Let’s examine four possible combinations of speaking & listening. This will enable us to understand what communication can do to our lives and to our organizations.
Possibility 1. Effective speaking but poor listening. If this is the leader’s characteristics the results could be as under:
It will increase your focus. You may have generated good followers & good soldiers. But the potential leaders will leave. There will be practically no innovation. Stress level will increase.
Possibility 2. Effective speaking and active listening. That is the perfect combination for the leader. The focus of the leader and of the organization will remain in the forefront. Things will happen fast. Loyalty of employees will increase. Appreciation of mind and ability to enjoy the work will bring in more breakthroughs, more innovations. People will collaborate with each other and also compete with each other. The best will blossom with the leader’s effective speech and active listening. An atmosphere of sustainable leadership will prevail.
Possibility 3: Poor speaking but active listening. It will amount to lack of focus. Also, waste of time & money. There will be thrust on management by committees. People might get an impression that anything goes.
Meanwhile active listening will also result in the positives. The employees will become more self-expressed. Application of mind by them will increase. There would be greater innovation.
Possibility 4: Poor speaking and poor listening. It will be nothing but a slow death of the enterprise. The death of textile mills in Mumbai & Ahmadabad can be attributed to this syndrome. Misunderstanding and conflicts will rule. Opportunities will be missed. There would be high rate of attrition. Isolation will result in fragmentation, and finally extinction.
Just perusing the above possibilities would shake our slumber. Importance of communication will then be fully realized. So, I will deal with both aspect of communication- good speaking and good listening.
First of all it is necessary to have strong content. Content is the king. Effective communications take this into account more than any other aspect of management or even life. Content means domain knowledge. You can’t fool people with shallow thoughts. Much less you can impress them. Lot of hard work goes into acquiring knowledge. The biggest problem is seen when you have worthwhile knowledge but you can’t use into your advantage due to lack of effective speech. Your expression remains impaired. People would barely know that you are a storehouse of useful information.
Then what should you do? Become a good speaker. Practice the art and science of speaking clearly, confidently and convincingly.
How do you speak clearly? You must understand that speech in the result of decision to communicate. First thinking clarifies the idea you want to project to the listener or a group of listeners. Then brain sends a signal to the lungs and some breath is released. Breath strikes the vocal cord to produce sound. But the words are created by the speech organs. So in order to speak clearly, think clearly. Cultivate habit of deep breathing. It enables to have sufficient breath to support strength of your voice. This will also enable you to speak longer sentence without breathing in between. The flow of speech will enable ideas to flow smoothly.
Communication does not mean only effective speaking. In fact, it is the beginning point. But even more important is active listening. Active listening will bring about the results that you are looking for. You communicate with someone or a group of listeners with an objective. How can you influence others? By listening to them actively or with your speech. How do you find whether you are a good listener or not? I give below a checklist which is self- expletory.
- Don’t think of what you are going to say next when another person is speaking. Just focus on understanding and assimilating what he/she has to say.
- You must listen with an open mind. Don’t try to relate with your own experience, similar experience. When someone is relating a story in support of his argument, your tendency to evaluate should be given a pause. Never be judgmental, as they say.
- When you are listening, try to recreate mentally what the other person is saying objectively.
- Try to see things from the speaker’s point of view. Empathize and be compassionate while listening.
- Try to uncover the intent of the speaker. All speakers may not be terse. Their verbosity may require a little extra effort on your part to understand the intent. Make this extra effort.
- Think what results you can produce through listening rather than speaking. If you want to influence people, you will be amazed to observe how listening comes in handy and helpful.
- Listen a minute longer than it is comfortable. That extra minute will give you extra input. In any case, you are having a dialogue for understanding the other’s point of view.
- Last but not the least; you must remember that your words of advice will be seen as unwanted noise. Never give an advice unless asked for. If you are not convinced and the solution demands that you must express your views, do that and say we agree to disagree!
Thanks for reading.
Life is a continuous interplay of problems and solutions. Every day comes with some kind of problems small, medium or large. It is our job to find a solution and resolve the same with our required action. Not finding a solution or alternative solutions is the biggest problem which needs to be avoided in any case. “It is said that every challenge offers new opportunities. No doubt it does. Then how is it that we are afraid of challenges. Two reasons. Our negative attitude and lack of courage. Then what should we do? How do we change? How should we develop a positive attitude? Certainly there is no quick fix. But the reward of bringing about this change i.e. from negative attitude to cultivating positive one, very well deserves, the efforts that we have to put in. And what are these efforts? How do we go about it? Chisel this change with following measures:
- Look for rose flower not the thorns. No doubt the rose plant is full of thorns. If you are afraid about the thorns you may never reach the rose. So focus only on the rose. Be careful about the thorns and get the rose. Rose is your reward. In fact that’s what you want- the rose. But the plant is full of problems. These are challenges. Don’t be scared about challenges and with careful efforts you will surely secure your results.
