Communication Skills Part

Dr. Purushothaman
December 9, 2013

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own.

- Henry Ford

The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition. Owen D. Young, a noted lawyer and one of America's great business leaders, once said: "People who can put themselves in the place of other people who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them."

If out of reading this site you get just one thing - an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people's point of view, and see things from their angle - if you get that one thing out of this site, it may easily prove to be one of the building blocks of your career.

Looking at the other person's point of view and arousing in him an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that he will do something that is only for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.

If you can empathize with others, you can more easily know how to satisfy their needs and to understand their “want.”

Emotional Intelligence is said to be the greatest indicator of understanding and influencing other people. With that is the ability to empathize. To show empathy is to identify with another's feelings. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another. The ability to empathize is directly dependent on your ability to feel your own feelings and identify them. If you have never felt a certain feeling, it will be hard for you to understand how another person is feeling. This holds equally true for pleasure and pain. If, for example, you have never put your hand in a flame, you will not know the pain of fire.

If you have not experienced sexual passion, you will not understand its power. Similarly, if you have never felt rebellious or defiant, you will not understand those feelings. Reading about a feeling and intellectually knowing about it is very different than actually experiencing it for yourself.

Among those with an equal level of innate emotional intelligence, the person who has actually experienced the widest range and variety of feelings -- the great depths of depression and the heights of fulfillment, for example, -- is the one who is most able to empathize with the greatest number of people from all walks of life. On the other hand, when we say that someone "can't relate" to other people, it is likely because they haven't experienced, acknowledged or accepted many feelings of their own.

Once you have felt discriminated against, for example, it is much easier to relate with someone else who has been discriminated against. Our innate emotional intelligence gives us the ability to quickly recall those instances and form associations when we encounter discrimination again. We then can use the "reliving" of those emotions to guide our thinking and actions. This is one of the ways nature slowly evolves towards a higher level of survival. In other words, over time, awareness of our own feelings may lead us to treat others in a similar way.

Next, we need to become aware of what they are actually feeling -- to acknowledge, identify, and accept their feelings. That is one reason it is important to work on your own emotional awareness and sensitivity-- in other words, to be "in touch with" your feelings.

Daniel Goleman, a pioneer of the concept of emotional intelligence, defines it as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well, in ourselves and in our relationships."

This is a critical skill in selling, along with the particular competences of optimism and recovering from setback. The salesperson who knows the product inside out will not succeed without the additional ability to forge strong relationships, win trust, assess how the client is feeling, and cope with their own feelings, including disappointment.

Answer the following questions with 'Yes' or 'No'.

Are you aware of the subtleties of your own feelings?
Do you usually know what other people are feeling, even if they don't say so?
Does your awareness of what others are going through give you feelings of compassion for them?
Can you carry on doing the things you want to do under distressing circumstances, so they don't control your life?
When you're angry, can you still make your needs known in a way that resolves rather than exacerbates the situation?
Can you hang on to long-term goals, and avoid being too impulsive?
Do you keep trying to achieve what you want, even when it seems impossible and it's tempting to give up?
Can you use your feelings to help you to reach decisions in your life?

In 1848, a young man called Phineas Gage was in an explosives accident that resulted in him having an iron bolt in his head. Astonishingly, this had little effect on his logic, but ruined his ability to do any job at all. He could no longer relate to people. The bolt had destroyed his emotional intelligence.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that high emotional intelligence helps to make sales. If you get along well with customers, they are more likely to buy. There is sound research evidence, as well. As just one example, L'Oreal, the huge cosmetics company, changed its recruitment policy to allow for the emotional competencies of the applicants. The result was a dramatic increase in sales and reduction in turnover. Another example comes from Hay/McBer Research and Innovation Group.

They compared a group of insurance salespeople who were weak in emotional intelligence with another group who were strong in at least five out of eight competences. Using the cold hard measure of value of sales, the group with better soft skills performed twice as well. 

Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness. The more the person's self-image concurs with the impression that other people get, the better that person will be able to communicate. This also involves an awareness of how the other person is reacting. The same demeanor might be regarded as aloof or respectful, friendly or over-familiar, witty or flippant, depending on that person's views and expectations. The emotionally intelligent person can perceive this and adapt accordingly.

Empathy is another competency that is fundamental. Understanding how the client feels and what is important to them gives vital information. Does this person want the product at all? If not, it is better to look elsewhere. If they do, do they want this particular brand? What could be done to make it more attractive? The sales person who starts at customer needs, then looks for ways to accommodate those needs, is more likely to sell than one who starts with the product and attempts to mould the customer to fit. 

Empathy is also a factor in building relationships of trust quickly. This is particularly important in sales as it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate between products in a particular sector for any length of time. This means that the quality of the relationship with the salesperson can make the difference.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

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