Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Communication

My team know how to persuade me to complete tasks when I’m prevaricating, postponing, and procrastinating. They already have established a common ground and an emotion connection with me. They know how to make their cases compelling by appealing to my values, including my desire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. They offer help and gear their approach to my decision-making style. And when all else fails, they direct their efforts to what drives me in combination with my needs and desires. While my latest book Persuasion & Influence For Dummies (P&IFD) is filled with useful techniques and insights into how to persuade people to do what you want them to do, here I share a few simple thoughts and tips that can lead to a big difference.

Get to know what matters to people. The more you know, the more able you are to affect their behaviour. When you know what inspires people and what they can’t live without you’ve got a guide for persuading them to follow your plan. How can you do this? Pay attention when they talk about what’s important to them. Listen not only to the words they say, notice how they speak and move. What’s their tone of voice? What words and phrases do they use to express their thoughts and feelings? What is their posture like and how are they gesturing? If the other person is speaking quickly and talking about feelings, and you’re speaking slowly and discussing thoughts, chances are your attempts at persuasion won’t fly. The most successful persuaders are those who communicate in a similar way to the people they want to persuade. P&IFD as well as Body Language For Dummies (now out in its 2nd edition), have many tips for communicating with people in a similar way.

The most successful persuaders are those who can render sound judgment at appropriate times. When your judgements are condemnatory, self-righteous, or constantly critical of another person’s beliefs and behaviours, don’t be surprised if s/he disregards your demands. The ability to stand outside of a situation and look at it clearly in an unbiased manner is one of your greatest tools for persuading others to do your bidding. If you force your agenda on people whom you want to persuade, without taking into account their situation, your chances of persuading them to do what you want are slim.

The cornerstone of persuasion is credibility. Credible people are trustworthy. You can believe what they tell you and you can trust them to listen. Fundamental to establishing your credibility are integrity, consistency and the ability to resist radical mood swings. If you lack sufficient credibility, don’t expect to be able to persuade others to take on board your suggestions. The good news is, you can develop and nurture your credibility. For more about building your credibility, pick up a copy of Persuasion & Influence For Dummies.

Remember: Support, encouragement and trust are fundamental to influencing people who want to make a difference. For these people, the work and the opportunity to make a difference is more rewarding than money, prestige and incentives.

Warning: When you’re persuading someone to do what you want them to do, don’t deliberately make them feel anxious or ashamed. While both approaches may yield temporary gains, someone who’s been shamed won’t want anything to do with you in the future and will be disinclined to speak positively about you.

Anecdote: I recently had to terminate the services of a supplier. I wrote to her that while I value her efforts, results and our working relationship, my business model has changed and I no longer require her services. I finished by saying that I would happily recommend her and her company to others. Her response? Expressions including “I have to say that I’m very disappointed that you have chosen to end our relationship in this way…”, “would have been more appropriate”, and “you did not have the courtesy to…” peppered her reply. While I appreciate that she may be worried about her business, I did not appreciate her approach to persuade me to change my mind. As for recommending her services in the future? I’m less inclined to do so now.

Tip: Rather than trying to talk someone into doing what you think is the right thing to do, persuade them by appealing to their personal beliefs and values.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Whether you’re speaking or not, you’re always communicating. Research consistently suggests that over 90% of a person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions are conveyed through non-verbal channels, including the voice and body language.

Through careful observation you can gain insights into a person’s state of mind, emotions and attitude. A person’s pitch, pace and tone of voice, movements, gestures, and expressions, as well as posture, dress, and spatial distance communicate even when no words are being spoken. By observing and responding to others’ non-verbal behaviours you can influence their thinking and persuade them to agree with your suggestions.

Because many people have learned how to put a mask on to hide their true feelings, if you sense that someone’s face is concealing what’s going on inside, observe the whole body. Legs, feet, arms, shoulders, hands and fingers give valuable indications of consistency and authenticity, or a lack thereof.

Through astute observation you can figure out what’s being communicated even when the verbal output is turned off. Questions to ask yourself when observing others include:

• Are the messages coming from the spoken words consistent with the messages coming from the non-verbal behaviours?

• Is the person being consistent in displaying non-verbal behaviours?

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Technical Stuff: Individuals cannot control normal eye dilation. When you are looking at something that pleases or arouses you, you your eyes measurably dilate; when you see something that you don’t like or that threatens you, your eyes constrict.

