Have you experienced approaching someone to discuss an issue and they’re half-heartedly listening to you and they just carrying on what they’re doing?
How’s that made you feel? Unimportant and a nuisance?
Sadly, what’s missing here is interpersonal skills, particularly around communications.
Communication is vital to build relationships and get the best outcome for your business. Most of us have had our emails misunderstood or our verbal conversations which have created issues. That’s because we don’t always stop and reflect on what messages we’re giving.
I’ve heard people say there is a tone in that email or text message! Yet the majority of the time it’s because the message has been written to the point and is business-like. I used to get feedback that my emails were too focused on business and needed some personal elements in them. It took me ages to understand that it was about conveying warmth and interest in the other party. Now I shudder when I see other people doing the same.
We are all different in how we understand information and when communicating we need to use clues to pick up the person’s natural style for understanding.
Listen to the language people are using and this will often tell you whether they are a visual, a feeling or a hearing type of person.
So, we’ve established there’s a skill to communications and it doesn’t do any harm to stop and reflect on our approach.
Four tips I have picked up along the way are:
Listen and I mean really listen – Make a conscious decision to actively listen. Show it through your physical response. Don’t interrupt and give your undivided attention. Often, you’ll find yourself subconsciously copying the speaker’s body language which helps create a bond. <Repeat the last few words the person says now and then, to show listening.Don’t be frightened of silences as it gives the person an opportunity to formulate thoughts and often generates more in-depth information and creates greater rapport.
Use Non-verbal body language– Look out for visual signs from the other person as these are wordless clues. Do they appear comfortable with what you’re saying? Do they seem interested and engaged? It’s said if people cross their arms they’re being defensive but like all things you need to read this with other non-verbal clues. Don’t spend the time looking at your mobile phone as it demonstrates a lack of interest. And remember to look people in their eyes, but don’t stare.
How does their tone sound and how are they standing? Sounds difficult to use, but the good news is most of us are brought up to read body language as we develop.
Use those questions – Most of us like being asked questions about ourselves or our opinion. So, if you want to find out information and get to know more, use questions. Make them open questions and usually, you’re on a winner. The best questions start with what, why, how and describe. It helps with small talk and the person will feel you are interested in them, which is important.
When you’re listening to people, ask questions to expand on what they’re talking about to help your understanding and find out more. Invite opinions, as you will learn a lot about the person and the person then feels valued.
Learn the person’s story – Ask the person about their ideas, their goals and what they love doing. You will be amazed at what you find out. Don’t think you know what the person has been through. Show empathy and give time. Be really interested in the person to build a relationship that’s beneficial for both sides. Make the other person feel important but make sure you do it genuinely.
I hope you find these tips useful. If you would like to discuss help and support for your business and employees, then do contact me on 07766010942 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to have an informal chat.