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Ten Ways to Communicate What You Want in Business and in Life

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Can you be a great success in business and be a failure as a communicator? Maybe, but I can't see how.

You've got to be able to deliver a message to your customers, prospects, employees, investors and the media in a powerful and persuasive way. And if they don't get it, it's your job to make sure that they do.

With that in mind, I've come up with a list of ten ways to be a great communicator.

1. It's never about you, it's always about them. People need to feel that they are being listened to carefully and you understand what they want. Therefore, you need to focus on their dreams, aspirations, fears and goals. This empathetic approach helps you craft a message that resonates. When people believe you get where they are coming from, you get the business.

2. What are their explicit and implicit needs? J.P. Morgan once said that people have two reasons for everything they do: the good reasons and the real reasons. For example, someone might say that they are going to buy a Lexus instead of a Toyota because the Lexus is safe and well made. This is the "good" reason, but in reality both cars are fairly comparable in these areas. The "real" reason may be that the Lexus is more expensive and prestigious than the Toyota and therefore makes them feel good about themselves. It tells the world that they are important or affluent. When they reach their destination in a Lexus, they have really arrived. Ultimately, both the explicit and implicit answers are valid.

3. Listen between the lines. Be an intuitive listener. What are these people's real needs--not just the presenting ones? People will tell you just about everything you need to know if you just stop talking and listen. Really, really listen.

4. Tell great stories. Stories build an emotional connection between you and your listener's imagination. Facts are important, but stories stay with us long after the factual details are forgotten. What's the bible? It's a series of great stories designed to teach valuable lessons.

5. Feelings count. People often don't remember what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel. Those who make others feel valued, respected, and good about themselves win people's confidence and business.

6. Ask good questions then keep quiet and listen. People often reveal more than they realize. What you learn may be the extra information you need to better communicate your message.

7. Differentiate. How does your product, service or idea differ from everything else out there? Fox News Channel chose not to compete with the already established and popular all news network CNN. Fox distinguished itself be becoming the conservative alternative to its rival. In this way, Fox established a whole new category.

8. It's not what you say, but how you say it. You have to answer the listeners' question: What's in it for me? You have to make compelling arguments for your case and their interests. In other words, make it relevant to their lives.

9. Be aspirational. Connect to the listener's desire for something better. Our imagination goes beyond our self limiting beliefs. A client of ours is running for re-election as prime minister of his country. We've counseled him to not only talk about what his party has done or is doing for the benefit of his country, but to speak about his exciting plans for the future. People want a sense of hope. They want to believe that there is a better tomorrow.

10. Be brief. Brevity is not only the soul of wit, but of good communications. People today have the attention span of a three year old. They are half listening to you while they are cruising through their BlackBerrys. Get to the point. Get their attention. And keep it simple.