Communicating – at the base
We all have certain habits of seeing things and our brains learned to interprete exterior impulses in specific ways. – A nice example to illustrate this is art:
Can you imagine the shock of the public when they first saw the painting “impression, soleil levant” from Claude Monet in 1874? The audience – and at that time it was more elitiste than today – was used to see realism and naturalism, some romantic paintings, but all in common had as task to “show” something as it looked and then there comes this Monet guy and his friends and shows an “impression” of something rather than the exact copy on a canvas. – What a scandal, and what a disturbing way of seeing things.
Roughly this is what we experience everyday – through our education, cultural and social shaping we “see” things in a certain way and obviously we believe that this is the only way things can be perceived – this is all natural and not at all useful – only a bias. This way of seeing things expresses not only in our art taste, but in our thinking, reasoning, speaking and acting. If you want to participate to a social life you will have to adapt to how other people see things, or stay lonely. In your job you have to adapt to customers to sell, but even more so to adapt to your team in order to get yourt message through. Thus a certain sense of communication theory can help easing your daily life and to acknowledge and adapt to your bias.
We almost always are interpreting what we like to hear and see and rarely take notice of what the reality is – especially in sales we have to go back to really understand and get to know the customer again or the customer will orient himself towards a more relevant source of pleasure.
In people management you will have to relearn to listen and see beyond the bias in order to ensure that in the fight for the best talent you win – a vicory that by the way doesn’t stop in the signature on the contract but more a victory necessiting a constant development and challenge in order to ensure growth for both the individual and the business. – Even though many of your team members will tell you they want to become the best sales person of the city, brand etc. This reflects two things – an impression that may change tomorrow and or worse mistrust into the organisational body people work for.
And this also is why it is important to be aware of the theory of communication at least within very basic boundaries. How would you be able to manage your people in various conditions if you were not able to understand how communication works, even more so when you have to lead motivational conversations or coaching sessions? – If you do not understand the traps and if you have the empathy of a rock you will simply as that do not have success.
Those who saw some luxury companies easily will remember the good trustful employers and those who are selfish and only oriented towards a short term maximisation of profit.
However let’s come back to communication – Any sensory perception, by definition is biased. The idea is not to overcome the bias – this is fairly impossible. The importance for an intelligent human being is to understand oneself and to be aware of the bias.
You may know the “impossible” drawings of MC Escher or other trompel’oeil paintings and traditions.
These mechanisms of interpretation also and especially exist in communication. We all are the sum of our believes, values, our education, culture and experience. For this reason we as humans tend to interprete the heard or seen with information already acquired previously, rather then to reflect on every information we get.
Daniel Kahnemann in his book “thinking slow thinking fast” explains this with two cognitive systems every human has:
System 1, works in an automated way and is not steared by will – it relies on previously “learned” content and behaviour
System 2, always kicks in when something new and complex has to be solved – complex action taking, decision making, reflection, and concentration are required to “go on”
Even though system 2 “believes” it was the nobler one, the more human one and the more important one – in reality system 1 rules almost always as it tricks us into way quicker findings that seem fairly effortless and easy – in short assumptions that we often take for real.
Exemples for system 1 related activities:
– Hear hostility in a voice
– Realise an object being further away then another
– Reading big words on a billboard
– Understand simple sentences
Exemples for system 2 related activities:
– Focus on something
– Searching for a detail in a crowded environment
– Concentrating on a single voice in a loud environment
– Break habits (walk quicker as usually, take a different way home, try out new dishes, etc)
– Fill in a taxdeclaration (unless you are an accountant)
– Compare in an objective way two different products (cars, wash machines, etc)
– Supervise one’s behaviour within a complex social situation
– Reflected judgments
In reality system 2 finds actively new ways of doing, new solutions to complex situations and then once fully incorporated and verified adds them to the automatisms of system 1. System 1 consequently searches for the pattern and immediately jumps to the conclusion –
This is why working with people especially in sales where there are multiple stakeholders require a very alert attitude and the constant requestioning of any form of communication or in other words – Avoid taking habits.