Communication skills

The magic of moving beyond effective communication

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Someone I highly respect asked me last week what I stand for.  I realized it was an exceedingly good question and something I had never written about before.

I stand for something you don’t hear talked about in large corporations.

Yet it’s actually what makes me valuable to the people I serve.

I stand for beautiful communication.  In large corporations, where I mostly work, professionals and executives are always talking to me about being effective, compelling, inspiring.  Mostly about being effective.

The truth is that I find being effective rather easy and quite boring.  Someone I coach struggles to get promoted.  Then, after coaching, communicates effectively and makes it from Senior Director to VP.  Personally, I don’t find that very interesting.

That’s the reason why, when I’m coaching someone, I won’t stop after helping them be effective.  Being effective is a level they do need to hit, but I don’t stop there.  And it turns out they are always happy I don’t.

Let me give you an example. This past week I was coaching a woman who is responsible for billions of dollars for her organization.  Brilliant woman.  She’s new to the role and struggles with the leadership team she’s a part of.  I’m reluctant to mention that it’s a male-dominated team because the fact they’re men is not really the issue.  Her communication skills are.  But you get the picture.

I coached her until she was effective in getting her point across and persuading.  She was quite happy.

But I continued to coach her until her communication reached a level where it became beautiful.  When she communicates at this level, she takes your breath away. Yes, she’s effective.  But she is also extraordinarily beautiful, graceful and elegant.  Not just physically, but in her presence.

Her very being, and in the incredible quality of her communication is a demonstration of beauty.

I coached another executive on giving presentations to difficult audiences.  He went from being overly defensive and somewhat forceful to being effective.   It was good.

But I didn’t stop there. I continued to coach him until he tapped into something inside him that made his communication extraordinary. It’s funny to use the word beautiful when you’re describing a man, but his communication was beautiful in the way that Martin Luther King‘s I have a dream speech was beautiful.

It wasn’t the words that became beautiful.  It was his arresting connection with the audience and HOW the words were spoken.

And, yes, he became handsome.

To me causative communication is about a whole lot more than just being effective. 

Inside each person resides an ability to communicate at a level that is WAY beyond effective.  

Yes, being effective is a milestone.  But for me it’s not an end goal.  It’s not enough.  I coach until the natural artistry and aesthetic within each person emerges.

Their communication becomes spontaneous.  They’re not thinking about it.  It’s just coming out of them. It’s pure.  They’re in a zone where they can’t help but be amazing. 

They’re now capable of creating an extraordinary relationship, whether it’s with one person or 10,000.

If a person is willing to do the work, that level of aesthetic is always there to be found.

Beautiful communication is inspiring.  It is compelling.  It is persuasive.  It creates extraordinary leadership.

So here’s the message:

Everything you want is a byproduct of the ability to communicate beautifully.  

If you want to persuade, create an effective team, get promoted, lead, inspire, give a great presentation, get a raise, negotiate a good deal, transform your organization or get your  teenager to talk to you…

They’re all byproducts of extraordinary and extraordinarily beautiful communication.

It creates the kind of conversation or presentation where you say, “Wow! That was beautiful!”

If this is the type of communication that you want to experience, then you are in the right place to discover how to do it. 

This is what I stand for:  serving as a guide for you to transform your communication into something extraordinarily beautiful.

Be the cause!

How to make the other person defensive

Defensive

There are many ways to make the other person defensive, some more effective than others. I’m going to write about one that’s guaranteed to work every time.

Clearly I’m joking a little.  I know you want to learn how to get your point across without making the other person defensive and what to do about it if they are.

Most people don’t realize that when the other person is defensive, they actually caused it.  And they usually have no idea how they did that.  It’s a real blind spot.

Here’s one way it happens.

Acknowledgments are some of the most powerful skills I teach.  Even if you do acknowledge others, there are so many ways to mess this up that you need to know.

Acknowledgment happens at a precise point in time after the other person has told you something, anything.  They have completed that thought.  And now your acknowledgment lets them know you understand what they told you.  And, very importantly, that you can see it from their point of view.

That’s ALL it does.  If it does any more than that, it’s not an acknowledgement.

An acknowledgment does not contain any evaluation of what they said, nor any response to it.

In its purity an acknowledgement simply communicates, “I really got it.”

Acknowledgments have a profound impact on people. Having traveled the world as our programs were delivered in 30 countries, I can assure you this runs deep throughout all of humanity, all around the globe, with both men and women, with every age group, at home and at work and with the next door neighbor.  

You can observe people visibly brighten up when they are well acknowledged.  Often they look terribly relieved.

What a well delivered acknowledgment does it is it lets them know that their purpose for communicating (which is to be understood) has been accomplished.

Most people think the other person needs to be agreed with, but if you penetrate the surface you’ll see that what they really need is to be understood.  There is GREAT satisfaction in simply being understood.

Many people think the other person needs to be validated for what they said, that they need to be told they’re right (even if they’re wrong).  Again, I’ve acknowledged people who were asserting how right they were and they were quite satisfied with a well communicated acknowledgment letting them know I thoroughly understood them.  Without my ever having agreed that they were right.

So what does this have to do with making someone defensive?  People get defensive real FAST when you mess up the acknowledgment part of communication. 

Your thoughts are powerful.

Whatever you are thinking when you give an acknowledgment goes straight into your acknowledgment, and especially into your tone of voice, which really matters when you’re giving an acknowledgment.

Here’s how it happens:

You’ll hear people say the words, “I understand,” but at the same time they’re saying these words, they’re also thinking:

  • I understand but I’m not interested.

  • I understand. Now let me tell you what I think.

  • I understand but I’m annoyed.

  • I understand but please stop talking it.

  • I understand. You’ve already told me that, you’re repeating yourself.

  • I understand, but you’re totally wrong about that.

  • I understand but I can’t believe you think that.

  • I understand but let me correct you.

  • I understand but that’s not important. Let me tell you what’s really important.

  • I understand that you’re crazy (or an idiot).

The important thing is that you don’t even have to say these things. Just THINK one of them while you’re giving the acknowledgment and believe me it comes through loud and clear.  It overrides your acknowledgement.

Whatever understanding there is gets completely wiped out and all the other person hears is the part that comes after.

And so, they get defensive. Wouldn’t you?

Try a little experiment. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly significant or important or difficult conversation.

When you’re talking with someone, listen intently to what they say because this is important for your acknowledgment to work.  Obviously if you weren’t really listening, letting them know you fully understand is insincere.

So listen intently and when they’re finished, let them know you really understand.  As you’re doing that, just be thinking about really understanding them, don’t be thinking about anything else. Don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say, or your evaluation of what they said, or anything else.

Just be full of understanding. And hold that until you see they’re satisfied with your acknowledgement.

What you’ll observe is a look of satisfaction and a readiness, openness, to receiving whatever you want to say next.  If you don’t see that right away, just acknowledge them a little more until you do.

Remember, you’re not responding to what they said.  All you’re doing with your acknowledgment is letting them know you understand what they said.

It takes practice and even coaching to become really skilled at this and do it so it’s second nature.  But you’ll still have success even if it’s your first time trying it.

Acknowledgments are a vital part of causative communication and are very worth of mastery.

They’ll keep people from getting defensive and will relieve it when they do. They’re vital in every negotiation or conflict you find yourself in the middle of.  They allow a great conversation to happen.

This is so universal you can try it anywhere anytime and see results.

Have fun!  And let me know what happens.

