Wednesday, July 5, 2017

4 Tips That Will Help You Influence Others

Communication seems to be a problem in the world today. It's not that we don't have plenty of ways to communicate, it's that we expect the tool (text, phone, email) to do the job for us. That's never going to work because good communication requires human effort.

Years ago I interviewed communications expert Ben Decker, and he provided some great suggestions on how you can become a better communicator -- and use it to help boost your influence at work. His suggestions:

1. Critique your performance. It's easy to judge reality television stars on everything from how many times they use "like" in a sentence to the hair-twirling conversations they have with friends and family. But you may not realize that you have many bad communication habits, Decker says. Set up a video camera or tape your voice so that you can critique your energy, friendliness or speech clarity.

2. Have more face-to-face communications. Keep tabs on how often you have in-person conversations at work. Do you text or email when you could take 10 steps and speak to someone in person?  Could you set up a coffee meeting instead of  playing telephone tag with a colleague or new contact? If you find yourself dodging in-person interactions, you need to rethink your strategy because it's those in-person conversations that can make a real difference in your career.

3. Smile more. If you're always serious, always zeroed in on only talking business, you alienate people. When having business conversations, try to mix in some relevant story-telling so that your audience feels more at ease. You should always make the effort to lighten the stress with your listeners -- they'll be more open to your ideas.

4. Take a breath. Don't use speech fillers such as "um," "uh," "like" or "actually." If someone asks you a question, don't begin your answer with "So..." These are verbal crutches that undermine your ability to communicate effectively. They can be distracting to your listeners, and make you seem unsure -- not a boost for your career. It's OK to simply take a breath if you don't know what to say, as you'll be seen as more thoughtful in your response.

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