Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! -Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th President of The United States, dubbed the Great Communicator for his ability to use anecdotes that ordinary people could understand.

Have you ever heard someone speak and just marvel at how the words seem to flow like a lazy river just doing it’s thing? How about when someone walks into a room and just lights it up without even saying a word? Have you ever envied someone who seems to command respect and action just from the tone of their voice? Who comes to mind when these provocative questions confront you? Celebrities? Presidents? Drill  Sargents? Actually these are all traits of master communicators…but what does that even mean? We’ve talked about how so many of us get locked in fear when we have the opportunity to speak to a crowd even though we have always dreamed of having the chance, but what we really need to know is how the heck do the best make it seem so simple. The argument could be made that master communicators are just born that way, but there we go again with stories that we latch on to to justify our own shortcomings! I know of many people that overcame extreme odds to become gre at speakers…think about the vast number of people that overcame stuttering or other speech impediments! You know plenty of people that stumble and bumble all over their tongue but still seem to command attention…so if you feel like a stumbler there’s hope for you too!

Like most skills, becoming a master communicator is learnable…you just have to know how the best do it! If you study successful communicators they seem to have several traits in common. First of all they typically know exactly what it is that they want, in other words they don’t forget why they are there and have a clear goal in mind. Secondly, they are very good at recognizing the responses they get whether they be auditory or physical. But most importantly, they are able to modify their behavior until they get what they want! Think about a time when you had an agenda that you really believed in…maybe even when you were a child. Visualize how you felt about it and the story you began to formulate to get what you wanted only to find that your target (parent) did not agree or go along with it…what did you do? If you threw a tantrum more often than not you probably got sent to your room and never accomplished the mission, BUT if you modified your be havior…started to negotiate…offered to clean your room…or maybe even went silent with a slight upside down smile you noticed that the target became more sympathetic to your plight and maybe even bent your way! However, this is not just child’s play is it? This happens every day, whether it’s with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your prospects, your clients and on and on. So why do we have so much trouble getting better at advancing our agenda? Not necessarily because of fear, rather a complete lack of awareness. Do we really take a moment to read the body language of the target to “see” what kind of mood they are in? Do we actually “hear” the tone of voice with which they are speaking? Now if you are on the fly or under pressure, I know it’s difficult to absorb all this information. Professor George Miller’s research (Psychological Review, 1956) concluded that a person can hold only 7+or- 2 pieces of information in their short term memory while our five senses bombard us with 2 billion bits of information every second! But don’t use that as another excuse…go with your gut aka your subconscious…it can handle it and will send you “gut feelings!”

The simple thinking tool here is to be more aware of how people really communicate with each other! The most important concept is actually building rapport! As a long time sales communicator and coach I find it amazing that so many people think that master communicators simply walk into a room and force their agenda upon people! Hardly the case…instead, they first build rapport or a sense of relationship. As a real estate agent, each time I walk into a house to compete for the listing, I always ask for “the nickel tour” which is more so an opportunity to see and feel what is most important to the prospect. I also search for areas of common interest to discuss that usually have absolutely nothing to do with real esate…people just want to feel connected and if you don’t make a connection it’s much harder to communicate your agenda! Fascinating research by Professor Mehrabian of UCLA found that the impact of your communication was comprised of 55% body language, 38% quality of voice and 7% words! So don’t put so much pressure on yourself to become a wordsmith, because the best communicators speak primarily with their bodies and tone of voice! So be real about this…you CAN change your body language in a flash AND you CAN change your tone in an instant, all of which will untie your tongue and lead you down the path of communication mastery!

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