The other day I was teaching a yoga class and giving lots of precise instructions. At least, I felt they were precise!
I consciously tried not to use
negative language such as ‘Don’t do that…or You don’t want to …’. Instead, I
opted for words such ‘Avoid doing xxx or
‘Think about how you want to xxx’.
It was not easy, and it required a very conscious effort that I know at some point I will master when teaching. After all, I am only at the very beginning of my yoga journey as a teacher.
However, it made me think of how much of a difference the words we choose can make on people’s behaviours.
They regulate the energy we create (or destroy) in a room.
They can generate expectations or mitigate them.
They can create trust or threaten it.
They can generate confusion or give clarity.
Simply, they can powerfully influence people’s feeling.
No matter how hard we try,
people will always analyse and interpret the way we communicate. And we are
always communicating … through words, body movement, choice of actions, choice
of clothes, silence etc.
I feel that when it comes to leadership, having a deep awareness of our communication tools is a must. It’s about developing a certain degree of emotional intelligence to understand (and value!) what impact our communication style can have on people and then adjusting it accordingly.
During my career in communication, I’ve often noticed that when people are under pressure they tend to communicate out of fear: perhaps fear of being judged by the boss or colleagues, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of not being listened to … So unconsciously they (we !) revert to some sort of internal communication coping mechanism, ignoring the reasons and purpose of the communication in question.
Here my 5 top questions to keep the focus on our kokoro when communicating and develop more awareness as leaders:
- What’s that part of
my narrative (story) I am communicating (or not) through my language?
- How do I want to be
perceived through my communication style? And why?
- How do I want
people to feel and act?
- What do I notice
about my audience after I communicate something? Can I stop and observe?
- What’s my natural
way of communicating when I am under pressure? Can I stop and observe?
I would love to know what you think about this and what questions you tend to ask yourself before any communication, if you do!
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