Seeking Strong Interpersonal Skills

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We’ve all seen (and maybe written) ads “seeking employees with strong interpersonal skills”. Basically all that means is that we like to deal with people who can work effectively with a team and are able to communicate effectively with those they come in contact with. That doesn’t seem like much to ask.

In reality, strong interpersonal skills are harder to come by than you may think but they are worth the effort to master. Research shows us that people who have worked to develop strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives and more productive in general. Plus, they tend to be viewed as positive, optimistic, calm, confident and charismatic problem-solvers. These are the folks that everyone wants to work with and be around. If this is NOT you – here’s help… and a few funny quotes from Wiio’s Laws to keep it all in perspective…

What you need to know about interpersonal communication:

  1. It’s inescapable.You can’t not communicate. Even if you TRY NOT to communicate – that communicates something. If you aren’t talking – your body language is still communicating.
  • People judge you by your behavior – NOT your intentions.
  • Be sure your words & body language are saying what you mean.

“There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s contextual. Keep communication appropriate to the context you’re in.
  • You should not communicate the exact same way in the office, your home and a bar.
  • Think about where you are and who you are with before you walk in the door. 

“If communication can fail, it will.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s complicated. Theorists write that there are at least 6 people are involved in every communication interaction:
  • Who you think you are
  • Who you think ‘they’ are
  • Who you think they think you are
  • Who they think they are
  • Who they think you are
  • Who they think you think they are

Told you it was complicated. There’s a whole lot going on behind the scenes   during communication.

  • If you can tell that your messages aren’t getting across the way you intend them, stop and try a different tactic. 

 “The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s irreversible. Once it’s said, you can never really take it back.
  • You already know this… but it bears repeating:Think Before You Speak.

“If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.” Osmo Wiio

If your customers aren’t “getting” the messages you’re trying to communicate, give us a call. We’re always here to help.

Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group

www.ironsmediagroup.com

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Communication: Ground Zero

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Communication is a subject that is full of moving pieces and all of us can stand to improve in at least one area. I’ve spent 11 years studying and teaching communication and there are still areas that I know need improvement. After all, having a mental understanding of a concept and being able to do it – and do it well – are very different things, right? I mean… I ‘know’ how to change a tire and play tennis but, ya know….

Anyway, as a ‘ground zero’ starting point for a series of blogs meant to help you improve your communication skills and become a more effective communicator in all your roles and lives, lets touch on a few of the basic elements. Your job here is to identify your areas of weakness so that in the coming weeks you are able to focus on those elements and tips that will help you the most.

Communicators.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps the most overlooked element to effective communication is that it requires more than one person. Communication is not, ever, a one way street.

If I am talking and you are not listening – we are NOT communicating. I’m just talking. So if you are talking and it seems that no one is listening – they probably aren’t.

Message.

The message is not as simple as you may think. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language are ALL a part of the message. In fact, the words you speak may have the LEAST impact of all the messages you are sending! Regardless, your messages should be consistent and effective – bringing the desired results whether that is new customers, a perfectly run meeting or the ability to walk through your teenagers room without falling to your death.

Noise.

In the communication world, noise refers to anything, from background sounds to inattention, which prevents the receiver from getting the correct message. If the messages people are getting are not the messages you thought you were sending, you may have a noise issue. The good news here is that with a little work you can remedy this. Read on…

Feedback.

The response to your message allows you to know not only if the message was received correctly but also to gauge the reaction. This is often a verbal response but it doesn’t have to be. We all know those people whose facial expressions say a million things they would never speak out loud – all you have to do is watch them to know if they got the message and exactly what they think about it (yeah, you know who you are). Paying attention to, and understanding, feedback is a critical skill in communication and one that’s often overlooked. It’s almost always a mistake to send a message, assume it has been received and understood and move on. I’ve found that with both companies and individuals, a little attention in this one area could save hundreds of hours of clarification – not to mention the hours spent repairing relationships with those who have been inadvertently hurt and offended. This leads me right into…

Channel.

