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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Simple Skill That Will Improve Your Job

In television, being a good interviewer is not just about asking the right questions.

It’s about listening to the answer.

Some of the greatest television interviews happened not because the interviewer asked the right question, but because he or she asked the right follow-up. Just watch interviews by Barbara Walters or the late David Frost, both of whom extracted information from their subjects (Monica Lewinsky, Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson) nobody else could get. At moments more inexperienced interviewers would have glossed over, they would pause and ask, “why” or “how come.” And bingo – that would be the one great moment in the interview.

What’s amazing is that listening is one of the most underrated skills in the workplace and yet, one of the most important. It is the skill that can help you seal a negotiation, make you more amiable to your boss or simply win you friends. Jim Reynolds, the CEO of a boutique investment bank in Chicago, Loop Capital, told me he sometimes has to tap his sales guys under the table in a negotiation to get them to be quiet.

“The secret to effective selling is not the guy who goes in talking ‘I can do I this and I can do that and I can make your business better,’” he said. “That was never the guy who was the top salesman. The top salesman was always the guy that could ask leading questions and then listen to the answer. I learned this early on in my twenties and I’m still trying to teach it to my bankers.”

“Whoever is doing the real listening is improving the art of effective communication and that person will get even better,” he said.

Jim noted that the reason why listening was so effective in sales was because most people, without realizing it, will tell you what problem they need solved. If you just listen carefully enough, you can present the solution right back to them.

The same is true in negotiation. Most people will tell you what they need to get the deal done. If you listen to what they want, you can almost always give it to them, granted it is something you can give.

And in many ways, connecting to people is much about listening. True to human nature, almost all of us find that the most fascinating person on Earth is usually…ourself. If someone discovers you are willing to sit there and listen to that endless story about their dog, Clifford, then that person will think YOU are the most interesting person in the world. Try it with your friend/family member/spouse/boss. It is amazing what happens when you listen and even more amazing when you listen and repeat what they say back to you. Just watch their reactions.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Primal Instincts: How Body Language and Personality Dictate Success

The two most critical variables in how people perceive us are warmth and competence. These two traits account for up to 80% of our overall evaluation of people, "i.e., do you feel good or bad about this person."

The article notes, "warmth - does this person feel cold or warm to me? - is the first and most important interpersonal perception. The warm/cold assessment amounts to a reading of the other's intentions, positive or negative. Competence is assayed next: how capable is someone of carrying out those intentions."

We admire warm/competent people, we envy cold/competent people, while we pity warm/incompetent people, and exhibit contempt for cold/incompetent people.

Meanwhile, like dogs, non-verbal postures signal dominance and power, or, conversely, fear and meekness. Nonverbal postures impact our endocrine system and link stances, gestures, and hormone levels. The photos below illustrate "

"In all species, postures that are expansive, open, and take up more space are associated with dominance. Postures that are contractive - limbs touching torso, protecting the vital organs - are associated with low power, being at the bottom of the hierarchy."

Examples - she looks at her MBA students and finds, "classroom participation is 50% of the grade. There, women students have a harder time getting airtime, and speak more briefly when called. Women are also more likely to cross their legs and arms, or to lean in: low-power poses. While men raise their hands straight up, women tend to raise them with an elbow bent 90 degrees, commanding less space."

Another example comes from Laksmi Balachandra's research. He looked at 185 venture-capital pitches. His findings? "Changing one's mindset also changes the mindset, and neuroendocrine secretions, of others. The success of VC pitches turns on how comfortable and charismatic you are. The predictors of who actually got money are all about how you present yourself and nothing to do with content. Key variables include - calmness, passion, eye contact, and lack of awkwardness.

Back to warmth...Cuddy finds that we want to cooperate and help warm/competent people...we are rooting for them. However, we tend to resent, envy, and do not help cold/competent people. Envy drives ambivalence and ambivalence is clearly a hindrance to progress and support.

So - warmth, power postures, calmness, eye contact, passion.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How Poor We Are?

One day, a rich dad took his son on a trip. Wanted to show him how poor someone can be. They spent time on the farm of a poor family. On the way home, dad asked, “Did you see how poor they are? What did you learn?”.

Son said, 

“We have one dog, they have four, 

we have pool, they have rivers, 

we have lanterns at night, they have stars, 

we buy foods, they grow theirs, 

we have walls to protect us, they have friends, 

we have encyclopedias, they have Bible.” 

Then they headed,”Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.”

MORAL LESSON: It’s not about money that make us rich, it’s about simplicity of having God in our lives.

The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. One pig built a house of straw while the second pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly and then sang and danced all day because they were lazy. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks.

A big bad wolf saw the two little pigs while they danced and played and thought, “What juicy tender meals they will make!” He chased the two pigs and they ran and hid in their houses. The big bad wolf went to the first house and huffed and puffed and blew the house down in minutes. The frightened little pig ran to the second pig’s house that was made of sticks. The big bad wolf now came to this house and huffed and puffed and blew the house down in hardly any time. Now, the two little pigs were terrified and ran to the third pig’s house that was made of bricks.

The big bad wolf tried to huff and puff and blow the house down, but he could not. He kept trying for hours but the house was very strong and the little pigs were safe inside. He tried to enter through the chimney but the third little pig boiled a big pot of water and kept it below the chimney. The wolf fell into it and died.
The two little pigs now felt sorry for having been so lazy. They too built their houses with bricks and lived happily ever after.