Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 2

Difficult boss or miss-match of needs?
Let’s talk about Roger for a minute, the man Sam was working for as a personal assistant. Roger usually juggles five or six totally different business projects at once. He jumps from one to another like lightning on a hot summer night!  

Roger is an idea person. Creative, perceptive, with a gift for seeing connections and hidden potential. He wants to deal with the big picture and has little time or patience for the detail work needed bring ideas into concrete form. 

What Roger needs in an assistant is someone who can organize the different business concepts he creates into a cohesive, structured process for investigating the best opportunities and moving them forward.

The person who takes on this role will need to be comfortable with ambiguity and figuring things out ‘on-the-fly.’  Capable of developing and managing processes to bring intangible concepts into form.

In will require both seeing the really big picture – I’m thinking from 30,000 feet – and digging into detail, doing the research to screen out unsuitable ideas. 
And since worthy projects will be handed off to others, job satisfaction will come from simply knowing that you’ve contributed. Because it’s a changing game and there will be little in the way of concrete evidence of work completed. 

Decoding unconscious communications
Voice inflections, changes in breathing, facial colour and other subtle non-verbal cues guided my conversations with Sam and Roger, telling me when I was getting close to something really important and when to probe a little deeper. The structure of their language and choice of words provided a blueprint for how they process information and function when they are in ‘work mode’ or on-the-job. 

Words have a subtext
Now we’re getting to the unconscious part of language.  Decoding the structure and process of the words people use – unconsciously – in casual conversation is is an accurate predictor of how people will respond in specific situations – their default settings for acting, or not acting. Usually more accurate than paper or computer based profiling, because it is based on unconscious responses.  


Here’s a decoding opportunity for you
When you have a few minutes to play, go back and read Unconscious Communications And Job Fit – part 1, noticing language, the specific words used to describe Sam. (I used his own words for the description.)

Now, compare the language used above to describe Roger. What differences can you identify? Exclude the paragraph beginning ‘what Roger needs,’ for now.  And stay tuned for the next post where the language will be explained, unpacked or decoded, your choice, so you can see the implications for default behaviour. I’ll also finish the story of Sam and Roger ….

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Unconscious Communications And Job Fit – Part 1

Right person wrong job
Several weeks ago I was asked if I could help a new employee and his boss work more effectively together.  What fell out of the coaching process was that the real issue was job-fit.  

We all want the satisfaction of feeling like we’re contributing, being appreciated and valued for our personal qualities. So when our default settings for how we function – approach tasks, process information, what we notice and focus on and how we interact with others – are unsuited to the job, motivation plummets along with our sense of self worth. Low productivity and high stress levels follow. 

In this case the employee and his boss were both doing all they could to make the relationship work.  Now you may be wondering what this has to do with decoding non-verbal communications, but stay with me and we’ll get to that. (The following details have been altered just enough to preserve the privacy of all parties.)   


Sam
had been in his new job less than three weeks, but there were already cracks showing in the relationship with his boss. It was decided I would observe a series of out of town meetings Sam and his boss Roger were attending. Managing sales teams for a number of years taught me how valuable ‘drive time’ can be for discussing sensitive issues, so I arranged to travel with Sam.

During the drive to the meetings it became clear that Sam was confused about what was expected of him and struggling to please the man he worked for. Not a pleasant place to be! The reasons for his discomfort also began to surface.

What unconscious communication revealed …
Sam came from a industry where the job focus was on producing products. A few questions revealed that he functions best with things, concrete facts and tangible results. He is not comfortable with concepts and ideas, intangibles and ambiguity.

While good at managing processes, Sam is not good at developing them. Show him what needs to be done and he’ll do it. Ask him to figure out a new way and chances are unless he has a previous frame of reference, he won’t know how to get started. He’ll literally be stuck. And frustrated. 

To function well, Sam needs to be able to see, hear and have tangible sensory experiences of the work he does. Sensory based evidence is how he knows what is working and what needs improvement. 

