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a

DNA Course

~ The Compelling Communicator ~


This course has been designed to approach the topic of communication as a skill, an art, a choice, a desire and a celebration. It argues that everyone on the planet knows exactly what they do; be they a nurse, artist, academic, receptionist or politician. At the drop of a hat, they can list the endless day-to-day chores and tasks that make up the shape of their day. If pressed, most of them will be able to articulate with varying degrees of accuracy and effectiveness how they actually set about those tasks; explaining the process of how to set about inserting a drip into an arm, mixing a particular shade of a colour or drawing up a government white paper. Putting to one side reasons like salary, family tradition or aptitude, relatively few will be able to express in simple, clear, direct and unambiguous terms why they chose to do what they do. It would seem that spending time thinking about why we do what we do can be considered less important than the more weighty and seemingly more useful questions of how and what. This course argues that this preference for reasons that are quantitative rather than qualitative exerts an influence on our communication that renders it equally homogenous. Taking much of its inspiration from the book by Simon Sinek entitled Start with Why; the course aims to show how communication can come alive when approached from a holistic point of view. In short, if communication is the transfer of information from one person to another, it stands to reason to state that the transfer is more effective if it is compelling.

Curiously enough, this is mirrored in the vast majority of training manuals designed to support the attempt of improving communication skills. Be expressive, dont fidget and talk naturally sounds like very good advice, but what does it actually mean and how do you actually achieve it? Furthermore if you are spending time thinking about how expressive you want to be whilst not fidgeting and talking naturally very little of your attention will be on what you are talking about, to whom you are talking and how they might be responding.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

~ MAKING THE CASE ~


Unfortunately there is no single best way to communicate; it is a compromise that can easily leave all parties in involved feeling somewhat dissatisfied for a variety of reasons. Like the aircraft analogy that compares the Boeing 747, Concorde and Space Shuttle, communication is made up of so many component parts that include the people involved, the medium used, the structure created and, not least, the content. To add to the complexity, there is custom, social etiquette and the fact that some people and some situations can lead you to believe that there is a way. If you find yourself thinking that communication cant be one a certain way, ask yourself; Is it that it cant be done this way, or no one has yet demonstrated that it can be done this way yet? If necessity is the mother of invention, then intention is the mother of communication. Start with Why. What is your intention? What do you want to achieve? What is the change that you want your audience to experience, get a sense of or understand? The four Rs is a model that can be used to great effect when considering how to give an overall shape to the way you wish to communicate with another person or persons. 1. Respect. By aiming to ensure the other person feels valued and respected as another human being, you are aiming to fulfil a part what Abraham Maslow refers to as our hierarchy of needs or that which must be satisfied in order for us to feel safe. 2. Recognition. By aiming to recognise all of a persons communication, both verbal and non verbal, you are aiming to ensure that you respond to all of the information that they are giving you; shrugs, intakes of breath and sighs all being information that can help you gain a clearer insight into their needs. 3. Reassurance. By aiming to reassure the other person that you are a safe person to communicate with in terms of status, you are trying to create an environment in which as much information as possible is brought to the table. 4. Responsibility. It is not true to say that you are responsible for how someone else chooses to feel, but if you act as if you are, you will be operating with a higher level of care than you might be otherwise, which will reinforce the first three Rs. Compelling communication is, in the terms that we use on this course, like a pair of binoculars that can be considered a route map to success depending on whether you are looking through them forwards of backwards. Who are you to communicate? No, really, who are you? What do you stand for? Why do you

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

want to communicate? How might you accomplish this? What do you need to do in order to accomplish it and what will the environmental factors be? Lastly who is your audience? This course argues that by starting at the beginning with who, and then ending with whom is an organic journey that will give you the best chance of creating a communication that is underpinned by your values, fuelled by your choices and skills and specifically targeted towards your audience. Website after book after lecture will give chapter and verse on what good communication is, what it should do and what constitutes its many parts, but few will explore how to actually do it and even less will ask that the fundamental question of why bother? is even considered. Communication is made up of so much more than words, phrases, clauses and sentences. As you read this manual, the chances are that you might raise your eyebrows at some of the things written in it. Others might cause you to exhale or mutter mmm. Whatever your particular habits, you will be communicating right now you cannot avoid it. Part of the richness of Sacher Torte is that it explores all communication, from the deliberate to the unconscious to the masked.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

~ WHO ~
Values who are you? There are many definitions of values and the one that we are using on this course is the set of feelings or emotions that you wish to move towards and/or away from If you prioritise your top ten values, it can be quite revealing; towards deliberate choice, honesty, health, joy and away from double standards, mediocrity, risk, waste gives as very specific taste of a set of values. It is far too easy to articulate what you dont want, but there can be great value in articulating what you do stand for. The fear perhaps, is that we can be judged for it. It also helps you towards answering the why, the two often being closely related and deeply personal.

