Note: This resource is part of our Moving the Bar in Your Career and Your Life, a unique approach to professional development series: Effective Communication and Constructive Conflict. Click here to see the entire series.
After more than a few folks recommended this book to me, I placed my Amazon order. In this book, Wiskup defines the "It" factor as "the remarkable ability to instantly create honest and powerful connections, in every meeting and every social interaction, every day." Quite a lofty goal! Not simply charm or the ability to say the right thing, having the "it" factor is about building connections…and it will pay dividends for you at work and at home.
To help build these connections, Wiskup recommends developing an agenda for every conversation. Part of that agenda entails making the effort to describe why others should care about what it is you have to say. Often, we gloss over this and take it for granted…at our own detriment. Those with "it" explain the purpose of their words, the reason for their communication. It’s often not about being right, but about convincing others that you are worth listening to.
Wiskup includes many recommendations, such as being direct (but not abrupt), not rushing through your words and messages, and painting a picture with your words to help make your communications more poignant and descriptive. He also recommends dumping industry jargon, which often confuses and frustrates those not "in the know" and makes you look not like an expert "but an aspiring wannabe."
Wiskup details some common communication habits that really bug him as the killer Eight Deadly Sins:
1. Misuse of the word "Certainly". Don’t say "We certainly are glad to be here today."
2. Use of the phrase "I don’t see why not." This is neither direct nor strong, and will not assist in building strong relationships.
3. Use of "More than Happy" is more than creepy. Being happy is sufficient.
4. Saying "I am sorry" when you are not sorry.
5. Telling others you are being "honest." Such as: "Honestly…", "To tell you the truth…", and "Frankly…".
6. "I’m just saying…" means "I’m just criticizing you." Don’t be critical but pretend you’re not. Don’t posture: if you have a something critical to say, say it directly and professionally.
7. Repeat often, just never point out that you are repeating. "As I said before" insinuates that they weren’t listening. And maybe they weren’t, if you haven’t connected with them in a meaningful way.
8. "Basically" kills every sentence it touches. It’s a worthless word that diminishes the weight and value of whatever you say that follows it.
The sections on perfecting your elevator speech contain plenty of good and bad examples, focusing on four main steps:
1. Describing your business using non-jargon words
2. Focusing on how you serve your customers
3. Focusing on overcoming challenges that your clients are facing
4. Recounting a successful customer experience
To wrap up, Wiskup offers up the "It" Factor Five-Step Implementation Program:
1. Cleansing yourself of the communication sins
2. Mastering meetings and making them less dreadful and more fulfilling
3. Learning how to "wow" someone with your elevator speech
4. Making small-talk connections become second-nature
5. Delivering both a heartfelt compliment and a criticism in a natural, comfortable manner
For each of these five steps, he lists the goal, your assignment, recommended actions, and how to grade your progress.
So, are you worth listening to? If you are lacking in your ability to communicate well, connect with others, and build meaningful relationships, then I recommend working on the suggestions in this book. Do this and improve your chances of having "it."