All too often we are far more enthusiastic about talking than we are listening. Yet it is so vital if we are to communicate effectively. Most break downs in relationships are caused because people talk at each other without really making contact. Unless someone hears what has been said including the subtext the words have little value.
When we are actively listened to we feel valued and are far more likely to engage in negotiation and compromise.
Listening is about far more than words. Watching facial expression and body language is often a far more accurate barometer than the words that are being used.
Nice things being said where the smile doesn't reach the eyes is an obvious example.
To be an effective listener it is vital that you listen actively.
10 tips to becoming a more effective listener
Make eye contact.
Read the body language of the talker. Are they relaxed, anxious, angry? Extremes are easy to recognise but often the message is much more subtle
Mirror the talker's body language- subtly, a gentle dance rather than a caricature.
Show that you are listening, nod, make appropriate responses
Ask relevant questions, ask them to clarify if you are not clear about their meaning
Summarise: so what you are saying is..........
Use open ended questions, the who, what, where, when,
Be careful of the tone of your voice when you respond or ask questions. It is all to easy to come across as judgemental or as an interrogator from the Spanish Inquisition
Use empathy. Acknowledge difficulties, but be careful not to fall into the trap of going into anecdotes from your experience. " I sense that you are finding this rather difficult" rather than "Oh I know, it happened to me but mine was bigger, more difficult etc"
Take a real interest, if you are simply going through the motions the lack of sincerity will be obvious to others. Leave your ego behind, concentrate on the other person.
Importance Of Listening When Doing A Speech
Try listening to other expert speakers as much as possible during a speaking event especially the guest speaker since they may be able to provide useful tips while hearing them talk. This could also eliminate redundancy and add more bits and pieces when it is time to speak in front of the audience. Also, this is to save a speaker from any embarrassment, since other speakers at some point try to use materials of the same kind.
Aside from listening to the other speakers, try to listen to the majority of the audience. By knowing the audience, a speaker can have a clearer idea on what is really sought after and what the audience may not like to hear. Here are some tips that can be accomplished before making that big speech.
Leadership Lessons From Pope John Paul Ii
"Heroes are rebels with a cause. Rebels because they challenge the traditional ways of thinking and refuse to follow the herd. They have a cause, a vision, that's larger than life." - Sharif Khan, author of Psychology of the Hero Soul
From a small-town Polish boy born to a retired army officer to become Pope; from a hard life in Nazi occupied Poland, his mother dead of kidney and heart failure, an older brother dead from scarlet fever, to become quite possibly "man of the century." How did such an unlikely candidate for the head of the Roman Catholic Church rise so quickly to such prominence? What leadership lessons can we learn from this global spiritual leader who so moved the world? Here is a brief timeline snap-shot of Karol Josef Wojtyla's exemplary leadership:
1958: Pope Pius XII names Wojtyla auxiliary bishop of Krakow.
By this time, Wojtyla was a professor of ethics and had two doctorate degrees; he had studied theology in clandestine during the oppressive Nazi occupation of Poland.
Leadership lesson: leaders are readers. Specialized knowledge is key to leadership along with general studies. While Wojtyla had two doctorates in his field, he also studied philosophy and literature and was also a playwright and a poet. If you were to take an hour-a-day reading up in your field and applying the knowledge, within a period of five years you would become an 'expert' within your field. People are hungering and thirsting for a leader with knowledge and experience.
In Wojtyla's case, he took the time to gain knowledge of the world, himself, and beyond. As a chaplain for university students in Krakow, he used to go on frequent camping and kayaking trips and offered counseling and mentorship to the students. On these excursions, he would usually take an hour or more to be alone by himself to reflect, read, and pray. These moments of solitude gave him a strong internal compass and knowledge of self required of all great leaders.
1978: Elected Pope John Paul II becoming the 264th pope and first non-Italian pope in 456 years; refuses formal papal coronation in favor of a simple inauguration ceremony and chooses not to use the royal plural "We" referring to himself plainly as "I".
