Category: Communication

Attitude and Change

“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
~ Maya Angelou 

Most people do not like change! Especially to be forced to change. In our world, change is continuous and we need to be more accepting of it.

To ease individual tension regarding change, allow the person to be part of the change process. If you are familiar with DiSC behavioral styles, you know that those with Steadiness and Conscientious styles do not like change. They are more methodical in their approaches and need time to adjust and feel comfortable with change.

The challenge is for those high in Dominance and Influencing styles as they like to move quickly. This creates conflict and uncertainty in the workplace. If each would take the time to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and meet their needs, there would be less conflict and discomfort.

Does Social Media Work For Or Against You?

Does Social Media Work For Or Against You?

Are you connected, linked, followed, following, befriended, etc.? How much time are you spending staying current with all of your social media connections? Are you becoming addicted to it?

My observation is that many people I know who are not working or do not own their own business spend a lot of time checking their social media sites and writing on walls or tweeting. For what reason? Some seem to take it so seriously – as if it were essential to their very existence.

I don’t get it! But I do get using social media for business connections. The question is: how do you manage it all and still run your business? I would like to hear your takes on this subject. I will be incorporating social media management into my “Having the Time of Your Life” Time Management Workshop. Please share with me in the Comment box. Thanks.

Can You See What I’m Really Saying?

Can You See What I’m Really Saying?

The old adage “Your actions speak louder than your words” is as true today as it was when some wise sage proclaimed it. Whether in a family, social, educational or work setting, the unspoken language of facial expressions, posture, gestures and the like send very powerful — and often incongruent – messages.

Throughout our lives we are taught ways to behave in various situations — ways that are considered appropriate for the situation. We learn very early in life to refrain from “talking back” to authority figures. Early in our careers, we learn not to state our own opinions or ask too many questions for fear of repercussions — either immediate or as fall-out later in our careers. Just because we do not verbally respond in those situations does not mean we are not communicating our feelings or reactions. Too often, even we are unaware of the non-verbal message we are sending.

We are encouraged to “go along” with the group or situation and to form consensus and keep things moving forward. We carefully select the words we use in speeches and presentations. Yet the message is still often unclear; we may be sending mixed signals. Unless we carefully align our non-verbal communication with the words we chose to use when conveying the message, we may be defeating our own efforts to communicate clearly.

If we were only to listen to the words of a conversation, we would miss most of the meaning of the message. We leave ourselves open to interpretation from our own perspective. What pictures to you see in your mind when you read the following scenario?

Parent (or Boss): “I want this task completed by noon. Will you get it done by then?”

Child (or Subordinate): “Yeah, I think I can do it by then. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

If the parent/boss hears only the words, rather than listening to the complete message, he misses the non-verbal message. In this scenario, the child/subordinate’s head is shaking left-to-right and back again repeatedly while the individual is saying, “Yeah,…” In North American cultures this non-verbal indicates, “No.” So when the mouth is saying “yes” and the head is saying “no,” the resulting action will probably be “no.”

The real message being sent is “No, I don’t think I can meet your deadline.” Since the message is a subconscious expression of concern, it comes out through a non-verbal form of communication. The individual consciously knows what answer the parent/boss expects to hear; therefore, he says the appropriate thing even though he does not believe it is possible to perform to the expectation. So unless the parent/boss was listening with his ears and eyes, he would not have heard the complete message.

Was the child/subordinate lying about the intent to complete the task? At least not consciously! He knows what the expected answer should be and gave it. However, he was ignoring or otherwise failing to acknowledge, what he was thinking or feeling about really being able to meet the expected deadline. Since the parent/boss failed to read the non-verbal communication, he expects the task to be completed by noon.

Why wasn’t the child/subordinate honest about the concerns?

  • First, the individual may not even be aware of this subconscious processing and reaction.
  • Secondly, it may be that based on previous experience with the parent/boss, the individual has learned expected behavior and is trying to please.
  • It is also possible he is trying to avoid the anticipated reactions or repercussions from the parent/boss.

Therefore, it is easier, and perhaps safer, to give the expected reply, even if it means suppressing your real concerns. A good communicator will use all of his senses to both send and receive messages. So the astute parent/boss would read the non-verbal messages that could include tone of voice, posture, eye contact, facial expression, etc., as well as the head shaking “no.”

At that point, an appropriate response from the parent/boss could be, “I’m not sure I understand whether or not you will have the task completed on time. I hear you saying “yes,” but your body language seems to be saying “no.” What are your concerns?” Now a safe environment for discussion can be established for problem solving.

Let’s look at the impact of non-verbal communication. Research reported in Psychology Today gave the following statistics about how we interpret the meaning of communication:

  • 7% Verbal Cues
  • 38% Vocal Cues
  • 55% Visual Cues

These facts have been substantiated in later studies. The important point here is that only 7% of the meaning of a message comes from the words. So no matter how carefully we choose the words, there is high probability that the message will not get through to the receiver without considering the non-verbal communication factors. Both the sender of a message and the receiver of the message must consciously use, listen for and observe non-verbal messages and check them for congruency with the words being said.

Now you know why your spouse, children, co-worker, etc., do not always understand your message — especially if they are giving most of their attention to something else while you are sending your message! They may not be listening for the entire message. Even the most carefully chosen words cannot guarantee communication of the message.

