The Chemistry class at my high school was pretty cool. I’m sure yours was similar. Marble counters, Bunsen burners, microscopes. Petri dishes. But the most important piece of equipment in any chem lab are the goggles. Because hey, mixing chemicals can be messy and dangerous.
Unfortunately, we don’t have goggles to protect us from the mess and danger our communication can cause BUT we do have other ways to protect ourselves - training in the brain science and techniques of effective communication – something I call the Chemistry of Communication.
Imagine a communication as an empty test tube. Each person pours his or her mix of elements into the tube. Sometimes those elements blend and harmonize and we get a discovery like penicillin, a terrific marketing strategy or the iPhone. Other times, a particular element hits the tube and the contents smoke, bubble, give off a putrid odor and explode. Why does that happen? Could have been because the test tube environment was the wrong temperature or one of the elements needed to sit longer, be diluted more, be diluted less… these are things that in a lab, scientist can experiment with.
These are also things that in the workplace, home or social situation, communication coaching can help with.
To master the Chemistry of Communication you need to:
Recognize the goal of the communication.
Know the qualities of others involved
Know to mix in just the right concentration of your element
Often communication messes can be avoided by steering clear of the following habits:
Failure to take the temperature:Do you walk into a conversation determined to say all you need to say without taking the temperature of the room? Are people tired, hungry, ready for a break, busy with something else, emotionally triggered by a situation or event? No matter how fabulous you think your contribution is, if people aren’t ready to hear it, things can blow up.
Failure to Dilute:Are you coming on too strong? Are you over-sharing, saying more than people want to or need to hear? In this information age, many of us feel that we have to do huge data dumps in order to be seen as smart, competent or important. Dumping data on someone is like overfilling the test tube. All of the elements spill out and the solution is rendered useless.
Over Diluting - Are you not assertive ENOUGH? Or are you passive aggressively withholding your opinion? Do you struggle to get to the point or clarify your message? Just remember, you might be just the element a particular formula needs but if added at the wrong concentration - too weak - the entire experiment/experience is fruitless! Don’t weaken your contribution.
Keep these tips in mind and contact me if you want a complementary discovery phone call with me to find out how to work on your communication chemistry.
I read somewhere that that’s the time it takes between having a thought and acting on that thought.
To an Olympic athlete .3 seconds can be the difference between a Gold Medal and not making it onto the podium. To an ordinary human being .3 seconds can be the difference between thinking a stupid thought and being accused of sexual harassment, being fired, or other negative outcomes.
What can you do in those .3 seconds? Breathe. Ask yourself… Why am I having that thought right now? What emotion am I feeling? Am I feeling threatened, weak, alienated, angry? Do I want the person in front of me to respect me more, like me more, just plain go away? Do I want this person to hurt like they have hurt me? Do I think this person needs to be taken down a peg? Is this thought/idea that I’m about to act on or speak really even my thought or is it an old cultural or societal belief that I’ve adopted?
Just asking yourself one of those questions could save you from doing or saying something that you’ll regret. And if you’ve asked the right question, you may even discover another way to deal with your fear, feeling of threat or need for respect. If something about the other person triggers you, there are ways to create a conversation that addresses how you feel and eliminates the need for you to do or say something that will only exacerbate the situation.
Olympic athletes train constantly to erase the .3 seconds that separates them from their competitor or even their own record. Shouldn’t we train as diligently to make good use of the .3 seconds that separates us from doing or saying something that could potentially ruin our lives? I'm dedicated to working with individuals and organizations to give them the tools they need to navigate those .3 seconds and beyond.
Let's talk. You can schedule a phone call here. In the next .3 seconds ask yourself, how much better off would I or my team be if we knew how to communicate more effectively?
I love the ongoing relationships I have with some organizations who bring me in whenever an issue involving communication threatens to impact morale, productivity or effectiveness. I get to be like a superhero or a medical specialist called in to save the day or in some cases, pronounce the situation terminal. In this instance, I was able to diagnose the problem and prescribe a treatment plan that may have saved a person his job, the organization the expense of having to hire additional staff and/or replace a valuable employee AND created a vibrant more efficient department.
The call came from Nancy, a director of an organization I've been working with for five plus years. (names have been changed) Nancy told me she wanted me to work with one of her IT staff members, let’s call him Carl. Carl had a long history at this particular organization and Nancy felt some loyalty to him but that was wearing thin. She was entertaining the possibility of letting him go.
