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5 Communication Tips That Will Set You Apart

Chelsea Justice | May 4, 2017

Life is a competition. It can be rough to think of it like that, but it’s true. Every one of us is in competition for clients, promotions, sales and new jobs.

The good news is that most of us are qualified. We have experience, talent and passion.

The even better news is that you can stand out by developing an engaging communication style. In every area, from meetings to sales calls to interviews, follow these 5 tips to become a masterful communicator.

Write an interesting cover letter. Your future boss doesn’t want to read a boring cover letter when you apply for a job, and he or she doesn’t want to read one that sounds like the 20 that came before it. If your cover letter is dull and predictable, he or she will think you’re dull and predictable.

Your cover letter should be a reflection of your personality, so sound human! You’ll want to talk about your experience, of course, but explaining why you have such a drive for sales or a passion for medicine will go much further than talking about how you “optimized data streams” or “coordinated infrastructure.” Read your cover letter aloud to yourself; if it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, warm it up.

Consider your audience. Depending on whom you’re addressing, tweak your language to help them get the most out of what you’re saying. If you’re presenting to a group that has little exposure to what you do every day, give the big-picture context first and then dive into the nitty-gritty. If you work in a specialized field, don’t use jargon, acronyms or insider terms people won’t understand. If you’re leading a meeting, stop often to ask if everyone is on track with you — and if they’re not, be gracious about bringing them up to speed.

Appreciate people. As you interact with others, thank them for what they uniquely bring to the relationship. If a client always greets you at the front desk with a smile, let them know that it brightens your day. If you have a great interview at a new company, write a note (yes, a hand-written thank-you note) that you loved the exchange and you’re looking forward to talking more about the position. If you need to have a difficult conversation with a team member, begin by saying what they’re doing right. People love it when you notice the things they’re doing correctly, and mentioning those things will make them more receptive to everything else you have to say.

Don’t text or tweet. Even though Gallup has discovered that texting is the dominant form of communication for people 50 and under, it’s still too casual for many professional needs. If your boss or client texts or pings you on social media, respond in a professional, friendly way, but any communication that you originate should be by email, phone or in-person.

Be clear. It’s sounds simple, but this is one of the most challenging aspects of communication. For every meeting, proposal, phone call, pitch or interview, try to be clear about the goal and the action items. Say things like, “The purpose of this phone call is to set sales goals for the rest of the quarter,” or, “OK, it sounds like I have two action steps today: Place the order and arrange the delivery. Is that right?” Being clear will set you apart as the kind of person who is reliable, exact and smart.

The common thread in all these communication tips is to put the other person first. Make him or her feel comfortable, respected and engaged. The better someone feels, the more they understand, the more context they have, the more interested they are and the more likely they are to love talking and working with you.

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