The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Peter Drucker
Communication of all sorts means mastering the two conversations, the verbal and the nonverbal.
Nick Morgan, founder of Public Words Inc., is one of America’s top communication and speech coaches. Through his book, Trust Me, he outlines the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.
The purpose of this book is to show how to structure the verbal conversations and make leaders aware of their nonverbal conversations of others. Morgan; “Once you’ve become a conscious master of the nonverbal conversation, you can learn to control it effectively by dealing with it in the realm of intent”.
In the author’s mind, nonverbal communication needs more attention and the reason is that it has been ignored by leaders too long, or treated as an accompaniment to speech. Instead, leaders are spending a huge amount of time and effort in getting their words right. Morgan; “Lawyers are paid millions to make sure that the words are not actionable. And yet the real conversation is happening all the time around them and it’s a conversation that they’re only dimly aware off”. Morgan is trying to make us aware that every communication is two conversations. If leaders speak with diffidence, ambivalence or confusion and their nonverbal conversation reveals their uncertainty, that will spread quickly to people around them, which means that leaders can’t afford this.
In connection with other people, we express ourselves by shaking our heads, we nod, roll our eyes. This is all expressions by our reactions, which show more than words can tell. Morgan; “The list goes on: duration, time, movement, action, spatial relationships, and pointing are all based in gesture”.
I just read an interesting Forbes article; Back To The Future With Face – To Face Technology, written by, Carol Kinsey Goman, she say; “In Face -to-Face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-Face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We, get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language. And we rely on immediate feedback the instantaneous responses of others-to help us gauge how well our ideas are being accepted”.
Let us take a closer look at the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there where only walls. Joseph Campbell
To conduct an orchestra you need to know your people. But first the conductor has to be aware about his own reaction’s before he/she can learn about others. It will then get easier to gain understanding and insight in people’s need’s and wishes. (My previous article;Emotions)
What we show of our feelings, our emotional performance, is heavily influenced by social conventions and the impressions we wish to convey to others. It is socially constructed. (My previous article; Emotions)
Morgan; ” A communicator who is transparent about her intent almost always gets more respect and tolerance from listeners than someone who isn’t. But to achieve that kind of openness and to make it real, you have to be transparent about your values, not just your opinions”.
Nonverbal conversation depends upon trust and is even more important to openness in some ways than the verbal. Morgan;”Trust is the essential goal of an open nonverbal conversation. And it is the basis of communication”. It is therefore well worth saying more about.
Cognitive behavior and approaches is all about our thoughts, often we are caught in a pattern we have difficulties changing. We need to be open-minded toward people’s views, ideas and thoughts. (My previous article; Organizational Culture )
Morgan; “The essence of trust is believing that the other party will do what he or she says and that there are no nasty surprises coming. Trust is difficult to create and almost impossible to reestablish once it has been lost”.
Our body language speaks for itself. We connect and get closer to people whom we are open with and make distance from people we are not. The face is capable of many expressions and the variation is big. However these four open eyes, raised eyebrows, nodding, and smiling are signs to openness.
The author makes us aware that our unconscious expertise at reading others gives us that much, but not much more. Most of us are poor at reading body language if we are asked to do it consciously.
Morgan; “Openness in communication especially in nonverbal communication, is the first step toward creating authenticity and charisma as a leader. Without it, you can’t begin to connect with audiences. With openness, the rest of the steps are possible, and you can become an effective communicator”.
Communication-the human connection-is the key to personal and career success. Paul J. Meyer
In conversation with people we need to remember that connected communication is reciprocal. Morgan; “For the most part, people feel obligated to listen if you’ve listened to them. Some self-absorbed people never reciprocate, the golden rule is deeply baked into our psyches”.
We tend to connect more easy with people who are like us. Also we connect better with ideas, communications, and with people we perceive to be different and unusual, scarce or rare. Morgan; “we are perverse creatures and can one day ignore and the next day embrace an idea, a communication, or a person who is unusual to us”.
Not surprisingly we all unconsciously measure the distance between ourselves and other people for obvious reasons of self-protection first, and interest second in nonverbal connection.
The author makes us aware that the culture differs and has an influence on the personal space, as in Mediterranean and Asian cultures where they tend to shrink the distances, and Western cultures preserve them.
Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking. (My previous article; The Art of Persuasion)
Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart. Phil Jackson
Conversations become interesting when you show real interest, openness and passion. Then you create trust and connection. You show your heart. Morgan; “Showing your heart to someone is neither trivial nor easy. Trust must be firmly established, and the way to do that is through openness and connection”.
Here, the author makes us aware that the nonverbal expressions of emotion are stronger than the verbal expression, and if the two are at odds, the person you’re communicating with will believe the nonverbal always.
If we take a closer look on how to be passionate nonverbally, your emotionally state plays a role. Your emotional mood has a big impact on people in your environment, whether you are in a good or bad mood. Morgan; “Sincerity of emotion shows up in nonverbal conversation through, perhaps surprisingly, stillness and openness. While the strong passions anger; joy, excitement of various kinds-can all be signaled with energetic body movements, sometimes extreme stillness can be just as effective. Think of it like the voice; the point is to establish a baseline and then vary that to exhibit the emotions”.
When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen. Stephen Covey
As a leader you need to be able to listen to your colleagues, and understand their point of view. Morgan; “People need to be heard to be validated as human. We’re a social species”.
You can look at the organization like a big team, inside the team there are people with different kinds of expertise, experience, knowledge, interests and perspectives. They all depend up on each other to achieve their best. You have to cooperate, talk and discuss issues of importance within your team. Give each other room to grow and share views and ideas, and make sure to give support and motivation to each other. (My previous article; Listen more)
In emphatic listening you need to hear, see, and reflect the deeper, emotional meanings of the dialogue. Morgan; “Here you identify the emotion underneath the words and respond in kind: I understand how painful this is for you, Joseph. I too had a project go bad early in my career. It really hurts.
If you can listen emphatically to your colleagues, you are giving them signals that you are genuinely interested in what they are trying to tell you. Being a good listener is a challenge for most of us, some are good at it and others are poor at it. Without any doubt, listening skills are of huge importance if you want to build good relations. (My previous article; The Art of Persuasion)
How well do we listen nonverbally and charismatically. Morgan; “People know unconsciously the moment you begin to move on in terms of listening. They may not realize it consciously at first, but unconsciously its immediate. You’ll see responses like moving nearer, grabbing an arm, raising the voice-all the activities that people use when they want to connect or reconnect”.
The author makes us aware of the importance to listen with your whole body. “Followers who are not listened to will not follow forever”.
Inger Lise E. Greger, MSc. Change Management