Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Lost Art of Face to Face Communication

Eight Steps to Impact and Influence
By Stacey Hanke

Communicating meaningfully is becoming more difficult than ever before.  While technology has created an ever increasing number of ways to communicate, many people are now insulated and protected.  Consequently we’re losing the skills and abilities to communicating in the most influential way – face to face.
NOTE:The modular home industry is not immune from this problem.  When was the last time a factory sales rep actually visited a builder's office and who remembers the last time you got a phone call asking for an appointment instead of an email from a prospective new home buyer.  modcoach


There’s a real danger to the maintenance of meaningful communications and personal and professional relationships. If you become overly dependent on email or text messages, you focus on the object, not the person.  If you can’t keep the attention of your listener for them to understand your message, you won’t influence them to take action.

Failure to communicate effectively face to face has a phenomenal impact on business and success.
  • Miscommunication and understanding.
  • Wasted time.
  • Loss in profits.
  • Minimize ability to effectively project trust, confidence and credibility to build relationships.

There are certain topics of conversation where face-to-face communication will absolutely be the best way to influence action.
  • Negotiating salaries, vacations, termination.
  • Resolving a dispute or conflict.
  • Seeking clarification after written communications has failed.
Communicating with impact and influence face-to-face requires discipline, determination, and self-awareness.  Begin with the following eight must have steps.
  • Make your moment’s together count.  Everyone has the right to speak.  Earn the right to be heard.  Think about what you want to say before you say it. Every word counts.  Tailor what you say to meet your listener’s needs.
  • Pay attention by listening for the unspoken emotions.  Do not let your eyes dart away since that signals you’re no longer paying attention.  Wait to speak only when the person has finished what they want to say.  Listen and read their expressions to gain maximum understanding of the why behind their words.
  • Honor the other person’s time.  Prepare and get to the point quickly by speaking in short and concise sentences.  Replace your non-words (“uh,” “um,” “so,” “you know … “) with a pause to find your thought.  Avoid rambling and cluttering your message with unnecessary points.  Ask for a clear and specific action. Don’t take 20 minutes when you only asked for ten.
  • Prepare for your face-to-face meeting ahead of time.  K.N.O.W. your listener.
    • K – What does your listener know about your topic?
    • N – What does your listener need to know to take the action you want them to take in the time frame you have for this conversation?
    • O – What is your listener’s opinion about your topic?
    • W – Who is your listener?  What additional information do you know about your listener to help you customize your message for them?
  • Avoid non-verbal abuse.  Your behavior and non-verbal cues are as important as the words you say.  Don’t fidget, act nervous or allow your posture to convey uncertainty or insincerity.
  • Be Sincere and Authentic. Speak in your authentic voice. Be genuine and allow others to see the real you.
  • Maintain control of the conversation. Be interesting.  If you see the signs that you’re no longer the center of attention:
    • Your listener begins working on their Blackberry, iPad, IPhone, etc.
    • Your listener begins to have side conversations.
    • Your listener interrupts you.
    • Stop. Break the flow. Earn their attention. Get back on track.
  • Ask for specific feedback about your key points, the manner in which you presented and the way you responded. Ask for balanced feedback about how to improve and immediately begin applying this feedback.
Technology-driven communication will improve when you begin to focus on improving the most important method first — face-to-face communication.

Stacey Hanke
Communication Guru, Author and Speaker

www.1stimpressionconsulting.com

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