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The scary bits of communication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How familiar are you with the little voice in your head that increases in volume when you’re about to give a big presentation, meet with a potential client or have a difficult conversation? The volume on that thing can get so loud it throws us off our game. Enter fears and limiting beliefs and their influence on our ability to communicate with confidence, clarity and completeness.

Fears and limiting beliefs are at the root of why we get in our own way, the essence of human versus self conflict, and why we are said to be our own worst critics. They directly show up in how we communicate verbally and non-verbally. They are insidious, nasty creatures that also infiltrate the other elements of conscious communication – emotions, intention, values and preferences and if left unchecked, can take on a life of their own.

What are fears and limiting beliefs?

Fears and limiting beliefs are with most people pretty much all the time. Consider the following:

  • I’m not enough
  • I don’t matter
  • I’m not worthy
  • No one listens to me
  • I’m not smart enough

Do any of these resonate with you? There is NO shame if they do. You are NOT weak and there is NOTHING wrong with you if they do. It’s human to have fears and limiting beliefs – I have them, your boss has them and all the people sitting around you do too. What’s most important is whether you’re conscious of them or not, as well as to what extent you’re aware of how they show up in your life, so you CAN best them.

How fears and limiting beliefs show up in our communication

Let’s illustrate. You’re about to give a presentation to the board of directors of your organization, but you have the fear/limiting belief of “I’m not smart enough” running in the background. Left unchecked, how will this show up in your presentation? Despite rehearsing and preparing ad nauseum, you trip over your words, break into a visible sweat and lose the confidence in your body language and voice intonation when asked questions as you constantly worry about whether you’re coming across “smart enough”.

Another example. You’re about to have a conversation with your close friend about a conflict you’ve been having with each other. You’re running the fear/limiting belief of “I don’t matter”. As you go back and forth in the conversation, you leave out some of the parts that have caused you to feel the worst in the situation, because you feel you “don’t matter”. You come out of the conversation feeling not quite like you’ve been heard, and while your friend leaves thinking the matter is resolved, you’re still carrying frustration and resentment that’s going to blow up again soon.

How to best fears and limiting beliefs

To best your fears and limiting beliefs, the first step is AWARENESS. Looking back on some of your most dramatic notable communication experiences, you might be able to start identifying some of the ways your fears and limiting beliefs have influenced your results. You might even notice some common themes. Once you can see them, you’ve started the process of dismantling the power they have over you.

Taking this a step further, allow your conscious awareness of your fears and limiting beliefs to shed light on your behaviours when communicating. What words do you use when the fear/limiting belief is active? How does it affect your body, and subsequently, your non-verbal communication? This specific awareness will empower you to choose different behaviours.

Addressing the root cause

When coaching clients, I spend a fair amount of time with them identifying the fears and limiting beliefs that come up in their interactions and the associated behaviours that show up as a result. The most enlightening and liberating part of this process is connecting the fear and limiting belief back to a root cause. All fears and limiting beliefs come from somewhere. It could be from an elementary school teacher who harshly criticized your science project presentation or an abuser who threatened you if you spoke up and told anyone about their abuse. These are both real-life root cause situations I’ve come across that have affected a client’s ability to communicate.

Whatever the root cause is, once we’ve clearly identified the fear/limiting belief, there is a very simple, quick and powerful tool I use to root out (pun intended) the fear and limiting belief, as well as any negative emotions associated with it, so clients can thrive. It’s one of the biggest turning points and one of the most rewarding parts of the coaching process.

This week’s challenge

Take a blank page and draw a vertical line to create two columns. In the left column, write “Fear or limiting belief” in the right column, write “Where does it come from?”

Think of an upcoming situation that requires you to communicate – it could be an important conversation you’ve been needing to have with someone, a networking event, a public speaking event, or anything else. Take a few minutes to list all the fears and limiting beliefs that come up when you think about that communication.

Once you’ve listed all the fears and limiting beliefs, move to the second column “Where does it come from”. Brainstorm on what past situations, people or sources may be the cause of each fear and limiting belief. What are your “aha” moments? Share some of your discoveries in the comments below.

What’s most important to you?

Values and communication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The title question might be an odd one to ask in a blog post about communication. But I assure you it’s timely. Today’s topic is values, and in my experience as a coach, many people haven’t given the topic much thought let alone explored in depth what their values are.

