This is the second in a series of articles to help you improve your communication skills and establish stronger relationships at all levels.

A lot of stress and angst can be removed from our lives if we can learn to effectively communicate.

When we meet someone we are given a short time in which to reinforce the physical impression we made, by using good communication skills. We can ensure our audience feels at ease immediately, or we can create an environment of uncertainty which of course is far less effective.

To ensure your audience feels at ease, we need to be sure that we can connect with them in an impactful and positively memorable way. We have around 30 critical seconds in which we can do some fast research, so that we can better connect immediately.

The quality of the ‘connection’ you make, will automatically set the level of communication you are able to engage them in. Just like a telephone call, if the connection is poor good conversation, communication or even the simple passing of information is difficult. It is the same in the physical space, but the difference is you are the medium not a complex array of plastic and fibre! Even if your audience has great difficulty in communicating, you can be the conduit, and let’s clearly understand that it is in your interest not to waste your time (your life) communicating with people who do not hear you, or remember your message.

So, what do we do with this critical 30 seconds?

We observe in great detail everything that we can about our audience.
To make a strong verbal connection we must understand as much as possible about our audience. I.e. the other person, or people we want to connect with.
This is, of course, unnecessary for short interaction with strangers. A chance encounter such as an “excuse me” incident, or asking someone directions or the time, does not need you to understand your audience. However, an excellent communicator would ensure that the respect we discussed above is honoured.
It is much easier when we know our audience well, such as family members, friends, work colleagues with whom we interact on a daily basis etc. However, we also need to learn how to do some 30 second research when we meet someone for the first time. If we really want to connect with them, and have our message understood. This is a great skill to have. Once practised, it becomes automatic and happens at a sub-conscious level.

If you are a sales person take note, this is very useful knowledge for you, if you want to enjoy success and repeat business

Operational Senses ( Modalities)

Each person we meet has a mode in which they operate dominantly. There are three main senses we use to interact:

Visual Sense (Seeing)
Auditory Sense (Listening)
Kinaesthetic Sense (Feelings)

Most people use all three modes, in a variety of mixes per person, however each of us is usually dominant in one of the senses.

For example the colleague sitting next to me is probably around 50% visual, 30% auditory and 20% kinaesthetic. This means when I communicate with him, I use as many visual words as possible, draw pictures of what I mean both literally and figuratively, and talk things through usually repeating the message to reinforce it. I use less ‘feeling’ words. This way he hears my message, and sees my meaning quite clearly.
This is not so difficult, because I am also very visual.

However another colleague on my team is probably about 70% kinaesthetic, 20% visual and 10% auditory. This is kind of the opposite end, of the communication scale, from me. So I have to express everything a little differently when I speak to him.
He does not hear my message easily, and he does not see my meaning, he needs to ‘feel’ my meaning. This is difficult, because I am lower on the kinaesthetic scale, so I have to use a mode of communication in which I am weak. Some other team members get into conflict, or shut down, with this young man because they do not understand how to connect with him.

On every team, and in every family unit, and with every group of friends or colleagues there will be a lot of misunderstanding just because of this simple neurolinguistic programming. Often this misunderstanding can be silent, so no one is aware that one, or even a few, people got a completely different idea from what was said.

Sometimes two people can be arguing about the same thing, but neither can express their ideas in a way that is comprehensible to the other. This is due to the different communication modalities. This is a shame of course, as ill feelings and frustration can arise when there is no need, they are actually in agreement. They just do not recognise it.

When we meet someone, we need to listen very carefully to how they express themselves in the first few minutes. Listen for things they say that represent feelings, visual or auditory signals for their primary modality.
Do they say things like ‘I feel’ or ‘I see’?
Where are they looking when they talk to you?

A visual person will have locked onto your eyes and face.

An auditory person will be focussed on listening and not hearing. They may be flicking their eyes around your facial perimeter, the ceiling, and the walls – they may notice what is happening around you, but still be very aware what you said.
A kinaesthetic person will be looking usually down, at the floor, the table, or a fixed space nearby your head – but rarely makes eye contact for more than a second or so.

When you shake hands, a visual person will probably make eye contact immediately.
An auditory person is likely to spend some seconds ensuring the hands connect, and then make shorter eye contact.
A kinaesthetic person may try and avoid your eyes altogether.
The handshake itself should not be considered for this purpose, the type of handshake is affected by cultural background, customs, health and confidence.

If you have the chance to be in the physical space of the person, then look around:
What can you see to give you information for your quick research?
Is the space filled with interesting things? Visual people usually need things to look at to occupy their mind.
Is it filled with family photos? Kinaesthetic people like to have familiar warmth nearby.
Is it lacking a personal touch, or filled with gadgets?
For example; auditory people like phones, recording devices, speakers, music, and are less likely to notice bare walls.

None of this is foolproof, but my research over about 30 years, has demonstrated it is a fast, and reasonably accurate way to establish how best to connect with someone.

Now that you understand a little more about how to do your 30 second research, we need to explore how to use that information to effectively to make a good connection.

If you determine that your audience is visual, then you need to communicate with them in ‘visual’ terms.
This can be difficult if you are, for example, strongly kinaesthetic, but with practice you can.

I am very strongly visual, almost an extreme case, yet I have taught myself to communicate at all three levels. Now, I do not say that I am perfect at this, but every time my communication screws up, I know I missed the chance, because I did not take the time to communicate in the mode of my audience.

Once you have this knowledge, it is to your advantage to make use of it for effective communication. It is never the other party’s responsibility; remember it is you that wishes to convey a message.

I have witnessed some amazing conversations between two people who both understand this concept, and they each speak in the language of their audience. This way both people are maximising their understanding of the other, and truly making a memorable connection.

In part three, we will look at ways to connect with each modality, however remember some people have a very even modality balance ( e.g. 40% -30% -30%) so they will have influences of all three. In this instance seek a quick answer on the strongest modality and work to that.

When you learn to use this 30 second research technique with ease, you will be amazed at how much more effective all your communication will be. You will enjoy much more meaningful relationships on many layers, and waste less time feeling unheard and frustrated.

On a business level this will enhance your chances of success!

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson is the author of The Little Red Success Book, 30 Days of Inspiration, 999 Legendary Selling For the 21st Century (due March 2010) and other books and publications on Success, Happiness, Human Potential, High Performance Team Building and Essence of Leadership.

Terrie has had a very successful corporate career and also coaches and mentors a very small group of people throughout the world.
In 2010 Terrie Anderson will be available again for speaking engagements for public or corporate events.

You can contact Terrie Anderson through the website where you will find her blog, articles, programs and more. Register today and stay updated.

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