How to Communicate for Success
Originally published: 05.01.11 by
HVACR Business Staff
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Master the art of
Have you ever wondered why
some people are more successful
than others? Why
some can sell more? Why
some can keep climbing the company
ladder while others get stuck on the
first few rungs? The answer is pretty
simple — they have mastered the art of
How well you can communicate will
determine your chances of becoming a
“high achiever,” which for HVACR business
owners and managers means how
successful you will be at selling and
Even if you naturally are not a
“talkative” type, this still applies.
Communicating and talking are different.
Talking is using the sense of speech.
Communicating is exchanging meaningful
information, whether it’s discussing
why one product is superior to another
on a sales call, or explaining to employees
how a new workplace policy will
In John Maxwell’s new book Everyone
Communicates, Few Connect, he tackles
this head on. Maxwell writes that good communicators have stronger and deeper
relationships and that these relationships
help them become high achievers.
Before I explain how this happens, I
want to share some of the communication
styles that I have observed and defined
after reading the book.
• Tellers: They tell you what you need
to hear. These are one-sided conversations
dominated by someone who
feels they have all of the answers. If
you’re anything like me, you stop listening
soon after the lecture begins.
• Babblers: I don’t
think I could give a
better definition of this type of communicator
than what my brother said when describing his 3-year-old
daughter: “She just talks until she
thinks of something to say.” We’ve all
been cornered by a babbler. They confuse
speaking for communication.
• Passives: This person can’t look you
in the eyes when you are talking.
They respond quietly and rarely do
anything but agree with you. Passivity
blocks the potential for communication to convey meaning, and it makes
for boring conversations.
• Confidents: These communicators
look you in the eye, ask questions,
listen to your full responses, and then
have follow-up questions. They make
you think, and you learn new things from them. Confident communicators
know how to engage their
I think we can all agree that being a
Confident is the best choice. So how do
we do this?
The first step is to identify which type
of communicator you are. Above are my
definitions. Use these or come up with
your own. If you truly don’t know what
type of communicator you are, Maxwell
recommends asking someone who will
give you open and honest feedback. In
my case, I asked my wife. After a good
laugh, she gave me — and continues to
give me — communication “coaching”
for 20 years.
Becoming a Better Communicator
The next step is simple: Strive to be a
better communicator than you are. Even
if you determine that you already are a
good communicator, following these tips
from Maxwell will make you better:
• Be prepared: If you’re going to be
confident, you must be prepared. If
I ever stumble in a presentation, it
is always because I’m not prepared. This holds true for sales calls or
• Don’t be phony: People know if you
are being fake or phony. No one can
fake passion, so talk only about what
you feel passionately about.
• Make eye contact: Whether you
are communicating one on one, in a
small group, or presenting to a large
group, everyone wants to see you.
When they see you making eye contact,
they know you are engaged.
• Bring some energy: Act like you
want to be there. If you simply go
through the motions, you will lose
your audience no matter how big or
• Group speaking: Move. Don’t stand
like a statue. People will follow you if
you express yourself while speaking.
• Relate: When preparing, study up
on the audience. If you know your
audience, you will know how to personalize what you are talking about
so that it makes a connection. These are all easy things to do — if
we can make ourselves do them. If you
aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to unknowingly
become self-centered in your
communication style, which turns people
away. The classic HVACR example is
talking too much about equipment specifications
and not enough about benefits
when on a sales call.
Becoming a self-centered communicator
is especially problematic for those
of us in technical industries because, in
general, communication is not one of
our strong points. So look at it this way:
If you can master being a confident communicator,
you will have a significant
advantage over competitors.
Effective communicators naturally
build more meaningful relationships
both inside their companies and outside because they are constantly exchanging
valuable information. These relationships,
in turn, help them become high
achievers in their careers and personal
Maxwell supports this theory with
a study of 16,000 executives. The best
performers (High Achievers) exhibited
attributes that foster meaningful
information exchange. The lowest
performers (Low Achievers) see
communication as threatening.
• Care about people as well as profits.
• View subordinates optimistically.
• Seek advice from those under them.
• Listen well to everyone.
• Concentrate on production.
• Focus more on their own status.
• Are reluctant to seek advice from
those under them.
• Listen only to superiors.
• Are preoccupied with their personal
• Show a basic distrust of
• Don’t seek advice.
• Avoid communication and rely on
High Achievers are simply more
secure with themselves than Low
Achievers. Later in the book, Maxwell
directly addresses why this is: “Maturity
does not always come with age;
sometimes age comes alone.”
This is probably one of the best explanations
I have heard on why people with
the potential for high achievement never
make it there. You simply cannot be a
strong, confident performer if you hold
on to youthful insecurities and allow them to block effective communication.
High Achievers are O.K. with being
wrong and don’t seek credit when they
are right. Low Achievers seek credit in
order to gain a false sense of security.
The bottom line is that all of this
begins and ends with communication.
The more effective you are as a communicator,
the better the relationships you
have. Once you have mastered these
qualities, you will be a very strong and confident person that others will want to work for or buy from.
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