Wojtyla was not impressed by the trappings of power and its symbols and made that clear from the day he was elected Pope. He had a very simple, plain, and honest way of communicating that endeared people to him. He exemplified the servant-leader role by embodying one of the titles of the Pope: Servus Servorum Dei (Servant of the Servants of God).
Leadership lesson: leaders are humble. We can learn from Wojtyla's example by not isolating ourselves in the corner office or ivory tower with each successive promotion, hiding behind closed doors and a sea of fancy titles, diplomas, awards, certificates, and press-clippings.
Like Wojtyla, we can make ourselves available to our people with open doors, seeking to understand and encouraging dialogue. Leadership by walking around and talking to people and listening to their needs earns respect and trust.
1979: Visits his homeland, Poland, for the first time as Pope and speaks to his people, inspiring Solidarity, the first independent labor movement in the Soviet bloc.
Risking his life against the totalitarian Communist Regime in Poland, Wojtyla returned to his homeland and did not speak in the typical, official 'visiting dignitary' tone. He spoke from his heart, from the gut, soul-to-soul - in their language. The people of Poland saw themselves reflected in him; he encouraged them to not crawl like animals but walk tall and 'be not afraid.' The crowd went wild and a flame of rebellion and counter-revolution was lit in the collective consciousness of the Polish people, sparking the Solidarity movement for independence and freedom that eventually toppled the Communist Regime.
Leadership lesson: leaders have heart. Intellect is not enough; both head and heart have to be married. If you want to win over people, risk letting down your guard and speak from the heart. The leader that speaks from the heart almost always wins over reason alone.
1983: Meets with assassin Ali Agca in prison.
Just two years after the assassination attempt on his life by gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, and several months of painful recovery, the Pope visited Agca in prison and offered forgiveness. (Much later, in 2000, the Italian government granted clemency to Agca, on the Pope's request).
Leadership lesson: leaders are willing to forgive. We are all fallible human beings that make mistakes. The mark of a true leader is his or her willingness to forgive. It's also a smart leadership strategy in the long-term. While there's no excuse to keep someone who consistently fails to learn from their mistakes, the boss that fires an employee for making a big mistake is often mistaken for doing so. After all, there's always the risk that the next person hired could potentially make the same disastrous mistake. But by offering forgiveness to the person that errs, that person is unlikely to repeat that same mistake, and will most likely remain fiercely loyal to you.
2000: Offers a day of apology for sins committed by members of the Catholic Church over the centuries; visits Israel and pays homage to the victims of the Holocaust.
Wojtyla was the first pope to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1979, and later in 2000, he visited Jerusalem's Yad Vashem in remembrance of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, praying for reconciliation between Christians and Jews and apologizing for the sin of anti-Semitism by Christians.
The day that former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, took full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco, was the day he became a leader. The day that Wojtyla apologized and took responsibility for the sins of anti-Semitism committed by Christians, was the day he became a truly respected global leader.
Leadership lesson: leaders take full responsibility for their organization. Blaming and complaining is the mark of a loser. We can make excuses or we can make progress - but we certainly can't do both. To be a leader, you must take full responsibility for your actions, your team, and ultimately the whole organization or cause you lead.
1982 - 2003: Receives PLO leader Arafat; Meets Gorbachev as first pope to meet with a Kremlin Chief; visits Cuba and meets with Castro; becomes first pope in history to enter a mosque.
Despite criticism from many corners on the controversial issues he supported, Wojtyla was not one to ever back down. He stood for what he believed in and had the courage of convictions. As a leader, he was tough but flexible. His flexibility allowed him to meet famous, and infamous, world leaders and address difficult issues that made him unpopular in certain circles. But he also had the inner toughness and steely resolve to break down walls and foster reconciliation. As Pope and head of the Roman Catholic Church he knew his role was to unify the Church while serving as an apostle of justice and peace. He stood his ground and never wavered, even if it meant alienation.
Leadership lesson: leaders stand for what they believe in. Leadership is not about winning a popularity contest. Stand up for what you believe in. Be strong and be firm. A divided mind is weak; a united mind, clear and singular in purpose, is powerful beyond measure.
