If You Want to Communicate Brilliantly, You Must Master the Golden Triangle of Communications

Because the three communication skills that generate win-win solutions, and build trust and respect, are:

* LISTENING to the answers generated by,

* ASKING many questions, and

* SUMMARISING periodically, as a means of feedback.

Do you want to be a brilliant communicator? Do you want to influence others easily? Is it part of your self improvement programme? If so, learn to listen, ask and summarise.

Let’s look a bit more closely at each of them.

Listening is the single most important and effective of the communication skills. If you want to be a great conversationalist or you want to be great at establishing rapport, and building relationships with others, or you want to be in control, and influence people, learn to listen. This is not the same as hearing though. It is defined as: making a deliberate effort to understand the significance of what is heard

This means that when you register a sound (hear it) you do some work inside your minds and body – you put in some effort (you listen to it). For example, you interpret the sound to determine, does it matter? You question what the meanings of the sound might be. You associate the sound with other experiences in your internal mental and emotional databases. You ask if the sound needs a response and, if so, what? You think about the implications of the sound for you and others and, internally, you ask many questions about it. In this way, you are making a deliberate effort to understand the significance of what you heard – you are listening. To listen is hard work, as it requires high levels of mental energy and concentration.

In any communication between people there are two things going on at the same time (at least). On one level, there is the content of the communication – what are they communicating about? On another level, there is the process and the relationship – how and why are they communicating? This may include, for example: are they communicating in ways that are building trust or suspicion? Are they creating mutual respect or disdain? Are they enjoying the experience? Will their relationship be stronger or weaker as a result of this communication? Listening can be geared to either one or both of these levels. There is also another language that needs “listening” to – body language – with skillful observation and interpretation.

Asking means questioning, of course, and there are different types of questions and they achieve different things. Listed below are seven really useful types of question:

1. specific, precise, closed questions – very useful for getting accurate, factual information (provided the person answering tells the truth). This type of question will usually get you the facts but that may be all you get. If you want to get things flowing a bit more, you will need to use open-ended questions.

2. open-ended questions – very useful for getting the other person to talk and share opinions.

Great when you are not sure what you’re looking for or when you want to build relationships and establish rapport or when you want to be in the receiver mode.

3. if you combine 2. and 1. above, in that order, you will create funnel questions. Funnel questions work like a funnel in the sense that they start very wide (open-ended questions); you listen to the answers and select something to ask a question about in more detail (your questions are getting narrower); you listen to the answers you get now and ask even more focused questions to funnel in (i.e. specific, precise, closed questions).

4. comparative questions – ask a person to think about a situation, think about a different situation and compare them. Comparative questions are very good for revealing what matters to someone and what they value

5. summarising questions – great for checking out that the messages that are being communicated are being understood as they were intended. They also help you to stay in control and to ensure that you, and others, don’t drift off all over the place (unless you want to, of course).

6. short questions – intended to keep you, the receiver, receiving, and the other person talking, as well as making progress on whatever the communication is about. Short questions are most typically the six words: “what?; who?; when?; how?; where?; and why?”. The most probing of these questions is, “why?”. Depending on the situation, handle this question with consideration for the other person as it may come across as aggressive or cause the other person to feel inadequate.

7. the seventh type of question is the absence of a spoken question – it is a pause or silence.

In some situations, especially if your communication with another person has reached a sensitive point, the approach that will get the best response is to shut up, maintain supportive eye contact and body language, and wait. Most people don’t like the silence that ensues and the other person may well speak out revealing more information. There is, of course, a judgement to be made here as pauses or silences that go on too long may be embarrassing and weaken rapport. The judgement is, how long is too long?

Summarising means accurately repeating back the message that has been transmitted. It is time and effort very well spent because it will:

* ensure understanding

* demonstrate that active listening is taking place

* build relationships (e.g. trust, respect, mutual support)

* confirm or clarify key points

* explore any perceived contradictions

* explore any new information

* reinforce openness and honesty

* confirm common ground

* create opportunities to correct any errors in the communication process.

Summarising is really valuable but is too often rarely seen in communications. It is a great test of listening, of course. If you can’t summarise accurately what has been said, you probably were not listening in the first place (which is pretty insulting to the others, isn’t it?).

