Ever wondered why your staff never listen…? Perhaps what you are thinking is not what you said! There is more to communication than you hear…
Why is it that sometimes it seems like your staff are never listening to you? And why is it that sometimes people just don’t get what it is you are trying to say?
Most of us at some point in our lives have experienced the negative and positive effects our conversations have on ourselves and on others. The positive ones leave us feeling happy, contented and energized. Those conversations that don’t quite go the way we planned can leave us feeling discontented, unhappy and un-energized. Afterwards how many of us wish that we could have said it another way, added a key piece of information or done something differently?
Let’s start looking at the art of communicating effectively…. Where does it all start?
Communication starts with a thought. And these initial thoughts and ideas are made up of energy, whether positive or negative in nature. Noah St. John one of the key presenter’s in a book and DVD called “The Secret” calls these thoughts and ideas, thought-seeds. And we are planting these thoughts every minute, every hour and every day (whether we are aware of them or not). We send and receive so to speak whenever we are with people…. We are human walking radio antennas!
People not only relate, respond and react to what we are saying, but to also what they feel and receive from us when we are speaking to them.
Up until now 6 billion or so human beings have created the world as it is today. To do this everyone one of us has had about 90,000 thoughts a day! Yes that’s right about 90,000 a day! And these thoughts are made up of mindsets and beliefs that create certain kinds of behaviour and attitudes. Ninety percent of these mindsets and beliefs are stored in our unconscious mind - first developed in the period from 1895 to 1900 by Sigmund Freud, who theorized that it consists of survivals of feelings experienced during infantile life, that include our instinctual drives. And these mindsets and beliefs (thoughts) give off energy…
The energy of thought
When we communicate we not only verbalize words, but we also communicate judgements and mindsets we have about people we are speaking with, to them. These for the most part are not communicated verbally as they are held in our unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind lies below the level of our conscious mind. These judgements and mindsets held in our unconscious mind are hidden to us 90% of the time. However they are what drive our behaviour and our communication style! We are very competently unconscious at tapping into and using them. A good example of this is when we brush our teeth. We do not think about each action needed to brush our teeth, we just brush them! The same applies to the way we choose to, or not to communicate.
Recall a time in the past when you have walked into a room where others have had an argument. Did it feel like the energy was so dense you needed a knife to cut the air with? This negative energy has been created by the people’s thoughts and dialogue that had previously been having the argument. On a more positive note think of a time when you have entered a room where people have been having lots of fun, the energy of the room will feel much lighter.
So in other words not only do you communicate what you are consciously thinking about and verbalizing, but what is hidden away in the recesses of your unconscious mind. So if you are thinking negative thoughts about your staff or clients the bad news is they will be picking up on and responding to these thoughts! The good news is and lucky for you, is that they are probably unconscious to this fact. Not all of us are mind readers!
It is the essence (energy) of what we are communicating that can inspire, lead and manage people effectively. And deepen our personal relationship with others. You see the words you speak do add to the experience for people who are listening, and give meaning through stories, but it is often the “essence” that we respond to when others are communicating with us. Remember a time when you came away from a conversation where you thought, “there is something about that person I really like”? But you can’t put your finger on what it was you liked about them. Well it was most probably the energy of their thoughts you were receiving, whilst you were listening to them speaking.
Follow the tips below and notice your conversations start to improve. Become aware of what underlying beliefs stop you from communicating how you are feeling. Especially when you are frustrated or angry. When I was growing up as a child it was common for children to be sent to their room if they became angry. And for many years as an adult, I had the habit of going to my room if I became angry. Without being able to first express how I felt with whom I was angry with – not very helpful when having to manage a busy team of people, I might add!
Connecting and responding = Affinity
Affinity is all about being in relationship with people that we are speaking to. It’s about connecting and responding positively to people before we actually speak to them. Let me give you an example of this. Close your eyes and imagine that you are watching two horses as they greet each other for the first time. What would you see them doing as they approach each other? Horses touch noses and blow into each other’s nostrils to create connection and to cause a response in each other. After this happens they often neigh to each other for further communication (speaking).
As adults we have become so unconsciously competent at speaking we forget that like horses we to display certain types of behaviours and have attitudes when communicating with people that they pick up on and respond to. Depending on the other person’s behaviours and attitudes, or for that matter, the way they physically look will influence how we choose to communicate with them and what it is we will share with them. How do you create affinity (connection/respond) with your staff and clients before speaking to them?
Start by becoming aware of when you are reacting or resisting a conversation. This reaction and resistance will bring you out of affinity (energetically connecting) with the person you are talking with. Once affinity is lost communication becomes very difficult.
Also limiting beliefs and mindsets stored in your unconscious mind often come to the surface of your conscious mind when you are in reaction and/or resistance. If you are aware enough to catch them you be given an insight about yourself or behaviour. Armed with this insight you have a chance to change the belief into a more positive one.
Staying present and asking questions
Everyone can have a slightly different meaning for a word so choose words carefully. If someone is struggling to understand an idea you are talking about check with them to see if their meaning for some of the key words they have heard means the same for them as it does for you. Stay present (in the moment) to the conversation, and clarify using questions if you don’t understand words that are being used. Our mind is easily distracted, especially if the conversation we are having does not particularly interest us. So it’s about choosing to stay engaged with the speaker. And it is all about being aware that your mind is drifting.
Learn the art of listening with intention to people you are speaking with. All of us have this inner voice inside our head that runs our conversations, so learn to turn this off while listening. I call it declutching from the mind by observing its chatter. Otherwise it will only take you away from being present to what the other person is saying. Have a listening focus – something to place your attention on. This will relate to something in the conversation the person is speaking to you about. It might be listening for how the person is feeling, or what it is they are happy about or afraid of. It is not usually spoken but is intangible - not seen by the eye. It will help you to stay present and focused while in a conversation.
The essence of a story’s communication…
Precious Gift… One day a wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.
She did so without hesitation.
The traveler took the stone and left rejoicing at his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said….
"I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."
Sometimes it's not the wealth you have but what's inside you that others need.
And so I would like to leave you with a question… What was really communicated in this story…? And how could you apply the lesson learned with your staff? Until next time happy talking!
Carol and Sandra are passionate about supporting others to be the best they can be through sharing their stories and experiences they have gained along the way...