Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to Talk So People Will Listen

1. Stop talking
When someone talks incessantly, the listener naturally wants to tune out. Listening is an energy draining process, so forcing people to listen for long periods of time can wear them out. To motivate others, especially if you are the boss or key figure in a negotiation, be quiet and listen to others in order to discover what they are thinking. Stop talking long enough to capture the entire essence of what the other person is saying. Listen for the value the other person wants to add and incorporate that into your response.

2. Get to the point
Effective communicators don’t beat around the bush. They make their points clearly and accurately. To do so, start with a single sentence that notes your positive intent. Next, state the overall goal. Once you make your suggestion for action, follow it up with justifications. Often, but not always, ask for feedback on the idea and allow for brainstorming. Summarize all decisions and each person’s role with dated, specific, and measurable commitments.

3. Take a presentation skills class
By brushing up on your speaking skills, you can “even the playing field” with those successful but less talented colleagues who got where they are because of their excellent oratory skills. Most accomplished speakers take a class or review a book on presentation skills every few years to become more confident, persuasive, and effective.

4. Keep your tone neutral
During every conversation, speak to others as you want them to speak to you. Avoid sarcasm and other hostile behaviors. When you routinely humiliate, berate, or poke fun at others, they won’t listen to much of what you say or go the extra mile for you. Speak loud enough so that no one must strain to hear you, and speak with authority, so you’ll be perceived as more credible. As far as what to say, always remember to praise in public and criticize in private, each time addressing the behavior itself and not the person’s personality.

5. Reduce your speaking accent
When listening to someone who has a thick accent, people routinely miss 10-30 percent of what is said. If you are completely fluent in English but still have people asking you to repeat yourself, taking a presentation skills class that focuses on accent reduction is a wise career move. It’s your job as the speaker to be a clear communicator, especially since others won’t work to understand you. Additionally, listeners can become embarrassed when they have to continually ask you to repeat yourself. Instead, very often they’ll nod and smile, and then ask each other afterward, “What are we supposed to do?” But there is no reason to lose your accent entirely, as a charming accent differentiates you from the group and is part of your persona. However, with information and videotaped training, even a couple of days of coaching can improve comprehension by 80 percent.

Being an effective communicator is the best way to get others to listen to what you say. Since few people enjoy repeating themselves multiple times or the resulting consequences of not getting important messages understood, improve your communication skills so that listening is not a burden for others. The result will be that listeners will hear and comprehend you each time you speak.

1 comment:

Peter Bowler said...

Boosting your public speaking skills is certainly an effective way to build your career. You can boost these skills by taking every opportunity to speak in public. You can watch and note other speakers and also attend a course.
Public Speaking