How to Communicate so that People Listen

March 10, 2015 By Caitlin Sellers

Colleen Cassel, an Executive and Career Coach for individuals and organizations who want to accelerate growth solutions in business and life delivered a riveting presentation to a group of career-minded women in Charlotte with a simple message: how to communicate with people so they will listen.

Colleen  Cassel

Communication is key to getting a job in management. A study released from the University of Pittsburgh states that communication is the number one skill in job success.

We can all agree that communication can make or break a relationship - whether it's navigating interpersonal relationships at work, pitching ideas, presenting information or negotiating a raise. It should be no surprise that over 70% of our day is spent communicating.

7 tips for communicating so that people will listen:

1. Share Personal Information

In business, Colleen suggests inserting or contributing personal information because it allows people to trust you more and it makes for a more open conversation.

2. Listen More

On average, we hear 100 words per minute and speak 850 words per minute. As professionals we need to learn to really engage in listening without tuning out or thinking about the next response.

3. Pay Attention

Stay focused. Remember to stay present! Give your audience undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Maintain eye contact while communicating.

4. Show You’re Listening

Use body language and gestures to convey attention. Nod, smile and other facial expressions. Make sure your posture is inviting and open, rather than closed off. Crossed arms can send the message that you're uninterested in the conversation.

5. Provide Feedback

Reflect on what is being said and ask meaningful questions. Paraphrasing is also a good technique to show that you’ve been listening: “What I’m hearing is….” Or “Sounds like you are saying…”

6. Defer Judgment

Don’t interrupt people and do not prejudge a conversation!

7. Respond Appropriately

Always respond with respect and understanding.

The one takeaway that I think the entire room walked away with was how important LISTENING is to a conversation. Communication is more about listening than speaking. When you do speak, each word should add value to the conversation.

When people meet someone new for the first time, they can make a judgment of them in just 7 seconds. SEVEN SECONDS! You may wonder how the other person perceives your communication style and is able to make a snap-judgment so quickly! Here’s how it’s broken down:

55% is body language

38% is tone of voice

7% are the words you’re actually saying


Communication can be broken down into four different behavioral styles: the Driver, the Analytical, the Influencer, and the Supportive. Everyone has a primary communication style.

Colleen recommends adjusting your communication style to match whoever it is you’re engaging with. For instance, if you have a dominant behavioral style (the Driver) and you need to talk to an Analytical communicator about a new project you should approach the conversation prepared to answer questions and match the slow-methodical pace of the Analytical.

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Caitlin Sellers

Business growth is Caitlin’s focus, people is her passion and digital marketing is her niche. She enjoys advising professionals and businesses about digital marketing and providing inbound marketing strategy and services. Additionally, Caitlin's the energetic community organizer for Local Levo Charlotte in which she provide s the opportunity to elevate women's careers.