Flickr / Photo by Nguyen Hung Vu.

Seven Magic Words For Better Communication 

What's the biggest problem in the world?
Regardless of being rich, poor, smart, dumb, old, or young, everyone tends to face this age-old dilemma time and time again. But what is the biggest problem in the world you ask? According to author Tim David of "Magic Words," it's not being able to get people to do stuff. However, in order to get people to do stuff, you likely have to motivate and influence them. And in order to motivate them, you need to be a good leader. Good leaders require stellar communication skills and the ability to increase human connection. Thus, here are seven magic words to help solve the conundrum of getting people to do stuff. 

The number one fear across countries all over the world is public speaking, but the root of that fear is actually public rejection. A primitive, but powerful part of our brain links the word “no” to rejection because it's threatening. However, this means that “yes” has the exact opposite effect. “Yes” is positive; it's a sign of acceptance and mutual understanding. 

Using the word “yes” instills motivation and confidence, so it's a great word to say to yourself when you need to get psyched up for a sales pitch or presentation. If you're going to be interacting with another person, try finding a way to say “yes” towards the beginning of the conversation because it will ease tension and create rapport. Not only that, but studies show that incorporating at least three “little yeses” into a conversation increases the outcome, whether it be closing a sale, or getting kids to clean their room. Here is a dialogue example with little yeses:

Sally: Hi, are you Eric? 
Eric: Yes
Sally: Great, and you're here for your 10:30am appointment, yes?
Eric: Yep (this still counts as a “yes”)

Studies have shown that when incorporating three little yeses into a conversation, the rate at which a sales rep can close a deal grows from 18 to 32 percent. Regardless of how big or small the agreement, when someone says “yes”, they are agreeing with you. 

A sentence with the word “but” in it always has an agreeable part and a disagreeable part. Typically, the agreeable part comes first, and the disagreeable part comes later. However, as soon as the “but” is mentioned, somehow everything that was said before it is forgotten and all one can focus on is what comes after the “but”. Tim David calls these things the But Eraser and the But Enhancer because everything said before the “but” is erased, and anything said after the “but” is enhanced. The But Effect can be seen in this example: 

“I'd love to go out with you, but I can't.” (The person on the receiving end of this line will have a hard time remembering the first, positive part since the “but” erased it.) 

“I can't go out with you, but I would have loved to.” (Now the positive part of this sentence is enhanced; hopefully leaving the listener in a good mood.) 

The goal of changing the word order is to transform the emotional meaning of the sentence, and if you can't change the word order, try removing the word “but” and replacing it with the word “and”. The literal meaning of the sentence should not change, but at least the emotional meaning can be more positive than negative. 

Our brain wants to feel like we understand the cause for every effect it observes. However, it's important to note that the brain just wants to feel like it understands the cause; it doesn't actually have to understand it. For example, most people who ask a question about why they can't fly, will be completely satisfied with the answer “because of gravity.” Now, they may not know what causes gravity, and even though it's not exactly a full explanation to their flying question, at least it's a name for it. Plus, when paired with the word “because” it satisfies our brain's need for causality. 

A great quote by Seth Godin explains that “people don't believe what you tell them...They always believe what they tell themselves”. Thus, in order to influence someone to do what you want them to do, they have to first believe that it was their own idea. True influence isn't really about persuading; it's about leading. Rather than offer someone a million reasons to try something, maybe ask them why they might want to try it and they'll fill in their own “because”. Their own “because” reasons will now hold more weight than yours, which will also hold more sway on future decisions or behavior. 

Our brain's job is to process sound information in a way that it filters out what is unimportant in order to focus on the important stuff. Our name is one of those items that the brain filters as important. That's why when we're in a crowded, noisy setting, we often hear our name being called from across the room – because we're tuned in to listen for it. Calling someone by their name shows that you appreciate them, whether it be an employee or customer. Not only that, but it creates a positive impression. So the next time you want to win someone over, remember to throw their name into casual conversation once or twice because to that person, their name is the sweetest sound they can hear. 

Studies have also shown that the Name-Letter-Effect (or the letters in our name) influences some minor and even major life decisions because our subconscious finds things relatable. Most people have positive associations about themselves, so it is no shock that people prefer things that are similar to, or connect to them – like letters in their name. Based on statistics, people named Cathy are more likely to drink Coke, and people named Peter probably prefer drinking Pepsi. 

Remember that fear of being rejected? Sometimes people are asked questions about things that they know the answer to, but are too afraid to say it out loud in case they're wrong. If this ever happens to you, think about the question hypothetically. What would you say if you did know? This takes away the pressure that is preventing you to answer. Now it doesn't matter whether or not you have the right answer because you're only replying based on “what if”. Next time someone tells you they can't do something, use “if” as psychological encouragement.

“I know you feel like you can't, but what would happen if you could?”

It always makes someone feel a little bit better when the other person agrees with them (I know), and then by using the word “feel” it should make the idea of can't seem less permanent. The magic word “if” opens all doors to finding a solution because you're pretending that this person can overcome whatever the challenge is. 

The act of asking for help is a way to connect with others. Generally, people like to feel needed and want to help others. When John asks Mary for help, it makes Mary feel important because now John depends on her. This motivation grows when two strong connections (people) are up against a common enemy; it builds rapport. Our culture naturally values independence and being able to look after ourselves, so it's often hard to ask for help because it makes us look vulnerable. The reward sometimes for becoming vulnerable is that the other person is motivated to assist you and might even surprise you with the outcome. 

Gratitude and appreciation go a long way. When businesses show their employees and customers appreciation, it builds their relationships. However, when this is done publicly, it's the most rewarding of all. The more employees feel appreciated, the more motivated they are to do a good job at work, which increases productivity and creativity. This in turn should lead to higher job satisfaction. At the same time, when companies thank their customers for their business, it generates brand loyalty. Hearing the word “thanks” makes people feel of respected, happier, productive and engaged, so the more you can use this magic word, the better. 

Words are Powerful 
Words allow us to connect with others, inspire action and sell products/services. It's imperative to stress that the delivery of the above words be authentic because then the intention of them comes off as positive. Language affects human beings in multiple ways, but when it does so in a negative manner, there's a less likely chance of building a connection. Communication skills are disappearing everyday most likely because of increased technology use and decreased face-to-face interactions. Studies show that people care less about others and more about themselves than any other time in history. This is why it's imperative that we make wiser choices and actively try to use words to bridge differences and connect with others. 

Flickr / Photo by Nguyen Hung Vu.