Like the three “L’s” to real estate (location, location, location) there are three ‘C’s’ to relationships— communication, communication, communication. Therefore, I thought I would share some of the communication rules/tips/guidelines that I have gathered over the years from others and some that I have discovered extremely useful all on my lonesome. Some (most) of these tips may seem like common sense that will leave you thinking, “duuuh”— but you would be surprised at how many people I come across in my professional and personal daily life that seem to forget these simple practices. So maybe a more appropriate descriptor than ‘rules/tips/guidelines’ is— ‘reminders.’
1. Know your audience
The Holy Grail of rules. Everything reverts back to this rule. Every rule hereafter has “exceptions to the rule” based on rule #1, so pay attention. Communicating with your boss is different than communicating with a guy at the bar (or it should be, and if it isn’t, well we’ll save that for another blogger to tackle, preferably someone with an M.D.) Use judgment – and if you lack judgment – ask the opinion of someone that you respect you know others widely respect.
Smile when you greet someone. A huge bright smile can make others feel welcomed and at ease. This gets you off to the right start to having your audience be receptive to your message. Also, smile when you answer the phone; people may not be able to see you, but they will hear your smile through your tone.
3. Direct eye contact, but don’t forget to blink
Unless you are communicating in another country, such as Zimbabwe (see rule #1), where it is rude to maintain eye contact – look at your audience! Look at your audience when you are speaking and most importantly when they are speaking to you. Get your ADD under control because it’s offensive if you’re eyes dart around the room. Eye contact denotes confidence and confidence will make others stop and think, “Hey this guy/girl knows what they are talking about – I should listen up.”
4. Engage your audience using questions
Don’t just ramble on about yourself. Ask others questions. People love to share about themselves and feel good when they think you are interested. Also, if you feel awkward about having the spotlight on you – deflect by asking someone, how their dog is? Their kids? How was their commute? Their last meeting or project?, etc.
Asking isn’t enough – you need to listen too. Remember something special and follow up. On second thought, scratch ‘special’ – just remember SOMETHING.
6. Share a personal fun story … but easy on the humble brags
Humble brag: a form of self-promotion where the promoter thinks he is, almost subliminally, bragging about himself in the context of a humble statement or complaint. Everyone listening thinks he/she is a jackass.
“I am exhausted from my two week vacation to Hawaii. I need a vacation.”
[source: Urban Dictionary]
7. Find common ground
Everyone has something in common. Find it. And if you really don’t— the weather and traffic will always be a good trusty default.
8. Laugh at their jokes unless the jokes are obnoxiously offensive. If that is the case then man-up and put the jerks in their place.
If someone tells a stupid joke it won’t kill you to laugh. However, as much as I am all for making others feel at ease, comfortable and good about themselves— I’d like to remind you of the quote, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” If someone makes an off colored joke that is rude and demeaning– don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or others.
9. If you see someone more than once a week – ask them their name.
If every week you see your receptionist, cleaning lady, dry cleaner, barista, deli-guy, etc. – introduce yourself and ask them their name. When you see them again say, “Good Morning, John” or “Thank you, Jane.”
10. Don’t be overbearing …
As always, revert back to rule #1 – know your audience and don’t take these rules to the extreme– moderation is key, my friends.