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Tip 4. Set a Level Playing Field.

Before you speak, make sure that what you’re about to say doesn’t contain words or phrases that imply your superiority. Example: “I want you to meet Jana Jones, who works for me” versus “I want you to meet Jana Jones, who works with me.” Example: “Haven’t I told you not to bother me with those kinds of details?” versus “I’d prefer that you handle those kinds of details without involving me.” Example: “I try to spend as much time abroad as possible when my job allows it” versus “I like to travel when I have the time.”

Tip 5. Avoid Coming Across as a One-Directional Communicator.

Several years ago, I was standing in a trade-show booth when a man walked up, stuck out his hand to shake mine, and began: “My name’s __________. I notice we’re competitors here at the show. We have a booth over the way, number 399. You probably remember that Ford RFP that came out about four months ago. Well, if you’re wondering about it, we’ve got it sewed up. I understand your people bid on it. That was really a formality, because one of the VPs there had already made contact with us and wanted us in. That was an easy sale for us. You know what I mean? Don’t you wish all of them were that easy? It’s going to be a big contract. Three hundred thousand before they’re through. Well, nice to meet you. Just wanted to stop by and say hello.”

All of this came out without his ever taking a breath and without my ever having an opportunity (or inclination) to cut in and respond. Don’t be a hit-and-run speaker.

Tip 6. Avoid Getting a Reputation as a Manipulator.

People with strong personalities sometimes take advantage of less able communicators—or those with no goal for a particular conversation or meeting. They manipulate others before their victims realize what’s happening. They outsmart people by seducing them with flirting. They deceive them with misused facts. They pretend to feel something that they don’t. They shame others into acting against their best interests. They dominate others through sheer tone. They play martyr when it suits them. They tempt others with unkept promises and false power. Over time, such tactics work against the people who use them.

Tip 7. Be Interested, Not Just Interesting.

The heart of this principle involves putting aside self-interest long enough to devote attention to someone else. Yes, we are attracted to life-of-the-party people because they amuse us. But interested people win us. They make us want to stick to them like glue. Nothing is so flattering as to have someone show personal interest in our job, our background, our experience, or our views.

Tip 8. To Express Interest in Someone, Soften Whatever It Is You’re Doing.

Soften your voice, soften your tone, soften your smile, soften your posture, soften your touch, soften your eye contact, or soften your nod. Softening communicates openness.

Tip 9. Use Radical Language to Be a Leader.

You have to shake people out of complacency in order to lead them in a new direction. Focus to inspire followership. Intrigue others to tempt them to make a change with you.

Tip 10. Have a Sense of the Dramatic When You Talk.

Would you rather have someone tell you about a movie or see it for yourself? So would I. We like action––in the voice, in the face, in the body, in the scene. Add a funny twist to the story. Use description to set the scene. Add gestures to give a story a sense of place. The only benefit you as a conversationalist have over a manual or an email is animation. Use it.

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