For entrepreneurs, knowing how to communicate clearly and effectively is critical in leading a company — and selling your business ideas. But the words you speak and hear are only a small part of getting your message across to your employees, customers and investors. It is the way you speak and listen that makes all the difference in the world.
Consider these 12 steps for starting conversations that click and, ultimately, lead to more productive relationships:
Step 1: Relax. Stress generates irritability, which leads to anger, and anger shuts down communication. Studies have shown that a one-minute relaxation exercise will increase activity in the brain that is essential for communication and decision making. So before you enter any conversation, do this:
Step 2: Stay present. When you focus on your breathing and relaxation, your attention is pulled into the present moment and inner speech stops, at least momentarily. If we bring this “presentness” into a conversation, we hear the subtle tones of voice that give emotional meaning to the speaker’s words. Being in the present moment will allow you to quickly recognize when a conversation begins to go astray.
Step 3: Get quiet. Developing the skill to remain silent helps you give full attention to what other people say. To hone that skill, try an exercise with this online bell. Push the button to “strike” it then focus on the sound. As it fades, listen more closely. Ring the bell several more times, and listen more closely. This is the attentiveness you need when listening to someone.