Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Archive for April 2011

The Three Stages of Circular Communication

Listening, learning and leveraging…

 

The ability to connect with your listener and to communicate with clarity, confidence and commitment is your number one key to success. Sound reasoning, innovative solutions and logical conclusions are rendered meaningless if you fail to persuade, influence and inspire your listener.

During these tough times of belt tightening and cutbacks, clear, credible communication is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Colleagues, clients and constituents demand transparency, honesty and accountability and with the empowered citizen having choice and voice, frank and candid two-way communication if the only alternative for building relationships and enhancing your reputation within your communities.

Communication is circular; it is not a one-way street. By repeatedly practicing the three steps of circular communication – listening, learning and leveraging – you can gain your clients’ respect, establish rapport, and produce outstanding results.

Listening Actively

In addition to what your customers say, listen for how they deliver your message. Details and data are important in understanding your clients’ requirements and how they expect you to address their interests. The way they speak – revealing their moods, attitudes and emotions – provides you with further valuable information. Turning your antenna and responding to what you observe through their non-verbal behaviour increases your ability to understand and respond to the speakers’ needs and concerns.

Learning to Learn

Soliciting specific feedback and being willing to act on what you hear increases your ability to connect with your customers. By engaging your clients as partners and giving them responsibility for identifying problems, you empower them to work with your departments and agencies as you seek sustainable solutions together.

 Aristotle believed that effective communication is a combination of ethos [the credibility of the speaker], logos [the truth and relevancy of the message], and pathos [the emotional and appropriate response of the receivers]

 Leveraging the Learning

Having listened and learned, now’s the time to leverage your gains. By improving deliverables and performances, you demonstrate that you’ve taken on board what you’ve discovered. By improving the services you offer, you show that you’re responding to customers’ needs. By improving your communication, you display willingness to engage with your communities in positive, proactive, and productive ways.

The Benefits of Circular Communication

Because the pressures and priorities of the public sector shift and change according to circumstances, so do the requirements and expectations of its customers. Nothing is set in stone and agility, flexibility and a willingness to listen, learn and leverage separate great communicators from the also-rans. Circular communication creates trust between and agency and its communities. No long lasting, productive relationship can exist without trust at its foundation.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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  • Getting into the other person’s head
  • Confirming your thinking
  • Making your position enticing

When you want to persuade someone, your proposition has to make sense to them.  No matter how compelling your proposal is to you, if it fails to ignite your audience with passion, or at least a modicum of interest, your efforts to bring them on board will be wasted.

People are only interested in how your request applies to them. Sad, but true. So, when you want to persuade someone you need to understand them and then position your proposal in a way that’s compelling to them.  Find out about their beliefs, values, and motivators. Turn to others who know them to learn about the issues they’re facing.  The more you know about your audience’s desires, needs, and concerns the better you’re able to prepare and present a convincing argument.

Having figured out the points you’re going to address, you need to present your position in terms that inspire and  resonate with your listener.  Language that is vibrant, appealing, and tangible is infinitely more persuasive than words and phrases that are dull, dry, and dreary.

Make sense to the other person. While you may find this difficult to live with, persuasion requires time and effort.  The best persuaders take the time to learn about the people they want  to influence and come to mutually satisfying shared solutions.

Today’s business environment is filled with authority adverse baby boomers and their Generation X offspring working in cross-functional teams of equals.  The days of command-and-control leadership are long gone.  Except in traditional hierarchical organisations like law and medicine, instant communication and globalisation have eroded the customary pecking order, with people and ideas flowing around the organisation and decisions being made closer to the markets.  The outcome is that people no longer simply ask what they should do, they want to know the reasons why. This is where the process of persuasion comes into play.

While persuasion does entail moving people from where they are to where you want them to be, the process is more complex than simply cajoling or demanding.  Unless you’re plausible, unless you connect at an emotional level and find a common ground with the people you want to influence, and unless you can provide vivid evidence for your proposal, you don’t stand a chance of getting people to come on board with you and your proposals.

Appeal to their values. More than 2,300 years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle pointed out that demonstrating a shared set of values with people you want to persuade would win you more points than basing your arguments on logic alone.  Sharing similar values leads to trust and understanding and with those two components in place, you stand a better chance of persuading someone than if your value systems are in opposition.

People hold values in different categories and the more values you share with them, the more  likely they’ll trust and relate to you. When others believe you relate to and care about what’s important to them they’re going to respond more positively to your suggestions than if they thought you were only out for yourself.

Provide proof. When you’re putting together a compelling case, remember that human beings are social animals and social animals like to belong to groups.  While you may find an occasional dissenter to this proposition, research shows that because people value the sense of belonging, they’ll find an idea, a product, or a trend more appealing or correct when other people do, too. 

Even if someone doesn’t originally subscribe to a proposition, if the majority of the people in your group do, chances are more likely than not that they’ll change their thinking to go along with the norm.  Other people’s actions and opinions serve as proof that a particular way of thinking and behaving is in their best interests.

This blog is adapted from Elizabeth Kuhnke’s upcoming Persuasion and Influence for Dummies – due for Autumn 2011 publication.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Robust relationships develop when you’re genuinely interested in the other person.  People aren’t stupid and know if your curiosity is authentic or if it’s strictly for your own personal gain.  Feign interest and you’ll be rejected in a New York second.  Pretend to care when you couldn’t care less and you’ll be shown the door. Show sincere curiosity and concern for the someone and they’ll respond willingly to your suggestions.

