Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lesson. 6: How to Leverage Encouragers

Law of the Universe #5 is “Ignore human nature at your peril.”
Necessary, Effective, Invisible
Encouragers are simple small words needed during a conversation/negotiation to lubricate the flow of information. They are a great mercenary and missionary skill. They work and they are good for the relationship. They are one of those small effort skills that leverage larger results. People like to be encouraged. Remember Law of the Universe #2: “You are 6x more likely to make a deal with someone you like.”
Encouragers are words typically “uh-huh, yeah, ok, m-hmm, go-on, and really?” They let your counterpart know you are there and listening.  They encourage people to continue talking, especially through extended thought.
If you are in their presence or they can see you, physical gestures are effective as well, especially head nods. Interestingly enough, the head nod is one of the most appreciated physical gestures you can give someone.
Encouragers are a necessary and critical conversation/negotiation skill.  Misuse of them is easy and they can become counterproductive. They are often referred to as minimal encouragers because effort to use them amounts to minimal effort.  
Some communication methodologies refer to these as “amplifiers” because of their effectiveness in getting people to amplify their thoughts.  That concept alone should help you appreciate how effective they can be when properly used.
Use, don’t abuse them
It is very easy (and frequently done) to keep someone talking without actually listening at all when using this skill.   It is in fact very easy to let your mind wander while using encouragers.  As always, focus is required to effectively communicate. (This is a good time to listen to tone.)
It is also very easy to use encouragers to keep someone talking, giving them the impression you agree when you don’t agree at all.   The uses of “ok” and “sure” as encouragers are examples.  You have to be especially cautious of using these encouragers when you know you’re not in agreement.  Doing this sets a trap that your counterpart will resent you for walking them into.
“Ok” is particularly problematic and the user of it often has great expectations of the listener to interpret their tone. Please think back to Lesson #2 and look at tone of voice from another perspective.
Example of an effective use of encouragers:
Counterpart:  My boss is killing me with these new requests.
You:  Really?
Counterpart:  We have a new contract and he’s scared we’re going to mess it up.
You:  Uh huh
Counterpart:  I think he’s worried about his end of year bonus. He’s constantly coming into my office to check on the status of things.  I can’t get anything done with him interrupting me all the time.  It’s driving me nuts!
You:  Go-on
Counterpart:  So, yesterday…
Use encouragers! They are effective and helpful. Please remember, they are only effective when used in support of other skills.

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