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Is E-Mail Diluting Your Message?

communicate Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is the author of Silent Messages. This book discusses his legendary research into the relative importance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Mehrabian’s rule

When you’re trying to communicate emotions, think about the three V’s: verbal, vocal, and visual. They are the three parts of what has become known as Mehrabian’s Rule – 7% of your message is given verbally (the words you use), 38% comes vocally (the tone you use), and 55% is delivered visually (your facial expressions and body language).

We see from his research that, when we’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes, the overwhelming majority of the message comes through non-verbally. If the verbal and non-verbal don’t agree, people will rely on the non-verbal.

Choosing your medium

Therefore, understanding the three V’s of communication helps you prevent misunderstanding. If the recipient of your message can’t hear and see you say the words, your message may get diluted.

E-mail is convenient, but it can be easily misunderstood because it’s only words. What about text messages?

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marylynnA friend of mine told me that her husband’s ex-wife texts her husband about problems with their kids. My friend gets frustrated after several rounds of nothing getting solved. She says she tells him to just call his ex-wife.

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So choose your medium carefully if you’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes. Some media only use one part of the communication trio, and a very minor one at that!

If you’re just relaying facts, e-mail is fine. If you want to express more than that, your message may get diluted. A phone call enriches the conversation because you bring in the voice. And while it’s not always possible to meet face-to-face, it is your best bet for your most sensitive communication.

Speaking of which …

Let’s apply this to a presentation, whether your audience is one or many. How you say what you say, and what you do when you say it, are actually more important, in getting your message across, than what you say.

What?

It’s hard to explain this in just words. Hey, that illustrates our point!

You can say, “I’m excited.” If you say it with enthusiasm in your voice while standing straight up, your audience will believe you. If you say it like Droopy says, “I’m happy” and slouch while you’re saying it, your audience may doubt you.

People remember the impression more than the words. So if you want to connect with an audience, it’s important to practice your inflections and your gestures to make sure they’re congruent with your words.

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We really appreciate you reading our post today. If you listened to our show, you could’ve heard our appreciation in our voices! Join us next time when we get a visit from a very special guest – Santa Claus. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Are You Smart Enough to Say It Simply?

Today, we’ll share a recent experience with an intern and a doctor. The intern explained what was going on, and we understood almost none of it. He only used medical terms. When we questioned him, he compounded it with even more technical words. A great guy, but he didn’t communicate effectively.

Then we talked to the doctor. The doctor explained everything in human terms so we fully understood. Sure, she used technical terms, but she quickly explained what they meant in layman’s language.

She was smart enough to say it simply!

So from that we can only conclude that women are better communicators than men!

Okay, that’s not what we’re saying. It’s not about gender, it’s about these three factors:

#1 – Personal characteristics

Consider two ends of the spectrum – on one end, there are people who lack confidence. On the other end, there are people with ego.

Confidence. These people may be somewhat new to the subject they’re trying to explain so they’re not that sure of themselves yet. They’re uncomfortable talking about it. So they talk about it the way they learned it – in technical terms. It’s a nervous reaction.

Ego. These people are experts and they want you to know just how smart they are. They may even be arrogant. They’re smart, but not smart enough to realize how important it is to clearly communicate with their audience.

#2 – Communication skills
This is about preparation. They know they have a message to relay, but they don’t put any thought into how to relay it. They’re very skilled in their profession, but they don’t know how to communicate with the average Jane or Joe.

#3 – People skills
They’re not able to read the people to whom they’re talking. If they get a blank stare, it doesn’t register that the person doesn’t understand. These people are brilliant in their profession, but they lack the ability to connect with people, especially those outside their profession.

2 tips to say it simply
Here are two questions to ask yourself about your audience before you try to communicate with them:

Question #1 – What is their level of understanding about your subject?
The answer to this question will help you determine how you form your message. If you’re talking to a colleague, you can go crazy with all that jargon you love! If you’re talking to someone outside your profession, keep it simple!

Question #2 – What do they need to know?

If the CliffsNotes version will do, don’t recite the whole book! Determine what’s really important and leave out all the rest. They’ll ask you if they want more.