Regardless of what a presenter is saying, if he looks at his audience as he speaks, his listeners will perceive him favourably and view him as confident, credible, qualified, and honest.

If someone speaking doesn’t want to be interrupted, she will glance away and continue talking. If she wants someone else to speak, she will pause and make direct eye contact with that person.

If, while you’re speaking, someone is checking his BlackBerry, texting on his iPhone or looking at his watch, he may be indicating that it’s time for a break or that you’re boring him.

Tip: Words are accentuated and punctuated by movements, gestures, and facial expressions. When there is a lack of congruency between the verbal and nonverbal message, people believe what their eyes and ears tell you, not what the speaker is saying.

Warning: While certain gestures and expressions – such as a genuine smile in which the eyes as well as the mouth are engaged, or a clenched fist slamming down on a table top – convey specific messages, interpret them carefully in the context of the situation that is occurring at the time. Because observing non-verbal behaviour is open to interpretation, practice your observation skills and when appropriate ask the people involved to verify your observations and interpretations.

Anecdote: I recently ran a session for a global corporation on the Body Language of Leaders. During my presentation I noticed that while most of the women in the room were smiling and nodding as I spoke, several of the men had serious expressions on their faces, which I initially interpreted as unconvinced or doubtful. In order to gain rapport with these individuals (see Body Language For Dummies and Persuasion & Influence For Dummies on how to establish rapport) I reflected back their expressions as I directed my comments to them. What I observed was that the men relaxed and engaged with me as I mirrored back what I observed them doing.

Remember: No single non-verbal sign is a reliable indicator of mood, attitude, or intention. To support a particular conclusion, observe and interpret several consistent signals.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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When my mother died, she willed me one of her charm bracelets. On this bracelet is a charm that says: Live, Love, Laugh. When I think of my mother, these are the words that come to mind.

My mother died 3 ½ years ago after a 7 year battle with cancer. She was 83 and lived her life with dignity, courage and determination. In addition to cancer, my mother suffered from schizophrenia throughout her life.

I recently came across one of my mother’s journals written in the 1970s in which she documented her breakdowns and feelings about her mental illness. Without complaining or playing for pity, Mom spoke of her life with gratitude. In spite of her condition, she felt fortunate to have been financially astute so that she could provide for her daughters and afford treatment for her disease. (Mom and my father divorced when I was nine, and she raised my sister and me mostly on her own.)

In contrast to her mental frailty, Mom was physically fit. A club champion golfer, tennis player and swimmer and the first woman to be invited to join the USA Olympic Equestrian Team, she excelled at sport. Only in terms of her sense of self was she a fragile flower who struggled with life’s challenges. Friends and family would step in when Mom’s illness rendered her incapable, filling our house with love and laughter during times of stress and sadness. The tough times didn’t last long, and although Mom would come out of an episode feeling weak and embarrassed by her behaviour, she was able to laugh at her antics and express thanks for the love in her life. Frank Sinatra’s song, Nancy With the Laughing Face, could have been written for Mom.

Several days before my mother died she asked me to publicise her mental illness in order to enlighten people about what continues to be a taboo topic. This, in spite of mental illness – in its varying forms – affecting millions of families across the globe. I have yet to speak with anyone who doesn’t have some form of mental illness in their DNA. My current aim – in honour of my mother – is to build awareness and eliminate fear and prejudice around the subject. If I can contribute to ridding the world of mental disease, so much the better.

I leave you with this final thought: My mother exemplified fortitude, faith and fun. She would often say, “I know that if I can laugh at it I can live with it.” She did. I wish you a life filled with love and laughter.

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Remember: There’s a lot of sadness, loss and strife floating in the universe. Counterbalance the negative effects by bringing love and laughter to your life and those of others. Find the beauty. Seek the good. You’ll feel better for doing so as will the people whose lives you touch.

Tip: When all else fails, find the humour in life. A bit of verve and vivacity goes a long way in helping you tackle life’s challenges.

Remember: If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.

Anecdote: Shortly before my mother died we invited a group of her friends to the house for chocolates, champagne and conversation. At a time when most people in her position would have preferred to be alone, Mom wanted to surround herself with people she cared about and who cared about her. At one point during the evening, Mom, who was seated in her easy chair with her friends surrounding her said, “It’s so nice to be at my own wake!” and burst into laughter, in which her friends joined. Mom could find happiness in the most unlikely events. As one of her friends wrote to me, shortly after she died, “Your mother laughed like she meant it and loved her friends and family. She lived her life with bonhomie and good will and people left her company feeling upbeat and good about themselves.” Another friend said, “You mother always made me feel welcomed and valued. I valued her enormously..”

