Nuance is defined as “a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound”.  In terms of communication, this can be: body language, tone, double meanings, facial expressions, information deliberately excluded, eye contact (or lack thereof), or implications left to be interpreted by the receiver.

Congruency between our words and body language, tone, eye contact, and facial expressions will enforce the message.  If there is a discrepancy between our words and these non-verbal signals, the receiver of our message may our message and our intent.  

Visions of better

I tend to be a mix of an idealist and a realist.  I see a vision of the how the world could be when every single person interacts from only their highest level of integrity and concern.  Realistically, I know this is as likely as a purple striped elephant being born.

Yet, I believe that we all go further, achieve more, build better relationships, and exceed our expectations when we allow ourselves to meditate on ideal visions and dreams of what could be.

Building culture

“So goes the leader, so goes the organization.”  - Unknown

I have recently spoken with individuals who are stepping away from a particular role because their leader(s) were toxic: demeaned people, did not keep their word, blamed others, and spread negative things about those at work.  I’ve heard senior leaders say that because of having no other options, they have laterally moved or promoted people who have displayed this type of poor behavior. 

So, how do you lead an organization where people arrive with a different set of values under which they operate?

The answer is simple but requires consistency (and patience): Make the values front and center, be passionately relentless in striving for them, and hold everyone to the same standard. Culture is built thru the behaviors consistently demonstrated and accepted by the leaders.

Second hand complaints

Have you ever received a complaint second-hand?  How did you receive it?

I once received an email that expressed frustration from the author over something that I owned.  When I read through the email stream, there had been an ongoing email discussion for a full month where no one had looped me in. Once I was looped in, we were able to put together a solution rather quickly.

The more a complaint is repeated, the more likely it is to be distorted, misunderstood and re-enforced. Direct connection is simpler, quicker and more accurate.  

What communication processes do you need to simplify? 

Game of telephone

Have you ever played the game of telephone?  It starts with one person saying a sentence or phrase to another person who then repeats it to the next person.  This process continues until the last person has heard the message, and which point, they repeat the message out loud.  

It is rare to repeat messages and have the final message match the original.

Examples to gain self-awareness

Here are a few questions and possible exercises that can help you become more aware of yourself and of others.

  • When speaking with others, do they ever take a step back from you?  This could indicate that they are protecting their personal space. Respect their need for space and refrain from stepping in toward them.  If interacting with someone of a higher rank, stepping into their personal space could prevent you from getting the next assignment or role.

  • How positive are your thoughts?  Pay attention to the line of dialog that plays in your mind when you are not speaking. Consider keeping a notebook beside you to write your dialog down on paper.  Then read through it.  What is the content of the ongoing dialog you carry with yourself?  If your thoughts lean more negative than positive, it could be possible that others at work and in your personal life perceive you as critical or negative?  What ways can you create solutions to the thoughts running in your mind?

  • Do you feel or believe that you are always right and others are wrong?  Or that the ideas of others are not as good as yours?  If this is the case, others may see you as uncooperative and difficult to work with.  Consider the reasons that you are unwilling to consider the ideas and solutions of others.  The next time the opportunity arises, allow yourself to entertain ways that the ideas of others could work.  Then share your thoughts with them.