I truly believe that knowing how to communicate effectively with all types of people (not just the most jazz-hands ones who I love so dearly!) is the best way to secure a job, win clients and develop great working relationships. Here are a few things that I've learnt along the way:
1. Put yourself in their shoes
(As my Boom Alumni team still remind me) The first thing I used to ask them to consider before a client meeting was, 'How do you think your client is going to be feel walking into this meeting today?' Having a moment to thoughtfully consider what the person on the other side of the table is feeling/wanting to get out of the meeting is vital to ensuring your success (and theirs). Remember, if you are going in for a job interview, the interviewer wants you to be the right person for the job. Don't be scared of them, go in and SHINE!
2. Language in an email👩💻
This is less of some things to do, and more some things to DEFINITELY don't. Starting with something for all of the professional women out there🦸♀️. Please, PLEASE stop calling us 'lovely' and 'darling' 😉, we're kicking ass and you're dragging us down👎. Let's drop the 'great to e-meet you'
🤖, and swap it for 'looking forward to working with you on this' 😎. Stop saying that you were 'just' emailing to ask🤮, you're immediately putting yourself on the back foot🦶. Stop putting kisses❌ on the ends of emails to clients and contacts you have just met and PLEASE, emojis are for social media and texting📲, not for professional emails 😝 (though I recently read a piece of science that suggested otherwise!🤷♀️). Swap the 'how are you?' for 'I hope you're well', otherwise you'll find yourself in a weird sub conversation at the top of your chain about the weather ⛈ (you're just wasting everyone's time). If you don't believe us, believe this article by Harvard. 📣 Rant over. 💖
3. First introductions
I've mentioned before that someone will make a judgement of you that will last forever in just three seconds. How to get through those three seconds? Three things:
EYE CONTACT. FIRM HANDSHAKE. POLITE SMILE (not a keen grin or accidental wink under any circumstances)
4. The art of open ended questions
A closed ended question is one where a one word answer would suffice and they are very unhelpful unless you're in a quiz show. An open one however, allows you to learn more and uses phrases such as 'tell me' and 'how', in order to ask more from the person you are speaking to and retrieve more information. Here's your task for the next week, just pay attention to the questions that you are asking. If you ask a 'closed' question, follow it up with an 'open' question. I promise you and the person you are speaking to will have a far more productive and motivating conversation and you'll learn more about how to best communicate with them. Here are some more examples of open ended questions.
5. Pick up the phone
There is nothing more frustrating than having an extremely long email chain that could have been explained and dealt with in one phone call. Not only is this a huge time saver, picking up the phone is far more effective in building relationships. Don't be afraid of that phone; especially if you are delivering some bad news, people will be far kinder to you if you tell them on a call (and it stops those keyboard warriors!). Top tip, after a phone call, I always send a summary of key points discussed, so that everything you have spoken about is in writing.
6. Think about what you're not saying.
Leading experts say that 55% of the way we effectively communicate is through our body language (I like to think about dogs in this example!). So that means, make sure you do not cross your arms, try to stop fidgeting and make sure your facial expressions emulate the response you intend to give (I'm not a personal fan of the phrase 'resting bitch face', but you get what I mean!)