Most of us think we’re intentional about our communications, but we’re actually not – at least, not very often. The reason is that we spend a lot of time thinking consciously about what we’re trying to say, but we don’t often spend much time thinking about how we’re going to say it. We miss the ‘how’ for the ‘what’ and as a result we leave a lot to chance.
Every communication is two conversations, the content and the body language. We obsess about the first with our conscious minds and leave the second largely to the mysterious, uncontrolled workings of our unconscious minds. The result is, all too often, mistakes of communication – unintentional mistakes.
For example, we walk into an important meeting determined to persuade everyone there that a certain course of action is necessary to avert disaster. But an ongoing feud with one member of the group flares up yet again, and we get derailed because we can’t resist responding to that irritating so-and-so.
Or, we’re nervous heading into a job interview, and so we end up conveying fear to that potential employer rather than the enthusiasm and confidence we genuinely feel for the job. We don’t get it.
Or, again, we’re distracted by jet lag and a lot going on back at home so we’re not fully present at a presentation in another country. The translation delay throws us off and we deliver what for us is a below-average speech.
In each of these situations, our conscious intention is undercut by the unconscious communication of underlying emotions that contradict our stated aims and issues.
In each of these cases, then, we’re not fully intentional, even though we wish to be. We don’t show up with our best self, or even the one that we wanted to be there. We don’t do a great job.
Asking people to become intentional or even just aware of their unconscious attitudes is asking a great deal. It’s hard work, you can get it wrong, and sometimes your first efforts are clumsy and make matters worse.
So here are seven reasons to get started – to become an intentional communicator.
1.Understand yourself better. The self-awareness that will eventually grow out of the effort of becoming an intentional communicator is itself alone a worthwhile payoff. As you start to tune in to your emotions, you’ll become familiar with how you react in standard situations and you’ll know what pushes your buttons and what makes you smile.
2.Increase your persuasiveness. Once your self-awareness starts to grow, you’ll also gain in observing how your emotional presentation affects others. You’ll learn what works with people and what doesn’t, making you a more persuasive person.
3.Gain self-control. In a sense, the whole point of becoming an intentional communicator is to gain self-control – to communicate what you want, when you want to. The practice of identifying emotions is the first step toward controlling them.
4.Hold to your integrity. When you understand your own emotional involvement in a particular situation, you understand what’s at stake for you. That enables you to stand your ground better when necessary – as well as when to give ground.
5.Increase your creativity. Getting in touch with, and controlling, your feelings will give you a whole new set of tools to use in your creative toolbox. You’ll be able to be creative on command.
6.Amplify your self-confidence. Knowing yourself and knowing how you respond in various situations will give you increased self-confidence because you’ll know how the scene will play out in advance so that you can concentrate on the other people in the room.
7.Strengthen your charisma. Deliberate display of the right emotional focus in the right situation is charismatic. To walk onto the stage passionate about your idea, or into the meeting furious about some wrong that has to be righted is to maximize your charisma in those situations.
Do the work. Become intentional. You’ll be able to respond with your best self when it matters.
We’ll help you become an intentional communicator at our one-day Powerful Public Speaking seminar in Boston – sign up now here!