5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Every Time You Speak

Lincoln is remembered for the Gettysburg Address. The rest of us live with the impression others take from ordinary conversation.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore • Jul 7, 2015 Originally published Jul 7, 2015

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If the first thing people notice about us is our appearance, the next notable impression is how we sound. Successful entrepreneurs succeed by speaking slightly differently than the average person. Whether you're convincing a prospect to become a client, influencing a customer to see your point of view, or inspiring colleagues to do their best work, it's wise to master the art of persuasion.

Effective communication is an essential tool in every successful person's skill set. Here are five ways to tap the powerful conversational tactics and influence people.

1. Speak from knowledge and power.

If someone asks you a question and you don't know the answer, don't just say "I don't know." Instead, say something that shows what you do know. For example: "Debbie is the real expert on this subject, so let's loop her into this conversation to see if she can help us answer this question."

That response bolsters your credibility by showing you are actively engaged in solving the problem and that you know how to get information by accessing your colleagues' expertise.

Related: The 6 Elements of Persuasion (Infographic)

2. Move the conversation forward.

When you encounter obstacles, ask your team members, "What else can we do now to take another step towards a solution?" Solicit their ideas and listen to their answers, even if they seem far-out or impractical. This encourages people to open up and share what's on their mind. Someone on your team may have the unique knowledge and talents to see the challenge through new eyes or a new angle.

3. Express empathy.

Showing people that you understand and appreciate how hard they work goes a long way toward earning their respect and getting them to value your abilities. Do this by actively listening to their concerns and reflecting their perspective back to them. Employ sympathetic body language (like leaning forward and maintaining direct eye contact) during conversations to show that you are concentrating to what they're saying. Use phrases like "That sounds challenging" and "I hear what you're saying" to promote connection.

Related: A Bit of Empathy Might Be the Best Marketing Strategy

4. Convey confidence in yourself and others.

Whenever anyone critiques you, gracefully accept their comments by thanking them sincerely for honestly sharing their views, even if you disagree with their opinion. That response shows you are secure enough to welcome any feedback that could improve your performance, and mature enough to act on it if applicable.

On a similar note, instead of criticizing people for their shortcomings, empower them with constructive compliments like "You're doing a great job on ____" or "I know you can do this." Positive reinforcement encourages colleagues to reach for their full potential.

5. Give credit where it's due.

Acknowledge other people's achievements and demonstrate that you value everyone's contributions and want them to be recognized. For example, when you say, "This was an amazing team effort. I couldn't have done it without you," it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. It conveys modesty, generosity, caring and other positive qualities that make people want to work with you again.

Communication is about connecting people so they can work effectively together toward a common goal. By being honest and open, you'll earn respect and increase your power to have a positive influence on others and the world.

Related: 9 Proven Ways to Get People to Take You Seriously

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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