There are three main factors to consider in non-verbal communication:

1. Vocal Dimensions: These include the various sounds we make, as well as the tone and pitch of our voice. Pacing of words and use of pauses also impact the vocal dimension. We use various “grunts and groans” to indicate interest, agreement, disagreement, puzzlement, etc. Sounds like, “humm,” “ah”, “tsk,” “uh huh,” and the like are know as paralanguage. These sub-vocal sounds can impact the meaning of a message or send a message of its own. Filler words such as “you know” or “like” may indicate uncertainty in the speaker and detract from clear communication.

Tone and pitch can totally change the meaning of words. Higher pitched tones, louder volumes may indicate excitement, intense feelings, or strong emotion. Lower tones may indicate calmness or that one is in control of the situation. High volume may suggest the speaker is losing control, while too soft volume can signal lack of confidence.

Both pacing and inflection give meaning to words and affect how the listener receives the message. A sarcastic tone or a quick, sharp, barbed reply can totally change the meaning of a message. Whether the voice rises or drops at the end of a sentence may question or determine the meaning for the listener.

2. Body Language: An in-depth study of body language could become a life’s work. The factors to be aware of in your daily interactions are: posture, position, head motion, facial expression, eye contact and gestures. These few factors, when carefully observed and compared to the words being said, will give you much insight into the real meaning of the message. Again the thing to look for: Is the body language congruent with the spoken word?

It is important to remember that body language is a cultural issue. What it meant in our culture may be different in other cultures. If you travel or interact with people of other cultures, it is advisable to study non-verbal communication before accidentally offending others or embarrassing yourself!

3. Spatial Relationships: Again this varies by culture, so we will focus on North Americans. In our culture, we have several accepted spatial areas we should respect when communicating with others:

  • Intimate Relationship 0 – 18 inches distance
  • Personal Relationship 18 inches – 4 feet
  • Work Relationship 2 – 3 feet
  • Social Relationship 4 – 12 feet

When people use an inappropriate distance for the relationship, we feel uncomfortable. If someone hovers over us, we no longer concentrate on the task, but rather experience uncomfortable sensations, wishing they would get out of our space. Aggressive people use invasion of space as a power tactic. Timid people leave a great deal of distance between themselves and others. Many kinds of messages can be sent by the use of space.

Notice how we feel when someone we do not know gets too close. Also notice what we do in our vehicles. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we get angry. They have invaded our personal space. We take our personal space and extent it outside of our vehicle as if it were our bodies. And if we observe people inside their vehicles, we see that they seem to think the glass is one way — looking out only! Space is very important to individuals, but needs vary greatly by culture.

With fifty-five per cent of the message being sent non-verbally, it is critical for good communication that we understand jut what non-verbal communication is and the positive and negative impact it has on achieving a shared understanding. When observing non-verbal behavioral signs, remember to take a gestalt approach. Look at the whole situation and person rather than taking a cue from one signal without regard to the whole.

Become a people-watcher. Listen and watch accompanying non-verbal behavior. Look for the variety of facial expressions and body movements that send messages. It is fascinating. Even more fascinating is seeing how many people totally ignore the powerful non-verbal messages that color their conversations. There is so much being said silently or indirectly. Is it any wonder that we suffer from massive communication breakdowns?

Communicating For Successful Outcomes – Building Relationships Through Understanding

Communicating For Successful Outcomes – Building Relationships Through Understanding

Successful people and effective teams accept and value the diversity of others. In today’s diverse workforce, we have to set aside prejudices, preconceived notions, biases, assumptions and judgments about others. By appreciating the contribution of diverse talents and uniqueness that each of us brings to the world, we can truly respect people and maintain effective relationships.

People see the world differently. Respect and appreciate those differences. They are no more right or wrong than you are. They are just different. It does not make it good or bad — just different. Our interpretation of situations is influenced by our personal paradigms, values and needs. No one else has the same unique combination.

The more we can understand about others, the more we can set aside the need to judge their behavior by our personal standards. Once we understand the basic styles, we can adapt our communication and actions in ways that will enhance understanding and develop better relationships.

Here is a guide to improving communications with each DiSC Behavioral style:

DOMINANCE:

To communicate effectively with the Dominance style, realize that their main interest is in controlling for results.

  • Get to the point; be specific
  • Do not waste time, speak and act quickly
  • Keep the conversation focused on business
  • Provide options
  • Provide an overview, but have details ready
  • Be decisive and self-confident
  • Let them make the final decision

INFLUENCE:

To communicate with the Influence style, realize they value interaction, new ideas and recognition.

  • Let them do most of the talking
  • Allow time
  • Avoid arguing; look for alternate solutions if you disagree
  • Make your presentation stimulating and exciting
  • Look at the big picture without getting bogged down with details
  • Be open to their new ideas

STEADINESS:

To communicate with the Steadiness style, realize their main concern is relationships.

  • Spend time on relationship before jumping to task
  • Be patient; draw out their ideas and concerns
  • Be cooperative, not pushy
  • Show sincere interest in them and their feelings
  • Gently explore areas of disagreement without open conflict
  • Be encouraging, building their confidence

CONSCIENTIOUS:

To communicate with the Conscientious style, realize their main interest in analyzing for risk avoidance.

  • Present facts and data rather than ideas
  • Give them time to work through the details before making a decision
  • Avoid surprises; minimize risks
  • Ask them to help in finding facts
  • Be organized and logical
  • Be patient and cover each point thoroughly
  • Give them time to be comfortable with the situation

“Another leadership quality that contributes to all this is the willingness to see the other’s side of a question, and not must have your own unshaken views. Conviction in your beliefs is important, yet you also need to be open to everyone’s creative input.” ~ Kathy Keeton