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Sometimes we don’t all have time to read a lot of materials, so here’s Kuhnke Communication’s cheat-sheet on how to communicate with impact.

When You Speak

 Make your language vivid and descriptive

 Be clear, complete and precise.

 Repeat your points for emphasis, confirmation and clarification. Be creative in your phrasing.

 Confirm that your listener understands.

When You Listen

 Give your complete attention

 Listen with an open mind. Refrain from judging what is being said and shutting down.

 Listen for and reflect on both the words and the feelings behind the spoken words.

 Ask opened questions: who, what, where, when, and how. Avoid asking why. It will lead to a vague, unspecific response and may sound condemning.

 Pause to process what you have heard before responding.

 Avoid responding with but, yet and however. If you disagree, do so diplomatically.

 Let the speaker you know you respect them and value their thoughts and opinions – especially when they differ from yours.

 Confirm meaning. Clarify important points.

Nonverbal Communication

Use positive body language

– When speaking: well supported posture; look at your listener and use comfortable eye contact; varied volume, rhythm, pitch and pace; expressive facial and hand gestures.

– When listening: alert body; face the speaker; comfortable eye contact; receptive gestures.

– Be Aware of Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication
 

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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

 

If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this:  ‘No’ is not a naughty word.  It’s not a ‘four letter word’ nor is it one to be ashamed of saying.  People struggle with saying ‘no’ because of feelings of guilt. While it’s flattering to be offered opportunities – going on vacation together, being a God parent – they may not be what you want.  If you put yourself first by saying ‘no’ to some requests you can serve your friends and family better in other ways.  

Remember too, look at your reasons for saying ‘no.’ If you’re rejecting an opportunity to stretch yourself a bit – for example, refusing to speak at your best friend’s wedding because you doubt your abilities to do a good job – reconsider. Sometimes people say ‘no’ because they’re afraid to take themselves out of their comfort zones.

When you do say ‘no’ – mean it. Saying ‘no’ while nodding your head and smiling gives mixed messages. Speak like you mean what you’re saying. That doesn’t mean you have to be harsh – just clear, concise and committed to what you’re saying.

This blog addresses how to say No to common requests from good friends – not unreasonable, but ones which will cause you a great deal of time, anxiety etc, that you can’t afford, such as public speaking. We have chosen a few common situations to guide you through saying no.

1. Will you be my child’s godparent?  Before saying ‘no’ allow the person making the offer to ask and define what being a God parent entails. What commitments are involved?  Once you’ve given them time to speak tell them that while you’re flattered by their request and that you look forward to being part of the child’s life, you’re not in a position to accept the invitation.  You don’t need to give further explanation (Not religious, can’t meet the expectations, etc) Show your appreciation in your tone of voice and body language. A flip ‘thanks but no thanks’ can come off a bit gruff.

2. Will you be best man/woman? (You hate public speaking,)  If the only reason you say ‘no’ is because you hate public speaking, get over it.  Before saying ‘no’ outright, find out what the job entails.  If the expectations are beyond your capabilities , thank the person for the opportunity and suggest an alternative choice.  If the person is a good enough friend, you can find the resources to accept the offer even if it takes up time.

3. Shall we all go on holiday together? (You want a relaxing time with your own family) Tell them exactly that.  That another time you’d enjoy going on holiday together, this time you want to be relaxing alone with your family.  You don’t need to say a lot to get your point across clearly and concisely.

4. Can I come and stay after a marital row? (You’re busy/don’t have room/ don’t want to take sides)  Let her speak so she feels valued and cared for.  Then tell her that while you care for her the best thing she can do is rely on herself to work out the problem.  Unless  your friend is in physical danger – in which case you definitely don’t take her in , referring her instead to an abuse agency (Refuge, for example)– you’re not doing her any favours by treating her like a helpless child.