Be the cause!

Negotiating with an enemy

Enemy

Jake’s usually successful negotiation strategy was failing…

There was a $4 billion deal on the table and at the rate things were going, Jake wasn’t going to see any of it.

Across the table from Jake was Ricardo. Currents of suspicion, distrust and mild hostility flowed between them. Then Ricardo said, “No,” blocked the deal, and it was over.

Jake showed up at my place to find out what he did wrong.  He wanted to learn how to negotiate with an enemy.

Jake’s problem was that he had incorrectly identified the enemy.  He thought it was Ricardo, a man Jake described as stubborn, old-school, narrow-minded and doesn’t know how to cut a deal.

Jake’s opinion of himself was much more flattering.  He saw himself as a visionary. He thought the problem was that Ricardo couldn’t deal with a visionary.  

The real problem is that Jake didn’t know how to make effective communication happen. He believed it depended on the other person, how open they are, their ability to understand, their ability to communicate, etc...

If you pin effective communication, and therefore your outcomes and therefore your life, on the other person’s ability to communicate, you’re going to be very unhappy.

Anytime you depend on the environment or other people to make something happen, you put your life in their hands. This is a strategy that will lead to disappointment a good percentage of the time.

Happiness requires that you sit in the Director’s Chair of your life.

In the Director’s Chair, you have the power to make things turn out so you’re truly satisfied, regardless of initial opposition, resistance or blindness.

Jake’s REAL enemy was thinking that because he’s been talking his whole life, he knows how to communicate.  As Jake discovered, he was wrong.

People often tell me communication “didn’t work.” What they’re really saying is what they think is communication didn’t work. Communication always works. You just have to know the formula (yes, there is a formula) for making it happen.

It’s not one skill, it’s a package of skills. And when you execute on this package of skills, you get understandings that automatically lead to agreement, commitment and action. If you’re not getting that, you’re not communicating.

After three days of coaching and watching the difference between his “before” and “after” videos, Jake could clearly identify what REAL communication is and what he’s been missing. More importantly, he knows how to make it happen.

Jake went back and in less than five minutes of talking with Ricardo, he got a completely different result. Ricardo was now on board. There was trust and credibility.

Ricardo was never the enemy.  Ignorance was. Once Jake dealt with THAT enemy, the obstacles vanished.

Being causative means being able to make what you want to happen. Ignorance of how to do that is the only enemy standing in your path.

Be the cause!

Communication lessons from a fig farmer

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Tony Inzana owns a 190 acre ranch in central California and brings his organic produce every Sunday morning to my local farmers market.  He grows the juiciest, most delicious figs in the galaxy.  His pistachios and walnuts have a just-picked freshness you can’t find anywhere else. Each black mulberry bursts with sweet, intense juice.

All this abundance is harvested just yesterday and brought brimming with a life and flavor that make your taste buds stand up and sing.

Tony also has the distinction of having, not only the longest line of customers waiting to buy, much longer than of any of the other farm stands in the market, but also the slowest moving one.  This line moves REAL slow.

The reason for that is because Tony talks to each person as they get to him.  He tells you what time he picked whatever you’re buying, what’s happening with the weather, what the crop will be like next week.

He wants to find out what you’re going to do with it (are you going to grill the figs or put them in your salad?). You’ll hear about his friend coming to visit from Australia and he’ll want to find out what’s going on in your life.

The people waiting in line have no recourse but to talk to each other, which they do. You find out new recipes, you learn about fruit you never thought about buying that the person in front of you has loaded in their basket, you get talked into trying the kiwi.

The lady behind me this past Sunday got impatient.  It was her first time shopping in the stand.  She was huffing and puffing and commenting on how slow the line was moving. Tony noticed this and gave me a fig to share with her. That shut her right up.  When she tasted her fig, she wanted to find out what else in the stand was that good, which I was happy to tell her.  This naturally led to a discussion about the incredible earrings she was wearing.  She got friendly and talkative along with the rest of us.

In today’s age of efficiency, in today’s age of impatience with slow-moving lines, Tony’s business model defies current wisdom.

Everybody wants things fast, they want to get in and get out and get on with the next thing.

I have never seen anyone approach life and business as leisurely as Tony. He is slow on purpose.  He is very deliberate about building a relationship with each person who buys from him.   If you don’t like it, you don’t have to shop there.

When you finally make it up to the front to pay, and it’s your turn for him to talk with you, he’ll still continue to take his time.  Tony makes unusually direct eye contact and listens intently.  He carefully considers what you tell him, what kind of salad you’re making, what your friend said about the dried cherries you got last week, how much you miss the pomegranates when they’re out of season.  He’s interested in everything about you. 

Business is personal in Tony’s world.  Very personal.

He’s a happy man.  Very few eyes in this world twinkle like Tony’s do.  Looking into them is magical.

The sellout crowds in his stand don’t just come for the figs or walnuts.  Two weeks ago Tony wasn’t there.  It was his birthday and he was off celebrating.  His replacement kept the line moving fast and there was a second person helping too.  Hardly any waiting.  But when Tony came back last Sunday, everyone was asking him, “Where were you??????????  We MISSED you!!!!!!!”  The slow, long line was back and the sellout crowd was happy again.

You can watch people who just paid walking away, laughing, beaming. And as you walk away, you find yourself grinning a happy grin that stays in place for several minutes after you’ve gone.

You’ve received so much MORE than the fresh and dried fruits and nuts in your bag.  You’ve just had a powerful conversation with a man who really cares.  He cares about what he grows. And he cares about you.

Not everyone is willing to wait in a slow-moving line, to wait for the seemingly endless conversations ahead to come to a finale.

It’s surprising how many are though.  The combination of extraordinary food and soul-nourishing conversation makes it all worthwhile.  They respond and are drawn to it.  Tony has a long line from the moment he opens to the very last.  No one grumbles. 

What it tells me is that, MANY people care not only about the quality of what they’re buying, but also about the quality of real communication and, as a result, the quality of relationship, they experience.  That it’s worth waiting for.  That it’s valuable to them.

In truth, I think the world is hungry for it.

If that’s what you choose to serve, people will come, they will stay, and when they leave, they will REMEMBER.

Be the cause!

A one-way ticket out of anticipation station

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Your face, especially your eyes, communicate what’s going on inside of you. We may try to disguise our inner thoughts, fears, doubts, but our eyes don’t lie.

When I show people videos of themselves in the Causative Communication workshop, they can see clearly that once they get past the initial social smile, everything they’re really thinking shows up on their face. Self-doubt, disappointment, disapproval, fear, frustration, dislike, whatever your opinion is of the other person, everything.

Your facial expression and how you look at someone is a direct communication to them and actually regulates the outcome you get.

Trying to change your facial expression is a pointless activity.  It will only make you look fake.

That’s one of the reasons why in my coaching and workshops I work on what’s going on inside you.  When you get the inside right, the outside takes care of itself.

But we don’t start out that way. Instead, we start with situations like these…

Diana sits down to have a difficult conversation with a coworker. She anticipates it is going to be very uncomfortable, at least in the beginning.  Her facial expression is strained.

Martin initiates an important conversation to persuade a peer to put in extra work on a new project. He anticipates resistance. His facial expression is grim and slightly combative.

Sheila requests a meeting to continue a discussion in which she repeatedly expresses her doubts. Her concerns have been ignored and resources are being poorly allocated. She wants to express her point of view one more time in the last hope that possibly she’ll be heard. She anticipates stubbornness and lack of interest. Her facial expression is defeated.

