Executive coaching, skills development, training and consulting in high stakes communication

This was a fun interview with Ian Tucker of the Observer Magazine in London

To some people communication is all about talking posh and loud. They’re mistaken. You have to communicate, like it or not, and whether you feel good at it or not. It will determine what you create for yourself in life. So why not make sure you do feel good about it?

The most common problem I encounter is the gap between how someone sees themselves and how others see them. I call this the perception gap. A lot of my work boils down to narrowing that gap so people can start making things happen, cleaning up relationships. It begins with the individual’s willingness to hear it.

Women, don’t expose too much flesh in meetings. Very short skirts, lots of cleavage and exposed bellies all bring about a heterosexual male response that doesn’t amount to listening.

If you’re happy, tell your face.

Every day we give out unspoken messages to other people. A forensic anthropologist friend of mine used to be employed to observe jurors in major trials – watch their reactions to see who was convinced on different issues. Then the lawyers would adjust their evidence and emphasis – her legal team was very successful.

I can charge £500 an hour. Or I could take an equity stake in a start-up company, or a success fee.  It is pretty cheap for what I deliver.

In common with most people who have a knack for something, my talent has a very long tail. It’s taken me a long time to recognise it as a gift. And it takes a lot of refinement. It’s a huge romantic idea that anything you’re good at is easy, that it’s always a pleasure. It’s not always easy – it takes a lot of work.

Our kids are learning bad habits. There’s always been a tendency, particularly in Britain, to teach them to write, not speak. Nowadays this is compounded by texting and other communication technology- we are making it more difficult to engage. We are sacrificing the rich stuff that happens between two people – when I see you blush because of something I’ve said, or the pain in your eyes over something I’ve done.

In business, we may have digital this or that, but we still rely on doing a deal with someone we’ve looked in the eye. And if we don’t, we feel that the wheels start to come off the deal.

You can be happy or miserable, you have a choice.

Telemarketing calls should be banned. It’s awful for me and for the person on the other end of the phone.

As a kid I moved around a lot, growing up in a divorced family, a latchkey kid – it meant assessing situations very quickly, very often. And I think it sharpened an awareness of the space I was in, and that I had to do as well as possible in that space, very quickly. I think that helps explain why I’m good at what I do.

Everyone has something interesting about them, so find it. It beats talking about the weather.

I don’t use my skill to get upgrades on planes. But it does happen, if only because I was the happiest face the check-in person has seen on a day when everyone else is shouting at them.

There isn’t a personality type more prone to success. I’ve seen shy, analytical people do extremely well – I think people find their strength and go with it. It’s just that the extrovert ones make more noise about it.

Cultural differences impact on communication. In Japan, reduce eye contact. With the French you have to spend hours eating dinner before a deal. Americans are more upfront, but what you see isn’t what you get.

I’ve been told I intimidate men. But I’m not tall and striking, and I don’t bite, unless you want me to.

Are the good deals done in AA or men’s urinals? Depends what deals you’re talking about. A lot of companies spend millions of dollars on corporate team-building events, but they can’t sell a thing. They have people who can relate on the golf course, but not in the office, I’m about changing that.

Don’t wait for things to happen. Waiting is like sitting in a car stuck on one spot with the wheels spinning. You think something is happening, but it isn’t.

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Comments ( 2 )

  • Guide Guy says:

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  • juliet says:

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