The Art of Communication Prepared for More Than Manners By Tracy Kramer January 2006
The ability to use language, to communicate with people in times of joy and sorrow, and to persuade, soothe, enchant, or calm another person, is a great gift. It’s called the art of communication. Letitia Baldridge Complete Guide to the New Executive Manners in the ’90s
The Two Vs Conversational Skills Small Talk Remembering Names Eye Contact Body Language Making a Presentation Dealing with Difficult People or Situations Giving and Receiving Compliments Telephone Manners Mobile Phone Etiquette The Art of Communication
The Two Vs: Voice and Vocabulary • Your conversation and ability to communicate is enlivened by a good vocabulary, but it is also transmitted through the voice. • A poor vocabulary will limit your ability to convey the message that you really mean. • An unpleasant voice can distract the listener from even the most well-scripted message.
Having a “Great Voice” When you hear a great speaking voice, most likely that person: • Is easy to understand, with good enunciation • Speaks without strain, at a low, comfortable pitch • Projects enthusiasm with the voice, rather than fatigue or depression. • Has an unaccented, or lightly accented, voice • Speaks at a controlled volume, neither too loud nor too soft • Has good pacing, neither too fast nor too slow
Cultivating a Pleasing Voice • A well-modulated voice is a tremendous asset, but a poor one can hold you back in your career and social life. • Record you voice: Reading, presenting, speaking with friends, on the telephone. • Evaluate your vocal qualities—alone and with friends. • Pin-point areas that need improvement and embark on a plan to make incremental changes. • Re-evaluate yourself often. Enlist the help of friends to prevent back-sliding.
Building a Powerful Vocabulary “Good language is contagious.” Clare Boothe Luce • Keep a dictionary with you. • Read, read, read. • Word-of-the-Day strategies • Human Thesaurus strategies • Word puzzles and games • Eliminate foul language
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. --Oscar Wilde Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak. ---Epictetus
Power Communication Skills To develop power in your communication skills, try these techniques: • Become proactive. You decide your own actions, attitudes, and feelings. DECIDE to be a good communicator. DECIDE to not be shy. • Use visualization. Visualize what you want to happen, then make it happen. • Ask for Assistance. Have someone you trust help you correct any communication problems.
Verbal Power • Pitch and projection. Develop good voice control. Avoid high pitch and mumbling. • Act confident. Never let them see you sweat. • Use silence. Silence can be powerful. Use it to gather thought or provoke a response. • Verbalize goals. Be very clear and specific about what you want or need. • Humor. Humor creates a bond and can diffuse tense situations.
Small Talk • What is “Small Talk”? • Small talk is casual or trivial conversation • It is amiable, unhurried (unimportant) conversation that is a prologue to serious business conversation. • When do you make small talk? • While waiting (for your drink, your meal, other members of your party, for the meeting to start, etc.)
Why is Small Talk Important? • Small talk is what persons say to each other to find common ground. It’s how they get to know one another. • Small talk allows people to connect without the threat of business decisions or tension. • It can become a competitive edge when it renders a person attractive and makes him or her a pleasant person to sit next to at a meeting, at lunch, at dinner, or other situations.
I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than for any other ability under the sun. -- John D. Rockefeller • Technical skills and knowledge account for only 15 percent of • The reason you get a job • Keep a job • Advance in a job • 85% of your job success is connected to your people skills, e.g. communication
How Do You Make Small Talk? • The single best topic of small talk is the other person. • Example: “Mary, you gave an excellent presentation. That must have required a lot of research.” • The main thing to remember is to keep it light and upbeat. If you remember to smile while you talk, you’ll make the person listening to you smile, too.
Small Talk at a Business Lunch • If you’re the guest, make small talk until the host signals the beginning of business talk. • If you know the other person is married and/or has a family, ask a very general question about it. If they don’t pick up the ball, drop it. • Bring up light business topics, such as new businesses, new inventions, funny happenings. Nothing heavy or serious. • A good joke is best delivered early, before the business discussion begins.
Small Talk at a Social Function • Give equal time to everyone around you, especially both dinner partners. • If conversation bogs down, ask “personal” questions: Where was your last vacation? How do you know the host/hostess? What was the last movie seen/book read? Etc. • Lauch light topics of interest to all, not boring or depressing ones. • If you know any good quotes, bring them out only when they fit the occasion.
When NOT to Make Small Talk • Anytime someone is concentrating: Reading, working, involved in another conversation. • When privacy might be expected: In a doctor’s/dentist’s waiting room, in a changing room, in a restroom. • When someone doesn’t respond to your initial gambit, but goes immediately back to their previous activity.
Conversational Tips • Be well informed. Read books, newspapers, periodicals, etc. to keep current. • Be prepared. Be aware of and conversant about any “hot” topics in the news. • Don’t interrupt. Let whomever you’re talking with finish their conversation. • Do listen. Part of good conversation is responding, not just waiting for your turn to talk. • Do think before you respond. Give a thoughtful response, one that shows you were listening.