Jim approaches his boss to talk about taking on new responsibility that will greatly further his career. He anticipates his boss telling him he isn’t ready. His facial expression is pleading, almost anguished.

In all the situations above, what these folks are anticipating has shaped their facial expressions. The solution is not to change what you’re anticipating from something negative to something positive.

The solution is to be completely in the moment.

So COMFORTABLY in the moment you’re not anticipating anything. This gives you a look of tremendous presence. And poise.

Most people have no idea that how they look at someone determines so much about the relationship and the outcomes they get.  It’s huge.

In my workshops, I can video people and show them how amazing they look when they’re able to stay fully and comfortably in the moment and feel affinity for the other person.

Even before they start to speak, you can feel the power. They often gasp when they see themselves because it’s so dramatic.

The words my students have used to describe how it feels are “weightless”, “serene”, “unflappable”, “totally in control” and “comfortable”.

It takes a lot of work to master the skill of being in the moment, to be present, all the time.

But it is work worth doing. And the payoff extends to every area of your life.

Some people look at our workshops and say we teach “communications kills,” but what we really teach is an effortless way to create success.

Be the cause!

Creating JOY

Joy

Today, I have a simple message:  being causative creates JOY.

First, I’ll clarify what being causative means. To cause means to produce an effect. Causative means effective as a cause or agent.  Effective means serving your intended purpose.

Causative communication is the ability to produce your intended effect and achieve your intended purpose at will with communication.

I recently completed a series of Causative Communication workshops and now have graduates emailing me what’s happening as they take these skills into the real world.

  • One gentleman wrote about a meeting he facilitates with 10 individuals in three different times zones. This is a meeting that previously erupted into debates, ran overtime and ended with unsatisfying results. This time, the meeting ended 13 minutes early, friendly as can be, with all agenda items covered, with solid consensus and commitment for action items and next steps. This is now the new normal.

  •  Another executive, who had been perceived as unapproachable, wrote that people are now gravitating toward him. He can’t believe how much his relationships have grown.

  •  A mother told me that normally she had to wrestle the iPad from her teenage son to get his attention. Now, without her saying anything about it and without any effort, when he senses her presence he puts the iPad down and gives her his full attention.

  •  A sales director wrote about giving a presentation on a contentious topic to a group of 23 leaders. The presentation stirred up concerns and frustrations. However, using what she learned, she wrote that her most interesting observation was the influence she had on her audience. They relaxed, paid more attention and the tension in the room lessened.  Her presentation was powerful and impactful.

  •  A young man wrote that, while he was not due for a promotion at this time, he decided to open up a conversation about it with his boss anyway. He was amazed at how far the discussion went and how promising an immediate promotion now looks.

  •  A previously introverted engineer wrote that he’s making deep personal connections at a rate he never thought possible. He said he’s even connecting with people just with his eye contact as he passes them in the hall. He wrote that the connections he’s making are very meaningful and he’s rather blown away by the power of them.

  • A CEO who has taken over a dysfunctional organization is straightening everything out and rapidly getting everyone on board with the difficult changes that need to be made. A completely new, vibrant and positive organizational culture is now blossoming.

  • A normally reserved executive from London engaged in a social conversation unusual for him with a very large African-American who warmed up to him so much, he enthusiastically fist bumped him. The ultra-conservative Londoner had never generated so much enthusiasm, had certainly never been fist bumped before, and was elated.

  • A woman who previously felt disrespected and dismissed by the senior leadership team of her organization is now told she is compelling and receives all the support from them she’s requesting.

Being causative is thrilling.  It brings an emotional rush that is intensely pleasurable and even exhilarating. It’s the source of great joy.

You are here to be causative.  With some work, it can be your natural state.

Your natural state can be JOY.

All you need to do is make the decision to do the work.

Be the cause!

Gaining respect

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Ruth cringed every time she saw her boss walking towards her…

Beth, a VP in stiletto heels with a mean streak the length of the Mississippi River, drowned her staff in unreasonable expectations and then verbally whipped them when they fell short.  She tore into them in public, relentlessly ripping the latest luckless soul for whatever her latest upset was.

Beth was especially vicious whenever Ruth returned from taking time off, hammering and blaming Ruth for everything that had gone wrong while was she was gone.  Ruth dreaded returning to work.

Beth’s sole ambition was to make it to SVP and she made it clear it was everyone’s job to get her there.

Not one person on her staff was able to successfully manage Beth’s cruel outbursts. They all commiserated about it when Beth wasn’t around, but no one could face up to her.  So the situation persisted.

Ruth signed up for Causative Communication because her daily interactions with Beth were destroying her.  Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.  Ruth, normally an incredibly capable woman, was a wreck. She wasn’t sleeping and was developing an ulcer.

After hearing about all this, I suggested to Ruth that finding a new role with a better boss might be her best option.  Ruth made it clear that she didn’t want to leave feeling defeated, that she needed to leave as a success, that she wanted to gain the ability to transform herself and the entire situation before she left.

The problem was, Ruth was unable to calmly and effectively face Beth. Just seeing Beth walk toward her created so much emotional churn, any communication skills Ruth did possess flew out the window.

One of the first things that Ruth and I focused on was developing the ability to be there comfortably and face a difficult person and situation. The goal was to get the emotional churn to disappear.  This took practice.

It was a real victory when Ruth gained control and was able to face anyone and anything calmly, comfortably, with clarity, even surrounded by an emotional tornado. This ability completely set the necessary foundation for her now to be able to competently handle the situation.

The next thing we worked on was increasing her ability to maintain purposeful intention when she was communicating with Beth.

We also worked on her ability to maintain her affinity for Beth. Communication is impossible in the absence of affinity. Often people give you many reasons not to like them, but if you fall for it, you won’t be able to talk with them and make real communication happen.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds.  Even with her mean streak, Beth was extremely smart and strategic.  Ruth is naturally a warm person and did find things to genuinely like about her.

Soon after the training, Ruth was at her desk and could see Beth coming out of her office. She was starting her determined and familiar “poison death march.”

As she approached, Beth’s malicious gaze zeroed in on Ruth.

But it was different this time.

Ruth’s eyes solidly met and held Beth’s.  This time Ruth didn’t cringe in fear.  Ruth met Beth’s eyes calmly, comfortably, intently, and with strong affinity.

Then a miracle happened.

Beth started to slow down, making it only halfway across the floor, and then she abruptly stopped. She looked uncertain, confused even. Beth looked away from Ruth for a moment, turned around and walked back to her office.

Ruth transformed her relationship with Beth with just one look. It was never the same again.  Ruth became the one person Beth treated with respect from there on out.

How could that possibly have happened?

When you have certainty about your own communication skills, you change at your core.

Everyone who talks to you, and sometimes only even looks at you, picks up on that. It’s not that you’re aggressive, but that you’re a real force to be reckoned with.  Most importantly, you’re a friendly, not a hostile, force. Your power is manifested in your presence, in how you deliver your words, how you listen, how you communicate.

This completely changes how they respond to you.  Admiration and respect naturally follow.

It’s important that you live your life without fear, without intimidation, with respect from everyone around you.  Most people will give you respect because they hold it as a core value.

But the (hopefully limited) number of times when you have to deal with someone who was raised by wolves, that’s when you need communication skills to transform the situation, and even the person. You want to have these skills sharp and ready by your side.

Be the cause!

