Whether you’re trying to sell a product or express your opinion in a meeting, understanding how to communicate according to the situation and the people with whom you’re talking is a key skill many people get wrong. Emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important in the changing demands of vocational skills and those who aren’t paying attention to learning, developing and improving are going to get left behind.
Artificial intelligence is indeed disrupting job creation but, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), about 133m jobs globally could be created with the help of rapid technological advances in the workplace over the next decade, compared with 75m that could be displaced. It makes sense, therefore, that the list of the most in-demand hard skills is changing. It is also of little surprise that soft skills, emotional intelligence and the ability to work collaboratively are fast becoming highly sought-after attributes in modern business. A 2018 study on LinkedIn ranks the following as the most in-demand soft skills:
- Time Management
With leadership topping the list, it’s not difficult to work out that communication, collaboration and time management are all key components of competent leadership. In 2017, a PWC survey of nearly 1,400 CEOs across the globe focusing, in part, on today’s workforce, found that 77% of respondents viewed underdeveloped key soft skills as the biggest threat to today’s business. This is mostly owing to our archaic education system being inherently flawed in its focus on individualism and personal accolades above corporate performance. It therefore makes sense that developing emotional intelligence can augment technology and future-proof your career, enhancing both your personal worth and financial value to any business.
At Starcount, our data enables our clients to execute informed operational and marketing decisions that have a significantly positive, measurable impact on their bottom line. Our data provides insight that supports future trends, guides business decisions and makes consumers’ lives easier by knowing who the customer is, who they will be in the future and how they interact with brands and products. This knowledge facilitates clear communication and better relationships with customers. Communication with each other shouldn’t be any different, except with the added advantage of having our source of data right in front of us!
Since collaboration depends on communication, and effective collaboration increases business performance and profits, what follows is a 4-step approach to effective communication.
Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in every communication
Knowing exactly what you want to achieve, together with understanding who you are talking to, will dictate your approach and communication strategy. Whether you are talking to a colleague, addressing your boss, presenting to the board or pitching for a sale, every conversation that involves getting something done is a negotiation. Gathering data means having social awareness of your counterpart or audience; an understanding of who they are, their personality type, their present circumstances and what makes them tick. Then there’s the immediate and presently available data. This is where most people fail because their impatience leads to a pre-eminent focus on the importance of getting their point across without an appreciation that, just because you think your point is important, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will too.
Hearing what someone says is very different to listening for clues, understanding intent and gathering information that may inform what you do or don’t say next. If you’re particularly observant, you can read their mood and understand their frame of mind by understanding their tone, watching facial expressions and body language. Having someone else choose to place the same value of importance on your opinion as you do involves immense trust, respect and relational rapport. You can create this by being observant, sensitive and authentically empathetic. People want to be understood and accepted. Listening is the most effective concession we can make to get there.
In any interaction, you want to ensure that you are trusted and respected in order to get your point across. Simultaneously, you need to be receptive and open to an opinion or point of view that is alternative to yours. Having a dogmatic approach, or even negative body language like folding your arms, closes off your own mind to possibilities whilst reducing your counterpart’s receptiveness. Listening and paraphrasing what someone has said demonstrates authentic empathy and creates an environment of trust. You’re showing them that you respect their perspective whilst using your informed understanding to adapt, respond or propose an alternative view. You can enhance their sense of security whilst gaining deeper insight to their ideas and agenda by asking open-ended questions and further paraphrasing. In this stage of a discussion you want to be mindful of affirming before disagreeing.
Offering your solution
The key word here is “offering”. When you offer something to someone you’re not offended if they choose not to accept it. Similarly, you’re not being forceful because if your point is indeed valuable, then (by this stage in a conversation) your counterpart will be willing to listen. The power is in the way you pose your idea or opinion. A simple, “Have you considered…?” or “What is your opinion on doing it this way?” will result in your colleague, client, boss or partner choosing your solution and walking away feeling as if it was their own.
The end result
By setting out to bring the best out of each other in every communication, you’ll end up with a happier, more secure and cooperative work environment, which projects outward to your clients; and when your clients choose your solutions as if they were their own, the cycle of benefits turns a full circle!