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Wilson in Washington: 5 Communication Skills Entrepreneurs can Learn from President Bill Clinton

On the last day of Clinton Global Initiative University which was held in early April 2012, my project partner Nasha and I joined 400 other global youth leaders in a community service project at Lincoln Heights, Deanwood, Washington D.C.. The service projects were in collaboration with Rebuilding Together and the United Service Organizations (USO). We were assigned to home repair activities to serve low-income homeowners in need.During the community service, Nasha and I had a wonderful opportunity to exchange some thoughts with the 42th President of the United States, William J. Clinton. I introduced myself as an U.S. Department of State’s scholar from Malaysia and currently studying in Washington D.C.. We shared a light moment and he told us that he went to Malaysia twice after leaving the White House and his favorite place is Kuala Lumpur Bird Park.

Bill Clinton made us felt like to be his old friends even with 8 Secret Service agents, presses and many people around. Impressed, I went back to do a research on his communication skills with the help of my business, psychology professors, American friends and his biography – “My Life”.

  • 1.      Make others feel important.

Bill Clinton is famous for making people to feel like the most important person in the world. He can relate smartly what is important to the person.

The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important. Show others that they are important by asking good questions which relate to them. Show your curiosity and interest in them.

  • 2.       Know how to show emotion – and when not to.

James Borg states that human communication consists of 93%body language while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves.

Bill Clinton is a master of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and his hands, eyes, body movement, emotion can evoke vivid reaction for his audience. At times, silence is a source of great strength too.

  • 3.      Talk in an empathic and consoling voice – the “human voice”.

Bill Clinton makes people to feel like he is speaking from the heart. When you listen to his speeches, it seems that like you are “seeing” his words. Speak from your heart and do not be fake. This skill is very useful in negotiation and convincing others.

  • 4.      Know the facts – in and out.

Don’t talk nonsense. Know what you are talking about. Be precise to details like facts and numbers. If you don’t know, ask.

  • 5.      Focus – and listen.

In many conferences you can see Bill Clinton lean towards to the speaker and listen intently and seriously. He picks up many important points and asks specific questions later.

This is a way to show respect. More significantly, you are absorbing information and knowledge.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen R. Covey