The “glance” with a seven-figure price tag

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Marcus had been talking to his boss about a promotion to VP for quite a while without getting any closer. Marcus found the discussions stressful and the endless waiting frustrating, which is why he came to my workshop on Causative Communication.

The mistake Marcus was making is the same one I’ve seen MANY people make:  He thought the decision (if and when to promote him) was not in his hands.  He thought it was up to the people doing the promoting.

Most people in Marcus’ situation believe they can present their case, but that after that, they’re powerless. They have to sit back and wait while the “powers that be” decide.

What they don’t realize is that those making the decision are just reflecting you back to yourself.

It’s very much like an ice-skating competition. If you skate perfectly, the judges HAVE to give you a 10.  If you stumble at the beginning or if you are less than flawless, they’re forced to give you a lesser score.  

All the judges are doing is reflecting back the skater.

It’s actually entirely up to you what happens. Can you believe that?

Most people experience stress when talking about why they should get promoted. They’re uncomfortable. Their minds are full of doubt. Their communication is full of strain.

The decision that comes back is simply a reflection of this.

This is true in all your communication, not just situations where you want a promotion. The reaction you see from the other person is a reflection of how well you’re dealing with the situation.

When your communication is flawless, there’s a transformation that happens in the other person, even if they’re a “judge” of you.   They can’t help but give you a “10” and decide accordingly.

It’s the same thing when communicating about a promotion.

If you feel powerless about the outcome, that will be reflected back to you.  The reflection will show powerlessness.

If you feel the outcome is in “their” hands, you will come across as someone who does not deserve a promotion.  Especially if you’re trying to get promoted to the higher levels like VP and above.

The decision you receive will be a reflection of your own powerlessness.

You don’t have to work hard to get the outcome you want.  You simply have to communicate with clarity, certainty and intention.

Many people confuse these three things with conviction.  Conviction is how much you believe in something.

Your promotion does not at all depend on how much you believe you deserve it.  If it did, there would be no issue, you’d have it.

Many people go into these conversations with the idea they need to convince the other person to achieve the outcome they want.  But the harder you try to convince someone that you deserve something, the more powerless you seem.  In terms of getting a promotion, this “convincing” approach is the kiss of death.

It’s the difference between communicating for the purpose of getting them to agree with you (which will always make you seem UNcausative), and communicating for the purpose of real understanding (which will always make you powerful.)

One of the biggest mistakes people make when wanting a promotion is talking about why they deserve the promotion. This makes you come across as imploring, anxious, in need.

It’s not a question of what you deserve. It’s a question of where you belong.

When you communicate that you belong at the VP level with complete clarity, complete intention to be understood, and complete certainty that you will be fully understood, you come across like the promotion is the only right course of action, no question about it.

The decision that comes back will reflect that.

Marcus ended months of circular conversations by doing just what I described to you. And wouldn’t you know it, “they” made the decision to promote him to VP within hours, not weeks or months.

Be the cause!

Mirror, mirror on the wall, will I get promoted today, at all?

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Marcus had been talking to his boss about a promotion to VP for quite a while without getting any closer. Marcus found the discussions stressful and the endless waiting frustrating, which is why he came to my workshop on Causative Communication.

The mistake Marcus was making is the same one I’ve seen MANY people make:  He thought the decision (if and when to promote him) was not in his hands.  He thought it was up to the people doing the promoting.

Most people in Marcus’ situation believe they can present their case, but that after that, they’re powerless. They have to sit back and wait while the “powers that be” decide.

What they don’t realize is that those making the decision are just reflecting you back to yourself.

It’s very much like an ice-skating competition. If you skate perfectly, the judges HAVE to give you a 10.  If you stumble at the beginning or if you are less than flawless, they’re forced to give you a lesser score.  

All the judges are doing is reflecting back the skater.

It’s actually entirely up to you what happens. Can you believe that?

Most people experience stress when talking about why they should get promoted. They’re uncomfortable. Their minds are full of doubt. Their communication is full of strain.

The decision that comes back is simply a reflection of this.

This is true in all your communication, not just situations where you want a promotion. The reaction you see from the other person is a reflection of how well you’re dealing with the situation.

When your communication is flawless, there’s a transformation that happens in the other person, even if they’re a “judge” of you.   They can’t help but give you a “10” and decide accordingly.

It’s the same thing when communicating about a promotion.

If you feel powerless about the outcome, that will be reflected back to you.  The reflection will show powerlessness.

If you feel the outcome is in “their” hands, you will come across as someone who does not deserve a promotion.  Especially if you’re trying to get promoted to the higher levels like VP and above.

The decision you receive will be a reflection of your own powerlessness.

You don’t have to work hard to get the outcome you want.  You simply have to communicate with clarity, certainty and intention.

Many people confuse these three things with conviction.  Conviction is how much you believe in something.

Your promotion does not at all depend on how much you believe you deserve it.  If it did, there would be no issue, you’d have it.

Many people go into these conversations with the idea they need to convince the other person to achieve the outcome they want.  But the harder you try to convince someone that you deserve something, the more powerless you seem.  In terms of getting a promotion, this “convincing” approach is the kiss of death.

It’s the difference between communicating for the purpose of getting them to agree with you (which will always make you seem UNcausative), and communicating for the purpose of real understanding (which will always make you powerful.)

One of the biggest mistakes people make when wanting a promotion is talking about why they deserve the promotion. This makes you come across as imploring, anxious, in need.

It’s not a question of what you deserve. It’s a question of where you belong.

When you communicate that you belong at the VP level with complete clarity, complete intention to be understood, and complete certainty that you will be fully understood, you come across like the promotion is the only right course of action, no question about it.

The decision that comes back will reflect that.

Marcus ended months of circular conversations by doing just what I described to you. And wouldn’t you know it, “they” made the decision to promote him to VP within hours, not weeks or months.

Be the cause!

You’re “too” direct

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You're “too” direct.  Has anyone ever said that to you?

First of all, before I comment on it, I’d like to point out that any feedback that starts with the word “too”, is never going to be good.  They never say, “You're too interesting, you’re too fabulous, you’re too much of a leader, you’re too dependable.”   Whenever you hear the word “too”, it always means something bad is coming right after it.

This past week I had many people calling about our Causative Communication Live! workshop and a number of them said, “I've gotten feedback that I'm too direct.”

I laugh when I hear this because I know I’m probably 5 times more direct than they are, but no one ever tells me I’m too direct.  I’m happy to teach them how I do it.  They’re getting into trouble because they just don’t understand what being direct is all about and how to do it effectively.

In the dictionary, direct is defined as “proceeding in a straight line or arriving by the shortest course.”  It means “straight”.  How could that be bad?

Direct comes from the Latin word directus meaning “straight” and “set straight”.  To set straight means to make certain someone knows the REAL facts about a situation.

How could that be bad? How could you be doing too much of it?

Well, if you’re being told this, the problem is NOT that you’re too direct.  The problem is that you’re doing something else that’s upsetting.  I have found that most of the time when people are being told they’re “too direct”, they’re not being direct AT ALL.

For example, this happened today.  One of my clients, a Senior Director named Bill (not his real name), is going to an offsite this coming week.  His boss, a VP, has asked his team of direct reports to each prepare a question to ask him that will promote better understanding between him and the team.  The VP said, “This is your opportunity where you can ask me ANYTHING.”

