Note: I have given my staff two weeks off for them to enjoy their families for the holidays. As such, my offices are closed and this is republished post. Live blogging will begin again on January 5, 2015. Happy holidays and a very happy New Year to you all.
I am in the process of completing the interviews with my Preston Bailey and Friends attendees to begin the profile series. I thought I would use today’s “Up Close and Personal” blog to discuss the topic of how to get closer to those around you by utilizing better communication skills.
While it is true that not all of those who enjoy moments of success are great communicators, all great leaders are. And, in the business of events, we are all leaders. We are meant to guide our clients through the process of planning, designing, executing, and experiencing the events of their dreams. We not only work for them, but also with them, and that is why it is essential we actually pay attention to how we spend our time together.
To communicate is to connect, and it is essential that we know the difference between speaking at and speaking with another person, whether they be a colleague, client, or a partner who supports and helps you work towards your professional goals. My three decades in this business have shown me that solid communication builds bonds — and brands. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the opposite is also true, that in fact poor and inadequate communication can break them in record time as well.
Today, I would like to share a few tips I have learned through trial and error on how to communicate effectively.
Timing is Everything: I have seen flippant remarks — by way of both snark and humor — slam the door on opportunity shut. There is a time and place for certain conversations, especially those related to something that can be deemed stressful or negative (i.e. criticism of a staff member or pricing with a client). The way we speak to those around us when dealing with our own stress and negative emotions can create a new scenario we aren’t ready for. Prepare your presentations, practice your pitches, and be real with those in front of you in a respectful and authentic way.
Listen: This doesn’t mean you stand there silently, but tossing out your thoughts and then shutting them down will turn most people off. Think dialogue, not monologue, and support the idea of real conversation by asking open-ended questions and pay very close attention to what the other person is saying, even if you don’t agree with it. Show them that they have your full and complete attention with eye contact and affirmative nods and gestures. Think about it, when someone seems “too busy” or “lost in thought”, it’s not only intimidating, it can feel devaluing.
Be Personable: We may be brought together in a professional context, but we are all human beings and there’s something very humane about treating one another as though we know it. Empathy, respect, and a proverbial outreached hand creates a safe space for those in your sphere to share information in a direct and clear way. Sharing a favorite hobby or book, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, asking how their day is going, and maybe how their daughter is doing as well all go a long way in opening up the lines between you two.
Be Clear: To extend on the point above, open and honest communication begins with trust. It is hard to have trust in someone you feel is being ambiguous about a topic. It’s better to say five clear sentences that drives the bottom line than to give a monologue that dances around a topic and leaves everyone walking away feeling great, but with no direction.
Be Proactive and Productive: We live in the information age, which means facts are easy to find if you know where and how to look for them. Preparing for meetings with others (be it one or one hundred) will lead to more productive conversations and meetings, even ones where brainstorming plays a key role. Saying “I don’t know” and then working to find out the answer is a lot more impactful than simply releasing inaccurate information just to save face and fill the silence.
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)