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10 Things Highly Personable People Do Differently

10 Things Highly Personable People Do Differently

Some people are just natural-born “people-magnets,” right? Sure, there could be some truth to that because there is a genetic component to our personalities. But a lot of our social behaviors are learned. And the good news is you can always learn new and better behaviors – it’s never too late! Here are 10 things highly personable people do differently:

1. They listen. And I mean REALLY listen.

I teach communication classes for a living. And one of the things I constantly stress is hearing and listening are not the same thing. Hearing is the physiological process of sound waves hitting your ear drum. But listening is actually an active process (we call it “active listening”). It takes work. You have to pay attention, focus, rephrase, ask questions, and remember information – just for starters. However, being a good listener is about much more than remembering what someone said. Listening is a relationship tool, and highly personable people know this. It gives the other person a message about whether you care or not.

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2. They use verbal feedback.

Highly personable people give verbal cues to express they are listening. They say things like “Wow!” or “that’s really interesting” or “amazing!” Expressions of positive words show other people they are definitely being paid attention to. It makes other people feel important.

3. They show empathy.

Many people confuse empathy with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for another person, whereas empathy is “putting yourself in another person’s shoes” and really trying to identify with his/her experience. When someone doesn’t show empathy for others, it doesn’t make them feel good. Highly empathetic people show genuine concern for everyone.

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4. They ask questions and encourage others to elaborate.

I’m sure we’ve all come home from work or school and had someone ask us how our day was. And if we reply, “Oh it was fine.” And the other person says, “Cool” and then goes on doing whatever he or she was doing, it doesn’t make us think he or she cared enough to ask more. When people ask us questions and want to hear more about us, we like it.

5. Their body language says they care.

Even if people use verbal feedback and ask questions, if they don’t show they really care, then people won’t believe them. Nonverbal communication accounts for about 90% of the meaning of a message. So keep it positive – have direct eye contact, tilt your head (this is a sign of empathy), and minimize distractions (such as your phone).

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6. They remember things about you.

My dad was a very successful dentist. And do you know why? I’m not sure it had anything to do with his skill in dentistry (although I’m sure it was good). He was successful because people liked him. He always took the time to talk to his patients on a personal level. He asked things like, “How is little Ricky doing in school?” or, “How was your vacation to Hawaii?” In other words, he remembered the details of his patients’ lives. And because he did that, they liked him and kept coming back.

7. They use your name when speaking to you.

Directly acknowledging people makes them feel like real human beings. Anyone who has ever been a server or a bartender in a restaurant knows this. There is a big difference between someone saying “Miss! Can I have another drink?” and “Excuse me, Karen? May I please have a refill on my drink? Thank you!” Using people’s names makes them think they are special in your eyes.

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8. They use touch to convey interest.

Touch can convey many things, but interest and connectedness are two of the big ones. Granted, not everyone is comfortable with touch. But a small and brief touch on the arm or shoulder says “I’m with you.” Highly personable people use this technique, and it usually works.

9. They smile, laugh and talk about positive things.

No one likes to be around a “Debbie Downer.” When someone is always complaining or simply exudes negative energy, most people try to avoid him or her. Personable people find humor in life. They are happy – or at least they give off the impression the are happy. They talk about the good stuff going on in their lives, not the negativity. They keep it happy.

10. They make everyone feel good.

Because highly personable people keep it happy, everyone feels good around them! Unlike the “Debbie Downers,” they exude positive energy and literally draw people to them like a magnet. That kind of energy is like a drug to many people – the more they feel it, the more they want to be around it.

If you see a theme here – you’re right. Highly personable people make others feel good! They make others feel important! They keep it positive and happy! It’s actually pretty simple. So if you know someone who might need to brush up on their people skills, try sharing some of these suggestions with them.

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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