Communicating, Negotiating and Influencing more effectively
Communicating, Negotiating and Influencing more effectively with key stakeholders, especially increasing levels of Active Listening and Open Questioning, are among the most important Competencies and development areas identified in 360 Feedback Reviews and covered in Executive and Performance Coaching.
The most overlooked part of Communication is listening. People often believe that good Communication skills are about being articulate, telling a good story and having a wide vocabulary, but the ability and willingness to listen to others is more important. Unfortunately many leaders and managers interrupt their team members or reach conclusions about what they think their employee is trying to say, even before they have finished speaking. Frequently because of biases and filters we don’t tend to hear what’s really being said. Listening actively is a real skill which takes regular practice to develop and at Natural Talent we include exercises during all our Coaching and Leadership Development and Management Training. Active Listening includes empathising with the person, nodding, and summarising what they are saying.
It also involves identifying and understanding the following:
- What the other person thinks and feels
- What the other person needs and wants
- What problems, real or potential, stand between the other person and the achievement of their goals today?
Nonverbal Communication can constitute up to 70% of what we are saying and can have 8 times more impact than words e.g. slamming your fist down on the desk. Body language, posture, presence, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact are all important in making a leader or manager come across well. Again these are developed during Coaching Sessions and Leadership Team Development.
It takes 7 seconds to form an impression when using the phone so how can we improve use of our voice to maximise the effectiveness of what we are trying to say? It is useful to practice identifying your natural style and understanding the pitch, pace, inflection, intonation, tone, volume and energy used, as they can all portray sarcasm and a belittling attitude. Aim to articulate more and be clear and concise to create a vocal impact. Remember ‘It’s not WHAT you say but HOW you say it’ and people may not be able to recall your actual words, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
In order to influence people be clear of your objectives and act with respect and integrity. Be assertive, direct and honest, be aware of options and use Open Questions (which don’t allow a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response) to identify peoples’ needs and effectively manage conflict.
In order to negotiate, ask Who? When? and Where? questions to elicit facts, and How? and What? questions to find out more detail regarding emotions, feelings and values:
‘Who is the Decision Maker?’
‘When are you aiming to finish the project?’
‘Where is the new Sales Director going to be based?’
‘What is preventing you from achieving your main objectives?’
‘What impact is that having on the business?’
‘How can I help or support you more?
‘How would you feel about HR conducting an Employee Engagement survey to gain feedback on your Leadership skills?’
‘Why don’t you want to promote the Sales Manager?’
Be wary of using ‘Why’ too often as it can be viewed as judgemental, but is very useful in reviewing where projects have gone wrong, as in the ‘Why Why’ Cause-Effect Diagram.