Proving to someone that you’re interested in them requires giving them your full and complete attention.  Finding out about their interests, aspirations, views, and concerns builds bonds.  What do they require to do their job well and what’s getting in their way?  What inspires, drives, and motivates them to come to work every day?  The more you know about other people the more able you are to create rapport, and as I say in Chapter 2, Finding a Common Ground with Your Listener, the more you’re able to establish rapport the more able you are to produce mutually satisfying results.

<Tip> People are willing to help you if you take an interest in them. 

When you take an interest in others you build their confidence and self-esteem, you make them feel important, valued, and worthwhile.  Let someone know that they matter and watch them respond positively to your opinions, thoughts, and recommendations. 

In the list below I highlight 10 ways you can show your interest in others:

Look them in the eye.  Whether you’re meeting them for the first time or have a regular on-going relationship, when you speak, look at them.    Even if you only have a few seconds to engage, use that time to make them feel like they’re important.  Looking people in the eye with warmth and authenticity makes you come across as friendly and sincere. 

Call them by name.  Using a person’s name in all forms of communication makes them feel acknowledged as an individual.  When you remember someone’s name you’re paying them a subtle compliment by  indicating that the person’s made an impression on you, adding to their feeling of importance.

Pay attention.  Respond to what the person tells you by paraphrasing back what you heard and reacting empathetically.  Avoid responding in parrot-like fashion.  That’s insulting and shows that you’re not really engaged.  Actively listen for both what is said and the underlying feelings you observe.  You can read more about the value of active listening in Chapter 7.

Provide encouragement.  Encourage others and watch their spirits lift, their self-confidence rise, and their efforts soar.  Support them and they’ll support you.

Offer words of praise.  A genuine compliment can make a person’s day.  An admiring comment, a flattering remark, or simply saying something nice about someone your impact on them will go further than you might imagine and can lead to unexpectedly positive results.

Maintain contact in the old fashioned way.  A quick phone call to check in on someone or a card or letter sent through the post shows that you care enough to say, “Hi.  I’m thinking of you.”  Unless you simply can’t get to the phone or the shops to pick up a card, avoid emails when you want to demonstrate that you’re thinking of someone.  If you’re anything like me, your in-box is already heaving with un-answered emails waiting for a response.    More often than not people make contact these days because they want something from you.  If you get in touch the old fashioned way just because they’re on your mind and you want them to know you care about them as a person and not as a potential, they’re going to remember you in a positive light.

Ask questions.  Asking questions shows that you’re interested.  Whether you’re asking about a colleague’s plans for the week end, or inquiring after their family, showing that you’re curious about what’s important to them encourages them to share what’s important to them with you.

Acknowledge people.  When you acknowledge someone you’re letting them know you value them and think they’re important.  Paying attention to another person, even if only for a moment, contributes to their sense of self-worth and you rise in their esteem.

Demonstrate respect.  In order to earn respect you’ve got to show respect.  Remembering people’s names, showing consideration for their time and space, valuing them as individuals are a few ways of showing others that you respect them.  Gossiping, acting inconsistently, and acting in a false manner is disrespectful and won’t earn you any brownie points.   The more respect you give, the more respect you gain.

Remember special events in people’s lives.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are times to let someone know you’re interested enough in them to take the time to acknowledge milestones in their lives.  Let someone know you’re interested in what’s important to them and they’ll show an interest in what’s important to you.

This blog is taken from Chapter 5 of the upcoming ‘Persuasion and Influence for Dummies’ by Elizabeth Kuhnke  -due for Autumn 2011 publication.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Beliefs and behaviours. They’re closely connected. Whatever you choose to believe about yourself – be it good or bad– impacts on your behaviour and influences what others believe about you, too. Choose your beliefs carefully. They’re life-determining forces. We’re going to look at how you can apply your beliefs to fuel your success. In addition, we’re going to give you a few tips to help you instil some positive beliefs when you’re getting bogged down in negativity.

From your earliest days your belief patterns are determined. Some of you were treated with love, care and respect, and believe yourselves worthy. Others of you were treated with indifference – or worse – and believe yourselves to be worthless.

I’m often asked, “Can I change my belief systems?” And my answer is, “Yes.” The next question is, “How easy is it to change a belief system?” and I say, “Nothing worthwhile doing is easy. And, it can be done, if you want to badly enough.”

Some people want to hold onto negative beliefs. By telling themselves that they’re incapable, worthless, or just not very smart, they give themselves permission to fail. Tell yourself that you’re capable, worthy, and clever and you have to live up to that belief. If you want to succeed in whatever you do, you have to believe you can. As my children often remind me, “Your chances for success no matter what the undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.”

Follow these simple steps to harness the power of positive belief:

  •        Identify your beliefs. Think about who you are, what you stand for and what is important to you. If you struggle with this exercise, imagine what your best friend or trusted colleague believes to be true about you. If you find any negative beliefs creeping onto your list, eliminate them.
  •        Embed your beliefs. Once you know your positive beliefs, store them. Make them your mantra. Write them down where you can see them every day. For those of you who are more visual create an image that represents you and your beliefs.
  •        Act on your beliefs. Once you have identified and embedded your positive beliefs, act on them. Nothing great was ever accomplished without a healthy dose of self-belief.

Remember: If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either.

Tip: If you find yourself feeling less than positive, make a conscious effort to claim your space, move with purpose and free your natural voice. By doing so your self-belief will rise.

Technical: Research clearly shows that positive self-belief improves performance both intellectually and physically

Caution: Don’t allow temporary setbacks to trigger you into negative beliefs. Part of the power of positive belief lies in the determination it fuels in the face of adversity.

Finally: Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher