The 2012 U.S. election is over and Mr. Obama has been re-elected president. However, let’s not forget that for a few weeks in early October it seemed as if his prospects were shot. This happened because Mr. Obama forgot the basics of non-verbal communication during the first presidential debate. As business owners, you are locked in a perpetual metaphorical ‘debate’ with your competitors regarding who is providing the superior product or service. Unlike the president, your base (investors and customers) are probably not willing to overlook your flaws and support you despite your missteps. The key to success is avoiding similar pratfalls.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of Mr. Obama’s non-verbal blunders and the corresponding communication techniques that you can use to either bypass or overcome them:
Throughout the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, Mitt Romney used his extraordinary business experience as his calling card for the highest office in the land.The brand he developed was the embodiment of his belief that the government can only be rescued and restored using the private sector approach to doing things.Given his prior personal success, Mitt Romney was supremely confident of his abilities to guide the country through these perilous economic times.However, unless he could run a victorious campaign for the presidency, all of his plans would be for naught.Heading into Election night, all the traditional polls showed the race to be a dead heat and many of us mentally prepared ourselves for a drawn out event that was similar to the 2000 Bush v. Gore affair.
That is why it was such a shock on November 6th when, only 12 minutes after the polls closed on the west coast, NBC News announced that Mr. Obama was re-elected president. What was supposed to be a “razor tight” race turned out to be an Electoral College rout of 332 – 206 with at least a 2.5% popular vote margin of victory for the president. Now many will chip away at the many political failures of the Romney campaign in the ensuing days and months but, as someone who provides communication advice to small business people, I view this as a teachable moment.
In the business world, an enterprise’s “Brand Identity” is comprised of the message the owner wants to communicate to its customer base. It is no different in politics and so Mitt Romney’s brand implicitly needed to convey to his audience that: (i) his private sector business experience was relevant to the role of being president and (ii) the implementation of his plans would place the government on a path to success that will be beneficial to everyone.
In a prior post, I demonstrated why effective speakers always balance the oral and non-verbal aspects of communication. As the chart below shows, the words the speaker uses and how they are spoken (“oral” communication only accounts for 45%); while the speaker’s body language (“non-verbal” communication accounts for 55%).
THE YIN-YANG COMMUNICATION GUIDE EXPLAINED
is essential for communicators to always pay attention to both the oral and
non-verbal aspects of communication, I believe the yin-yang sign (which
represents the need for opposites to be in balance) is more effective at conveying
this point. For those who are not familiar with the yin-yang sign,
traditionally, the black portion, the yin, speaks to the internal; while the white
or yang portion represents the external. For our purposes, the overt oral
communication corresponds to the yang, while the covert non-verbal
communication symbolizes the yin.
Now let’s take a look at what is needed
to master each element.
On October 3, 2012, people in the United States watched a presidential debate that clearly demonstrated why effective communication not only entails what you say orally, but also non-verbally. During the debate, both men were able to go toe-to-toe with respect to the substantive arguments. However, in the end, Mr. Romney was declared the winner because he was 'confident', 'aggressive', 'energetic', 'alpha' while the President Obama was deemed 'flat', 'listless', 'passive' and 'lost'. Though an army of media fact-checkers graded the candidates based on the truth of their positions the next day, the public was not swayed by any of this. They had already judged each candidate by what they had seen with their own two eyes.
Mr. Romney's win confirms something we already discussed in a prior post - an audience is more swayed by non-verbal cues (by "55%") than by anything that is said orally (only affects 45%). With this in mind, I developed a system called 'The Yin-Yang Method of Effective Communication'. This method is fundamentally a framework for how you should go about enhancing your communication skills. It uses the yin to represent the covert non-verbal communication while the yang symbolizes overt oral communication.
Those who saw the debate realize that in the end, anything that is said orally will be ignored if your non-verbal cues are "off". Thus, a speaker should always be mindful of maintaining a balance between both aspects of communication. That is why I used the yin-yang sign (the perfect embodiment of the need for opposites to be in balance) to reinforce this message.
