9 Practical Communication Skills That Everyone Should Know
If I had the power to consolidate one of the skills within our team, I would definitely choose that of communication. .
The sales team would conclude more business; that of marketing would make our products more visible; the support team would increase the satisfaction of our customers; IT development would collaborate more effectively. Not to mention the general happiness that would result from better communication in our private relations.
But then, if communication skills are so valuable in every way, why are we investing so little money to reboost them? Maybe we just get tired of reading boat tips like “how to become a better listener” .
Now you can practice the following nine communication techniques – whether you are writing a mail to a client, concluding a chat sale, or trying to win an argument with your spouse.
- What – Why – And now?
Let’s start with some techniques that will help you better understand you . If we could get rid of all the misunderstandings, we could solve half of the problems of this world.
The technique What – So What – Now What (in French: What – Why – now ) comes from the work of Matthew Abraham Speaking Up without Freaking Out and based on the principle of structuring information. Abraham claims that the storage of structured information is 40% more reliable and accurate than that of unstructured information.
How would you memorize the phone number 0616131744 ? Remembering the whole sequence at once is rather difficult. On the other hand, the task becomes much simpler by decomposing and structuring the number into several elements: 06 – 16 – 13 – 17 – 44 . As Matthew Abraham explains in the video below, structuring increases the speed of processing.
This technique comes from “explain it like I’m five years old” ( “Tell me things like I was 5 years old” ) and proves to be useful to explain complex or technical concepts. Technophiles often mistakenly believe that their interlocutors have a certain level of technical knowledge.
This is not to say that you should serve your information to the teaser. What is needed is to assume that it does not control your technical jargon. Avoid technical terms and explain them using common analogies. I like, as an example, how the concept of an API has been explained here .
Let’s turn now to effective techniques that will make you more convincing .
We all know the technique of the fan (or the straw man ). Part A argues an argument during a discussion. Part B then summarizes this argument in such a way as to denigrate it before completely overthrowing it. Part A feels misunderstood, misinterpreted, and anxious to retaliate. Nobody will change their mind.
If you want to convince the other party and not humiliate it publicly (in the manner of a politician), a more effective communication technique is steel-manning . This practice consists of summarizing the argument of your interlocutor in the most advantageous way possible – even more advantageous than the latter has expressed it.
But what does “more advantageous” mean? Let’s say I’m trying to convince Bob, an online store owner, to try our online chat software . He tells me that he already offers phone and email support and that he does not want to flood his customers with multiple support options. If I were a straw man, my answer would be:
So you think that your customers are satisfied with the assistance by email and telephone? Let’s see, we are in the 21st century! No one likes to call today. Everything goes through the written word. And nobody likes emails either. You never know how long it will take before you receive an answer. Really, Bob, online chat is the only proper channel for a modern online store.
If I used steel-manning , I would start by summarizing Bob’s argument, I would agree with him on certain points, and I would go so far as to reinforce his argument on certain aspects that he did not take into consideration. . Only then would I try to change his mind.
I think I understand what you mean. You already have a large service configuration. And it is also true that too much choice can upset the customer. You want things to be as simple as possible for your customers. But I’m still convinced that your shop could benefit from online chat. Unlike the phone or email, online chat is always accessible to your visitors, and this in one click. Thus, they do not need to suspend their chat experience to get in touch with you. Thanks to this choice, you make things easier for them.
The technique of steel-manning can avoid situations like “you against me”. By putting yourself first on the side of the other person and reasoning in his favor, you show that you take him seriously and that you understand his arguments. This will increase the chances that he will return the favor.
4. Problem – Solution – Profit
This is another structuring technique of Matthew Abraham, often used in sales. You first describe the problem (for example: “There are mosquitoes in your room” ), then the solution ( “Hang this mosquito net over your bed” )
5. Justify by “because”
If you follow the Userlike blog , you have probably already encountered this technique before.
An experiment conducted by psychologist Ellen Langer has shown that the likelihood of a favor being granted is much higher when a reason – whatever the reason – justifies a claim.
The experimenter asked people waiting in a queue to print if she could walk past them, either (A) without giving a reason, (B) because she was “in a hurry”, or (C) because she needed to print.
Although Option B performed significantly better than Option A (94% agreed, versus 60%), there was no notable difference between C and B (93% vs. 95% ).
So the next time you try to get your wife’s permission to watch the football game with friends, you’ll be more likely to do it if you just tell her that it’s out of love for her. football.
6. Meet – Answer – Deliver – Close
We all know the scene of the Wolf of Wall Street sales talk in which he is asked to sell a pen. Ian Adams recommends the sales technique of Gather – Answer – Deliver – Close (in Eng. Gather – Respond – Deliver – Close ).
I suggest you read the transcript of his article, but in summary, it is:
- Ask the participants what effect (s) they used a pen for the last time. Let’s say the answer was to sign customer contracts.
- Emphasize the importance of this practice, p. ex. the interest of customer contracts (respond).
- Sell the most important idea related to this activity, for example to conquer a large customer (deliver).
- Conclude the case (close).
7. The technique of “but you are free to …”
The problem when trying to convince someone is that nobody likes to be convinced. Nobody likes to sell. We want to feel ourselves in control, not forced to change our beliefs.
This replica reminds people that they have control of things . Whether they take into account your arguments or not, it is they who decide . Instead of having a “it’s you or me” scenario, you have a scenario in which you simply provide additional information to your partner – as an advisor shares his opinion with the president.
The advisers do not convince the president. They provide relevant information, after which the president makes decisions. Paradoxically, this freedom makes you much more likely to follow the argument of the other person.
8. The “we premature”
Establishing a close relationship is another crucial aspect when dealing with your customers. A technique from Leil Lowndes’ book, How to Talk to Anyone , is that of using the “we premature”. Lowndes describes four levels that are commonly found in conversations:
- Sharing empty sentences
- Sharing facts
- Mutual exchange of personal issues and feelings
- The use of “we” in sentences
Use phrases containing words like “we” and “our”. “We will find a solution” , “Let’s look together” , “Let’s make a good impression on our bosses” . This creates a sense of belonging to the same group.
Although these phrases usually come after personal questions, you can “hack” the system and use it from the beginning, which speeds up the feeling of intimacy.
9. Create a thread
In addition to making you as clear as possible, being persuasive and creating connections with your contacts, conversational skills are another essential element of communication.
Improving them will help you make contacts, make sales, and, in general, make people appreciate you. The video below on communication skills introduces the concept of “conversational spinning”.
Conversations consist of the exchange of stories. One party recognizes in the story of the other party an element that reminds them of a similar story, which they then introduce into the conversation.
Good conversationalists know how to create threads. When the other party shares a story, they recognize the different catchy elements.
They manage to find statements that allow their interlocutors to feel concerned easily. Saying: “I love coffee” , you do not offer a lot of opportunities for them to bounce back on the subject.