Career Management

I have been fortunate enough to travel to many countries and work with professionals from various industries and backgrounds. No matter where in the world I am, there is a certain type of person who always stands out to me. There’s something special about them. It’s hard to put you’re finger on what it is, but you can’t help but feel great around them. When they talk you listen attentively and it feels like you’ve known them for years, when in reality it’s only been a matter of hours. What could it possibly be?

To the untrained eye, it can be rather perplexing. How is this person managing to win me over like this? My conclusion is this – it’s got everything to do with their communication skills. They’ve mastered the art of conversing with others. Now, despite these people seeming to possess Yoda-like Jedi powers, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn them too. After all, Luke managed to do it and he ended up saving the universe! While improving your communication habits mightn’t save the universe, that doesn’t rule out saving the world! Here’s where to start:

1. Communicate through empathetic narrative

Being able to explain your ideas and experiences through the prism of empathy allows for others to gain a better understanding of what you have to say. You are able to create an emotional connection with your speech and therefore what you say has far more resonance and influence. Think about what you say and whether it would have any relevance in their life. For example, instead of talking about why you love swimming and how good you are, try focussing on the difficulties you went through to learn how to become a good swimmer. The element of difficulty and adversity is something others can relate to and what you say will have far greater impact.

2. Be inquisitive about other people’s passions

We are all passionate about something. It could be anime, your football team or various elements of your job. If someone enquires about this passion, even if you’re the shyest of introverts, you’ll joyfully talk about it like there’s no tomorrow. Now at this point you might be thinking “well I don’t find their interest particularly interesting” and I agree. See, great communicators know how to ask the right questions. Even though someone’s passion on the surface doesn’t seem particularly stimulating, a great communicator is able to make it interesting for themselves and those around them.

For example, I have little interest in horse riding. I do, however, have an interest in competitive sports. Instead of talking about technical aspects of horse riding with the person I am speaking with, I would instead ask questions centring around the strict regime many of the horses and jockeys have to go through to operate at the pinnacle of their sport.

3. Use clear and concise speech

Why say something in two lines when it can be done in one? Most people possess short attention spans, and talking (or waffling) for too long is likely to make their minds wander. We’re all guilty of daydreaming when someone else is talking, particularly in boring meetings- we can’t help it. To minimise this, great communicators are efficient when it comes to explaining their points and ideas.

Getting to be more succinct take a lot of personal analysis and self-awareness, which great communicators constantly do. One of the best and more obvious ways to do this is simply to “think before your speak”  or more accurately “think through the key points you wish to make before you speak”. This is especially important when it’s a story or an anecdote; you’ll find people are all of a sudden far more interested in what you have to say.

About the author: Farhan Raja is a career coach, former recruiter and founder of

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