Friday, August 17, 2012

TIBBS Summer Series Session 2: Communication and Professionalism

By Dana Walsh

Part 1: Business Communication

Keynote Speaker: Mary Bennett, MBA, Leadership Consulting

Biography: Mary Bennett is a leadership consultant specializing in communications planning and training, strategic planning, strategic human resources, leadership development, media and investor relations, executive coaching, facilitation, conflict management, and organizational redesign. She has worked in large and small organizations primarily in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology fields. Mary is certified in Neurolinguistic Programming and Crucial Conversations, and has significant experience guiding companies through the human resource and organizational development challenges of large mergers and acquisitions. She has a BA in Behavioral Science from National Louis University and an MBA from Duke University.
Mary gave an interactive presentation on effective communication. Following are key points from her talk, which was titled “Connection: The Art of Communication”:

Connecting with the person to whom you are speaking is a crucial component of effective communication. We naturally know how to connect with others and understanding how we do this allows us to improve our communication skills. There are three important traits that can be developed to help make you better make connections: (1) Chemistry and rapport; (2) confidence and poise; and (3) credibility and integrity.  These traits will be discussed in detail below.

1. Chemistry & Rapport

You can establish chemistry and rapport with another person by being aware of your use of body language, vocal inflection, and words. Your communication style (A), impact (B), and awareness (C) influence the connection you make with him or her.

A. Communication Styles:
There are three types of communication style. Most people have a dominant style even though they may use aspects of all three. The following chart outlines the three styles and how you can determine the dominant style of the person you are speaking with based on verbal and body language cues.

Communication Style
Idea Forms
Ideas are images; learns best from pictures and graphics
Ideas are sounds or stories; learns well from verbal instructions and manuals
Ideas are feelings; learns by doing
Word Use
Image words: “I see”
Sound words: “Sounds good,” “I hear you”
Action words: “I get it”
Eye Movement
Up or staring into space
Side to side

Being aware of these styles can help you improve communication with others. Knowing his or her style will guide you in how to present your ideas so that he or she effectively understands them.

B. Communication Impact:
The following pie chart details the importance of words, body movement, and voice in communicating with others. Your voice and body movement convey more meaning than the words you say.

Mary Bennett, 2012

C. Communication Awareness:
We naturally match others’ body language and voice in order to get in sync with the person with whom we are communicating. Being aware of these can help you increase the effectiveness of your communication.

Body Language Component
Eye Contact
What to Pay Attention To
Pitch, speed, accent
Relaxed or rigid, leaning towards the person or away
Eye movement
How to Increase Communication Effectiveness
Match pace and volume
Match posture
Match duration of eye contact

Also be aware of cultural differences in body language. In the United States, we value personal space; however, people in other countries may be comfortable getting closer to you. Acceptable eye contact may also differ; in Western countries, people may be uncomfortable if eye contact is not made, whereas in other cultures it is polite to rest the eyes on the other person’s body.

2. Confidence & Poise

There are three useful components (A-C) of confidence and poise when communicating:

A. Know Your Stuff
·         Be able to tell your story in “one contact, one page, and one touch."
    • Come up with a concise way to describe yourself and your work that someone meeting you for   the  first time will remember easily (“one contact”)
    • Develop an elevator speech; know what you want to say and how you want to deliver it
    • Having this prepared will help you focus on the other person and improve your connection with them

·         Write and memorize your key messages
    • Find the answers to things you are afraid people will ask
    • Use the media test: make sure your 3 – 4 messages are things you would like quoted if the media contacted you
    • Remember that how you deliver your message is more important than the words you say

·         Respond to challenges with curiosity 
    • Your first response to a challenge may be fight-or-flight, but you can be curious instead
    • Be curious about what you are being challenged about and ask questions to understand your challenger
    • This will help you learn about, understand, and connect to your challenger

B. Practice Everything
·         Find a role model and/or mentor that you respect and admire; emulate them and seek their advice.
·         Practice content and connection
    • Practice connecting with strangers by striking up a conversation with people you meet in passing
    • Practice matching their body language and voice. Use your dominant style as a form of practice (e.g., for visual communicators: visualize the room, visualize how you will look, sound, and feel, visualize that you will behave and act in a confident manner; for auditory communicators, practice out loud; for kinesthetic communicators, act it out and find people with whom to practice)

C. Seek Feedback
·         Have at least two people read any of your written materials for content, flow, accuracy, and impact
·         Actively seek feedback and thank the giver
·         Don’t make excuses or defend yourself; thanking the person doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with them, but it will make it more likely that this person will give you honest feedback in the future

3. Credibility & Integrity

The following points will help you establish credibility and integrity in your communication skills:
·        Use your matching and rapport building skills when communicating but also be genuine and authentic
·        Be willing to admit when you don’t know something
·        Speak positively or neutrally of other people; never speak negatively
·        Be honest about what you can and can’t deliver; if you are willing to speak honestly about information  that is negative, people will be more likely to trust your positive information
·        Trust your internal moral compass and do what feels right

For more resources on effective communication, Mary Bennett suggests the website Way of the Mind as well as the book NLP at Work by Sue Knight. Online searches using “Neurolinguistic Programming” as key words will also help you find useful sources.