Bill, who’s been frequently told he’s too direct, was planning to ask the VP, "Why do you tolerate mediocre performance from others?"  Bill really wanted to know the answer to this question, but was concerned he might be perceived as being too direct by asking it, so he asked me what I thought.

I told Bill he wasn't actually being direct at all by asking this question.  The problem with the question was that it was too INDIRECT.  The reason I say that is because it wasn’t going to lead him DIRECTLY to his desired outcome.  It was going to take him somewhere he DIDN’T want to go.  Let me explain.

I asked him what outcome he wanted. Bill said, “My boss holds himself to an extremely high standard.  But he doesn’t hold others to that standard, which causes our team to have mediocre performance.” The outcome Bill wanted was for the boss to hold EVERYONE to high standards so that he could be part of a high-performing team.

Another aspect of this that created a problem was that, because the boss wasn’t holding the team accountable, Bill ended up trying himself to hold everyone on the team accountable and this was creating problems because he wasn’t really in a position to do it – you can imagine the problems he was having I’m sure, everyone was ignoring him.

I explained to Bill that asking, “Why?”  was not going to get him that outcome of the VP holding everyone to a high standard. It was not the direct way to get the outcome. 

First of all, he didn’t need to ask his VP, “Why?”  I can answer, “Why?” for him.

There are two parts to the answer.

  1. I’ve coached enough people to know the VP doesn't have any idea why he tolerates mediocre performance. So if you ask him that question, he's just going to DEFEND and JUSTIFY, but not give you the real root cause.

The ONLY time it's safe to ask, “Why?”  is when the person KNOWS the root cause. So, for example, if I ask my gardener, “Why did that azalea bush die?” He might say something like, “You didn’t water it.”  In this context, the question makes sense because my gardener knows the root cause.

One of my clients recently discovered her son is doing drugs. She’s been asking him why he’s doing drugs. I’m sure he has no idea.  He’s going to try to pull reasons out of thin air to satisfy her.  He’s going to look for ways he’s been victimized.  He’ll justify and defend.  But none of these mean he knows the REAL reason why.

Asking “Why?” can also upset people.  In the VP example, you can see how he could easily be upset by being asked, “Why do you tolerate mediocrity?”

2. I can tell you why the boss is tolerating mediocrity, you don’t even need to ask that question. The VP is tolerating mediocrity because he doesn't have the skills to do anything about it. He probably doesn't even know what those skills are. 

As someone who’s coached people for 30 years, I can assure you the reason they are doing what they're doing is because they don't have the skills to do something else.

As soon as they have the skills, they WILL do something else. I see this ALL the time.

People mistakenly assume the other person doesn't WANT to do something else. That’s not at all my experience. If this boss has high standards for himself, which I believe he does, then I don't believe he wants to tolerate mediocrity in other people. That would be terrible!  If you have high standards, you hate tolerating mediocrity in your direct reports.  It makes you crazy!  I just don't believe he has the skills to do anything about it. 

So if Bill wants to be direct about achieving the real outcome that he wants, what’s the RIGHT question to ask?  What’s the most DIRECT question to get to his outcome?

I suggested saying this, “You set such a high standard for yourself, what would it take for you to set the same standard for everyone else and make sure that everyone else achieves that high standard?”

I’m not saying this is ALWAYS the right question.  I don’t believe EVER in tactics, techniques, or gimmicks when it comes to people and relationships.  And I don’t teach, “Always ask this question ….”  I just don’t think human beings operate that way. 

I believe it takes a lot of skill and judgment to know the right questions to ask and when you understand the science of relationships and have these skills, you’ll KNOW the right question to ask.  And it won’t be the same one every time.

This particular question of “What would it take …?”  is MORE DIRECT than the question he was originally thinking of asking.  It's a better question. The reason is because it puts the focus on the outcome and what’s needed to achieve it.  It bypasses asking a question that the VP can not only not answer, but one that will just make him defensive and justify what he’s doing.  This question bypasses upsetting the VP and gets to the desired outcome directly.

Most of the people I coach who have been told that they’re too direct are making similar mistakes.

Just as an aside, most of the people I coach fall into 1 of 2 camps.  They’re either told they’re “too direct” or that they “don’t speak up enough” (or they “don’t speak up clearly”). 

Both camps are missing the skills they need to be successfully direct.

There are about 7 different skills that you need to master to be EXTREMELY DIRECT yet VERY WELL RECEIVED. 

In other words, after you’ve been direct, the other person says to you, “Thank you, that was VERY helpful.”  Or, “Thank you, that was very powerful.”  In other words, they are GRATEFUL that you were direct, and you made CHANGE happen.

I’ll be talking about these skills in next week’s issue of Causative Communication.

Being direct is GOOD. You just need to be aware of and make sure you master ALL the skills needed to make you EFFECTIVE at it. 

And then you’re going to find being direct to be exhilarating and productive and people are going to say to you, “You really helped me.”

Master these skills and go ahead and be VERY direct!

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications. 

Be the cause!

How to talk to a room full of idiots

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Steve, one of our clients, had the idea of the century. Unfortunately, nobody was buying it. He had been presenting it to management with zero success.

He brought this idea to his first presentation in the Transforming Your Presentation Skills workshop.

His attitude was, “You idiots! You need to really get this.”

Of course no one got it. It’s no surprise that nothing happened with an approach like that.

It’s never smart to present to a group of people you feel are idiots. In Steve’s case, he just couldn’t find anything good about the people he was talking to.

At the workshop, that was the first thing we changed.

And when he increased his affinity for the people in his audience, everything was different. Suddenly everyone was willing to listen to him. It was a dramatic shift.

Understand this:

Whatever you’re thinking about the person (or people) you’re speaking with is clearly transmitted directly to them in ways you might not realize.

The way you look at them, the tone of your voice, everything gets through.

We humans are WAY more telepathic than is commonly realized. We think we’re hiding our thoughts, but we’re not. We can’t! We’re energetically broadcasting everything in many ways.

Your attitude toward the other person reflects your opinion of them. And people are VERY sensitive to others’ opinions of them. It’s one of the things they are MOST sensitive to.

People will respond more quickly and more forcefully to your opinion of them than to the words you are using. They will do this every single time.

If you’re talking to your boss and you have the opinion he has more authority and influence over your future than you do, that belief gets transmitted and puts you in a “one down” position. This is going to mess with your intention and negatively impact any conversation you have about requests, promotions and raises.

If you’re are talking to your teenage child and you have the opinion they don’t know as much as you do, or that they’re making a mistake with their life, this is going to provoke an immediate and strong reaction that is not going to help your cause.

Anytime you have the opinion the other person is wrong, you’re asking for trouble.

Your opinion of them is the FIRST thing they pick up.

It is what they respond to.

This works in positive ways too. Did you ever have a teacher who thought you were really smart, good, creative? How did you respond to that teacher?

Does this mean you have to have a phony opinion of people? Do you have to pretend that they’re right when you really think they’re wrong? No! You need to stay true to yourself.

Pretending will work against you. When the other person senses you’re pretending, you will come across as condescending. And that spells doom.

If you want to be successful in one of these difficult situations, you need to take your attention OFF the negative opinion you have, and find things that you do like and do respect about this person. You need to genuinely prepare yourself for the conversation.

This is a skill. You have to practice it to master it.

When you can do this in any conversation, with any person, under any circumstance, even when they’re pushing your buttons, then you are on the road to becoming a world class communicator.

Be the cause!

The dark secret about why audiences multitask

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The only reason audiences multitask during presentations is because the presenter is not good enough to captive and keep their attention.

