Interacting with People


Direct open communication with others fosters trust, enhances information flow, and builds stronger relationships. Use following guidelines to increase such communication:

  • Let people know in a timely way about information that affects them. Respond as quickly as possible to any questions they may have.
  • Be aware of the messages you send non-verbally. Communicate a positive, open message to people by facing them and making eye contact (or using other culturally appropriate gestures when in other countries or cultures).
  • To help your employees and others develop their skills, convey positive and constructive feedback. Positive feedback lets people know what they are doing correctly and the behavior you appreciate. Constructive feedback informs people of their ineffective behavior and gives them an opportunity to compensate for or improve the behavior.
  • If conflicting or mixed messages come up in conversation, confront the discrepancy and work with the other person to clarify the misunderstanding.
  • When you receive vague messages, define the issues in concrete terms so that all parties are clear about what is being said.
  • When you need to get a point across in a direct, nonaggressive, fashion, simply say what you think and feel without putting the other person down.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Listening


Listening is the most important component of communication. There is a wrong notion that a person who talks fluently is a good communicator. He need not be. It is true that talking fluently is an important component of communication. But all talkers are not good communicators.

Communication has three important components: a) making others appreciate what you say, b) making others understand what you say, and c) making others apply what you say in their life. It is much more than talking.

Listening is said to be a vital factor in the process of communication. One needs to be a good listener in addition to being a good talker, for communicating effectively. One may feel that listening is very simple and everyone is good in listening. The fact is that it is untrue. Many like and do the talking and they seldom listen to others. recall a conversation you had with your friend recently. Estimate the amount of time that you were talking, compared to the time spent by your friend talking to you. You would notice that there has always been an inner urge to express ourselves to others rather than listening to others.

If you want to be good at listening, take care of the following:

  • Be genuinely interested in listening.
  • Look at the person always.
  • Do not get distracted.
  • As you listen keep assimilating the points.
  • When you don’t understand ask the person to repeat.
  • Don’t interrupt unnecessarily.
  • Don’t project your views, ideas in between.
  • Don’t stop the other person till he does it on his own.
  • Be patient.
  • Be careful about the gesture that you make (it should not give any negative signals).

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight