Your relationship success skills determine your
level of success
in every aspect of life. See how Warren Buffett’s
strategy for business success
may be used to improve interactions in your
relationships as you enjoy this
guest post by Marcel Schwantes.
Improve this area of your life,
and watch your results be magnified
By Marcel SchwantesPrincipal and founder,
Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes
We all know that Warren Buffett is a quote machine
for his astonishing, yet simple, wisdom.
Naturally, much of it has to do with investment,
but at age 88, Buffett has dished out plenty of
profound advice on living a successful life.
One quote that caught my attention comes via The
Investor’s Field Guide blog. The writer shares a
story about Buffett telling a Stanford
graduate one of the most important, and often
overlooked, keys to success. Buffett said:
At your age, the best way you can improve yourself
is to learn to communicate better. Your results in
life will be magnified if you can communicate them
better. The only diploma I hang in my office is
the communications diploma I got from Dale
Carnegie in 1952.
Without good communication skills you won’t be
able to convince people to follow you, even though
you see over the mountain and they don’t.
“Learn to communicate better.”
While Buffett’s advice is a no-brainer, we often
underestimate the importance of communication in
building credibility and influencing
others–customers, employees, peers, bosses, and
Research conducted by the Carnegie Institute of
Technology revealed that a surprising 15 percent
of financial success comes from knowledge or
technical skills. The other 85 percent? Your
ability to effectively communicate, negotiate, and
lead in the manner of both speaking and listening.
When Buffett talks about learning to be a better
communicator, he’s not just alluding to fancy
words coming out your mouth. There are plenty of
things we should and should not do to communicate
at a high level.
Let’s take a look at four of them now.
1. Get all the facts before you assume things.
Henry Winkler once said, “Assumptions are the
termites of relationships.” So often, we falsely
assume things about people and circumstances
stemming from the stereotypes and wrong
impressions we’ve learned, which can cloud our
judgment when we communicate. Before giving your
brain free reign to assume something, stop and
Do I have all the facts, or am I making an
Do I want to prove that my assumption is right, or
do I want to develop a deeper connection with this
person by asking versus assuming?
Don Miguel Ruiz, best-selling author of The Four
Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,
has some good perspective on why we make
assumptions. He states:
If others tell us something, we make assumptions,
and if they don’t tell us something, we make
assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to
replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear
something and we don’t understand, we make
assumptions about what it means and then believe
the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions
because we don’t have the courage to ask
2. Give regular feedback.
While giving feedback to let people know where
they stand should be a normal process of effective
communication, not everyone has the capacity to do
it. This is especially true for people in
management roles who are required to use feedback
to address challenging issues and keep people
abreast of their performance.
Research conducted by the Ken Blanchard
Companies shows that “67 percent of people want to
have performance feedback conversations often or
all the time, but only 29 percent actually do.”
Even more alarming, the research states that “36
percent say they rarely or never receive
Leaders who do an exceptional job of providing
feedback do so with clear and consistent messages
that always focus on concrete actions with a
positive end goal in mind. This gives people a
vision to work toward.
3. Listen before you speak.
Building up your active listening skills is
crucial for solving problems, building trust, and
winning the hearts and minds of people. Here’s a
tip: Put down your smart phone, eliminate your
distractions in the moment, and give the speaker
your full attention.
What you’re communicating nonverbally is “I am
interested in what you have to say.” And whatever
you do, don’t interrupt. This is especially true
for a person who is upset and needs your undivided
attention. Allow for ventilation to occur. Park
your thoughts and your need for a rebuttal in the
moment. Your time will come to reflect back what
you heard or state your point.
4. Pay attention to how fast or how slow you talk.
Dr. Donna Van Natten, the “Body Language Dr.” and
author of Image Scrimmage, found that the “optimal
rate” we process information in a conversation is
between 170 and 190 words per minute. Van Natten
says if we use fewer than 170 words per minute, we
are less dynamic and our listener will zone out.
In other words, speed up!
Even more important is being aware of how fast
you’re speaking, especially if the topic of
conversation is about complex work stuff. Van
Natten says that if you’re conversationally
cruising at more than 190 words per minute, “slow
down and seek comprehension,” otherwise your
listener is headed for the deer-in-the-headlights
At worst, if you’re speaking at the breakneck
speed of more than 210 words per minute, expect
the listener to abandon the conversation entirely,
says Van Natten.
The takeaway here? For most learners and people
processing new information, slow things down so
they don’t lose you; for everyday conversations
and written content in which no new information is
being introduced, speed things up.
Take these four steps for communication success,
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