As someone who is earnestly trying to improve your communication skills, remember...
"The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there"
In everyday life, we tend to believe that we can only be happy in the future after we have achieved the goals we have laid out for ourselves. However, let's be honest, after we have put in all the hard work and achieved our end game, we oftentimes feel disappointed and empty. Why?
“All The World’s A
Stage” – at some point in your life, many of you would have heard this quote from
William Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It”. For me, this saying evokes a feeling of everyone of us being actors - constantly playing
the parts ascribed by our personal scripts. Scripts however, have pre-determined circumstances, plots and endings. Real life, on the other hand, is messy with
surprises around every corner. So, hard
as we may try, it is impossible for us to definitively know what will come
It is with
this thought in mind that we go into the usefulness of our next technique – Going
To The Balcony. (This is an approach that was promoted in a book titled, Getting Past No: Negotiating Your
Way From Confrontation To Cooperation.) Using this method is effective when
the chaos of reality interferes with the strategies you have laid out for your lives.
You are with colleagues at work and either deliberately or innocuously, one of your hot buttons was activated. Now, the general response promoted on this site is for you to take a rain check to give yourself time toget your emotions under control before responding. However, what if you are in the middle of negotiations? Maybe you are working with others to make a presentation to a potential client. In such a situation, you cannot physically walk away. You have to keep going and achieve your goals.
Do you sometimes get that 'out of control', instinctive reaction whenever someone says something you believe to be inappropriate? This can occur anytime - if you are in conflict with that person, or alternatively, when you are both just hanging out in a congenial social situation. Well, this response occurred because (regardless or whether or not it was done deliberately) that individual touched on one of your 'hot buttons'.
So, what exactly are 'hot buttons'? They are the things that threaten the way you want to be viewed by others. The most common oneshave to deal with competence, inclusion, autonomy, status, reliability, and morality. Your own set of 'hot buttons' tend to be personal to you. It is also important to note that one of the hallmarks of a 'hot button' response is that it is automatic. That means it literally hijacks the thinking portion of the brain. Because we didn't knowingly make a decision to act in a certain manner when our hot buttons are triggered, we usually regret our actions after the fact.
To ensure that you maintain control of yourself when your 'hot buttons' are threatened, you must take the time to understand them. To get started on finding out and managing your hot buttons, follow the next steps:
I think when a person lets go of their longing to attain an ideal, they can discover or re-discover their love for just the Doing of the activity. Which feels very childlike and pure.
I just have to look at The Ideal and say: Thank you for the inspiration. Hopefully I soaked something in. But please step aside now. I got to get to Doing. And for doing I can’t have you riding on my back. It will weigh me down. But again, thanks for the inspiration.
When communicating professionally, we usually have 3 basic underlying goals:
To convey and listen to thoughts and ideas
To persuade others to go along with our proposals and ideas
To project confidence and authenticity, while ensuring that others are comfortable in our presence
Though this blog is committed to providing you with the tips and techniques to accomplish these goals, it takes skill and practice to not get become bogged down with too much information. To ensure that you can implement these techniques when you need to, I have created this outline for you to use when you want to impress others professionally.
As alluded by the title of this post, this is simply the first step. However, for those who are not natural communicators, the outline provided in this post is the foundation to success.
So, take the time to follow the ensuing steps regardless of whether you are: (i) interviewing for a job; (ii)meeting with potential clients; (iii) making a presentation; (iv) seeking a promotion; (v) working with colleagues at the office, or if you simply want to stand out professionally...
Whether it is to get a new job, secure a new client, impress the boss or persuade your colleagues, we usually have an underlying goal in mind whenever we communicate professionally. The posts on this blog serve to improve your skills in this area by teaching you how to connect with others. Unfortunately, for those of us who are not naturally gifted speakers, there is a barrier within us that is undermining the value of the techniques we are being taught here. This barrier is caused by a cluttered and preoccupied mind. Thus, whenever we try to communicate professionally, we are not only extremely nervous, we are also perceived by our listeners as someone who lacks authenticity. However, through the use of the zen concept of 'mindfulness', we are able to counteract this problem and achieve success.