No one likes to hear this, especially presenters!

People like to think there’s something wrong with the audience. They blame it on bad manners. They blame it on shrinking attention spans. They blame it on corporate culture. They blame it on how busy people are that they need to do multiple things at one time.

In other words, they blame it on the audience.

This line of reasoning might hold water except for the preponderance of proof showing it’s wrong. The fact is, there are presenters in this world who are good enough to make it impossible for an audience to multitask. 

It’s never the audience.  It’s always the presenter.

One time I was asked to give a one-hour presentation at a brown bag lunch in a major Silicon Valley corporation.  150 people came, 150 laptops were opened along with lunches.  When I started to speak, no more than five people were making eye contact with me. The others were somewhat listening along, doing email and munching.

I didn’t view it as their problem.  I viewed it as a test of my skill. 

Within 10 minutes, without my ever saying anything about it, 149 laptops were closed.

I really connected with the audience.  One person at a time.

I made a very strong visual connection with them.  It was all about presence. And I delivered what I was saying with very strong intention. Not passion or effort…INTENTION.  I made it look effortless.

I didn’t wait for them to connect with me.  That’s not their job. It’s mine.

There was one guy in the back who didn’t stop multitasking.  A couple minutes into my presentation he looked up and gave me a very dirty look, like he was seriously annoyed with me.  A couple minutes later, another dirty look.  Then a couple more. 

Finally, he looked at me with complete irritation, stood up, picked up his computer and left the room.

After the presentation I found him working outside the conference room. Curious about what was so upsetting that it made him leave, I went over to him and said, “I’m sorry you didn’t like the presentation. It looked like what I was saying was really not to your liking, I apologize.”

He said, “That’s not what happened, it’s actually the opposite. I’m on a deadline to get this report out right now. I was hoping I could work on it and listen to you at the same time. But it was impossible to work on the report, I kept finding myself pulled into what you were saying. The only way I could concentrate on the report was to leave the room. So I was pissed off that I couldn’t stay and hear you.”

This isn’t some gift I was born with. It’s a skill. What’s great about that is it means it’s something you can master.

I hear from my students all the time that they used to have audiences that multitask and now their audiences are completely engaged.

This is one example of many from one of my students:

“The entire room was in complete silence and so engaged during the entire hour that you could practically feel the energy from their eyes and minds. If you have ever sat in a meeting with the senior leadership team, you know how unusual that is. Normally it is a multi-tasking fest!”

The longer you think it’s something about the audience that makes them multitask, the farther away you are from this skill. The sooner you decide to be a presenter who makes it impossible for your audience to multitask, the closer you are to mastering this ability and making it happen.

There’s little more gratifying than having an audience on the edge of their seats, utterly captivated. Can you handle that kind of power?

Come and discover how to do this at an upcoming Transforming Your Presentation Skills

I guarantee you won’t be multi-tasking while you’re there!

Be the cause!

The secret to persuasion

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Katie told her boss she was ready for a promotion. Her boss said, “No, I don’t really think so. I think you need to demonstrate some key leadership skills in several upcoming projects and then we can take a look at it.”

Most people at this point would do one of two things:

  1. They would give up and acquiesce, say, “Okay, but can we talk about it again after I complete these projects?”

    or

  2. They would try to change the boss’s mind. Maybe present data, give some examples, politely argue that they’re ready, get into a discussion.

I have never seen either of these paths be successful.

The problem with #1 is that it makes you wait for something you don’t want to wait for. Waiting strips you of causativeness. I never recommend it.

The problem with #2 is that it puts you into a lengthy discussion or debate that will most probably get you no results.

The mistake most people make in this scenario is they try to CHANGE the other person’s reality. This for sure will get you nowhere. Let me tell you why.

Every person on Earth fully believes their version of “reality”. Katie believes she’s ready for a promotion, that’s her reality. Her boss’ reality is that it will take several more projects and more demonstration of skills. It’s not REAL to the boss that Katie is ready.

Here’s a natural law.

When you try to change the other person’s reality, they resist you. Pure and simple.

This is why people encounter resistance. No one likes to have someone else try to change their mind or their view of reality.

But realities do change. People do change their minds. How?

The only thing you CAN do with another person’s reality is listen to it with great interest, understand and acknowledge it.

This is usually done very poorly, but is important beyond belief.

When we don’t like another person’s reality, we’re usually not that keen on hearing or understanding it, and we give very weak, usually dismissive acknowledgments.

Big mistake.

This point is so important. The only thing you can do with another person’s reality is listen really well, understand and acknowledge it.

Here’s another natural law.

If you do that skillfully, they will be satisfied that you really understand them.

At that point, and ONLY at that point, they will automatically open up to what you have to say about your reality.

Up to that point, they’re not really hearing you.

Creating that moment where they open up and are interested in your point of view is key.

All you have to do at this point when they are open and interested, is communicate your reality until they totally get it. Most people stop short of the finish line on this step.

There’s a world of difference between trying to change the other person’s reality and communicating your own reality.

It’s worth spending a couple minutes working this out for yourself with examples that are real to you, because I have seen this one point be the success “make or break point” in persuasion.

It’s an attitude of: “I fully understand where you’re coming from. I’m not trying to change your mind. I really get it. I just want to let you know what I think, where I’m coming from. I just want you to understand that.”

In other words, full mutual understanding is your goal, not persuasion.

The conversation may continue back-and-forth, but if it’s done skillfully in this manner, the other person starts to incorporate your reality into their reality.

This happens naturally, organically, automatically. They start to be able to think with your reality. As they do that, their reality changes because it now includes yours.

That’s exactly what Katie did. And in only one conversation she not only got the promotion she desired, but a salary increase that made her do a spontaneous joyful dance when no one was looking.

She said it felt like magic. Probably because it is. Causative communication is magic, no doubt about it.

If powerful, authentic, non-manipulative persuasion is a skill you’d like to perfect under the guidance of an expert coach, I invite you to our next Causative Communication Live! workshop. What would you do if you could remove every obstacle in your path?

Be the cause!

The source of powerful body language

Communication - Powerful

Last week I delivered a workshop to 42 extremely bright design engineers.

I asked for a volunteer and a real life situation so the group could see exactly the change I was teaching.  I like to demonstrate everything and everyone loves these demonstrations.

The volunteer came up with a difficult scenario relevant to the group. She was trying to persuade me to try a new design that threatened the status quo and my firmly held beliefs.  I was stubbornly yet realistically (exactly the way it happens in real life) not going for it.  

She talked and talked. It was tense, uncomfortable, she was unsuccessful.

I coached her and had her do it again.  Suddenly she got through to me.  With just one sentence.  It wasn’t what she said, it wasn’t the words.  

It was how she said it.

The senior executive of the group burst out with, “Her whole body language changed!” 

It was true.  Everything about her body language had changed. Her eyes, the way she looked at me as she was leaning toward me, her hand gestures, her shoulder position, the expression on her face, her whole face, her whole body, everything

She had real power.

It reminded me of all the times I’ve been asked in my workshops questions about body language, its importance, how to make it effective.

If you start focusing on your hands, whether your eyes arms are crossed, your facial expression, leaning in, your hand gestures, what your feet are doing, any of this, you’ve got way too much attention on all the wrong things.

Body language comes from within.  

When everything INSIDE you falls into place, your body language will be perfect.  

