of the norm), as we follow him on his story we get to the middle where he then tell us about people who have known to be underdogs and have won time and time again lastly he reveals to us a twist. He tells us that these underdogs have something special about them and we too can be like them at a price if we are willing to pay it.
So the next time you feel like you’re losing your audience try to recapture their attention with a story.
3. Be Direct and Genuine
When trying to get people to go along with our ideas, when trying to get people to join us on a project and on events, and even when trying to sell people something we need to understand that there is a fine line between setting manageable expectations and over selling.
Many a time relationships fail –be it personal or in business because there is a large gap between what was promised and what was actually delivered. In communicating what we can deliver, the best route to take in most instances is to be as genuine and direct as possible, to not stretch the truth too much and to stick to our integrity.
Because let’s face it we already do encounter a whole lot of people who promise the stars and can only deliver on peanuts, it would do well to not be part of that group of people whose always have to take a foot out of their mouths.
4. Watch The Body Language
When meeting face to face with anyone (especially the first time), it is best to put our best foot forward every time all the time. People are more likely to pick up on our body language then they are to concentrate on what we are presenting to them. Therefore whenever we are talking to someone it is best to keep an open stance. Be welcoming in our posture and seating position. This can be easily achieved through smiling, maintaining eye contact and the occasional head nodding.
Quick Tip: Yawning, staring off into space or crossing our arms are big distractions so do try to avoid them
On top of that we could also try mirroring the person we are talking to, in order to make the other person feel more comfortable in our presence. Mirroring is the behaviour in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family. Have you ever realized how you act differently around different groups of friends, that’s mirroring happening on a subconscious level.
When we actively try to subtly mirror another person (key word here being subtly) we also simulate that feeling of closeness, this can condition the other person to unknowingly like us in return.
5. Value People’s Opinion
Being an effective communicator also includes the ability to be a good listener. It is no secret that communication usually fails because either one or both parties are only focused on what they have to say instead of what is being said. For the effective transfer of information, there needs to be a proper understanding and good grasp of what is being processed by the other party.
It is no longer enough that we silently listen to the other party to show that we are present in the conversation. From time to time, we could ask probing questions for the other party to elaborate further or ask the other party to repeat their points through paraphrasing what they said. This shows the other party that we are indeed processing what they are saying and in return the person is more likely to also listen to what we have to say.