Sam’s boss, a man I’ll call Roger, was also feeling the strain of having to explain what he saw as a straight forward request several times. I already knew Roger quite well and his communication style is anything but straight forward. He has unique needs.   Up next, Roger’s needs and the decoding that resolved this relationship.

20 Coaching Questions for Managers

So …. I tried to post a link to a September 15 Globe and Mail article entitled ‘Managing Change, Don’t Boss Them Coach Them.’  Thought a list it included of 25 general coaching questions could be useful. But when I tested the link, no joy! 

So I decided to offer some of my own not so general coaching questions instead, because I’m still thrashing around the subject I really want to talk about – jop fit or as Yoda would say, “job not-fit!” 

Activating here and now motivation

  1. What’s important to you about doing or not doing (fill in the task/action?)
  2. And if there were one thing more?
  3. What do you want to achieve, or avoid?
  4. How else might you achieve/avoid that (answer to previous question?)
  5. What unintended consequences could you be faced with by continuing (the current action?)

Separating facts from interpretation

  1. What are you/we assuming about the situation?
  2. How did you decide that? Or … 
  3. I’m wondering, what evidence do you have for believing that? 
  4. What can we see/hear/what facts support this?
  5. What else could be true?

Antidotes for impossibility and non-accountability stories 
Great for handling “I am” +  a negative like stressed, frustrated” and “I can’t ” usually followed by “because … ”

  1. How do you know? (‘How did you decide that?’ works well too.)
  2. What prevents you?
  3. What would happen if you could?
  4. Has there ever been a time when you did?
  5. What was different then?

Handling overwhelm

  1. How is this a problem for you? (Great for issues expressed in long, vague, convoluted and all encompassing statements.)
  2. What is the best way you have handled a situation like this in the past?
  3. What are the moments of choice?
  4. What is the first step you can take?
  5. And the next?

Alternatively …  have the person write a list of everything they feel they must do.  (Rarely will people come up with more than 20 items.) Next, ask them to rank the list with A, B, C, D in order of priority. Finally ask ‘which would make the biggest shift/improvement’ if they got stared on it immediately. More on coaching skills for managers.

Listening Skills Take Two

Overlooking the obvious

In addition to using real questions (covered last week), what else can you do?  When someone else initiates the conversation, it’s especially easy to leap right in. Instead pause for a moment and set your intention. Stop whatever else you were doing, and decide on your intention for the conversation that follows.

 

Sure, we all like to think we can multi-task, but the truth is we’re really just dividing our attention into slices and switching it back and forth.  So as Yoda would say ‘there is no multi-tasking, there is only listen or not listen.’ You decide.

 

Hearing with your eyes

Watch the other person and you’ll notice telltale cues that whisper … stop talkingask a question … or simply … hear this! Visual cues let you know from moment-to-moment how others are responding. So you can pause, confirm their position and ask a relevant question if need be.

 

Notice colour changes in the face and neck areas and pay attention to altered breathing. Like colour changes, a sigh or a deep exhale signals you’ve triggered an emotion. Pause and ask a question. Find out if it signaled a move in the right direction before you go on. If you’re thinking “not me, I’m not going near emotions, not with a ten foot pole” or a version of the same, wait.

 

Emotions are a good sign

You know emotions are the key to motivation. No emotional engagement means little motivation. And relax. Most people probably feel the same about exposing their emotions as you feel about dealing with them!  Chances are they won’t even be aware of what they’ve just revealed. They will sense you’re really listening to them. And feel good about that!

 

Seeing with your ears

Notice changes in voice tonality, how the volume, tempo and pitch varies. People will underline important words using tonal emphasis. Focus your how and what questions on the words they highlight and you’ll discover the deeper meaning behind the words.

 

Good leaders are good listeners

How you listen and ask questions demonstrates the level of your interest. Sincere, deep or superficial.  Leadership studies show a strong correlation between listening skills and the being perceived as a good leader. And although it seems counter intuitive, introverts make the most successful sales people in many fields. Perhaps because they listen more.  

Oh By The Way … Learning NLP

Why does it take so long?
So I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and he asked why the Innergize NLP Practitioner Certification was a full 12 days.  And that’s a $64,000 question.

