Knowing what makes us tick, and how each of us is unique, can be extremely useful when managing a team and when communicating with others.
Have you ever been to a meeting with colleagues, held a performance conversation with a team member or discussed priorities with your team, only to come away with a different view of what was agreed?
The communication model pictured below is from NLP and helps explain why this might happen.
We each experience the world (external events) through our five senses:
- Visual - sight
- Auditory - sound
- Kinaesthetic - touch
- Olfactory - smell
- Gustatory – taste
The first difference that may occur between us is a preference for experiencing the world with a particular sense, so for example your visual sense may be more dominant, whilst your colleagues preference is kinaesthetic. This is often demonstrated by the language you use, a more visual person will “see what I mean”, whereas someone who has a preference for the kinaesthetic sense will trust “it just feels right”.
Your unconscious mind is able to absorb and store everything that is happening around you, estimated at a whopping 2,000,000 plus bits per second of information (nerve impulses). However your conscious mind is only able to handle about 126 bits per second and so needs to simplify or filter the input somewhat to make sense of an event and your surroundings!
In NLP we refer to three key ‘filters’, namely:
- you Delete – miss things out,
- you Distort – twist, colour or fill bits in,
- and you Generalise – make overarching ‘rules’ and group things together as one.
The brain does this by filtering incoming information creating an “Internal Representation” or conscious experience. This filtering is conducted based on criteria unique to each individual such as:
- What’s important to you i.e. your values and beliefs, fears, interests and passions.
- Your language skills and use of vocabulary.
- Your memories and life experience.
- The consequences of previous decision making.
As a consequence of this filtering the language you use to express an experience is a very limited substitute or ‘surface structure’ for your fuller internal experience or ‘deep structure’. How easy do you find it to convey the most beautiful sunrise you have ever experienced, or the way the brain works? Often we may use metaphor such as “it’s like a computer” or “it’s a library of our memories”, to convey our messages.
So you are constantly creating internal representations of your daily experience and your response to these representations lead to changes in your emotional state and physiology. This ultimately triggers your behaviour and what others see.
Fortunately many people go with the same deletions, distortions and generalisations, however this is also how misunderstandings can easily occur, as we assume we know what other people mean.
Awareness of the communication model starts to enable us to appreciate where someone else may be coming from and even when we believe we are speaking a common language, why we have different representations of the same event.
In order to communicate well as we go about our work it is worth remembering the NLP belief that “the meaning of any communication is the response that you get". Here are three tips to increase your effectiveness:
- Demonstrating flexibility in your style and methods for communicating to accommodate the needs and preferences of others.
- Stop assuming others know what you mean.
- Check that others understand what is expected of them.
When you take responsibility for your communication you can enhance your own performance and that of your colleagues.