In our post titled, ‘Learning To Get What You Want In A Negotiation’ we discussed the importance of separating your positions (what you say you want) from your interests (the underlying need that shapes your positions) during any negotiation.
You can expect, however, that in most scenarios the other party will not completely fold, and give you everything you request. To increase the chances of getting your most important interests met, you should learn to utilize the log-rolling technique we are about to explore. With this approach, you give up the interests that are of lower value to you (and possibly higher value to the other party), in order to secure your high priority needs. Doing this not only increases the likelihood of a feasible agreement, it portrays you as a reasonable person who is willing to compromise when the situation asks for it.
To use the log-rolling technique effectively, you should take the time to prioritize your interests, in terms of their value to you, before going into any negotiation. (If you believe that they are all equally important, then you are setting up the log-rolling technique to fail.) Next, you should try to anticipate the other party's interests. During the negotiation, use your active listening skills to find confirm your assumptions and try to figure out the priority value the other party is placing on each of his/her interests. This will ensure that any concessions you make during the give-and-take process will be more meaningful.
Now, let’s look at how logrolling works in the following scenario:
“One should never go against one’s nature. That is the only sin, according to me, to go against one’s nature; and the only virtue is to go with your nature in total harmony. And never compare yourself with others; everybody is different, and everybody’s liking is different. Once you start comparing, thinking that, “Somebody is going deeper into things, moving more slowly, and I am moving faster,” then tension will arise in you: “Perhaps I am hurrying too much.” All these tensions arise out of comparison. Remember one thing: You have to be in tune with your own nature, not in tune with anybody else. So always feel within yourself. If it is pleasant, do it. If it feels tense, forced, then it is not for you. Don’t do it. Always go with the river of life. Never try to go against the current, and never try to go faster than the river. Just move in absolute relaxation, so that each moment you are at home, at ease, at peace with existence.”
In our post, “Active Listening is Integral To Successful Communication”, we stressed the importance
of giving the other party a fair hearing in a negotiation or in conflict. Why?
People are more receptive to those who they believe are trying to understand
them – even if the eventual outcome is an agreement to disagree.
In the post on the basic conflict resolution steps for employees, we discussed the basic steps an employee can take to nip conflict in the bud before it is allowed to escalate. However, there will be some instances where these actions will not be sufficient. At that time, you have to decide do you want to continue to work on resolving the conflict or will you just decide to simply let it all go...? After all 'it takes two to tango'.
Before you make the decision to continue to work on resolving this conflict, there are certain factors that you should consider. Chief among them is the fact that from Level 2 onward on the conflict scale, it is highly likely that there will be a third-party involved in the conflict resolution at work. As such, it will no longer be a purely private matter. Depending on the conflict resolution systems that the employer has in place, there could even be a paper-trail of the matter. Of course, this may be offset by the increase in emotional distress that you are experiencing. Thus, it is helpful to take the time to consider the following six variables provided by The Foundation Coalition:
Though you may have done everything outline in our post, "Basic Conflict Resolution Steps For EMPLOYEES", sometimes things do not work out. The conflict will continue to escalate until it reaches Level 2. At that point, it is very likely that you will need to involve a third-party (such as human resources or a trusted colleague) to help you resolve the dispute.
Before you take any action, however, you should follow the steps below:
At Level 2 you are suffering from a large amount of emotional distress. You simply want the conflict to go away. While your feelings are understandable, are you really ready to deal with the potential fallout from continuing to pursue conflict resolution? To find out the answer to that, answer the questions outlined in the post, "Dealing With Conflict At Work - Is It Worth It?"
In our post, "Learning To Get What You Want In A Negotiation", we showed you the importance of focusing on your position and not your interests when trying to get your needs met. Before you sit down with any third party, etc., it is important for you to take the time to follow these steps. Actually, it will also be helpful for you to try to figure out the interests of the other party to the dispute. Remember, to stay away from personal or ad hominem attacks in a workplace conflict environment.