Legacy: Rebel with a Cause
1920 - 2005: A legacy of leadership.
Pope John Paul II was a rebel with a cause. A champion of human worth and dignity, a freedom fighter, a torch bearer for social justice, he left a lasting legacy of leadership and moral example that the world can follow. Asked once, if he feared retaliation from government officials, he replied (according to biographer George Weigel), "I'm not afraid of them. They are afraid of me." Indeed, he relayed a message to the world that will echo through eternity: "Be not afraid!"
Preparing Yourself When You Speak In Public
Public speaking does not have to be difficult. Here are some tips to help you prepare for public speaking.
You don't need to be perfect in succeeding in speaking in public.
You do not need to be too witty and brilliant to be successful when you speak in public. Public speaking is not all about that. It may look like it is, but in actuality, it is not. You can be the average guy you are.
What is important in speaking in public is that you give your listeners something that is worth their time. If people leave after your speech with something that is of value, they would think of you as a successful speaker. They would consider your speech as something that was worth their time.
Deliver your main points
You may want to put in as many facts and information as you can. But only emphasize three or four main points. You could even talk about one main point if you want.
You should remember that what your listeners want from you is that you give them two or three key main points that they can understand and would make a lot of difference to them. If you are able to structure the talks that you have, lots of complexity will be removed.
Inject some humor but still practice humility
While there are many other public speaking styles, humility and humor are some of the devices that you could use to make your speech livelier and entertaining to your listeners.
Just make sure that you are comfortable being humorous and that the humor is appropriate for the occasion. If you do not feel comfortable giving jokes, then you might as well not use jokes which might fall flat on your nose. Or if you are speaking before a crowd of Americans of Asian descent, do not tell jokes about Chinese food or Oriental customs.
Humility in public speaking means standing before the others and sharing with them your own mistakes, your human frailties, and weaknesses. If you show to other people that you are not afraid or ashamed admitting such things, you create a relaxed and intimate environment that will permit them to open up to you too.
Being humble in public also makes you more believable, more credible, and more respected, with your listeners relating to you easier. You are no longer the remote expert who is ahead of them, but is one of them.
The Pygmalion Effect
A team does as well as you and the team think they can.
This idea is known as "the self-fulfilling prophecy". When you believe the team will perform well, in some strange, magical way they do. And similarly, when you believe they won't perform well, they don't.
There is enough experimental data to suggest that the self-fulfilling prophecy is true. One unusual experiment in 1911 concerned a very clever horse called Hans. This horse had the reputation for being able to add, multiply, subtract, and divide by tapping out the answer with its hooves. The extraordinary thing was that it could do this without its trainer being present. It only needed someone to put the questions.
On investigation, it was found that when the questioner knew the answer, he or she transmitted various very subtle body language clues to Hans such as the raising of an eyebrow or the dilation of the nostrils. Hans simply picked up on these clues and continued tapping until he arrived at the required answer. The questioner expected a response and Hans obliged.
In similar vein, an experiment was carried out at a British school into the performance of a new intake of pupils. At the start of the year, the pupils were each given a rating, ranging from "excellent prospect" to "unlikely to do well". These were totally arbitrary ratings and did not reflect how well the pupils had previously performed. Nevertheless, these ratings were given to the teachers. At the end of the year, the experimenters compared the pupils' performance with the ratings. Despite their real abilities, there was an astonishingly high correlation between performance and ratings. It seems that people perform as well as we expect them to.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is also known as the Pygmalion Effect. This comes from a story by Ovid about Pygmalion, a sculptor and prince of Cyprus, who created an ivory statue of his ideal woman. The result which he called Galatea was so beautiful that he immediately fell in love with it. He begged the goddess Aphrodite to breath life into the statue and make her his own. Aphrodite granted Pygmalion his wish, the statue came to life and the couple married and lived happily ever after.
