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.

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Mental Filters, Unconscious Blind Spots And Motivation

Last week during a sales workshop on influencing motivation, the importance of beliefs came up. As it usually does. Because beliefs play a major role in how we perceive and make mental maps of our experience.  

The cliché ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ should actually be reversed!  ‘You’ll see it when you believe it!’
 

Synchronicity being what it is, Fast Company (a favorite business magazine) sent out a fast fact link on the same subject, same day.  I shared it with the workshop participants and thought you might enjoy it too. 

The Seeing/Believing Gap | by Marcia L. Conner
What you see may be only a fraction of what’s there. To
learn more, look beyond what you expect.
http://trax.fastcompany.com/k/w/mailman/fasttake/20071010/seebelieve

On a similar note, here’s a quote attributed to Buddha on the subject of judgmental thinking: “There is nothing to judge because perception can only see illusion. Perception is always partial and limited to arbitrary context.”
 

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.

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.  

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.

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!

Why Non-verbal Communications Are Critical In Sales

Just finished writing a promotional article for Foran Financial Institute.  Foran provides excellent exam preparation courses for financial services professionals as well as hosting Innergize workshops on accelerated learning and communications.  The article happened to be on influencing motivation—techniques for sales and marketing.  And it reminded me how much we risk when we take take non-verbal communications for granted. 

Take a challenge
Ask your sales people to rate their skill with non-verbal communications.  Have them use a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is excellent and 1 is ‘you want me to rate what?’  I can almost guarantee you’ll get nothing lower than 7 as an answer.  It’s way too easy to over simplify, assuming that because we earn our living selling that means we must be excellent in all forms of communications.  

During workshops, sales people may even be tempted to brush off the practice exercises for non-verbals “because we already know that.” Yet, like everything else we choose to practice or not, there is a risk and a reward.  

The following insights on consumer behaviour while not new news, are worth considering if you’re working in sales.  And my belief is that we all sell whether we like it or not, products, services, or simply our ideas.

Grounded in Research
First, remember that decisions are based on feelings and then justified with rational conscious thought. And neuroscience suggests that up to 95% of our emotions, decisions and behaviour are a result of unconscious processing.

Three things you may not have considered

  1. When asked about product choices, if people don’t know consciously, they will make up salient, plausible and socially acceptable reasons for what they do. (1) In other words, customers will tell you what they think they should want, based on social influences. (A tendency that has led to some costly miss-takes in consumer research.)
  2. While features and benefits supply the rational reasons to justify a decision once it is made, the unconscious sensory elements of an experience have far greater influence (positive or negative) on emotions, buying decisions and loyalty. (1)
  3. Non-verbal cues and linguistic markers provide the most accurate information about what people want and intend to do, because they are largely unconscious.(2)

Unlocking unconscious communication 
Three skills worth learning:

  • How to dig deeper for the real reasons people will buy.
  • How to use specific process words and other non-verbal behaviour to communicate your value.  
  • How to read the critical non-verbal cues that reveal more than customers can or will tell you. 

Learn more about unlocking unconscious and non-verbal communications

(1) J. Le Doux, Center for Neural Science, NYU, 1998.
(2) J. Kagan, Harvard Mind: Brain: Behaviour Initiative, 2002