presentation skills trainer

Great Ideas for Communication

Great Ideas for Communication

presentation skills trainerLaurie Brown

Laurie Brown has over two decades of experience as a trainer, coach and speaker, helping her audience improve their leadership, presentation, sales and customer service skills. 
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Become a Good Listener

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Being a good listener has never been harder. You are constantly barraged with information: notifications, reminders, ringing phones, binging emails—and people expect answers immediately.

What can you do to clear enough space through all this noise in order to focus and hear what’s being said to you? Here’s a simple, but not easy, method to help you listen more effectively.

STOP DROP and ROLE

Let’s take this step by step.

STOP:

Remember how annoying it is when you are talking to someone and that person is completely distracted—looking at email, playing Words with Friends, reading tweets or worse? Have you ever been guilty of the same? Sad to say, I have.

The only way to keep from doing this yourself is to remember to STOP everything else so that you can focus and listen. This is especially critical during meetings and important conversations.

Turn off your phone—not just switch it on silent. Even on silent, the vibrations will still take away your attention.


Close your laptop, turn off your computer, turn over your sudoku. Clear your desk of anything that might take your attention away from the person you are speaking to.

DROP:

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you interrupted them by trying to finish their sentence? 

Have you ever been in a conversation and were surprised to learn that where someone stands on an issue isn’t at all what you expected?

Have you ever left a meeting believing that you were all in agreement only to find out later that what you thought was agreed on wasn't?

These things happen all the time.

Our brains are wired to see patterns and make assumptions based on what we already know. When we are listening, we are always filtering what people are saying through our assumptions and prejudices. Although everyone does this, the problem is that those assumptions are not always true and they get in the way of really listening. It keeps us from hearing what the other person is saying.

DROP your prejudices, preconceptions and assumptions when you are listening. A good way to do this is to constantly ask questions. This helps you make sure that what you think you are hearing is what is actually being said. Questions kill assumptions. Do your best to use open questions (who, what, where, when, why, how, tell me more, explain to me…) to help yourself really listen.

The last step is ROLE.

ROLE: 

Reconsider your role in the conversation:

It is NOT to “one up” the person.

It is NOT to finish sentences.

It is NOT to share your story.

Your role is to hear and understand what the other person has to say and to make sure that you leave with a full comprehension of what they want to communicate.

STOP DROP and ROLE

STOP: Be sure to stop all other activities.

DROP: Drop your assumptions and prejudices.

ROLE:  Remember your role in the conversation.

Try it in your next conversation and your communication and comprehension will improve exponentially.

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Stop Spouting EMPTYthy Provide great service by turning over a new LEAF

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After waiting an hour for my food to be delivered to my hotel room—late by 30 minutes according to the delivery time promised in their email confirmation—I called the company. Then I had to wait another 30 minutes just to talk to a customer service representative.

This is when things went from bad to much, much, worse. The customer service representative told me he was sorry but that he couldn’t do anything except refund my money. When I expressed my frustration, he responded (seemingly from a customer service script on how to sound empathetic with an upset customer), “I understand.”

The problem was––he didn’t. If he truly understood, he would have expressed true empathy for a very hungry and upset customer in a strange city.

Simply parroting “I’m sorry” and “I understand” over and over only added to my frustration. It strikes of “EMPTYthy” –– words without meaning or genuine concern. I’m sure this company trained its people to “sound” like they care, but it’s not the same thing as actually caring and it just doesn’t ever work.

So, what does work? Empathy over an "i'm sorry" apology would sound like this: “Wow! We sure messed up. That’s terrible. You must be so hungry. Here is what we are going to do to resolve this now.”

If you want a more effective way to deal with upset customers try turning over a new “LEAF”.

Listen: Use active listening techniques. Acknowledge by repeating or paraphrasing to check for understanding. Let the customer finish telling their story to you. Even if you know you can fix their problem based on what you’ve heard early in the conversation, don’t. If interrupted, the customer will just keep repeating themselves until they feel heard.

Empathy: Stop using meaningless phrases such as “I understand.” Instead, use language that shows you “get it”. “That’s terrible,” “How frustrating,” “You must be besides yourself” are phrases that let your customer know you truly understand how they feel.

Act: Take ownership of the problem and fix it as soon as you can. Get creative with your solution. And if you can’t fix it immediately, show that you are urgently trying to.

Follow up: Check in with the customer and make sure that your solution satisfied them.

Try LEAF with your next unhappy customer—and please, no more EMPTYthy.

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