The People Profiler Blog

The Mythbusters Guide to Interpersonal Communication

Even if you’re not a fan of the Mythbusters, you’ve probably heard of them. Unless you’re anti-Discovery Channel, you’ve likely seen these guys attempt to prove (or disprove) urban legends and modern-day tall tales.

Although the team has grown since the show’s humble beginnings in 2003, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are the primary Mythbusters.

And while I’ve always known they were kind of a mismatched pair, it wasn’t until recently that I noticed just how significantly different their behavior and communication styles are.

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The Zen of Decision Making

A few years back, I was mentoring Jen – a much younger friend of mine.

Just a year out of college, Jen had established her own business, consulting with individuals and small firms on personal productivity and office organizing.

Business was good, but not without some occasional bumps and bruises. As a result, we ended up having regularly scheduled conversations, with me as a sounding board. Even when I didn’t have direct expertise to offer, my overall business experience –  combined with being 15 years older  – usually provided some wisdom, insight, or input that was useful enough to get Jen unstuck and move forward.

Because Jen was naturally sociable, enthusiastic, and energizing when interacting with clients, she found herself getting job offers left and right.
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The Key to Not Screwing Up: Knowing What Not To Say

You may have already seen this “Insights from 5 Million Emails” infographic that Mashable published a few weeks ago. If not, take a look.

Baydin, the makers of email plugin Boomerang,  pulled data from five million emails and discovered some interesting tidbits:

  • on average, we spend over 2.5 hours a day on email
  • 80% of those messages are deleted in under 3.2 seconds

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Focus On Listening for Improved Communication

Yeah, yeah, listening is important.

You know that. I know that.

We figure we listen all the time. It’s habitual, like brushing our teeth.

But are we being the best listeners we can be? Or is there room for improvement?

When your goal is to connect – versus conflict – with the people in your life, being a good listener can get you there faster.
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Make Interactions With Difficult People Easier

They’re everywhere: difficult people.

Some days it seems like you can’t get away from them. Which is probably because you can’t. You work with them. So even though you don’t get along with them, you’re stuck.

But you know what I’ve noticed about many difficult people? They have friends. And sometimes even spouses. So clearly, some folks are able to get along with them.

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The Key to Better Communication: Consider Your Target Audience

Any good marketer will tell you this basic rule:

You are not your target audience.

Believing that our individual opinions apply to everyone is human nature. But it also hinders our ability to make educated decisions, causes us to overlook important facts, and encourages us to dismiss ideas prematurely.

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Understand Someone Better in 60 Seconds

Eight multiple-choice questions.

You’ve probably answered eight multiple-choice questions before. In school, on a customer survey, maybe even while reading Cosmo. It’s OK, you can admit it.

But you wouldn’t expect eight little questions to be particularly helpful. Powerful, even.

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Improve Your Communication: Speak Their Language

Once you’ve known someone for a while – a friend, a spouse, a co-worker – you learn their “language”. Basically, their preferred communication style.

You know that rushing your girlfriend to respond quickly during a discussion is a bad move. She needs time to think.

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Accelerate Faster In Your New Job

Just before the tech boom, I was interested in working for a particular company in San Diego. Fortunately, at the time, they were in a hiring frenzy. I shamelessly pursued employment there, submitting resumes every couple weeks, tapping my friends who worked there, even hiring a placement consultant to help me reach my goal.

I got the job.

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Quick Results For Improved Communication

Everyone wants quick results, right?

Ben Stiller illustrated our propensity for immediate gratification in the “7 Minute Abs” scene in Something About Mary. Classic.

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