~ WHY ~

Why do you choose to communicate? Throughout much of our typical everyday lives, communication is a reflex. In her book, Watching the English, Kate Fox argues that the English culture is one where an apology can often be a reflex to a stimulus her experiment being to deliberately bump into people at Kings Cross station in order to test whether people would apologise to her for her deliberate mistake. Most did. This course argues that if we can move into a space where we deliberately own the reasons for our communication, we can begin to shape it with our why. Simon Sinek argues in his book that if we start with why, we are naturally and effortlessly including others in our thinking, our reasons for doing what we do, and our beliefs about how it might impact on

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

them. Written in the context of leadership, his book uses a number of business case studies that clearly illustrate successes and reversals of fortune that have their DNA in the why. It is no accident that politicians, when they want your vote, use this technique due to its effectiveness. It is equally no accident that, once they have your vote, they cease from using this technique as it requires you to be accountable. This is perhaps the most important aspect of starting with why. It needs to be honest, heartfelt and true. Anything less is planting the seeds of doubt, ineffectiveness and poor focus.

~ HOW ~

How do you communicate? What are the mechanics? From the endless methods of communication, how do you choose which ones best suit your purpose? What filters do you have and does your audience have that will affect which parts of your message get through and which might not? How can you craft your communication in order to give it the best chance to have the desired effect? A model known as the communication triangle illustrates one way of looking at how the majority of us communicate. It suggests that we start at the bottom with ritual and clich; asking how the other person is (without perhaps caring) or saying nice to see you when, in fact, it might not be. We then move up a level into facts and gossip, where exchanges might be about last nights television or the state of the traffic. Moving up from here into Ideas is a watershed moment as now the communication will involve the risk of sharing what you think about something. Moving up from there, the risk is even greater as feelings will be expressed. The top of the triangle is Peak Rapport which exists between colleagues that have known each other for so long that a simple look across a table during a meeting is enough to communicate a thousand words. We will each tend to have preferred areas; some not venturing often above the first two and others rarely happy unless they have moved into the top two. As with everything, there is no right and wrong, but understanding the point of this model is another step in ensuring that the Four Rs are observed.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

Cicero, a political philosopher who lived in Rome some two thousand years ago, is credited with great influence in refining Rhetoric; the art of persuasion. In recent times the word has gained a sullied reputation thanks to those who seek to manipulate rather than persuade, but it remains one of the cornerstones of the Liberal Arts; Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric. The template for how research is conceived, presented for peer review, and disseminated.

OBJECTIVE What do you want to achieve? COMMUNICATION Craft your message to elicit the thoughts your objective requires. THINKING From your communication, what do they need to think? FEELING From their thoughts, what do they need to feel? BEHAVIOUR How will you know?

