Why does conscious communication matter for you and your business?
We live and work in a world flooded with social media and communication networks, a world in which everyone wants to talk and nobody is willing to listen. This is not some futuristic Armageddon scenario. It’s the world in which we live and work right now – whether we are aware of it or not. And it’s having a catastrophic effect on how we communicate with each other, or, more precisely, how our ability to communicate is seriously malfunctioning.
Our Obsession with non-stop Talking
Our obsession with non-stop talking has reduced communication between us to a series of empty monologues, made up of soundbites, buzzwords and cliches that we fling into an abyss, hoping something will somehow find a listener as it stampedes its way into an unspecified somewhere.
How do we create a way out of this communication crisis that is making us strangers to each other and even enemies? The solution is simple, but not easy, because it challenges us at our core.
The Solution to the Crisis in our Communication
Like all solutions that are effective, we have to start by paying attention. In this case, paying attention to how we communicate. That begins with becoming aware of the following:
– how we talk
– how much we talk
– how much/little we listen
– how much we reflect on what others say BEFORE we speak
– how much we are willing to put aside the goals of our communication and allow the outcome to emerge organically
– how much we are willing to be with silence, instead of rushing to fill this space with empty trivia
The way to rebalance our communication is to become conscious of how we communicate and begin to correct the imbalance within.
Shifting from Monologue to Dialogue
As I’ve said before, when we learn to engage with others, we are creating a new communication template for everyone, one based on the principles of real dialogue instead of empty monologues that masquerade as conversations. Dialogue is right at the heart of conscious communication. It consists of three fundamental skills: Careful Listening, Non-Judgemental Reflection and Meaningful Response
- We can only participate in dialogue when we are first of all willing to LISTEN. Conscious listening is not a practised performance in which we dutifully nod, smile and add the occasional uh huh just to show that we are listening. Conscious listening is about giving our full attention to the person speaking. And when we consciously listen, the person being listened to can FEEL it. Authentic listening – as opposed to fake listening – can be felt.
- Next, we have to be willing to control our urge to respond immediately – to start talking as soon as there is a pause. Instead, we consciously REFLECT on what the other has said, maybe ask questions for clarification purposes. Reflecting on what has been said in a non-judgemental way takes us away from our agenda and allows the exchange to deepen and unfold organically. That’s when real shifts in communication take place.
- Finally, it’s time for us to consciously respond – after we’ve slowed down the pace to allow genuine human-to-human engagement and interaction to emerge.
That’s why conscious communication matters in a world obsessed with non-stop talking.
How to talk about your business so that people want to listen to you? Too few business owners ask themselves that simple question. It’s a pity. Because the answer could radically change how you run your business.
My conversation with Jerry began with his question: “How do I get people to listen to me without trying to own the whole room?” He’d just returned to the networking scene after a two-year pause due to Covid.
How to talk about your business is a problem for most, but particularly for quiet, private professionals and small business owners like Jerry, who are genuinely interested in having a conversation with a few people at these events, instead of ‘playing the room’. And his dilemma is just as applicable to the online world.
The Alternative way to Communicate
What Jerry wanted to know was this: could I offer him an alternative way to communicate beyond the standard solution – shout louder and longer as a way of being heard (which doesn’t work anyway)? He wanted to learn this essential business skill: how to talk about your business so that you easily reach the right audience.
Yes, I could. But it’s not a simple, one-step solution.
To get People to Listen to You, You Have to First Listen to Them
Basically, to get people to listen to what you say, YOU have to first become a better LISTENER yourself. Remember the basic principle of successful communication. People are more willing to listen to you when they feel heard by you.
Becoming a better listener is about becoming an ACTIVE listener, not, as is often suggested in the abundance of cheat-sheets on the topic, someone who simply nods, interjects with a “mm-hmm” and summarises what the speaker has just said. When we ‘perform’ the act of listening, we are focused on ourselves and our own responses, not on what the other is communicating. Active listening demands our undivided attention on what the other is saying.
The Art of Active Listening
Active listening is about engaging, interacting with the other. It’s a two-way exchange – it’s a dialogue.
Dialogue is about listening deeply to what the other is saying with interest and curiosity, reflecting on it with openness and non-judgement and only then responding. We can respond with relevant questions which let the others know that we didn’t just hear their words. Our questions tells them we want to understand them better, know more about them, go deeper.
The opposite to dialogue is a one-way broadcast, or monologue, usually a series of monologues in the fashion of a game of tennis, with each side trying to score a point, i.e. win the argument as in the art of debating.
So how do we practise dialogue in our daily business interactions?
Here are ‘few’ dos and don’ts to help you recognise the difference between dialogue and monologue – and, of course, choose the better option. They don’t just apply to quiet, conscientious people, like Jerry, nor to your business communication. They are relevant for how you communicate in every aspect of life.
- start talking about yourself. Start by discovering who the other is.
- use buzz-words and jargon. They are empty fillers and they kill dialogue (how ‘super’ and ‘awesome’ is everyday life?)
- put forward you opinions and beliefs as ‘The Truth’. It puts the other on the defensive immediately
- try to impress or convince with arguments. They are counter-productive – and they also kill dialogue.
- speak in simple, clear, direct language
- go for being your imperfect, real self, not some ‘best version’.
- choose honesty instead of influence. It’s one of foundation stones to building mutual trust
- strive to understand what drives the other – especially if it challenges you
How we Communicate is How we Live
Dialogue is a way of communicating and how we communicate is how we live and how we relate to the world around us. In our increasingly polarised world, isn’t it time we all learned and practised the art of dialogue with each other?Learn More
As we emerge into the ‘new’ normal, there is no better time to test ethical and effective alternatives to the sacred cow of conventional marketing. It’s time to find alternatives to the sales pitch and here are a few simple suggestions to get started.
What if we stopped doing the following:
- perfecting the sales pitch
- framing our offer in 7-digit outcomes
- emphasising the fear-of-missing-out argument
- boring everyone with our contrived rags-to-riches success story
It’s Time to Ditch the Sales Pitch
When interacting with potential clients here are some alternatives to the conventional sales pitch.
What if we:
- stopped talking so much and ditched the monologue-pitch altogether?
- slowed down, switched to a dialogue-mode and started having a real conversation?
- didn’t push our offer onto the potential client as the silver-bullet-solution and instead asked them questions to discover where they really need help and LISTENED to their response?
- communicated with them as if the sale was not our primary concern but building trust and giving value were?
It’s time to take an ethical, human approach to business
What if we decided to take an ethical, human approach to how we do business?
If you’re wondering about the viability of switching to an ethical approach, here’s something you should know as we slowly emerge into a post-pandemic world:
There is a growing mass of people looking for exactly that approach right now: viable and ethical alternatives to the sales pitch.
Are you ready to step up and provide it?Learn More