Hey! For those who made it here from Waypoint 1, welcome back! For new guests, we're happy to have you as well, but be sure to circle back and read Waypoint 1 - Personal Growth (it takes 4 minutes) so you've got the latest and greatest tools and insights you'll need to bring with you along the way! Also, if you haven't subscribed to my website, be sure to do that so you can get the FREE downloadable e-workbook, Way Points | A GPS For Life. It follows along the same route we are taking on our personal growth journey throughout 2020. It will serve you well!
We’re so excited you’re on this personal growth journey with us! The most important thing to remember, is that this is YOUR journey. No one can tell you how far to go, or how fast…it’s totally up to you. If you’re all caught up, well, keep reading! This month we’re diving into all things communication!
Communicating is like building a bridge into the hearts and minds of others. How we choose to communicate will determine how successful our relationships will begin, end, or remain over a period of time. The best way to improve your communication, is to learn your style, and the style of others; then practice.
For those of you who may be in a relationship, marriage, or are experiencing the wonderful world of parenting, you are all too familiar with the challenges that come with communicating. The smallest misunderstanding can turn into a mountain of an argument in the blink of an eye…especially if that blink of an eye was followed by an eye roll, head tilt, heavy sigh or other talented gesture. Admit it! You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all been in that moment where we did what we did, or said what we said, realized it wasn’t the best option we had in our communication arsenal, and are now left to our own defenses, bracing for whatever comes our way!
We pick and choose our words and our behaviors. When we’re aware of our communication strengths and weaknesses, we are better equipped to make positive choices, even in the heat of the moment. Let’s get a little more familiar with communication and the different types of communication we experience daily either consciously or subconsciously.
“a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior…verbal or written message… a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as in speech)…”
Get the idea? We communicate every day, from the time we wake up, all throughout our day, until we shut down our brains at the end of the day and go to sleep. (Some of you may even be known to talk in your sleep! We won’t address that in this blog, but here’s a website where you can read more about Sleep Talking…it may help you in some way!)
We are exposed to all types of communication from a very young age...one might argue that communicating is so easy, children can do it! And they would be correct. Here's a quick (and cute) video to remind us of various ways we communicate in our daily lives...
Types of Communication
There are four main types of communication we use on a daily basis: verbal, nonverbal, written and visual. Let's take a quick look at each type:
Written communication is making use of the written word to deliver information. (learn.g2.com) This could be in the form of a hand written note, typing a memo or an e-mail, text message, or other method utilizing words to convey a message.
Visual Communication is known as the use of visual aids which are read or viewed for ideas and information to be communicated. For instance, graphs, charts, maps, books, posters, packaging design, screen-based media etc. are all types of visual aids.
Do you know what your typical communication style reveals about you? From the words you choose, to your tone, body language and mannerisms, you could be sending the right, or wrong, message, intentionally or unintentionally. Self-awareness and communication go hand in hand when working on personal growth. You cannot improve one, without also improving the other. (You'll find throughout the year this will become a common theme for other waypoints we discuss...)
There are so many aspects to think about when it comes to improving communication skills, and you won't master them all by the end of this blog. You CAN begin to tune into yourself and others and start making small changes. Remember, we're on a life-long journey!
To close us out, my friend Jennifer Syed was so gracious to share some personal and professional insights relating to communication, self-awareness, and personal growth:
Jennifer has an extensive mental health and professional development background. She has had the opportunity to utilize these skills to serve those who are serving through her current position as a Director of Psychological Health at an Air National Guard installation in Iowa where she utilizes a proactive Integrated Operational Support embedded care model.
In addition to her background in traditional mental health approaches she specializes in PTSD treatment approaches including being an EMDR certified provider. She also utilizes integrative approaches and is a Certified Brain Health Coach through the Amen Clinics course. On the professional development avenue, Jennifer is a certified professional coach holding certifications as a COR.E Dynamics Leadership Specialist and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner.
Personally, Jennifer lives with her 10 year old son in Ankeny, Iowa and enjoys reading as well as spending time doing activities with her son--especially during the spring and summer when they're able to get outside and explore.
From Jennifer on Communication:
Continuing to build on your personal growth is the importance of communication. Communication is a foundational and critical skill for any military leader. Your ability to clearly communicate your strategic vision and persuade the decision makers of your recommended course of action (COA) relies heavily on your ability to communicate clearly and succinctly your message both verbally and in a written format.
One statement that you typically hear is “know your audience” but what exactly does that mean and how can you build upon your personal development waypoint to utilize this in your communication waypoint? One effective way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the personality types in Myers Briggs (MBTI), once you are familiar with your own personality type you can identify your preferences in communication and how your personality impacts what resonates with you in communication from others, you can then translate this knowledge into identifying (roughly) what personality type you perceive others around you to be based on their behaviors and tendencies and ensure you are utilizing communication that speaks to their preferences.
Communication is specifically pertinent in the current multi-generational state of the military wherein we have generational diversity in communication preferences. A good communicator will be aware and able to adapt their communication style to meet these needs and thus allowing Airmen to connect their daily AFSC tasks to the Commanders vision and intent ultimately creating increased job satisfaction.
These concepts aided me greatly in my personal journey of developing my communication (which is an ever-developing work in progress). My journey starts with being placed on a multidisciplinary team with varying personality types, most unlike my own. Having never previously needing to adapt my communication style to those around me in a setting such as this, I went in as an ISTJ personality logically to the point and with authority/confidence and despite my best intent and efforts, I failed. Time and time again, I failed. I couldn’t understand what was happening, I had a great idea, the research to back it up and fairly decent presentation skills- but yet I wasn’t being heard. Upon great examination to my style I discovered I was speaking at people instead of to them. I had been speaking and viewing communication through my limited ISTJ lens and those who didn’t have the same personality type as me simply weren’t hearing my message. Even some ISTJ’s who had the same personality type weren’t able to hear my message because I had been speaking at instead of to, meaning I failed to address the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) aspect of those in the decision-making chain above me.
The two most impactful tools I have utilized and since been certified in to assist others accomplish the same are: Myers Brigg’s Step 2 Instrument and the Energy Leadership Index (ELI). I already spoke above regarding the benefit of the Myers Briggs, but now I want to share a little about how the Energy Leadership Index comes to play. Wherein the Myers Briggs is a personality assessment, the ELI is an attitudinal assessment meaning that our attitudes and beliefs also impact how we see the world and thus how we interact with the world and those around us, in such as aspects of communication and behavioral interactions. I would greatly encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with this concept to read the book Energy Leadership by Bruce Schneider and participate in your own ELI debrief.
Not to oversimplify the concepts but rather for purposes of demonstration on how I benefited from becoming familiar with these concepts- ultimately I learned that due to my beliefs and experiences which I had carried around with me ultimately shaping my attitude and how I showed up in the world, that I had an unconscious tendency to view things as right-wrong, win-lose. The way this showed up in my communication was me trying to prove I was right to ultimately gain a win however because of my underlying beliefs I did this at the expense of relationships around me. When I was able to consciously adapt the concepts and principles and become more aware of how I showed up my communication and relationships both in and out of the workplace improved greatly.
“Remember… communication is the key.”
WOW. All I can say is, WOW. Thanks so much, Jenny, for sharing with us all!
Keep learning, and growing, friends! See you at Waypoint 3 - Active Listening on March 1st.