4 Ways to Improve Your Communication
Want to improve your communication? First, focus on improving your relationship.
How? This will help improve both your professional and personal communication as well as your relationships: Focus on the quality, not quantity, of the time you spend with the other person. Time quality has 4 dimensions:
1. What you talk about- Spend an hour talking to someone about the weather and it may be worth only about 5 minutes of quality time (unless you are a professional weather reporter interviewing for a job). But 5 minutes spent talking about something that is personally and/or professionally important to both of you will feel like it’s like an hour of quality time.
2. The number of times you speak – You may speak with a person once for 60 minutes and yet still feel like strangers. However, after you have spoken with each other on occasions for 20 minutes each time, both parties may really feel like they know the other. Sometimes you can’t delve into the important topics until you have already had a few conversations.
3. Where you are when you are speaking - People relate to their space in interesting ways. If a seller walks into the prospect’s office, he or she is now in someone else’s kingdom and tend to behave in kind. If a seller walks into a big lecture center, he or she almost yawns in anticipation. On the other hand, if 2 people meet in a neutral site (a restaurant, for example), both parties are on an equal footing.
4. Checking that you both understand each other - You are showing people the most sincere form of attention when you seek to understand another person. Who doesn’t like that form of attention?
So, how do we incorporate relationship-building/ communication-improving strategies into our training so that people finally learn?
Regarding what you talk about: Make sure the trainees are getting their training in the clearest, shortest, most relevant, most engaging format, told to them in a high-level > low-level explanation model. It works to break down “obvious” points into subcomponents: for example, when describing a skill as part of your training, try focusing on what to do before, during, and after that activity. This format reveals insights and makes people more aware of the importance of things they may be skipping.
Regarding how often you talk: To sit in an 8-hour training workshop and fully absorb all of the content and turn it into a long-term habit is not only challenging, it is the rare exception. Most people need to be introduced to a topic and revisit it with regularity over time in order for the information to sift into their brain and to “turn the ship” and cause the changes the training is supposed to achieve. Training is not what happens in the workshop. Training is what happens when a person starts using a new skill and then receives further training, to which they are now more receptive. For example, most of us didn’t really pay enough attention during Salesforce.com training—until we had to use it. All of a sudden, we are all ears.
Regarding where you are when you speak: When the trainees are in someone else’s kingdom (the training room, etc.) they are not as relaxed as they are at home, in their cars or in their offices. They are usually more relaxed in neutral sites like restaurants and airports than the boss' office, the training room, or conference rooms. So, if some of the training can take place in these settings, the trainees will be in the right frame of mind to read, listen, watch, and learn. This is why an M-learning reinforcement strategy is so important — how else to train them then when they are in their comfort zone?
Regarding Checking: Obviously, this includes asking “checking questions” during training and quizzing people on training content but it doesn’t end there. For most business skill training, the only real measurement that matters is how much better the trainees are able to perform their job. For example, if you are conducting sales training, you should be looking at sales KPIs in your CRM. Ideally, you can see a dashboard of who received what training and what measurable effect it is having on their job performance.
The challenge of training is really knowing when you are getting through. You need the right dashboard so that you can optimize your training with real-time feedback. In the same way that digital advertising campaigns are optimized in real time as advertising impressions are served based on immediate feedback about how people react to the ads, sales trainers need real-time data about the training’s effect on sales KPIs. Otherwise, your training campaigns are never optimized and the trainer is only guessing what works. You may be teaching, but are you training? Teaching is about covering the content; training is about getting trainees to improve their skills, abilities, and confidence.
About the Author:
Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world. DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win. DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.
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About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.