Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three Golden Rules for Communication Success

By Stephen Hager


Have you been passionate about communicating something important to others, but have not received the acknowledgment, attention and outcomes you envisioned? Three "golden rules" for communication success are neuroscience-based methods that draw people into engaging with you and improve the probability of reaching win-win outcomes. They engender respect, build trust and improve relationships.

Golden Rule #1: People do things for their reasons, not for yours.

The brain only engages with listening, observing, thinking and action when a value component is present. The value can be feeling important, being needed or reaching out and helping someone because it's the right thing to do. It may be intellectual curiosity, solving a nagging life problem or acquiring a physical possession. The reason is irrelevant. Any reason the brain deems valuable gets the brain's attention. If you don't know the "hot buttons" of a person or group, try using phrases like: "I have a problem and need your help." "Will you take a look at a situation that may change your life for the better?" "Is this a good time to ask your opinion about something that may interest you?" Make sure the "attention getter" has integrity, serving the best and highest interests of the person or group you are addressing.

Golden Rule #2: Do it the Socratic way.

Provide information with a minimum of "telling." Maximize asking questions that draw the person into the communication process, thus encouraging an exchange of information and insights, rather than a one-sided monologue. Questions expand insights and integrate knowledge into common understanding, consensus, solutions and pathways to positive action. Asking Socratic questions is a life skill that anyone can learn. You can start the process now by beginning conversations and presentations with "what, why, when and how." Everyone learns with this method and you can be the facilitator of this dynamic and fun learning process.

Golden Rule #3: Communicate on the wavelength of your audience or listener

Visual Learners Need: Visual media, key written points, pictures, graphics, images, color, clutter-free environment

Kinesthetic Learners Need: Physical or hands-on experiences, comfort, freedom to move about, frequent breaks

Auditory Learners Need: Clarity of words, attentive listening, ability to ask questions, quiet environment

Sequential Thinkers Need: Logic, order, particulars, realism, practicality, data, schedules, content

Global Thinkers Need: Possibilities, options, generalities, open-ended, big picture, context

These "golden rules" for communication success are neuroscience principles available to everyone interested in positive outcomes for all parties. People engage when subjects are important and valuable to them, not necessarily to you. Therefore, you must provide reasons for them to interact with you and the subject. Inclusiveness, rather than exclusiveness is the operative word. Asking open-ended questions with a minimum of telling is an ancient Socratic principle of learning, more recently discovered to be based in neuroscience. Communicating on the wavelengths of others enables them to take in, process and gain understanding in the minimum amount of time.