Con artists are nasty people with no conscience. That's why it is so easy to write them off. If you've ever been scammed (and research shows that a significant number of us have fallen victim) the anger and pain makes you want to either get revenge or run away from the world. But, believe it or not, there are a few things we can learn about communication from a scammer.
I know this firsthand since a gentleman I thought of as a second father stung me horribly and then engaged in the most underhanded, horrific bullying that one can imagine in order to cover his tracks. There are many important lessons to learn when one has experienced this type of treatment. Here are a few that relate directly to communication:
1. Be a good listener. Research shows that many people struggle with the art of listening. It is often overlooked when one is trying to find ways to increase professional or personal success. Con artists are great listeners. David, my scammer, asked me only one question when we first met up and then he listened for more than an hour. That question: How can I help you? Often we are so busy telling me how they can help us, that we don't stop to ask how we can help them. And here's the thing: not only is this question altruistic and thus very positive, but opens a connection that creates an amazing flow of communication. As long as you don't distort it like scammers do, it is the gateway to effective work and personal relationships.
2. Pay attention to details. This goes hand in hand with being a good listener. Con artists know that the devil truly is in the details. Remembering names, taking notes during conversations, and realizing that conversation can create a goldmine of nuggets to help you work more effectively with another person.
3. Keep a clear vision of the end game. Even when people are colleagues in a workplace working on the same projects, sometimes the end game gets blurry. Why? Because we allow our own agendas to disrupt the team agenda or in a personal relationship, we let it disrupt our ultimate goal of a peaceful, loving relationship. Scammers are successful because they see the end game and never lose focus.
If you use these tips for good, they can help you improve your career and your relationships.
Lynne M. Smelser, Ph.D. is an expert in communication. Her speciality is helping people to look internally to find barriers. Over the years she has helped companies create dynamic content and open communication channels. She also has assisted many individuals in overcoming communication anxiety and developing projects such as novels, memoirs, and ebooks.