writing tips

A Simple Guide to Effective Communication

We’ve all seen spam emails and hyped-up sales pages that look so sleazy. We see large fonts, boldface, red text, and sometimes even blinking text. Everyone claims to be able to change your life with this one secret you absolutely need. Effortless abundance is there for the taking, but you must ACT NOW because they only have one product left.

But while they’re screaming at you and telling you why they want you to buy it, they’re sending an even stronger message with the words they’re not saying. The fine print may say “results not typical” or “these are paid actors,” but they sure don’t want you to see that, lest it destroy the perfect illusion they’re trying to create.

They’re not trying to help people understand the pros and cons of the product so they can figure out if the product is right for them. Instead, they’re trying to just cram it down everyone’s throats and pressure people into buying.

We’ve all seen this, and we all despise it. Even in one-way media like television, communication is still meant to be a two-way street. The problem is essentially that they’re talking AT people instead of talking WITH them. But is it possible we’re doing similar things without realizing it?

It Starts With The Other Person

When we’re having a conversation with someone, we often have things on our mind that we’re eager to share. That’s fine. But more important than our interest in talking is the other person’s interest in listening. It’s easy to get so caught up in recounting our latest adventure, that we don’t even notice that the person we’re talking to isn’t interested, or they don’t have time to talk, or they don’t understand something.

So start by focusing on the other person. What kind of mood are they in? If it looks like something is bothering them, maybe they have something they need to share before you describe the vacation you just came back from. If they’re avoiding eye contact, turning away, or even looking at their watch, that’s a sign that for whatever reason, they’re not ready to listen to you. Don’t force them.

Don’t just keep talking and talking, but involve the other person. When watching a formal presentation you may have to hold all your questions for the end, but you don’t need to have such a rule in normal conversation. Pause once in a while to hear what they have to say. It should be back and forth, not one-way.

When You’re Selling Something

We all have pretty sensitive sales pitch detectors that go off whenever someone wants to sell us something. Sell is a four-letter word, but it’s not inherently a bad thing. And we all do it. Asking for a favor, asking for a raise, asking for a date–it’s all selling.

Whenever you want someone to do something, it’s extremely important to communicate in a natural, non-sales pitchy way. If you think about it, people usually do a good job of asking someone to marry them. No one goes up to a stranger and says “Are you ready to change your life? If you’re SERIOUS about living the life you’ve always wanted, you’ll need to MARRY ME NOW before this exclusive offer expires!”

No, they build up the relationship over time, understand the other person’s needs, and show that there’s a good fit between them. And that same kind of thing, usually on a smaller scale, is what we need to do whenever we want someone to do anything.

Sometimes I get an email from someone asking if I want to advertise on their site, promote their product, etc. These emails almost always sound like canned sales pitches, and I’m sure they’re just sending out a form letter to everyone. But no one wants to be treated like just another prospect.
You don’t expect to withdraw money from the bank before you first make a deposit. And you shouldn’t expect to grab someone’s interest before you get to know them. Otherwise, you’re just another ad screaming at them. Why should they care? How will they benefit? They can’t know unless you’re willing to be a real person to them.

It’s just the golden rule, you know. Treat people how you’d like to be treated. And you’d like for people to talk WITH you, not AT you.

About the writer: Hunter Nuttall wants you to stop sucking and live a life of abundance. Visit his site to learn how to improve your life and your income.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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