It’s no secret that we all have different styles when it comes to communicating. Some people are articulate communicators and others aren’t. Some people get right to the point while others tell a story first.
Mix communication styles and add emotion and it’s likely that important elements will be missed entirely. Take this example:
Justin was anxious to make a great first impression with one of the firm’s biggest clients.
When he was invited to share ideas for an upcoming team event, Justin thought he could make a splash by sharing his thoughts on creating a ‘rock star’ event – lights, music, even theatrical seating! He could see it all unfolding, and he couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement his idea was generating in his own mind.
At the end of the discussion, Justin was confident his ideas would be implemented and he would be heralded as a hero.
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When Justin returned to his office, he discovered he’d been removed from the project. The chief executive officer had a different idea about how the discussion had gone. Although Justin’s exuberance would be great for a celebratory meeting, it was not the message the CEO wanted to communicate at this team event.
How could Justin have missed the mark so catastrophically?
For starters, he never asked what outcome was envisioned or even what the intention of the meeting was.
Everyone wants to do something that makes them memorable and ultimately promotable. But making the conversation all about you and your ideas can often backfire. Your enthusiastic communication style might be more off-putting than inspirational.
Justin jumped to conclusions and convinced himself that this meeting ought to be a rock star event. It never occurred to him that others might have different intentions or wish to set a quieter environment around the meeting.
Because he was so caught up in his ideas, he missed the cues that others around the table weren’t as excited. His passion led the charge and he neglected to share air time. As a result, the impression he made wasn’t positive.
When others in the group leaned away, yawned, checked their watch and scratched notes, Justin simply talked faster and expanded on his ideas. He mistook the cues for interest rather than rebukes. His exuberance reduced his observation skills and he lost the opportunity to be a vital contributor.
Before you present your great ideas, help your audience warm up to you and your proposal. If they’re evaluating your idea through the lens of nitpicking numbers, it will be difficult for them to connect emotionally, and you’re likely to be dismissed.
Everyone has a unique way they like to be presented with new ideas and contribute to the decision-making process. From focusing on important facts to offering fresh perspectives, we all communicate from the head and the heart. The head makes plans and expresses ideas in words. The heart leans on the emotional energy necessary to carry out plans and make your message compelling. This is where it can get exhausting.
Be the person who contributes in thoughtful and meaningful ways. Explore whether the decision-makers at the table are more logical or more story-focused. Present your big idea in a way that meets group needs and you might find that they’ll support your plans. Push too hard and they won’t even hear you.
Life is a great teacher. When Justin got his next opportunity, he reined in some of his enthusiasm and set out to observe how others like to have messages expressed.
Today, Justin is earning a reputation as someone who offers innovative and thoughtful suggestions that propel ideas forward.
Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.
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