Lauded as “the greatest American humorist of his age,” Mark Twain said, “I’ll never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Twain knew that the basics of communications (reading, writing speaking) taught in school were just the beginnings of being able to impart and exchange information.  Twain knew that the true purpose of communications was and is to build and grow connections with people.

Since real estate is a most definitely a people business, here are 12 necessary communications skills. If Mark Twain had been in charge of your classroom, he’d likely have encouraged you to develop and use them in order to enhance your connections with people.

  1. Showing empathy.  Empathy makes us human rather than a job title or a Twitter handle. Showing empathy enables us to see another person from his/her point of view rather than our own.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Showing empathy enables us to show how much we care.
  2. Resolving conflict.  Conflicts are often the result of poor communications.  Responding to a problem rather than reacting to the person who presents the problem is a good first step.
  3. Asking good questions…is much more important that coming up with the right answers. Ask open ended, leading questions, not questions that solicit yes/no answers.  Good questions come from a healthy curiosity.
  4. Negotiating effectively.  You can still be “nice” and negotiate effectively.  Listen both to what’s being said and what is not being said.  Have options ready to show you’re seeking a win-win outcome.  Be clear, be assertive about what you want and how far you’re will to go.
  5. Proactive listening.  This is a highly underrated skill.  Good listeners are often seen as trusted, patient, generous.  Listen to them as though they are the most important person in the world.
  6. Using body language.  Since we know that 97% of communication is non-verbal, dial into your own non-verbal communicators (eyes, smile, handshake, posture) and observe your client’s as well. Know if she’s engaged, defensive, bored, impatient, etc.
  7. Perfecting you elevator pitch.  Some say we have only 7 seconds, others say 30 seconds to communicate our “message.”  Make it concise, simple and memorable.  Give her/him a reason to care about your message and show how your message benefits her/him more than anyone else’s.
  8. Inspiring others with an idea.  Ideas are one of the most contagious, powerful elements of any communication.  Ideas create common bonds as they are built upon the power of imagination.  Share your ideas and be open to suggestions about how to improve/interpret them.
  9. Acknowledging others.  Let him/her know there’s something wonderful in and about him/her.  This is an acknowledgment of his/her way in the world that has nothing at all to do with nor benefit to you.
  10. Confident public speaking.  Public speaking can inspire and influence others.  Think of Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill.  Find one person in the audience who needs to hear your message and speak that message to her/him.
  11. Projecting leadership.  Aim to be a leader who serves her clients/followers/constituents. People only follow people they trust.  The more empathic the leader, the more loyal the client/etc.
  12. Building authenticity and trust.  Keep it real.  Don’t fake it.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not.  Be true to yourself and stand for something that’s worthwhile.  And be honest about your qualities and your shortcomings.

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