Is it Time to Get Creative with the Way You’re Communicating?

It never ceases to amaze me how unique yet similar humans.

Not to mention how we can tend to bunch everyone together as if they’re the same, yet then be so surprised when there are raging obvious differences.

Every Monday I volunteer at Art Class, helping out our amazing Artist in Residence, who is sharing her wisdom and expertise with a group of kids before school.

The differences and similarities in the kids make us laugh, shake our heads and at times be in awe at their phenomenal enthusiasm, engagement, imagination, creativity and action.

What again stood out as a reminder today is just because an instruction is said one particular way, does not mean that everyone hears it the same way.

We inadvertently assume they will, yet they simply don’t.

This term, our project is working with clay.

It’s incredible.

Tactile, messy, creative and so much fun.

Starting out, specific instructions were given around the style of a pot to make, how to make the base, which technique to create the sides of the pot and then go, they were encouraged to get creating.

It’s not surprising that all of a sudden, we have bowls, pots, vases, plates and even egg cups of all shapes and sizes.

Despite the fact that instructions were very clear on how to make it, each child has interpreted or heard ‘their’ version of the instructions and off they’ve gone creating their masterpieces in their own artistic way.

And gorgeous they’re going to be.

And you know what, it’s perfectly fine because its art class, it is supposed to be fun, creative and they can make whatever they want.

However what happens in the workplace when people are hearing what they want to hear?

Each of us will delete, distort and/or generalise information that we see, hear or even touch, taste and smell, based on a set of filters.

Those filters will include metaprograms (our innate personality), attitude and beliefs, values, memories, decisions, language and time/matter/space/energy.

Sounds like there is a lot going on and yes there is. All of the time.

Let’s bring it back to basics though.

If you’re working with a team member and you feel like you’ve said something 100x and they’re still not hearing it, they’re probably not.

Maybe you’re wondering why they simply can’t get on with something, they’re lacking the initiative or drive, you wish they could have.

Possibly they’re slow and steady – even too slow for the team or maybe talk way too much?

We all do and have certain behaviours (both with awareness and sometimes) without because of the filters.

We are not our behaviours. And most of the time, people have no awareness of the impact of the filters on behaviours.

The filters influence how we process information and respond/behave/act on instructions given.

Whether they’re written, said in person, come via video or via the phone. It is all communication in some way shape or form.

And sometimes remember, not everyone sees, hears or experiences things the way you think they ‘do or should’.

If you’re having a challenge with a team member or two, because they’re not on the same page as you, maybe it could be time to consider a different way of saying things, tweaking how you give the instructions, set the expectations or explain the detail (or lack of detail)

Here’s a couple of quick questions for checking if you’re talking the same language that may resonate with everyone’s filters:

– Do you explain WHY? Why it matters and why it’s important (for the client, business, team and individual)
– Are you clear about WHAT? What’s expected / the results/outcomes desired.
– Do you provide the HOW? The steps, action and how-to required
– Are you encouraging the WHO? Who they need to be (more of) in order to do/achieve what’s being instructed.

Very often, in fact honestly most of the time, we’re great at telling people what to do and how to do it.

We skip over the WHY and the WHO.

Maybe because it’s how we’ve always been spoken to as well, where we’re comfortable, habits of communication we’ve established and got used to.

However, if you’re having trouble getting the message through, then maybe change the way you’re saying the message and see if it lands differently and gets through.

Here’s to creating more awesome ‘art’ and extraordinary all round.

No matter whether it’s the normal day to day instructions or whether you’re inspiring your team to be innovative, creative and think outside the box; remember not everyone processes information and instructions the same way you do, so tweak the way you’re saying it, telling it or yelling it.

Be flexible, be creative and be courageous.

Genevieve “Experimenting” Matthews




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