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10 Tips for Communicating with Power

Regardless of your profession, communication is an essential part of your day. From calming down irate customers to negotiating with vendors to giving instructions to employees, your communication skills determine your success. Communicate well and you’ll sell your ideas more effectively, deal with discord better, and run better meetings. Communicate poorly and you’ll leave conversations wondering if anything was accomplished at all.

   By Jo Condrill

Think about the conversations you have throughout the course of any given day. Are all of them productive? If you’re like most people, they’re probably not. Communicating effectively requires planning, concentration, and consideration of others. So whether you need to talk with your spouse, hash out a problem with a friend, or land that next big business deal, here are some tips to add power and productivity to your conversations.

1. Think Before You Speak
Know why you are having the conversation and what you want to accomplish from it before you begin to speak. The listener will more likely remember your message.

2. Stop Talking and Listen
The best way to be a good communicator is to be a good listener. Think of your conversation as a tennis match, with each person taking turns serving and receiving, or speaking and listening. When it’s your turn to listen, give the other party your undivided attention.

3. Ask Questions
To gain the most from any interaction, find out what people want. Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered “Yes” or “No.” Then, restate what you heard and ask them to verify that you received the message correctly.

4. Anticipate Distractions
Nothing you do will make others feel more important than giving them your full attention. Turn off your pager and cell phone. If there are other conversations or events going on in the same room, ignore them.

5. Be Mindful of Your Volume and Tone
Your vocal tone gives the listener a snapshot of your feelings. If you want to show respect or affection, soften your tone. If a conversation begins to turn into an argument, consciously lower your volume; often your listener will, too. Keep your voice calm and even whenever possible.

6. Handle Disagreements with Tact
Disagreements are inevitable. Be sure you clearly understand the issue and ask questions. Stay calm and think of disagreements as a difference in opinion, not personal rejection. You can understand another’s point of view without agreeing with it. Everyone has a right to an opinion, so respect that and work at finding your common ground.

7. Be Open to New Ideas
Don’t assume you know everything about a given topic and close off your mind. Instead, relax and allow time to receive vital input from another person. Listen attentively and consider how new ideas may apply to things you already know.

8. Take Notes
Always carry a PDA or a pen and notepad to jot down ideas. Record new ideas and items on which you must take action.

9. Watch Your Body Language
Studies show that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Make sure you make good eye contact, stand tall, and keep good posture. Make sure your message and your body language match. If there is any discrepancy, people are more likely to believe what your body language is saying than your words.

10. Eliminate Audible Pauses
There’s no need to fill every second of a conversation with sound. Verbal fluff (“ah,” “er,” “um,” “like,” “you know”) obscures your message and reduces your credibility. If you feel you are about to use a non-word, take a breath, hold it a moment, and then resume speaking.

More Power to You
 Communication and success go hand in hand. The more effectively you communicate your ideas, the better your outcomes will be. So practice these communication tips and apply them every day. When you do, you’ll communicate powerfully and with confidence and achieve the results you desire.

About the Author:
Jo Condrill is a best-selling author, speaker and consultant. As a civilian supervisor at the Pentagon, she received the Army’s highest civilian award, the US Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. While only excerpts of her book are printed here, you can find more tips in 101 Ways to Improve Your Communications Skills Instantly, 4th Edition. This book has been translated into 10 languages, including Spanish, by publishers worldwide.