What if I told you the best way to develop and master communication skills is to shut up and stop talking? Although this may sound counter-intuitive, it’s not… and that is exactly why the vast majority of people are not great communicators.
I’m a big student of communication, quickly sparking connection and building strong relationships. I’ve been consuming any content I can on the topic, modeling those who I view as master communicators, and diligently practicing the skills.
Although I’m far from a master, I’m definitely light-years further than when I started. Having communication as a skill has had a massive positive impact on my life and continues to payoff each and every day.
Interested in investing in yourself and your future by studying communication skills? Curious how to form connections with others in a matter of seconds and develop deep relationships in days?
Here are some of my learnings to help you start mastering communication.
Take notes. :)
Rather listen to the bite-sized bit?
Additional Reading/Book Resources:
- [book] - "What Every BODY is Saying" by Joe Navarro
- [video] - Building Rapport with Tony Robbins
- [book] - "An Introduction to NeuroLinguistic Programing [NPL]"
- [book] - "How to Win Friends and Influence People"
- [book] - "The Coaching Habit: Say less, ask more, change the way your lead"
- [book] - View my entire library of recommended reads
- Please check back as I add new items on a regular basis
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Welcome back to key.io bite sized beats where we serve bed sized ideas to help unlock your true potential and for those now watching the YouTube version of this I opened with kenechua because I am in Magee shrine park here in Tokyo, Japan. You can see some of the park in the background is beautiful and in front of me I have a koipant absolutely beautiful. I got my fighting spirit is that what they say the headband I am here in Tokyo having great time here.
So what we are talking about today having sometime in the garden to journal, to reflect one of these things came to my mind that I thought was important to talk about especially as the world of technology evolves is the difference between hearing someone and understanding someone. Actually listening there is a various set of difference.
When you think about when you are in dialogue or when you are in a meeting. What tends to happen with technology, with slack, email, computer, messaging, with cell phones, social media all of these started to pull our attention all this different direction and what we think is that we can go into state where we can simply hear the words coming out of someone's mouth and just have a very simple response back to them.
Because we are trying to spread our attention across all these different things. And the reality is that is such a very surface level way of communication whether the person consciously or subconsciously thinks about it in the back or ahead that is a very big blocker to developing a relationship, to developing a good connection with other individuals.
From my experience from talking to other colleagues is that we are moving more in that direction. When we interact in individuals whether it's in business, whether it's in person, whether it's in friendship we are distracted so many different ways that we are just simply hearing the word that are coming out of the mouth, doing a very high level interaction and essentially waiting for our turn to speak what we are thinking about versus genuinely being interested, genuinely being inquisitive and trying to understand the person at a much deeper level and start going down to those different levels to deep understanding.
That's we are going to talk about today is how do we shift our way of communication in order to build a better connections with individuals through digging a little deeper genuinely understanding, genuinely paying attention and focusing on the people you are trying to connect with.
Really briefly before we dive into some of the tactics and some of the things to think about in your everyday. Let's just think about why this is important, think about people we have all been in situation where we had some kind of teacher, mentor or friends who has made a big impact on our life. So take a second and think about that person or you can also think about someone you've mate for the first time and you just insanely heated of with them, you felt like you've known them for years, you feel like you can openly answer them whether that's same sex or different sex, a male or female you instantly have this connection with them.
Now when you look at those people who has made impacts on our life's and the people with who we had instant connections with the reason is that they kind of do something different that we can't quite place finger on and although there may be many contributing factors I would suspect that in one of those scenarios that they deeply care about the things that you are saying, they are either engaged or they are trying to understand where are you coming from motivation, driving the words coming out of your mouth not just simply paying attention to the words coming out of your mouth and moving forward and that the reason we are drawn to those people and the reason we like that is actually biological reason behind it, we get released oxides in the brain and dopamine in the brain these are chemicals feel good chemicals because have those connections with listening to other people but also we feel like appreciated and listen too.