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

This is a method for crafting a communication in any medium that allows you to strength test your purpose and measure it against some form of evidential proof. 1. Start with your objective; what do you want to achieve exactly? Lets imagine something like a thorough understanding and appreciation of my work. 2. The next step is to imagine the person or persons you are communicating with and ask you how you will know if you have been effective in your communication. Will they nod? Will they say something? Smile perhaps? Will they tick a box on a form? Get a clear and precise idea of what will actually prove your objective has been achieved. 3. By putting yourself in their shoes, the next step is to imagine what it is they must feel in order to cause them to have the evidential behaviour outlined in step 2 above. 4. Continuing in this way, it follows that the next step is to identify what it is they need to think in order to have the feelings identified in step 3 above. 5. All that is needed finally is to craft a piece of communication that is designed to convey your message in such a way as to elicit thoughts that you believe are congruent with your message. At any point in the process of designing the communication, you can strength test is against the behaviours that you believe will prove its effectiveness by asking yourself something like If I demonstrate this piece of data in that way, can I see how it could result in them nodding and smiling? Framing is a very useful technique for focussing the attention of the listener. The sheer weight of data that exists around us from day to day is too much for our brains to process. We have evolved filtering as a way to remove the data that we dont need (just pause and think of all the noise you can hear right now) in order to concentrate on what we are doing. Framing is a way of influencing filters in other people, and it is little more then as the word suggests; a process of placing a frame around what is important so that all the information outside the frame is not considered with as much weight. Presuppositions are another useful technique for structuring language. The strength test of a presupposition is what needs to be true in order to make sense of this statement? Take the following: AFTER LUNCH, WHICH WILL BE VERY SOON, WE WILL CONTINUE TO DESIGN OUR IDEAL WORKSPACE, AND AS YOUR IDEAS BECOME MORE CONCRETE AND WE ALLOCATE THE NECESSARY RESOURCES TO REALISE THOSE IDEAS, YOU WILL SOON FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE IDEA OF MOVING TO THE NEW RESEARCH OFFICES DOWNTOWN.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

Bluma Zeigarnik theorized that an incomplete task or unfinished business creates psychic tension within us. This tension acts as a motivator to drive us toward completing the task or finishing the business. In other words, we are motivated to seek closure. Story telling has long known this, with a well-tried film technique being to end where you started (e.g.: American Beauty or Pulp Fiction). Charles Dickens novels were masterpieces at introducing characters and story lines that opened up at the beginning of the novel, and were resolved only at the end. Benjamin Zander makes a fantastic analogy between a Chopin Prelude and Shakespeares Hamlet. Musical chord structures have scales, crescendos, diminishment and rests, which Chopin uses to startling effect in his Prelude No 4 in E minor, taking 2 minutes to complete a scale which could have taken seconds. In much the same way, Shakespeare sets up the revenge that Hamlet will exact on Claudius in the early stages of the play and then spends the next few hours on a journey that includes rage, madness, grief and treachery before finally ending in the revenge that the audience years for. Zeigarnik noted that waiters seemed to be able to remember a vast number of different orders from different tables during an evening, but forgot them as soon as a particular meal was finished and paid for. In much the same way, the technique when used in communication can be extremely useful. Stories are powerful ways of communicating ideas when used deliberately and specifically. During a workshop on presentations occasionally held at the University of the West of England, the point is made that it can be possible to articulate complex scientific data through relatively simple graphs and charts that are animated in order to become accessible. Rather than simply relay this information, Dr Paul Spencer tells an engaging story about a conference he once attended in California in which he articulates the problems he faced in communicating his data, the resources he called upon to solve them and the positive outcome he enjoyed as a result. By weaving the workshop content into a relevant, interesting and personal story (that, incidentally, contains a little of his why), he commands the attention of the workshop and uses that position to make his point to great effect. Metaphors are also effective ways of illustrating ideas and thoughts; particularly useful when trying to ensure that your message reaches out to as many different preferred ways of receiving and interpreting data as possible. This course is designed to be potentially more effective than many of its counterparts by exploiting the combination of sheer weight of information with a Researchers ability to cope with, sort and interpret vast quantities of such information. For many this preceding statement will be

You need to assume that you will be having lunch shortly, that afterwards you will continue to design your workspace, that your ideas will become firmer, that you will have resources available to make those ideas a reality, and that you will feel more comfortable with the idea of moving.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

straightforward to grasp and engage with. For others, the likening of this course to a rich, dark chocolate Viennese cake that could cause indigestion were it not for an athletic metabolism - is equally accessible.

~ WHAT ~

What do you communicate? What information is relevant to your message, your audience and your desired outcome? How do you make sure that you minimize the energy your audience might waste on irrelevancies and red herrings in order to focus on receiving the message you intend? Chunking information is a useful way of deciding how detailed or how encompassing you want your data to be. By using a microscope to drill down into data, or a telescope to zoom out, you can make sure that you provide both detail and context to your audience. Think about your research in terms of chunking you are spending a number of years focussing in on a great deal of information about a very specific topic; very small chunks of data. How far do you need to chunk up before you come to a level of detail that is accessible to a colleague from your department? How much further until the detail is right for a specialist in a similar discipline? Another researcher? A non specialist with only a secondary school level of knowledge in your field? Perhaps you need to chunk across (use a metaphor) to engage their understanding or interest?

