Sep 242010
 

Self Improvement – Communicating Effectively

First impressions

First impressions count. Are you cheerful, clean and dressed appropriately? Don’t you prefer to do business with someone who knows their job, wants to help and looks like they have respect for themselves and you, their customer?

What if you’re taking lots of garlic for your health? Some people will understand but you run the risk of offending others. Strong body odors or bad breath will make it a lot harder for people to feel (or get) close to you.

Are you personable? That is, are you sincerely interested in and attractive to the people you meet? If you come on like a tornado, expect people to scream and run. If your personality needs some work, it may take persistence, but change is possible.

Because you are promoting health, you should be committed to getting healthy and looking healthy. Of course you may still be overcoming the serious (perhaps life-long) health problem that got you interested in herbs in the first place. But, so far as it is within your power, set a good example. People will know if you are a hypocrite.

Have you checked your voice? Are you easy to understand? You need to speak clearly and smoothly. If your vocabulary is too limited or you use words inappropriately you may loose respect. The same thing goes if you use big words just to show off. These things can be fixed.

Don’t forget to smile!

Just ask

Irma helped create attendance at a nearby Meeting by asking. Irma says that it was just a matter of extending an invitation. The people she brought would not have known to come without being asked.

You can do the same. More people than you know are interested in natural health and will be delighted to learn more. They will respond positively to your initiative. Whether you are inviting people to a meeting, asking them to join you as a distributor or just tell you the time, you can learn to get results.

Be prepared and know what you want. Write down a few notes if necessary. Be clear and direct when you ask. Your request has to be easy to understand. It needs to make sense. Can you offer a good reason for them to do what you ask? Will it help them get what they want in some way? Will you need to answer concerns or overcome objections?

It is best to be firm and direct. You will weaken your request if you use phrases such as "… don’t you think?" or "Maybe I’m wrong, but…." On the other hand, if you’re too pushy people will think that you are a bully or disrespectful. You want to be assertive, not aggressive. Use steady eye contact, a serious (but not negative) expression and a firm voice.

Take the time to listen

People are happy to find someone who is interested in them and willing to take the time to listen. Most modern medical professionals are anxious to make a quick diagnosis and too busy to spend the time to really know their patients. And they rarely take the time to teach their patients how to make the changes needed for better health. Are you willing to truly listen to your customers and clients?

Studies have shown that just having someone listen can reduce the number and severity of a person’s health complaints! People really appreciate someone who is willing to give the gift of their time and attention. So commit the time that is needed to identify people’s individual needs. When you are done, you will have made a friend as well as a customer.

Do you interrupt people? Are you impatient? If you suggest a solution before you finish hearing the problem, will that person take your advice? Are you so busy planning what you will say next that you don’t really hear what they are saying? Your response could be way off base. Does your mind wander to other subjects? If so, your body language probably shows it.

Pay attention to the speaker’s background and frame of reference. It’s a shame to get into an argument about words when you actually agree with each other.

Interactive listening

Effective listening is an interactive process. You don’t just stare at someone’s lips and try to memorize their words. If you care about understanding what the other person means you have to get involved. This will show that you are interested and paying attention. Remember that you have two ears but only one mouth.

Encourage the other person to talk. Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered "yes" or "no." You might ask for clarification or additional information. You can show your interest by asking "how" or "why."

Short reflective statements create rapport and assure the speaker that you are with him. Reflective statements are especially helpful when dealing with emotions. For instance you might say, "So you’re really worried that the neighbors will complain about our yard."

Sometimes you should paraphrase what you have just heard. This lets the speaker determine if your interpretation of their message was correct. By receiving feedback, they can provide additional explanation if needed to be assured that you understand. "Yes, the yard does need to be mowed by Friday." Paraphrasing, in summary, at the end of a long conversation is especially important when decisions have been made. Be careful not to constantly interrupt by "interacting" too often.

Reading people

If you’re going to read people you have make a deliberate decision to pay attention. In his book, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, Mark H. McCormack explains:

Listen aggressively – Listen to what they say and how they say it. Pause and they will say more.

Observe aggressively – Notice their body language, dress and mannerisms.

Talk less – You will make fewer mistakes and you will hear more. Ask questions sincerely for more information.

Take a second look at first impressions – First impressions are generally good but step back and evaluate them when you know the person better.

Take time to use what you’ve learned – Before you meet again, take some time to review what you know about them and anticipate probable responses.

Be discreet – Keep a poker face and don’t blow your hand. Keep your opinions about them to yourself and don’t nervously blurt out your own weaknesses.

Be detached – Mentally step back to observe a situation when it starts to evoke your emotions. Act with purpose rather than reacting impulsively.

Tell stories

Some of the world’s finest experts will bore you to tears every time. So what if you know every detail of the marketing plan and can repeat it in detail. So what if you know all the properties of carthamus tinctorius. People don’t want you to recite dry facts; they like to hear stories.

