Having the Right Effect on Other People

"People with small minds talk about other people. People with average minds talk about events. People with great minds talk about ideas" (Anonymous) And people with great hearts talk about feelings.

Dr. Phil has done it again -- come up with just the right descriptive phrase. On his show the other day, he confronted a young man saying: "Are you just an arrogant jerk who likes to get in someone else's face and bark?"

I was in need of this descriptive phrase because I was in an office the other day where one of the principals did just that -- he would get in someone else's face and bark. Every time. All day long. That was his only modus operandi.

It worked. But in what way?

I was reminded of this because my sister just e- mailed me that she'd had an awful day. She'd been trying to fix a defective keyboard, she said, "while listening to my neighbor's dog bark every 3 1/2 minutes."

My own poor dog, as she became aged (and she lived 17 years) would become confused easily, and if frightened or upset, would bark every few seconds at regular intervals, until she became hoarse. She would do it at my house if left outside to what was to her "too long" (so of course we didn't), but when I had to leave her at the kennel when I took a trip, the kennel owner said she had done this for 24 hours (heart-breaking). However -- when she would do this, I responded. While compassionate for her condition (blind, nearly deaf, very old, and much beloved), it was one of the most irritating things I've had to endure, and I would do ANYTHING to stop it. The kennel lady felt the same way. She ended up taking my dog home with her.

Unfortunately, there are people who do the same thing only with words. It has the immediate effect of getting them what they want, but with EQ, we're always looking at the long-term situation, yes? Everyone threw this man what he wanted because they would do anything to get rid of him.

Their main goal was to avoid him at all costs. They skirted around him in the hall, turned and went the other way when they heard him coming, passed papers around rather than going into his office, left if he was headed their way, and even warned others, i.e., "boss alert."

Small wonder I found out he had been divorced 15 years.

He truly "barked" orders, and barked everything else. Is this effective leadership? Is this effective relating? Is this any way to "be"? No, it is not. He had some good ideas, but like my poor aging dog, everyone's main reaction was to get rid of the noise as fast as they could. He missed getting the information he needed because no one wanted to risk being around that noise.

One of the tips I read recently in a leadership article was "Never raise your voice." Certain tones of voice, and rhythms of speaking turn other people off, and if we're focusing on things that annoy us, what chance do the ideas of the other person have of finding a happy home with us?

At best, the other person will give 'lip service' to what you say, again, just to get you out of their face and to stop the barking. We do the mental equivalent of putting our hands over our ears.

Only when we relate to the feelings of another person do we connect, and only when we connect can we truly influence.

Our excitement about an idea, or about its usefulness to the well-being of another (compassion) is much more likely to effect another person and to influence their behavior than a strictly intellectual analysis of an idea, or the strident forcing of one's own opinions on others, or even of "giving orders".

Sadder still if we're in some position of power over the other and they 'must' listen to us, at least for a time.

This applies to parents, lovers, colleagues, bosses, managers, and any of us at any given time. Think of the last time you were "a captive audience" to the person next to you in the airplane.

Good EQ means having a clue about the feelings of the other person, and knowing the effect that you have them; and, I would add, etiquette and common decency demand that the more the person MUST listen to you, the more considerate you should be in the delivery and content of what you're saying.

Never come on any stronger than you have to. In other words,

don't send a cannon when a fly swatter would do. And don't annoy and bore others.

There are two types of people who do this -- those who don't care, and those who don't know they're doing it. EQ means knowing the effect you have on others. This involves watching the nonverbals that go on in an encounter. Noticing if the person you're talking to becomes uneasy (shifting position, losing eye contact, yawning), becomes bored (eyes rolling back in the head, fidgeting, yawning), angry (tense body posture, arms folded), or disgusted (lip curled, eyes squinting and/or averted). Notice that almost any nonverbal communicator can mean several different things, and sometimes can mean opposite things. For instance, a person who becomes agitated when being "questioned," can do so either because they're lying OR because they're a hyper-honest person who's afraid. Any given 'signal' depends upon the grouping and the context.

I cover this on one of the chapters in my ebook, "Nonverbal Communication - What You Say Isn't What Says It All" or to learn more get some coaching from a certified EQ coach. I have helped many clients become mindful in this important area.

And please, don't get in someone else's face and BARK!

If there is a little animal inside us (and there is), it responds the way all animals do - to tone of voice. Check out this site (http://www.dogtrainingbasics.com/commands.html ) and listen to the recordings of what 'works' for praise and for command. Women, they say, have trouble giving the "bad dog" tone, and men have trouble giving the "good dog" tone.

However, getting in someone's face and barking is not gender-specific. Both the intimidating growl and the finger-shaking school m'arm approach are to be avoided if you want others to listen to you, or, more importantly, want them to WANT to listen to you. We all have amazing powers for "tuning out." If you want people to listen to what you're going to say, make sure they're tuning IN, not OUT.