- Procrastination is the bane of life. It doesn’t allow you to go ahead and take action. Procrastination pushes you into laziness and a maze of indecisive thinking. It is the worst enemy of positive attitude. So defeat it. Always believe in ‘doing it now!”
- Anyone has the strengths and weaknesses. Rely on your strengths. Leverage these for productive work. Leverage these for overcoming your weaknesses. Identify the weaknesses and do all what it takes to overcome these. It will raise your self-esteem. It will develop your positive attitude.
- Banish these four negative emotions that ruin your efforts to develop a positive attitude. These are: Indecision, Suspicious, Greed and Credulity. Actually each one of these emotions becomes the reason for tragedy of Shakespearean Heroes as under.
- Hamlet was indecisive.
- Othello was an embodiment or suspicious.
- Macbeth moves to the tragic end because of unending Greed.
- King Lear suffered because of credulity. Being credulity leads to people hoodwinking you. This leads to disillusionment & suffering. In turn, it makes you a negative thinker.
- Breed Positive Assumptions about people and about situations. Often times, we do not reach out to people for help because we are afraid of rejection. Never be afraid of rejection. Even if it happens, take it in its stride. Often, you will be surprised that those very people regarding whom you harbored negative assumptions are happy to help you. I read a book which in the preface talked about success- Eleven important principles of success and what are these? Ask, Ask, Ask………..11 times.
- Marry the spouse whom you love. Otherwise start loving earnestly whom you marry. Our likes and dislikes are not writings on the wall. They keep on changing like anything else. So you can start loving your job and you must. It will make your attitude positive.
- Last but not the least. Avoid negative influences. Don’t have company of negative people, don’t read negative literature and don’t watch negative movies. All pleasure seekers end in pain. Those who lure you to undesirable stuff don’t deserve your attention or regard.
Thanks for reading.
When you meet an individual, the first few things you observe are:
How does he/she look? How is the posture? The facial expression? The clothes? How the clothes are carried by the person? Is he/she overdressed? Or underdressed? Befitting the occasion? Or not?
All the above attributes are important to create the first impression. Though this is not the last impression as some people may believe. Yet it’s very important. So be discrete in choice of fit, colors, fall, finish and all these characteristics which contribute to make you look good.
More important than these is, your posture. Posture is indicative of your health as well as your confidence. How you sit is as important as how you stand and vice versa.
The facial expression on your face need to match your posture. This expression tells a lot on what is going on in your mind. On an average an individual receives fifty thousand thoughts in one day. It is necessary for the individual to control their number and keep the number as low as possible. The lesser the number the more focused a person becomes. And this shows on your facial expression. A smile is the best companion which will not allow the turbulence of your mind to show on your face. Besides, smile helps reduce the worries.
And then it is your body language! What is body language? How you walk? How you hold your head over your shoulders? How do you place your lips? These are all important features of body language? The art and science of image management concerns more on dress, choice of colors, how the dress is fashioned etc.
It’s an art to be mastered: the strategic use of body language for best results.
Adopt a relaxed, upright posture. This will speak of your genial confidence. If you have sagging and slumping shoulders, these will suggest that you are tired and bored of life. In public life such a posture is suicidal.
Further, where you find your place to sit is also important. Do you select a place where you avoid the eyes of others? Or do you prefer a prominent place where you are sure to be noticed?
In this age of social media and networking, developing and maintain a positive body language is critical. What you say is important but how you say it often more important. A recent survey revealed that 65% of communication depends on your gestures, expression and body language. This is an area where not only attention is needed but also a consistent desire to hone the skills. It should be matched with adequate real time practice. That alone will help you to bring in the required change in the body language that you portray.
Good health is needed to enable you to be in control. Physical health will make your good posture easy to maintain. Good mental health will take care of your facial expression. Mature effective voice requires both physical and mental health should be in good shape. This then, is another reason that you must be health conscious and consistently maintain good health.
Thanks for reading.
Today I will talk to you about leadership. PowerPacked Leadership. We all know that in this fast paced competitive world, Leadership has assumed paramount importance, paramount for our progress & growth.
I consider that all of us are leaders in our own rights. But it is possible that the leader is latent. Through various activities, we will not only discover but we will activate the leader who may he hiding. Some of you may be functioning as full fledged leaders at your work, place, not at home, for at home you may have a more powerful leader. At home, your better half becomes more powerful. In such cases you will be able to hone your leadership skills and further develop leadership qualities.
Let me tell you about various aspects of leadership. Five aspects of leadership are critical. What are these 5 factors?
- Understanding what is leadership. What are the traits of a strong leader? Which are the various leadership styles? What is your leadership style? Understanding these questions will help make our activities more focused and useful.