Pretend that you are the historian of a primitive tribe. There are no books, no infomercials and no movies; just you and your stories. Now you have to pay better attention. You have to remember what happened and you have to be able to repeat it to others. You are the story teller and everyone is waiting for you to tell a story.

Stories do more than transfer information. Stories reach the heart and trigger emotions. When you reach a person’s emotions with your story you create the motivation to follow through with the knowledge that you associated with it.

Testimonials make good teaching stories. They tell of the triumph of good over evil and smart over stupid. They teach how people have used the power of earth and sun, of the Creator himself, to restore themselves and others to health. Stories motivate and inspire. Best of all, you don’t have to wait until you become an expert to start learning and telling good stories in an interesting way.

"Mutat nomine de te fabula narratur. "Change the name and it’s about you, that story."
-Horace."

Projecting passion

Passion is the sizzle of love in a presentation. It is enthusiasm for a cause. It is the natural consequence of explaining something you believe in deeply.

People recognize, appreciate and respond to genuine passion. They know you’re not a fake. This kind of genuine confidence with happy enthusiasm is contagious.

To have passion for your products you must "own" them physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ve tried them, you know them and you love them!

Passion is best projected simply. It needs to be clear and to the point. It is childlike in its truthful simplicity. You’ll say: "Just wait until you hear about …"

Passionate people have personal stories to tell. Their enthusiasm comes from their personal experience. People love to hear stories. When people identify with your stories, they will buy your products to share the emotions of the stories associated with them.

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest."
-E. M. Forster

"Passion, I see, is catching."
-Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Sincerity

People can tell when you are sincere. You really mean it. You care that you get it right. You care about the person you’re talking to. People know when you are sincerely interested in them.

You do not have to be an expert to be sincere. You can know just what you know and share it with sincere interest. Sincerity is direct, simple, pure and personal. People recognize that you are just what you say you are; there is no attempt to hide anything or mislead them. If you are sincere, you are more likely to be accepted because people will perceive you as completely open, honest and without pretense.

Sincerity is increasingly difficult in this dangerous and cynical world. People expect others to "look out for #1" and know that they must "always watch their back." It may take them a while to recognize your innocence.

"The most awkward means are adequate to the communication of authentic experience, and the finest words no compensation for lack of it. It is for this reason that we are moved by the true Primitives and that the most accomplished art craftsmanship leaves us cold."
-Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

Your attitude toward customers

Your attitude shows through everything you do. Do you REALLY appreciate customers? What have you done to reward your customers? If you reward your customers, they will want to repeat the action that was rewarded!

Every point of contact with a customer is important. It is your opportunity to make that person glad that they risked doing business with you. Every phone call, conversation and friendly wave is a chance to reinforce your connections with your customer. If you want them to be your lifetime partners, you have to create and use every possible opportunity to show them how much you care.

Customers are not objects to be influenced so that you’ll make a lot of money. The only people who respond to this approach are those who are greedy and willingly deceive themselves. What an awful way to make a living!

Always ask yourself, "How can I make him glad he talked to me? What is the unmet want?" Always ask your customers, "How am I doing? How can I serve you better?" Then, listen to the answers and change for the better.

"The purpose of the whole (work) is to remove those who are living in this life from a state of wretchedness and lead them to the state of blessedness."
-Dante

How to answer the phone

Always answer with a smile. Some folks keep a mirror near the phone so they can check themselves real quick to be sure they’re smiling. Research has shown that even a forced smile changes your brain chemistry and opens the way to feeling good. On the telephone, the only thing your listener has to go by is your voice and, believe it, your smile affects your voice. "Don’t lift the phone without it."

While you’re listening, think nice things about your caller like "good friend" "really sincere" or "I love people like this." Then when you’re speaking your thoughts will change the subtle tones and inflections to carry your emotions across along with your words.

One of my phone problems is frowning when I don’t quite know the answer to a question or have to say "no." I really like to say "yes" and not disappoint anyone. When I frown, people usually think I’m mad at them for asking. Ouch! I’m really trying to work on that.

Phone folks frequently

The telephone is a very effective communications tool. When you have something to say just pick up the phone and get your message across. Your fire will cool if you procrastinate until the next time you happen to meet. A letter uses a lot more time and doesn’t let you work things out on the spot. A phone call is almost as good as a personal meeting and saves a lot of wear and tear on your car. You can even imagine the hug in the warmth of the speaker’s voice.

Have you sold a new product to someone? Make a note of it and call them back in a week to see how they’re doing with it. Get their phone number from the check if you have to but try to keep track and follow up.

You can phone your best new prospects and distributors every day. They will eventually figure out that you really care about them and you seriously want them to succeed.

Return phone calls promptly. Missed opportunities may never be repeated. People call when they are ready to discuss what’s on their mind. If you are not sitting by the phone, waiting for their call, they may miss you. Still, the sooner you can get back, the more likely you are to connect with them.

