The digital world is a beautiful thing. Apps boost our productivity and elevate our personal lives. eBooks make reading more accessible and elegant. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect us – and allow for the sharing of information in radically new ways. But along with the opening of new frontiers that technology brings, I’m witnessing a closing of something else. We just don’t personally interact in the same ways that we once did. Tempers have grown quicker. Conversations have become shorter. And good manners are becoming obsolete.
People write things online that they’d never dare to say to another human being in person. Critics abound. Cynics flourish. And controversy seems to get more views than simple acts of decency – and humanity. Yes, I completely get I’m painting the world we reside in with some broad brush strokes. Yes, there are massive amounts of people who are polite, kind and awesome. And yes, there are complete communities of individuals interacting impeccably and doing great things. But I just wanted to put a voice to the fact that I see a loss of something as tech dominates our lives. Something simple. Something real. Something essential. We’re losing the way we used to relate to each other.
So, during this month where so many of us are thinking about celebrating the relationships that fill our lives with a depth of richness and joy, I wanted to offer you 6 of the best communication strategies I’ve learned to flourish in business and in life. I encourage you to apply these at home, at work and out on the streets with people you may not even know. As William Penn once noted: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”
#1. Be Real
Call it being authentic. Call it being yourself. The fact is that few things are as powerful as standing in the presence of a person who is really really comfortable in their own skin. What I’m suggesting is that you speak with your unique voice and that you live under your true values and that you present the real you to the world around you. Please trust me on this one. I promise you that when you get to the last hour of your last day, you will regret having lived the life society sold you versus the life that you knew deep within was meant for you.
Sure this sounds obvious. But what makes greatness is the daily executing around simple ideas. And if smiling during good and hard times was so easy, then why is it so hard for most people? I travel across the planet constantly. But no matter whether I’m in Qatar or Napa, Buenos Aires or Malaysia, Mumbai or Amsterdam, a quick and genuine smile to a stranger always connects. Unites. Uplifts.
#3. Use People’s Names
The fantastic Dale Carnegie taught us well. He observed that a person’s name is the sweetest sound to their ears. And yet, it’s so very easy to forget to go the extra mile and remember – and then use – someone’s name. World-class communicators get that when they address people by name, it brings them closer. And makes them stand out.
#4. Look People In The Eye
Okay. I really need to rant mildly on this one. Sure we all have our smart phones and iPods and PCs. But this new way of communicating where our mouths move while we speak to the person in front of us but our eyes stay on the screens before us sends a message to that person that they just are not that important. The best gift you can give a customer+teammate+loved one is the gift of your presence. In this age of easy digitization, giving the human being you’re communicating with 1000% of your attention is a spectacular method to lead the field. So, look people in the eye. Engage with what they are saying. Make them feel special. No, make them feel–for the brief moments they interact with you – that they are the most important person in the world.
#5. Be Honest
Again, simple, I know. But leadership and success really does come down to the daily doing of a series of fundamentals staggeringly well. Be the most honest person you know. Let your ethics drive your behavior. And please remember, anyone can be honest when times are easy. The true measure of your leadership is how honest you are when everything’s falling apart.
#6. Choose Good Words
I was up in the mountains last weekend. Wanted to get some breakfast. Walked into a new Italian restaurant that advertised breakfast until 11:30 am. It was 11:40. I asked the man behind the counter: “Is it possible to still get breakfast?” His instant reply: “Absolutely not.” Now I understand this man wasn’t trying to be rude. He was most likely unskilled with his words. Just not a great communicator. But his words had impact (as all words do). A more effective communicator could have said, “I wish we could but we’ve just switched over to the lunch menu. I think you’ll love it. C’mon in and give it a try.” It’s all in the languaging. Instead, his words caused me to try his competitor. And to think that this is a restaurant that just doesn’t care that much.
So there you are Great Communicator. Six pretty fundamental yet powerful ways to amp up the impact of your communication during this month focused on appreciating relationships. Try them. Apply them. And innovate around them. Those around you will be grateful you did.