William Cottringer

“Good communication is when an artist conveys the message of his images to a musician who correctly translates them into the musical notes she plays.” ~The author.

Today being a good communicator is not enough. Professional success requires superior power communication skills. Here are six steps to help you take your good communication skills to the next higher level:

Develop a Signature Style

Study your best personality traits and build a unique style of communication based on those traits. Match the way you talk or write with all that makes you a unique, dynamic, successful individual. Make sure your communication style is versatile enough to include a full array of characteristics that will cover a wide range of situations and audiences. At times you will need charm and emotional charisma, other times serious rationality and detail and other times generalizations and light levity.

Develop an effective cool-headed, problem-solving style of communication to use in tight, tense situations. Nurture the likability aspects of your personality and communication style in normal situations, with soft eyes, friendly tone and supportive gestures. Let your communication style convey who you are in a distinct, positive way, while saying what you mean to say with maximum clarity and explosive impact. Leave a speaking and writing signature for people to remember.

Accommodate Audience Differences

Every audience and each individual member of an audience has a unique communication style. These unique differences play an important role in communicating with an audience. You have to understand and adjust to important audience differences to remove potential obstacles and make the best connection. The more time you spend getting to know the audience and planning your communication, the better.

Audience differences include varieties of information processing styles such as seeing, hearing, reasoning and feeling. Other differences are listening skills, intellectual levels, degrees of open-mindedness and thinking vs. feeling orientation. The power communicator will get to know the specific differences of the audience and customize communication content and style to maximize connection and impact.

Stop and think about the particular audience with who you are trying to communicate, before you start talking or writing. What motivates these people? Does the person see pictures or hear words? What range is the group's understanding or interest? What deadly hot buttons need to be avoided? What has gone on before or what may happen afterwards, that will affect what I am trying to communicate? Taking the time to answer these and other difficult questions will help bridge the gap between you and your audience.

Practice Two-Eared Listening

We probably wouldn't get much dissent if we made the claim that poor listening is the biggest obstacle to good communication. However, it depends on what is meant by good listening. Good listening goes beyond just paying close attention, clarifying potential misunderstanding, putting aside personal biases and avoiding distractions. Those are obvious obstacles we should all be able to avoid easily.

Power listening requires aggressive “two-eared” listening, which hears everything. This is when you learn to use both ears to hear what is being said over the clamor of how it is being said. It also involves tuning into what isn’t being said which may be more important that what is actually being said. Power listening begins with the realization that there is a good reason why we have two ears and only one mouth.

Play With Word Psychology

Rarely will your communication only convey denotative, or strict dictionary definitions of your words. This is even true when your message is straight and to the point. Most of the time it is the other things that your words imply, which will be heard loudest and remembered longest. These other things can include the non-verbal gestures you use to emphasize your words, the common connotations of the words you use, or the images or values that may be connected to your words. Even voice tone, word ambiguity, or silence can modify what you are trying to say. Unfortunately, much of what you say is lost to how you say it, especially when they aren’t congruent. If your message is not received the way you meant it, then some adjustments have to be made.

Power communication involves choosing words wisely that clearly convey powerful images or meanings, such as lightening bolt, crucifixion, or a ten foot chartreuse hairy alien. These image words can be delivered in unusual formats such as metaphors, alliterations, aphorisms, or panache. The object is to always use your communication style to flatter and enhance the content of your message, rather than confuse or take away from it.

Write Headlines, Speak Audiobytes

There is a plethora of information already available for consumption that is overloading us all. This requires you to show that what you are saying or writing is more valuable than what is already out there in order to deserve the attention you want. To be successful at doing this, you must communicate with utmost clarity and high impact. Also, never underestimate the importance of the packaging which is wholly responsible for the initial draw.

Plan clear, concise and high impact "headlines" to lead the charge of your message with good propaganda. Follow this with a clever emotional hook to connect with your audience and then outline three supporting rational points to which there can be no objections. Reinforce these points with unforgettable audiobytes and summarize everything in one sentence. For best results, use unusual words or invent them yourself, such as coopetition, creatuitivity or extrapreneur. Write and speak as though every word costs money and you are working from an extremely tight budget.

Measure Success

You must set up a reliable and accurate way to measure the success of your communication. Begin to ask yourself and others tough questions. Are you talking too loudly or too softly? Are you over-intellectualizing with too much jargon? Do you let annoying, distracting mannerisms get in the way? Are you into style or content too much or too little? Are you making real contact with your audience? Are you believable? Are you being genuine, authentic and truthful? Are you saying anything worth listening to? Moving from good to excellent communication requires answers to these and many other difficult self-deprecating questions.

Power communication requires practice and continual self-analysis, but the payoffs yield high dividends both personally and professionally. Practice power communication daily in all your interactions with others. Let your best personality characteristics speak for you, use words that people can see or feel, and customize your communication to the unique characteristics of your audience. Practice aggressive two-eared listening, be economical, and seek useful feedback on needed improvements.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, and Reality Repair Rx coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net