~ WHEN & WHERE ~

What are the environmental factors at play? If you put yourself in your audiences shoes, would they be feeling like you? What has happened in their lives that might affect their willingness or ability to receive your message? Spending time asking yourself these questions should have an impact on the way you want to communicate with them. What time of day, day of the week, month of the year, maybe even year is it? How long is your presentation / communication How long can your listener concentrate? Its probably less than you think In what arena is your communication? Notes, book, website, lecture, interview etc. If it is live, what is the room like? Big or small? What is the temperature like? Is there a view? Spatial awareness will you fill your own personal space? Body language relative to size of space will you find out what looks right before you start?

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

Voice. Do you articulate clearly? Have you equipped yourself to be effective with your voice? How much energy will your audience need to pay attention to you? The less hard you work the harder they will need to.

~ WITH WHOM ~

With whom are you communicating? One person? One thousand? How will your behaviours, choices and energies affect theirs? Have you taken time to build rapport with them? Will they feel valued and cherished or patronised and bored? What sort of language might appeal to them? Are you catering for everyone or have you assumed that everyone sees things the same way you do? What assumptions have you made about them? What assumptions can you make about them? Are you able to ask them? What would happen if you did? What do you know about your audience? What can you find out about them? What can you assume about them? What do they know about you? What do they already know about the topic? What do they want from you? Are they supportive or defensive? Are you as threat or competition? Who might they compare you to? Predicates, or representational systems, are a hypothesis that people generally have preferred ways of taking in information. The four areas are Visual, Auditory Tonal, Auditory Digital and Kinaesthetic and broadly speaking we each work in all of them to different degrees, but Grinder & Bandler (who created Neurolinguistic Programming) argue that we have a preference. Putting to one side the diagnostic part of NLP, you could find value in crafting your communication to ensure that your listeners can access what you are saying: Visually; listeners would be aware more of the vision, imagery and colour that you describe. Auditory Tonality; listeners would be more aware of the sounds of the words you are using. Auditory Digital; listeners would be more aware of the data and ensuring your argument is robust. Kinaesthetic; listeners would be more aware of your data through how it felt to them.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

In the section dealing with metaphor in the preceding pages, the metaphor might appeal to someone with a visual preference whilst the explanation of this course would possibly be better suited to someone with an Auditory Digital preference. Systemic Behaviour, one explanation of which is Eric Bernes work on Ego States in Transactional Analysis, is the natural phenomenon that exists between two people where one takes an initiating behaviour, which can often result in a correlating reciprocal behaviour in the other. Whether watching a loving couple at a dinner date or an aggressive passenger late for their flight, examples are everywhere in society where one persons response to another, whilst perhaps not due to it, is not exactly surprising or even unpredictable. It can pay dividends to consider the impact of your communication with the same level of fascination.

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The Compelling Communicator - a DNA Course

~ CONFIDENCE ~

Confidence is the holy grail of issues; in fifteen years of running workshops, confidence has topped the list a staggering 92% of the times that Island 41 has run sessions. Our work around this topic was inspired by the absolutes that we have found while exploring it: 1. Everyone would like to feel more confident. 2. No one we have met actually feels totally confident. 3. Everyone seems able only to describe confidence in another person. 4. No one really believes it when other people describe him or her as confident. 5. Everyone knows what confidence is. 6. No one can define it. This list has led us to conclude that confidence, as we currently appear to understand it, is a con. It is something that is elusive as it is unattainable in the same way that perfection is; it is an ideal that doesnt actually exist. What does exist and is undeniable is the effect that people and things can have on us. The dress, pair of shoes, teacher, manager or pay packet that make us feel better. Therefore, confidence is something that is far easier to feel when given to us as opposed to manufactured internally. In an exploration of how to create confidence, the best answer that we can find at present is to suggest that we engage in curiosity. The same quality that allows young children to approach people without fear, to speak their mind without hesitation and the reason why they genuinely want to know what makes the sky is blue.

C.C. Companion Document Island 41 2011 This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part without consent.