How to Gain Knowledge and Obtain Power in Business
By Victoria Ring
Knowledge is not intelligence. Knowledge is something you obtain after repeatedly performing a skill or being trained in a skill. Knowledge has nothing to do with intelligence. You can have an IQ of 212 but you would never have the knowledge about everything there is to know.
But how do you obtain knowledge? Do you read books? Do you watch videos and attend seminars? Do you enroll in training courses? Do you communicate with people who have the knowledge you wish to obtain? The answer is YES to all four questions. But the problem is, many people don't know how to listen, read and communicate in order to obtain the knowledge provided to them.
Here are some tips to help you increase your knowledge:
1. Pay close attention to the answer a person gives after you ask them a question. Although this sounds simple to do, the problem occurs when the listener does not listen. Instead, they are contemplating what they are going to say next, or even concentrating on unrelated matters. It takes a little effort to truly listen to what people are saying and putting all your own thoughts out of your mind for a moment so you can learn from them.
2. Maintain eye contact with the speaker. This is a good exercise to get into a habit of doing because it will help you to become less distracted or keep your thoughts from wondering.
3. Avoid the human tendency to jump to conclusions about what is said before the speaker has finished. Instead, you should listen closely even if you think you know what the person is going to say. Think of yourself as a news reporter with unbiased views and gathering as much information as possible so you can write a detailed report later. Once you have fully understood and absorbed what the speaker is saying, you can form your own opinions at that time. But forming an opinion while the speaker is talking does not allow you to absorb knowledge.
4. Make sure you understand the entire concept before offering any advice or suggestions to others. Sometimes people are so eager to show their enthusiasm that they offer suggestions without realizing the speaker would prefer that they listen rather than give advice. This is not to say that suggestions and solutions are not important. Of course they are, if they are offered at the appropriate time.
5. Stop everything you are doing and give the speaker your undivided attention. It is nearly impossible to concentrate on what someone is saying if you are doing something else. You may be able to take in the gist of what it being said, but you will never absorb all the details. Details are the meat and potatoes of knowledge and should never be missed.
1. When you read a paragraph make sure you can repeat the meaning of that paragraph before you read any further. It is natural for your mind to wander as you are reading a training manual or other reading material. But you need to train yourself to read and understand every paragraph before you move on to the next. This does not mean that you will gain all the knowledge from that paragraph – just that you understand what the writer is saying.
2. Read with an open, unbiased mind until you fully understand what the writer is conveying. You are trying to obtain knowledge that you currently do not have. If you allow your own biased opinions to clutter up your mind while you are trying to obtain that knowledge, you will get little benefit from the knowledge the writer is giving to you.
3. Always read a book with a yellow highlight marker in your hand. Use it to highlight sentences, paragraphs and sections that stick out as important to you. This way, you can go back through the book and immediately find all the highlighted areas during your second review.
1. Organize your thoughts before making the call. No one appreciates a telephone call from a person who takes forever to get to the point. Garbled requests for information can only have one result – failure. You need to organize your thoughts before making the telephone call so you can get right to the point and resolve the issue. If necessary, write down a list of the questions you need to ask or what information you need to obtain; then refer to it when you make the telephone call.
2. Do not put a caller on hold for longer than 1 minute. If you discover you cannot answer the question or solve the problem during the time the caller is on hold, offer to call them back as soon as you have an answer. Then remember to call them back. Most people will wait for you to call them back if you promised to do so. If you still are unable to get the information to help them within 1 hour after promising to call them back, call them anyway and explain that it will take longer than expected. Then, give the caller an expected wait time for you to get the information or solve the problem.
3. Take notes during the telephone call. When someone calls you, train yourself to write down the name of the person and any other notes pertinent to the conversation. This way, you can refer to the person by name during the rest of the conversation and record important information you will use when you hang up the phone.
