This Fulcrum was written in response to a client’s request for a writeup of the content of a recent coaching session into the subject of self-leadership and communication. Offered here in case it may be useful to others.
Being a leader of people, your communication skills are one of your most precious assets. Your speech fits the occasion like a bespoke Italian suit… It’s fluid, flowing and compellingly interesting to listen to. It’s also well ordered and structured, well composed, versatile, laser-like in its pin-pint precision of nailing importances… and it’s rich with graphic analogies, little stories and anecdotes that help to bring the message across… forever stimulating good conversations and the birth of new ideas.
If any lesser, read on. Perhaps read on anyway
Tonality speaks to the semi-conscious
When you watch anything at all, the first brain registration is colour and only then form. When you listen to someone speaking, the first reaction is to the person’s tonality, followed by a reaction to the words and their meaning. The reason for this natural order of sensory perception is that speech is projected from the emotional energy structures, directed and modulated by the mind’s language articulation. The emotion’s speeds are vastly faster than the speeds of the thinking faculties, thus explaining the nature of influence of the emotions on a person’s processes.
It’s like a resonating tuning-fork
Tonality is like a resonating tuning-fork that when struck, activates an identical, still tuning-fork nearby (if unfamiliar with this phenomenon, ask a musician). Tonality is also like a finger-print at the level of human emotions and the emotions are a bar, from the higher to the lower emotions. From fine to coarse. What does a high-pitched tonality cause in your system? What does a low pitch tonality cause? How well do you know yourself and your system..?
So tonality can and does, in an instant, instil any kind of known feeling – from cold terror to suspicion to intuitive interest to instant elevation. It’s all about location, location, location – of the transmitter and the position of the receiver.
The lower emotions have a gluey, arresting nature. The higher emotions have a light (both meanings), liberating nature. This is why when you hear the sounds of anger, dominance or aggression – openly present or sugar-coated – unless able to stay impartial, it will slow down your thinking and muddle your reactions.
Just like a magnet, the higher emotions and their magnificent range of fine tonalities attract; the lower emotions and their range of coarse/unappealing tonalities, repel. If you are a constructive sales person, this has got to be your bread and butter awareness.
Developing outcome design awareness and skill-sets
When you communicate in highly charged situations, when it’s really important for you that the one you are communicating with walks away with an unambiguous clarity coupled with a positive impression, awareness to certain key insights become a cruciality.
Mastering the ‘Three-stage communication rocket’ is realised through the integration of three key awareness and practice modules. Your task, should you decide to accept it :-), is to integrate and blend these insights into your executive formations in marshalling your communication skills to higher levels of impact and outcome engineering capabilities.
Module One: ‘The Three Amigos’
The Three Amigos of inter-personal communication are:
1. The context
As a 21st century leader, you are operating in low-to-zero tolerance, constantly shape-shifting, high-pressure environments that demand high levels of mindfulness, perception, attention and outstanding capabilities. Every other exchange has a little bit of ‘do or die’ frequency because this is the incessant nature of the times we live in. A leader must communicate in ways that command people’s undivided attention and stimulate their imagination.
And then there is the exponential complexity dimension, crowding people’s minds with massive overdoses of white noise impressions, useless knowledge and sound-bites and oh, their obsessive occupation with those deranging mobile devices. Altogether leaving small segments of mind-space to do their listening with. Most people are unable to properly listen even when they make the effort due to the ‘shrunken mental cup syndrome’.
Live and deepen this vital awareness by developing ways to ensure that people are getting your message even when they appear to be hearing it. You may have already realised that crowded minds are like a cloudy prism, all too often taking in white light and producing various shades of grey. Your task as a leader is to help them in the process of re-connecting to their natural rainbow capabilities.
2. The personality dimension
We now move on to turn our minds onto the universe of personality awareness. Who and what are you communicating with? What must you be aware of about their (assumed) position and personality traits? What approach must you adopt to ensure that you instantly tailor a communication style that wins their full attention?
As an example, when communicating with a bully (bullying have many expressions, from the subtle to the outright), to deploy subtle – or not so subtle – neutralising technologies by the skilled usage of body and mind. Here, it’s all about self-location – the closer you are to your core, the deeper your connection to your unique natural unassailable strengths. One of the vital personal development tasks is to learn to harness and cultivate one’s natural strengths and their practical expressions. When that tiny lady tries to beat a bully by training into boxing, it’s just not going to work. When she trains into the kind of martial art that fits her nature, she can take on a few at a time…
Do you know your natural strengths like you know your favourite food..?
