GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS
Think about what you want to communicate:
Why TravelSmart is worth doing What is involved How it can be implemented Who is responsible When it will take place Where it will be implemented
To communicate it effectively you need to be able to:
- Build Rapport
- Listen Effectively
- Question Appropriately
- Apply effective and appropriate vocal techniques
These skills are essential elements to the success of your messages. Applying them correctly will increase your chances of understanding your target audience and tailoring your message to best suit their needs.
This resource will break down each of the communication skills individually. However, each skill depends on the other. They are interrelated and effectiveness of one relies on the application of the other.
For example, Listening can only be perceived as effective, by the message giver, if the correct questions are asked by the receiver to clarify understanding. Unless these questions are asked using appropriate vocal qualities and appropriately matched non- verbal communication then it will be difficult for both parties to be in rapport. Rapport is essential if a relationship of trust and openness is to be developed.
Rapport is a positive relationship created through 1st impressions, what is being said, how it is said and the visual messages received. It is created if we try to focus on where the other person is coming from.
For rapport to exist there must be a match between all these cues.
We must aim to be congruent with all our messages. It's really difficult to concentrate on what a person is saying if you are distracted by an opposing facial expression or tone.
To maximise rapport with another person, become aware of:
- Their vocal qualities - modulation, tone, speed of their speech Aim to match unless they are speaking inappropriately loudly or aggressively. In this case you would use a moderate tone and try to lead them to a more appropriate pattern.
- Language patterns - are they describing situations using visual, auditory language or expressing feelings. This is an advanced technique but if you can use similar language patterns to ask questions and provide information, it can increase their desire to listen and can determine how quickly they may take on your ideas.
Here is an example of an exchange using visual language
Employer: I can't see how we would have time to do that.
TS Officer: Can you picture a time that when things are sometimes slower?
Employer: It looks like January to March is slower for us.
TS Officer: I will just show you an example of a plan used at ACME company.
They described similar concerns.
Body language: It helps enormously if you gain an awareness of your own body language and how others may interpret it.
Folded arms to you may mean you are thinking. Others may wonder if you are cold, closed, protective.... Try to keep a good, neutral posture that appears open and appropriately relaxed.
Are you aware of your own distracting habits? It could be hair twirling, finger tapping, knee jerking or eyebrow rubbing. It is important to tune into and gain awareness of yourself. If you want to communicate easily with others, minimize any actions that distract or are incongruent with your words.
Remember, when you are nervous or feeling even a little apprehensive, these habits can automatically appear. Developing strategies to consciously control your action can be helpful.
Hints: Start an awareness campaign before you are in TravelSmart mode. Ask friends and work mates to count how many times you say a certain repetitive word or action.
Adopt a stance that prevents you from shaking, tapping fingers, or pens, folding arms. Sometimes keeping your hands on your knees, on the desk, or clasped can help you to become conscious of your actions.
Listening is important to help you understand the other person's situation. It assists you in tailoring your key messages and shows you are genuinely concerned with their circumstances
Effective listening involves:
Showing genuine concern.
Technique: eye contact, nodding, verbal cues (OK, yes, ah ha, mmm) sitting facing the person with attentive posture
Reflecting back what you think the person may have said and the feeling behind it.
Technique: "Sounds like the difficulties with parking are making it difficult for you to retain employees. Rather than looking for more parking spaces, you could promote other ways of getting to work to overcome the problem". Listen for their language patterns and reflect back. This allows them to adjust the information if you have picked up on the wrong message. It is an opportunity to clarify. Presents an opportunity for you to attend, understand and interpret (Mackay, 1996)
Avoiding responses which indicate judgment and criticism.
Technique: Remain impartial. Work with the data offered in the conversation only. Applying appropriate questioning skills can assist you to probe further. At this stage just acknowledge their comments.
Technique: It is essential to acknowledge any concerns before you can move on. Empathic listening helps you to access another's frame of reference (Covey 1989).
"I bet it can be tricky sometimes when you have to get people to work overtime".
People will listen to you when:
They can see relevance of what you are saying to their situation
Technique: This is a vital component in interviewing or meetings with groups or individuals. If what you say appears relevant there is likely to be a significant increase in your level of credibility and hence peoples desire to listen to what you are saying. (Quine, 1998)
They feel comfortable about making a response
Technique: Inviting further information with the use of probing questions relevant to what has been said is appropriate. Questions that seem irrelevant to the person will have the opposite effect.
Listening can be hard work. Sometimes it is hard to get a word in and what is being said is irrelevant. This is when you need to apply control techniques through questioning. It is an art and a skill that will develop over time. The trick is to keep in rapport when trying to bring the conversation back on track.