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Welcome!

Welcome to my blog! Here I’ll share lessons, tips, and past experiences from my time working with and leading diverse teams all over the globe, interacting with different social groups, and giving speeches to diverse audiences in Toastmasters.

Ultimately, I hope to provide insight that will help you better connect with others on your teams, in your communities, or with your audiences.

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”

Brene Brown

Words, Tone, and Body Language

7% verbal (word choice)
38% tone
55% body language

Tone (38%) + Body language (55%) = Nonverbal (93% of communication is non verbal)

*This is a rough breakdown of how we communicate.

These numbers vary based on who you ask, but they all come to the same conclusion. The majority of our communication takes place through body language. After body language, the tone we use communicates more to the person receiving our message than the actual words we use to communicate. Think about it. What are you communicating to your sister if you say, “I like your shoes” in a friendly tone while smiling? What are you saying if you tell your sister, “I like your shoes” while scoffing and sounding condescending? You used the same words but communicated different messages.

One day take a moment and focus on the communication around you. Concentrating on words is easy, at least in my experience. Pay attention to tone and body language. You’ll notice interactions with your friends, family members, and coworkers. You might observe something like this:

You’re sitting in the office next to your coworker Kate when your boss walks in.

Boss: (staring down at her clipboard) Hey Kate, I need you to take the lead on this new project.

Kate: (shoulders drop, and speaks in a hesitant tone) Okay.

Boss: (still staring at her clipboard) Thanks, Kate!

Kate: (eye roll and speaks in an unenthused tone) No problem boss, glad I could help.

Communication is more than the words we use.

*The study that lead to the 7/38/55 principle was originally focused on communicating emotion specifically. The study was conducted by world renowned behavioral psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian. While percentages may differ, I’ve personally found the majority of communication is still non-verbal.

Conflict: Discussing, Arguing, Fighting

When you communicate with your team, family, or friends, you will eventually have conflict. You’ll have your opinion or goals, and they’ll have theirs. It’s easy to get into a verbal altercation and say something you’ll regret. The good thing is you have different ways to communicate when you find yourself in this situation.

  • Discussion: The goal is to listen to each other. You must hear the other person out. What is your objective, and what is theirs? Can you work together to help out one another
  • Argument: Each person wants to win. Neither individual is listening to understand. You listen to respond, which isn’t listening at all
  • Fight: Avoid this at all costs as it will strain and potentially ruin a relationship. The goal here is to destroy. You don’t want that person to think the way they think ever again.

From my personal experience, discussion leads to productivity and civility. Teams thrive when they have discussions. Arguments aren’t productive. No one listens because everyone wants to get their point across. Conversations become overly emotional and unproductive and often lead to fights. Nothing good comes from trying to destroy your teammates.

I want to give a shoutout to Dominic Syracuse. Dominic is a comedian, actor, teacher, and business owner who owns a business called Cognitive Behavioral Theater. I’ve been aware of these principles for most of my professional career, however I’ve never sat down and really thought about how we communicate during conflict until I attended his seminar. His seminar is where I really began to understand discussions, arguments, fights and the emotional process we go through during each. If you have time, please check out his bio and webpage (hyperlinked above).

Communication 101: The Basics

Have you ever been told that you need to improve your communication? Do you work on a team that keeps miscommunicating? If so, you may want to revisit the basics. Most of us make the mistake of communicating without thinking about how communication actually works. Whole books have been written on this topic, but here are the basics that you need to understand. 

The Roles:

  1. The sender
  2. The message 
  3. The receiver(s) 

The Steps:

  1. Encoding: The process of the sender sending the message (verbal and nonverbal)
  2. The medium of transmission: How a message is transmitted, i.e., email, text, conversation  
  3. Decoding: How the receiver interprets the message
  4. Feedback: The receivers response to the message. 

What does this look like?

You (sender) are having a face-to-face conversation (medium) about a project with your coworker (receiver). You tell (encoding) your coworker that you have a ton of work that needs to get done before you can focus on the project. Your coworker takes a moment to think about what you said (decoding), flashes a quick smile (feedback), and walks away. A couple of hours later, your manager announces that you’ve been taken off the project. You had no intention of being taken off the project? What happened?

Does this sound familiar? Where do you think the communication breakdown was? Was it the sender, receiver, the message? Was the message decoded correctly, or could it have been encoded differently? Take a moment to think about it. Once you believe you have an answer, ask yourself these questions. Are these individuals from the same culture? Do they both have the same communication styles, life experiences, etc.? Are you starting to see why communication is so difficult?

If you’re interested in improving your communication skills, please check out our other blog posts and subscribe to our blog.

 

Late Night Thought: A Team

A team is more than a collection of random individuals. A team is a unit that thinks as one and acts accordingly.

A team is not driven by ego. A team thrives off of sacrifice.

A team should have star performers and leaders, but should not live or die based on the performance of any one individual 100% of the time.

A team is many pieces who have one mind, drawn together to accomplish one common goal like different parts of the body coming together while being controlled by the brain.

Are you a team or a collection of individuals?

A Brief Thought: It’s Not About You…It’s About Your Audience

“The goal is to be understood, to be heard by the audience, not to feed our own ego.”

A.L.H.S.

Communication is complex, that’s no secret. Naturally, we’re going to make mistakes. One common mistake I see often is speakers focusing too much on themselves and what they want and not enough on the audience.

Great speakers focus on tailoring their message to the audience, whether it be a crowd of thousands of people listening to you deliver a keynote speech or a small intimate team of 5 people that they are trying to persuade. The goal is to be understood, to be heard by the audience, not to feed our own ego. In order to be heard we have to meet our audience where they are.

Are you focusing on your audience or is it all about you?

A Brief Thought on Improvement

“I want my readers to understand, education does not replace experience. Reading will help, but if you want to see real improvement you must ‘do’.”

A.L.H.S

I want to share a quick thought with my readers. It’s important to understand the difference between education and experience. I’ve taken formal courses in public speaking, communication, and team/social dynamics. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from experience–leading teams, delivering speeches, and interacting with individuals from all over the world. In this blog I draw on both my education and experience.

I want my readers to understand, education does not replace experience. Reading will help, but if you want to see real improvement you must “do”. You must go out and work with teams, interact with people, and work on your public speaking.

Keep that in the back of your mind as you continue to read. As always thank you for reading my blog.

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