Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 5

Difference ways of relating at work
In part 4 of this series we looked at Sam’s perceptual filters for tackling tasks and getting things done at work – his need for procedures, tangible things and details. 

Now let’s decode the filters Sam’s boss Roger uses to achieve results at work – his passion for options and preference for working with general concepts rather than concrete details.  Once again think of decoding the subtext of language and other unconscious behaviours. (See part 4.) 
 

Decoding non-verbal behaviour
Roger usually drives with one hand on the steering wheel and a blackberry device in the other. At the same time he’ll be carrying on a conversation using one of his manycell phones.  Hands-free, of course.  On the scale of his career, he’s the consummate multi-tasker!  Juggling several projects at once gives him the variety he craves and the freedom to enjoy it. And that’s a clue signaling Roger’s passion for spontaneity and creating options, choices, alternatives.

Another tip off
Taking Roger through a methodical discussion leading to a final decision is impossible. He jumps from topic to seemingly unconnected topic, interrupting the flow of conversation. Making leaps of logic and generally racing ahead to insightful conclusions.

No decision is ever final. He can change his mind and his plans in an instant, and numerous times. Yet Roger intuitively knows when ideas will jell. He makes brilliant connections because he thinks in not just big, but huge pictures.  

In addition to options, those behaviour patterns signal a resistance to procedural activities and a preference for thinking in very general terms.  (And Roger does prefer leaving the details to others.)
 

Decoding language – structure and process
The words Roger uses reveal more.   He peppers his language with phrases like ‘creating alternatives,’ using ‘multiple approaches,’ having ‘the freedom to choose’ and keeping his ‘options open.’ He talks of ideas and concepts like ‘taking advantage of opportunities,’ ‘getting people on board’ and ‘high impact results.’ Intangible and general terms rather than concrete ‘things,’ you can see, hear, do and measure. And the details are conspicuous by their absence.

A mis-match of filters 
Roger and Sam are polar opposites in the way they filter information and function at work. So it’s little wonder they find it less than easy to communicate. It also explains why Sam is struggling to fit the role Roger expects him to fill. 

While there is no one right or best way to filter information, the key to motivation and productivity is to match people with jobs where core competencies and essential tasks fit their natural way of filtering information. They in turn will be able to function in ways that meet your criteria for success.

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Unconscious and Non-Verbal Communications

For clarity
If you’ve been following the series on Decoding Non-verbal Communications (five parts so far) it has been renamed Unconscious Communications And Job Fit. The intention is to reduce any confusion between language and non-verbal cues. Both are unconscious communications.

Non-verbal  communications broadly refers to observable changes in physiology and voice tonality. There is a non-verbal component to language in the structure and process implied.  To reduce ambiguity, that aspect of language will be classified as unconscious communication.

The retitled series will continue. Your comments and feedback are appreciated. See the space below. 

Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 4

Would more clues be helpful?
I had a call from a friend asking for a few more clues for this series so I’m thinking it could be be useful for others as well. (See Parts One through Three)

First, you may be wondering … 
When this series first published it was called decoding ‘non-verbal’ communication. It has been renamed because the focus is clearly on the (unconscious) structure and process of language and behaviour.  The non-verbal aspect of language.   Think of it as the subtext of the words, what language communicates – without intention or awareness – about how people function in a given situation.

Their mental filters, blind spots and what it will take to motivate them. Literally how they’ll behave, what they’ll focus on, what they’ll delete and what types of assumptions they can be expected to make.

Recognizing a preference for process
Sam in this series uses a procedural approach or filter when working. This is revealed by the words he unconsciously selects when speaking about his career.  In situations or contexts where people are using a procedural filter, we can predict the following behaviours: 

  • They need structure and a process to work effectively. In fact, give them a task without a procedure, and they won’t know how to get started!
  • Once they understand the process they’ll follow it, no matter how often the task is done. Or whether it’s installing software, assembling equipment, writing a report or making sales calls. 
    And that’s critical when compliance standards and SOPs must be met.
  • They’ll actually read the instructions for new projects — before starting!
  • Once started on a process they’ll feel a compelling need to finish it.
  • If they seem to be dragging their feet, it means they don’t have a procedure to follow. So give them one.
  • They’re more efficient when they can complete one task at a time. If you interrupt them in the middle of doing something, they’ll probably lose their train of thought need to start over at the beginning.  They’ll find frequent interruptions stressful.
  • Because they are comfortable with process, they will listen to your (sales) presentation without interrupting.   
  • They will talk about processes and having to do the right things, the right way, and following sequential or step-by-step procedures.

Who do you work with who may be filtering for process? And what if you have a different way of getting things done on-the-job? See filtering for options (the other end of the continuum) and Roger’s pattern coming soon.

Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 3

Did I mention this was Practitioner season? After the first of three ‘Thursday to Sunday’ Practitioner Certification weekends, followed by two Breakthrough Coaching Sessions, I went directly to toasted … totally toasted! 

So apologies if you’ve been looking for the follow-up to this decoding exercise and now … back to Sam and Roger. And while there is bound to be a little lost in my translation of their stories, there are enough clues and insights to make the exercise worthwhile. 

The words Sam and Roger used during our conversations provided enough unconscious clues to predict their default behaviours while working.

Sam speaks of being confused, struggling, hands on, concrete, stuck, frustrated; his comfort with things and tangible tasks; and discomfort with ambiguity. 

This language is a pretty good indication that he focuses on things rather than people or ideas, learns by doing and hands-on experience, and is currently in an unresourceful state (into his feelings) because of the absence of sensory based data. 

Sam also talks about managing processes, but not knowing how to get started, says show him what to do and he’ll do it. My notes from our conversation included “needing to see my development, progress, completion of a project.”

The subtext of these words indicates that Sam will be good at maintaining processes and procedures, but when an existing process stops working or a new procedure is called for, it’s unlikely he will be able to develop one on his own.

Rogertalks about being an idea man, creating opportunities and concepts, juggling totally different projects, language that indicates he will use his ability to create options and alternatives, is someone who will challenge the status quo, change the system, change his mind frequently and will resist following procedures.  

He also talks of being impatient with the detail needed to bring intangeble ideas into concrete form, preferring to have others guide that process.  And says he wants an assistant who is comfortable with ambiguities and can create and follow processes that will identify the best opportunities and move them forward.

What Roger is saying here, is the key to finding an assistant with the best fit for the job. This person must be flexible enough to see the big picture and deal with detail. As well, they will be good at developing procedures as needed, and managing multiple projects through an evaluation process. Then letting go … seeing the best turned over to others for execution.  

Roger
is brilliant at creating ideas and concepts. He will need an assistant who is equally brilliant at seeing the potential of his ideas and bringing order and process to the party so that those ideas are realized.

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 ….

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.