I'm an author and training consultant specialising in communication skills and creativity. I've been training and coaching since the early 1990s, and I've written about 20 books. (It depends what you call a book...) I train a whole range of skills, from persuasion and influencing to copywriting and technical report writing, presenting, speechwriting, meeting skills...
And then, I’m also interested in problem solving, creativity and innovation.
And you’ll find books on all of those subjects on my author page.
You can find more about me at my website: www.kairostraining.co.uk
And check out my blog here: http://bit.ly/1zgJBvo
It’s all about words. I was an actor for fifteen years before becoming a trainer. People think that acting is pretending to be someone else, but it’s not, really; acting is about finding that part of yourself that will express the person you’re playing - or the situation you’re playing. My two favourite playwrights are probably Shakespeare and Brecht – Bert Brecht, the great German playwright. Both of those geniuses saw the magic in action – in what happens between people, rather than inside them. That’s what I try to concentrate on. We’re social animals; we’re most fully ourselves when we’re in contact with others.
So I’m interested in behaviour, not character. I prefer to talk about preferred styles of communicating. I like that word ‘style’. Social styles, like styles of clothing, are things we can choose to adopt. (A bit like Edward de Bono’s thinking hats, which are great thinking tools for exactly the same reason.) We can choose to communicate differently. I see my job as helping people to make new choices.
Survey after survey tells us that employers are looking for three skills above all in the people they hire: the ability to communicate, the ability to think flexibly, and the ability to work in a team. I’m really interested in the relationship between communicating and thinking. We think when we want better results than we’d get without thinking, and management is getting results through other people, so managerial thinking must mean holding productive conversations. You know: a meeting is a group of people thinking together. Or should be. So without the ability to communicate, you’ll struggle. And many managers do struggle.
Why? Perhaps because many managers come to management with a one-sided view of communication. They think that success depends on how they talk: how they get their points across, how they instruct or inspire. And that is precisely half the job. It’s vitally important, but it’s 50%. The other 50% is listening, asking, enquiring, finding out what matters to the people they’re leading. It’s what Stephen Covey said: seek first to understand, then to be understood. Too many of us do the opposite. We seek to be understood first. It’s the wrong way around.
You know, I was working in Riyadh a few weeks ago, for a great German company. And I was talking to a customer account manager, a Saudi, who described his manager for fifteen years. He was a German engineer. And every day, he would ask his team the same question: “What do you think?” And that Saudi has tried to ask his team the same question, every day. Wonderful. I think those might be the most valuable four words any manager could use.