[This blog post was initially published a few years ago, I am reposting it for an upcoming online training that I’ll be facilitating on ‘Presentation and Communication in a Value-based, Empathy-driven economy’].
Effective communication is at the heart of Transformational Leadership. Whether you are out networking with your peers, interacting with your family members and loved ones, communicating with the aim to sell a service or product or you are simply selling your ‘personal brand’ or seeking to influence people to join your cause or movement , the ability to connect deeply with your audience is key to a meaningful interaction, successful and positive outcome.
Great communicators are great influencers. And it starts with respect. The understanding that everyone has different factors that shape their perspectives and thus have different models of the world; education, exposure, background, culture, religion, gender, meta-models, limiting beliefs, values, value-hierarchy, personal encoding, IQ, EQ, etc.
The idea about communication is not for all parties to agree to a unified model or sameness, rather, it is primarily for an exchange of ideas/values to occur. It is for everyone to be heard, acknowledged and each party actually ‘listens’ and reflects on what the other has said (or not said). Communication is about CONNECTION & EXCHANGE.
“direct communication between the two countries will produce greater understanding”
2. Means of connection between people or places, in particular.
Note that the first person you have to be clear to first, is yourself. Clarity and coherence are internal processes or states that are projected externally. It is also important to be clear on your boundaries, define and defend them and allow the other party to do the same. This reduces or eliminates a lot of friction and drama.
Poor communication has led to wars, feuds lasting generations, the loss of business sales/opportunities and even the breakdown of once loving relationships between friends and family members. “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.” ~Emma Thompson
Here are some of my 11 simple and effective strategies/principles for empowered and meaningful Interactions with others (The list is not exhaustive and I’d love to hear your thoughts too):
1. It all begins with Rapport! In order to be in rapport with others you have to be in rapport with yourself. Rapport means you genuinely step out of yourself and add value to others by making a seamless shift to them. You basically enter their model of the world and then allow them the space to percolate their thoughts and come to a new awareness. Rapport is about establishing and maintaining an unconscious level of trust.
“You get to speak to people’s unconscious mind when you’re in deep rapport.” ~Kim Redman
2. Set the right intentions and pay attention to your intentions so they don’t get hijacked by the ego self. Set the tone for the communication by offering yourself and the person(s) a sincere kind thought (meditation/prayer), in your heart, and meditate on the outcome you desire even before you engage with others. “Intention governs everything! Set the right intentions. It must be good and ecological for all. That is, WIN-WIN-WIN outcomes for you, the other party and the Universe.” ~Kim Redman
3. Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to the other person with ALL your senses-your ears, eyes, gut, body-language and most of all with your heart…and hear what isn’t being said. Listen actively. Active Listening is using sensory acuity to notice shifts in the other person and subsequently using the right language to respond accordingly. Clear your mind of conflicting thoughts and be aware of your internal, unconscious biases. Heart-centred listening means you are communicating at such a deep level that transcends mere words and gestures!
“One learns about people through the heart, not through words, eyes or the intellect.” ~Mark Twain
4. Shift and continually re-focus the energy by speaking from an authentic, caring and loving place. We are all energetic beings, each vibrating at their unique vibrational frequency. Communication is a measure of how well these energies ‘vibe’ or resonate. Think of how you can add value to the other person and how they can add value to you. The whole interaction should be an exchange of values for both parties. (Do not repress your feelings or pretend to be something you are not, because people can sense insincerity from a mile!)
Feel all your emotions, even negative ones such as anger, fear, guilt, sadness, frustration and MASTER them. It is better to be caring and authentic than to be a ‘nice, people-pleasing’ person who blows hot and cold on all fronts. Being respected is a more valuable commodity than merely being popular or liked. Behavioural flexibility means being open to experiencing shifts in your perspectives and embracing other people’s views, in a deeply authentic way.
This does not mean adamantly sticking to one narrow point of view in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I often say this to clients and audiences: “Feelings are like a see-saw, they come and go, up and then down. Your feelings should not be your driver, they do not express you, rather you must take control and direct how you express your feelings in a healthy way. In the end, YOU are responsible for feeling your feelings.”