An interesting or fun topic from the papers Ask parents about their children Congratulate someone for recovering from an illness/surgery Propose fundraising ideas for a social need Provide news of sports of major interest, like the Olympics Discuss the real estate market Discuss heartening news about the economy Discuss local civic problems and how you might help Describe fascinating discoveries or inventions you’ve heard about Provide happy news of mutual friends Talk about the latest play, concert, cultural event in your area. What to Talk About
Your health The cost of things Mean gossip Off-color jokes Non-humorous controversial issues Depressing news items The break up of a relationship Details of an illness or surgery Depressing economic news Ranting about local civic problems Criticizing local artistic events Passing judgment on what people eat or drink Discoursing on a sporting event that is not interesting to all parties Politics in any controversial manner Religion, in any judgmental manner What NOT to Talk about
How to tell if you’re a conversational bore You’re likely a conversational bore is people: • Are looking around the room (for someone to save them) • Have eyes that are glazed over • Have sunk so deeply into their chairs, they’re practically lying down • Have given up trying to interrupt you • Keep checking their watches It’s the conversationalist who overdoes it, who won’t get off the subject, or how sticks to his or her topic like glue that is the bore. The three topics most likely to bore others are: Your health, your job, and your children.
How to be a Conversational Hero • Listen. Listen attentively to others. • No interruptions. Let everyone finish speaking • Show a great sense of humor. Be able to laugh at one’s self • Be able to talk on any subject. This means being well read and knowledgeable • Know how to diffuse someone else’s mournful conversation • Know how to take a topic of conversation into new, interesting depths
How to Remember Names • An important skill is the ability to remember names. • Stop telling yourself that you don’t remember names and convince yourself that you are great at remembering names. • Slow down, listen carefully, mentally repeat the name and a connection, then verify that you heard it correctly. • Use the person’s name often, over and over, during the initial conversation. • Look at the person’s name tag and features and make a mental connection. • If the name is unusual or difficult, ask the person to spell it. • Ask for a business card, if it’s appropriate--not a superior
Forgotten Names • If someone can’t remember your name: smile, reintroduce yourself, and tell how you originally met. • If you can’t remember a person’s name: Apologize, acknowledge previous introduction, and ask for their name.
Non-Verbal Communication The most important thing in communications is to hear what isn’t being said. --Peter F. Drucker • Body language is defined as “gestures, unconscious bodily movements, facial expressions, etc. which serve as nonverbal communications or as accompaniments to speech”
Body Language • Your words can be neutralized, contradicted, or supported by your body language. • 55% or someone’s impression of you is visual, 38% is presentation—and words account for only 7 % of the impact of your message. • It’s not what you say, but how you say it, that makes the biggest impact. • The less you rely on gestures, the more people are forced to pay attention to your words.
Crossed arms signify resistance or a closed mind Leaning (on anything) signifies laziness and a lack of power. Lack of eye contact, including looking away, rolling eyes, etc Flailing arms or too large hand gestures—too distracting Leg swinging or foot tapping—signifies impatience Nail biting Slouching or poor posture Negative Body Language
Eye Contact Speaking without making eye contact is like talking with a bag over your head. --Dorothy Sarnoff • Eyes can project confidence and inspire instant trust. • Eyes convey the messages of approval, love, interest, sincerity, credibility, enthusiasm, excitement—and all of the negative emotions, as well.
Eye Contact • Direct eye contact is vital if you’re to truly communicate with another person. • Direct eye contact should be made 40 to 60 percent of the time. • Eye contact of less than 40% of the time is seen as shifty. • If eye contact is more than 60% of the time, it is perceived as aggressive or invasive.
Eye Contact • Look directly at the person when they speak and when you are speaking • To be a good listener, your eyes should say, “What you have to say is important to me.” • When you’re the talker, your eyes should say, “What I have to say is really interesting.” Convey enthusiasm.
Eye Signals • The Business Gaze: concentrates on the forehead, eyes and nose • The Social Gaze: concentrates on the eyes, nose, and mouth • The Intimate Gaze: concentrates on the mouth and lower
Making Presentations That Get Results • Know your material • Organize your outline • Create opportunities for audience participation • Be yourself • Believe in your message
Ways to Gain a Group’s Attention and Interest • Ask a question • Tell a joke or story • Say something unexpected
Get sleep the night before Make sure you’re appropriately dressed Mingle with your audience beforehand, if possible Fight anxiety by willing yourself to relax—mentally, physically and emotionally Watch your posture Take great care with the content of your speech Know your material to perfection Don’t eat just before you speak Just before you start, psych yourself up Relax Basics of Public Speaking
As you begin speaking, look over your audience, still smiling, and then take a couple of deep breaths Make your first words something light As you talk, keep sweeping your eyes over the entire room Keep listening to the sound of your voice over the microphone Smile a lot Keep a glass of water (not ice) nearby Make absolutely certain your equipment has been checked out Use your body language to help persuade: Use hands deliberately, not constantly Don’t push on glasses Control nervous habits Stand upright, without clutching or leaning on the lectern Basics of Public Speaking
Dealing with Difficult People A man and his friend stopped at a newsstand to purchase a paper. The man thanked the vendor politely, but the vendor remained coldly silent. “A sullen fellow, isn’t he?” remarked the friend. “Oh, he’s like that every night,” said the man. “Then why do you continue to be so very polite to him?” asked the friend. Replied the man, “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?” From The Best of Sydney J. Harris
How to Handle Criticism • Ask questions. Search for the truth. Don’t be defensive. • Listen and reconfirm. Try to understand the basis and message of the criticism. • Sell the future. Try to find a way to make the future better.
