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Helpful Communication Skills For Your Next Interview


Communication expert Jeff Klubeck of Get A Klu, Inc. helps you understand what the 3 types of communications skills are and gives you tips to on how to Improve your confidence and non-verbal communication skills.

5 Steps To Improving Communication Skills

This is not communication

In the workplace, pretty much everything is a question of communication. When things are going great in the workplace, you will find GREAT communication. When things are breaking down in the workplace, what do you think you will find? You’ve got it: communication breakdowns! The fact that you are reading this article means you probably KNOW that effective communication is critical to our success in all areas of life. In the workplace, this is “super true!” What you may NOT KNOW, however, is exactly how and why communication breaks down, and full extent to which these breakdowns crush a company’s bottom line or your own opportunities for career advancement. Scary! Meanwhile, a very funny thing about communication is that it is like driving or parenting in that we tend to believe we ourselves do it well, but OTHERS do not! This clearly means that the first step to improving our own communication effectiveness is admitting we need improvement and knowing that it is possible.

OVERCOME THEN IMPROVE

There are five tendencies we must overcome to improve our communication skills. These tendencies serve as barriers to objectivity, critical thinking, listening and ultimately, to effective communication. We are MOST open to improving our communication skills when we are MOST aware of these five tendencies in our day-to-day behavior:

STEREOTYPING

Stereotyping occurs when we observe a trait in a member of a population (ethic, gender, religious, political, etc.) and then project that trait onto the entirety of that population. This is usually done at someone’s expense and ALWAYS represents a certain mental laziness which becomes evident, embarrassing, counter-productive or plainly destructive during workplace communication.

SELF-INTEREST

This refers to the process of blocking out or ignoring anything that does not appeal to one’s CURRENT interests. Put simply, it is a failure to accommodate the creation of NEW interests. The consequence of this behavior rests in the lengths people go to in order to avoid things which aren’t of interest. This can include discrediting, distorting, deflecting, sabotaging, and attacking that which does not personally interest us. A sane person will easily agree that it is not professional or productive to sabotage, distort or otherwise attack a colleague’s ideas.

FROZEN EVALUATIONS

Some people call this being “stubborn”. However, just knowing that some people refuse to change their minds once they have made them up is not enough. As with self-interest, we must realize this refusal requires the effort and energy required to ignore, distort, dismiss, or otherwise resist REALITY! Some people ignore objective, factually true information purely to avoid reversing their own opinions or beliefs. To avoid the effort it takes to change, OR the “shame” of admitting we are “wrong”, we will actually work harder and “wronger!” Can you think of workplace decisions that are made and sustained based on imagined vs. actual reality? Think of a “seller” who lists their home for what THEY think it is worth, or what they want and need, vs. actual market value determined by the comps. Objective facts are blocked by a frozen “pride of ownership” factor. What are the workplace versions of this behavioral tendency?

EGO-DEFENSE

Each of the first three tendencies (stereotyping, self-interest and frozen evaluations) is a “version” of this fourth tendency: Ego Defense. Ego is our overall sense of self. Defense is accomplished by “fight or flight” instinct. This means that we “flinch” at emotional/ego danger just as instinctually and aggressively as we do at physical danger. Any piece of information that contradicts our sense of self is “eligible” for a fight or flight response. We all engage in this behavior. A great difference in communication skills can be found in the difference between PRESERVING/PROTECTING/PROMOTING our overall sense of self vs. EXPANDING/GROWING/EVOLVING our sense of self. The latter approach makes us more vulnerable, but greatly enhances our effectiveness as communicators.

ETHNOCENTRISM

Ethno means culture or cultural, and centrism refers to placing something at a central position of importance. Ego-defense is a form of ego-centrism…we are ALL self-centered even in generosity. Ethno-centrism, then, is a very natural tendency to put one’s CULTURE (values, attitudes, beliefs, rituals, language, aesthetics, etc.) at a central position of importance. This tendency is the “popular” version of ego-defense. We focus on a population, not individuals, and “group think” around the merits of that culture. Said another way, this is the dangerous and mistaken belief that one’s culture is SUPERIOR to another’s. The extreme consequences of this tendency include hate crimes, ethnic cleansing or other forms of genocide. In the workplace the harmful effects are subtler but show up in “the dark side” of communication: anger, blame, “other-ing”, scapegoating, stereotyping, political conflict, etc. Effective workplace communication will suffer from the impact of “ethnocentrism” which impedes our ability to validate, appreciate or even understand the cultural diversity that is sure to exist in our workplaces and in this global economy.

With rare exception, where we find workplace drama, lethargy, politics, dirty competition, gossip/rumor, errors, delays, or even injuries and death, communication breakdowns are involved. It is highly likely that one or more of the five behavioral tendencies above are in play. The old saying about putting make-up on a pig is a good analogy for putting “communication skills training” on a person without the motivation, awareness and skills to overcome the behavioral tendencies which predict poor communication.