Part II: Communication Workshop

Keynote Speaker: Cathy Innes, Director, UNC Office of Technology Development

Biography: Cathy Innes received her BS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley. With several years of practical experience in manufacturing management and industrial engineering, she turned her focus on contract management and marketing before moving into the area of technology transfer. Cathy came to the Office of Technology Development at UNC-Chapel Hill to take on the role of Director with 14 years of experience in all facets of university technology transfer. In addition to her academic and experiential credentials, Cathy has been active in professional organizations related to university technology transfer, including the Association of University Technology Managers (Board of Trustees, 2003-2005), the Licensing Executives Society, Council for Governmental Relations, and the National Council of University Research Administrators. She is a frequent speaker at technology transfer conferences and seminars worldwide.

Summary: Cathy’s talk focused on the practicalities of communication in her career in technology transfer. She also gave some useful advice on refining your resume and cover letter and on preparing for interviews.

As the director of the Office of Technology Development, Cathy works at the interface of the academic and business worlds. These have two very different cultures and different ways to convey ideas. She helps researchers take their ideas and translate them into commercial opportunities. She listed some common pitfalls she encounters in speaking with these scientists:
  • Many bright scientists are good at writing about all the details of their project; however, in order to market their idea to businesses, they need to know how to convey its importance and why a company should care about it
  • The scientist should be able to take his or her idea and translate it to the business world: does it solve a problem? Does it make a process better, cheaper, or faster?
  • He or she should also be able to find a way to engage companies; the key is to make the connection quickly and then get into the science
  • In academia, there is time to discuss the intricate details; however, in industry, you need to get to the main point quickly by breaking down the concepts and thinking about what you really want your listener to take away about your research

If you were to come to Cathy seeking a job, she would be looking for the following:
  • Your skill set
  • Your educational background
  • A multifaceted job experience allowing you to interact with scientists and business people
  • Strong communication skills; since Cathy’s job is to talk about and understand why science matters, it is important to know what questions will get you the necessary information and understand why a business should care about a researcher’s work
  • An elevator pitch; use this to hone in on skills you have that are important in industry
  • Flexibility; Cathy spends her day switching gears between business and science in meetings, writing emails, giving presentations
  • Why business excites you; a lot of people like that business gets you closer to the product getting to the public and that you get to see results from your ideas
  • The ability to talk to people comfortably and easily
  • The ability to take a direct approach that is specific about the idea rather than the science; this helps non-science people understand it

Cathy’s tips for resumes and cover letters:
  • Conduct informational interviews with people who have the job you want; ask them what the position is like, what a day in their life is like, what skills are important for them, and how you might develop those skills
  • As a scientist, you may be making a career transition into the technology development field; you may not have direct experience but the skills you do have can translate to the field; be sure to stress what you’ve done, how it is relevant to the job, and why it is important to the person hiring you
  • Put yourself in the role of the employer; explain why you are valuable and how you can solve their problem
  • Your publications and research are less important here; emphasize your business skills and relevant experience, such as your communication skills and lab management experience
  • Make the content of your resume and interview fit your purpose
  • Keep in mind that the purpose of the resume is to get you an interview, so it doesn’t need to convey everything you’ve done; keep it to two pages
  • A CV is not appropriate in this field; busy technology development professionals will not have time to wade through 40+ pages, so narrow it down to what’s most important and relevant
  • A cover letter gives you the flexibility to highlight your key message and emphasize why the company should hire you; however, brevity and accuracy are important here
  • Network, network, network! Meeting people at events may help you build connections to find the job you want

Tips for the interview:
  • Do your homework on the job; know what they’re looking for, what you bring, and how you are the best fit
  • Step away from your academic experience and focus on your transferrable skills, like communicating  effectively, managing subordinates, and thinking critically and analytically
  • Stress your ability to comfortably talk with people; ask questions and show your curiosity
  • The employer is trying to assess you and whether you will fit into their culture
  • Evaluate your skill set; industry may be very different from academia, but it is likely that you have developed many transferrable skills
About the author: Dana Walsh is a UNC graduate student in the toxicology curriculum working on the effects of pollution on human health.

No comments:

Post a Comment