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Neutral language – an act of elegance March 12, 2011

Posted by Vincent in Uncategorized.
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One of my prime aims, both professionally and personally is to be able to communicate elegantly. What I mean by ‘elegance’ in this context is this: Think of being at a function of some kind and in walks someone who you consider to be elegant. It may not be immediately evident as to what exactly makes them appear that way. It is likely to be that whatever it is they are wearing, their appearance, manner and actions just seem to be perfectly suited to the occasion, it simply works.
Now, apply this to communication. An elegant communicator will be someone who, although it may be difficult to discern at the time, will listen, attend, observe, respond, question and gesture in exactly the way that is needed at the time; needed by the other person or parties to the conversation.

So if this is indeed an accurate concept, what goes into the communication wardrobe of an elegant communicator?

1. Ability to quickly build rapport.
2. Ability to listen and respond with empathy – key ingredient of no1.
3. Able to keep own communication ‘clean’ i.e. without introducing personal interpretation, bias, assumption, filtering. Hard, not impossible and ultimately critical to success.
4. A genuine unconditional positive regard. The ability to be tough on the issues and not on the person. Able to maintain or enhance self-esteem
5. Encourage others through showing interest. The only way to do this authentically is to be genuinely interested.
6. Congruence – litmus paper test. What you say or do needs to be matched by how you look and sound when you say or do it. Open and honest communication draws heavily from this.

Achieving elegance should be a constant aim, I know it is for me.

Authentic presence – tashi deley February 15, 2011

Posted by Vincent in Uncategorized.

I came across a story today that really touched me. It was in a book entitled ‘Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence In Business’ (Cooper and Sawaf), 2000, Texerre, London.
The story is too long and involved to rerproduce here but it was about two people from different cultures exchanging the knowledge of one phrase of each of their languages. The first, a Tibetan boy, taught the other the Tibetan greeting ‘tashi deley’. It means that the sayer is recognising the greatness in the other person. When it was the turn of the English-speaker, their offering was ‘hello’. Once the boy had learnt how to say hello he asked what it meant. It is also a greeting said the English-speaker to which the boy said,”and does that also mean that the speaker honours the greatness in the other person?”

“sadly, no” said the English-speaker… by now in tears.

The cultures prevailing in the Western World seem to come up short with regard to treating people with unconditional positive regard. We do not naturally have our greatness, our fundamental spirituality recognised in the way represented by that simple yet potent Tibetan phrase.

A conversation about multiple intelligences and appreciative intelligence July 19, 2010

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I came across the notion of ‘appreciative intelligence’ the other day whilst reading about appreciative inquiry – http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/CommentaryForewardOakAcorn.pdf
It sparked my interest because it addresses the intelligence required to appropriately harness all other intelligences an individual has; it is a meta-intelligence as Howard Gardner, creator of the multiple intelligences theory, describes it; meta being the greek word for ‘above’.

Thatchenkery and Metzker wrote “the key is in finding the oak tree in the acorn.” My interest is in how we can identify, develop and release this meta-intelligence in others.

I agree with David Cooperrider, co-creator of ‘Appreciative Inquiry’, that being able to appreciate the positive possibility in every person and situation opens up enormous opportunities, quite often untapped and having the capacity to create a huge impact on the World.

Powerful influencing using neutral language March 7, 2010

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Two neutral language patterns I use often when influencing others are “given that…” and “in order to…”

Using “given that” allows the speaker to bring into the conversation all the driving forces behind the topic. “In order to” helps to engage help and involvement from the other party. Here’s an example from a conversation between two people, one of which is aiming to influence the other to adopt a particular course of action:

“given that you have been looking for an opportunity to develop your management skills I thought this project would offer you exactly that.” “In order for you to be able to do that we would need to free some of your time. Given that, who would you suggest could pick up the XYZ process whilst you concentrated on the project.”
“Given the short time scale before the project starts and in order to let Operations know who our representative is in time, please let me know your thoughts by the end of tomorrow.”

I class this as neutral language because there is no bias in its use (i.e. persuasion). It is powefully influencial however by its use of linked assertive statements.

It works extremely well in ‘difficult’ discussions. Parents can use it with children around 9+ too.

What do you think about these patterns?