Have you ever conversed with someone who made you feel like the most important person in the room?
Or have you observed someone on stage effortlessly evoking emotion in every audience member?
These individuals have mastered the art of connection, and by studying them, we can learn how to improve our communication skills.
In this article, we’re unraveling the 10 conversational nuances that signify a communication magician. So, grab a pen and paper to take notes as we break down the magic behind their skills!
1) They are detail-oriented
Master communicators inspire and influence because they make the people they speak to feel heard.
It’s all in the detail.
Master communicators notice all the little details the rest of us miss.
They pay attention to every word the other person says. Then, they bring those details up later, showing the person they really listened to them.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say someone is telling you a story about an upsetting incident at work. Rather than just understanding the gist of it, if you’re a master communicator, you’ll hear all the little details like when it happened, who was there, etc.
But it’s not just verbal details that pro communicators notice during a conversation. They are also skilled at spotting physical things, such as:
- The color of the shirt they are wearing
- The design of their necklace or earrings
- The way they wore their hair that day
Being highly aware of others allows communication pros to do the following…
2) They quickly pick up on social cues
Master communicators can spot if the person they’re talking to becomes anxious or uncomfortable.
This is quite the superpower as it means:
- They can tell when someone wants to interject or have their say, stopping themselves from dominating the conversation.
- They can see when someone doesn’t understand and, thus, find a different way to explain things.
- They can see when they’re keeping someone from doing something else and wrap the conversation up at the right time.
So, how do master communicators pick up on these things?
It’s all about the other person’s facial expressions, body language, and energy.
For example, they notice when someone’s facial expression changes, signaling they may have said something wrong.
And they spot when someone turns their body slightly away or crosses their arms, suggesting they are getting defensive.
But it isn’t just the other person’s body language that they carefully watch…
3) They are always aware of their own body language
Not only are master communicators cautious of the vibe they give off through their body language, but they also use it intentionally.
- They sit or stand tall to show confidence and authority
- They relax their shoulders when they notice the other person is tense to help them relax.
- They nod while the other person is talking to show they are listening.
But arguably, the most crucial aspect of body language is eye contact, which excellent communicators always master 100%.
4) They look people in the eye
Not looking at someone while talking to them shows disinterest. Likewise, lacking eye contact while they speak to you can make them feel unheard.
However, there is also a thing as “too much eye contact.” Constantly staring at someone can make them feel uncomfortable and on edge.
Master communicators know precisely how much eye contact to use.
So, what is the optimal amount?
According to social psychologist Michael Argyle, you should aim to look into someone’s eyes 70-80% of the time you are listening or speaking to them.
This means you want to look them in the eyes most of the time. But it’s essential to break eye contact now and again to not freak them out!
Communications expert Ben Decker recommends maintaining eye contact for 7 to 10 seconds when conversing one-to-one. If you’re communicating in a group, reduce this length to 3 to 5 seconds per person.
5) They ooze empathy
Master communicators practice nonviolent communication (NVC).
They avoid criticizing the other person when expressing their needs and feelings and instead show empathy and understanding.
Nonviolent communication is a conversation style developed by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg.
It is based on the idea that we all have the same need and desire for trust, safety, and appreciation.
When you approach conflict from this mindset, you see yourself and the other person as equal and the same. So, instead of trying to manipulate, blame, or shame them, you empathize with them.
6) They are intentional with their words
Have you ever been told to think before you speak?
This is something that master communicators always practice.
Those who excel at communication always consider their words before responding to someone.
Thinking before opening your mouth allows you to be intentional with your words, not just choosing the right words but expressing them in the correct order.
If you don’t pause before responding, you can use a word that doesn’t correctly convey how you feel. On the other hand, jumbling your words up gives off the impression that you’re incompetent.
So, how can you properly structure your sentences to ensure you are fully understood?
Try the pyramid principle.
Also known as top-down thinking, this communication tool is popular in the workplace. Barbara Minto coined it in her book “The Pyramid Principle,” teaching you how to break down your reply into three parts to convey and express your message effectively.
- The answer
- A summary of the supporting arguments behind the answer
- Any necessary details or data that contribute to the supporting arguments
7) They adjust their tone based on the situation
Along with words, tone is super important.
Think about it.
Our tone is a big giveaway of how we are feeling. It shows if we’re fed up, excited, anxious, etc.
Master communicators understand what every tone conveys and use this to their advantage by speaking in the tone that represents how they want to come across.
Deliberate tone is an underrated communication skill that most people lack.
When we’re upset or annoyed about something, this is often expressed in our tone when speaking to someone else.
However, the person we’re talking to is unaware of where the emotion behind our tone comes from.
Let’s say we argued with our partner in the morning. Then, later that day, our employee approached us to ask for our opinion. Because we still feel annoyed by the earlier argument, we reply to the employee with a tone conveying frustration.
While we are annoyed at our partner, not our employee, we unknowingly convey the emotion through our tone of voice toward our staff. As a result, the employee thinks they have done something wrong.
8) They evoke emotion
We already know that master communicators have a way of moving, inspiring, and motivating those they speak to.
But how do they do this?
One reason is their ability to evoke emotion in their audience.
This is a key difference between an average communicator and a master.
Anyone can explain facts and statistics, but it takes great skill to evoke emotion in the audience as you present them.
If a master communicator wants to evoke a positive emotion, they might choose humor.
But if they want to evoke an emotion like sadness, fear, or anger, one way they will do so is through storytelling…
9) They are excellent story tellers
Storytelling is key whether you’re communicating through writing, public speaking, or singing.
Because the undeniable truth is that, as human beings, we love stories.
Research suggests that we’re more likely to retain information when told it in a story.
This is because more of our brain regions are activated when we’re given information through a story rather than just told facts and figures.
In his essay “The Science of Storytelling,” Leo Widrich explains that when we hear a story, “Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.”
For example, if the story is about food, there will be increased activity in our sensory cortex. Or if the story is about travel, our motor cortex lights up.
So, stories evoke emotions because our brains make us relate to what we hear.
Another way master communicators evoke emotion and inspire people to act is through their own vulnerability…
10) They are not afraid to be vulnerable
Vulnerability has been proven to foster trust and closeness between the people involved in the conversation.
As Jeff Polzer, a professor of organizational behavior at Harvard, explains, opening up to someone breaks down the barrier of self-preservation, showing them you are a human being just like them.
As you share your struggles, the other person can relate more with you, which increases your personal trustworthiness and the conviction of what you are saying.
From noticing the tiniest details to reading social cues, these communication geniuses bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “smooth talker.”
But luckily, communication is a skill we can learn. So start incorporating these 10 traits into your conversations today!