Is your career stalling? Are you missing your success targets? If you answered, "Yes," or even, "Maybe..."
this could be the key you're missing.
In part one of this series, I demonstrated why Relevance is the first of the three simple keys to advancing your career and achieving your business goals.
“To position yourself as the most promotable employee, the preferred job applicant or the “obvious best choice” professional, you must first attract the attention of the folks responsible for promoting you, hiring you, or contracting your services.”
Now let's look at the second simple key.
This 4-part communication skill set includes:
- Asking questions (probing)
- Listening to answers (hearing)
- Processing the information you uncover
- Using what you’ve learned (applying) to
position yourself as the preferred applicant
or the most suitable—and desirable—independent professional or consultant.
Key # 2: Polish & Apply Your Communication Skills
To master this second key, you must gather missing information by asking questions. Listen carefully to the answers. Doing so will give you insight into what’s important to the people responsible for promoting or hiring you. Don’t assume you know! That’s a BIG mistake.
People who are afraid to ask, or are too lazy to make the effort to do so, end up making a bad impression. Why? Because assumptions cause conflict, upset and misunderstandings. The old adage, “Don’t assume. It makes an ASS of U and ME,” is not only a play on words - it’s all too often true!
Here’s a simple example.
Sophie and Laura work in the same department at a national bank. One day, as they returned
from lunch, they nearly collided with a co-worker, Joanne, who was walking toward her office, half hidden behind a huge bouquet of roses. Sophie turned to Laura, her eyes shining. “They’re
so beautiful,” she said, sounding all choked up. “I just love roses!”
Laura remembered this scene a few weeks later when Sophie’s birthday rolled around. She got the florist’s details from Joanne, and, after convincing the rest of the team to chip in, ordered Sophie a duplicate bouquet.
When the flowers were delivered, Laura watched for Sophie’s reaction in happy anticipation. But to her dismay, Sophie was not delighted. She wasn’t even pleased. At first she looked shocked, then upset. “You take them!” She begged Laura, who had rushed into her office to find out what was wrong. “I have a terrible allergy to roses." Sophie said. “Didn’t you notice my eyes watering when we walked past Joanne’s bouquet last week?” Laura was stunned. “But you said you love them!” She exclaimed. “That’s true,” said Sophie. “But my allergic reaction is so intense, I have to admire them from a distance.”
Don’t assume that you understand how someone else thinks.
Find out by asking questions and listening carefully to their answers. Get them to spell out what they need, what they want, and what they value. Let them tell you what they expect to gain as a result of getting their needs met and their wants fulfilled. And if their responses are ambiguous in any way, don’t fill in the blanks yourself. Ask them to clarify.
This might sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, asking clarifying questions is much simpler than navigating the factually snarled, emotionally sticky web of misinformation we create when we stack up a series of false assumptions.
And yet... surprisingly few people choose to ask the questions that will help them understand others' perspectives. It is surprising because investing in a few simple questions delivers such a huge return.
Use your 4-part communication skill set in your job search, or when selling your professional services, and you’ll be able to pinpoint what your hiring manager, boss or prospective client truly wants and needs.
Once you have that information, simply apply what you’ve learned to position your skills, experience and expertise as a perfect fit for their wants, needs and objectives.
Because their numbers are so small, those few who master this second key get a distinct advantage. As top applicants and preferred professionals, they have few apples-to-apples competitors. This makes it easy for them to stand out in the crowd and get chosen.
So if you truly want to get ahead, ditch your assumptions and start asking questions!
Check out Part 3 of this series, which uncovers the third simple key to quickly attracting the attention and building the trust you need to advance your career and achieve your business success targets.
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