Communicate with the Intent to Learn

How intentional are you with your communication? You may be one of those people who dread networking events or meeting new people but perhaps you need to change your mindset.  Engage in small talk with new people with the intention to learn something new.

Instead of focusing on what you are going to say, go into the conversation ready to gain new information and get in the mindset to ask questions. Learn about that person, what he does and what you could learn from him. Ask the person about his or her expertise or career. Listen to the answers, be intentional with your desire to learn something. What you hear might prompt other questions to discover even more.

This approach allows you to take the pressure of yourself to share something interesting or enlightening. You are demonstrating to the other person that you care about her and what she has to offer, the value she brings to the table.

When the person shares information that is new to you, respond is such a way that that person knows he has taught you something or how you might benefit from that information. I always like to ask questions that lead people into sharing a story or two that relates to what the information they are sharing. Everyone has a story to tell. Stories enable speakers to drive points home and the stories enable the listener to remember the lesson being taught.

Whenever I am interviewing people on the radio, I intentionally ask questions that prompt the guest to tell a story or share examples. I recently interviewed Jotham Stein, author of an award-winning book Negotiate Like a CEO and he shared a couple of stories as examples of how someone could benefit by learning how to negotiate like a CEO and what happens when someone doesn’t negotiate like a CEO, the negative effects of bad negotiations.  The stories solidified his points. I learned a great deal about the art of negotiating.

The next time you head out to an event where you will most likely meet someone new, be intentional about your communication and get in the mindset to learn something.

Vanessa Denha Garmo is the founder of Epiphany Communications & Coaching where she serves as a communications strategist, content creator and coach. She is a certified life and leadership coach as well as a certified Strengths Coach and a facilitator with the Achieving Balanced Well-Being program.

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