It’s smart to keep it simple!

Our bigg quote today comes from the French philosopher, Voltaire:

“If you wish to speak with me, define your terms.”

And limit those terms to terms of use by your audience.

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Next time, we’ll offer guidance to a business owner who’s going through tough times. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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A Way to Listen More Attentively with 3 Tips on How to Do It

By Bigg Success Staff
07-21-08

Life Skills

listening 

Listening attentively is one of the single most important skills you can develop. You’ll build deeper relationships much more quickly. You’ll learn more about a variety of subjects than you can imagine. You’ll also uncover opportunities that help you move onward and upward.

But listening is hard work!

We don’t think of it that way, but it is. Listening is a habit. Like many good habits, it doesn’t happen naturally. 

So here’s a way to develop the habit of listening attentively:

Focus on asking follow-up questions

When you let someone else speak, you make them feel important. When you ask relevant follow-up questions, you make them feel even more important.

You send the message that you really are listening. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to come up with a good question!

You also reinforce that you really are interested in what he or she is saying. Why would you extend the conversation if that weren’t the case?

But focusing on asking follow-up questions serves an even more important role – it forces you to listen attentively.

As we mentioned earlier, you can’t form pertinent questions if you aren’t listening carefully to what is being said.

But we won’t kid you … it’s still a hard habit to develop. So here are 3 tips to make this part of your communication arsenal:

It’s not just about the words

Sure the words being spoken are important. But there are other cues for which you should be alert. For example, if you’re talking to someone in-person, pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and voice inflections. Your question very well may come not from what they said, but how they said it.

Use self-prompts

One of the reasons we don’t listen as well as we should is because our brain is busy thinking about what we’re going to say once the other person quits talking. Get over this by providing yourself a one-word cue for your question. Then all you have to do is “cue” your brain when the other person finishes his or her thought.

For example, assume you're talking to a friend abut his new car. He tells you that he can get into it and start it without keys. He then shows you the sunroof. You've put the word "keys" in cue – repeating it several times in your head – until he stops talking. Then you ask how the key system works.  

Practice, practice, practice

Like any good habit, listening attentively won’t happen overnight. Make it a point to practice your new craft – ask good follow-up questions in every conversation you have for at least the next two weeks. By then, you should be a pro!

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Are You a Born Leader or a Born Boss?

By Bigg Sucess Staff
06-26-08

Leadership Skills

leader 

Some people seem born to lead; others appear born to boss. It’s not necessarily innate; it is also shaped by attitudes, perceptions, and experiences.

Some people think that they are leaders because of their position. However, by definition, you can’t be a leader if no one willingly follows.

That’s what bosses don’t get. Barking out orders doesn’t accomplish much in the long run. Especially in a tough labor market.

Leaders make requests because they can. They don’t demand because they don’t have to. Their people willingly follow them because of a clearly communicated vision coupled with mutual respect. And you can’t expect others to show you respect if you don’t show respect to others.

Remember the old saying, “People join companies; they leave bosses.” You may have heard that quote with the word “managers” substituted for “bosses”. But note that you’ve never heard “leaders” instead of “bosses”.

Do you suppose there’s a reason for that?

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Active and Passive Voice: Actively Accentuate the Positive, Passively Eliminate the Negative

By Bigg Success Staff
04-24-08

Career Builders

talking 

You will advance faster in your career if you communicate effectively. One part of that is to know when to use your “active” voice and when to use a “passive” one.

It sounds boring, but you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes!

When you use your active voice, the subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated simpler, the noun occurs before the verb. For example:

You performed exceptionally well on this project.

With passive voice, the action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later. An example:

This project was done exceptionally well by you.

Note that the first example is more direct and easier to follow than the second. It sounds better, doesn’t it?

Accentuate the positives with your active voice
More importantly, wouldn’t you feel better if you were told that “you performed exceptionally well”?

The focus is on “you”, not the “project”.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

Eliminate the negatives with a passive voice

You will find, though, that the passive voice is also useful. For example, which of the following two sentences would you rather hear?

You performed below expectations on this project.

Expectations weren’t met on this project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so.

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive!

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