#860 Hey Vin! I'm talking to you!!
What I write about in my blog, what I teach about in my seminars, and what I talk about in my keynotes has one common theme; learning to communicate better will significantly improve every area of your life.
I remember when my good friend Vinny told me a story about his, then, three-year-old son Vincent. The boy was telling his dad a story and dad's attention was diverted for a moment, and he was looking past his son at something. Young Vincent grabbed his dad's face with his little hands and turned it back toward himself saying, "Hey Vin! I'm talking to you!"
The laws of human interaction go way back to caveman days, and not a lot has changed. We are hard-wired to read facial cues, body language, and tone of voice.
When you glance at your phone or your computer screen while I am speaking to you, I may not say "Hey Vin! I'm talking to you!" but rest assured I am every bit as hurt and pissed off as little Vincent was.
In NLP we call the exercise of listening well "Up Time," and there is no greater gift you can give someone than to be in up time when they're talking to you.
I know people have always relied on phatic expressions like, "How are you" and "What's up?" to acknowledge rather than to communicate but beyond that, the more significant inhibitor to a great conversation today is that the distractions coming at us seem to multiply weekly.
Here are some fundamentals to uptime that I promise can be life-changing if you focus on and employ them.
· Be body-centered, physically heart to heart when you converse with someone
· Maintain good eye contact
· Paraphrase to show understanding.
· Use frequent facial expressions, eyebrow pops, smiles and looks of concern
· Employ nonverbal cues which show understanding such as nodding, light, appropriate, touching, and leaning forward.
· Use frequent verbal affirmations like "I see," "I know," "Sure," or "I understand." Or even just a grunt or an ummmm in the right place.
When you read this, it sounds ridicules doesn't it? Your mind is saying, "Of course I do those things in a conversation." But, you don't. Not all the time. There are dozens and dozens of reasons for this having to do with the way folks formulate sentences and their preferences for speech which is an entire seminar and far too much for a blog post so I will ask this. Be an observer in your own life. Watch what you do when someone is speaking with you and watch what others do when you're speaking with them. I bet you will find precious little "Up Time."
The good news is that if you focus on uptime, you will be "The belle of the ball" at every party and throughout your life, the world will open up to you like a flower to the sun.