This past week has been tough on former Vice President Joe Biden. Several women have come forward to say they were uncomfortable with Biden’s touchy-feely ways such as hugs, forehead kisses and other instances when he invaded their personal space.
Biden’s response? That wasn’t my intent.
As I discussed in a previous FB live, your intent doesn’t matter.
How your message is received is what matters.
As George Bernard Shaw once said (or didn’t, who knows, but it’s a great quote), “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
In this case I’d say the biggest problem in communication is assuming other people understand your intent.
We tend to think that intent covers all manner of sins. Listen to kids play (and fight) and you’ll hear, “I didn’t mean to!” as if that makes whatever happen, ok.
Regardless of your intent, if the person you’re communicating with receives a different message, that’s on you.
Great communicators are constantly adjusting their message both in terms of content and delivery. By watching how people respond to your message, you can adjust accordingly. In my work I teach people how to read permission; the nonverbal indicator of receptivity.
And that’s exactly where Joe Biden went wrong. He assumed permission he didn’t have. This is often the case for people in power positions. Because those around them are afraid or intimidated, they don’t often clearly communicate their discomfort or fear. Which is why people in those positions must never assume permission and instead, play it safe.
This, by the way, has nothing to do with being politically “correct.” Regardless of the message or the context, if you want to succeed at communication, you’ll keep an eye on how your listener responds to your message instead of merely relying on your good “intentions.”
Years ago, I was working with a trial attorney in my office. After several attempts to get him to open up his body language, he still remained closed.
Frustrated, I finally blurted out, “Ok, what’s the story?”
And out tumbled a story about how he’s afraid he’ll say or do something that will turn the jurors against him and how this fear had been eating him alive.
When our communication is “off” there’s always a story behind it.
Body language starts in the brain. What we think gets communicated through our nonverbals.
This is dangerous.
Walk into the break room and see two people abruptly stop talking and you make up a story that they were talking about you.
See a juror frown and you make up a story that they don’t believe you and your version of events.
Your spouse is late coming home from work and you make up a story that they’ve been in an accident.
All of these stories have consequences because we communicate based on our stories.
Think your colleagues are talking behind your back? You’ll start avoiding them and acting strangely when they’re around.
Think a juror is against you during trial? You’ll start getting nervous about trying new things and play it safe.
Think your spouse has been in an accident? You’ll increase your stress and may lash out at your child.
It’s nearly impossible to stop making up stories because the brain is wired to make sense of our experiences. So instead, ask yourself, “Does this story serve me?”
If your story causes you stress, worry or anxiety, it doesn’t serve you. So ditch it. Tell yourself a new story.
Maybe your colleagues were sharing a personal story and were embarrassed if others heard.
Maybe the juror has a stomach ache.
Maybe your spouse got stopped by his or her boss on the way out of the office and didn’t have time to text you before getting in the car to drive home.
Are these stories true? It doesn’t matter. The point is, they serve you and your mindset. If you end up getting more information that gives you a clearer picture, great! Reframe your story. But until then, pick a story that serves you.
Here’s a podcast episode you might enjoy.
Are you being fed? I'm not talking about actual food (though...I do hope you are also being fed in that way). What I mean is, are you feeding your heart & mind on the things that will strengthen you and increase your inner power? There are so many things that deplete our personal power, that we must be vigilant to feed it and nurture it.
Take some time this weekend to be fed. Do some self-care. Get creative. Contribute to the strength of others.
The Amplify Project was born from the idea of helping you change your communication from the inside out. We communicate who we are, therefore if we want to change what we’re doing, we have to change who we’re being.
(Whoa! Is that like deep, or what?)
My life purpose statement is: I am the microphone that helps people find their voice and amplify it.
And that’s where the Amplify Project began. You’re the amplifier; one cord runs from you to a microphone. This is how you get your message out to the world. But another cord runs from you to your power source; the things you plug into to help you stand in your power like your wants, values, goals and dreams.
So when talking about self-care I want to ask you, what are you plugged into?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably plugged into your phone, your device, your T.V., Facebook, Instagram, etc…
There’s nothing wrong with some downtime, that’s not what I’m saying. But when actual technology is all you ever plug into, that’s when you begin feeling depleted.
I, for example, took a break from social media several months ago. Outside of engaging with y’all, I’m barely on social media these days. (WHAT? George Bush died? I had no idea!) Before I quit, I’d find myself fuming about something someone said on Facebook, or angry about something in the news, and I was tired of feeling so pissed off all the time. So I quit.
Look, what you feed your body determines how your body feels. It’s the same for what you feed your mind. If all you’re plugging into is celebrity scandals, Facebook rants and political infighting, get some balance!
Instead, try taking care of your mind by plugging into what feeds you. That could be great literature, a movie that makes you laugh, the latest self-help book or an uplifting podcast. Heck, it could just be…SILENCE.
Plug into what feeds you. Body AND mind. This power business isn’t for amateurs. Self-care is what helps you TAP into your power.
"Creativity now is as important in education as literacy."
- Sir Ken Robinson, TED2006
Here’s something to plug into this weekend! A favorite TED Talk of mine.
I had the pleasure of hearing Sir Ken Robinson speak a few years ago when we were both speakers for the National Conference of State Legislatures annual conference.
I had been a fan of his for years and meeting him was a highlight for me.
In this TED Talk (it might actually be the most watched TED talk of all time, it was at one time) he talks about the importance of creativity, and how schools are designed to kill creativity in students.
Thought provoking and extremely funny, it’s a must watch.
The It Gets Better Project aims to turn this around by letting LGBT youth know there is help available and they are not alone.
From the website:
“The It Gets Better Project inspires people across the globe to share their stories and remind the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth that hope is out there, and it will get better.”
This organization is helping LGBT youth find and use their power. To learn more, donate, or get involved, visit: https://itgetsbetter.org/
This is the first blog post of 2019, but not only that, the first blog post in your journey to Tap Into Your Power.
I am SOOOO excited to begin this journey with you.
A little backstory: I’ve been working with people just like you for over 15 years, helping them hone their communication so that they could nail their interview, hit their presentation out of the park, or up their game in court.
My specialty is in messaging and delivery: I help my clients figure out what to say and how to say it by tuning into who they really are and then helping them get their nonverbal communication to match.
But something was missing.
People loved the skills I was teaching, but they often found it difficult to get the skills to “stick.” How we communicate nonverbally is ingrained in us since our development from childhood to now; but the skills just weren’t enough to change how people were showing up in their lives. Yes, skills could be applied to job interviews and presentations, but in order to make real, lasting change, something had to shift.
Sari's passion is to help you TAP into your power from the inside, out. "Power Tools" provides real talk that gives you tools and reminders for tapping into your power instead of giving in to your excuses.