There are no coincidences in life. The people you encounter in life are there for a reason. You’ll get a chance to meet some people many times over, and some others you may only come across once. Always leave a lasting impression. You have the power to touch and inspire everyone you meet.
“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet like they would be dead by midnight! Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” ~Og Mandino
5. Be less focused on being “RIGHT” and channel your energy to DOING right. Give up that unattractive and unproductive attachment to being right. It is simply our selfish, egoistic self crying out for attention and self-worship! Let it go and treat people with courtesy, always!
In the words of Bestselling Author and Speaker, James McNeil; ‘Treat everyone you meet with respect because everyone has something of inestimable value to add to the world.” Understand that we all want the same things: a deep need to be valued, appreciated and loved. “The basic building block of good communication is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value. ~Unknown
6. Understand what dominant representational systems they are operating in, such as Visual, Kinesthetics, Auditory, Audio-Digital etc. Then, respectfully, enter their version of the world and then gently bring them out to a good meeting point (Examples; Avoid interrupting auditory people, use/mirror body language with people who are more kinesthetics and use words to paint a vivid picture with visual people).
7. Be comfortable with silence…Yes, allow for pauses in conversations to breathe, connect without words and give room for both you and the other party to collect and articulate their thoughts. It is okay to be quiet if you have nothing to say. It is better to be a great listener than to pretend to ‘fake it’ and speak about things that you are clearly not versed in. “If you have nothing to say, say nothing. It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” ~Mark Twain
8. Perception is projection. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ~C.G. Jung
This framework of thinking popularized by Carl Jung simply posits that everybody standing before you is a projection of your unconscious mind. This suggests that in communicating, it is critical to be gentle with others and also be gentle with yourself. Avoid being judgmental. It blocks the information and connection pathways between people. “When you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~Mother Teresa
9. Create healthy boundaries in all your interactions. Be clear on what your value system is and understand your guiding principles. Once you have clarity on who you are, it is easier to communicate with others and share your essence with them. “In the last analysis, what and who we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.” ~Stephen Covey
10. Consciously enter a co-creative space and establish a value plane with each interaction you engage in. Your mission is to speak from an empowered place and add value. Communicate from a state of awareness and do it with passion, power and purpose. You have the ability to lead the dance and direct the movie. And you must be present to do it well. If you are communicating to sell products or services, be aware that there is a shift towards an empathy-driven and value-based economy. As John C. maxwell would say; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Now more than ever, all other parameters being equal (service quality, benefits and product performance etc.), people tend to buy from and/or do business with those they know, like and trust. “In today’s world, it is more difficult to fake integrity. All the skills in the world are for naught if you do not communicate and operate from an authentic core.” ~Bob Burg
11. Post-conversations and interactions, release people with love in your heart. Every opportunity you get to network and interact with others is an opportunity to improve your communication skills. Simply reflect on all your interactions, take the learning, celebrate what you did great, identify what needs improving and resolve to do better next time!
**Remember to have clarity in your thought process before you speak with them, also ask questions to clarify and confirm understanding of what has been said. The communicator has the responsibility of ensuring that what (s)he’s communicating is actually what is being received and processed. Make no assumptions.
In the end, the more we can listen to ourselves, embrace our light and shadows, we tap into a confluence of empathy, love, acceptance and forgiveness, this is easily extended to others. That underlying compassion and sharing reflects in how we listen.
Join the conversation on twitter and share your what’s working well for you so far! Let’s connect better by communicating better! Cyber-hugs,
Love, Light & Truth!
Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido
You may also find me on my Floetry Blog
Follow me on twitter: @JulietKego|@wholewomaninc
Co-Founder & Executive Director, Whole WoMan Network
Raising a New Generation of Transformational, Ethical & Creative African Leaders (T.E.C)
#BridgingTheIntegrityGap #LeadershipMatters #EducateAGirl #EducateABoy
- Do You really listen (ralanenterprisesllc.me)
- Communication to Keep Your Relationship Strong (drlauraberman.com)
- Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master (lifehack.org)
- What is e-rapport and how can it help you win more new clients? (mikeames.wordpress.com)