- Second in line is delegation. Again what is delegation? Why and when it is necessary? How to delegate effectively? And finally how to develop trust and empower those whom you delegate. Without trust and without empowerment, delegations are meaningless.
- Third vital aspect of leadership is team building. Here again we will have to define i) what are characteristics of a good team? ii) How can the leader play an effective role as the main motivator? And, most importantly how to get the best of out of your team members. Achieving best possible results & productivity is like the soul of leadership.
- Fourth aspect of leadership, which we will study, is: how leaders are different from the manager. No doubt manager is also a leader. But his fundamental responsibility is to follow the company’s mission, to ensure that work goes on as per the standards set by the organization. But the leader is an innovator.
- Last but not the list we will check and work out how a leader must manage his/her time. We all have to manage our time. But for the leader, it is the cardinal point. Leader is responsible for his time as well as, how time at the workplace is used, by team members. It should be optimal utilization. For this study we must assess it.
We have special questionnaires which will guide us. Working out priorities is of practical importance.
In all these above qualities of the leader the focal point is communication. No doubt written communication is important. But today the verbal communication has come to forefront. What you say? The language you use? But more importantly, how you say it. Clarity of speech is principal factor when we talk of influencing people. And then we must be able to hold attention of listener/ listeners. This we can do only by modulating our speech. With the voice culture techniques that we have developed, we’ll try to experience the effect of modulation.
That brings us to the leader’s core quality.
Speech & speaking skills! These I will deal in my next talk.
In the competitive environment of today, it is essential for all Leaders (even if you lead one person) to be passionate and highly motivated. Leadership by hierarchy is no longer valid.
How to be an effective Leader? How to develop Leadership Qualities? What is the first step?
The first and foremost quality leaders must have is a passion for whatever they do? Doing anything half-heartedly does not work today. A passion for becoming an excellent public speaker could be the first step. A public speaker is like a performer, a stage actor – they eagerly desire to perform. Passion enables them to perform. They enjoy what they do, and their passion to do the same more and more wholeheartedly increases. Initial difficulties are eradicated and they become successful in their mission.
Furthermore, if a leader is passionate about a job, followers are likely to follow suit. Business becomes easier. Passion also helps to maintain enthusiasm which in turn is contagious. That should therefore be the foremost quality of an effective leader. Being a store house of energy. In fact, most of the time that people are away, they are at work. So if during the work you are enjoying and happy, life becomes very interesting and significant. One starts loving life. That is what Leaders do.
“Stay hungry; Stay foolish!” were the words of Steve Jobs which was the essence of his famous speech at the Stanford University. Hunger for knowledge can never be satiated. The more you learn, the more you desire to learn. Knowledge is endless. A good Leader’s hunger for knowledge should also be endless. That is what made Steve Jobs a most revered Leader in technology and business. Quest for knowledge makes you realize that you never know enough. Besides, this also helps in keeping your ego at bay. And growth comes as a by-product of your efforts to learn and to thwart ego.
The next important quality a Leader must have is discipline. If you are passionate and if you are hungry you will probably go on the right road of your destination. But the road is never smooth. It may have many hurdles which you have to overcome. Discipline teaches you to do something that needs to be done at a particular time. Sometimes you may like to do it, and sometimes you may not like to do it. But discipline motivates you to finish your task in both situations. As a Leader it is critical to have 100% commitment for your mission.
A Leadership Skills Development Workshop helps offer the right inputs which brings out the qualities of a Leader. For more information visit: http://nimblefoundation.org/leadership-skills.html
Thanks for reading.
Hi, today I will talk to you about Negotiation Skills. What is negotiation? How does it work? What is the need? I will try to answer all these and other related questions in a simple manner.
Whenever two or more parties sit together to resolve certain issues concerning them, negotiation come into play. Discussion could be about resolving some dispute, concluding a sale or even influencing some people or a group to get some ideas accepted.
Now, let’s see the possibility of success of negotiation. Success depends primarily on three aspects. These are:
- Issue should be negotiable. We can negotiate buying or selling a car, or a piece of land or house. But no negotiation is possible on for your example child, or for that matter any other object with which either party is emotionally attached.
- Second factor is the willingness of the parties to accommodate and compromise. Extremely rigid attitude cannot bring about any success is negotiation.
- Next, third factor for successful negotiation is that the parties must have some respect, some trust among them. This, acts like a bridge and negotiation can achieve some success. It can resolve some problems.
Having described the factors for success of negotiation, I should now talk about the basic ingredients. What are the requirements of negotiation? These are:
- Knowledge of human behavior. Negotiating parties need to conversant with normal human behavior. How do they react to the conflicting views?
- Secondly, the negotiators must prepare themselves for discussions. They must collect all the relevant information regarding the issues. Preparation is a must.
