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Finessing How You Communicate

Part 4


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(…continued from last week)

Pacing At Work

This simple process of breathing can be used in meetings with others. If you breathe more in sync with the other person it sends a nonverbal message we are similar. You can use this to help calm down someone who is on edge. I’ve done it in therapy numerous times with others who were having a hard time, or it can help bring energy back when it’s lacking.

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When you do this with other people, you normally can’t see the rise and fall of their chest, what you do see though is the rise and fall of their shoulders. That always shows up; on the inhalation up and the exhalation down. Experiment with it, give it a shot. It works.

Matching with the Intensity

Often when dealing with others there is some energy in the communication. We can make a difference by pacing the emotional intensity of the message the other person is communicating. We don’t usually want to take on the emotional state (unless it’s one you want.) But we do need to match the intensity of it. It’s essential to pacing the intensity to make a person’s rapport connection happen with us, but don’t take on the mood unless it makes you feel better.

If someone is reserved or feeling down, behave in an appropriate and perhaps a bit more reserved manner. When someone is depressed or pensive, dashing in the room shouting, “This is the best day of my life that’s ever happened!” will probably not endear you to that person. They will just experience an even bigger gap between you and them. A more appropriate approach would be to start off gently with a more reserved body language, softer tones of voice. You build a connection then slowly open your verbal and non verbal language to draw them out. Once you’ve done this you can be a facilitator to help the person change their mood.

You need to meet them where they are (intensity), you then move into the intensity level of the person with whom you are currently interacting. The intensity pace for, “I was just promoted and I got a great raise!” isn’t, “Oh that’s nice….”

When your child comes to you excited about what they just did and says, “Let me show you this!” the response, “Oh I’m too tired let me take a nap first,” misses the mark. It discourages your child and breaks the positive mood they feel. If a person is passionate about something, behaving in a like manner matches the state. Mirroring the enthusiasm with your body language and voice promotes positive state that the person feels.

Everyone is most comfortable with people who are like them, we all feel the involvement, the connection when someone is at the level we are. Pacing that level of emotional intensity is aligning yourself with who the person is at that moment. Vince Lombardi said, “The only place “success” comes before “work” is in the dictionary.” This applies to paying attention to the people we are interacting with.

Building Further Connection

The handshake began as a way to prove to those you met that you have no weapons in your hand. Today it’s evolved into a greeting for friends or for business associates. The brief bow in some oriental cultures is a custom to show respect or reverence for the other person. This is commonly done whether the person is an opponent in a competition or a friend. To be in this type of culture and not follow this custom may come across as rude or awkward.

Pacing customs is done continually everywhere. The things we often do without thinking about them are in most situations a way of pacing your custom.

Would you intentionally speak with your mouth full so that you are spitting and slobbering food all over the table of a formal business dinner, with your most important client? To do so would put tension in the interaction and would probably be bad for business.

Swim suits aren’t standard attire in the majority of business offices. Being loud, boisterous and telling dirty jokes at a funeral probably is not appropriate. Wearing a tie now is done for other than the original purpose, which was to keep food off your clothing while eating, and to wipe your mouth on like you would a napkin.

Cleaning your nose with your forefinger is probably a private matter you wouldn’t want to be doing most of the time around others. And driving on the correct side of the road is a custom born from necessity, which may save your life. Slamming the door in someone’s face who is talking to you may irritate a few people.

Customs build a bond; it shows the people we are interacting with that we are similar in many ways. You pay attention to the group specifically you are interacting with at that moment in time.

In language, in speed, in look, in words, not following custom can lead others to perceive you as an outsider. If you want attention and you don’t care whether it’s positive or negative, one of the fastest ways to get it is to go against somebody’s long held beliefs or something they hold dear. The attention you receive again will probably be negative, but if all you’re concerned about is getting noticed you can make a bet that’s going to happen.

(to be continued…)


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