Another example is dealing with people who are suffering high stress factors, thus calling for a communication style that does not further aggravate their condition while encouraging and empowering them to do what they are contracted to deliver.
Ask yourself: “What are the two or three personality traits that stand out about the person I am dealing with?” Proceed to use the answer to instantly tailor a communication style. (note that these instant tailoring will always be congruent with your overlord communication style that is deeply connected to your ever-evolving core)
Example: “The person I am dealing with comes across as dominant and forceful disguised in an act of warmth and openness”. Communication tailoring: Be warm and friendly while taking care to base whatever you are about to say on hard facts, delivered fluidly, eloquently and to the point. These are of-course the bare basics, but I am sure you are getting the drift.
3. The Human design: It’s the same for all
Regardless of their position, every human being similarly feels hot and cold, light and dark, hunger and tiredness and so much more. Human emotions exist inside of a ‘standard issue’ system governed by natural laws, and the same is true for the brain and its two hemispheres, the mind, the neural pathways, the sensory perception mechanisms…
A skilled communicator who is on a journey of self-development possesses in-depth insights of how the human system works from both the physical and the esoteric dimensions. He/she would have the know-how to address not just the situation and personality that they are confronted by, but also human design attributes in such a way as to make their message echo in the recipient’s brain, mind and being. In other words, they are able to directly and subtly – by way of directive self-awareness – address a person’s brain, separately to addressing the person, by the skilled deployment of certain communication technologies.
Let’s make this tangible by introducing two key insights (out of many) that are particularly relevant here:
Key insight one
Human process ranges between the conscious, semi-conscious and unconscious aspects of the brain and mind. When you communicate, your conversation partner(s) focuses their conscious attention on the words. Your tonality and body-language, however, affect by preponderance their semi-conscious more than their conscious mind. In being aware of this fact, you are training yourself to use this knowledge to best effect. This would often times make all the difference between your message being a hearing experience to it being a compellingly constructive feeling experience.
Key insight two
The fact of the complementary function of the two brain hemispheres is well known and documented – the right hemisphere designed with the preponderance to handle the seemingly abstract energy dimensions and the left hemisphere with the preponderance to handle the material dimensions. The skilled communicator knows how to incorporate graphic analogies – appealing to the right hemisphere – with the weave of tangible facts, numbers and rational that appeal to the left hemisphere.
Example: Providing a clear and lucid factual financial overview together with a compelling analogy that appeals to the imagination to describe the situation. Such as: We just spent two million on a wild goose chase…
Module Two: The First Two Stages
Executives regularly find themselves in both planned and unexpected situations where they are presented with the need to communicate a clear situational overview. The mistake that many make is falling into the ‘one block’ approach, where they start talking and by the time they are done the person(s) at the receiving end are challenged with the mental task of sorting the wheat from the chaff. I am forever surprised to witness senior executives that keep beating around the bush in how they communicate.
To vastly elevate the efficacy of your communication – of course if you are not already practicing this – train yourself to divide your presentation into two parts:
1. A clear, concise, encompassing, well-balanced overview.
2. Having done the above, choose one or two areas to focus on as what you consider to currently be the top one or two priorities that you are on the case of.
Simple, isn’t it? Is this exactly how you do it..?
When you communicate the overview, you are demonstrating the mind of a leader in action. Leaders must first be mindful of the battle-field as a whole before attending to a specific front or operation. Professionals are mostly concerned with specifics. Leaders are concerned first and foremost with the bigger picture, it’s shifting balances and outlook.
When you then focus on a specific, you are demonstrating mindfulness and acumen in focusing on the top priority of the moment, how you are covering it and what you and your team are doing to cater for its needs.
The task here is to master this approach – the first two stages of the communication rocket – while at the same time, developing your Module One capabilities.
And to be able to communicate the first two stages in no more than two minutes.
Module Three: The Third Stage
The third , defining stage, is what people walk away with having been exposed to your message and the way you convey it. The most important skill here – and elsewhere – is your ability to guarantee the outcome, determined by the needs of the situation.
Be light; be bright; be lucid and clear; no um’s; stay away from monotony; look them in the eye; never cross hands and legs; be relaxed, balanced and at ease; be interesting; be confident; be free, liberate your unique natural theatre, engage them in the right moments, let out the bigger person in your person…
The higher and deeper your connection, the richer your tonality. Personally develop to be able to connect to your higher self. Your higher self is a vessel for high, clean, fresh energies that people love to experience… just like people do when they discover an oasis in the desert.
As a leader, your life is an oasis, no less. Keep developing to ensure that it does not end up a mirage.
World Copyright 2016© David Gommé