Last week I read a blog post 7 Personal Branding Predictions for 2011 by personal branding expert Dan Schawbel. One of his seven predications for 2011 was that soft skills will become more important than hard skills.
Dan said, “When enough people have similar talents, and are competing for the same positions and opportunities, the real differentiator is your interpersonal skills. The way you present yourself, how you communicate with other people, whether it’s in an interview or with management at work, can make or break your personal brand. More and more people are starting to realize that the little things matter, especially in our current competitive environment.”
Schawbel then went on to highlight a new research report by Kelly Services conducted with 134,000 people. According to the survey, the traits individuals identify as the most important in creating their personal brands were their verbal communication skills.
This made me ask myself, “What are some of the top verbal communication skills that people need to master if they want to stand out from their competitors.”
Below are my top 10 verbal communication tips we should all strive to master. Each of these is just as important in our personal lives as in our professional lives. By improving your verbal communication skills you will quickly connect and build rapport, earn respect, gain influence, and become more likable and accepted.
1. Be friendly. People who communicate with a friendly tone and warm smile almost always have the edge. The reason is simple: we are subconsciously drawn to people who are friendly because they make us feel good and bring more enjoyment to our lives.
2. Think before you speak. One of my favorite English Proverbs is “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” I find that many people say whatever goes through their minds without putting any thought into what they are saying. As a result they say things that end up reflecting poorly on themselves.
3. Be clear. Most of us don’t have the time nor do we want to spend our emotional energy to figure out what someone else is trying to say. People who are indirect in their verbal communication and who tend to hint at things without saying what’s really on their mind are seldom respected. When there is something you want to say, ask yourself, “What is the clearest way I can communicate this point?”
4. Don’t talk too much. Last week I met with a personal chef. At first I was impressed with him and considered hiring him for an upcoming event. However, the more he talked the less impressed I became. Very few people like to be around someone who talks too much and dominates the conversation.
5. Be your authentic self. Today, (more than anytime during my lifetime), people are turned off by those people who feel the need to put on a show to make their point. Instead, people are attracted to someone who speaks from the heart and is genuine, transparent, and real.
6. Practice humility. Humility is having a modest view of one’s own importance. It is one of the most attractive personality traits one can possess and is one of the most significant predictors of someone who is respected. People who speak with humility and genuine respect for others are almost always held in high regard.
7. Speak with confidence. You don’t have to sacrifice self-confidence to practice humility. Confidence is a self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s true abilities, whereas humility is having a modest opinion of one’s own importance. Speaking with confidence includes the words you choose, the tone of your voice, your eye contact, and body language.
8. Focus on your body language. When you are engaged in face-to-face verbal communication, your body language can play as significant of a role in the message you communicate as the words you speak. Your body language communicates respect and interest. It puts real meaning behind your words.
9 Be concise. Very few things are more irritating to me than when someone can’t get to the point of what he or she is trying to say. Plan ahead. Constantly ask yourself, “How can I say what needs to be said using the fewest number of words possible while still being courteous and respectful?”
10. Learn the art of listening. Being an attentive listener is more important in verbal communication than any words that can come out of your mouth. You must show a sincere interest in what is being said, ask good questions, listen for the message within the message, and avoid interrupting.
Verbal Modeling. People are naturally drawn to people like themselves. This is why many of your friends share common interests. You can use this law of human nature to your advantage by matching people’s voice tone and modulation. If they are speaking softly, speak softly. If they are speaking slowly, then model their speed by talking slowly. If they are speaking with energy, then match their energy. The more you speak like others, the more they will like you.
I encourage you to put a greater emphasis on growing and developing yourself in this area. Your efforts will enhance your relationships, increase your market value, and build your self-esteem. Improving your verbal communication skills requires constant awareness, intentional effort, and the desire to improve.
How you communicate with others verbally plays a defining role in your personal brand impacting both your personal and professional life.
What verbal communication skills have I left off the list? How do you think people could improve their verbal communications skills? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below this post.
About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #27 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)