It's kind of like nature's way of reinforcing those good behaviors' so that's why we have some those good feelings towards other people and vice versa. We feel good when we have a deep conversation with a friend that we deeply care about. So how do we do more of that, how do we get with people on our team, how do we get that with new relationship, how do we develop that instant connection in the business world at conferences, at networking events that's what we are going to talk about in some of the contexts.
The other reason this is important again we are getting pull down in this world of multitasking, where each and every day we think we can do more things at once and biological it's not possible our brain does not work like that we think it does but really people who thinks they are good at multi tasking it's just simply their brain is little quicker about passing those no connections back and forth by the way it's women are generally their brains are biologically programmed to do that better.
You men out there don't think you are quite good in multitasking as women but there’s literally no way for us to be able to multi tasking. so we go into this meaning and we train heavily it seems like we talked earlier open the slack or checking slack, responding emails that really keeps us at that surface level so the reason this is important is that is not going to be going away those distractions those things are not going to be going away anytime soon, if anything they are going to get worst as variables whatever else comes out in the near future so this is a skill that really I think it will help you can make those connections in a more complex distracting world.
Now there are two other really quick things that I would like to mention on why this is important that will dive into the tactics is that if this is the new standard, if the standard is everyone is distracted, everyone is kind of just listening when you are trying to talk, they are getting to that surface level this is an opportunity for you to really differentiate yourself and so if you double down on really trying to understand people and really trying to dig into having a deep understanding in individuals and everyone else doesn't that can be a really great way if you quickly build trust, build relationships differentiate yourself.
See if people that are asking for things versus generally understanding or trying to help and lastly just being respectful if we put ourselves in the other person's shoes and there constantly having people that are just glossing over them at a high level they are not listening, they are not understanding, they don't really care, they are interrupting, they are trying to make their point across that doesn't make other person feel good and if we put our self in our shoes we don't want to be treated like that it's just a respectful thing to do it's just a good human being.
Let's talk about if I don't have you already convinced on why this may be important hopefully I do. Now let's talk about some of the tactics that the things you can walk away with and think about cooperating into your own behavior and into your own habits so that you can increase your ability and skill to understand versus just simply hear individuals. So the first thing is anytime you are going into interaction with someone whether that be a business, whether that be personal find a way to pull away anything that provides any kind of distraction between you and the person you are talking too.
Close your computer I mean ideal don’t even be distracted, don't even bring it I can't tell you how many time I have gone into meetings with individuals handful times that really doesn't happen often. When I go into meeting with that individuals who doesn't even bring any electronic with them and I noticed that and I noticed that they are genuinely paying more attention... it's just you and them and that's it and there is something special about that and so trying to avoid all those distractions close your laptop don't bring it, don't bring your cell phone, if you are at a restaurant turn your cell phone off or just leave it in your pocket and just avoid all those different distractions and the other thing is you know pay really close attention to everything that person says don't think about, don't get stuck in your internal dialogue of what your response is going to be instead keep focused on the words and the things they are saying.
Keep digging deeper you can think of this five why's exercise you know you ask "why?" five times in order to eventually get down to the core what the meaning is. Additionally, think of more beneficial questions but you want to keep digging deeper and getting digging deeper the good thing is that actually allows you to put together a more intelligent response and so you are not having to try and giving the surface level response for a surface level explanation you can really dig down and provide responses that are going provide really great value that they are not hearing from other people.
Next this is more this kind of comes out of the world of Neurolinguistic programming, NLP, in how to build report it's a very good book by Joseph Navarro he is a ex-fbi agent, there is a lot of different things that you can do non-variable.
Non-variably to help build that connection in build your ability for the other person to know that you are listening whether consciously or subconsciously and so some of those things are good eye contact, so that doesn't mean like creepy just stare at them entire time you want to the general rulers use about the same amount of eye contacts as them right if they are giving eye contact about 50% of the time and other 50% they are kind of looking down kind of mere that and match that if you are having conversation with someone you are verbally nodding as in you are understanding you are kind of your non verbal's and kind of pushing them continue to conversation keep talking another good non verbal's is tilting your head.
