July 1999 Web Brief
Learning to be Successful

Quote of the month: "Whether you think you can or think you canít, you are right" Henry Ford

A Guide to People Skills
Source: Communication Briefings ideas that work

Whether youíre a manager or an employee, youíll find much practical interpersonal communication advice in The Complete Guide to People Skills, by Sue Bishop. Examples:

  • Tell whomever is speaking to you what you want to hear by stressing certain words you use to reply to their comments. Example: A speaker says "I see advantages and disadvantages." In a questioning tone, you say "Advantages and disadvantages?" If you stress "advantages", youíre telling the speaker you want to hear more about benefits. Stressing "disadvantages" means just the opposite. Stressing "and" signals you want to hear about both.
  • Soften "why" questions with a prefacing phrase. Example: Instead of saying, "Why do you think it will fail?" say something such as, "Thatís interesting. Why do you think it will fail?"
  • Use voice inflection to question generalizations that speakers usually preface with flag words such as "never," always" and every." For example, a speaker says "Beth always turns her reports in late." repeat the flag word to the speaker with a rising inflection: "Always?"
  • Learn to question "fat" words such as "good," which has many meanings in different contexts, by asking "Good in what way, specifically?" Also question "canít." When people say they "canít" do something, ask them what would happen if they did do it. By doing so, you may help them see things more clearly in a positive rather than a negative way.
  • Find out if youíre dealing with a "past," "present" or "future" person when selling your ideas. "Past" people are influenced by any interaction theyíve had with you, so remind them of the good points of your relationship. "Present" people treat every transaction as new and judge it on its merit. So you must make your case as though itís the first time youíve ever met, even if it isnít. Be ready to answer lots of "What will happen if?..." questions from "future" people. They thrive on forecasts and planned improvements and will want to know how your proposal will affect things positively in the long run.

Source: The Complete Guide to People Skills, Sue Bishop, Gower Publishing Ltd., Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, England