After all, we live in an on-demand world. Information is available instantly on the web. Multi-tasking is a badge of honour and our attention spans shorten year by year. Or does it just seem that way to me?
 

How You’ll Learn NLP
 So … why 12 days?

  1. There is a lot of content, a lot of essential details that do make a difference. Digesting the information over many days means more nights to sleep on in. When you sleep, information you were exposed to during the day moves from short term memory into long term memory. (Well documented by research in accelerated learning.)
  2. I’ll be sharing NLP secrets with you, nuances usually only trainers know, because they are often the difference that makes the difference in challenging situations. Like succeeding with the people in your life who will want to challenge your new skills.
  3. You’ll learn NLP five ways, from 5 different perspectives. These are the keys to integrating NLP into your everyday behaviour, because it takes more that intellectual knowing to get results with NLP. After your first weekend with Innergize you will be using it. Even your friends will notice.

And here’s why
Perhaps you’ve read some books, listened to tapes, CDs, even taken a short workshop. Or you know someone who has. And noticed that some things work, make sense, others don’t. So what gives?

Five ways, 5 perspectives
To really use NLP I’ve found you need to experience it on five levels.

  1. You need to learn the content consciously. What you’re doing and how to layer in each element for maximum impact.
  2. Your unconscious mind needs the information too. In a format that is easily taken into your mental programming, in a way that respects you and your unique personality.  Now, you’re ready for experience.  You’ll practice the skills in small chunks layering in more and more pieces over time.
  3. You’ll learn by practicing the skills with a partner. Try them on and observe the effect, test your results and use feedback to adjust your technique.
  4. You’ll learn by experiencing the effect of the techniques, how it feels when they’re working and when they’re out of sync.  
  5. You’ll learn by observering others practice. You’ll see the effects, noticing what’s working from moment-by-moment. Bonus!! (Okay, I forgot one.)
  6. You’ll learn by sharing your experience and asking questions after each practice session.  What worked well, what needs fine tuning. Questions  about applying the techniques in situations in your own life.

And did I mention the coaching? Small class size means you’ll receive individual attention from the trainer.  Read all about the fall 2008 NLP Practitioner Training Certification Program.

Questions A Key To Better Listening?

A couple of days ago I stumbled on some research about the use of questions. It seems 40% of all the questions people ask are really statements, and another 40% are actually judgments disguised as questions. (1)

I had to stop and think about that. On reflection, it makes sense, yet seeing the percentages in black and white was a little shocking. 

Those ‘don’t you think …’ questions
If 80% of our questions are just a way of stating the obvious or sliding in our own opinion, that means only 20% focus on hearing what the other person has to say! If you’d like to do a little research of your own, catch some of the interviews on cable news programs. Or listen to ….

Questions expose our intentions
They instantly give away whether we are in listening or telling mode. Stop for a minute and think of a conversation you had recently.  One that left you feeling the other person was holding back. Is it possible your questions discouraged their input? Accidentally implied you were not really ready to listen? Hum. Possible isn’t it?  
 

Listening requires content
Once you ask good questions you can begin really listening. Because good questions can uncover information people haven’t yet discover for themselves, they’ll need time to go inside and figure it out.  Time to pull up thoughts, feelings and perhaps even fears, about what really matters.  So after you ask, pause. Be willing to wait. It shows your intention is to listen.

And speaking of good questions … 
We weren’t, but it’s probably a good idea anyway.  As a general rule of thumb, good questions are how and what questions. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • What’s important to you about ….  ? Fill in the subject you’re discussing.  And then when they’ve finished telling you, asking with a meaningful look …‘if there were one thing more?’
  • You must have a good reason for saying that … do you mind if I ask what it is? Great for handling judgments and blanket objections.   
  • How is that working for you? Works well for those ‘we already have that covered’ occassions. Asking how sends people inside to evaluate.    

Let me know how these work for you, and if you have a sticky situation that needs a question, let me know that too.  Next, more ways to listen  

 

(1) William Isaacs of MIT, in Dialogue And The Art Of Thinking Together, 1999.

