Tag Archive for listening

Communicating -Remove the Roadblocks to Receiving Your Message

Distractions are a major cause of misunderstandings during a conversation. Help your listener by removing as many obstacles blocking the path to your message. You won’t be able to control internal filters such as mental or emotional instability, but you can be aware of physical distractions such as illness, hunger or fatigue if you’re observant, present and aware. Obvious anxiety or fear can be lessened by letting your listener know that you are aware of those emotions.

Help remove language barriers by speaking clearly, enunciating and avoiding excess words. Move to a different location if noise or visual distractions are present.

Copyright 2010 Allie Casey
Excerpt from Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say it and When to Shut-up!

Conflict Resolution Tip – Listen with Your Eyes, Ears & Energy

The next time you communicate with someone, especially when you are trying to resolve a conflict, practice giving them 100% of your attention. It means using direct eye contact. And, it means listening to what they’re saying and to what they’re not saying. Pay attention to body language and listen to the tone, pitch and volume of their voice to catch their true meaning.

Richard Moss says, “The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.”

Giving 100% attention also means doing the difficult internal work of keeping your mind totally focused on them–not allowing yourself to focus on what you are going to say when they stop talking or wondering what you are going to have for lunch.

When you communicate, make the other person feel that, while they’re with you, they are what matters most.

For more 29 more tips and techniques get your FREE Instant Access 6-Part Audio – The Power of Effective Communication by entering your name and email in the box on your right.

Key Communication Tip – Practice Extreme Listening!

Communicating at Work – 5 Reasons Why You are a Poor Listener and What You Can Do About It

I’m going to suggest that most people are poor (or at best, fair) listeners. If you don’t believe you are a poor listener than consider the list below and might walk away with a different belief. In fact, you might wonder how anyone manages to listen without misunderstanding considering all the hoops we put messages through.

Most people listen from their point-of-view or autobiographically while only a small percentage listen with true empathy. Listening from the speaker’s standpoint takes energy, awareness and understanding. It strikes me as a bit like acting. You need to portray a character but you can’t help bring yourself to the role.

Consider the filters that “color” your listening and decide for yourself whether or not your listening skills could use a little help.

1. Education Level: I bet I have your attention already. Too little education in the eyes of the listener and the incoming communication might run through the “I’m not smart enough “or” they think they are better” filter. Reverse the situation and the thoughts and you can see how much education level affects all listeners.

2. Culture: Ethnicity, customs and traditions are filters that are addressed a bit more openly, as suggested by the popularity of diversity training. Visual components that indicate or suggest a different culture may help the aware listener. He or she could use the clues as a reminder to consider how the speaker’s background might support their viewpoint. Conversely, the unaware listener uses the differences to support their own opinion.

3. Economic Background: The “I worked for everything” listener might use this filter to avoid believing the more “economically advantaged” speaker. Just as the other “message sifters” mentioned, economic background can be a barrier to empathic listening no matter which side of the economic coin you were born on. The film “Slumdog Millionaire” comes to mind as a great example of prejudicial listening.

4. Family Messages: Was your family open and demonstrative or indirect and more formal? Did you receive the message that people are generally good or generally evil? What obvious or subliminal messages did you grow up with? Consider how your viewpoint colors your listening. The challenge here is recognizing that other families may not have grown up the same way you did. Remember the first time you had dinner at a friend’s house? Was the dinner conversation lively and encouraged or were controversial topics hush-hush? Think about it.

5. Birth Order: I admit that as the middle child of seven and the first female my mediating qualities were enhanced. Listening to someone who loves conflict and takes the opposing viewpoint just for fun is a challenge for me. How has being the only, first, last or middle child tinted your listening ability?

These are just five of the filters incoming messages go through before we hear a message. I could have included religion, personality and location but the point remains the same—listening from your audience’s perspective takes an acute awareness of your own filters first.

Practice understanding, become knowledgeable and use attentiveness as the tools to becoming a better listener. Misunderstandings will decrease and you might just learn something.

Want more listening tips? First, get FREE instant access to your 6-part audio series on The Power of  Effective Communication by putting your first name and email in the boxes on the upper right. Now pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up, for dozens more tips you can put to use immediately.