Nancy had heard from some of her staff that Carl was ‘rude’ or dismissive to them. In addition, Carl’s immediate boss, George, felt that Carl often didn’t do things the way he wanted them to be done which made him think Carl was taking short cuts and did not respect his authority. Carl was asked to contact me over the summer but did not do so. In October, Carl was late for work one day and lied to George about it. That was the last straw. Nancy told him he MUST contact me or else…
You've heard the saying “When you assume it makes an “a**” out of “u” and ’me’. I don’t believe that’s always the case and I wouldn’t quite put it like that because I’m a classy chick, but I WILL tell you that when it comes to communication, many of us assume way more than we should.
I work with clients on job interviews, elevator pitches, formal and informal presentations. I’ve noticed that in all of these different types of communication, people assume that their listeners know way more than they actually do. Maybe in this day and age we’ve become so afraid of giving TMI (too much information) that we often end up leaving out important details. Assumptions that get in the way of communication come in two forms: Emotional Assumptions (assuming someone feels or will feel a certain way) and Logical Assumptions (assuming someone knows certain things). Here are examples of logical and emotional assumptions. Don’t let them doom your next communication.
Logical Assumption: Your listener understands what you do just cause you tell them your job title: I can’t tell you how many times working with clients on job interviews or presentations, a person will give a job title or brief description and then assume that the listener will know everything they need to know. Most of us are so intimate with the minutia that goes into what it is that we do that we make the assumption that everyone else is equally familiar with it and therefore omit important details that can help your listener truly understand what it is you do. Yes, there is that occasional narcissist who is all too happy to bore you with a blow by blow account of how they watched paint dry but believe me, in face to face communication, those folks are rare.
Some of you may be thinking, “But surely for a job interview or a presentation for my peers, the listener should have some knowledge of what I do. Why would I have to go into detail?" The operative word here is “some knowledge." Yes, people may know in theory what a title like: Financial Consultant, Marketing Director or Human Resource Manager means. They may know you as the VP of whatever, BUT that doesn’t guarantee that they understand what it is that you actually do. The danger with giving too few details is that it forces your listener to dig into their memory and pull up their own assumptions. Some of those assumptions might be positive, some may be neutral and some may be a turn off. If the last financial consultant they met helped them amass a fortune, terrific. But what if the financial consultant that comes to mind is the one that ruined their grandmother’s estate?
Emotional Assumption: You know how your listener or audience feels about a topic. Many times in preparing for a presentation, my clients will say things like,”I know you all want” “You must be tired of…” Whenever I hear those kinds of statements a little caution light goes on and I encourage a different word choice. For example: “I know some of you might want” or “Many of you may be tired of…” Why? Because most people hate being pigeon holed or having their thoughts and emotions lumped together with the thoughts and emotions of a large group that they may or may not know. It may be important to bring up negative assumptions that an audience may have about your topic, (it’s called getting the elephant out of the room) But it’s equally important not to categorically assume what people are thinking or feeling. Feel it out by using modal auxiliaries, (might, could, may etc) they’re not called the “polite” forms of speech for nothing.
by Sarah Solomon,Social Media, Marketing, SpeakEtc.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining Robyn at her first ever Speak Youevent right here in NYC. During this 4-hour interactive workshop, Robyn dug deep into the world of effective communication, hitting all of its key elements including body language, vocal tone, content writing, eye contact, gesturing and much more.
Participants came from all different backgrounds including a former attorney who teaches Public Speaking; a New York Times accountant; a Military Vet who speaks on Veteran affairs; a Laughter Yoga teacher and more. Each participant had a unique vantage point and story which is what made the class so interesting.
They were all able to visualize, create and present their signature speech in front of each other and receive honest feedback on their presentation styles and left with a clear outline for their Signature Speech.
With Robyn's expertise and creative way of helping others discover their passion, these 8 strangers were able to own their stage with a new found confidence in their content. It was incredible to see how supportive everyone was and see the change in each persons presentation at the end. Empowering and transformative, Speak You was an incredible opportunity to network, learn, create and discover.
I often talk about how important it is to share your personal story or - Embrace your Albatross as I called it in my recent Keynote Speech.
As a member of New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) - an organization of professional women in media and communications, I’ve attended recent events recently with incredible speakers who demonstrate the power of sharing your story.
Madonna began her presentation about how women are portrayed in advertising by asking for her slides to be turned off. Before she began her formal presentation, she wanted to share how she’d been struggling emotionally around the recent death of her ex-husband. She went on to relate her life-altering experience of losing her parents and three daughters in a fire from which she was able to escape. You could have heard a pin drop.