Performance Breakthrough Coaching Or NLP Practitioner

So I had this call …
Since it’s Practitioner Season, no surprise that was the subject of the discussion.  The bottom line question was ‘should the caller take the Practitioner program starting September 25, or go for the Breakthrough Coaching?’ A great question.

How Would You Decide?
Sometimes the best answer to a question really is another question.  In this case, there are three I ask.

  1. Are you feeling stuck in some area of your life right now?
  2. Do you have any behaviours, habits, or beliefs that are blocking your success, happiness or satisfaction with life?’
  3. And most importantly, if you answered yes to either of these, how urgently do you need to move on?

I have had people call me and say ‘I’ve been given 30 days to change (my behaviour/my attitude/my results) or I’ll lose my job.’ 

Many times the very people who are most competent, even brilliant in their own area of expertise, have the least easy time integrating into some work environments. 

When it’s 30 days or else
Sometimes it’s a job-fit issue (think hiring miss-take), or interpersonal conflicts (read lack of attention to soft skills.) Or it could be timing as in over due for a change or stressed out.  Whatever …. These are all good reasons to go for the Performance Breakthrough Coaching.

Breakthrough sessions are a quick and very dependable way of changing habits, beliefs and behaviours in a short period of time.  They’re easy to schedule around your time and my availability, because they’re one-to-one sessions.  Just remember that rather than learning new skills, you’ll be getting results.  Even in extreme situations.

When evolution works
If life is going smoothly right now and you’re just looking to pick up the pace, the Practitioner program is well worth your time.  Because dollar for dollar, hour for hour, it is one of the best investments you can make in the rest of your life.  (Well I would say that wouldn’t I?) But wait …

I can’t tell you how often participants take me aside half way through the program and say ‘I’ve been meaning to take this training for years … just never got around to it. Now, I wish I’d learned this stuff 20 years ago. What a difference it would have made in my life!’ 

So you decide
When change is no longer an option, take the Breakthrough session.  You can always come back for the Practitioner training later (and around 50% of my clients do.)  When you want all the NLP tools, and you’re curious about experiencing the world from different perspectives, you’re ready for the NLP Practitioner  certification program.

What Is NLP?

It’s NLP Practitioner time of year
The back-to-school season seems to stimulate our drive for learning and advancing our careers, relationships and personal lives.  At Innergize, interest always peaks for the fall certification, spread easily over one long weekend in September, October and November.

What is NLP?
So I had a call the other day … and the caller wanted to know “what is NLP really?” Seems his friends and perhaps even my web site (oops!) had left him interested but also a little confused. Humm. 

A better question?
One of the least easy things for NLP practitioners to do is explain what it is in 25 words or less.  The elevator speech doesn’t come easy. After 14 years of working on it, ten as a certified trainer of NLP, I humbly offer the explanation that follows. For me, a better questions might be ‘what are the real real reasons NLP will work’ in your life.  

It all boils down to one word–Practice!
NLP is the practice of experiencing the world from multiple perspectives, to expand, enrich and provoke more choice, control and success.  
It includes tools for:

  • Achieving efficient, effective communications,
  • Creating more resourceful habits, beliefs and behaviours and …
  • Modeling (think reverse engineering) experts, so others can replicate their mental and physical strategies to achieve similar results.

With these kinds of tools, the applications are almost unbelievably broad. And that’s where I think we fall down as practitioners. We simply overwhelm people with choices and possibilities. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

NLP has applications for business, education, parenting, sports and health. It can be used to improve performance virtually anywhere people are involved.

NLP at work
For business, NLP can improve job-fit, teach soft skills and develop emotional intelligence.  There are applications for coaching, managing and leading, marketing research and sales.  Modeling can accelerate the transfer of skill mastery and excellence from one person to another.

More rewards
Most people take the Practitioner class because they are attracted to specific tools.  Those who enjoy the most success with NLP persistently practice experiencing the world from different perspectives.  And then you’ll discover NLP offers so much more–a way of building resiliency and thriving in our changing world!