The story was also the basis of George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion", later turned into the musical "My Fair Lady". In Shaw's play, Professor Henry Higgins claims he can take a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and turn her into a duchess. But, as Eliza herself points out to Higgins' friend Pickering, it isn't what she learns or does that determines whether she will become a duchess, but how she's treated.
"You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady, and always will."
The implication of the Pygmalion effect for leaders and managers is massive. It means that the performance of your team depends less on them than it does on you. The performance you get from people is no more or less than what you expect: which means you must always expect the best. As Goethe said, "Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be."
A Leader Should Be Willing To Take Responsibilities
Who would forget the ever-famous line of Peter Parker's grandfather, "With great power comes great responsibility." The society expects Spiderman, a comic book, TV, and movie superhero, to be responsible for saving his town, or even the world, in some instances, from evil because he has super powers.
From all the episodes he appeared in, he never let us down. With the power he possesses, he makes sure to be responsible in using it for the good of the people around him.
Leadership is not at all different from being superheroes. Yes, you may not have super powers like Superman and Spiderman, but you have the authority to lead other people towards success. This is so much greater and stronger since it is a power that can be used by real people in this real world.
Hence, being a leader requires great sense of responsibility, the second quality a successful leader should attain.
The power to lead your people towards aiming your vision comes with responsibilities like making sure they are on the right direction, being aware of each and everyone's tasks and mistakes, and putting them back on the right track when they get lost.
Who said it is easy to be a leader? Well, it is not...It comes with tons of responsibilities. True leaders are willing to accept them all.
There are instances where sometimes it makes us feel better to blame somebody or something else when something goes wrong in a task. However, this should not be practiced, especially by a good leader!
A leader should take full responsibility of a task - not just before he accepts to take it, but also after it has been accomplished. As much as he is responsible for his team's success, he should also be responsible for any failure. He represents the whole team so whatever happens to it, he is the one responsible.
Making excuses and blaming something or someone else for failed jobs is not a quality of a good leader. What he should do, instead, is to accept the fact that something went wrong with the organization, even if it is not his fault. It is normal to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes are opportunities to learn something better. As a leader, he must ensure that the team members learn from these mistakes and that these errors will not be repeated next time.
You may not have full control over other people and are not expected to have full control over their actions, but you have full control of your own reactions. Knowing what to do over unexpected and unpredictable situations will make you responsible, hence giving you the feeling of power.
Presentation Skills That Persuade And Motivate
Almost everyone feels a bit nervous about delivering a presentation before a group. Some people would rather undergo a root canal than experience the anxiety of giving a speech.
Follow some basic guidelines for preparation and delivery, and you can transform your nervousness into positive energy that achieves the results you desire.
The secrets to successful presentations are simple, based on common sense. Many people, however, fail to employ them.
Step One: Purpose
What's the purpose of your presentation? There are many reasons to make a speech or announcement, and you need to clearly define your goal. Do you have to deliver bad news to your department? Do you require a decision from your superiors on a problematic business situation? Do you have a solution and want to convince people? Are you trying to sell a solution or product?
Most presenters try to persuade their audience to buy into specific ideas. They must sufficiently inspire and motivate listeners to take action or give the green light to act on suggested solutions.
You need to lead your audience through the decision-making process so members can go through it with you. Unless they believe they "own" the decision, they won't act upon it.
It's critical to avoid spelling everything out for them. Let them "see" what the problems are and which decisions are needed. They will then be happy to engage in finding solutions and enthusiastic about acting on them.
Step Two: Know Your Audience
Your audience is not merely composed of the people you'll face when you deliver your speech. It also includes those who may be influenced or affected by your proposal. Before you think about what to say, you must determine who your audience is and what they'll need from you to buy into your argument.
Make sure you're selling the benefits of your solution
Paddles Portages And Pings On Leadership
After 3 long days of a very intensive workshop in Toronto, a group of us decided to go canoeing for a day, up in Barre, Ontario (an hour north of Toronto) on the Nottawasaga River. It was a warm day, the water was warm, and no one else was on this pristine flat-water river winding through a protected swamp.
