Learning to Communicate

Yesterday, I took a training course through my company about Leading Through Communications. At first I was worried this course might be a bland mix of nonsense and corporate speak but I was pleasantly surprised to talk about a number of topics I’ve been thinking and reading about.

The training focused on three main topics:

  1. Targeted Questioning
  2. Active Listening
  3. Communication Benefits

In the beginning of the training we discussed the difference between two themes: Competence, which could be described as the ability to complete your goals, and Connection, how you treat others on your way to completing your goals. There needs to be a balance taken with both Competence and Connection.

Usually, there is too much focus on Competence because that’s what most off our reviews and goals are focused on. If you or your company focuses too much on Competence then you’re going to hurt your relationship with your employees. On the other hand, if you focus too much on Connection then the business goals may not get met. It’s a balancing act.

The rest of the training focused on Connection and the three main topics dealt with how to connect with the people you work with and how to use empathy when dealing with people in your company.  In the training, the instructor talked about how men always want to fix things and we struggle with empathy. I feel like that is a true statement and practicing empathy has been something I’ve been working on since I listened to Brene Brown’s excellent audiobook, The Gift of Imperfection. I still try to fix things and offer solutions, but I’m trying to get better.

Communication Benefits is a blend of the first two topics. Targeted questioning was about how to ask different types of questions like open(how and why) or closed(when, where, who) and fact vs focus. It taught how asking different types of questions can help you tell a story and calm a situation. Think about the questions you’re asking and the types of responses you’ll probably receive.

This topic made me think about, The Psychology of Selling, by Brian Tracy where he talks about how a more senior salesmen made more sales then he did while this salesmen worked much less than Brian. This salesmen accomplished his high sales targets by asking a series of questions that eventually convinced the client to buy. Brian revelation was that more targeted questions and less talking at the customer resulted in more sales. I think you can relate Brian Tracy’s story to what we should be doing with our questions whether we’re talking to customers, coworkers, employees. We can gain a better understanding of the current issues by asking the right types of questions combined with the next topic.

Active Listening deals with actually paying attention to what people are saying to you. There arer three aspects of listening which are emphasizing (reflect your feelings), paraphrasing (In your own words), and acknowledging (eye contact and facial expressions like a smile or nod) and vary them in terms of your frequency and complexity.

Empathy, Active Listening, and Targeted Questions are three topics I’ve been working to improve.  I was happy to have the opportunity to spend a morning to work on these topics.