Lothery & Associates

Communication Skills: Make it Personal!

When was the last time you sat at dinner, in a movie, at an event, and the person joining you spent more time looking at their phone than looking at you while speaking?  Sure they may have held up their end of the conversation to some extent, but how much of their energy did you really pick up? Did you get a lot of yeahs and uh-huhs?  Or maybe you just got finished making a really interesting or important point, and they blurted out something completely irrelevant that they read hot off the Twitter or Facebook-press?

If your answer is that this happens all of the time, or maybe you’re one of the offending communicators, think about these points before you pull out the phone while you’re on your next personal or professional outing.

  • 93 Percent of your first impression is based on your voice tone and body language.
  • Your level of vocal expression can drop up to 15% simply by speaking while facing downward at your PDA.
  • The majority of Americans develop trust with continuous eye contact. If you’re always looking down, you’re losing opportunities to build trust and a relationship with your listener.
  • Eyes are the built-in polygraph test. They show anger, sadness, joy, attentiveness, boredom, and exasperation. Listeners want to see what you’re thinking beyond hearing your words.

Active listening skills are another essential cornerstone for trust. While we all like to think we can multitask effectively, the reality is it is very difficult to listen to someone while reading or typing on your favorite handheld device. To illustrate my point, think about the last time you called to report a problem with your cable service. Did you have someone reading a script to you, rather than listening to you? Did they tell you to do a bunch of things you already did, and even told them that you did it, but they were so busy reading their script they didn’t hear you?  What happened? I bet you got angry, frustrated and your volume elevated each time they demonstrated they weren’t listening.

Most people want to be heard. They don’t need a listener to agree nearly as much as they want their listener to actually…well…listen.

Whether you’re at lunch, dinner, waiting for an interview, or attending a meeting, if you’re spending even 10% of your in-person face-time communicating with someone who isn’t in the room and not taking part in your conversation, you may lose whatever personal connection you have with those who are there, and not even know it.  Take this is your reminder to put the “person” back into “interpersonal communication” skills.

 

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