Taking the training and communication skills you learn at work doesn’t have to end at the office, you can use your new found communication skills across your entire life.
As trainers, we have all heard something similar to, “I wish my family or co-workers could learn this material!” It may not have been those exact words, but the message was the same. You train excellent content and people want to share it with those with whom they communicate on a regular basis.
I have found some of my best training insights have come in the hallways during breaks. A participant once asked me how to convey this material to her spouse (Bob). My first piece of advice was to decide on exactly which strategy or skill she wanted to share. If you have a specific goal of what you want to communicate to the other person, it is easier to keep the conversation on track.
My second insight was to suggest getting an agreement with the other person to take the time to engage in the discussion. Let the other person know why you want to have the conversation, how much time you need, what topic you want to cover and if they have anything to add, and the outcome you are expecting. Get agreement on those four (or five based on how you count the third item) items and your conversation will get off to a great start.
It could sound like this:
You: “Bob, I would love to have a conversation about what I learned today. Would you have about 20 minutes for me to share this with you?”
Bob: “Sure. We can do it now.”
You: “Thank you. I want to talk about the four key components to building a relationship. Are you okay with that?”
Bob: “Of course, I’d love to hear what you came away from the meeting.”
You: “I’d like to get your thoughts and how you view this information. So please add your thoughts as we go along. Are you okay with that?”
Bob: “When have I ever been shy about adding my two cents? Sure, I’m okay with it.”
You: “My hope is at the end of the conversation we can assess what we are doing well and what might need some work. We can decide together if there is anything we would need to work on or not. Are you in?”
Bob: “Sounds like fun. Let’s go!”
Bob may not be quite this agreeable, but the components of a good mutual agreement will get the conversation started on the right track, and keep it on track, to reach an outcome. At the end of this conversation there will be the need to create a new agreement about how to deal with future conversations.
My third insight was to advise her to be aware of her partner’s non-verbal cues to determine when to approach him about having the conversation. When his facial expressions, body language, and tonality give you the impression that he has had a bad day at the office, you may want to postpone approaching the conversation until his mood has improved.
These three insights came about in a 5-minute conversation, in the hallway, during the break. Even though we train to a group of participants, often an individual gets the “AHA” moment when you provide insights for them personally; How to use the skill or strategy in a real situation to which they relate.
One thing I have learned in over thirty years of training, is to always be in training mode while at the training venue. I have diligently worked on my communication skills to be able adjust to how I am communicating while in the training room and how to adjust to the variety of individuals who pull me aside for the private, individual training at breaks, at lunch, during dinner, and even on the ride to the airport. When you are constantly working on your communication skills, you will be prepared for spontaneous communication which will not end in spontaneous combustion, where your credibility goes down in flames.
David Hiatt is author of FROM THE BOARDROOM TO THE LIVING ROOM: Communicate With Skill For Positive Outcomes (CLICK HERE to get your copy). With a BA and Masters in Communications, he is a passionate and energetic program leader who is truly concerned with helping others to grow, develop, and communicate. For more information, please visit https://www.sandler.com/resources/sandler-books/board-room
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