4 P’s to Competent Communication

Consider the following effective practices to put into place to become a more competent and persuasive communicator personally and professionally:

  1. Pause – Excellent communication starts with stopping first. There are great rewards for avoiding knee-jerk reactions. They call them “knee-jerk” because a lot of times a jerk is exactly how you feel afterwards… Pausing gives you more time (to perceive and predict) which often gives you more options (before you proceed).
  2. Perceive – The additional time that pausing produces affords you more opportunity to truly “see” what is happening in the moment. It’s to your benefit to look beyond the surface; to look just underneath the obvious. Heightened perception often leads to new perspectives that help to better (predict) how best (to proceed).
  3. Predict – Next, ask yourself: “What’s happened just before, or is likely to happen just after this encounter?” Educated predictions about pertinent circumstances or situations leading up to, and/or following your interactions result from first (pausing) and then (perceiving).
  4. Proceed – Once you’ve taken an extra second or two to (pause), sought to really “see” (perceive) the nuances, surmised (predict) what came before and what may come next, it’s now time to take the next step (proceed). Executing the first three P’s FIRST, now position you to make the best decisions and the smartest moves next.

A lot of people do this backwards. When interacting with others they often jump right to #4. They first react and proceed impulsively, and only then do they pause, perceive, and predict how to undo what they did… after the fact.

This cycle then becomes a vicious circle starting over again and again… producing similar results.

To avoid this, the most competent and persuasive communicators are proactive rather than reactive.

Proactive communication requires employing the 4 P’s in order ongoing, within every interaction.

Try it.

Doing so has the potential to make the world a better place one interaction at a time…

Stay tuned-in…

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4 “Black Flag” Phrases

You know you’ve heard these phrases before… Perhaps you’ve likely said them yourself…

I call them “black flag” phrases (even worse than a “red flag”), and you should be very afraid of them… These statements are communication suicide for practitioners, though they usually don’t realize it at the time. These statements reveal much about the person saying them, and it ‘ain’t good. These phrases are screaming: “I’m scared; I’ve been hurt; I don’t want to let you in; I’m keeping my defenses sky high to avoid future pain from you, or anyone else.” While this is common stuff most of us have felt at one point or another, it doesn’t change the fact that saying any of the following is stifiling your credibility as an effective communicator:

  1. “I don’t like people, and I don’t trust anyone.” – This statement is made by people who have very likely been hurt, and hurt bad by others in their past. Their dislike and/or distrust for others, while perhaps real, is nonetheless a big wall erected to keep people at bay so they cannot be hurt again.
  2. “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.” – This statement screams of low self-esteem and of one’s overwhelming desire to fit in and be liked. They care so much, they seek (and get) attention by claiming the opposite.
  3. “I tell it like it is. I speak my mind; when it’s on my mind.” – This statement is an intimidation tactic used to strike fear into others and to coerce compliance. It’s a technique to appear outwardly strong and confident when internally, this person actually feels weak and unsure of themselves quite often.
  4. “I’m not a conformist; I do my own thing.” – Making this statement is also evidence of the opposite because everyone says it. There seems to be this irrational fear of conforming to anything in our society. It’s as if you’re less than, or weak if you do anything that the majority does. Of course, extreme conformity and spinelessness are no good. But, everyone is a conformist to some degree or another. It’s a requirement for a civilized society.

Eradicate these statements from your lexicon. They’re weak; therefore they make you look weak. And you can’t afford that when others’ attention is today’s compensation… So how do you handle someone spewing this stuff?

the shiFt:

First, understand that the exact opposite of what is being said is typically the truth. These phrases are psychological defense mechanisms to keep danger away; to keep others at bay, and to avoid having to experience any more pain.

Second, ask these folks some questions, lots of questions. These questions should be tailored to expose the folly of these over-generalized, blanket statements. Practitioners of “blag flag” phrases won’t take your word for it. They need to be guided (by your skillful questioning) to believe they’ve arrived at their own conclusions about the ridiculousness of these statements. Then, and only then, will they begin to shift their behavior and counter these self-defeating declarations.

Stay tuned-in…

Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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What’s your role?

Square peg. Round hole.

Have you thought about the many different types of situations and circumstances you find yourself in daily, weekly, monthly?

Personal and/or professional.

Sometimes the lines are clear which is which. Sometimes they’re not.

