Observing team dynamics over many years of consulting, having also been trained to work with the unconscious mind, I realised in many occurrences of miscommunication, that the root cause came from the mis-use of language.
So simple and fundamental to this, is the use of positive rather than negative language. As I command someone to “not think of a pink elephant” that can’t possibly happen. You can’t not do something. I have just instructed you (at the unconscious level), to create a picture, sound and feeling of a pink elephant.
“Don’t sit” – the unconscious does not understand negative terminology hence it deletes words like not, wont, don’t, can’t, etc. So effectively I am asking the person to sit when that is exactly what I am commanding them not to do. So it is far more effective to say it the way you want it. Instead of “don’t sit” I could say “stand, squat, walk, etc.” You get the drift.
The unconscious mind communicates through the five senses – what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. When we communicate verbally and non-verbally, the person we are communicating with, creates in the five senses and stores this information for retrieval in the future.
This is where most team mis-communication comes from, beginning with the manager in charge. Using negative language, the manager might say “don’t forget to send the report out” which represents a huge directive to “forget”. A better way to instruct a team member would be to say it the way you want it – “remember to send the report out”.
A tip as small and profound as this, encompasses our daily life in so many ways. These are shared at NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) courses all around the world. Imagine if you could change the way you operate just by changing a few small ways of communicating? I can guarantee your world would change profoundly.
Another faux pas I regularly come across is the ability to listen actively. So many managers run away with their thoughts, before hearing their team members complete what they are saying. In the rush of a daily routine, managers fail to listen, jump to conclusions, leading to awful consequences and a lack of trust.
Listening actively is an invaluable skill in any situation, be it professional or personal. It establishes rapport and reveals what the other person needs which helps improve teamwork in the workplace.
For example, dealing with a team that argues incessantly, can be challenging. It’s a sign of serious communication problems at work. It’s crucial to give team members the time and space to vent their frustration, disappointment or unhappiness.
In this case, a good manager could provide a safe outlet for the team to freely express feelings, without interruption. Nodding at appropriate moments indicates understanding and helps encourage and assure the team member that they are being heard.
My favourite tool in all of this, is to ask questions. It helps clarify anything not understood and keeps the conversation on track. It is also two-way communication that calibrates step by step, what needs to be discussed in sequence. Order of thought helps create great outcomes, steering away from assumptions.
In conclusion, if team members were trained in NLP, these small but profound tools would help communication remain positive. If an argument ensued now and then, the team member would know exactly how to get out of it and steer the discussion back to its original intention.
This is a more efficient way of creating synergy in the team than allowing conflict to occur, then having to resolve it. Why live in anticipation of arguments at work? Empower yourself and your teams with tools to build rapport and manage emotions with some NLP training!
I personally thank my lucky stars the day a friend recommended me an NLP course. It was the greatest gift I gave myself. A life changing experience in every way, my life turned around to create a future I wanted. Today I live that life.
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.