"The wise man doesn't give us the right answers he poses the right questions." Claude Levi-Strauss
For the past five years I've been leading a four- session training course aimed at helping newly appointed leaders in a government agency develop effective leadership skills. I cover communication styles, giving and receiving feedback, time-management and people management.
During one recent session, participants mentioned how often their direct reports come to them in crises wanting to be told what to do. Now this is a city agency that is completely overworked and understaffed. Not to mention, the decisions made are sometimes a matter of life and death. So when direct reports came to the new leaders for help, they usually told them what to do and in some cases did it for them. Even though doing so was frustrating and distracting, the new leaders felt that “helping” their direct reports saved time and avoided trouble. But does it really? Or does it create dependent workers who don't learn to think for themselves and don't learn to trust their own decisions?
According to Dictionary.com, an analogy is: “a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects”.
According to Robyn Hatcher, Owner CEO of Speaketc, “Analogies are your best friend” especially when giving presentations and in communicating with people. Analogies help listeners grasp the concept or an idea much easier. It also helps listeners mentally visualize the connection between one form of reasoning by interpreting it through another form of reasoning resulting in a lucid understanding.
About two years ago the phrase “Fake it till you make it” set something off in me. Of course I had heard the phrase many times and it had always bugged me, but all of a sudden I knew why. Who on earth wants to think of themselves as a fake? Who wants to do business with a fake? I immediately came up with a replacement expression for FITYMI: Own it While You Hone it. This phrase acknowledges that you have the skill, talent, quality that you're "faking," You just might not have stepped into it yet.
I recently read a fascinating book by Dr. Srinivasan Pillay, "Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders". (FT Press, 2011) In it I came across a Neuroscience explanation that supports my retooling of the “Fake it” phrase. In Your Brain and Business. Dr. Pillay talks about the Imposter Syndrome. A syndrome that happens to some (I suspect MOST) successful people. Read more »
I'm honored that a colleague at a recent presentation of mine had these great take-aways and wanted to share them in writing. Here's what Whitney had to say:
I went to a networking event recently where the speaker addressed an important topic, “creating your signature speech”. The event was aimed at women entrepreneurs so it made sense since many of them speak as part of their work or would like to speak more in order to build a bigger following. I fall into the category of exploring speaking as part of building my business following and would love to be paid to speak so learning about writing that signature speech is a great start.
The speaker was Robyn Hatcher, who is passionate about teaching individuals how to transform their process of communication so that they can express themselves effectively and powerfully. She is an author and communication skills expert and Founder of SpeakEtc., a boutique communication and presentation-skills training company.
Robyn walked us through what it would take to write a signature speech and I found the information clear-cut and direct. The outline was easy to follow and it made sense since everything can essentially be broken down into steps if you have a clear objective. At the end, we left with enough information about the hows and whys that I felt excited to give it a try.
The next day, I was sitting in the library and decided to take a crack using the outline to get a draft of my signature speech done. Within an hour or so, I had a rough draft and I felt pretty good. Of course, it needs to be flushed out, but it’s a start and that’s exciting. It was easy to have the steps to follow to show me how to get started.
Many of us may have much more than one signature speech in our repertoire but it felt good to use the outline and try to write that first one. One of the biggest take aways from the talk was to have something clear to teach – you want to leave people with the idea that at the end of your talk they will walk away changed or with new information.
While I don’t have immediate plans to speak, it is a goal of mine for a number of reasons. One, I think it’s good to do something that has a teaching component. I taught for a few years in the NYC public school system and I think teaching is so important. I am often inspired by information gleaned from a talk. I feel if you have been lucky enough to receive an education, it is best to share the information not squander it.
Two, I think it’s good to challenge yourself to speak in front of groups. It helps you improve your communication skills as well as your courage. It’s not easy to be yourself with many eyeballs on you at once but it’s a very worthy goal and one I have worked on for many years. And Three, the more you speak in front of people, the more potential customers you are reaching. If done correctly, your speech will give them an understanding of who you are and what you can do for them. That’s a big win. In my case, I am a writer and entrepreneur so can see how speaking would support both of these endeavors.
So I’d like to encourage you to learn more about writing your own signature speech. It will help you think about what you have to say and teach you how to say it clearly. In my case, using Robyn’s guidelines proved easier than I had thought. So go ahead, give it a try. What do you have to say? Inquiring minds want to know.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.