Use Your Senses Well

By Lindy Earl

There is a lot of foolishness in this world.  Some people seem to avoid it better than others. How?  Some people are better tuned into using their sense and senses.

I don’t think any of us is especially lacking, but I do think we all have better moments, and better days.  I have certainly said something, and even as the words were leaving my mouth, I thought to myself, “Why am I saying this,” or “I know that didn’t come out right.”

So when we do use our senses, we need to use them carefully. First, we need to be careful of what we say as well as how we say it.  Mom was right – it’s not just what you say but how you say it. 

Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to point out something, or if the moment has passed.  If someone is lost, they know it.  Your sharing the idea that they should have checked the address before leaving doesn’t help anyone – it doesn’t even make you feel better after you say it.

Choose your words carefully.  The difference can be minor but important.  Sales reps know to use the word Agreement instead of Contract.

Use your mouth to mind your manners.  Say please and thank you and excuse me and I’m sorry.

Use your eyes.  You don’t need to state the obvious, if others can see as well. Focus on what you are seeing – is the person in front of you upset and putting up a brave front? Maybe you need to ask if they need to speak privately.

We know the line – we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.  Don’t just listen, but listen to hear.  What is the person really saying?  Is there angst or energy in the message? Really listen for the underlying message.

Recently I was in a 3-way conversation, and one gent was asking the other very specific information.  I very directly said, “He’s wondering if the person you’re discussing could be a client for him.”  The first gent laughed and agreed that, in fact, that was what he was trying to learn.  The second gent laughed as he hadn’t realized the point of the questions and provided the answer.  I was hearing the man’s overall question while the other gent was hearing individual questions.

Touch is good.  Put your hand out at the beginning and ending of conversations to say a physical hello and good-bye.  It communicates that you are invested in the conversation.  Touching someone’s arm may be a good gesture, but of course we all need to be careful of overstepping bounds with this sense.

There is not much to say about smell, except to be aware if you like cologne.  Whenever I speak on manners or interviewing, I mention the importance of aroma. Invariably I am approached afterwards to be told by an HR manager or CEO that they have refused candidates because of too much cologne.  That’s a sad way to lose a job considering how easily it can be corrected.

Start paying attention to what you say, hear, see, and smell.  Be careful to use touch correctly.  There is a plethora of information out there, and some people are better at using their sense to retrieve it, thus they are one step ahead of the game. You can be that person with a little attention and effort.

Lindy is a Consultant and Speaker and can be reached at