Communication and Influence – An Essential Transferable Skill (or is it skills?).

“The meaning of communication is the response you get” – Anthony Robbins.

Growing up in a rural community in Ireland, our farm would, very occasionally, be visited by sales people, selling a variety of products literally out of the back of a car. Items included household decorations, clothes and many more. As a small child I noticed that these people appeared to be very nice and to use very charming language. They presented the positives, were flattering to the adults, complementary and asked questions that appeared to show an interest in the family.

Of course, time moved on and I grew up and moved in a professional world where it became clear that there are a whole set of skills around communication, negotiation and influence. Whether one views these as separate entities, there can be little doubt that they are essential skills in business, politics, other professional environments and even life more generally.

One of the key elements of communication, negotiation and influence is taking the time to understand your audience and talk to what the audience will listen to (not necessarily the same as just saying what the audience want to hear. Classic examples in recent political outcomes are the successes of the Donald Trump campaign for US Presidency and the campaign for the UK to leave the EU. Were voters in the US swayed by Donald Trump’s credentials for the role or by what he said he would do for them? Did UK voters make their decision knowing what leaving the EU would mean or did they follow the promises that were made to them? In both instances there appears to have been the clever use of “big data”.

All too often when communicating we listen not to what the other person is saying but with a view to getting our next word in. For our everyday professional lives, a learning point seems to be: know the person we are communicating with. Know what their drivers are and what they will respond to, in terms of collaboration. Simples?

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Martin Coffey

About Martin Coffey

Career Management Skills Developer, Researcher Development Team.

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