Communication at Work—5 Strategies for Developing Leadership and Building Trust

Trust in the workplace, trust in leadership and connecting with others were the key phrases I found in a recent search for the best selling business books. It’s a sign of the times. A lack of leadership and trustworthiness in the workplace appears to be the norm.

Leadership is something everyone in the workplace can practice—not just CEOs and business owners. Communicating trustworthiness starts with honest intention and self-awareness. Additionally, you cannot be an effective communicator or leader if you do not provoke trust in others.

Here are 5 strategies for developing leadership and establishing trust:

1. Tell the truth. Easy to say—difficult to practice. Yet truth is what your customers, co-workers, employees, shareholders and vendors want from you. If a product is going to be delivered late, if a report is not completed, if quality is a problem, if earnings are down tell the truth about it. Most people CAN handle the truth. And, it prompts others to be honest. Truth requires no managing or memorization. Tell the truth—it’s easier.

2. Take action. Leadership means evaluating the available information and moving forward. The best leaders make difficult and timely decisions with about 70-80% of the information. You may never get all the details and waiting to act may result in tragedy. Evaluate and be proactive.

3. Do what you say you are going to do. Okay, this may be a combination of the first two strategies but it bears its own heading. Both actions and in-actions influence others. If you promise to return a call, handle a matter, or show up on time—follow through.

4. Be consistent. Leadership requires consistency in behavior, mood and communication both at home and at work. Nothing kills trust like in-congruency between what you do and say to one person and what you do and say to another.

5. Model what you expect from others. Don’t ask others to do something you wouldn’t do. Trust is developed when you live to ethics.

Communicating leadership requires an inner confidence and an outer personality that can convey that confidence to others both verbally and non-verbally. Many leaders possess the self-confidence to perform tasks and reach goals but lack the ability to connect with people. Trustworthiness is earned through communication not just results.

If you’re serious about developing your leadership qualities start by assessing your communication skills by filling in your name and email address in the boxes on your upper right and grabbing  your FREE 6 part audio on the Power of Effective Communication . You’ll be surprised by your answers–try it it’s fun!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! the Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.

Successful Communication Equals Business Success

1125736_busy_businessman_1How successful you are at communicating determines the degree to which you will be successful in business. Giving instructions, conducting interviews, presentations or selling all involve communication.  Where do you stand?

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

Tony Robbins said that and he was right. The good news is that communication skills can always improved. Start by evaluating your current ability.

Here are a 5 ways to determine how successful you are at expressing yourself:

Ask for and listen to feedback. Most people are fearful of doing this. Few people like to hear the unvarnished truth about how well they come across to others. Yet, this may be the key to unlocking your business growth. Ask people you trust to give you an honest response. Ask a mix of family, friends and business associates to get a better profile. Then listen, really listen. Decide what might be true and choose to make some changes. Be open to the information and thank them for their honesty.

What kind of clients do you have? Are you working with people you enjoy and respect? Do they express themselves well? Do they recommend you to others? 

Would you want to associate with you? What message do you send to others about the people you socialize and do business with? Do you have a variety of associations? “You can’t fly with eagles if you’re hanging out with turkeys,” is a saying that holds a lot of truth. Take a critical look at your relationships and ask yourself if you need to make some changes.

How careful are you about your written or viral communications? Have you gotten lax about grammar and spelling? Do you speak or write in “text?” Do your articles, reports or books have numerous errors that erode your credibility?

How well do you follow-up? This is a big one. Success in personal and business relationships has everything to do with how well you follow-up. I’m including the courtesy of responding to an RSVP on an invitation. Failure to respond affects business—it doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding or a business function—the consequence is far reaching. If this were the benchmark for successful communication most people would be in trouble. On the business side, customer dissatisfaction is overwhelmingly about the lack of follow-up.

Take an honest look at these questions. Choose one you know you can change immediately and implement it now.

Leave me you thoughts. What burning question do you have about communicating in business?

How to Use Communication Skills to Market Your Business

431214_paper_peopleIf you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, who is looking for effective ways to market your business, you probably don’t think of your communication skills as a promotional tool.

