Helping More

Painting of a couple


The Benefits of Sharpening Interpersonal Intelligence

By: Ellen Berk, LCSW, BCD

John has spent the past ten years learning the ins and outs of selling dog food. He has done an excellent job outselling his competitors. Recently, he has felt his progress level off. His sales have been flat. In the past ten years, John has also learned to play the "games," grease the "right" hands with tickets to various sports events, and say what he thinks will close the deal, not always what he thinks might really help his clients. These were important skills to learn as he developed his base of loyal clients, but they only have taken John to this point. Some of the "bull" that goes along with the business is beginning to bother John; he is wondering what he might need to know to jump to the next level of success.

Reflect First, Then Develop a Knack for Giving Genuine Feedback

John reviewed his list of clients and everything he thought he knew about them. He realized that he knew only his client's hobbies and business practices. He knew little about what made them tick, what motivated them, and what was important to each of them. He has shared very little about himself. John was trying to figure out when to trust his instincts and ask or give feedback about personal issues that are mentioned in the middle of meetings. John noted that at least half of his clients would be open to giving and gaining genuine feedback from each other. John realized that instead of going along with the client's point of view all the time, that the group he highlighted would like his genuine feedback and creative ideas. This group of clients was motivated by the relationship he developed with them as well as what the product offered.

Fine Tuning Your Interpersonal Intelligence

How sharp is your interpersonal intelligence?

__ I pay attention my client's moods and adjust my presentation to include personal talk time.

__ I am comfortable having some sensitivity to my client's bad moods.

__ I pay attention to my own mood state before entering a meeting.

__ I notice when there is discordance between what is said and the unspoken message.

__ I know when to address the unspoken message rather than the spoken message.

__ I can momentarily step outside of myself and observe the mood of the group and each member.

__ I know when to collaborate, share helpful information, and ease up on competitive tactics.

__ I know when I have stretched the truth.

The next ten years of success will come from developing wisdom, courage, and creativity. Wisdom comes from looking beneath the surface of the situation and carefully weighing all the input. Integrate the facts and figures with impressions from unspoken communications. Wisdom is cultivated over time with conscious effort by looking inward then back out and noticing what needs to change about you. Wisdom comes from seeking understanding rather than obsessing about being understood. Always pay attention to the discrepancies between what is said and the nonverbal messages. Look for the information that is left out. Courage is developed by swinging out and jumping into relatively unknown territory with sights on a positive outcome. Approach a person or problem in a new way.

Take this check list and practice developing your interpersonal skills with family members before trying them with clients. Success will come from your newly gained wisdom. You will know when to be "tongue and cheek" and when to use a more genuine and personal approach.

To find out more about your own communication style, Assess Your Communication Style.

Also check out the list of Recommended Reading.

Other Resources
About the Author
Contact Ellen

The Benefits of Sharpening Interpersonal Intelligence
Boundaries and the Dance of Intimacy
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