When you achieve a calm stillness, a presence, complete certainty, total confidence, a feeling of real warmth for the other person, inner strength, positive intention, unhurried poise, pure understanding ... believe me, at that moment, your face is radiant and your body language is powerful.

That's what I coached her on.

It wasn’t that her body language was suddenly effective and therefore so was she.  It was the other way around.  What was inside her suddenly became powerfully effective and her body language was a reflection of that.

The place to focus is within.  That’s where the source of being causative is located.  In your heart, in your mind, in that place where you are really you, the best version of you.

Bring that out and get that right, believe me, you will be causative.

And your body language will reflect your power.

Be the cause!

Ingrid 

The shock of coming back to work

Communication - New Year

What makes the winter holidays great for me is the abundance of love, creativity and freedom that flood into my life.  The love of close friends and family, creative expression decorating and gift-giving, freedom to spontaneously do the fabulous, like drive down the California coast to Big Sur with my tight little family.

It’s a bit of a shock to come back from the holidays and enter “the real world”.  It can easily feel I’m surrounded by less love, less opportunity for creativity, restricted freedom.

That’s where being causative comes in. To me being causative means being able to create as much creativity, love and freedom throughout my day-to-day year as I do on holidays.

It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes causative intention.

Being causative is a viewpoint, that’s where it starts. With a decision to be causative. That decision gives birth to ability.

From that decision you get intention, an invisible force that powers your communication. 

Communication requires skill. How skillfully you communicate defines how well you manage the people and the world around you, and is your primary tool for changing minds and bringing new realities into existence.

Many of my clients don’t initially realize the power of this.  They believe things are happening to them.

They don’t realize that their own intention and level of communication skill (or lack of one or the other) shape reality. 

They haven’t yet experienced first-hand that these are skills (not personality traits which should always be left untouched) that can be developed into a super power.

At the end of the year I started a new project with a new client.  The Project Manager they put in place is one of the most negative people I have ever met.  Her immediate reaction was to try to stop the project. Her second was try to get out of the role.  When she couldn’t, she started doing everything she could to sabotage it.  She blamed me. In our meetings she was seething with unexpressed resentment.

I requested a phone call with her before the end of the year.  She “no-showed” for two of our scheduled calls before I finally got her on the phone, and when I did, she was openly condescending, stubbornly resistant.  It was clear where the conversation was headed. I had 60 minutes.

It was enough.  She completely turned around and became a true teammate.

Going into it I knew I had to take full responsibility for both sides of the conversation and for how it turned out. 

I knew I couldn’t leave it up to her, that I couldn’t complain, that I couldn’t get her off the team. 

I was surrounded by barriers. The only freedom I had was to use all my communication skills.

It took every skill I had, but most important was my viewpoint and my certainty that I could cause an extremely positive outcome, that I’m never at the mercy of anyone, especially not anyone negative.   Also my decision that my intention would not waver.  

With that foundation, I used all my communication skills and created a very different outcome than where it was forcefully headed.  

She is now eager to work with me, eager to see the project succeed, eager to help, eager to do whatever it takes. She knows it’s going to take a lot from her because it’s a large organizational project.  She’s all in. Completely different than where we started.

Was it easy?  No.  

Did I enjoy it?  Most definitely not at the beginning.  

Did I want to do it?  I would’ve gladly chosen not to if I’d had a choice.  

Am I glad I did?  Most definitely yes.  

The next five months are going to look completely different as a result.  Not just for me, not just for our team, but for the whole organization. 

The positive effects of this project will last for years for the organization, for a lifetime for the individuals involved.

That was one of my last client calls before I started a wonderful week celebrating the winter holiday and it ended on a total high. 

Now it’s the new year. Stepping away from the comfort and warmth of my family back into the harsh realities of the rest of the world is a bit like diving into ice water.  I’m going to spend this week easing into it gradually, but by next week it will be full bore again.

Possibly you can relate, possibly you feel what I’m talking about in your own life as you make your entrance into this new year.

A solution is to be causative, to create the reality you want with a recipe of intention and outrageously great, super-power level, communication skills.  

Then you will create all the love, creativity and freedom you desire throughout your day-to-day life for the next 12 months and have a grand year.

If you need any help doing that, I can help you develop all the skills you need in our Causative Communication Workshop. Three days of hard work.  A lifetime of amazing results. 

Wishing you a happy new year! May it make your heart sing and your spirit soar.

Be the cause!

The day intention saved a life

Communication - Norma

Norma works with me and I wish you could meet her.  She’d win your heart in 5 minutes. 

Norma’s from El Salvador. The reason she came to America is because she witnessed 3 men murder her husband’s cousin. They gunned him down in the street while he was standing in front of her, and drove away. Then they realized they’d left behind a living witness and started hunting for her.

Norma received numerous death threats so she left her home for another village.  The 3 men were relentless in pursuing her and were closing in on all of her hiding places.

Norma stopped going outside at all.  She lived in constant terror.  

It was emotional torment beyond endurance.

Finally, unable to bear it, she took her 6-year-old son and, with her husband, WALKED day and night for 3 days, staying off the main roads, through the jungles of Guatemala. She arrived in Mexico with bloody feet and legs that couldn’t carry her further.

Then she asked for and received asylum from the US and came here.

When Norma started working for me, she didn’t speak much English. I hired her because of the look in her eye. 

What I saw was bigger than words. 

I saw a depth of character that is rare. 

At first we used Google Translator to communicate. Then I gave Norma a Spanish version of the training material I use when I teach Learning How to Learn, because I wanted her to know that she could learn ANYTHING. It inspired her to sign up for English classes and she learned so fast, it was like lightning. 

Although Norma had a green card that allowed her to work in the US, becoming a US citizen was a very BIG and challenging goal.  I helped her study for her US citizenship test and she passed it.

Then it was time for the critical interview where it would be decided whether she was given the right to become a US citizen.

I told her I would practice the interview with her. She was still a very shy woman and couldn’t look me in the eye as she answered my questions. She sounded very unsure of herself, even though I knew inside she had all the right answers.

I coached her until she was comfortable, could look me in the eye and speak with real intention.  Not aggressively, but with deliberate intent so her communication would fully reach me and have an impact.

The day came. She looked the interviewer in the eye, unfolded her story and consciously unhurried, said very clearly, very purposefully, “There are 3 men in El Salvador who will kill me if I go back. I walked for 3 days through 2 countries to get away from them.  I am safe in the United States.  I will be an excellent citizen.”

Her interviewer’s expression changed to kindness.

Then, with tremendous compassion, he said, “I am sure you will.”

I stood next to her during the swearing-in ceremony.  It was one of the happiest moments of both our lives.

The reason I do this work of teaching powerful communication is because many times the difference between success and failure is not because the person (or cause) is worthy or unworthy.  Unworthy can win and worthy can lose all too easily in this world.

What powerful communication does is it allows the worthy to win.

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications.

Be the cause!

Making it to CEO

Communication - CEO

He was a fire fighter.  Several fire departments had asked me for a workshop on how to achieve goals.  He sat in the front row.

Afterward he contacted me and said,

“I don't want to be a fire fighter anymore. I want to succeed in business. I'd like your help.”

He took on an opportunity to become a sales rep for a financial investment company.  Before becoming a fire fighter, he had been a cop.  He knew nothing about sales. 

I worked with him on the exact communication skills he needed to be successful and he rapidly became their top sales rep.

So, they made him a sales manager.  He called me and said,

“I'm in over my head, I don't know anything about managing people and they're making me crazy.”