All communication is a form of marketing or selling, no matter who you are speaking with. By sharpening your inter-personal skills you can increase the perceived value of your products and services.

Here are a few tips you can use to hone your soft skills for solid results:

1.  Smile more frequently. Wait—you probably think this is silly but the truth is that smiling changes everything. If you’re working long hours, trying to overcome challenges and dealing with frustrations you probably aren’t smiling much.

If you answer the phone or worse greet a customer in person while you’re managing the business of business, it’s unlikely that you’ll greet them with a smile. If you do remember to smile, I’m betting it won’t be genuine. This is unacceptable. You have a business because of those customers. Treat them with respect. Smile.

Smiling sends a powerful message about you and your business.  A stress-free, heartfelt smile invites clients or prospective customers to relax and trust you.  That’s a potent marketing tool. Don’t forget to smile when answering the phone. The tone and pitch of your voice will be more inviting—and people can tell if you’re smiling or not.

The best salespeople keep a small mirror by their phones to remind them to smile when they make or answer a call. Another tip is to post a note that says “smile-you’re making money” by your phone.

Studies show that men smile less frequently than women.  Perhaps they feel that smiling is sign of weakness, or they want to let you know who is in charge or they feel that an emotionless face helps to set boundaries.  The truth is that grinning while saying “no” to someone helps to preserve a business relationship. Whatever the reason, let it go and smile more. It costs nothing and the returns are priceless.

2. Clean up your conversation. This isn’t a reminder to lose the four-letter words from your conversations (that should go without saying.) It is a reminder to eliminate  rambling thoughts, garbled grammar, mumbling and jargon, from  your communication. You don’t hear yourself as others do so record a few phone calls and casual conversations to see how you really sound to others. After listening to the play back, ask yourself if you would do business with you?

This doesn’t mean you need to speak with grammatical perfection or even in complete sentences–that’s not how people talk.  It’s a nudge to take a moment to think about your purpose and intentions for what you are about to say in an effort to make it easier for others to follow you.

If your printed marketing materials send one message but your verbal communication sends another that’s a congruency problem. Get them aligned to increase your credibility!

3. Ask more questions. Listen more than talk. Your customers will tell you everything you need to know about what to market and what products they need. You’re in business to solve their problems so make sure you know what their problems are. Don’t assume you know. Ask questions. Do surveys. Invite suggestions. Don’t market a product you’re in love with but doesn’t serve the needs of your customer. Pay attention and ask clarifying questions. Your business depends on it.

These three essential communication skills don’t cost time or money but they can increase your value to your market.  Smile.

How to Quickly Communicate with Anyone and Avoid Misunderstanding

1005753_jpear1earOne of the great understandings in life is the realization that not everyone thinks the same way that you do. And so it goes with communication.

Misunderstandings occur when you fail to communicate in the way others want to want to listen. The solution is to make a shift in your style that better matches the recipient. You do this by using words, intonation, pacing and gestures that resonant with them.

The challenge is to incorporate this into your daily communication.

Here are some guidelines for making a quick determination of communication style types:

  • When greeting someone for the first time, notice how quickly they move. Is it quick and determined or slower and relaxed?
  • What about their gestures? Are they sharp and staccato, animated, measured or barely visible?
  • Is their posture displaying confidence, timidity, friendliness or overload?
  • Do they appear approachable or inaccessible? Do they make direct eye contact or shy away?
  • What emotion does their face reveal? Do they have an easy smile and grinning eyes, a polite half-smile and concerned eyes, little or no smile with darting eyes or a resolute mouth and purposeful eyes?

You can begin to make changes in the way you approach and communicate with others by noticing these physical characteristics. Make it a game to observe the people you work with, on the street and at home.

Quickly shift your energy and physicality to better match theirs and watch what happens. Think of this as dancing with different partners. You don’t need to become someone else you simply need to learn how to move together so you glide smoothly across the room without stepping on each others toes.

The study of communication styles is exhaustive but if you apply this simple method you can begin to communicate with less effort and enjoy fewer misunderstandings.

If you would like to learn 29 more tips and techniques just grab your FREE 6-part audio series on “The Power of Effective Communication” by putting your name and email in the boxes on your upper right.  Or simply pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it today at Amazon.