Interpersonal Communication

Keep others interests in mind

I subscribe to the This Is True mailing list. They ran an article a while back about someone giving Vice President Dick Cheney “a piece of their mind” and getting talked to by the secret service for doing so (the secret service accused the person of “harassing” and “threatening” Cheney). I’ve been trying to dig up the details on the story for those interested, but the details are actually irrelevant for the purpose of this article. In any case, it re-enforced one of my keys of good communication: always present an idea or opinion with the other person’s interests in mind.

Five Unforgivable Interview Mistakes

I hate interviewing. I hate having to use phrases like “my skills and qualifications” and watching what I say so I won’t discourage the interviewer from hiring me. So I tend to be extremely forgiving when I am the one conducting the interview. However, through the years I’ve noticed so many people make some obvious mistakes. So my list of interviewing tips has now become a list of things not to do in an interview. Some of these tips can also apply to sales calls any other situation where you’re selling your skills, products or services.

Tip #1: Dress Appropriately:

Two envelopes

There’s an old story about a manager being fired and leaving his successor two envelopes. The envelopes, labeled #1 and #2 are to be opened in that order when the new manager gets in a tough situation. The story goes that the new manger gets in a bind, opens #1 which has a note inside that reads “Blame it on me.” This works for a little while and then another major problem arises. The new manager opens up #2 which contains a note that reads “Prepare two envelopes.”

Lose the “but”

The word “but” often causes trouble in interpersonal communication. Consider the following statement: “You did a great job, but….”

Of course, you expect to hear something negative next and the part about doing a great job is forgotten. Instead, try this “You did a great job, and if we could just fix this one issue, things will go even smoother next time.” Another alternative would be to replace the first comma with a period and delete the “and.”

A quick note about politics

Something I see all too often is people allowing their political beliefs to ruin their relationships. I’ve heard people in business settings say things like “I can’t stand him, he’s a Republican” or “don’t waste your time talking to that Liberal.”

Those of us that are interested in politics have some strong beliefs that we’re really passionate about. And yes, it’s fine to think that people on the other side of a particular issue are wrong. But don’t let it get in the way of your friendship or relationship.

Funny Names

Have you ever met someone that had a unique name?

Have you ever met someone with a name that you’ve heard before, but this person spells it differently?

When these things happen, you have a unique opportunity to really connect with this person. I learned this when I was an instructor at Bentley College. I was part of a group of 12 graduate students that would be teaching a course in basic computer use (MS Windows, MS Office & the Internet) and only two of us were from the USA. I remember talking to one of the people from India and asking him how to properly spell and pronounce his name. He was impressed that someone was interested enough to take the time to learn this as everyone else would ask him to use a nickname that was easier to pronounce and spell. He and I quickly became good friends.

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