We worked on the communication skills he needed as a manager. The sales department became extremely productive and they made him a Vice President.

He said,

“I had no idea there was this much to deal with as a VP, sales was way easier.”  

I coached him on the precise communication skills needed at a senior level. They made him an Executive VP, and then the Board made him CEO.   

Being CEO had a whole new set of people and leadership challenges.  He transformed each of them with out-of-this-world communication.

The company succeeded and expanded to the point where he purchased land and built an enormous new building to house all the additional employees.

At the stage where the company reached just about $1 billion and 22,000 accounts, Wells Fargo purchased it.  For a lot of money.

He met all his financial goals and started spending a lot more time flying his plane, riding his motorcycle, SCUBA diving, skiing, and generally being outdoors.

Today he works with private clients and spends most of his time volunteering to give back to his community. People listen to him with great respect.  He leaves them inspired.

He’s a leader wherever he goes. 

He succeeded because he did the work (and it IS work) to master the skill of communicating causatively in every situation he faced. He mastered a powerful, non-manipulative, authentic way to communicate, a way that removes every obstacle, a way that leaves everyone better off, everyone wins. 

He could have decided to be anything.  He still can.  He has the communication skills to make it happen.

Everything you want is on the other side of this skill.

Communicate causatively! Create the reality you want.

Ingrid

The person one wants to be

Communication - The person one wants to be

When someone asks me to critique their presentation, I spend much of my time watching the audience as I listen to them present.  I can evaluate an entire presentation simply observing the audience.  The faces in the audience, especially their eyes, as they listen, tell the truth. I can see exactly what they’re thinking.

What is supposed to happen when you’re talking to a group is there should be a mutual interchange of energy and understanding.  

What I mean is that you’re supposed to feel something powerful coming BACK to you, and this energy from the audience should be changing and evolving as you speak.

You should FEEL it. Everyone can SEE it.

If you don’t feel something coming back to you from the audience as you’re speaking, if you don’t feel them changing, they're not fully engaged.  If you can’t tell if they’re engaged or not, they are not, because an engaged audience is impossible to miss.

This back-and-forth energy and understandings between you and the group creates great spontaneity. In you, in them.  

It goes beyond anything verbal. It supersedes logic. 

Their eyes are full of expression, they’re nodding, they’re laughing, they’re leaning forward. You can feel their collective energy flowing toward you.

When you react to that positive energy right in the moment, the audience makes you laugh, inspires you, they bring out the best in you. You find yourself saying brilliant things. You’re the person you’ve always wanted to be.

The skill that enables you to do this is your ability to connect with the audience in a way that taps into the core of you.

Your ability to connect is WAY more important than the content you’re presenting.

When you do make that connection at the core, how you will feel and the response you’ll get in return will astound you, regardless of your content.

I can’t express the joy I feel when I see my students achieve this breakthrough. I just received this email from one of my students who experienced it for the first time:

“I want to write to share that I attained a new career achievement today, thanks to the workshop I took with you. I just presented to executives at a major conference in Silicon Valley. It was a gathering of serious intellectual heavyweights, including technology fellows, international policy-makers, and thought leaders from Google and Accenture. 

"It is a little silly, but I feel like a rock star walking around the conference now with so many people approaching me to meet and to start conversations. I’ve already been asked to speak at 2 more events and I just got off the podium a couple of hours ago.

This is the person I wanted to be when I signed up for your classes, and I am forever grateful to you.”

The person you want to be is within you, patiently waiting for the day you fully tap in.

How to melt a frozen heart

Communication - Melt a frozen heart

“I don’t do affinity,” she said.

These words were spoken by a young woman in her 20's who had recently graduated college and was navigating her first job in a large corporation.  She has great career aspirations for a leadership position.

She was beautiful and well dressed, enough to turn heads. Her face was expressionless and her eyes were cold.  She signed up for the Causative Communication workshop because she wanted to learn how to get other people to do what she wants.

As I coached her through the workshop, she did the exercises well, but with this coldness. I was in the process of coaching her to increase her affinity when she looked at me dispassionately and very deliberately stated, “I don’t do affinity.”

I asked her why not? And she said her attitude towards people was very neutral.  She said, “I don’t like you and I don’t dislike you. I’m here to get the work done.”

Even without knowing her exact back story, how she came to be this way (cold and beautiful), I could clearly see she had had a complete mis-education in the subject of people.

I had no doubt that there had been an intense period of confusion in her life, in the middle of which her solution to the confusion was to shut off her feelings. Young as she was, she had now done this for so long, she had no feelings for others.

She told me she thought that having affinity involved making (or forcing) yourself to like someone you didn’t like. I explained to her that you can’t make yourself like someone.  

I told her the real secret to affinity and then I walked away. I had a lot of affinity for her when I said what I said.  And then I left it up to her.

In the next exercise I watched her from a distance. She was different. She was smiling at the person she was paired up with.  It was not a big smile, but it was genuine, it had warmth. Her partner smiled back.

Her transformation continued from there into something miraculous.

“Cold and beautiful” melted into someone warm and alive.

She opened up the circle of people she was working with (from only 1-2) and ended up working with everyone in the workshop.  She was forming great relationships rapidly and people were responding to her with great warmth. She looked happy and astonished.

I knew she had never experienced anything like this in her life. She didn’t know I was watching her.  I wiped a tear and went back to coaching others.

At the end of the workshop she looked me straight in the eye and with a great intensity of feeling said, “Thank you.”   We didn’t speak, just looked at each other and shared a long moment of intense understanding and mutual admiration.  Warmth.  Affinity.

The reason she was able to transform so quickly is because the power and knowledge was within her already. I just had to give her a friendly reminder where to look.

I just had to show her the path to being causative.

Once you show someone the right path, they always do the rest.

You can do this too. You just have to make the choice to learn.

Be the cause!

Small change, big impact

Communication - Drop

He walked into the room like an executive. His presence alone calmed everyone. He had an air of dignity. When he spoke, he only had to say it once, everyone listened.

He wasn’t an executive, far from it.  He was an individual contributor.

But the power of his communication had the impact of a leader.

If you had seen him before he took the Causative Communication® workshop, you wouldn’t have recognized him as the same person.  He was fidgety, always in a hurry, very short attention span.  He spoke fast, in short bursts and he stopped listening the moment he thought he knew what you were going to say.

He had worked at the same large corporation for over 10 years, trying to get promoted, but without creating much visibility or recognition.

A year after the class, he had been promoted to Team Lead and then had 2 more promotions in very rapid succession.  He was now viewed as a charismatic and respected leader on the fast track to senior executive.

What was it he changed?

His speed.

Before the workshop he focused on doing everything fast.  We can all understand why, because in today’s crazy world we have to do everything fast to get it all done.  So he did everything fast.  Talked fast, listened fast. That’s what he did until the workshop showed him how to slow down.

You pay a big price for fast.

The price you pay is in the form of quality and presence. Both suffer.

Now I don’t know if you try to communicate too fast, but my hunch is that you probably know.

So here is a very simple shift you can make, right now, today.

Slow down.  

This does not mean be less productive or get less things done. It means slow down to the point where you focus on the quality of your communication, the quality of what you say, how you say it and the quality of your listening.

When you slow down, you make a much stronger connection with others, that deep human connection that enables all good things to happen.  You’ll achieve greater understanding.  

The quality of your communication today shapes your tomorrow, it’s how you create the reality of your very important life.

Be the cause!