The Secrets of Inspired Relationships – Part 2 – The Problem With Communication

The problem with communication: The most frustrating thing about communication is that it is never good enough. There is always someone who will get the wrong end of the stick; They will choose to interpret what you're saying in a completely different way than what you intend.

However, expert communicators will always take responsibility for what they are saying and what gets understood or not. A helpful mindset for taking this level of responsibility is to consider that "the meaning of your communication is evident in the response you get".

For example if you are communicating to a team about some changes in targets, and you give the reasons from your perspective, you may later find out that they took away a completely different message. By really listening to their interpretation of the message and taking the time to investigate because they think like that, it will help you adjust your message so they are able to understand what you really mean.

I previously mentioned four levels of relationship and how important it is to have compatibility on each level. When we have excellent rapport with someone, we are probably able to relate with them on all four levels.
O Physical = all the non-verbal communication and body language stuff
O Emotional = the ability of both parties to empathize and understand how the other feet
O Mental = being articulate and intellectually stimulated
O Purpose = clarity of shared values ​​and the purpose of the relationship

Good relationships are still possible with only two or three levels working well, but it's very interesting to diagnose on what levels the misunderstandings occur. The Language and Behavioral Profile (LAB Profile) gives us some interesting ways of diagnosing the motivational preferences of the people we are communicating with.

Proximity -vs-Availability

In this article we will be looking at the 'Physical' level. This takes into consideration the physical working environment, as well as non-verbal communication. It is important to recognize how some people need time to themselves in order to be effective. As workloads increase and the demands on our time become more acute, it is important to consider that some people do not mind minor interruptions and can still be productive, while others need to focus on what they are doing and avoid distractions at all costs.

I've recently spoken to a number of clients who need to train their managers not to constantly interrupt them for answers to minor questions just because they happen to be in an open plan office. On a physical level, some people see proxity as availability. This needs to be managed carefully, so people can understand and respect the needs of others. There is a fine balance between being available for people as a manager or director, and training them to respect and use your time effectively.

So. . . What rules do you need to explain and set in place for your people to ensure that these issues are addressed?

Why some people can not take a hint.

In the 1980s Roger Bailey used the LAB Profile to do extensive research on people in the workplace and he found that about 7% of the working population are not able to make much sense of body language. These people do not show many emotions and have little variation in their facial expressions. The focus of their attention is on their own feelings, rather then on what others are feeling. They can only tell how well the communication is going based on their own feelings, and they are only convinced by the content of what someone is saying, not by how it is being said. They actually miss many of the clues which are available in body language and voice tonality, and do not pick up hints.

In LAB Profile terms this is referred to as a 'Self' pattern – the direction of their attention is focused on themselves and their own feelings. People with this pattern tend to be hired to work in areas of technical expertise where inter-personal skills are not essential. However there is an increasing need for people with technical expertise to be able to communicate with other departments and directly with clients. This is beginning to cause problems for some businesses because a person with a high 'Self' pattern may not recognize that a client is upset from their voice tone or body language. This means clients do not feel understood and then angrily complain to senior management.

The rest of the population tends to focus the direction of their attention on 'Others'. People with a strong 'Other' pattern have an automatic reflex response to the body language of others, for example saying "bless you" when someone sneezes, without necessarily knowing the person who sneezed. When my wife Pam and I are having people over for dinner, Pam is the perfect hostess because she is good at anticipating what our guests need before they even have to ask for it; She has a high 'Other' pattern in this context.

In a work context people with this pattern are good at customer facing roles, they find it easy to build rapport and quickly anticipate or identify customer needs.

Managing the direction of attention

When managing or trying to influence a person with a high 'Self' pattern you need to focus on the content of what you saying. Formulate your argument very specifically, have plenty of facts and evidence available to state your case. Do not be put off by their lack of reaction to what you are saying. People with a 'Self' pattern sometimes have a delay between when they receive information and when they respond to it, and then they only respond in a way that they feel is appropriate. This may not be what you think is appropriate!

It is important to recognize that while only 7% of the population has a high 'Self' pattern in a work context, there are probably many more who are borderline – they have some elements of this pattern, so the above will still apply to some Degree. Especially if they do not 'get it' first time round.

While people with an 'Other' pattern are good at building rapport, in extreme cases they can read a lot of stuff which is not even there. They can jump to conclusions about what some body language means. This can also cause problems.

For example, one of the things my wife Pam loves to do in her spare time is sew – she is an incredibly talented seamstress. A while ago I was very worried that I saw her frowning while sewing and I thought that she was upset, when I asked what was wrong, she looked at me in surprise and said "nothing". When I told her that she had a frown on her face and looked really surprised and said "that's weird, I'm just concentrating!" So just because you can read body language does not mean you always get it right, and it's dangerous to make assumptions.

These patterns are also measured with the iWAM online profiling tool and whenever I see a person with a very high 'Other' score (it is called 'Affective' in the iWAM) I discuss this issue of misinterpreting body language and the importance of checking with Others to verify if they are interpreting things correctly.

I have one client who can easily misinterpret when her fellow director is responding to her suggestion or idea. He tends to take a sharp deep breath with a slight click of his tongue and roll his eyes up toward the ceiling when thinking. She used to take this as being condescending and dismissive of her idea, when in fact all he was doing was giving it some careful thought!

Likewise a high 'Other' person will tend to feel uncomfortable with a high 'Self' person because they are difficult to read – there is not much non-verbal information to go on.

At Inspired Working we specialize in facilitating the profiling of individuals and teams to help identify motivational preferences and attitudes. This can provide valuable insights that help you understand yourself and your collections, as well as manage and get the best from your people.