All great conversations share common elements. Familiarize yourself with each of the 12 Golden Rules, and you will improve your interpersonal communication skills immediately.
1. Great Descriptions
Do you want to sound more interesting? Then start with your descriptions. The best communicators use more creative names for things – instead of using obvious descriptive names, such as, “here’s some more beer…” try, “here’s some more poison…” or “here’s some more liquid courage…” or reference the commercial, “this Bud’s for you…” You get the idea? Don’t default to the trite word just because you’re used to always saying it that way.
Advertisers and good writers know that using visual imagery and emotion is the fastest way to your heart (and wallet). People prefer visual imagery and emotionally packed words. Instead of saying “it was cold” you could
say that you “couldn’t even feel your fingers.”
Instead of: “That’s a huge burger!”
Paint a picture: “That thing is a heart attack on a plate!”
Instead of: “I’m so upset, I’m gonna need to calm down.”
Paint a picture: “I’m so upset, I’m gonna need to go buy a decaf iced coffee…”
2. Great Contrasts and Comparisons
What if I asked you how your trip to Disney World was? You could say something boring like, “It was fun…” Or you could include a quick contrast to make your phrase twice as interesting, “It was fun…no one fell off a roller coaster or anything…so it was fun…”
You can always state what something is not like. “I’m very upset, not angry upset, but nervous upset.” Or “That’s not trickle-down economics, that’s more like mist down economics…” People enjoy hearing contrasts. Stating an exception helps clarify, add contrast, and dimension.
Many radio personalities use this technique to add balance and substance to their opinions (plus it helps them fill air time). Instead of saying, “I think he’s an excellent quarterback…” they may say something like, “I think he’s an excellent quarterback…now I’m not saying he’s Joe Montana…but he’s really good…”
When you use comparisons, don’t be afraid to expand and explain them. “She’s gorgeous, she’s at the highest level of gorgeous…higher than Kim Kardashian gorgeous… and it doesn’t get much higher than that…”
3. Great Non-Verbal Communication
Most experts agree – non-verbal communication is often more important than the words you speak. Psychologists have consistently discovered that people are the most drawn to those who have energy in their voice and mannerisms.
Take your listener on a roller coaster ride. This is the greatest metaphor for figuring out how to use energy more effectively. You cannot simply inject energy into every word you speak and hope that works. The trick is to vary your energy and inflection. Stay away from a flat, monotone voice. When you speak, vary the energy you put into each word or phrase. Try to emphasize the important words. Vary your volume; speak slightly louder for important phrases. Treat your voice like a roller coaster – are you taking the audience on a fun ride or a boring ride? Are there some dips and lulls?
Control your speed. Great conversationalists can change their speed at will. This works because when your speed never changes, your vocal patterns are predictable. And predictable = boring. Is it important? Then try saying it more slowly. Poor conversationalists tend to talk at the same rate and often too quickly.