Whatever your dream – whether mastering personal finances or anything else your truest heart desires – communicating successfully is a critical component.
After all, did you ever hear of anyone accomplishing a dream without the help of others? And could you get people to help you out if you couldn’t communicate effectively?
No? Then this post is for you, World of Dreamers. And for me, too!
Stacey Hanke says we’re in danger of getting rusty at the art of face to face communication, and if we let that happen we’ll be much less successful engaging others on our path to our dreams.
Stacey is the author of Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action. She’s recently been researching, writing, and thinking on the topic of The Lost Art of Face to Face Communication. I had a chance to chat with Stacey about some of her ideas.
Here are the highlights of our conversation –
What got you interested in this topic of face to face communication, Stacey?
Stacey Hanke: As a consultant, I’ve started hearing more and more from my clients that they don’t know how they come across to people. When they give a presentation or even do something like make a sales call, they aren’t getting the result they want, and they don’t know why. People tend to focus much more on the words than on the impact they want to have.
This is especially true for e-mail or social networking, where you only have words. So many people rely on those tools for all their communication that their face to face communication skills get really rusty. But they still need face to face communication if they want to be successful.
What are some of the common “rusty” spots?
Stacey Hanke: I notice that people create distractions while they’re talking, and don’t even realize it. They ramble or clutter the message with unnecessary points. Or they take too long to get to the key message. Maybe there’s something they want the other person to do, but they don’t ask for the right action clearly and specifically.
So then they wonder why they didn’t get the result, right?
Stacey Hanke: Right, or why they got a completely different result than they were expecting. To them the message was crystal clear, but to the audience it wasn’t. The thing about communicating with words only, like in an e-mail, is it’s a one-sided blast. Take that! Click! You can’t communicate that way face to face or you lose the other person.
I just noticed I’m suddenly really aware of how I’m communicating.
Stacey Hanke: (laughs) That’s it! That’s really what it’s all about – being aware of what you want to say and what impact you want to have on others.
Are there some topics where face to face is absolutely necessary?
Stacey Hanke: Yes, but I’m not saying all digital communication is bad. I ask people how they would like me to communicate, and sometimes they say they prefer e-mail. But when I have an important topic, I will still call first and even leave a voice mail message saying I’m about to send an e-mail and here is the topic. That way they hear the tone of my voice and that helps them get the tone of my e-mail better than if they just read the e-mail.
Any topics where you would never use e-mail or social networking at all?
Stacey Hanke: Once you write something down, it’s written down forever. So before you choose e-mail instead of face-to-face, you have to ask yourself if you are okay with that. Also, if you feel like you’re hiding behind the technology to avoid talking about something difficult, it’s probably time for a face to face. Communicating something uncomfortable in words only is like throwing gas on a fire. It just makes things a lot worse.
That could really happen with money conversations, couldn’t it?
Stacey Hanke: Absolutely. In e-mail, if you’re trading numbers back and forth, there’s no win/win there. It’s just dueling numbers.
I often get e-mails asking for my fee schedule. I would never put that in a text. I would always place a call to discuss it. Usually the person appreciates that I’m calling. It’s good customer service and it gives me a chance to start building a relationship. I can’t do that with an e-mail.
If I’m looking for a job and I get an e-mail asking for my salary range, how do I deal with that?
Stacey Hanke: In a case like that, I wouldn’t advise you to refuse. But you could make a call in addition to responding to the e-mail. Even if you got the person’s voice mail, it’s a chance to say thank you for the request, and I just sent you an e-mail. At least that way you’re not just trading numbers with someone in an e-mail – they have a chance to hear a little bit of who you are through your phone call.
What are three every-day steps that could help us be better face to face communicators?
- Find someone in your personal or work life who is willing to coach you on how you communicate. Tell them you want to be a better communicator and ask them how you come across and what you could improve.
- See if you can audio or videotape yourself, and listen to the playback. That takes a little more preparation, but it’s a real eye-opener to listen to or watch yourself.
- Try to choose face to face communication instead of e-mail two times more this week than last week.
A small step! Anyone could do that!
Stacey Hanke: It is a small easy step! Get up and walk over to a colleague to talk, or pick up the phone and make a call.
Any closing thoughts?
Stacey Hanke: Feelings, not words, are how people build trust, credibility, and understanding, and they are crucial to building a personal relationship. That can only happen face to face. You cannot communicate meaningfully with 140 spaces! If you are overly dependent on e-mail or text messages, you’re focusing on the object, not the person!
Learn more about Stacey Hanke’s message on her website, 1st Impressions Consulting.