Talking

One liners are the stuff of effective communicators and though we are seldom aware of it, each of us can use them to our advantage. The “art of delivery” is not just for a skilled politician who is running for reelection but can be mastered, over time, by just about anyone. A good one liner doesn’t click immediately but leaves its mark, silently accomplishing what the deliverer has in mind- results.

Sometimes these results are nothing more than memory. I want you to remember my car dealer and so I develop a tag line that accomplishes my aim. Other times, I want to build relationship with you and I use one liners to get to know you and follow up with you. My one liners are over the phone, in print material and in casual conversation. They are effective because they are used breathlessly.

The key of course is to figure out which one liner works best and when to use it.
What follow are some excellent one liners that, if delivered well, will make interactions memorable and help you get ahead.

  • Susan, Susan Thompson. The repetition of your first name twice is very effective. This subtle repetition of one key name (and it might be your last name that you want folks to remember) plants it firmly in the mind of the person you are shaking hands with or speaking to on the phone.
  • I’ve heard some great things about you. We all like to be famous, even if it’s fleeting or with a small group of people. Letting someone know that they’re liked by others is an important way of getting them to like you. They become instantly curious as if to say, “Can I have a list of those great things?”
  • I’m looking forward to that. Following up a conversation is very important and one of the easiest one liners involves leading your audience towards a goal. If it’s a follow up lunch a week later, I’m looking forward to that. If it’s a negotiation before the end of the fiscal year, I’m looking forward to that. If it’s a family gathering at the beach, I’m looking forward to that. This simple one liner lets others know that you value relationships over routine acts.
  • Leave your name and phone, speaking slowly enough for me to write it down. I’ve used this one in phone messages for years and while it sounds corny, it works. Most people think they’re driving in a Nascar event when they leave a voice message so you need to slow them down. This one liner does just that.
  • I’m not sure about that but I think we can do this. The that-this dynamic is effective not only because it acknowledges the other’s perspective but it gives them something concrete and doable. For example, I run into parents who want to negotiate a deal for a son or daughter who is in some sort of difficulty. Rather than giving in to an unreasonable demand for complete amnesty for their child, I offer them something that is both attainable and concrete. I’m comfortable with it and they usually warm to the idea. Just because something isn’t a person’s first option doesn’t mean it’s a bad one.
  • I think we have something in common. Nothing forms bonds better than something held in common. Food, geography, people, cars- whatever it takes to find a connection. Don’t go overboard with your follow up but let the other person know that you have something in common and it’s ok to briefly touch on it.
  • Let’s strike while the iron is hot! Rather than a lukewarm offer to get together “at some point”, strike while the iron is hot and put it on the calendar today. Few things speak of productivity better than someone who can turn a wish into a workable situation.
  • Let me see if I understand where you’re coming from. You may find yourself in the middle of a conversation, a debate or even a fight- slow things down with this great one liner. It works every time because it tells the other person that you care enough to report back what you’ve just heard.

George Bernard Shaw once said that “The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” To be effective at home and at work, the use of one liners can get results, form deeper bonds and enable you to communicate on a higher level.

Mike St. Pierre blogs daily about productivity and work-life balance at www.thedailysaint.com

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