Tilting your head is generally speaking is when we internally thinking about the information that's coming in that's a subconscious reaction that we have if you look at people at deep conversation or if you are looking at student that are trying to listen to teacher a lot of time start turning their head as thinking about those things.
Think about how you can co-operate some of those things. Now the eye contact, the nodding, the tilting of the head at first it's going to feel little forced, feel little bit in genuine and that's ok that happens but as you start training these things they become just second nature so when I have conversation with people I do lot of those non-verbal's without even thinking of it now I have just trained my body to react like that as I listening to them. The other thing is figure about if you are leader, you have an office think about the design of the environment and how can incorporate the designing environment to get closer and close the space between you and the individuals and also remove the barriers between you and the individual.
We as humans when we fill danger or when we fill threaten we try to build as much as distance, space, barriers between us and whatever predator that is and so if you look at people who are feeling threaten a lot of times they will cross their arms or closing up if there is a pillow or if there is a purse they will bring that on to their laps kind of shield themselves they will bring their notebook or laptop in front of them and those are non-verbal quos that they feel threaten and they are not comfortable and so another example of that is if you are out for dinner and someone starts putting the flowers or their glass of water in front of you those are very small ques.
Putting those things in front of them are ways for them to build those barriers and so in the idea that we want to build a connection and remove that when we like someone, when we trust someone we actually do the exact opposite, we start to remove those things away, we start to lean closer, we get closer to someone if trying to have a conversation with them you can look at people in restaurant and in different sitting were there you can tell whether they are engaged or not engaged in the conversation.
How do you proactively set your office space up so there is not a disking between you and you want to chat with someone you know maybe you have your desk and then you have a little two chair coffee area and anytime someone wants to chat and have them sitting on the other side of the desk and those big barrier between you get out of the way from your desk and go sit next to that individual or another really good way to have those connection to have that conversation is to go on a walk where you are standing side by side as equals walking down and having a conversation as you walk.
When you are at a desk even if you need a computer make sure that computer isn't between you and that person. Computer with a screen up is like a huge barrier it's like a wall that we built to train to protect ourselves so move the computer off to the sides so there is clear direct path to the individual.
Now the other thing that I am going to mention regarding report and appear match meaning. So this is a whole separate conversation, whole separate topic I will put some resources on the notes and I am going to be doing probably some other more key.io bite sized beats on a pie, on a match meaning and on report building.
The idea of match meaning is that when we are stating a report and a report is such a buzz word, such a horrible word in terms of overused but really it's about having that connection having that connection with a individuals what you will end up seeing is that two people starts matching each other by language if I am in report of someone and if I sit back and put my arm upon a chair you probably notice that not too long that person will do the same thing or if I lean forward into the conversation not too much further distance someone else will exact do the same thing and the reason being is that we like individuals that are like ourselves so when we like someone we subconsciously start to imitate some of those things and so what you can do is when you start your conversation out is to take note of all these different quos that they are giving, how are they sitting, what is their posture and how are they the eye contact that we talked about earlier even their breathing, even their tone of voice, the speed of voice, how loud they are, how quiet they.
All those little things and the best communicators can take note all of those things and match their response to that individual as closely as possible and that allows you to not have these kind of cognitive distance on the other person where they are speaking one thing and they are getting they are speaking very quietly they are kind of drawn in and the other person is screaming really loud it's like their brain is going ow ow is that a threat or should I worry about this the more you can make yourself similar the better and so again it doesn't mean do it exactly how they do it, if they lean back don't lean back instantly with them you know there is a whole technique and how to do this to make it not feel so awkward and at first it may but the more you practice the more you get better at it the more natural it's going to be and now when I have those conversation with people I don't even think about I just subconsciously kind of match and mean as I go.
Now as you are in this conversation you can switch to doing something called leading and pacing. So leading is where you know eventually at some point to check the report see if the person is connected with you instead of you following their posture, their positioning, their tone of voice you can change yours, you change your position, you change the way you’re sitting, you change your volume and see if they match you and at that point that's where you know there is a true connection is when not only on when you mere them and they start to really build that bond.
