Let’s be honest. We all have to learn how to communicate with people. Whether it’s your boss, client, hairdresser, mother-in-law, target audience in a marketing piece or bus driver, being armed with effective verbal and non-verbal communication tools goes a long way in achieving your goals and making your life easier. Luckily, these tools were given to us at an early age—from the time we were in Kindergarten! But for those of you who can’t remember last week, let alone when you were six, here’s a reminder:
- Share: Practice open and up-front communication. The more proactive you are with someone in your communication, the more they will trust you. However, proactively calling someone a stupid-head is not advised no matter how badly you want to tell them.
- Play: Make any communication experience enjoyable. Have fun, and make sure the other party is having fun, too. They will be more likely to listen to what you have to say and do what you want them to.
- Question everything: As annoying as it may be when a six year-old asks ‘why?’ after every statement you make, it’s a good idea to ask questions. You’ll show you’re interested and learn a lot about who you’re speaking to, and in the process, find a nugget of information about them that you can use to get your point across.
- Be yourself: You know how you’ll often find Kindergarteners singing to themselves or dancing around like no one else is there? We can all follow this example by creating a personal brand and being genuine. Make sure to stand for something and that this is clear and consistent in your communication.
- Nap: Recognize when communication has broken down, and that it’s time to take a break. Rest, get a clear head, and come back to the conversation. Temper tantrums and irate crying are usually good indicators to take a break.
- Draw: Sometimes the most creative forms of communication receive the best response. Don’t be afraid to add some color, exciting words or pictures. People will appreciate the intent and meaning behind it.
- Eat: Don’t underestimate the power of breaking bread together. When you have equal footing and a common task to share, tensions are relieved and conversation flows. When this isn’t an option, like when marketing to a prospective customer, find something that both parties are invested in and levels the playing field, like a cool song, open house, funny joke or coupon. Peanut butter and butter sandwiches optional.