A recent study by Communications Research showed that nearly 85 percent of women aren’t sure if someone is flirting with them. As someone who specifically helps others project and interpret body language, I can easily infer that most men aren’t able to do so independently, either.
With communication accounting for more than 90 percent of what you “say,” clearly, this a major problem.
Despite that, it’s still important to think about verbal communication every now and then. While how you say something is important, what you say can still be the difference between success and anything else short of that.
And in a world where your performance is the only metric, let’s not forget that words can also hold value. Specific words can increase your perceived value. So whether you’re a business leader -- or trying to become one -- here are a few strategies you should add to your entrepreneurial repertoire:
Look for opportunities to work together with people.
While it may be great to work independently, developing better social skills requires interacting with other people. Working together on projects is the perfect way to do this. If given a specific task, always ask if you have the opportunity to work with colleagues.
A great quote you can use is something like, "I'd like to give another person (other people) an opportunity to work on this project with me." It not only allows you to show your ability to be a team player, it also can make your work more manageable and enjoyable. Studies have shown co-signing onto a project makes each person 50 percent more likely to stick with it and adds a mutual accountability that will push each other toward success.
When you're uncertain, say 'I don't know.'
While in a conversation with an investor who was interested in my business, I wasn't afraid to tell him when I didn't know the answer to something. He leaned into his friend and said, "I like this guy. He's not afraid to not have all the answers. I can tell he's the real deal."
If you ever want to show how much ambition you have to colleagues and influencers, saying “I don’t know,” is a great way to do that. While counterintuitive, many investors and advisors are OK if you don’t have all the answers.
Even though you may not know the answers, you can show a willingness to talk about or find them. Great leaders always display their potential so they can set the standard for living up to it.
Become more diligent about saying 'No.'
I’m sure you’ve been hearing this a lot recently: “Learn to say no more!” While it does make sense, it’s important to understand the true meaning of saying no. Warren Buffet is famous for inferring that successful people say no all the time. I’d like to think he really meant to not waste your time on silly or non-existent ideas.
Everyone thinks they have an amazing idea, but in reality, only a fraction of a percentage of them is actually good enough to be something special. If you only take “idea” meetings of significant value or “brainstorming” sessions with ideas already pre-conceived, you’ll quickly see how much time you’ll save.
Personally, by saying “no,” I save myself on average four hours each week.
Talk like The Rock.
For the wrestling fans out there, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character in the WWE always addressed himself in the third person. While that may be a little extreme for some, a study from the University of Illinois showed that people who addressed themselves in the second-person (saying, “you”), performed at a higher-level than those who used the first-person.
Of course, this is the kind of strategy you’ll want to do more privately than publicly among your peers. Maybe this will explain to my wife why she catches me talking to myself every so often.
Each of these strategies show a distinct initiative that will set you a part from the competition, grow relationships, and build a solid support foundation. The only thing that’s left after you say these words is to follow through with physical action.