Starting a conversation, making eye contact, shaking hands – these seem like basic skills everyone should possess. But in the days of social media, mobile devices and the trend toward staying home for entertainment, are our kids learning the social and communication skills they need to succeed in whichever career path they embark on?
A recent article on Inc.com, titled “These 3 Billionaires Agree: You Need This Skill to Be Successful.” discusses how Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates all agree that developing strong communication skills are essential for success. In it, they quote Richard Branson who writes, “Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow, and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said — and in some cases what is not being said. Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.”
It’s important to take the time and find opportunities to help your kids develop their communication and social skills whenever possible. We teach kids the basics of good communication in our Young Entrepreneur programs, and created the acronym ABC to help kids remember these tips as they prepare to sell on Market Day:
The ABC’s of Good Communication:
- Clothes, hair, etc. should be neat and tidy and portray the image you want for yourself and your business.
- Be enthusiastic. Show passion for your product or idea. If you aren’t excited about it, why would anyone else be? And don’t forget the basics: smile, be friendly and polite.
- Make eye contact. People are more likely to trust someone that looks at them directly. Try to imagine you are talking to a friend or family member. Everyone is someone’s friend or family member, right?!
- Stand up straight. Leaning or slouching will make it look like you are not really interested or taking things seriously.
- Practice a firm handshake. Your handshake should be firm but not hard. This communicates confidence and pleasure in meeting someone.
- Listen. Everyone likes to be heard. Listen actively and show you’ve really heard them by your response.
- Avoid “filler words.” Terms such as “like,” “um,” and “uh” should be avoided. The more you practice, the more these will disappear.
- Don’t waste time. Be concise. No idea is good enough to keep someone’s attention for longer than they like. We all tune out at some point, so be aware of your time.
- Speed of voice. Try not to talk too quickly or they won’t remember what you said.
- Be thankful. Thank the person for their time, and smile as you leave!