156: How to Be Listener Directed – Featured Interview with guest expert Jay Sullivan

Jay Sullivan, Author and Managing Partner of Exec|Comm

Jay Sullivan talks with Bill Ringle about listening, connection, what it means to be an effective communicator.

>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.

Interview Insights

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:

  • What it means to have Executive Presence
  • How to address large audiences in a way that connects with each audience member
  • What factors raise or lower your standing on the scale of effectiveness
  • How to communicate in a way that’s listener directed.
  • How to diffuse situations of anger in the workplace.

Read the Show Notes from this Episode

  • 1:26 “People automatically think we’re going to teach them how to talk better and share information, and in fact we spend most of our time teaching them how to listen.”
  • 1:38 Sullivan recounts his experiences working in a convent in Jamaica, and the leadership examples he saw put in place there.
  • 3:20 [Working with Covenant] – “Again I had to listen really carefully to what their concerns were.”
  • 3:51 “I had to explain concepts to them in a way that they could grasp the idea, the basics of the idea, and understand what to do in terms of next steps.”
  • 4:37 “I didn’t make assumptions. You couldn’t. You couldn’t assume any background knowledge. You couldn’t assume any background problem solving skills.
  • 6:19 [On addressing large groups vs. being one on one] – “The challenge there tends to be that if you’re in front of a very large group, chances are you’re not having a conversation. You can create the illusion of a conversation, but chances are you’re just talking at the audience.”
  • 6:47 “People who are less comfortable asking questions, being open to whoever they’re talking to might change course, might change the agenda, might end up trying to control the conversation, very often those people have a larger challenge with smaller groups.”
  • 7:05 “But even when you’re speaking to a group, you shouldn’t be talking to everybody in the room, you talk to one person at a time.”
  • 7:59 [On his ideal ExecComm client] – “I don’t think of it terms of my ideal client. I think of it in terms of, who can I be helpful to?
  • 9:09 The scale of effectiveness, and how ExecComm helps its clients go from good to great.
  • 10:36 Why recording a person’s speech patterns and behaviors can help them overcome small issues with communication and presentation.
  • 11:35 “People tend to think that the value of the videotaping is the physical, watching the physical stuff, but it also gives you an undeniable recording of what was said.”
  • 12:15 “When you’re talking to someone you can talk about one of three things: 1 – you can talk about yourself, 2 – you can talk about your content, or 3 – you can talk to the audience about the audience.”
  • 12:36 “Nobody cares about your content either. They only care about how your content affects them.”
  • 13:02 “If they simply get away from that language of what I want, and instead use language such as, what I thought would be helpful to you today.”
  • 14:37 The impetus for writing the book, Simply Said
  • 15:20 “You’re more effective as a communicator when you’re less focused on yourself.”
  • 17:27 “And that’s the thing you want people to do: build simple habits that make them more effective communicators.”
  • 18:58 “The most important thing about communicating effectively is to be true to who you are. You’ve got to be you.”
  • 19:48 “Nobody is paying you to be a comedian. They’re paying you to deliver a clear, coherent message.”
  • 20:04 “The thing about working on your communication skills is that you can bring the better part of who you are to the room.”
  • 21:00 “When someone is emotional in a professional setting, you have to acknowledge the emotion that’s being expressed, otherwise it becomes this undercurrent.”
  • 21:38 The problems that arise when anger is acknowledged in the workplace
  • 22:14 “So with anger you simply reframe the anger as concern.”
  • 23:48 “Giving feedback is a touchy subject for a lot of people because they don’t feel entitled to give the feedback.”
  • 24:02 “Your job is to grow the future talent of your organization.”
  • 24:25 How emotions get in the way of feedback.
  • 25:14 “When feedback is done entirely by looking backwards, it’s not helpful.”
  • 25:46 What it means to have a performance review and goal setting meeting
  • 27:31 “People need to take ownership of their own professional development.”
  • 28:23 Why it’s essential for you to carry yourself the way that you want to be perceived.

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Expert Bio

A writer for Forbes.com, Jay brings relevant and timely advice on enhancing one’s communication skills to the business community.

Whether working with groups or in one-on-one coaching arrangements Jay helps professionals have a greater impact by teaching them to focus on the needs of their audiences. Jay works closely with the learning and development professionals at many global law firms and financial services firms to customize communication skills solutions.

Jay joined Exec|Comm after nine years as a practicing attorney. He received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1989. That year, Jay was named among the first class of Skadden Fellows by the Skadden Foundation. As a Skadden Fellow, Jay acted as in-house legal counsel at Covenant House, a crisis shelter for runaway and homeless teenagers. Following his Fellowship, Jay spent seven years practicing insurance law on behalf of Lloyds of London.

After graduating from Boston College in 1984, Jay spent two years in the Jesuit International Volunteer Corps, teaching English. His book about that experience, Raising Gentle Men: Lives at the Orphanage Edge, was named the 2014 Best Book by a Small Publisher by the Catholic Press Association. Jay was a featured columnist on communication skills for the New York Law Journal and has been published in Readers Digest, Catholic Digest, Parents Magazine, The Golfer, and The New York Times.

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Published by Jay Sullivan

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