4. End the telephone call appropriately. Normally the person who calls should be the one who ends the call. But if the caller continues to talk forever and you need the call to end, be professional. Wait for a pause and say something like: "I am sorry to interrupt but I have another appointment. Perhaps we can talk later but thank you again for calling."
5. Return all your calls promptly. A hectic and demanding schedule is no excuse for failing to return a telephone call. Have you ever tried to reach someone repeatedly by telephone, only to have them call you back several days later and tell you they had been so busy they could not call you back? If so, you can imagine how a customer or client will feel when you do the same to them.
Business Email Communications
1. Use the subject line of an email message to inform. The importance of an email is often determined by the subject line. Keep the subject line brief and specific. Make sure it relates to the subject matter of your email. If not, the receiver might accidentally delete it or mistake your email as spam or an unsolicited advertisement.
2. Treat emails like business letters. It is better to be more formal than casual in business email communications. You want to make a good impression.
3. Include a signature line. Nothing is more annoying than receiving an email from someone you want to contact but they provide no name, title, company, telephone number or website information. Do not rely on people being able to reply to your email as their only means to contact you. Often, email can bounce (due to internet glitches) through no fault of your own and your email is never received.
4. Never shout at people by using uppercase letters. Typing in uppercase letters is considered CYBER SHOUTING. As an alternative use asterisks to emphasize words, such as: Please contact us "no later" than Friday.
5. Skip the fancy decorations. Vivid colors, flashing symbols of bouncing smiley faces (better known as emotions) should never be used in business communications. These types of effects should only be reserved for personal email, not business email.
6. Keep your email very brief. Writing long emails about how you emotionally feel about a situation does not get your email read. But do not be too brief either. Provide the business with all the pertinent facts so they have enough information to look up your records and resolve the issue the first time. However, if your email is longer than 2 paragraphs, pick up the phone and call the company to resolve the issue.
7. Remember that no email is private. Every email you send passes through 1,000s of servers before it is delivered to the recipient. Additionally, every email you send is likely to be achieved on 1,000s of computers who make it a point to back up their customer's email data. If you are angry and exhibit irrational behavior in an email, chances are it will come back to haunt you one day.
8. Avoid mood mail. Email messages that convey strong emotions can be easily misunderstood. Never send an email when you are angry. Take time to cool down, count to 100, then go back and re-read your email and edit it before clicking the Send button.
9. Proof every email before sending it to a business. It pays to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation before clicking the Send button. Getting in a hurry does nothing but cost you more time in the long run.
10. Respect the privacy of others. When you send an email that you also want sent to other people, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) function instead of the CC (carbon copy) function. This way, when the person receives your email, there will not be a long list of other email addresses at the top; and they don't have to scroll down through the list to get to the email message.
11. Be very cautious when you use the "Reply All" button on your email program. If you receive an email that was sent to a multitude of people, hitting the "Reply All" button will send your reply to everyone. Unless you want this to happen, do not use this feature.
12. Do not be a pest. If you do not receive a response within 24 hours after sending an email, either send a different email explaining why you are following up or pick up the phone and call the company.
13. Never send an attachment unless you have permission to do so. Most email servers today will automatically strip attachments because they can be considered spam. Unless the company has specifically requested that you send an attachment, never send one.
14. Think twice before sending jokes, chain letters or funny messages. Just because you may think something is funny or cute does not mean the person receiving it will feel the same way. In fact, they may even find them insulting. Do not risk your reputation.
15. When posting a response to a message board, remember that your email is forever edged in stone. Many people forget that when they post a message to a message board, that message is archived forever. The main website that archives every web site that has ever been in existence is The Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/
I sincerely hope that you have read this entire article and will use it to improve your communication and listening skills. When you do, you will find that your knowledge will increase and you will become a better asset for the attorneys and business associates you communicate with on a daily basis.
About the Author
Victoria Ring is the author of 6 books, a variety of training videos, DVDs and online exams relating to the training and education of attorneys, paralegals and virtual assistants working in the debtor bankruptcy field. Contact the author at http://www.713training.com
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