8 Steps To Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking

Are You Grateful Daily?

Gratitude - This Dawn #8

As Tony Robbins says, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” So, I wonder why it is that Thanksgiving is only celebrated one day per year.  From my personal experience, when I take time to write in my journal about the things I am grateful for in my life I always seem to be rewarded with even more “abundance” as Tony says.

Be grateful daily… don’t wait until Thanksgiving…start today by writing a list of at least 10 items of the things you are grateful for in your life today! Here is a short list of things, in no particular order of importance, I am grateful for:

  • My health
  • The lessons I’ve learned from my parents
  • The blessings of loyal friendships I enjoy
  • My opportunity to teach public speaking to adults and more so for what I learn from them in return
  • The trust my clients have in me to help improve their lives
  • The patience I am taught by my children
  • My mentors and role models who, before me, have blazed trails down roads less traveled
  • Every mistake and failure that I convert into learning and growth
  • The clients, vendors and strategic partners without whom Get A Klu, Inc. would not exist and…
  • YOU…yes, I am most grateful to you for allowing me to continue believing that my ideas motivate, provoke, clarify, resonate with, lead, entertain or simply “gratify” you.

For all of that and more, I am so grateful! Thank you!

What do you have to be thankful for today? It could be as simple as finding a penny on the sidewalk…to the outstanding news of dear friends finally becoming pregnant after years of attempts.  THESE THINGS HAPPEN WHEN WE ARE GRATEFUL!!!  When we are present-minded to how truly wonderful things are in our lives… BOOM! They get better.  The same, obviously, is true of fear, doubt, anger, shame, regret, envy, etc.  The more of THAT we are present-minded to…well, you get the idea.

There is a question in Hebrew that is asked by Jews celebrating Passover each year…in Hebrew it sounds out phonetically as follows:  Mah-neesh-tah-nah  Hahl-eye-lah-hah-zeh!  Translation:  Why should THIS day be different from any other day?

Today and EVERY DAY, I encourage you to be thankful…to embrace an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE that will naturally follow with abundance for your life and the lives of those you love.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and your community a happy and healthy Thanksgiving…daily!

LISTEN YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS – PART 4

Antique Headphones
There’s a saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer!  The thinking is that what you don’t know can hurt you…and the more you know your enemy, the better you are able to protect yourself from it (or even avoid it altogether).

STEP FIVE:  KNOW THE ENEMY!

So, what are the enemies of effective listening?  Again, and in one word, emotions!  Emotions have the greatest impact on our effectiveness as listeners.  Essentially, when we are listening we are vulnerable and knowing that makes it easier to understand why listening is so hard.  Step Five to improving our listening is to be more “aware” and “familiar” with the enemies of listening…so it will be easier for you to (and for you to help others) avoid/overcome them.

All of these behaviors/barriers to listening come down to our vulnerability and willingness to BE vulnerable in exchange for the benefits of effective listening.  The “survival instinct” (both physical and emotional) can work against our efforts to develop listening as a skill!

STEP SIX:  ACKNOWLEDGE AND TREAT LISTENING AS A SKILL!!!

I get so angry when I read a position description that includes in the qualifications:  Must have excellent oral and written communication skills!  I do not believe I have ever seen a position description that declares a requirement that candidates be excellent listeners!  Listening is BY FAR the most under-rated and under-developed communication skill of all.

Because, and even if, people are afraid of Public Speaking, they usually admit readily that they “should take a public speaking class or join Toastmasters.”  Some people you talk to would admit they could benefit from taking a writing class…people who are terrible writers will SAY they are.  Yet, we are all poor listeners (especially compared to our ability) but NONE OF US admit we are or that we can benefit from IMPROVING this critical skill.

So, Step Six towards improving your Listening Effectiveness is to acknowledge and TREAT listening as a skill.  Use it or lose it!  Pay it if you want it to pay you!  No pain, no gain.  You get out what you put in!  If you are not getting better you are getting worse!  All cliché’s apply!

So, what are you doing to improve your listening skills?

Wolf Management offers customized workshops, seminars, training’s and private coaching that will improve your listening and help you improve the listening of others on your team, staff, jury, committee, or household.  Click here to explore a customized Listening Program for you!

LISTEN YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS – PART 3

New Headphones
You hope the most important people in your professional life are great listeners (the boss, the client, the vendor, the sub-ordinate, peer or assistant), and you CERTAINLY want the very best listening skills for you children, parents, spouses, friends, teammates/partners, employees, etc.  But YOUR listening is just fine, right?  Well, if you have the slightest notion that YOUR listening can improve, here are more steps to Listening for Success!!!

STEP FOUR:  KNOW YOUR PURPOSE!

