To some, this will seem like communications 101 but it’s important to remember that there is more to communicating a message effectively than the message itself. In fact according to research on how humans respond to feelings and attitudes, how we deliver a message can have the biggest impact.
At its basic, a message has three main components:
This is such an easy win. Remembering people’s names (and using them) leaves such a good impression so listen up when you are being introduced to someone. Give up thinking about what you’re going to say. Be present: Stop, listen and repeat it, and importantly, keep it for next time.
Using the other person’s name immediately will not only help you to remember their name but it will demonstrate your interest in what they are saying. They will feel special and important to you.
Follow up that interest by paraphrasing and clarifying what you hear and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Be brave and ask questions.
Take a leaf out of Steven Covey’s 13 Trust Behaviours and respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, even those who don’t do anything for you directly.
Ditch the industry jargon, speak human to human. The next time you feel the need to ‘reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team’, by all means, do it. Just don’t say it. Here are a few more notes on the most annoying, pretentious and useless industry jargon.
Are you a bit of a motor mouth? If your communication is being driven by whatever comes to mind try bringing out your natural born journo and take notes, ask questions and really listening to what is being said. Effective listening prevents filling in gaps with interpretation.
When meeting someone for the first time choose your first twelve words carefully. Use the person’s name immediately and include a form of appreciation. eg:
“Thank you, Sharon, for taking the time to meet…”
Thanking someone, immediately acknowledges that you believe their time is a gift. When you are specific about what you are thanking the person for, they are more likely to repeat that behaviour. People repeat behaviour they are rewarded for.
Have you ever experienced a ‘great’ real estate agent at work? It’s like a masterclass in customer service, marketing and sales. They build relationships fast by asking the right questions, listening, and taking brilliant notes, in order to build trust. We wrote extensively about that here.
You can multiply the impact of an important message if you understand your listener. This is not marketing spiel. It’s effective communication and will work in all areas of your professional and personal life.
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. The key to demonstrating empathy is through effective listening and asking the right questions and most importantly identifying the person’s feelings. Start your empathic sentences with
“It sounds like you are… <insert emotion>”. Or, “It looks like you’re <insert emotion>”.
If you have correctly acknowledged someone’s feelings then they will feel heard and understood. If you haven’t they will quickly clarify their feelings, which will help you and them in the conversation. Read more about How Empathy Powers Team Success
You don’t need to make dramatic changes to your communication just take any moment you have to try something different, something better. The smallest change, like a ‘hello’ or a ‘thank you’ can make a huge difference to a relationship or workplace culture.