We had idyllic moments out of time, we had mishaps and laughs, and we had the slogs of carrying canoes and gear (called a portage) around logjams in the river more than a few times, as well the insufferable companionship of mosquitoes.
Why am I sharing this with you? I want to share some of the pings of the day, and the pings were all about leadership and the dynamics of leadership. It was reassuring and inspiring to see leadership arise from a number of different people in the group adding strength and depth all around.
Great leaders are always working on themselves. In this case, the leaders never stopped paddling. They led by example. In spite of the mosquitoes, they stayed focused on the objective of the day, 19 km through utter wilderness.
Exemplary leaders don't push or manage a lot. They problem solve, then inspire and motivate the team. You can be a strong leader without being impolite. When a canoe capsized, a leader didn't wait for the organizer to suggest it, a leader just handed people life jackets and said "Put it on", because it was the right thing to do. Another leader figured out how to recover, right and empty the canoe.
Leadership means learning to be bold without being a bully. To build your influence, you've got to walk the talk in front of your group, team, or clients. You've got to tackle the first problem, seize the moment and make quick decisions. In our case, it was a leader choosing the portages.
Leadership also means learning to develop humor - but without folly. It's OK to be witty but not silly, to have fun and be funny without being foolish. A leader's response to the first person getting dunked in the river was to put a positive spin on the slight mishap - just like we all do for a baby learning to walk or a child learning to ride a bicycle. This leadership skill was brought out in many of our leaders later on the trip when we kept sinking into the mud, or shoes got stuck in the mud. One leader unabashedly sang old songs on the portages as a distraction from mosquitoes feasting on us.
Leaders are good at dealing with reality. They accept life as it is. This is not fatalism or the opposite of optimism. It's practicality. It's a constructive approach to the truth. On the river, when the mosquitoes and logjams got to us all late in the day, there was a dramatic switch in group dynamics. Leaders recognized what had to be done, picked up the pace and just did it without discussion, negotiation or complaining.
In the end, I think we had more fun and the adventure was more memorable because of the challenges that brought out the strengths in each of us. As leaders, we want to inspire the people around us to bring out their strengths too. So what adventure will you organize to inspire the people around you?
How To Master Your Material For An Oral Presentation
One of the techniques that great public speakers have is knowing their material.
You cannot be a master mechanic and give a speech on "How to Grill the Perfect Steak".
It is very important for a speaker to have a mastery of the topic that he will present so that his audience will be properly informed.
After all, you want to be known as a reliable speaker so it is really vital for you to have a mastery of your topic.
Below are 3 easy steps on how you can master you material when you need to address the public or make an oral presentation:
1. Make an outline.
Do not go to a battle unprepared.
When you need to give a speech, make sure that you have all the necessary equipments to deliver an informative presentation.
First, gather all the materials that you can about the topic.
Second, sift through all the written material that you have and pick out the useful bits and pieces of information.
Read the articles which you have picked out from the lot. Do not memorize, though, because this might cause you to be confused if you forget a particular part of your speech.
Be as spontaneous as possible, yet knowledgeable enough about the topic. This is so that you can answer any question to come up through the discussion with enough confidence.
The lesser you know about the topic, the more your anxiety will increase.
2. Review the outcome of the actual speech.
Now that you more or less have your actual speech prepared, you need to review your presentation.
Scrutinize the outline and make sure that you have all the important points covered.
For example, if you are giving a speech on "Hybrid Technology", you might have discussed the definition of the term but missed out on stating examples of the products of hybrid technology.
Give ample attention to detail because there might be someone in your audience who knows about your topic and point out the things that you failed to discuss.
3. Rehearse and master your final material.
Before you are given a topic to present, you are first informed of the time that the presentation should run.
It is vital to rehearse your speech and determine exactly how long it will run.
If you only have twenty minutes to present but you have material enough for a thirty minute speech, you can still trim it down.
Finally, by "hearing yourself" rehearse the speech, you would have a preview of how your actual presentation would run and make the necessary improvements, thus coming up with the perfect oral presentation.
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