Have you ever entered a meeting and suddenly felt uncomfortable? Perhaps your energy levels lowered, your mood sunk and your chest tightened. Maybe you felt a little wary, guarded or intimidated?
Then good news—you’re human! Neuroscience has a lot to tell us about how our limbic brain—our unconscious brain—works to assess threats and keep us ‘safe’.
In effect, every time we enter a new communication setting, our limbic brain scans faces, body language, tone of voice and words spoken … for one vital piece of information: Am I safe, or am I vulnerable?
If our brain senses we’re vulnerable, up goes our defensive wall—a wall that prevents listening, learning, ideas-sharing, problem-solving and information-sharing. Our agenda shifts from participation to protection.
The effect on our performance, and on our business, is devastating. Just think of the teams populating meeting tables across the country each day stuck in ‘protection’ mode as they pick up problem communication signals.
So, if we want to open up communication, productivity and performance in our teams, our first job is to maximise the strength of our teams’ ‘safe signals’.
- Use considerate body language: Keep your arms open and shoulders set towards people to whom you’re speaking.
- Open up facial expressions: Show that you’re listening. Get rid of sceptical, disinterested, bland and non-responsive facial expressions.
- Mind your tone: A disinterested, condescending, short tone of voice shuts down communication.
- Consider your words: Acknowledge what others say before giving your view.
Most importantly, have this chat with your team and remind each other that maximising your ‘safe signals’ maximises results.
To find out more about communicating for results, visit: www.ownthegame.com.au
Coach Founder and CEO Leanne Drew-McKain is a leading communication coach, highly regarded for her unique ability to build organisational communication culture and develop highest order communication skills in leaders and teams. Responding with fire-in-belly to countless clients eroded by workplace bullying, Leanne has developed her own coaching brand and product suite to build team communication cultures that suffocate the conversational bullying and destructive behaviours that damage our schools and workplaces.