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Communication is the Key to Success

The gift of gab can open quite a few doors.

What’s the one thing that separates humanity from every other living creature on Earth? Opposable thumbs? Good guess, and technically yes, but no. The answer is audible language. We are the only living thing on this planet that communicates by, well, communicating. The ability to vocalize your thoughts and feelings in a clear and concise manner is a very valuable skill. In fact, it’s so valuable, that everyone’s favorite investor, Warren Buffett, says that mastering communication increases your personal worth by at least fifty percent.

According to Buffett, trying to express yourself with poor communication skills is like “winking at a girl in the dark–nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”

So how does one improve communication? Step one is empathy. Everyone has their own perspectives on life, and if two perspectives are too different, there’s a disconnect that can’t be crossed no matter how eloquent you are. Try to communicate with others the way they want to communicate with you. If they want to be formal, be formal. If they want to be casual, be casual.

Step two is listening. A conversation is a two-way street, and if it’s obvious you’re not chipping in, don’t be surprised if your communication partner loses interest. When someone else is talking, listen quietly and absorb what they are saying. You need to address their concerns accurately and logically.

Finally, learn to tell your own story. When working with other people, sooner or later you’ll have to talk a bit about yourself. It’s fine to be open about your interests (usually), but you need to be able to convey that information is a concise and friendly way. If you can do that, you’ll look much more human and approachable.

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