In summary, it is the golden triangle of communication skills – listening, asking and summarising – that is the key to achieving great solutions and building trust and respect with others.

Marketing Communications – The Cornerstone of a Growing Business

Successful businesses today must be extremely aware of their marketing communications. Reaching your customers is the most important step in growing your business, and in today’s 24/7 information society there are more marketing options available than ever before.

From television and radio commercials, to e-mails and banner ads, to product reviews and sponsorships, public relations is just as much about what medium you use to spread your message as it is about the message itself. A good strategic marketing plan should begin with an analysis of the best ways to reach your potential customers, and will end with a successful marketing campaign. For some businesses, the internet is the bread and butter of their strategic communications plan.

Many businesses have found that direct email campaigns to qualified leads is the most effective form of marketing communication for them. Potential customers receive an e-mail about a product, service or event that may interest them and they react positively. Other businesses may find that having their business or product promoted on another website is the most strategic marketing campaign for their customers.

Having someone else sing your company’s praises is often more enticing to a potential customer than praising yourself would be. Still other companies have found that simply advertising on popular websites is enough to generate additional business. Public relations firms specialize in determining what the most strategic marketing communications plan is for their clients. They know that in order to promote their client’s business, they must find the best way to reach their client’s potential customers.

A good firm will do extensive market research and determine what mediums their client’s competitors are using to reach potential customers. They will then develop a strategic communications plan that is custom tailored to their client. This plan may include running print ads in publications that their client’s potential customers are likely to read or buying advertising slots on TV or radio programs that the competition is currently appearing on or some combination of these different approaches.

Whatever the medium used is, the goal of marketing communications is always the same. To get your company’s name in front of your potential customers and to cultivate a public image that will help to turn all of that potential into reality. With a good strategic communications plan in place, your business will grow. Maintaining that growth requires constantly perfecting your marketing communication plan and managing your public relations every day.

The Typewriter: Influencing Communications Technology

Without the invention of the typewriter would it have been possible for the computer to bask in its global popularity today? Would you be reading these words if it wasn’t for the invention of the keyboard? When you think about the ease of usage as you type compositions that appear on the screen of your computer monitor, we should never forget the celebrated invention of the typewriter.

Mastering the use of the typewriter comes with the tag team precision of eye, brain and hand coordination. During my tenure in high school, typing classes were taught as an elective. Typewriters were extremely popular at that time, due to a soaring demand in secretarial careers. Accuracy and the number of words typed per minute were primary requirements for secretarial positions.

The evolution of the typewriter dates back to around 1713. An English engineer, Henry Mill was granted the first English typewriter patent in 1714, but never got around to manufacturing it. The first American typewriter patent was granted to William A. Burt, an inventor from Detroit in 1829 who introduced the typographer. Burt’s method was designed for transcribing letters singularly and progressively, one after another on paper.

The first practical typewriter, called the “Sholes & Glidden Type Writer,” was conceived and invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, Samuel Soulé and Carlos Glidden. The Type Writer was marketed by gun manufacturers, E. Remington & Sons. The keyboard arrangement was considered notable enough to be included on Sholes’ patent, granted in 1878. The typewriter worked great for beginners, but for the professional, modifications had to be done. The problem arose when increased typing speed caused a problem with the keys sticking. Hence, this influenced the invention of the QWERTY typewriter by Christopher Latham Sholes. The letters “Q,W,E,R,T” and “Y” beginning with the first row of letters from the left on the keyboard, gave the layout its name. It was also called the “Universal” keyboard.

The transition from the development of the typewriter to the computer keyboard resulted from the introduction of the teletype machine that combined the technology of the typewriter with the mechanics of the telegraph. The first machines only typed capital letters. The home keys (where the typist’s fingers rest) are “ASDF” for the left fingers and “JKL;” for the right fingers.

It is noted that Mark Twain was the first author to submit a “typewritten” manuscript to his publisher. Clearly, through the evolution of writing machines, the typewriter made a major impact on professionals, students and anyone wanting to make a written impression in a tasteful and organized manner. It is evident that the nobility of the legendary typewriter canvasses its way throughout the evolution of writing machine history.