Your communication style tells a lot about you. Make this subtle yet powerful change in the language you are using to set the tone and atmosphere for your team.
In a prior blog, I mentioned that in order to shift from using consequence as a way to motivate people into action to pleasure, it not only requires a change in your beliefs around how to motivate people but also in your communication strategy and the language you are using.
For example, if you listen to children talk, they often talk about what is present or what was pleasurable for them. If you ask a child, “How was the park?” You’ll hear things like, “It was great! It was so much fun!” Children communicate from a place of pleasure, from abundance from what is present for them. Now ask an adult how dinner or a movie was and you’ll hear, “Not bad.” If you ask someone to do something for you or for a favor, a typical response might be, “No problem” or “No worries.” Adults often communicate from the point of view of what isn’t there, what is lacking or missing, what will not be present or scarce or the consequence and fear that’s being avoided by their action rather than what will be present as a result of their efforts.
Instead of focusing on what is not present or focusing on the potential consequence, talk about what benefit will be present; that is, coming more from the mindset of abundance. For example, the following statement implies fear and consequence. “If you don’t make your quota this quarter, then you won’t have a job” or “If you can’t get this project completed within the time frame we discussed, then you won’t be able to take that vacation you wanted to at the end of the month.” These statements are consequence driven statements which focus on what will be missing or what they will not be able to do or have in their life if they don’t do what is expected of them.
Your communication style tells a lot about where you are coming from. So if you’re communicating from scarcity, then where do you think your focus is when it comes to managing your mindset? Chances are driven by fear and consequence instead of your own goals and vision. And if that’s where your focus is, what exactly, do you think it is you are going to create? If there’s one universal law worth driving home it’s this: “How you think is exactly what you are going to get.”
Communicating From Scarcity
Now, listen to this statement. “If you reach your quota this month, then you will be eligible for the quarterly bonus, or “Once you complete that project, then the only thing I want you to focus on the following week would be planning your vacation and the fun you’re going to have during the week off, especially knowing that this is a paid vacation week.” Notice how these statements imply the benefit or pleasure that will be present in their life rather than what will be missing.
Here’s another example of communicating from scarcity. “If you don’t get more organized, your stress level as well as your workload will continue to pile up to become even more unmanageable and overwhelming.”
Communicating From Abundance
Now, here’s the same message but this time it’s being delivered from a place of abundance. “If you keep following through and honoring your daily routine, then you will eliminate the overwhelming workload on your plate that’s been weighing you down. This way, your stress level as well as your workload will diminish and become more manageable so that you can feel in control and start enjoying your job again.”
And just to be real clear. When speaking from a place of pleasure or abundance, I am not suggesting you say things like, “If you just do your job, then you will get paid.” This statement is still implying a consequence and as we discussed, we want people to be motivated by a pleasure. (Similar to the strategy of utilizing positive, solution oriented questions rather than problem focused questions.)
Now, is it possible that some people will actually hear the consequence more and as such, change their behavior accordingly? Of course, and uncovering the pain or the cost of not making a change is a selling strategy I certainly endorse when it comes to motivating your prospects and customers to make a purchasing decision. However, it’s not the typical method of communication you want to use in the office and here’s why. Closing a sale for the most part is a one time event. And even if you are constantly selling or upselling to existing clients, it’s still not something that typically happens on a day to day basis with the same customer.
A Positive Atmosphere
On the other hand, developing a positive atmosphere within the workplace is something that requires daily reinforcement, often more than once a day. Since we do not want to breed a negative culture from the continued reinforcement of this selling strategy, consider this instead. If a consequence needs to be driven home, then you are better off asking questions that focus on the cost or pain they will realize as a result of not changing their ways which, they, in turn can articulate. (For example, “What is it going to cost you if you don’t make any changes?”)
It is this subtle yet powerful change in the language you are using which can set the tone and atmosphere of not only every meeting you have but of the culture of your company. After all, think about how you feel after having a conversation with certain people. Why is it that some conversations with people leave you drained and some energize you? Because how you come across is created in the language you use. The language you use creates and reinforces the environment within your company as well as the experience people leave with from every conversation they have with you.
Photo Credit: StarTribune