All communication is really about enrolling people to say yes to your proposal - whether it is communicating your new business strategy to your organization or requesting support from your not-so inspired direct-report team which was your peer group only a month back or telling your teen that her request for a night-out has not been accepted. Even if the context of the conversation is not difficult, it is worthwhile to understand the art and science of communication for a joyous, fulfilling experience.
Dancing in a Conversation
If you experience the rhythmic, effortless, joyous flow in your conversation and can feel fulfilment at all levels - intellectually (stimulating, mentally stretching you), emotionally (makes you feel happy and inspired), spiritually (the conversation connects with you, to what you are upto this lifetime, your purpose) and physically (body feels relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated); you are dancing in a conversation with someone who will have the same experience.
As you dance together in your conversation, both of you find a way forward that supports both of you to grow. This is how every communication is meant to be. Then, why it isn't so?
Are We Really Speaking the Same Language?
We may be speaking the same language and yet we are not. Imagine what we are talking about as the Reality is at the centre of a sphere. The conversation is between people who are all looking at this Reality but are standing at different points on the sphere. At different points, what you see of the Reality shifts not because the Reality is different but because it looks different from the spot you are standing at. I would call each point on the sphere from which you view reality as a Point of View.
Imagine the million points of view for the same Reality. Also at many points, the views will contradict each other. And, yet, all views represent the truth from where it is looked from. Therefore, all views are valid, however contradictory. Without getting this, no communication can really be effective.
What is needed is someone with greater leadership depth. (S)he will have the wisdom to walk to the point where the other is standing and dance in conversation there. Then, together move to another point and dance in conversation there as well. No longer the need to pull each other down, pull each other's hair shouting at top of your voice - I am right. You are wrong.
Then our experience of a conversation will shift from 2-left feet dancing to something more graceful, joyous and fulfilling.
What are the Six Walls that Block the Dance of Communication?
We have six walls that divide each of us from each other, six walls that our communication has to pierce through before it reaches the other. With each wall, the communication distorts and that is why our frustration at the other person not understanding what we are really communicating.
Here are the six walls:
1. Our default limiting view of our own self
2. Our default limiting view of the other
3. Our default limiting view of life itself
4. The other's default limiting view of their own self
5. The other's default limiting view of others (that includes us)
6. The other's default limiting view of life itself
It requires a very high level of self-awareness to be present to what these views are. These limiting views, thought patterns are the legacy of human being's survival based evolutionary process. The journey to cut-over to our innate greatness (to be a Gear 5 Leader) begins with turning the torch inwards to deeply understand our mind's default limiting circuitry and re-wiring the brain through inner transformation and evolution.
It doesn't matter what the other's default limiting views are because those walls drop down when we, going beyond our fear, drop our three walls.
Interestingly, we can clearly see other people's limiting views but cannot see our own. That is why they are called Blind Spots - those aspects of you that are blocking you from growth and you cannot even see what they are. Focussing on other peoples' limiting ways of being only leads us to rabbit holes in which we keep meandering endlessly without any light at the end of the tunnel.
It is when you look in the mirror and begin to see how you are projecting your own views on to the world that real breakthroughs begin to happen.
What is the Role of Vulnerability and Authenticity?
Vulnerability is to have the courage to be authentic about your own inauthenticities, your own fears; it is to give yourself the permission to drop your armour and allowing the real you to be engaged with people around you. Authenticity is to show up as who you are, with nothing to hide, nothing to prove, with no hidden agenda. Sharing personal stories are powerful way to be vulnerable and authentic.
Great leadership has been researched and proven to be linked with vulnerability and authenticity. You will trust me if I communicate with vulnerability and authenticity. You cannot bring that in specific communications, it has to be your way of being for it to show up in your conversations.
Vulnerability and authenticity creates music for you to dance in a conversation. Without the music, the dance will get dreary & disengaging beyond a point and cause fatigue & stress.
What about Tone and Body Language?
Many trainers spend a large part of their training on the tone and body language for communication impact. That is like trying to look like Elvis Presley and expecting to sing like him. Tone and body language, sure, have an impact on the listener but you need to work with the source of the tone and body language. The source is what's going on inside of you - emotions and thoughts, your way of being. If you are feeling angry and don't even say a word, people around you still experience your anger and respond to that. Any response to anger or any other limiting emotion & thought is always ineffective - whether it is from yourself or from others.
There are only two source emotions - Love and Fear. All emotions will fall in one of these two buckets. Fear is a response to being stuck in the past or future. Love can be experienced only in being in the present moment. The inner journey of Leadership is really the journey from the evolutionary Fear to Love, which is the next stage of our evolution. When you shift from Fear to Love, your tone and body language will follow suit; and have your audience listen to you with rapt attention energized by the Love that you are.
How to Use Words that Make an Impact?
Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. They can inspire or they can de-energize. Our words (in our head and what comes through our mouth) create our world. Notice the difference between -
Your project is delayed.
What can you do to bring your project back to track?
The first is an observation and the second is an inquiry. The first will lead the other to defend and justify the delay. While, the second will open a discussion to identify ways to bring the project back to track.
Here's how to leverage this observation to communicate powerfully:
1. Learn from Socrates and lead with questions.
2. During 90% of the conversation, listen to identify an even more powerful question to ask. In your 10%, ask questions to create an opportunity for you to listen for 90% of the time.
3. When the other is talking, hold your tongue on the palate of your mouth or watch your breath to still your thoughts to bring your presence and listening to the other person.
If who you are having a conversation with feels small in your space, you will not get their joyous alignment, agreement and partnership; nor their productivity, creativity and innovation thinking.
Conversation of Equals Vs Conversations Looking Up / Down
A dance is possible only between equals. Observe yourself if your relationship with others is that of equals - even if they happen to be levels above you or levels below you. Or your relationship with others is an unequal relationship - either you are looking up and communicating; or looking down and communicating.
You are likely to be in the second state, if you haven't as yet embraced your inner judge / inner critic who is constantly judging and criticizing you.
Effective communication is about evolving to the relationship of equals with oneself and with others.
What is Your Purpose in All That You Do?
Your purpose of life shifts you from cutting stone to building a cathedral. This is your strong Why of your life. This is the over-arching context inside of which all the above pieces fall into their place to make a meaningful picture of the jigsaw puzzle of your life. If your purpose doesn't move you to tears; doesn't touch, move and inspire you; you haven't found it as yet.
What about Public Speaking?
Public Speaking is about bringing all the above elements to communicate powerfully to a large audience for your intended outcome. You will find yourself inspiring your audience to powerful action and enjoying dancing in a conversation with your audience, once you bring all the above elements together:
1. Speak the same language as your audience by looking at the world from their shoes
2. Understand the Six Walls that Block the Dance of Communication and be willing to drop your three walls for all six walls to fall down
3. Be vulnerable and authentic
4. Create the right tone and body language by working on the source
5. Understand how words make an impact. Lead with questions to increase the engagement with your audience
6. Learn to have a relationship of Equals with people in your life
7. Be connected to your Purpose in all that you do
Keep making a difference.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.