This week’s newsletter theme and ?podcast is on LISTENING.
I can’t wait to introduce you to our guest expert – author, consultant, and legal veteran Norman Bacal. But before we get to the podcast, two listening-related learnings for us:
- How to remember people’s names
- Tips for successful (or less painful) small talk
Let’s do this!
How to Remember People’s Names
Following last week’s email newsletter on INTRODUCTIONS, a few of you emailed me to ask for suggestions on how to remember people’s names. (Thank you for the topic suggestion!!!)
I hate it when I can’t recall someone’s name, don’t you? For me, it seems to happen when I am tired or nervous.
(That’s me when my mind is BLANK! Just smile and nod…)
According to the research I did for the LISTENING podcast, we are wired to focus on ourselves. Our favourite topic is anything to do with “me,” and our favourite word is OUR OWN NAME!
So the #1 most important thing to do when you are meeting someone is to… LISTEN to THEIR name. It sounds so simple, but it’s not easy, is it? Here are three suggestions for how to make someone’s name stick in your brain:
- Repeat the person’s name at least three times. (This is an oldie but a goodie!) Try this: “Nice to meet you SAM. So SAM, how was your flight from New York?…” Then later: “So nice to get to know you, SAM…” Apparently if you say the name aloud three times, then it’s yours forever.
- Ask the person to spell their name. Because I am a visual person, this one helps me immensely. When you hear how the person’s name is spelled, you can visualize their name in your mind and you will also hear them saying and spelling it. It’s like a multi-media onslaught.
- If you’re at a conference with name tags or a dinner with place-setting cards, read the person’s name and try to take a mental picture.
What happens when you’re stuck chatting with someone and you simply cannot remember their name? ? Three suggestions:
- Introduce a third person! Say, “Oh this is Andrea. She’s a podcaster. Have you two met?” And then they will both say their names. (Bam!)
- Ask for their business card! I’m amazed at how many people still carry business cards these days. (Yes, I have one too!) If you ask someone and they don’t have a card, they’ll often connect with you on LinkedIn immediately, and then you can get their name that way.
- Apologize, but don’t over-do the apology! Just say, “Sorry I forgot your name?” and then say their name and carry on the conversation: “Right! SAM! Ok, so as I was saying,…” Don’t make it a big deal.
I hope that helps!
Any other suggestions?
Two Tips for SMALL TALK
In preparation for my interview with Norman Bacal, I read his book called BREAKDOWN, which covers the rise and fall of the law firm that he built, Heenan Blaikie. This is an amazing read, by the way, chronicling Norman’s career path, his learnings, and the firm’s ascent and dramatic descent.In BREAKDOWN, Norman mentioned a few times that he hates small talk. This surprised me, since Norman is not at all socially awkward, and he is a fantastic listener.
So I asked Norman point-blank: what is up with this apparent contradiction, and how do you manage small talk?
Norman shares with us two secrets (that his wife advised!) about how to flourish in small talk:
- Pretend you’re conducting an interview. Ask the other person questions and keep them talking.
- Pretend this is your party and you’re the host. Ask the other person questions that will put them at ease, just as you would if you were the host.
? The LISTENING Podcast
A few months ago, I was sharing my list of top-prioritized future topics for Talk About Talk with a friend. LISTENING was at the top of the list. My friend said, “I know the guy! It’s Norm Bacal!” And here we are.
Norman Bacal is a 35 year legal veteran who mentored two generations of young lawyers and built a major law firm from the ground up, into one of the top firms in Canada. In 2017 he abandoned it all, and quickly learned the art of writing. Norman published a best-selling non-fiction book called Breakdown, which tells the story of the rise and fall of the law firm Heenan Blaikie.
I have to say, Norman may be a great listener, but he also has an amazing VOICE, (you will see what I mean!), not to mention valuable advice. I can’t wait for you to hear him! Amongst other things you will learn in this podcast – 8 Strategies for Active Listening:
- Be OTHER-focused – Focus on the other person, not on yourself.
- Focus on LEARNING – not on teaching or advising or sharing.
- FOCUS! – Avoid distractions and put away your phone (Unless, as Norman reminds us, it’s your wife, whom you’re going home to!)
- ABSORB – what the other person is telling you, as opposed to solving or resolving. (Norman is the king of listening and encouraging people to solve their own problems. )
- Tracking the RATIO – of you talking versus the other person talking. Keep the ratio small.
- SIGNAL that you’re listening – Use your body language. Look them in the eye. Nod your head.
- NEVER INTERRUPT! – Norman calls it “interrupting syndrome.” People frequently pretend they are listening, but they’re really just waiting for their turn, for when they can jump in to make their point.
- Ask QUESTIONS – when you do talk, ask questions. Norman’s question that he asks clients? “What keeps you up at night?”
GUESS WHAT?? In a few weeks, Norman will be back, sharing more sage communication advice with us, This time on TELLING YOUR STORY. Stay tuned!
Have a great week!
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach
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