Who you are and your purpose in differing settings drives what you do next to achieve your desired outcomes.

It’s imperative to always be cognizant of your role(s) in any situation you’re in.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all.

One simple but specific question to ask ongoing is:

What’s my role?” Right here, right now.

Your role influences your responses, reactions, and interactions.

Be specific. Be honest. Am I the boss? A peer? A subordinate? The competition? A hired gun? A friend? The foe? A family member? A disruptor? The peacemaker? More than one of the above?

The types of “roles” you play at any given time are numerous and nuanced.

Answering the “What’s my role?” question informs your next behavior(s): What to do. What not to do. How? Where? When? If to do it now, etc.

Pause. Ask the question. Be objective. Proceed accordingly.

Stay tuned-in…

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The Opposite of Knee-Jerk

stimulus-response

Stimulus = what happens to us. Response = what we do next. The “freedom” in between as the picture here illustrates also goes by another name called “communication skills.” And there’s a “big ass gap” between those who are good at this stuff, and those who only think they are.

Consider this:

It’s estimated that 14% of each work week is wasted as a result of poor communication. Miscommunication is estimated to cost an organization 25%-40% of its annual budget. (Linchpin Learning)

According to David Grossman’s research, CEO of Chicago’s The Grossman Group communications consultancy, the plethora of data that’s out there highlights the extremely high costs of poor communication skills for businesses:

“$37 billion total estimated cost of employee misunderstanding in 100,000-employee companies (average cost per company is $62.4 million per year). $26,041 cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers.”

But, the converse is equally noteworthy. Grossman’s data goes on to highlight the financial upside of communicational excellence in the corporate world:

“Companies that have leaders who are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that have leaders who are the least effective. Best Buy found that higher employee engagement scores led to better store performance… individual stores saw a $100,000 increase in operating income annually.”

Holy hell right?! This data and these statistics are external validation for the following…

Yeah, there’s lots of training on “communication skills” out there. There’s no shortage of books and seminars on the subject. But why? As the statistics above make clear, there’s a HUGE NEED for it, that’s why. Anything out there in great abundance is there because there’s demand for it; there’s a market for it. But why is a lot of “communications training” only short-lived at best or ineffective at worst? Because most training resources out there only focus on the “what and how” to enhance communication skills. The critical pieces that are left out is not helping people understand the “why” these skills are often lacking in the first place, and why it’s important to THEM to understand and apply these skills to their day-to-day lives ongoing.

This is where my stuff is different. I dig into the “why” you not only need to, but have to WANT to care about this stuff. Once the why is first, the what and how become much more attainble long-term. Big difference. It’s about the psychology underneath the communication skills… in that order.

Welcome to my world…

Anything less than “Yes, my communcation skills could and should improve,” is evidence of the opposite.

Our knee-jerk reactions are those gutteral, instinctive, evolutionary impulses that lean toward the fight or flight survival responses birthed from the amygdala deep within our “old brain.” That’s why we “snap” or “put our foot in our mouth” or say things like “that came out wrong” or “that’s not what I meant” or any other trite phrase that means: “Sorry, I just blew it.”

That’s why everyone needs great communications training. That’s why everyone can benefit from ongoing awareness of the subtleties of great communication. That’s why anyone who claims they’re exempt from this, are often the ones who need it most.

To become the best communicator you can be requires you to start “seeing things” in a figurative sense. It requires an acute awareness that allows you to miss less than most. It requires a heightened understanding of common human psychology that drives, and can predict most behavior. It requires you start considering facts over your feelings. It requires you making a conscious decision to learn to widen the gap between stimulus, and your responses. It requires you to become a student of emotional intelligence and social intelligences that separate the A players from the B players.

Understanding your audience’s psychology first helps you decide how you could and should respond to their communication second. You cannot change them, but you can change how you choose to react in response to them. This is for your, and their best benefit.

So much of this is the opposite of our typical knee-jerk tendencies and reactions. This is hard work which is why most don’t do it. It’s not necessarily a matter of ability, but of willingness. It requires a certain amount of humility and risk to truly embrace this process and improve. It requires people to pull their heads of their assess, and stop being so completely and utterly self-absorbed so much of the time. It requires the active consideration of others’ feelings, perspectives, and points-of-view. The benefits far outweigh the work, but oftentimes are not immediately evident.