What are values?

Values form the blueprint for what’s important to us. We make decisions in our lives based on our values. Values are different for everyone. Solitude, integrity, adventure, collaboration. There are all kinds of combinations!

Our values also form a significant part of our unique communication blueprint, and we consciously or unconsciously communicate based on our values. When we know what our values are, we can understand why we behave the way we do in our interactions. We can also understand why others behave the way they do, and that’s a recipe for understanding and empathy in any interaction.

How values show up in communication

Personal story. Connection is a top value of mine, so when I communicate, I tend to do so from a place of vulnerability to give connection in an interaction and then I ask a lot of questions, because I like to get to know the person I’m speaking to on a deeper level to receive connection.

There are numerous examples. We all know the guy who’s just so damn funny – at work, at home, in the grocery story, and maybe even annoyingly so in situations where it doesn’t call for it. It’s because humour is a value for him. How about the manager who goes on about hitting the next milestone or besting the latest results? She’s not doing it to irritate you. It’s because she values accomplishment or maybe even competition.

A cautionary note

It’s possible to go too far with your values in an interaction – like the guy using humour at a less than ideal time. That’s where conscious awareness of our values works to our advantage. With awareness, we know what our values are and we can choose how we’ll act when they’re met or not met, as well as when we find ourselves in situations that may present us with people who have values that are different or conflicting with ours. Think now that each person around you has their own list of values governing the way they communicate and that conflicts often arise when conflicting values are in the room. It’ll change the way your interactions unfold.

Whose values are they anyway?

The most important question we must ask when we’re exploring our values is which ones are imposed on us by family, culture or the society we live in? Values such as safety and control often come from threatening situations we may have found ourselves in when we were kids. Imposed values feel constricting and closed off, and they prevent us from being our best selves. Because they’re others’ values and unnatural to who we are, when we communicate from them, we don’t communicate from our personal power and we come across inauthentic.

You want to embrace the values that are uniquely yours and consciously chosen by you. These values feel authentic, expansive and freeing. They will inspire you to be your best self and live your best life. When you communicate from them, you’ll stand firmly in your personal power and you’ll build trust and relationships effortlessly and easily.

Getting to know your values

How confident do you feel in knowing what your values are? If you answer very, I challenge you to take it a step further and observe how your values are showing up in your communication. How are your values being met in communication where you’re fully in your personal power versus when you’re in a conflict situation?

If you’ve got some work to do in learning more about your values, that’s totally OK. Now’s the perfect time to start! A simple Google search for “values” will provide lists upon lists of them. Find a list you like and circle to the best of your ability the values you think are uniquely yours and then observe yourself in your interactions. Which ones come out stronger than others? Can you see others’ values come through in the way they communicate?

When we know who we are, we can ask for what we want and express ourselves confidently and clearly. That is powerful communication!

You’ll be preferentially surprised in our next post about how differently we process information and what that means for the way you and others communicate!  Come back in two weeks to find out more.

Befriend your intention

Befriend your intention in communication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about the last conflict you had and the interaction(s) you had to resolve it. What did you want to achieve? No, what did you realllly want to achieve?

None of us are strangers to at one time or another saying we want to resolve a conflict, but entering into peace talks with the real aim of proving we’re right or showing the other person we know more. How do those conversations usually turn out?

All communication begins with intention. You’re either conscious of your intentions or you’re not. Our true intentions – not always the ones we say we have – will play out in the words we use and how our body and voice express themselves in all our communication experiences.

Why is intention so important?

Going into communication with one stated intention and having our words and body and voice demonstrate another quickly leads to loss of credibility and trust. And quite possibly even a loss of clients, a promotion, relationships, sales, and so on. We feel disappointed in ourselves for our lack of desired results, and we may not understand why, because we’re unaware of the crucial role intention is playing in the background.

Here’s another example. Say someone reaches out to you to have a one-on-one networking or informational meeting under the premise of getting to know each other and making a connection. You attend the meeting and after half-an-hour or so you find yourself viewing a catalogue of products and listening to promotions and you realize, “Wait a minute – am I being sold to?” Yes, you are, and you further realize this wasn’t an informational or networking meeting all along. At one point or another (or maybe more often than we’d like) we find ourselves on either side of this equation. It doesn’t feel so good, does it?

