A Key To Being A Good Communicator
The Vice President of HR was a short woman, standing 160 cm tall, and did not strike me as an authoritative figure. First appearances can be deceiving. I was soon captivated by her charm and grace. It was not just what she was saying, but how well we were getting along. I felt like I was talking to an old friend. I soon realized that I was doing most of the talking and she was controlling the meeting by asking great questions and responding thoughtfully. What made this woman such a good communicator? She was a great listener.
A good listener always performs well in an interview. This may sound basic, however, I see many candidates become so focused on giving the correct interview answers that they miss the question. Then the candidate begins to recite a prepared answer that has nothing to do with the question. They appear to listen, but they do not hear.
Often during an interview we are so focused on our response, we forget to clearly pay attention to the question. In preparing for an interview, it is best to breathe deeply and clear the mind. When the mind is void of clutter, a clear head enables us to relax and correctly respond to the question being asked.
There is no greater compliment we can pay to someone than to truly listen to every word they say. We should not simply wait until they finish speaking. We must really listen and empathize with their viewpoints. Listening is not passive, it is active. A good listener must lean forward, keep good eye contact and respond with clarity and empathy.
As I have mentioned in a previous article on building rapport, people like people who are like themselves. Be observant of body language and take time to answer and ask for clarification when needed. Experts say 50% of communication is non-verbal. When a person connects with someone, they mimic their movements and become like them. This strategy is not a trick or manipulative ploy, but rather a sign of respect. We naturally imitate the body language of others we are “in tune” with. The next time you are at a restaurant or bar, watch people who are sitting in a similar fashion. They are clearly “in tune” with each other (For more information, read “The Definitive Book of Body Language,” Alan Pease). We can accelerate the personal “tuning” process with another person by sitting like them, using similar words, and finding common interests. Similarly, those with a very different set of movements and sitting positions are likely to miss each other’s points all together. As I previously mentioned, copying the movements and characteristics of the person you are talking to is not a gimmick or a trick, but a sincere way of connecting and showing interest in the other person.
Many times I have found myself impatiently waiting for another person to stop talking so I could share a story about my favorite subject – me. We must all remember that the person we are conversing with may also enjoy talking about themselves and their business. Given that a candidate’s main objective is to secure the position, it is beneficial to talk about the interviewer’s interests and needs, and to focus on their company. This advice can be summed up by saying: Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Tuning up for an interview:
- Listen with 100% of your effort. Remember that listening is active.
- Be patient in your responses. Ask for clarification if you do not understand the question.
- Watch your body language, be open.
- Talk about what interests the person you are talking to, focus on their products and company.