There’s a definite amount of delayed gratification involved here. Patience, another great, but often overlooked communication skill, is necessary. In our fast-paced, hustle and bustle, I want it now society, patience and delayed gratification are foreign concepts to many. Master Communichologists embrace these things proactively, and advance where most others only stagnate.

YOU need this stuff most if you:

  • Feel this is all just common sense.
  • Feel that you’re already a good enough communicator.
  • Feel impatient considering all of this now, and this a waste of time.
  • Feel that “soft skills” are less important than technical skills.
  • Feel that how others feel is of no consequence to you.
  • Feel that thinking about feelings is stupid.
  • Feel the need to get on with it…

So, stop complaining, get pissed, and grow a pair – and drop your name (on the right) to get on my mailing list.

This is about the relentless pursuit of communicational excellence in all ways… always!

Stay tuned-in…

Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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Eighty-Eight (88)

Why is it when someone does things differently or chooses a different path (seemingly abruptly to others), they’re quickly labeled by some as running from something? Or they’re in denial, or backsliding, or afraid?

Is it possible that perhaps for the first time, they’re finally figuring things out? Is it possible that they aren’t running away from anything, but rather running toward something? Toward their truth perhaps? Toward a life and a lifestyle that’s been there for them all along?

Is it possible that culture’s conventions and our society’s inventions aren’t for everyone? Is it possible that cosmic interventions are real for some? Or are these assertions only for movie audiences or fans of fantasy novels?

Lots of people choose alternate roads to traverse that clash with common convention. I applaud this and endorse this. Be a responsible risk-taker, but take risks. You only get to go once around the ride.

Make it count.

Stay tuned-in…

Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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Eighty-Seven (87)

Oftentimes, I see things that I suspect others do not see. I notice “communication” happening that isn’t super obvious. I’m tuned-into much of the unspoken, the often-overlooked, the intended or unintended subtleties that fly back-and-forth between people seemingly undetected.

I like to say I work hard to miss less than most. It has its pros and cons. This awareness is a form of social intelligence that many times can be a double-edged sword. I always preach about the power of human relations awareness, but sometimes awareness is inconvenient and uncomfortable. It can be exhausting because it can’t be shut off. There’s indeed a price to pay for this privilege. They do say after all that “ignorance is bliss.”

Sometimes I wish that I was a little less aware. A little more insulated, and a little more ignorant about certain things. Might make life, you know, a little less complex. But then again, is that a good thing?

Stay tuned-in…

Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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Eighty-Six (86)

Unfortunately, this is tough stuff that touches everyone. Either directly or indirectly… But I refuse for this topic to always be a downer; doom and gloom. It can, and does become the opposite, sooner or later. Certainly, addiction and its myriad of reasons for being can be complex and controversial depending on individual circumstances. But, recovery in all its various forms, doesn’t have to be complicated, but some make it so. Some have a need for it to be more complex than it needs to be. This becomes more about justifying their status rather than about another’s state of mind.

Let’s be clear: it’s not easy, nor is it impossible to overcome and rise above the various addictions, vices, devices, distractions, or compulsions (the AV/DC’s) that can ail any of us. Everyone, and every situation is different. But for me… I simply no longer choose to engage in certain self-defeating behaviors that eventually made my world very small. It’s just not who I am anymore. It’s not what I choose to do, nor how I choose to live. The cons eventually outnumbered the pros for me. It’s that simple, though it wasn’t easy to face at first. Don’t confuse simplicity with degree of difficulty.

Once those numbers didn’t add up for me anymore, none of IT worked, and changes needed to be made. I still think about it sometimes. I fondly remember doing this or that once upon a time. Euphoric recall creeps in. Especially when I see others engaging and embracing elements of a lifestyle that’s past tense for me. For a fleeting moment, it can be tough. But when this happens, I choose to let it go and let it be. I remind myself of where I am versus where I was. The comparison is no contest.

So for me, for today… this different path has been producing different outcomes for a long time. Mostly better outcomes, but sometimes just different. It called life. Sometimes there’s celebration. Sometimes there’s consolation. It just is what it is. It’s been up, it’s been down, and then it just becomes the norm. A new normal. I suppose some may view that as both good and bad. Though sometimes it doesn’t always feel so good, it’s definitely all good. I’m fortunate, and I’m continually reminded of that. So I’m reminding me, and I’m reminding you: Whatever it is for you or someone you know, it’s temporary and can be overcome.

Stay tuned-in…

Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!