Category Archives: listening

Are You Making These Mistakes in Getting the Results You Want?

At times, we all need to get someone else to make a decision. Whether it’s about signing off on a project, buying our product or service, or making reservations for dinner, results depend on someone  making a decision.

The thing is, they will make the decision their way. They can’t do it any other way, and if they try, they will most likely be unhappy with the result.

Have you seen this to be the case? Have you, or someone close to you, said, “I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I shouldn’t have gone along just because I was talked into it.”

When we really want something for the other person, or need something from them, our good intentions can actually get in the way of how they NEED to make the decision.

Here are three common mistakes that block our effectiveness at helping others make good decisions.

Mistake #1: Putting our attention in the wrong place. When we are so attached to our own agenda, or really working on the best way to present our offer, or just nervous and worrying about how we are doing, our attention is on ourselves and not the other person. This not only keeps us from getting the information we need from them, it also unintentionally conveys that we are not really interested in them. Bad move for gaining trust.

Mistake #2: Being logical. Or, more specifically, using your own logic rather than the logic of the other person. Even if you listen carefully to what the other person wants, you are likely to organize the solution using your own logic rather than the sequence or emphasis that feels natural to them. If you offer services to others, the more you know about how they think and decide, the better service you can provide for them.

Mistake #3. Leading too soon or too much. People who are great at influencing have a wide range of behavioral flexibility. They can move quickly or they can be more deliberate to match the pace of their client. They don’t rush decisions. It’s a lot easier to avoid this mistake if you are avoiding mistakes 1 and 2 – so that you are listening and following the other person’s logic.

Correcting these mistakes shows the other person that you are being responsive to them. If you genuinely want to get decisions that are mutually beneficial, follow their logic and provide the information that they need to make a good decision for them.

Not only will you get better results in the short run, your relationships become stronger over the long run.

How to (Almost) Read Minds: Teleseminar replay

How valuable would it be to know how to tailor your communication so it makes the most sense to the other person? 
To be persuasive to them?


How to (Almost) Read Minds
with Lucy Freedman
Join me for a 45-minute tour of your sphere of influence. Learn how to tune in to what is important to your customers, co-workers, anyone you want to influence to get things done. 


Email syntaxoffice@syntx.com for the link to the replay.

How to Break the Communication Barrier

Is there someone with whom you have built up a barrier to communication?

Perhaps you reached an impasse years ago and still work with this person. Perhaps you know what you want to say and do not feel you can say it, or maybe you are not clear at all. For whatever reason, there’s a wall between you.

It’s hard to talk with him or her, and it’s different from the many work relationships where you and others get along fine.

If you would prefer that the wall weren’t there, here are some steps to take.

First, what are your assumptions? We commonly assume that the correct solutions are obvious, the other person’s position is unchangeable, that they are not rational, and that we have no responsibility for the breakdown.

Recognizing and questioning those assumptions can open the door for dialogue.

The next important step is to be careful NOT to jump in and give a good explanation of where you are coming from. Invite a conversation and then listen.

Listening through what the other person has to say may be difficult. Listen without interrupting, and with empathy.

If you find you are not able to listen through, take time to reflect. Maybe take out a piece of paper and write out your thoughts. Speak with a friend or communication coach to sort out what’s in the way and to build the skill of listening well.

If you can do this, there are few barriers to communication that will stand.

"That’s Not What I Meant!"

Impact – Not Intent – Is What Matters

Most of the time, we really don’t want to irritate or upset the people with whom we communicate. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings happen anyway, and we have our own personal syntax that shows up in how we respond to them.

In a conversation at O’Reilly Media’s Web 2.0 Summit last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke about how they are managing privacy and user control issues as Facebook becomes nearly ubiquitous. It provided an interesting angle on the impact of our communications on other people.

On Facebook or any electronic messaging system, you make judgments about who will want to receive what messages. The Web 2.0 Summit discussion focused on who gets to control ‘opting in.’

If your friend wants to send you something – or put you into a group where any group member can send you something – the friend is gauging what you want to receive.

This weekend I received about 20 messages in a language I don’t speak, because a friend included me in a group of mostly Croatian psychologists. It was a curiosity, not a nuisance, to me, illustrating the ripples we send across our global network. If it multiplied I would for sure be opting out!

On Facebook, we can opt out, often without letting the sender know. We may have to set controls in order to keep some sanity in our inboxes. Our friends may or may not know whether or how their messages are received.

At a personal level, when we are communicating face-to-face or voice-to-voice, we are gauging our listener’s interests and state of mind as we express ourselves. People may opt out and we can probably tell when they do!

Whatever our intention, sometimes others will respond in an unexpected and possibly unhappy way. It’s part of being
human that we can’t always gauge how our listener will take something.

A big differentiator of mature communicators is being accountable not just for your intention, but for the impact on the other person.

A friend confided in me about a breakdown in a new dating relationship. When the guy insisted she had confirmed a date that was only tentative in her mind, she checked with a third party who heard the conversation to ensure that she remembered it correctly. Even though she was right, he hadn’t heard it that way.

Surely, if he consistently hears something she hasn’t said, she may want to opt out altogether. In the short term, what is important is the impact, not her intention.

Being right in this case would just continue a dispute that is probably unnecessary. Right and wrong are pretty much irrelevant in misunderstandings. What’s relevant is to clear it up going forward, not going backward.

As you spend time with people you know well this week, you may want to be especially aware of your impact. If you hear yourself beginning to defend your intention, “That’s not what I meant,” consider reframing and putting your attention on what the other person received. That is what will determine how the communication proceeds from there.

To get the ball rolling, a gentle, “What did you hear me say?” (NOT accusatory, please) can tell you what the meaning of your communication was for the other person.

For good communication, it’s impact, not intention, that matters.