Over the course of the average conversation, how much of it do you spend talking compared to listening? I’m surprised by how perplexed people come across when they are asked this question. If your answer is something along the lines of talking 99% of the time and listening 1% of the time then that, believe it or not, is better than not knowing at all.

The key to being a great communicator, from my experience so far, comes down to self-awareness. When I first started my business I learned that it was easy to talk to potential clients about what you can do for them. I think this comes down to the fact that as an entrepreneur, your skills and passions are on your mind all of the time. However, I began observing interactions at different events that drove me to understand the importance of being aware of how you are coming across in a conversation. Especially during initial introductions.

I have come to realize that there are certain individuals who have found a formula for any conversation. You know, those people who no matter what the topic is, tend to carry a heavy weight once their opinion or thoughts are stated. The kind of people that shape another person’s perspective on a situation just because of who they are. Some people have benefitted from this skill by naturally having it available to them. Others I have found, have spent time learning 3 major skills that contribute to the weight their voices carry.

1. Humility

This is the first skill that I have found to be consistent with people who have the most influence during a conversation. Sometimes, people spend so much time talking about what they know, that it can come across as justification for what they do not actually understand. Like an elementary school student, who is trying to talk his way out of detention, who do you think is going to come across as guilty, the one who talks about everything he did not do or the one who is confident enough in his actions to shut his trap. If you are truly confident in a specific area, then why would you speak over someone in order to express that? Naturally, this comes across as a lack of self-confidence. Humble yourself and let the other person speak. You are good at what you do, so don’t be desperate for approval.

2. Consistency

Speak from a clear mind, all of the time. The person who can be the most level-headed in the room is always the one who levels the room. It doesn’t matter what kind of day you are having, or what may be going on at home, never allow that to affect the relationship that you are developing during a conversation. Be known as the guy or gal who never allows themselves to slip by allowing what is going on outside of a situation to have an effect on the present moment. I use the term allow because as a human, it is a choice to handle yourself how you decide to. This may come across as difficult for some people because we love to make excuses for our actions. People should know what to expect when they ask for your opinion, continue to build that level of trust with them. “Trusted with little, trusted with more”.

3. Be Underestimated

“The nail that sticks up, is always the one to be hammered down.” I heard this quote recently and it has impacted the way I walk into every situation since. Does the term “know-it-all” strike you as the type of description somebody would want to include on their resume? No way. In fact, it does not matter how much you know. The more opinionative you come across, the worse off you are.

One massive point that I need to make clear is to stop talking about your own accomplishments. What do you think carries more weight? Somebody hearing about something great you did or you telling somebody about something great that you did. I will leave it at that.

All in all, this is a big topic for me because it was something that I had to learn, quickly. I learned what works and what doesn’t simply by observing my surroundings and watching how people interact with one another. One question that I want to leave you with is one that I hope you are already asking yourself after reading through this post. Who are you going to be? A person who speaks first, or a person who listens first?

Thanks for reading,

Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Isaac Hanekamp

I am an entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant, and writer residing in the Greater Toronto Area. I’ve worked with businesses in multiple industries including law, health, and beauty. I enjoy diving into ventures that drive community growth and inspire not only myself but others as well.