Returning for a moment to the distinction between hearing and listening, we can see that, like all senses, the primary purpose of hearing is “survival.”  The primary reason we can hear (and listen, for that matter) is to protect ourselves from physical danger…first and foremost!  So, let’s assume this need for physical survival serves as a first level filter that only 2000 out of 4 billion bits of data “gets through” and into our conscious.  Next, let’s assume that the remaining 2000 is screened for physical threat and found to present none.  When we (decide we) are not in physical danger, where does the focus of our listening turn?  What are the primary “purposes” of listening when we are “safe” physically?  That’s right!  Emotional!

Our listening will be pointed in the direction of survival first and THEN what will make us “FEEL” the best.  Here are the five broad categories that represent our “purposes” for listening:

  • Survival:  Again, first and foremost we listen to protect ourselves physically!  Everything else represents or is intended to fulfill “emotional” survival
  • Informational:  This purpose is to “help the self” through the acquisition of information…this includes information that protects us physically, but more often than not it leads to emotional fulfillment (knowledge = power, significance, certainty, safety etc.).
  • Empathetic:  This purpose is to “help others” by attending so much to what they are sharing that you “put yourself in their shoes.”  The closest we can ever truly BE to BEING someone else is to listen to him or her.  It is from that place of absolute empathetic (selfless) listening that we are of most help to others.
  • Evaluative:  To decide, after learning how the world “is”, what that MEANS to us…how we FEEL about the way the world IS…and how we wish to behave in the world.
  • Appreciation:  To be impressed, motivated, enlightened, entertained or to feel any other form of variety/excitement (adrenaline, adventure, fantasy, novelty etc.).

Can you see how the “bits” that make it into consciousness will fall into one or more of these categorical purposes?  Secondly, can you see that these purposes are not mutually exclusive…and therefore how easily can you see that these purposes may be “competing” for attention each second, minute or hour of even the BEST “attention spans?”  Therefore, Step Four towards improved listening is to “know your purpose” and be able to continually remind yourself WHY you are or should be attending to the one to the exclusion of all others that are competing for your conscious attention!

So, what are you doing to improve your listening skills?

Wolf Management offers customized workshops, seminars, trainings and private coaching that will improve your listening and help you improve the listening of others on your team, staff, jury, committee, or household.  Click here to explore a customized Listening Program for you!

LISTEN YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS – PART 2

Headphones Atomic Floyd HIDefJax AcousticSteel
This article wants to actually improve YOUR listening.  Its first challenge is to get the guilty verdict on our collective ineptitude as listeners.  But, listening is like driving (or better yet, parenting) in that it is one of those things that we all believe we are good at yet also believe that everybody else is bad at (or not as good as US anyway).  George Carlin explained this ego-centrism best when he explained that everyone on the road driving faster than US is a “maniac” while anyone driving slower than US is a “moron.”

STEP TWO:  INVITE ALL OF YOUR SENSES TO THE PARTY!

For now, Step two in our efforts to improve our listening is to actually REPLACE the word “hearing” with the word “observing” when discussing the listening process as a whole.  Textbooks tell us that Listening, as a process, involves the following six stages or “ing” words (as I call them):

  • Hearing
  • Attending
  • Understanding
  • Remembering
  • Evaluating
  • Responding

Clearly we engage in the remaining five “ings” after tasting, touching, smelling and seeing as we do after “hearing”?  So, when we realize that we can listen to the observations of all our senses (not just hearing) we move towards an understanding of how complex this listening business can be!  But, how complex is it?

STEP THREE:  THE QUESTIONS of ATTENTION’s INTENTIONS!!!

Well, the amount of information that is “observed” by the senses sub-consciously is estimated at 400 billion bits of data (yes, billion) per second (yes, per second!).  Imagine that!   Of this amount, researchers estimate that only two thousand are actually brought to consciousness (processed psychologically).  This means we have incredible filtering capacity but also begs several questions regarding HOW we filter and WHAT gets filtered…questions about the attention that gets paid or unpaid to all of our observations on a second-to-second, minute-to-minute basis.

So, a Third Step towards listening effectiveness is to ask and answer (for yourself before others) some of the questions of attention:

  • What determines which 2,000 bits make it to consciousness and why the other 399,998,000 don’t?
  • Of the 2,000 that DO make it to consciousness, how many of them CAN we attend to?
  • How radically is our effectiveness diluted with each new/additional “bit” of data we attempt to attend to?
  • What determines which of the 2,000 we’ll attend to if we are unable to attend to them all?
  • Do our logical and emotional selves have “equal votes” when it comes to deciding what we will “pay attention” to?
  • When we WANT to pay attention to something, how is it that our attention can simply “drift” to something else?
  • Or why, when we’d prefer NOT to be thinking about those exact things still manage to grab and hold our attention?

When asking yourself these and other questions of attention, your answers will most likely be found in the “purposes” of listening.

Wolf Management offers customized workshops, seminars, training’s and private coaching that will improve your listening and help you improve the listening of others on your team, staff, jury, committee, or household.  Click here to explore a customized Listening Program for you!

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