The way our messages are being sent should make a difference in the way we communicate. Face-to-face communication allows you all the benefits of speech and vision which contribute a LOT to a message. Without those, we need to communicate differently. Typically, typing the way you talk is NOT a good idea. Yes, emojis help but they do not replace your face and body language.

So here’s your fun homework for the week. Watch communication. Just watch. Pay attention to how body language, tone of voice and facial expressions contribute to the message. The more you observe and become aware of the factors – the more aware you become of your own communication techniques and the better they become. We’d love to hear your comments and stories! 

If you know you’re going to stay in the dog house with your spouse (or parents) all holiday season because your communication skills need some work – you’re welcome to call us. It might not be your best bet but we’ll do what we can. However, if your company’s message and tone of voice aren’t getting the responses you expect or want, we’re a safe bet and we’d love to help you get where you are trying to go.

Merry Christmas from Irons Media Group!  
More great info can be found here and here.

Marie Mallory, PR & Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group

www.ironsmediagroup.com

A Very Techy Christmas

techy-christmas‘Boys’ may be famous for loving their toys, but around here everyone seems to love techy toys and gadgets. In my family, letters to Santa this year include Kindle e-books and e-magazines, electronic kittens, remote control cars, photo lenses for cell phones, head lamps and wireless headphones just to start. Evidently, gadget-love has no age demographic. It seems to me that the age for dreaming of new electronic devices, games and toys gets younger every year. And, while I don’t consider myself the most techy person around, you’ll rarely catch me without my cell phone, headphones and IPad and I get ridiculously excited about new apps, widgets and gadgets.

A couple of weeks ago our team got officially introduced to beacon technology. As it turns out, I’ve been using it for years without knowing it (you probably have to). In fact, I had just been checking out some apps and devices that help you find your phone or keys (and almost anything else you can imagine) to get as Christmas presents for those folks in my life that are constantly misplacing things. I had no idea at the time that they were considered beacons. So, learning what beacon technology is, how it works, and what it is capable of got our whole office buzzing. Finding out that we can use it to promote sales and drive business for our clients doubled the excitement. I had the app downloaded and was playing with it before the meeting was over because, you know, girls love their toys too – especially if the words shopping and sale are linked to it. A device… an app… that tells me when something near me is on sale? Yep, I’m in. You can add that to my Christmas list.

This week our local UPS driver arrived at our office to find several pairs of eyes watching him through the blinds, all waiting to see if he was delivering our box of Beakns. Sure enough… he was… and we got to have our own grown-up version of Christmas morning, tearing the box open and playing with our new toys. These things are seriously cool and the possibilities are endless.

If you don’t want to miss out on the FUN you can get the app to start finding great deals and marking items off those Christmas lists! You can also get a Beakn to build excitement about doing business with your company (you can try it FREE for 30 days!). You can download the IOS app here – and the Android app here – and add it to your company’s Christmas wish list here.

Do you have a device, gadget or app that you love or can’t live without? Is there something cool on your Christmas lists this year?

Share the love in the comments so we can check it out! 

Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist

Irons Media Group

www.ironsmediagroup.com

The Thankful Dilemma

be-thankfulI make a conscious effort to be thankful and grateful all year long because I’m acutely aware of how blessed I am. Yet no matter how long my ‘thankful’ list might be, every year around this time people begin asking me what I am most thankful for and I get stumped. Where do I start? How do I pick a most? God, family, friends, home, health and career always come instantly to mind but what about those intangibles that mean so much to me; fall, sunshine, campfire smell?

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G. K. Chesterton

Last week we talked a little bit about some of the similarities in business life and ‘real life’ and I as thought about this week’s blog I stumbled onto another link in that chain. Business, like life, has ups and downs and yet there is always plenty to be thankful for. And, like ‘real life’ determining what I am most thankful for about being a part of this team is darn near impossible.

