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1 Word That Improves Your Communication Skills

        posted by , December 21, 2012

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
There's a single word that will help you improve your communication skills.

Can you guess what it is? I'll give you a hint ... I've already written it three times in this article.

The word is "you". It's the most powerful word you can use to capture people's attention.

I'll explain the power of the word "you" in a moment. First some background.

People listen in different ways. People have fundamentally different interests. There are 4 types of people you'll need to communicate to:

1. Disengaged

Some people are completely disengaged. They're barely interested in anything at all. It's hard to get them excited about your ideas.

There are no magic words that are likely to peak their interest.

2. People Focused

Some people are focused on people. They're interested in who you are and stories of personal experience. They are also interested in stories about famous people.

They aren't particularly interested in abstract ideas.

The magic word that most appeals to people-focused individuals is "I".

I went to the film festival party and I saw Brad Pitt.

3. Self Focused

Self focused individuals are interested in ideas. However, they are only interested in ideas that directly affect them.

They want to understand how an idea will impact their own lives.

The magic word that most appeals to self-focused individuals is "you".

Your boss is more likely to notice you if you speak up in meetings.

4. Idea Focused

Idea focused individuals are interested in ideas. They'll judge your message by its content and creativity.

They want to understand the global or universal implications of ideas.

The magic word that appeals to idea-focused individuals is "we".

We know that if we provide food education to families that we can improve their health and reduce health care expenditures.

Why "You" is Communication Magic

In any audience you'll have a mix of mindsets. People tend to be able to listen at one level up or one level down.

communication skills

The magic of "you" is that it appeals to everyone except for the disengaged.

How "You" Can Improve Your Communication Skills

Listen carefully to motivational speakers and politicians you'll notice this communication strategy is widely used.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
~ John F. Kennedy
Try it, the next time you give a presentation — explain every idea by relating to how it will impact your audience.

Use the word "you" as much as possible.

A Word of Caution

Theories about personality types are a useful way to explain communication strategies. In reality, individuals are too dynamic to be labeled.

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