How to Respond to Criticism • There are only 4 ways to respond to criticism: • Accept it. • Reject it. • Ignore it. • Confrontation. How do you respond? Take the self-assessment.
Public Confrontations • Criticism in front of others is usually from someone trying to force a response from you. Your best option is to diffuse or delay. Never ignore it. • Publicly thank the person for the criticism. • Tell the confronter, “John, this is not the appropriate time or place to discuss this situation. However, I’d like to meet with you in private. This way, you’ve accepted the criticism, but taken control away from the confronter.
Constructive Confrontation Techniques • I don’t like (name the behavior or situation you want changed) • I want (name a specific condition you want) • I’m willing to (make an offer to cooperate to bring about the desired results)
How to Handle People Who Habitually Fly Off the Handle Choice 1: Ignore them. Choice 2: Put up with them. Choice 3: Don’t put up with them.
Can’t Ignore it? Don’t Want to Put Up With It? • If you choose not to put up with their behavior, rehearsing statements like the following will prepare for the situation when it arises again: • “The next time you use profanity, I’m going to walk out in the middle of your sentence.” • “We’re not getting anywhere now. Let’s talk later.” • “When you blow up like this, I tend to stop listening. If we could discuss this issue when we’ve calmed down, I think we’ll be able to resolve it sooner.” • NEVER try to get the bully to take responsibility.
How to Win Over Someone Who’s Against You • Find a point of agreement. • Ask them to clarify their position. • Suggest alternatives. • Find something you like about what they do and compliment them. Be careful not to patronize.
Extricating Yourself From Difficult Situations • It takes courage and kindness to escape the situation and still look gracious • Your options are deflecting, distracting or distancing • You’re on a plane trying to work or sleep and your seatmate gets chatty: “I wish I could talk to you. I can see you’re a very interesting person. But I’m on a deadline/I haven’t slept, so I really need to work/sleep. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t talk with you for a while.
Extricating Yourself From Difficult Situations • A nasty argument has erupted: If you can’t distance yourself, distract—”Enough of that subject. What about world peace?” • The stories are getting dirty in mixed company, making some guests uncomfortable: “Do you mind if I ask Fred something? I’ve been dying to hear is opinion on gay marriage all night.” • The conversation is way over the head of most of the crowd: “You’re too smart for the rest of us. Come down to our planet for a while and tell us about … telephone privacy.” • Someone has just committed a gross gaffe, making everyone go quiet: Someone has to wade into the icy river and restart the conversation “Turning from that controversial topic, less talk about something less intense, like politics or religion. How about…” • If YOU make the gaffe, apologize immediately, sincerely, and try to find a way to salvage the situation.. Without getting defensive.
Giving Compliments • Nothing is more affirmative than a compliment. • A compliment should not be exaggerated, snide, or phony, because it turns into a negative gesture. • Say it with sincerity, from the heart. • A compliment is an excellent ice-breaker and conversation starter.
After your hosts have served a delicious meal or entertaining cocktail party After someone has made a public appearance After there has been recognition or an honor bestowed When someone has extended great effort on a project When a person has done something courageous When a person has done a good job, won or lost, in a competitive sport When a person has achieved any type of milestone in his/her life Whenever its warranted When to Give Compliments
How to Accept a Compliment • Nothing can take the wind out of a person’s sails faster than to have one’s compliment rejected. • TAKE THE COMPLIMENT IN THE SPIRIT IT WAS GIVEN. When someone says something nice to you, say: • Thank you • Aren’t you nice to say that • I really appreciate those warm words • Whatever you do, don’t refute a compliment
Telephone Manners • 75-80% of today’s business is conducted over the telephone. • The manner in which you answer your telephone, at home or at the office, says a lot about your concern for how you are perceived. • Because we take the telephone for granted, we have ceased to worry about what kind of noise we are transmitting—including the sounds of full-blown sneezes, coughs, chewing, grunts, and even a soda being slurped through a straw.
Treat every call as important. Every time you place or receive a call, your voice and manner should reflect your professional best. It’s the duty of the person placing the call to identify him/herself when the phone is answered. The person you called always has priority. Don’t call someone, then put them on hold. When your phone rings, answer it promptly—within 2 rings at the office, 4 at home. Always identify yourself when answering. Never ask “Who is calling” or “What was that name?” Risky option: “May I say who is calling?” Always return calls—same day if possible Basic Telephone Manners