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What Did You Say?

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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Quick Communication Tip

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What Did You Say?
(click for podcast)


The premise that motivation is a function of pain and reward is (to be kind) overly simplistic. In fact, to lump all humans into a single mode of stimulus and response is ludicrous. In practice, it yields dismal results.  There's got to be a better way.

People who are masters at sales are usually quite adept at “reading” people, and making adjustments to their pitches accordingly. This is often a skill that they don’t really think about. It either comes naturally to them, or has evolved through experience. They’ve discovered that by using their listening skills, and paying close attention (
see last month’s article) there’s much more to sales than using someone’s fears to manipulate them. Even for the small percentage of people that this works on, the results are short-term, non-sustainable, and inherently infused with negativity.

Why am I setting our context within the realm of sales? Whether we like it or not, the vast majority of our interactions in life involve conveying our “point” if not swaying others to it. This is the core definition of sales. We may be talking to a friend about a great meal, a great movie we just saw, or the benefits of rack-and-pinion steering. Presenting our view in a manner that is so attractive to the other person, that they might entertain holding it themselves is sales, pure and simple.

Beyond the simplicity of fear and manipulation selling is a more lasting joy of connection and relationship. This is where sustainability and repeat business come from. And just like that meal we had, or the great movie we saw, referrals and word-of-mouth come from the same place.

Using fear to manipulate is exemplified in the "Dark Side of the Force" in the Star Wars franchise. To quote Yoda, “it’s easier, faster, more seductive” yet inevitably leads to ruin. Once someone has been used in this way, they’re not likely to come back for more. It just doesn't feel good.  The way of the Jedi may take a bit more consciousness and patience, but in the end, everybody wins, and the positive cycle of referrals can continue.

Core Issues - Different Strokes
I’m not saying that fear isn’t a core issue for some people. It just isn’t the core issue for everyone. For others, a sense of Rightness drives them. Still others are driven by questions of identity and position within their social structure. Fear, Rightness, and identity issues all show up in various ways as well. They can be outwardly directed, inwardly directed, or stuffed and suppressed. Obviously one size does not fit all. We need to pay attention and be ready to adjust our approach like those masters of sales. They learn to shift from “this car has the best safety record,” to “this car will tell the world you’re successful” by reading their audience.

"God is in the details." - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Let’s look at a real-world example of how much information you can glean from the simplest verbal exchange. Imagine that you are emotionally distraught about something. Your child, partner, or friend sees you like this and says, “can I help?” Alternatively, the question is “how can I help?” A third possibility might be, “what can I do to help?” Each of these examples gives you rich information about the person asking the question.

To simplify, I’ll step into the questioner’s place; writing from first person. The first example is tricky (fewer words often creates ambiguity). I might be asking permission, but I'm also asking if my helping is a possibility. On a deeper level, I’m starting with the pre-supposition (a belief on some level) that I might not be able to help. That tells you about my internal landscape (thus my motivations).

In the second example, there is the pre-supposition that I can help you. I just need to know how to do that. I’m looking for guidance from you. That’s my actual question. The third example is especially telling. By asking “what can I do to help you,” I’m pre-supposing that I can do something to help, and I’m putting an activity safely between us. I am not offering my self. I am maintaining a safe distance emotionally, and offering a third entity: an activity I can perform. Once again, I’ve given you powerful information about my internal landscape (and motivation) through my choice of words.

Bottom Line
If you want to convey your point, and perhaps sway me to it as well, obviously you need to know more about who I am and what motivates me. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach is like playing Russian Roulette, or Ready, Fire, and don’t bother to Aim. Listening with intention and consciousness will tell you what your most persuasive approach will be.

Wouldn’t you prefer using the right key on the right lock, to trying to jam the same key into every lock, hoping to find the right one by chance? You have everything you need to succeed: your ears, your conscious mind, and your willingness. All you need to do is apply them directly toward your desired outcome.



Quick Communication Tip


Imagine a Knob, Not a Switch

When you’re listening to someone, (and yes I’ll repeat like a broken record that listening in itself is the most important thing you can do in communication) give yourself a useful image.  Rather than a switch, where people are one way or another, they’re more likely to be on a continuum; in a gray area.  This continuum is between being motivated by fear or motivated by an ideal of some kind.  Imagine the knob is full on Fear all the way to the left, focused on Rightness at the twelve o’clock position, and focused on Identity all the way to the right.

As you listen to them, see if you can “dial them in.”  Do they verbalize what they’re trying to avoid?  Do they verbalize the ideal they’re aiming for?  Do they verbalize who they are in the scheme of things?  Each of these is a powerful clue into what drives and motivates them, and that tells you how to best make your point in their own perspective

Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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