Read my lips

IS communicating with people a dying art form? Many people, invariably older than younger, appear to hold this view. And they can argue a case too. The impact of countless hours watching mind-numbing television, the reduced need for face-to-face contact as computers, electronic mail and other technology relentlessly changes our work lives are some of the arguments. Whatever you believe, there is no doubt that a manager with poor communication skills is severely handicapped when it comes to leading, inspiring and managing people. Some people are better at communicating than others. Why is that so? What do they do or say which makes them stand out as skilled communicators? Why do people pay them more attention when they talk, and act on what they say? These are some of the things the better communicators do. •They adopt a perspective that looks at the whole situation, not just the parts of most interest to them. •They declare if what they are expressing is fact or based on assumption or inference. •They stay attendant and focused on you while you are talking. •They allow you to finish your point without interrupting unless you’re rambling. •They show that they have been listening to you by commenting on what you have been saying or acknowledging the action you are requesting. •They pick up on a point you have made and then expand on it further. •They combine logic with passion and energy. •They choose their words carefully and with precision so that what they say is what they mean to say. They avoid over-reactions, exaggerations and generalisations. •They acknowledge points you have made which they agree with and ask you to elaborate on points on which they are unclear. •They describe things as they perceive them to be without making any judgement about them. •They use words which are simple to understand and in common usage. •They start a conversation with a background statement to give you a context. •They check your knowledge of the topic or situation instead of assuming that you know. •They use anecdotes, imagery and their own experiences to create word pictures. •They relate what they are saying to your situation or experiences. •They speak up about their rights while at the same time acknowled-ging your rights in the situation. •They watch your body language to see if you become disinterested or distracted. •They stop talking when they see that you are distracted or have stopped listening. (Why would anyone keep talking when it’s obvious that the other person is not listening?) •They seek your opinion about things that they have said. •They frequently check to see that they are being understood by asking you for your interpretation of the points they have been making. •They describe the situation to you from your point of view. •They express their ideas even when they differ from those around them and don’t get upset when someone disagrees with them. •They describe the positive aspects of things rather than the negative aspects. •They ask questions to explore situations rather than making quick judgements. •They ask great questions such as: What ‘facts’ are we using which may be inaccurate or generalisations? Could there be some information missing? What other meanings could apply and be true in this situation? What other beliefs could serve us better and be true? How would you prefer to feel about this? What other intentions could help us? Are we taking the action that serves us best? How could we handle this better than we are? From the best-selling book series, You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 – published by McGraw Hill and sold worldwide. Described by HR Magazine as, “an absolute treasure”, listed five times in Management Today’s National Top 10 Best-selling Books, on-line – Daniel Kehoe (Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants) is the creator and developer of the highly acclaimed Super-Thinker ® Business Improvement Tools – see them at 08 9477 1135

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