Sunday, October 14, 2012

Listen to me!

 I'm a fan (and a long-time student) of Body Language. In a world where technology has made global communication easy and immediate, there remains numerous situations where good old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is paramount to creating the most beneficial outcomes. Regardless of which mode of communication is most appropriate for the situation, there are several barriers that can derail even the best intended communication.

Perceptual Barriers
How you approach a conversation can easily determine the difference between engaging and persuading the other person or subconsciously sabotaging your efforts from the start. Example: A salesman had heard that the new buyer was already sold on a competitor and would listen politely to other vendors, but - had already made up his mind. Armed with this rumor, the salesman chose not to spend much time making his proposal and just happened to "make a comment" that garnered an unexpected response from the buyer—a response that quickly indicated that he actually was open to seriously entertaining the salesman’s proposal. By approaching the situation with a preconceived idea, this salesman nearly sabotaged his own sales efforts.

Physical Barriers
Closed doors, walls that separate and distance people, even staying seated behind a large desk can place a barrier between two communicators. The more open the environment, the more the potential for strong communications.

Language Barriers
Language issues can arise from two areas—cultural language differences and industry jargon. It’s all too common for people to use industry jargon, forgetting that clients, while familiar with your industry, may not fully comprehend the jargon shortcuts. To avoid potential conflict, use words and terms that anyone could understand and leave the jargon for industry colleagues.

Cultural Barriers
While language from differing cultures can be a natural barrier to overcome, don’t ignore other cultural practices that may be mistaken for rudeness or lack of professionalism. Take time to understand potential differences and find a common ground from which to communicate.

Emotional Barriers
This can be one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. When the emotional issue is yours, it is critical to set your emotions aside in order to have productive communication. When you sense another’s emotion is the issue, be sensitive and respond accordingly. Most importantly, never let your emotions alter the ability to build, rather than detract, rapport.

Stress Barriers
People respond differently when they are under stress. Learn to identify stressful situations and modify your tone and approach so as not to be misunderstood.

Gender Barriers
Although this barrier has decreased through the years, the reality is that it still exists to some extent. Research has shown that men and women tend to form their thoughts differently. Take this into consideration and use clarifying statements to ensure that clear understanding is achieved.

Certainly the use of technology (such as HD Videoconferencing) can be a great asset when it is used appropriately. Yet it is extremely important to remember that nothing nurtures relationships like face-to-face. When face-to-face, individuals develop more confidence. When customers know that you take the time to show that you have their best interest in mind, that’s a winning customer relationship.

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