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**Great Changes #23! Listen/Observe More to Communicate Better!
March 13, 2013
Encouraging Changes People Desire
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Issue #23: March 13, 2013
Successful people typically are very good communicators. They use their communications skills to help people. The secrets: Winners have great listening and observation skills! This helps them discover challenges people face, and helps to figure out ways to improve them.
This article (Part 4 of this series) discusses the importance of listening to and observing people and situations, and how it produces better communications and more success.
The first 3 articles of this series included 1) basic reasons why communication skills are so important, 2) the value of goal setting and planning important communications, and 3) how the specific parties and topics of discussion impact how to communicate more successfully.
Pay Attention and Do your homework first! Just like any other endeavor, being prepared and knowing what you're "up against" are several keys to successful results. For example, when fixing a car, listen to its sounds to help figure out what is and isn't working properly. And observe its component parts; how the tires are wearing will indicate other conditions, such as wheel alignment.
Prepare: Listen and observe what the other party's current situation is, as well as their goals, challenges and desires. These things are vital in analyzing the steps necessary to get from where they are today, to what they want to achieve. By accurately listening and observing, you may actually know more about what the other party needs to do than they do!
If the goals are realistic, something that makes sense, decide what help you could provide. And try to figure out whether they actually will want your help.
Listen to others: For very important situations, it's best to get feedback from others. Rehearse your potential presentation or discussion with one or more people. Choose people you trust will give you honest, valuable feedback. Then, based on the feedback, adjust your presentation accordingly.
When communications begin: Listen for and observe various cues (what the other party says, their body language, etc.) when you communicate. Be prepared for various scenarios: What will you do or say if the other party does not understand, disagrees with, or gets upset with what you have said?
Keep your audience tuned in: Whether you are communicating with just one other person, or a large number of people, pay close attention to their reactions and ask for feedback. Make sure you frequently check they are following what you are saying because, if you lose them and don't realize it, it will be harder to get back on track.
Emotions Really Count: Depending on the feedback and reactions you observe, whether very obvious or subtle, you may need to shift gears and adjust your message, or how you are expressing yourself. Perhaps you should stop your discussion and ask a question, such as "What do you think of what I've said so far?" or just "Any questions?" If you think those questions might backfire, suggest you take a brief break and restart the meeting later, even if you just take a 10 minute break. During the break, if there were several people in the meeting, try to reach out to someone you know who will give you some constructive feedback or suggestions.
In Summary: Pay close attention to the other party(ies). Listen and observe them before, during and after important communications have taken place. This will greatly increase your chances for mutual success.
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Future Articles will continue "dissecting" and analyzing what it takes to become a more effective communicator. I encourage you to communicate with me; please give me feedback on these articles, and suggestions on future articles.
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