The Art Of Communicating

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by Tom Watson on August 24, 2010

The ability to communicate is one of the most important facets of your life.

Good communication skills make life easier.

Poor communication skills make life harder than it needs to be. So it makes sense to establish some good communcation skills.

When you don’t bother to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas or instructions life gets a little messy. It also gets very disorganized and inefficient.

The flip side to communicating your thoughts and ideas is the ability to listen to others while they communicate to you. Being good at only one or the other should not be your goal. You need to be good at both.

Especially if you want to own your own cleaning business.

So the choice is clear, get working on your communicating skills (both sides). Why make things harder than they have to be? When one party or the other doesn’t bother to listen or communicate effectively, a misunderstanding will soon form.

So now we need some steps that can be taken to make us better at both the talking and listening sides of the equation. I’m going to speak to how to become a better listener first. These listening tips can have a direct impact on your business.

Just imagine meeting that office manager for the first time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a plan on how to really “zero in” on what that person’s problem was? After all, that is why you are there, because there is a problem.

When you really listen you build the foundation on how to solve that problem. And in case you didn’t know, there is a lot of money in solving other peoples problems.

With all that said lets work at becoming a better listener. Here are some tips to help you improve your listening skills.

Improve your body language

Directly face the person who is talking to you, perhaps even leaning towards them occasionally to listen. This indirectly helps due to the fact that the other person will notice you are giving them your complete attention and they will open up more completely to you.

Don’t Interrupt

Let the person finish talking. If you don’t like it when people interrupt you, do you really think others love it when you cut them off? Even if you don’t think you do this, take a step back and re-examine your tendency to interrupt.

Affirm

Nod when others speak, or use affirming words like “OK”, “I see” and “right.” Using these affirmming words triggers a positive response in others. In other words you’re consistently reminding them that they’re being heard, which means they’ll appreciate your confidence and interest in them.

Speak the language of the listener

You will talk to all types, some with varied backgrounds and educations. Talk in terms that they can understand and relate to.

Use the “Mirror” technique

Restate what you’re hearing from the other person back to them in your own words. Precede your responses with, “I hear you’re saying?” or “It sounds to me like you?” Not only does this disarm people, it can prevent or defuse any misunderstandings, which is especially useful when performing a walk-through of their facility.

Eliminate any internal debates inside your head

Many times you debate whether or not to interrupt the person and say something. This only hinders your ability to listen better. While you are debating this the other person is still talking and you are losing valuable information. Unless the question is critical (see next tip) don’t jump in and interrupt.

If you don’t understand something, ASK

We have all done this. We just stand there and nod our heads as if we are “getting it”. But in our heads we are grasping at straws wondering what they are talking about. When in doubt to the basic premise of the conversation you must press the “STOP” button and ask your question. After all, if you don’t understand the conversation you can’t listen very well can you?

Having the seven tips I just spoke of in your head every-time your listening to someone (client or employee) should help you out quite a bit. As I always say, practice makes perfect, so don’t get frustrated in the beginning.

Now lets move on to what can be done to improve your ability to speak to others. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Gather Your Thoughts

Before you are ready to talk to the intended person, you should have a clear vision about what you are going to talk about. You should highlight a few important issues in your mind before speaking.  

Be aware of the other persons body language

Watch people as you talk to them. Does it look like they understand what you’re saying, or are they just agreeing with you? Are they really listening or are they thinking about what they want to say when you stop talking?

Change your tone and tempo when speaking

Vary your voice, tone, and pitch. This may mean that sometimes you talk faster, then slower during portions of the conversation. A well placed pause in the conversation can do wonders too. 

Keep the conversation brief and on topic

The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln has only 264 words in it. Brief and simple works.

Be honest

Honesty is everything in business and in life. Truth begets truth, plain and simple.

Dress for success

It may not be fair, but how you are perceived ties directly to your attire. When you are well dressed your message will resonate better with your audience. The old adage that you should always be at least as well dressed as the person you are talking to holds true.

Following the tips outlined above will help you be both a better listener and communicator. If you have any good tips that are not mentioned above feel free to post some comments below and get the conversation started.

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