Is What I’m About to Say Worth It?
Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of Girl Scouts, “When people are speaking, they require our undivided attention. We focus on them; we listen very carefully. We listen to the spoken words and the unspoken messages. This means looking directly at the person, eyes connected; forget you have a watch and just focus for a moment on that person. It’s called respect, it’s called appreciation – and it’s called leadership.”
Communicating simply and powerfully is an art form and it takes repetition. Simply engaging with active and appreciative listening skills isn’t enough. Think before you speak. You brain is processing 6B bits of information a minute and subconsciously, we all are trying to think of something intelligent to say once ‘they’re finished talking’.
“Listen with respect. Well, what’s in it for me and for them?”
Why should I communicate simply and powerfully? It’s 2019 and trying to lead people, businesses and organizations with a 1980’s mindset is, well frankly, irrelevant anymore. Irreverent, arrogant of me? No! The point is how long can you tolerate a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach that doesn’t yield the results you must have to be sustainable and sacrifices relationships in its wake? What you came for today are ‘what skills you can adopt and implement immediately. ‘These are not tricks and traps or methods of manipulation. Below are time tested techniques to help you listen, engage others, be engaging, be the message and lead. They include:
Wait. Wait until they’re finished speaking. Take your time and allow some space after they’ve finished to ensure they have indeed finished. The powerful listener will hear what the next follow up question must be. The speaker wants to ‘tell you more’ and they will if you ask them the next right question. Anything else?
Thank you. If you’re praised just say thank you. Nothing else. No one asked you to bloviate or be evermore effusive. And no, you don’t need to praise the other person in-return; it’s received with minimal sincereity (it’s superficial at best). Be the first to say ‘thank you’ in your conversations to earn respect and the right to advance.
Ask Powerful Questions. Hold up your end of the dialogue by asking great, intelligent questions. These are questions that begin with ‘what’ and ‘how’. Why seeks motivavtion and explanation not information gathering and data seeking or sharing of ideas. Seek first to understand as Stephen Covey wrote, gain empathy of the other person and their situation, and state what you heard to ensure you’re both congruent. Show you’re paying attention, move the conversation forward and keep your eyes engaged. And, stop fidgeting!
While these are three very simple, practical and powerful tools you can implement immediately, some of us may need a tiny refresher on the things to avoid as well, such as:
Interrupting – besides being rude, it absolutely demonstrates behaviors that will ruin relationships not to mention yield few if any results. Why? Didn’t I ask you to NOT use that adverb; if you must know, it underlies a greater issue with your ego coming from a place of low self esteem. I mean if we’re getting to root-cause analysis…
Using the words, ‘no’ or ‘but’ – shift the conversation by stating, ‘yes, and’, see if you don’t gain more followership versus coming across as an arrogant opinionated fop. If they want your opinion, they’ll ask for it. If you disagree with a stated position or decision, then say so respectfully.
Impress Me – trying to impress the other person with how smart or funny you are does little to elevate your personality towards respect and is more of an emotional response to an uncomfortable setting or situation. No one really cares how good this or how great at that you are. Leading is listening. Listening is Influencing and influencing is impactful.
Other ‘no-no’s are finishing sentences, having your eyes wander and non-verbals of disconnected behaviors are to be avoided while someone is talking.
What’s My Takeaway Today?
Why this article at this particular time? There you go with a why question again…how many of you have channel surfed and come across a baseball game this week? Did you know there have been over 6,000 home runs already this season? That’s 1 HR for every 25.8 at bats and it’s only early May! Why is this stat staggering you ask? Try this, what makes this statistic a big deal Scott? Better question. The last time there were this many HR’s in baseball was 2000 – the Steroid year. Don’t be alarmed. I’m not suggestion any conspiracy, but look at it this way.
What will ONE more base hit do for you at work?