Develop a passion to communicate.
Years ago, I began my career as a university professor teaching communication courses. And I loved it. I loved it when I saw the light bulbs go on in my students’ heads … when they finally understood HOW they could connect with other people.
You see … they learned the POWER of communication They learned how to speak so others would listen, and they learned how to listen so others would speak. And if you learn and do the same things, you’ll be amazed at how effective you will be in the world of business as well as your own family life.
Of course, I can’t teach you all those things in a brief “Tuesday Tip.” I spend the entire second day of the “Journey To The Extraordinary” to teach those communication skills. But let me give you a few tips to improve your communication skills … starting right now.
=> 1. Listen
When it comes to listening, most people aren’t nearly as good as they need to be. In fact, as I’ve observed people over the years, I’ve noticed that many of them will finish my sentences for me or wait for a silent spot so they can say what they want to say.
That is NOT listening. That is incompetence at best and rudeness at worst.
But you can dramatically improve your listening skills if you simply do the one thing recommended by “Captain” Kirk Scherz from Boeing. He says, “To be an exceptional listener we must be SILENT when the other person is speaking.”
As he goes on to say, the secret to good listening can be found in the word “LISTEN.” All you have to do is re-arrange the letters, and you come up with “SILENT.”
And if you are willing to be silent once in a while, while others are speaking, Scherz says the rewards are enormous. He says, “You make the conversation rewarding, stimulating, motivating, and satisfying … because in the final analysis every human being needs someone just to LISTEN to them.”
But I’ve also noticed that great communicators …
=> 2. Capture attention
It’s one of the basic principles in communication. I would teach my students that whatever captures the attention of others … and maintains their attention … wins in the long run. And we know that’s true in all forms of communication.
In a business presentation, if the presenter loses your attention, he won’t teach you anything. In your conversations, if your conversational style is so boring that others tend to daydream while you speak, you won’t build much of a relationship with those other people. And if the commercial on TV is not exciting, you’ll get up and go to the refrigerator.
Every time you speak, you’ve got to find a way to make your comments interesting. You’ve got to capture and maintain the your audience’s attention. And the most successful communicators do exactly that.
Take these signs, for example, signs I’ve noticed on various business establishments. I think they do a wonderful job of capturing attention.
On a plumber’s truck: “We repair what your husband fixed.”
In a nonsmoking area: “If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”
At an optometrist’s Office “If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”
Outside a muffler shop: “No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”
In a veterinarian’s waiting room: “Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”
At a propane filling station: “Thank heaven for little grills.”
So yes, there are some wonderful techniques that will quickly and dramatically improve your communication effectiveness. But I will have to say there is one thing more important than communication “techniques” … and that is to …
=> 3. Develop a passion to communicate
Dr. Howard Hendricks learned that when he was speaking at a Sunday School convention in Chicago. During the noon break, he and three other nationally-known presenters went off to lunch, and as they were waiting in the cafeteria line, Hendricks noticed an elderly woman in front of him. He could see from her badge that she was one of many hundreds of attendees at the conference.
So when a table opened up for four people, he invited the 83-year old woman to join them. And to start the conversation, Hendricks asked, “Do you teach a Sunday School class?”
“Oh,” she said, “I certainly do.” He imagined it would be a small class of little old ladies, but nonetheless, he continued, “What age group do you teach?”
She said, “I teach a class of junior high boys.” Hendricks thought, “Oh brother, what a mess that must be.”
“How many students do you have?” Hendricks wondered. She said, “13.”
Well with a class that big, he said, “You must come from a rather large church with hundreds of kids in Sunday School.” She said, “No sir, it’s a very small church. We only have 55 students in our entire Kindergarten through 12th grade Sunday School.”
Hendricks was amazed. How could she have about a fourth of the entire Sunday School in her class alone? What was her secret? So he asked, “What are you doing here at the convention?”
She said, “I just came here to learn something that would make me a better teacher. You see … I’m on a pension. My husband died a few years ago. And frankly this is the first time the convention has come close enough to me so I could afford to attend. So I bought a Greyhound bus ticket, got on last night, and rode all night, so I could be here to attend all the morning workshops. And it’s been so profitable.”
Without a doubt, she had a passion to communicate. And she had a passion to improve her communication skills.
By contrast, I can’t tell you how many people tell me they don’t need any more training. They’ve heard it all before. They know everything they need to know.
Of course, that’s what they think and that’s what they tell themselves, but more often than not, they’re wrong. Just ask their coworkers. They’ll tell how much those people need additional training.
Great communicators have a passion to communicate, so they’re always learning more about the art of communication. I see it all the time at conventions where I’m speaking. I see some of the “greats” in the audience, taking notes, and listening intently. And I’ll ask them, “What are you doing here? You could teach me and everyone else in the audience a few things?”
They simply say, “Brother, I came here to learn. So lay it on me. I’m ready.”
What about you? Do you have a passion to communicate? Do you do everything you can to read all the books, pick all the brains, and attend all the training sessions you can?
If you do, there’s a big payoff for you and for those with whom you communicate. After all, there’s a sequel to the 83-year old Sunday School teacher. Hendricks later learned that there are 84 young men in the ministry today because of her class and her passion to communicate.