5. Can I borrow some money?  The answers below are perfectly acceptable reasons for saying ‘no’. The second response – don’t trust them to pay back – could sound a bit harsh.  You could frame your response in terms of ‘I wouldn’t want to put you in the difficult position of having to pay me back.’   Even Shakespeare knew not to mix funds and friendship (‘Never a borrower nor a lender be’ – Hamlet)
(You don’t believe in mixing friends & cash/ don’t trust them to pay it back)

6. Can you have my (difficult) teenager to stay while we go away for the weekend?  Express your happiness for them that they’re getting away together.  Empathetically, tell them that you have plans for the w/e that and are not able to help them out this time.  You don’t need to go into any great explanation.  As my grandmother used to say, ‘never complain, never explain.’
(Too much responsibility & you don’t want to row with him/her about drinking, lifts, etc.)

For those for whom ‘being liked’ is important, it’s hard to say no because it feels/sounds/looks like rejection.  If you change your viewpoint and see saying ‘no’ as a way of empowering others to come up with their own solutions without relying on others to solve their problems, you’re giving them a gift.

We find it hard to say ‘no’ because we’re taught to be nice to others, to behave in a generous manner, to serve others, and to pay back for favours done.  We also find it hard to say ‘no’ when the person asking is similar to us – be it background, beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviours, culture, religion, etc.  Similarities create bonds.  If you owe someone a favour it’s also hard to say no to them.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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

 

Although it’s hard for colleagues to quarrel, as their mutual friend and workmate, it’s pretty rough for you too. But here’s how to stay sane (and supportive) while being pulled two ways.

What sort of issues most commonly cause colleagues to fall out?

  1.  Workplace gossip – the ‘he said she said’ scenario – leads to nothing but trouble at the workplace.  Simple rule:  don’t gossip.
  2. Workplace affairs.  If one person is having an affair or sexual relationship with a colleague it can lead to jealousy, especially if your other friend is on their own.  You could offer to go out to lunch/dinner with your friend so she/he doesn’t feel left out in the cold.
  3.  Promotions and bonuses.  When one person is rewarded and the other one isn’t, jealousy can rear its ugly head.
  4.  Not pulling his/her weight at work/laziness/time wasting.  We all have jobs to do.  If your friend is spending more time at the water cooler, out of the office having her nails done, surfing the net, or any other activity that impacts negatively on her work, others in the office may become resentful.
  5.  Feeling unappreciated.  See #3
  6.  Stress / seeing one another as rivals.

What is difficult about the situation that their other colleagues now find themselves in?

Once you were all friends, now there’s a spanner in the works.  Through no fault of your own the dynamics of the friendship has changed and you’re stuck in the middle or left out in the cold.  Having no control over what’s happening between the other two, you’re in an awkward situation because there’s nothing you can do to put things back where they were.  Your life has changed and you must decide how you’re going to proceed.  This may mean that you have to see them individually, rather than as the group of friends you were before they fell out.  Let each one know you care about both of them and that you’re not going to gossip or talk in any way about the other.  Then stick to that promise!

What is the best course of action for anybody who is working with two colleagues who have fallen out?

Should you try and mediate? Or keep well out of it?

  1.  If you care about each person you could offer to facilitate a conversation between them.  Only do this if you are able to remain neutral, non-judgemental and have experience in facilitating or providing feedback.
  2.  If you’re uncomfortable facilitating, tell each one that you care about them both and that it’s up to them to solve their problems between themselves.
  3. Sometimes people will try to use you as a ‘middle man’ like the corner of a triangle where two lines meet.  I call this the Triangulation Approach.  Do NOT get sucked into this trap.  You’ll end up being part of the problem (“Judy said that you said….”).  If they have a problem, let them work it out between themselves without getting you involved, unless you’re able to facilitate.

Should you ask how things are between them? Or just ignore it?

Stay clear.  Let them know at the beginning of their fall out that you care about them both and hope they can work out their problem.  Then stay away.  Asking how things are only pulls you into the problem.

How should you avoid getting drawn into taking sides?

Tell yourself that you’re not going to get drawn in and then live up to your word.  Taking sides does no one any good and exasperates the problem.  It can be tempting to become involved.  You may want to ‘help’ or be part of what’s going on (rather like people stopping to stare at a road accident). Other people’s lives can seem exciting – the truth is, they’re simply exhausting.  Too much interest in other people’s lives leaves you little time to pay attention to what’s going on in your own life.  Getting drawn in and taking sides doesn’t do you or anyone else any favours.  Don’t fan the flames.  The less attention you the sooner it will die out.  If the upset is causing problems at work, it’s up to the manager to deal with it professionally.

