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8 Ways To Make What You Say At Work More Persuasive

8 Ways To Make What You Say At Work More Persuasive

If you care at all about your job, you have big plans and ideas for your company that you want others to hear and take seriously. While many times you may be rebuffed by higher-ups who make whatever decision they want regardless of other suggestions, you never know when an idea you have could catch your boss’ eye and put you on his radar for a future promotion. When these ideas strike you, it’s important that you present yourself well in order to be as persuasive as possible when you finally get a chance to break into the big time.

1. Be curious

Before even making a pitch, you want your employer to see that you’re not just looking out for yourself; you have the company’s interests in minds. Put in extra hours, go the extra mile on projects, and ask questions about goings-on in the industry. Showing you have a genuine interest in the industry is the best way to get your foot in your boss’ door. On the other hand, nothing will sour your boss to your idea than showing you are only out for a promotion, and have nothing more than a passing interest in the company as a whole.

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2. Listen effectively

Of course, since you’ll be asking a lot of questions, make sure you listen to the answer. Again, asking questions superficially just to make yourself look inquisitive will get you nowhere. You have to genuinely want to know the answers to the questions your asking, and also show that you’re able to take this information and act upon it. Regurgitating information only gets you so far; taking in information and integrating it with your ideas will take you much further.

3. Be honest

You’ll be much more persuasive if you’re always honest with others. Remember: your reputation is at stake when you go out on a limb to make a project pitch. Stretching the truth even a little bit can not only crush your hopes of a promotion, but may even cause you to lose your job. On the other hand, if you have a proven track record of honesty, your boss will probably at least hear your idea before he decides whether or not to run with it. Make sure you’re completely transparent about your ideas and motivation before moving forward with your pitch.

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4. Be confident

Being confident is definitely tough, especially when taking a risk and trying to impress your employer. However, being confident shows others that you are knowledgeable and care deeply about the subject at hand. Be prepared with answers to potential questions in order to show you’ve covered all the bases and thought of possible contingencies. This will also alleviate your boss’ concerns, and make him more willing to take a chance on your idea.

5. Speak confidently

Not only do you have to be confident, you have to show confidence. Public speaking is a pain but the truth, even if you have some Earth-shatteringly awesome ideas, no one will listen to you if you’re afraid to get up and scream them to the world. Waffling while on the “big stage” transmits the idea that you’re not entirely sure of your idea, and are taking a stab in the dark. Be confident, and speak confidently, and people will listen to you.

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6. Tell an anecdote

Your ideas need to be actionable. You can’t just come into a meeting with an idea you think would work just because, well, you think it’d work. You have to back it up with stories of past experiences in which your idea would have helped in some way. Think about past customer interactions, or past troubles the business has had, and work with them. “I noticed that, in the past 6 months, our customers have been replying negatively to x, y, and z. My idea to alleviate this situation is a, b, c.” This statement clearly states the problem you wish to attack, why you want to attack it, and how you plan on doing so.

7. Address concerns

We mentioned before that you should prepare answers to potential questions your audience may have. This is incredibly important in order to maintain your sense of confidence. However, if you don’t have an answer to a question being asked, that’s okay too. Just be prepared to turn the question around to the floor, and solicit advice from other members of the audience. Remember, being a good listener is just as important as having all the answers.

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8. Find a common ground

Make sure your audience knows you’re all in the same boat, and you all want the same thing: For your company to succeed. Even though you might have to step on other people’s toes (for example, if someone’s idea hasn’t worked out as planned), don’t dismiss their ideas entirely. Instead, use their ideas as a springboard, and tweak them to be more successful. By making sure everyone is on the same page as you forge forward, you ensure that everyone’s in your corner, and your ideas can gain some traction.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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