Honesty is the best policy

There’s nothing wrong with the intentions of selling or even proving you know more – as long as you’re honest with yourself and the other person or people about them and you recognize how your true intention is going to play out in an interaction through your words and body language and voice.

Owning our intention in communication requires us to look at ourselves on a deeper level and asking questions about who we are, what we want and how we want to achieve it. When we do this and own our intention, as well as share that intention with the person or people we’re communicating with, we’ll come across authentically, build trust and relationships, and likely have win-win outcomes.

Get to know your intentions

Think back to your last challenging conversation and see if you can pinpoint your true intention and whether it aligned with or differed from the intention you said you had before having that conversation. What were the outcomes of the conversation? How did the person or other people engage? How might those things be different if your intention were different? Do the same thing for a presentation or a meeting you recently had. Take notes and see if you can identify themes or patterns. If you notice a real, consistent disconnect between your stated and true intentions, you may want to explore why further, so you can begin to get the results you want from your communication.

This week’s challenge

Take a moment before the major communication events you have scheduled over the next week to acknowledge your true intention with respect to your stated intention. Notice if there is alignment and pay attention to how the intention plays out in your words and body language and voice in each of those communication events. If there is misalignment, take some time to realign before the event and experience the difference in your results.

In our next post, we’re going to explore what’s important to you and the value in knowing how it defines your unique communication blueprint.

It’s written all over your face

emotions and communication

 

Emotions can be a roller coaster of a topic. Wouldn’t you say?

We tend to like to stick to such feelings as joy, love, exhilaration and accomplishment. And then we stop at sadness, fear, betrayal and rage. However, we’re human, and whether we’re in a personal or professional setting, we can’t turn off what we feel. We can try, but we can never really turn them off. Our emotions show up in our communication either authentically or inauthentically. And, only one of those scenarios builds trust.

Are you inviting people in or pushing them away?

At any given moment, we’re either drawing people in, repelling them or creating indifference to ourselves. How our emotions come through in our verbal and non-verbal communication is key to this.

For example, if you’re an entrepreneur that’s having a day where you feel unsure of yourself, you may use a quieter voice with a prospect than you would on a day you feel more confident. You may also stand with your arms crossed to protect yourself rather than have them open to invite the person in. You may use language that’s less enthusiastic than you would on a day you’re feeling spectacular. Based on this, how effective do you think you’d be in drawing the prospect in?

Only until recently have acknowledging and talking about emotions become more acceptable and encouraged, and we still have a long way to go. In fact, many of us are out of touch with what our emotions even feel like in our bodies. And here’s the thing, whether you’re conscious of them or not, your emotions are influencing how you’re showing up in your interactions with and in front of people, and ultimately your results. Wouldn’t you like to understand them better, so you can show up the way you want?

Turning up the awareness

Now that you know your emotions could be pushing people away, you can make shifts that can empower you to choose how you show up, which again, will influence your results. The key to doing so is AWARENESS. You may want to use these questions to raise your level of awareness about how your emotions are coming through in your communication:

  • What happens to your voice when you feel certain emotions (e.g., louder, slow down, etc.)?
  • How does you body react to certain emotions (e.g., shrink, open, etc.)?
  • How does your language change from one emotion to the next (e.g., more forceful, less inspiring)?
  • Can you feel your emotions in your body? How specifically?

Imagine how this new level of awareness can defuse a conflict by informing you about how anger in your verbal and non-verbal communication might incite a bigger quarrel or deepen a rift. Imagine how many more clients you can connect with when you know the difference between how you show up when you feel confident versus uncertain. Imagine how your relationships could deepen when you recognize how your words, voice and body demonstrate the emotions of affection, appreciation and love.

It’s pretty profound stuff.

This week’s challenge

Over the next week, my challenge to you is to get more in touch with your emotions before you go into important interactions. Check in with yourself on how you’re feeling and notice. Notice what your body is doing. Notice how your voice is sounding. Notice what words are coming out of your mouth as a result of whatever that emotion is that you’re feeling. I’m telling you, it’s a game-changer.

Next on our list of inputs in A Model for Conscious Communication is the piece that underpins how successful you’re going to be in your communication. It’s going to be very intentional, so tune in!