Finally,

  • Demonstrate respect.  You’re not Ms Fix-It.  Act like a friend to both by respecting their privacy and emotions.  Treat them like adults, not quarrelling children.
  • Show your friends that you trust they’re adults and capable of solving their own problems.  Be trustworthy in all you say and do.  Don’t gossip about their fall out with anyone.  If/when they kiss and make up, don’t rehash what happened.  Let by-gones be by-gones and move on.  If they don’t make up, don’t discuss what happened.  Let each one know you care about them individually and that you’re not taking sides.  Stay neutral.
  • Stay out of it.  You’ve got enough to deal with in your own life.

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a simple formula for success here you go:  Understanding is the key to effective communication. Effective communication is the key to success. The more you understand about yourself and others the more success you can have in your communication.  So, how can you understand yourself and others better than you currently do?  Read on. 
 
In 1955 the American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Inhgam developed a simple and useful model to demonstrate and enhance self-awareness and mutual understanding between individuals working in groups.  They cleverly named their model Johari, after combining their first names, Joe and Harry. The model emphasizes ‘soft’ skills, including behaviour, empathy, and cooperation.

Two key concepts underpin this tool:

  1. Building trust with other people through self-disclosure.
  2. Giving and accepting feedback in order to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others.  

So, what is the Johari Window?
 
The Johari Window communication model consists of a four square grid which represents the individual and is intended to help people understand the way they communicate and build relationships.  Soliciting feedback from others is an integral part of the instrument. Take a look at the model below:
 

 

KNOWN TO SELF

NOT KNOWN TO SELF

KNOWN TO OTHERS

OPEN AREA
Behaviour, attitude, feelings,
knowledge skills etc

BLIND AREA
Ignorance about oneself,
issues in which one is deluded etc

NOT KNOWN TO OTHERS

HIDDEN AREA
Information, feelings, fears,
hidden agendas, secrets etc

UNKNOWN AREA
Feelings, behaviours,
capabilities, aptitudes etc

Quadrant 1 – Open area.  What you know about yourself and others know, too. In this space you find information about you that both you and others know, from the colour of your eyes, your height, the way you hold your knife and fork any other information you’re willing to share. The more open you can be with others about who you are, the more effective and productive both you and the group can become. 

Quadrant 2 – Blind spot.  What you don’t know about yourself and others do including behaviours and habits you’re not aware of, like nervous laughter or revealing facial expressions.  You can decrease this area – thus increasing your open area – by soliciting feedback from others and taking on board what they say.  Avoid hanging out in your blind spot because it’s neither an effective nor a productive place to be.  Ignorance and delusion don’t lead to success. 

Quadrant 3 – Hidden area.  What you know about yourself that others don’t. Information you keep here could include fears, feelings, hidden agendas, secrets and sensitivities – anything you know about yourself that you choose not to reveal.  It’s natural, and often appropriate, to keep certain personal information under wraps, as long as the information has no bearing on the health, safety or productivity of others.  If what you’re hiding could benefit others and enhance relationships, I encourage that you share this information in an amount and manner others can comfortably digest. 

Quadrant 4 – Unknown area.  What neither you nor others know about you.The issues tucked inside here take a variety of forms from feelings, attitudes, behaviours and aptitudes.  They can lie deep down inside you or right up at the surface and influence your actions from major to minor degrees, including unexpected emotional outbursts.  People lacking in experience or self-belief tend to have a fairly large quadrant 4.

Remember:

An advanced understanding of yourself and others leads to improved communication and relationships. 
 
Warning:

The process of self-disclosure and seeking feedback can be filled with landmines.  Beware of your own limits and sensitivities.  The extent and depth you want to go into understanding yourself must always be your own choice and not foisted upon you by an overzealous champion or conspirator as you may discover traits, feelings, and characteristics you’re unable to cope with on your own. 
 
Tip:

Brush up on your active and empathic listening skills to make the exercise successful. Differences within teams, when communicated properly, create greater depth of competence.  
 
Technical:

Learn more around the relevance of trust, respect and clear communication to drive team effectiveness take a look at the study compiled by the Korn/Ferry Institute

Caution:

Some cultures have a very open view on receiving feedback, some less so. Take care in how you give feedback – slow, sensitive and steady are the golden rules.  Only provide feedback when it has been asked for.  
 
Finally:

Using the Johari Window framework results in a stronger and happier, creative, communicative and cohesive team.  

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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


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