The Invisible In Communication

One of the biggest problems in relationships business or personal, is ineffective communication

(Reposted from LinkedIn, July 1, 2015)

One of the biggest problems in relationships –

business or personal is ineffective communication. Most of the time without the speaker even knowing a misunderstanding has occurred.

Something said or inferred by tone, choice of words or subject matter that is unknown to the speaker triggers sensory neurotransmitters on their journey to the brain stem to kick off the emotional auto-response function – this is what happens for us when an old emotional response continues to be our go-to instead of conscious, mindful emotional authentic responses.

This misunderstanding can also occur unexpectedly for the speaker as his or her audience responds to his communication. How do we know the difference?

Seeing the unseen is the conundrum.

What is invisible to the naked eye is often more important to understand than that which is in plain sight. But, It is highly unlikely that people will address these intangibles in conversation openly because life’s invisible aspects are the hardest concepts to explain, yet the most probable as a cultural system that we run into during change – head-on.

These invisible aspects of communication impact digital transformations with the greatest negative results.  In solving for one thing they often uncover another – a problem one did not know existed or were ready to expose or find. There begins a difficult journey down the road less traveled.

In the hustle and bustle world we live and work in, folks don’t feel like they have time for context – just the bottom line.  Personally, we don’t even tell stories anymore like our ancestors did to pass down beliefs and values – we just recite facts, or what we perceive as the facts – or we ask google.

Because everyone’s perception is true for them, even if it is inaccurate communication is difficult at best.

People – especially at the leadership levels don’t have time to read long blurbs; keep words to a bare minimum – bulleted if possible, to retain a broad-based demographic satisfied with our performance and happy. Those who subscribe to the 2-minute attention requirement – do this even though they may be misinformed not due to negligence but time to share the meaning or patterns, connection, and relationships not so easy to explain that often lie behind everyday activities.

I get it – life is on fast-forward and we are bombarded with information! 

Communication though – or effective communication takes work and integrity!   It demands clarity and transparency and this takes mindfulness and thought. 

To be clear one often has to recant more than just the facts to others – whether we have time or not!   

We often say things knowing what we mean, but leave others without a clear understanding of what we had in mind for them to take away.

This is because of things we knew inherently and thought they did too.  We used to call these “assumptions” during the elaboration of requirements for software development.

However, in truth, these are old neural patterns from static, antiquated beliefs that now inhibit our ability to lead and communicate effectively in a dynamic, and globally connected business and world.

NOT FAKE NEWS – truth And clarity take context

unless, all the people around you think exactly like you, have the exact same bias that you do, and have had the same or similar sensory experiences as you.

Nearly impossible to expect and how boring! 

As people, we are all unique – and this is a constraint and an opportunity; our mental models are based on our values, beliefs, and experiences. The same people we are endeavoring to communicate with are almost always different than us, and this is the golden opportunity.  We have a moment to gain knowledge simply by listening without judgment.

They say knowledge is power – with absolute power being most pure it is a sure bet that it should be given away with no strings attached; because we already know it is most easy to corrupt or be corrupted when it is held onto or – it has become front-page news that it’s too easy for humans to use power for self-serving purposes.   

Our communications, ideas, thoughts are based on our knowledge; therefore they are often the greatest power we can express in life. Communicating who we are – is the way we reach our goals, the way we resolve our problems, the way we show our love.  

How we cultivate and handle our communication – our power is really our authentic signature.  Henry David Thoreau makes a great point when he says…

In today’s digital world things move fast – but, we need to take the time to communicate knowledge clearly to one another – with humility and kindness so that we can express our power in a healthy fashion and consciously be part of sorely needed positive change – in business, between ourselves personally and for the sustainability of life on our planet.  

This requires us to Collaborate, Discuss, Reflect and then Adjust – with one another – doing no harm and being authentic and kind. Even though I look and sound different, or think differently than you do – where we cannot see, we are more similar than not.

It is here in this knowledge that we could take solace – not Umbridge. Drop the self-serving only perspective and adopt an evolved perspective.

Maybe after sitting with this concept we’ll find it in our heart to return to a difficult communication with a new perspective one involving eloquent listening where we are open and interested in hearing a different view and the context to which it was formed.

We can collaborate again, discuss further, review the notion, plan or construct once more, and perhaps re-summarize the goal in more detail with more balance and thought to a broader audience.

Even still – this time it will be with new context and enlightened understanding because of our new perception as we took the time to consider the shared thoughts we have with one another. 

If we embrace the dualities of the human condition fundamentally (light and dark, women and men, business and technology, good and evil) we would remember that we cannot see one of these without understanding the other and the imbalance when we do not embrace them is conflict.

In resolving opposing thoughts the mandorla or the center of two overlapping circles is the place we can express our gratitude for the gifts that others share with us.

If we hear their different communication we take the time to enhance our own understanding – by asking questions to gain context and being clear of judgment before they answer.

Perhaps with this approach collective problems might solve themselves.   

Oddly we achieve the greatest power in digital transformations to go forward, to reach goals, to hit our targets when we embrace people with different views than the ones we hold!  They may see the paradigms shift or disruption emerging we do not.

When we take the time to see another perspective than ours – we grow and have an opportunity to transform the shadow of our systemic organizational culture into gold. We alchemize that base metal or solution or auto-response that is old and outdated into a more conscious authentic means of communication.

In the meantime, know that when you contribute your own clear, kind communication – you can play a part – big or slight in the clarity of direction and potential enlightenment for another. 

You have affected a person who can now go forward, and affords the same gift to someone else; your humanity has created more humanity.   

In digital transformations we need to speak up often – but take the time to be clear, and kind this doesn’t happen when passive-aggressive or open discouragement of communicating this way is the norm.

We cannot be quiet to build sustainable models during vulnerable changes, but instead, we need to use our power to collaborate, to share, to move the human condition in a positive direction in a healthy manner!   

Let’s evolve authentic change together; it takes just a bit more time, a little more effort but in the end, costs a digital transformation far less and rewards those who took the journey much, much, more!  At the core of this, all success is effective communication – digital transformation fails without it!

Join our podcast called Tribal Influence on the Digital Journey to learn more about how you can institute effective cultural communication in your large entity.


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Robin Gregory

CEO mobileLACE

Lean Agile Enterprise Coach, Business Enterprise Analyst, Digital Transformation Specialist, Writer. 25 years of business and technology experience.

mobileLACE is a team of intelligent advocates with a passion for sharing experiential knowledge about digital transformation. Our intention is to assist leaders in the 21st century marketplace by blending cultural intelligence with technological agility into our products and services.