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    Entries in communication (32)


    It's time to clean up our language


    Listening to people talking is something we do every day; listening in workshops, in planning sessions, in meetings, conversations and learning environments.

    I don't know about you, but I hear lots of 'dirty' language! Ok, not swearing, but rather let's call it 'unclean language'. 

    This is language where people interrupt, make assumptions, give directions, tell people what to do and dish out prescriptions. Yes... how much do you enjoy being told what to do? Often we may not intend to be so ... dirty... with our language, so it's something to be aware of. 

    We really do need to clean up our language!

    Clean language has the capacity to break down silos, build trusting environments, boost our capabilities to think, evolve our ideas and deepen engagement. It's an approach identified and developed by New Zealander David Grove. More leaders, coaches, managers and drivers of change might like the idea of achieving those things.

    You can read more about the technicalities of clean language here and here but a session presented at a conference I was at recently reminded me of the power of this clean listening and communication tool.

    In short, here's how you keep it clean:
    • listen using the person's words
    • use 'and...' to kick off your sentence or question
    • ask 3 key clean questions (where x is a word they've mentioned/used)
      • And what kind of x is that x?
      • And is there anything else about x?
      • And that's x like what ?
    • stick to these three questions
    • slow down.
    You can get the essence of the session from my visual notes.

    So... how 'clean' are you? How clean are the others on your team? 

    Boost engagement, build trust and break down silos in these challenging times by cleaning things up.

    Careful of those unconscious 'commands'

    "I know you're tired after a long day today..."

    "We'll do this activity so it might feel like you're a kid back at school doing a test..."

    "I'm sorry if it feels like all of the speakers are droning on about this..."

    "You probably don't want to hear what I'm going to say next but ..."


    These are four real-life statements, made by team leaders, speakers, executives over the past few weeks ... people who should "know better".

    But often we don't know! We're blissfully (or dangerously) unaware of the words that leak out from our mouths from our minds and the power those words have on a team, an environment, a presentation, a project.

    I noted these four statements when I heard them and they all have a dangerous power to have the audience agreeing with you, under their breath, in their mind, or muttering to someone else.

    Let's run them again:

    "I know you're tired after a long day today..."

    <Yeah, so get off the stage and let me go and have a beer!>

    "We'll do this activity so it might feel like you're a kid back at school doing a test..."

    <So stop it! I don't need to do kids stuff. Let's do things that will actually create an outcome for this project!>

    "I'm sorry if it feels like all of the speakers are droning on about this..."

    <OK, so you're going to waffle too? Yes you've all been droning ALL day!>

    "You probably don't want to hear what I'm going to say next but ..."

    <You're right mate. I'm not gonna listen. Instead I'll think about ....>

    Be super careful about your 'banter' before you deliver important messages. This 'leakage' of uncertainty, apology or low levels of confidence can be turned around. 

    Instead, positively frame up what you're saying. 

    There's no need to use any of these waffle statements. Just deliver your content, your point, your story, your case study. And move on. 

    Set up the environment, the context and the team for a positive interaction, a creative environment with a strong 'why we're doing this', or 'why I'm here presenting this' or 'why this change is happening'. 

    They're the 'commands' you want people to buy in to and adopt. 

    That's a smoother path to change. 



    Less stuff, more happiness

    Graham Hill is a designer and his TED Talk on having less stuff and more happiness is a quick and inspiring watch at just five minutes.  

    As he spoke, I sketched some visual notes… and distilled his key points to a less than 90 seconds sketch video. You can watch the video by clicking on the image below...


    So that's a five minute talk, distilled to a one pager of visuals, and to a 90 second video. 

    Distil, distil, distil.

    Too many leaders waffle on, give the l-o-n-g story every time they speak, send a lengthy bullet-pointed blah-blah email or share a thick PowerPoint pack of 'stuff'. Oh yawn!

    You might be in love with it but you're fighting for attention from the people you're trying to engage with. 

    Keep your teams happier and help them get to meaning quicker by delivering short messages and clear compelling, 'made-by-a-human' visuals.

    Be sure your communication has less stuff… and you and your teams will have more happiness!


    How to engage people in change & transformation

    How to engage people in change & transformation from Lynne Cazaly on Vimeo.

    When change is on the agenda - and it so often is in today's workplaces - be sure you've got engaging tools to help people buy into the change and transformation that's coming. 

    Avoid ambiguity and complication. Hey, you might love working down in the detail because you're involved in the piece of work, but that doesn't mean others across the organisation are that 'into' you or the change!

    Check out this week's sketch video to move beyond a 'pack' of information!



    Which way are you going?

    When I first got my drivers license I remember driving down a local South Melbourne street, York Street, the wrong way! There were a couple of oncoming cars but we were all moving slowly so I think I got away with it.

    Plus, the car I was driving was my aunt's and it had interstate number plates on it! "Oh, ok, she's not from around here!"

    I've always remembered the intersection to that street and when I drive past it now, I'm so very conscious of how it's 'one way'. It looks and sounds different to the whizzing traffic that flows both ways along a road or motorway. 

    Earlier this week in a client workshop, I remembered that one way street incident.

    I was listening to a leader communicate their key messages about a change program and how the leaders and team members would have to do this, that, the other ... and oh, this other thing over here. 

    It was all so 'one way'. 

    Contrast that to another leader who I heard from yesterday. She opened the topic up for conversation. She wanted to hear what people thought about what they'd already heard about the change. This was before her 'sermon' on what was to be. 

    By allowing a 'two way street', she was able to hear their key concerns and then pitch her information to address those concerns. 

    It all flowed so well. They talked some… then she responded… then they asked some questions… and she engaged further. Yes it was the two way street of communication! So simple, but sometimes so tricky to bring to the situation you're in, particularly if it's a tough or tricky conversation.

    She later told me her heart was thumping in anticipation because she didn't know what they'd say or what their questions or concerns might be. She had some ideas, but was really heading into some unknown territory. 

    Oh yes… uncertainty! It does wonders for our defences! It brings them on in a flurry.

    So rather than head down that one way street like I did, I encourage you to travel the two way street of communication... slowly. A little from them… then over to you… then back to them. It's the push and pull of communication, engagement and facilitation.

    Every conversation, meeting, workshop or session you're in can benefit from it. Not to mention the other 'drivers' in that meeting. 

    Take it slow, proceed with caution and keep things moving two ways. It's too dangerous otherwise.