Advancing my Communication Skills with a Communication Class at Stanford
Communication is essential. It is our human nature to be social. We communicate every single minute of our lives. It can be from board meetings, family reunions, friendships to our inner dialogues. We literally wouldn’t be able to navigate our society without communication. You must consider that communication is not just verbal. It can be written, drawn, among other methods. Therefore, why wouldn’t we ensure that we are equipped with the best skills? I’ll share the things I learned from Juliet Erickson in her course.
Let’s jump into it.
You might already be practicing this skill without even realizing it: knowing your audience. This skill emerges with self-awareness. You must consider who they are. Are they your friend or coworker? Do they have a similar cultural background? Or do they hold different norms? Are you talking to them about something casual or more professional? While the practice of communication follows the same core principles, the approach might be different. This is because you must be aware of your audience and situation.
You need to choose and integrate a structure or approach. Plan it out! It does not have to be a tedious and detailed plan or outline. I’ll tell you what you need: topics. Understand what you want to say throughout your conversation or pitch. Why? Essentially, it is because having topics will help you and your audience. Once you have your main topics, you will stay on track and your audience will have the ability to follow you along. In other words, structure prevents rambling leading to effective and clear communication. If you want to learn more, then you must read this article.
Influence and Persuasion.
Let’s imagine a situation where you are trying to persuade someone. You are trying to sell this product and no matter how hard you try, they are not interested. So, what do you do next? The first thing to do is take a step back and look over your objectives. Have you set clear objectives? If you aren’t sure, answer the following questions: what are we supposed to do or think? How do we know if this meeting was successful? You might just realize that your objectives are not fully aligned with your purpose. Now, you have to try adjusting them based on the observations you made. While doing this, you need to prevent yourself from judging yourself or others. Instead focus on ways that you can take those moments to practice and rehearse your new approach. This includes your body language while you pitch something or the manner you transition between details. For more information, I would check out Yale Professor Zoë Chance’s video on persuasion.
How is storytelling a part of communication? Well, it is simple. It keeps people engaged, and it shows people your point rather than it being simply told. By describing a scenario or story you are providing a visual representation of the need for your product or service. It is also a skill within communication for persuasion. Nevertheless, you must be aware of the language that you use to share such a story and add to your persuasiveness. Professor Zoë Chance shares how words negative or positive can work to your advantage when it comes to convincing someone. The aspect that matters is the way you implement or use it.
Let’s say that you come across other issues and you do not know what to do. Try going through this list.
First run through these aspects first:
– Adjust your style
– Use analytical info
– Use evidence
– Less big picture
– Observe behaviors
– Less emotions more numbers
Then attempt to include the following framing of language.
If your audience is more combative:
- For this reason,
- In other words
- This (x) is where we are at, but this (x) is where we can go
- I understand you may have some reservations about (x) let me show you how we can overcome it.
- “Can I play that back to you?” to ensure I understand the person’s key concern correctly using their words.
If you want to include your audience and provide a recap:
- “Here is one thing I want you to take away from this meeting”
- “You are the expert, and I would really like to get your perspective”
- “I would like to recap by assessing if we achieved our previously states objective(s)”
- “Tell me more about…” to dig deeper and uncover more ideas or learnings.
- I use this often when I interview candidates.
- “You might like this or find this interesting because…”
- This is something that I use to keep the conversation personalized and interesting.
- “I heard you have been traveling to…”
- I do this to make a connection and build rapport.
- “What do you think about…”
- “Curious what your thoughts are here..”
- “I agree with you..but I also wonder..”
- “Can you help me understand a little more of your thought process behind…”