Next Level Comunication
Next Level Comunication

One of the key aspects that makes humans stand out as different from all other species on the planet is the complexity of the level of communication between us. The complexity of both written and spoken language, with each language both reflecting and impacting on the culture in which it is spoken. (Compare, for example, the soft lilting romantic language of French compared to the hard, guttural, efficient Germanic languages and we can see a reflection of the culture and identity of the people who speak them).

However, no matter what the culture or language, each can have its problems addressing certain issues. Every culture faces the prospect of “difficult conversations”. Conversations, the necessity for which, primarily arise due to different values and standards or the individual interpretation of them. Differences that, in turn, lead to a disparity of perception of Identity, Role and responsibilities, consequently giving rise to a decline in trust and respect and an increase in frustration, animosity and conflict. Whilst we need to resolve the frustration, animosity and conflict, without restoring trust and respect the resolution may be short term. In order to achieve a long term, lasting resolution and understanding we need to address the disparity in perception of Identity, Role and Responsibilities by not only Claiming our Identity, but ensuring those around us have claimed theirs too.

In this module on Communication we look at communication in a variety of contexts and situations including:

  • Engaging Dialogue
  • Difficult Discussions
  • Public Speaking
  • The Structure of Connection
  • Influence and Negotiation

In the sample below we take a look at The Structure of Connection

The Structure of Connection

Every business wants to be more popular, to connect to a wider audience and customer base. To do that effectively, we have to know how to communicate with them.

The process of communicating with an audience on a business level is the same process as entering into and having a social conversation with another person, for when seeking new customers a business is seeking to engage and have a “conversation” with people. The same rules apply and the “target” is therefore interchangeable.

The process of initiating a conversation is a time-honoured process, developed as a key part of civilised society to ensure that we make the right connections with the right people as efficiently as possible without causing offence or embarrassment.

Each new conversation is an exchange, a form of negotiation, politely “testing the waters”, on a progressive path, to check the “fit” of personalities, ideas and objectives, with the aim of making a lasting connection.

The Structure of Connection is a brief summary of those “rules of engagement” outlined in a 3 stage process:

Engage - Inform - Connect


Stage 1 - Engage

We have all heard the proverbs:

Every picture tells a story, and
A picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, they are both true, particularly in the early stages of connection. The visual process is all important at this stage.

We are attracted by something that catches our eye – something that we initially register as a potential match to our own ideals. That first glance gives us a rapid, comparative check as to the perceived relevance of what we see to our own wants, needs and desires.

From this glance, this first impression, a snap judgement is born as to whether we wish to find out more, to investigate as to whether the qualities of what we have seen are genuine, and truly match up to our own needs and/or aspirations. To determine what they can do for us. This judgement being made on such qualities as:

  • Image - Look/Style/Class
  • Attitude
  • Energy
  • Dress
  • Posture/Composure
  • Demeanour
  • Individuality
  • Exclusivity
  • Quality
  • Functionality
  • Value for Money

Whether a person, product or service - car, house, furniture, jewellery, artwork, etc. - all apply.

Whether we have a problem to solve, or things we dream of, desire and aspire to, in each case we formulate in our mind’s eye images and impressions that represent those dreams, aspirations and solutions to our problems. For we are constantly seeking to improve our quality of life and that key element of motivation – respect.

The images and impressions we hold in our mind’s eye are mostly derived from our own experiences, preferences and beliefs, and what we see may be something that either matches that image or impression, or inspires us to think differently. But it is that initial comparison to our own mental representation that makes it instantly recognisable, standing out from the crowd. If we perceive that it has credence and relevance to us, to our aims, objectives and quality of life, and is able to elevate that key element of motivation – respect – it is a winner, our curiosity is piqued and we are driven to find out more.

Media:

  • Pictures
  • Graphics
  • Design
  • Image/Style
  • Straplines
At this stage we aim for maximum impact with minimum content, providing a clear, uncluttered message congruent with the context of the situation. Following the golden rule: Clutter Clouds Clarity.

Keywords:

  • Relevance
  • Impact
  • Brevity
  • Context
  • Congruence

Example: It is estimated that the average time it takes an employer to select their chosen candidate in a job interview is 12 seconds - even before they may have spoken. The decision based on visual criteria only, that all important first impression.


Stage 2 - Inform

Once our curiosity has been aroused we need to confirm the potential relevance and match to our aspirations. We therefore progress to the next level, the Information Exchange.

The purpose of the information exchange is to confirm (or deny) the expectations aroused in our initial visual engagement. Through this we seek congruence, via our other senses, to establish the integrity of what we have seen. That what we hear, touch or feel matches up to our initial perceptions and expectations and the images we have created in our mind. We also seek to establish common ground on which to develop a relationship, one based on trust and mutual respect. To gather this information, we start a conversation.

The conversation process is started by the initiator of the conversation either asking for something or offering something, commencing a dance of give and take, testing the waters on a general, light-hearted level. Providing the opportunity for each to determine the common ground, friendliness and openness of each to the other, and to the topic of conversation, as well as communication preferences and protocols.

As the conversation progresses it goes through deeper and deeper levels of information exchange. Strengthening the common bond, building rapport and respect, ultimately establishing a connection resulting in a commitment to extend and maintain the relationship.

With the technology available to us today there are now 2 avenues of conversation open to us:

  • The traditional one to one conversation, either face to face or via telephone.
  • An “online conversation” through websites and online video, presentations, audio and literature.

Although using such technology may seem to make it a one sided conversation, it gives us choice as to whether we watch, listen and engage in them. We determine, the how, when and where the “conversation” takes place.

It gives us the chance to engage on our terms, to dream and to pursue a deeper connection without putting ourselves on the spot, without fear of rejection or embarrassment. We can flirt with the ideas and opportunities put before us. We can experience a level of intimacy without commitment or the threat of commitment.

For this reason, online video is rapidly becoming the default way of providing and disseminating information. With, at the time of writing, 55% of web searches being done on video sites (YouTube, etc.) and around 100 hours of video being uploaded every minute there is certainly a lot of content available to have that “conversation” with.

Media:

  • Video
  • Presentations (PowerPoint)
  • Audio
  • Touch
  • Conversation

Keywords:

  • Integrity
  • Impact
  • Information
  • Language
  • Protocol
  • Structure

Stage 3 - Connect

... If you are interested in finding out the remaining stages of the Structure of Connection, contact us to get your free copy of the booklet: Gaining Customers - The Structure of Connection