Episode #2 of the course Ten key skills for career advancement by Patricia Haddock
Welcome to today’s lesson. Yesterday you learned that a growth mindset is a foundation skill—one that is essential to career success—and it is the first step that leads to all the others. Today’s lesson focuses on another foundation skill—interpersonal communication.
The ability to communicate effectively helps you:
• Present yourself as a professional.
• Be understood by a wide variety of people.
• Avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
• Create rapport with others.
• Build trust and respect.
• Engage and influence others.
• Present your ideas with confidence and credibility.
• Gain support for your recommendations.
• Talk about your achievements in a convincing manner.
• Demonstrate your leadership ability.
All good communication begins and ends with listening.
Effective communication uses a four-step process:
1. Set an intention for the interaction. What do you want to accomplish? What outcome are you aiming to achieve? The clearer your intentions, the easier it will be to steer the communication in the right direction.
2. Monitor what you say. This is where many misunderstandings occur. You want to speak precisely and concisely and carefully monitor the other person’s body language to see how they are responding to what you are saying.
Keep in mind that they are processing information based less on your words than your tone and body language.
Change how you are communicating if you see the other person demonstrating defensive or angry responses.
3. Avoid talking incessantly. Stop and allow them to ask questions and respond.
4. Clarify any misunderstandings before continuing the communication.
Listen to Learn
Active listening is the ability to completely focus on what the other person is saying, ask questions that lead to understanding and reach a satisfactory conclusion for everyone. It requires you to be fully present and pay attention.
• Listen with openness.
• Suspend judgments and biases.
• Listen with curiosity and engage your desire to learn.
• Listen without interrupting.
• Watch their body language to understand the emotions behind the communication.
• Monitor your body language so that it is open and inviting.
• Jot down your questions and save them for later.
Question for Understanding
Effective questioning relies on good listening.
• Open-ended questions probe for details. Examples: What are some options that might work in this situation? How might we move this discussion forward, so we can decide today?
• Follow-up questions deepen understanding. Examples: How did you make such a complicated process so easy to understand? What was your thought process for making that decision?
• Closed questions end conversations. Examples: Is there anything else you need? Should we need to meet in person to discuss this?
• Leading questions gain agreement. Examples: Will you email the data to me today, or shall I drop by and get it? Option 2 is better, don’t you agree?
Your ability to fully understand what you thought you heard is necessary to gain consensus and avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
You do this by:
• Repeating what you heard.
• Using the other person’s words or paraphrase them back to them.
• Accepting and acknowledging the emotions behind the words.
• Asking additional questions until you’re in agreement.
• Affirming any actions to be taken.
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” —Roy T. Bennett
Action Steps to Cultivate and Showcase Your Communication Skills
• Actively participate in meetings by asking good questions, expressing your opinions objectively, and demonstrating understanding.
• Improve your vocabulary by reading a variety of good, well-written books, magazines, and newspapers.
• Listen to podcasts and watch videos on communication. Pay attention to how the speaker uses words to convey emotion and meaning and how words are pronounced.
In these first two lessons, we’ve focused on key foundation skills that open the door to all the others in this course. Tomorrow, we’ll focus on social skills that are necessary to forge mutually beneficial relationships and that enhance your reputation as a professional.
See you tomorrow.
Effective Communication Skills by Alex Lyon, Ph.D.
Communicate with Confidence by Dianna Booher
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success in Work and Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
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