Communication is a major player in the business world. Business leaders and their teams often ask about communication, understanding styles, and how to communicate better. Self-assessment tools help us understand ourselves and others. However, we must take this knowledge and pair it with exceptional communication skills to be successful. We can understand the different styles and approaches, but without knowing how to communicate successfully, we can get stuck.
Through understanding and appreciation, we can adjust our communication. Awareness of the following critical skills will help us understand what to adjust in our communication, be a better leader, be aware, and achieve superior results.
Matching Their Words
Have you ever noticed when you talk to someone, they might use keywords or refer to things a certain way? For example, one may focus on results, while another focuses on security, and another person may focus on the excitement of the experience. Matching and mirroring in a conversation allows others to feel acknowledged in conversation. Notice what words others share with you, and try to use them at least once or twice throughout your conversation.
Pace, Speed, and Volume
Often in communication, the challenge is the pace or volume of each party. Some like 120 mph and loud while others prefer 30 mph and quiet. Having flexibility in your communication allows you to meet people where they are. Once you establish rapport, you can edit the pacing of a conversation to fit timing and needed outcomes.
Sensory Awareness: Movie, Picture, Audio, or Touch?
We all take in information through our five senses – Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, and Gustatory (see, hear, feel, smell, taste). Some prefer hearing things and never forget anything they hear; others need the information visually. Some need to touch and feel it, like physically picking an item up to experience the sensation or emotion. Often you will hear them say, “I’d like to see what you have” or “If I can hear you, we will do this…” or “If I get a good feel on what you have, we can move forward.” You can match their words to their modality, and it gives you clues into how they process information: visually, auditory, or kinesthetically.
When you talk about options or next steps, make sure to match your communication to their preference or preferences. For example, if they are visual, make sure you have a visual aid, picture, or video to help enhance the communication. Maybe when they hear information, they also need something they can hold on to, flip through, touch and feel to understand. Next time notice what words they use like see, hear, feel, or experience, and use those words and match your communication to their preference.
Sometimes, when communication gets off track or lacks traction and rapport, pattern interruptions can help reset the conversation. For example, interrupting the pattern with humor, providing a glass of water, or asking a different question can help change the energy in the conversation to open it up if the communication appears stuck or is not taking off yet.
Asking quality questions allows you to understand what is most important to them, what really matters, dig for needs, pains, hot buttons, and most importantly, clarify and verify the information to truly understand what is going on. Without good questions, we stay on the surface, never getting to the root cause of what is going on and, fail to develop depth in conversations.
Framing Your Message
There are two essential types of framing in a conversation. Pre-Framing is giving something meaning before you state it or do it. For example, starting a meeting with what you will cover sets expectations and provides context. If you say, “I have bad news” or “I have good news,” that is a pre-frame for what is to come. Or if you said, “I have amazing news” or “I have terrible news,” the words we use again paint the experience/framing of the message and shape how everyone will view the contents of the message.
The other type of framing is re-framing. Re-framing is necessary when someone assigns meaning before you could. For example, maybe a co-worker said to you, “Brain was looking at me funny yesterday. I think he is upset with me.” Then maybe you say, “have you ever looked at someone funny, knowing it had nothing to do with you?” Both would re-frame the meaning of the communication. Again, our ability to help ourselves and others see things in different lights allows us to stay in a more positive frame of mind.
1, 2, 3, Too Many! The Power of Chunking
When communicating, we must keep things simple; more details can lead to overwhelm. Keeping it in digestible pieces is key. Being able to explain something in three steps, or 10, in 15 seconds, or 2 minutes, or in 30 minutes, depending on what is called for, can be important. What you share when exploring interest in a prospect and generating a lead is different from the details in the sales conversation where you are trying to convert that lead to a sale.
The level of detail is also different when onboarding someone. Some conversations are five minutes, with the purpose to generate interest and set up a time to connect, where others are to make the decision and others are to implement the decision.
Additionally, it is important to provide structure and concrete information when sharing information with someone. Simplify ten items into three easier groupings to help the understanding of the big picture. Then, separate those items back out to go into detail. Simplifying and then expanding demonstrates range and flexibility in messaging and can produce better results.
Focusing on these items can help us stay focused on what we can control in our communication to establish a better connection, be more effective, and take 100% responsibility for what we can control. Remember, these are skills you never stop learning; we are always in the process of mastering them.