Potent Communication: 9 Easy People Skills Tips to Use Immediately
by Kate Nasser |
Potent Communication: 9 People Skills Tips That Make It Easy
Highly-effective communication — aka potent communication — distinguishes the successful from the unsuccessful. Everyone can do it if they have the desire and the know-how.
In my keynotes, I inspire the desire. Here in this blog post, I offer some of the know-how. Add your potent communication tips in the comments section below and I will feature you and your tip in our online people skills community!
Potent Communication: 9 Easy People Skills Tips
- Speak positively vs. negatively. The hundreds and hundreds of things you say every day in the negative, you could say in the positive. For example, “I didn’t know you needed that” sounds defensive and weak. Replace it with, “I see what you need and …” for a more potent communication. With this #1 change, you change your image from passive to active, from indifferent to caring.
- Speak forward not back. If you say to your employee, “I would have preferred the results in summary format, you sound critical and hard to please. Replace it with, “I would like the results in summary format for this time and in the future.” This is potent communication. It’s clear, accountable, and doesn’t insinuate blame.
- State opinion as opinion not as fact. In situations where you don’t trust someone, it’s tempting to say “You are trying to …”. Yet this communication is headed for a dead end. They will reply “no I’m not” and you are stuck going nowhere. For more potent communication, state your intentions but ask others’ theirs: “Where are you headed with this? What’s your goal?” Now it’s their turn. You will find out if they are worthy of your trust without being trapped in a yes/no game.
- Observe and listen for cues on how others want to interact. If someone is not comfortable with direct eye contact, using a lot of it with them will seem boorish and domineering. If someone is speaking with lots of energy and stories and you reply with loads of dry details, you won’t connect with them. It may sound ironic, yet adapting your communication style to others is one of the most potent communication skills you can ever use.
- Don’t let formality stop the connection. Formality has its place. There are times all communication will be formal. That’s OK. Yet if you call someone Ms. Hillard and she replies, “you can call me Ellen”, then call her Ellen. If you continue to call her Ms. Hillard, you are sending the message that you want distance between you. I’ve seen many people make this mistake thinking that they are affording continued respect. Yet Ms. Hillard has already expressed her preference. Treat her how she wants to be treated. That’s potent!
- In stressful moments, choose unemotional words. If you don’t want to have to eat your words later, choose neutral or unemotional words when you are under stress. To do this, take a short pause to give yourself time to find words that don’t attack others. “You stupid idiot, you banged into my car” will most likely elicit a return attack on you. Instead, leave off the “you stupid idiot” phrase and simply point out that the other person hit your car. Your communication is far more potent when you state the simple truth and suggest the next step.
- In negative situations, avoid the phrase “because you”. I witnessed a leader storm into a meeting and bark at his direct report, “I don’t want to have to lay people off because you don’t know how to budget correctly.” His oafish attack made him look like a weak leader. Consider how better it would be to say: “I am really concerned about having to lay people off and definitely don’t want to do it because of inaccurate budget numbers. Please make sure the numbers are correct.” Wow. Now the leader sounds clear, focused and very interested in both people and the organization’s success.
- Show respect. It’s far more potent than disdain. It’s becoming trendy today to use disdainful words under the guise of being authentic. These words make for provocative shocking sound bites and headlines, yet the shock effect leaves scars when you use them on people. And it’s such an unnecessary misstep. Authenticity and civility are not enemies. You can do both at the same time.
“Stop whining” is one of those horribly offensive phrases that people are using on others quite frequently. This demeaning term patronizes others by insinuating that they are being petulant. But whoever says it is being petulant as well. “Stop whining” it is itself a whine to silence others! While you may succeed in silencing them right now, you will pay the price for a very long time. People are not puppets on a string. The next time you want them to speak up, they may give you the silent treatment. The phrase “stop whining” is not a synonym for “stop complaining”. Whining is far more disdainful.
- Be open yet still circumspect. I call this optimistic realism. When communicating with others, be open to their views without blindly believing everything they say. Being open helps you ask great questions. The answers you get tell you whether or not to trust at that moment. If you are closed off in mistrust from the start, you have little chance of uncovering anything new. Being open is part of potent communication because it gets others to open up.
Instead of using disrespectful labels, simply describe the behavior and ask the person to stop. “I hear you saying again that you don’t like what’s happening. It’s not something that we can change right now, so I ask you not to mention it again.” Or if you think it can change, ask them for their suggested solutions. “What would you like to see as a solution?” If they continue, simply let them know you are not going to discuss it further. It is direct yet not disrespectful.
How do you develop the desire to hone your potent communication skills? Become very aware of the responses you get when you aren’t using potent communication. Do you want different responses from others? What reaction/responses do you want from them? If you are a list maker, write down what you want. If you are a creative type, picture the interaction you want. Then re-read these 9 tips and go for it!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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