Our true destiny…is a world built from the bottom up by competent citizens living in solid communities, engaged in and by their places.  David W. Orr

Irons Media Group has a lot to be thankful for too but I think we’d all agree that we are most thankful for our clients because, after all, everything else hinges on them. Even so, it is the interactions and relationships that come with those clients that I find myself most thankful for. Each of them brings something unique and special to the table… themselves. Each of them impacts our lives in some way and offer us something to be thankful for whether it is laughter, friendship, a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day or an opportunity to grow and develop as people and as a business.

So perhaps the question is not what (or who) are we most thankful for, but how do we show them?

John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them”.

We spend a lot of time and focus on building relationships and letting our clients know that they are important to us and we appreciate them but we also believe that we should never stop looking for ways to improve what we do. As Thanksgiving approaches, we want our clients to know how much we appreciate them. If you are looking to grow your business, we would love the opportunity to build a relationship with you and show you how we can help you. We take pride in knowing that our solutions and services make a difference in the lives of local businesses owners everywhere and give them a little something extra to be thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving from our ‘family’ to yours!

Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group

www.ironsmediagroup.com

Relationships 101

relationshipsIf I had it to do all over again, I would still study communication. The benefits of what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, are applicable to literally every aspect of my life. One of the interesting connections I’ve made is that business life and ‘real’ life have a lot more in common than people generally think. For example, one thing I have come to know is that leaders will lead; boardrooms, families, PTO meetings, corporations, it doesn’t matter… they’ve got it. Another thing I’ve learned is that while it is indeed a new world, era, age… and yes, things have changed, are changing, and will continue to create new worlds for all of us, a lot of really important things remain the same. Managing relationships and understanding the importance of the way we treat people stay at the top of that list.

The truth is that it doesn’t really matter if you are talking about a friend, spouse, child, co-worker, boss or client. The way you treat people will determine the path of any relationship. After all, the #1 reason one spouse leaves another and the #1 reason customers leave a company are the same: they don’t think you care about them. In business, out of all the millions of things that go on in public and behind the scenes that keep a company running, producing and succeeding, old-fashioned customer service may still be the most important thing we do. Yet, personal relationships seem to suffer the most and be the biggest challenge for many individuals and thousands of businesses. We run out of time, get busy, get overloaded, overwhelmed, bogged down and life gets just plain crazy. We forget his name, her business, that email or phone call. But in the end, it is those who don’t forget, who call others by name and listen to understand, not to reply, who find success across the board.

Researchers have spent a great deal of time trying to understand consumers and what makes them tick. Some of the things they have proven to be true are that:

  • Email is worth the effort. According to Ascend2, 48% of businesses say that email is their most effective form of communication and Bizo states that 60% of B2B companies report email as the most effective channel for generating revenue. And yet, as much as it blows my mind, 32% of all customer email requests are never answered at all.
  • The message is critical. You care about what they care about and want to hear what they have to say. If you aren’t interested in them, their vision as well as their challenges, it isn’t worth their time to talk to you. Remember, they are overwhelmed, stressed and busy humans too.
  • You aren’t listening. 80% of companies report that they are delivering great service and 8% of consumers feel they are receiving great service. See the problem here?
  • A negative experience can be shared with more than 3,000 people. A positive experience can create a customer, or a friend, for life.

Relationships are relationships. You already know that all of them, all shapes, sizes, and contexts, require some give and take. If you want a person, customer, or business to invest in you, you have to invest in them. Yep, I know you’re busy… we all are. But take the time to remember a name (read a blog or a book if you need help with this), answer emails and phone calls quickly, and generally make people feel like you care. The simplest way to great relationships of any kind is based on empathy (and an old Biblical truth you may have heard of): treat people the way you want to be treated.

Building relationships is something we take very seriously at Irons Media Group. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of our business. If we can be of service to you, or if you just want to put us to the test, we’d love to hear from you…. I promise we’ll answer.

Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group

www.ironsmediagroup.com