I'm often surprised at how many people--even dedicated entrepreneurs--can be clueless when communicating with others.

I recently received an excellent infographic from the loan provider NetCredit and NeoMam Studios explaining the basic skills that everyone needs.

The entire infographic (along with the sources) is posted on the NetCredit site. I've provided the main points below, along with my personal commentary.

1. It's not really so much being clear on your point as being clear on what decision you want the other person to make. Why bother to have a business conversation at all unless you intend the other person to take action on it?

2. Questions are good, but if you just read off the questions or take them too literally, you'll come off like an interrogator. It's better to write down topics that will lead toward the decision you want made.

3. The idea here is to use the memory of success to jumpstart your mind and body into a success-oriented state. Vividly imagine the success while adopting the body posture and breathing that you experienced during that peak state.

4. Actually, you should go into the conversation with the other person's thoughts and feelings at the forefront. While you obviously wish to accomplish something from the conversation, keep the other person's agenda foremost in your mind.

5. If the other person can't keep his or her emotions in check and acts in an unprofessional manner, you must immediately demand a change in that person's behavior, and, if it's not forthcoming, leave the immediate area.

6. In fact, focusing part of your mind on breathing deeply is an excellent idea during any conversation. It forces you to slow down and speak more clearly. It also suppresses any "fight or flight" reaction.

7. Honesty is best combined with discretion. Blurting unwelcome truths (or your perceptions of the truth) is seldom a wise idea. Remain aware of how what you're saying is affecting the other person.

8. Very important. Everyone in business struggles with complexity, so the more complicated the situation, the more it's appreciated (and effective) if you can simplify and clarify.

9. The main culprits here are  weasel words, biz-blab, clichés, overly-fancy verbiage, and unnecessary jargon. As far as possible, use simple, short words in simple, short sentences.  

10. 'Nuff said.

11. Uh, maybe not. This is only necessary if you're unsure whether you've communicated clearly. Requesting a recap should thus be a sign of humility rather than an attempt to humiliate. 

This entire section on listening should go BEFORE the section on speaking. Unless you're giving a presentation, it's almost always better to listen before you speak.

12. Hint: If the conversation is important, turn off your phone. 

13. The trick here is suppressing your inner dialogue, which tends to think about what you'll say next. If you fail at this, you'll inevitably miss nuances of word choice, tone, and emphasis that may be crucial to actually understanding the other person.

14. When you interrupt, you're telling other people that a) you think they're slow-witted, and b) you don't respect them enough to hear them out. Serial interrupters are universally disliked.

15. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you'll be surprised at how much you DIDN'T get of what the other person said. Also, if the other person said something foolish, your recap can give them a face-saving way to say something smarter.

16. I'm not sure why this is at the bottom of this segment. It ought to be at the top and at the beginning of any conversation.

17. Actually, there's much more to eye contact than meets the eye, as it were. Maintaining eye contact longer than the other person asserts dominance and can create resistance. This is especially true between "alpha" males.

18. This one's a little simplistic. As a general rule, you should first mirror the other person's body language. If they're closed, close yourself and then gradually open. The other person will generally follow.

19. Try not to look like a bobblehead, though.

20. Once again, deep breathing is important. If all else fails, clasp your hands in your lap.

Published on: Jul 16, 2016