Keep business phone calls organized

You can waste a lot of time on the telephone. Conversations ramble and the minutes of your day disappear forever. That may be fine if you are chatting socially with a friend who also enjoys chatting socially but it’s a poor format for a business call. Business calls should be more efficient.

Make an outline of the things that you need to communicate to the person you are calling. Generally stick to the outline. Check items off your outline as you work them into the conversation. When you are done, say goodbye.

When someone calls you, you can still be organized. Prompt them for the important information. When you are done, say goodbye.

Of course, conversations also serve the purpose of building relationships. There is no need to be so "organized" that you are cold, analytical and mean. But, having a conversation is like dancing. When the music stops, it’s time to sit down.

"Whatever we conceive well we express clearly."
-Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

Write a letter

Sometimes a letter is the best way to get your most important messages across. A letter gives you the time to compose your thoughts. It lets you express yourself carefully and completely. It permanently documents your message. Both parties can go back and refer to their copies of a letter. A letter is more formal and serious than a conversation. It commits you in detail.

Writing a letter can help you avoid making hasty commitments. If you have written something in haste or anger you usually have time to think about things overnight and rewrite or destroy a letter. ALWAYS sleep on it and review a letter the next day if you have ANYTHING negative or emotional to write. You’ll thank yourself almost every time.

Just a quick note about electronic mail networks. E-mail is the most dangerous of all letters because the writer usually is not as careful to compose his thoughts or guard against hasty statements. You press SEND, the message is on its way, it’s too late to take it back and you’re on record in writing. ZAP!

Keep in touch

Good friends become that way by having things in common, especially sharing experiences in each other’s lives. If they don’t continue to keep in touch, their lives diverge because they no longer have as much in common.

If you want to keep business relationships close, you have to behave the same way a friend would: keep in touch. Tell them about your experiences and share theirs. Ask for help when you need it. Be encouraging when they need it. Share the latest news and share your feelings. Besides using the phone, send newsletters, clippings and samples by mail. Don’t miss a trick.

I know of some leaders who phone several times a week and even several times a day for aggressive distributors who are really working hard.

Your efforts to keep in touch with your organization will help them to be strong, active and ready to support each other just like you support them.

Always follow up

If a thing is worth starting, it’s worth finishing. There are so many good opportunities that come up. Maybe you would have invested a lot to generate an opportunity like that. But, if you don’t follow up, the opportunity is lost. What a waste when you don’t follow up on things. What if a farmer prepared his fields but never planted; or he planted but never harvested?

It’s so easy to start a conversation and get someone interested in herbs. Now what? You go home and send them some clippings. Do you call to discuss the clippings? Do you invite them to a meeting? Do you recommend herb books?

Maybe one of your customers buys some herbs. Do you call after several days to see how things are going? They may need encouragement to get past the bad taste or a rash if they start cleansing. Do you call after several weeks to see if they are about out and ready to replenish their supply?

Maybe one of your distributors calls to ask a question. They’re READY to progress another step. Do you call them back to move them further down the path?

“Either do not attempt at all or go through with it."
-Ovid

Do or do not. There is no try.”
-Yoda

You can’t jump a chasm in two bounds.”
-Ancient Chinese proverb

Make meetings fun

Keep people interested and ready to come back to your next meeting. Make meetings fun by being upbeat and unpredictable. Offer prizes, food (good natural stuff, of course) and other incentives.

Herb demonstrations can keep people involved. You can taste herbs to understand their action, show how fiber swells in water or compare aloe juice to competitors’ products. There are all kinds of demonstrations. Ask around, experiment at home and watch for demonstrations at conventions for more ideas.

Terrie says, "When someone’s attention seems to wander, I try to get them personally involved. I make eye contact with them and sometimes directly ask their opinion." Terrie says that she has even thrown erasers at people during meetings when their attention wandered. Well, she admits that she only threw them at people who already know and love her but it sure did keep everybody else on their toes!

You can encourage people to participate by asking them to do research on an herb or combination and then present their information to the group. Schedule a fixed amount time for their part of the meeting. When people know that you’re counting on them (tell them: "I’m counting on you!") they will be more inclined to show up, be on time and increase their participation in other ways.

Use company videos

A professionally-produced video is a good way to start meetings. They break the ice and quickly grab attention. Of course people came to hear a real person so you should use the video as a tool to generate interest in what you have to say, not as a stand-in for yourself.

Company videos are usually professional and well-done. When people see them, they give you credibility. People realize that you are associated with a very professional, progressive company. After you’ve talked for a while about herbs, you might use another video segment to explain the business opportunity.

Company videos are also a good way to train your successline. Consider holding regular business meetings that feature company training videos.

"How am I supposed to learn surgery if I can’t dissect anything?"
-Calvin, Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons, Bill Watterson

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

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