- Third requirement and lastly is that negotiators must understand the role of assumptions. We all harbor certain due to experience of life and society. The negotiators must reflect to clearly understand these assumptions. Undoubtedly, they play an important role during negotiation.
Then, we come to the next aspect of negotiation.
The techniques which are:
Strategy or the plan & techniques
- Strategy: the negotiating parties work out their strategy. It’s like an army general working out plan with his lieutenants. Each step is defined keeping in view the strategy of the opponents.
- Tactics: the negotiators must be adept in devising required tactics. Tactics are maneuvers, which the negotiators adopt during discussions. This is particularly important as at time the strategy may not work. Tactics require the negotiators to be adept, alert and creative in modifying the steps on the spot when needed.
Today I will speak to you about importance of listening skills. Title of my speech is: “Listen twice as much as you speak”. That itself speaks a lot about how important listening is.
What are listening skills? How you go about developing these? And what for? What is the difference between hearing and listening?
All these questions are simply answered with the definition of communication. We communicate to exchange ideas and views. We communicate to influence people, to negotiate deals. So, it’s necessary not just to hear but to listen, understand and assimilate information contained in the speech. Then only we can respond. But if we don’t listen but just hear, and if we are only anxious to say what we want to say, the objectives of communication is lost.
Listening becomes very easy with some modification of our habits. These are:
- We must focus on the speaker. All other thoughts should not be allowed to tax the mind or to divert it. Normally as many as 50,000 thoughts come to mind each day. But with efforts, we can reduce their number. When we focus on the speaker we can surely assimilate the information the speaker is trying to convey.
- While listening in one on one conversation, we must not interrupt. Even when we don’t agree with what the speaker’s opinion is. We must be patient enabling them to complete their statements.
- Your objective of communication will be served better if you make the speaker comfortable. How do you do that? By nodding your head, other body language, gestures, or just say yes, please go ahead etc. The speaker must be sure that you are listening. Your listening makes the speaker comfortable.
- Look at the views of the speaker from their perspective. Try to examine to issue while wearing speaker’s shoes.
- You must practice patience. You must never try to complete speaker’s sentences even if you are confirming or appreciating their thoughts.
- All speakers may not be very articulate. They may have some speech blemishes. Faults like using filler words, inaccurate pronunciation, breathing at wrong place in a sentence etc. You must ignore these and focus on the idea the speaker is presenting.
- Survey reveals that 60% of the communication happens with the body language. So closely watch the body language of the speaker to understand speaker’s intent.
- Last but not the least, identify the idea by putting together the pieces of information the speaker has vocalized. All speakers are not expurts in speaking skills. So help them. It also serves you.
An important action that everyone must take is to describe their Goals. What you may want to do in life. It is a kind of destination for your journey of life. And if you don’t specify goals, it is like not having any specific destination in mind. This in any case will not lead you anywhere. Besides, you may start wondering at the futility of life itself. You will never develop focus. Productivity of a person without focus is very low. And so is the self-esteem.
Goals must be SMART. What does it mean? S stands for specific. So goals must be specific and clear. Instead of saying you want to be rich, you might say that you must acquire wealth equal to Rs. 10 million. Since the goals are to be achieved in a certain period of time, it is necessary that these should be measurable. It means that one must fix certain milestones which need to be covered during a slice of the entire period. For example, in one month what must be achieved etc.
Further the goals must be achievable. If the goals are such that despite applying any kind of effort a person will not reach the goal, it is not achievable. It is a flawed goal.
Next letter on the acronym is R. This stands for realistic. What is the difference between the realistic goals and achievable goals needs to be clearly understood. And without exception the goals must be realistic.
Lastly we come to the letter T stands for time bound. If the goals’ do not define timeline, these have an inherent flaw. In fact, the time line should be carefully crafted. Just as we study with stop watch, how much time the goal is likely to take. At the time of planning it must be kept in view that in order to improve our productivity and to remain enthusiastic about our efforts, we do not need to stretch ourselves. If we don’t do that, productivity will come down.
Now that we have defined how goals need to be articulated, and how goals need to be articulated, and how these should be pursued.
Goals need to be written in the following aspects of life:
a. Health Goals
b. Career Goals
c. Financial Goals
d. Family Goals
e. Social Goals
f. Hobby Goals
g. Spiritual Goals
These are often interdependent. In any case these must be written down. And each of them must be SMART.
Just writing down is not enough. Daily in the morning go through them. It will renew your commitment to pursue these goals. Then, you must note down in your ‘to do list’ for the day, what specific actions need to be taken to forward the cause of each of the above goals. Then you must note down in your ‘to do list’ for the day what specific actions need to be taken to forward the cause of each of these goals. You may not be taking action in all these areas each and every day. Yet these must be contemplated.
Thanks for reading.