Then vice versa they start to mere you again some skills I am going to put in a lot more notes in the short notes that I will break that down and give you some more ideas for second time but something to definitely to look in to improve your communication skills. I am going to do two more and then I am going to give you a challenge we are almost done here I am going to give you challenge for you to take a way and put some of the stuff into action.
So my last two is that I one of the great tactics that really clicked with me I learned this when I was doing consulting at a agency in working with a lot of clients I was doing just strategy consulting was that there is two different styles of trying to quote someone and so or listen to someone whatever that is in the first style is that someone comes to you with a problem or with a question and they expect a straight answer and or you expect that you should be giving them a straight answer and that can be a very kind of surface level conversation and the person doesn't necessarily always fully bind that's the right answer for them or that's the right answer it might not be but at least they may not fully bind.
The other trainer thought is someone comes to you with a question and instead of just straight giving them the answer you go through this kind of secretive method of questioning that helps them come the conclusion on their own and of course you guide them with the questions that you ask and ask them those deeper questions that may be they haven’t thought about and through that series of questioning that's what then brings them to the right answer and that a really good way to approach developing connections and developing kind of pass that surface level on surely response and really getting a deep understanding.
When someone comes to you and talks to you with a challenge, with a problem or something think about how can I ask them questions back, how can I drive the conversation with questions to them so that they continue talking and they continue digging deeper and continue to critically thing about these things versus me just simply responding with about my opinion or my thought or my about me, me, me no we want to continue them to talking so going and thinking about how can I practice asking the right question and continue to ask questions until they come to a conclusion on their own so that they are fully bought in. They fully believe that it's the right thing that's a really good skill. Again I mean have a whole separate keyy.io bite sized bits on that.
Now the very last one is you know I get it we are busy sometimes someone comes to you and you are in the middle of doing something you can't give them the full attention at that moment and that's ok what you need to do though is even if it's for that brief 30 seconds, even if it's for 30 seconds close your laptop, stand up get to their level sit with them and for 30 seconds just say something to the effect of "I understand that something that's really important to you right now it's not a great time I am trying to get x, y, z done. Let's take a second right now and figure out a good time that we can circle back as I want to talk to you about this and be able to give you my full attention."
Even though that 30 seconds you are still doing all those steps that we talked about you are limiting question, you are limiting distraction, you are getting closer to them, you are paying full attention to them and you are putting, setting up a game plan in time that you can come back and have a full conversation with them and even that 30 seconds is going to instantly start building that connection which that can translate onto you have that full discussion later down the road.
First is the oh I am not even going to look up my desk because I am too busy writing up an email and just tell you to come back in the next hour to talk. That's need to be disciplined in communication it's very important ok so wrapping up here I want to give you a challenge that you can take with you and put some of this things into your practice we went through a bunch of different tactics and habits that you can start building obviously you will not be able to do all of these things at once I would go back there is probably one or two of those things make a little like bulb go off like how, that could be really helpful oh I haven't been doing that, oh whatever that was, whatever that one of those tactics or two of those tactics that made the lightbulb go off.
Right that down right now pull out your sticky note, pull out your notebook write that down and my challenge to you is if you are listening to this in the morning the whole rest of the day I want you to act on that , I want you to put that tactic that we talked about in action for rest of the day give people your full attention and really understand and not just simply listen to them, not simply I should say hear them, not hear the word coming out of their mouths but deeply understand them now if it's end of the day right it down and make it your challenge for tomorrow.
Focus on that if you could do it just for that one day and if you do and it feels good and you feel like you are building some attraction there then do it for day two, day three and every morning remind yourself put a sticky note on your computer, put a reminder however you need to remind yourself that's the one tactic you are working on and don't think about trying engrain this is a lifetime skill just focus on today then we will go from there.
So I will talk to you all later thanks for joining me on a special edition of key.io in the mega shrine in Tokyo. - I will talk to you all very soon.