Taking Your Stage Blog  
  Helping you improve the communication skills of the leaders and teams in your organization.  

« October 2013 | Main | December 2013 »

5 items from November 2013


Communication Quote of the Day

The words we say will teach if we practice what we preach. --Unknown




Communication Lessons from the Bench


Guest Post from Bob Woolf

While in St. Louis recently, I had the pleasure of watching my son represent the plaintiff in a court trial. I frankly wanted to see him in action in order to see where the bucks went that funded the degree! He was presenting the closing argument and I noticed that the jury members were engaged, with some of them even at the edge of their seat.

He appealed for “common sense” and fairness for his clients. He slammed his hand on the wall fronting the jury box and implored, “These folks don’t want to get rich in a settlement, they just want their damaged wall repaired.” He connected with the jury members. He personalized the message with sufficiently dramatic body language and vocal variations that were far from mundane or dull. His content was excellent, his presentation was exciting, and an emotional interaction was made. They were listening to him. They were “feeling his client’s pain."

What was the result of the trial? His clients were awarded everything. In short, he hit a legal “homerun” and I was there to watch it. Pretty cool if I must say so.

On the trip back to Nashville, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons taught. Whether talking with students, contractors, team members, negotiatiors, or with a jury, the key to successful communication is being able to communicate successfully. A paradox? No. One of the definitions of communicate is “connect.” We must be able to make that prized “connection.”  And to do that we need to be honest, to be genuine.

I believe the case could easily have been decided in favor of the insurance company who denied the claim. Some members of the jury explained their decision, indicating that the opposing attorney seemed to be aloof while my son spoke with them, not at them. In short, one attorney made that all important connection while the other did not. In the long run, the content of their presentations were not as important as faith in the presenter. They trusted my son and heard the message.  They were left unimpressed by the opposing attorney.

Is it not the same situation when we are making a presentation, facilitating a meeting, addressing our client, supervising a team, or teaching a class?  We must communicate with appropriate words and sincere body language.  How do we do that?  By understanding your audience, listening first, and being honest and genuine. That is the secret of good communication. Show me a person who listens first and then speaks to the concerns just heard, and I will show you a successful communicator.




Communication Quote of the Day

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them. --Abigail Adams



Five Questions to Answer Before Asking for Something

IStock_000005289430_webYou want something.  It will help your team, your project, your day-to-day life.  But you'll never get it unless you convince someone else to see things your way.  Not easy to do, but worth the effort.  You pick up the phone, but then you think that in person may work better.  That way you can read their body language.  You walk into their office and make your request.  They ask a couple of questions with a tone that you were not expecting and all of a sudden the conversation is moving in a direction for which you are not prepared.  The result is not what you hoped, but you have no idea what you could have done differently.

An actor walking into an audition experiences something similar.  They never know quite what to expect and sometimes have very little time before they are asked to read a script or play a scene.  Yet there is a lot at stake.  Here are five questions they may ask themselves that you can use before launching into your own "scene" in order to see the big picture and where you are in the "script":

  1. What do you want? What exactly do you want?  What is your objective?  Be very specific without generalities.
  2. Where is the conflict?  Everyday situations and conversations are filled with conflict and you need to understand where the conflict is before you enter the "scene."  What do you want?  What do they want?  Where will there be conflict?  If you don't know, make it a point to ask questions to find out.
  3. What has just happened?  What were they doing, thinking, even feeling before you walked in?
  4. Where are you?  Is it in their office?  Your office?  Are there other people around?  Will they feel threatened or comfortable?
  5. What is the relationship?  Is there a history?  How do they feel about you?  Do they like you?  Respect you?  Do they know you?  Have you made an effort to sincerely build a relationship with them?

Simple questions such as these "set the stage," help you go in with the right attitude, and move the focus from yourself to the other person.  And that goes a long way towards achieving your objective while perserving the relationship.





Communication Quote of the Day

Words are plentiful; deeds are precious. -- Lech Walesa