What’s your story?

6 04 2010

“If you just communicate you can get by. But if you skilfully communicate, you can work miracles”
(Jim Rohn)

I was asked the other day, by a family member, what I’d just been doing. My response was to ask who’s verson they’d like to hear – mine was that I’d been grooming the cat. The cat’s verson was that I’d kidnapped her, held her against her will and scalped her!

There’s an old saying about there being two sides to every story – in fact you’ve probably noticed that there can be considerably more than two sets of interpretation of the same event if there’s more than two people involved.

If you are trying to effectively communicate with someone else it often helps if you have an understanding of the other person’s perspective.

After all, communication involves at least 2 people, the person who is “sending” the message and the one who is receiving. An understanding of how they process the message you give because of their beliefs, values and other perspectives can help you craft and adjust what and how you communicate to become more effective.

This week I invite you to play with something I originally used in a business setting during “complaint handling” trainings. While you can certainly use it with a situation where there is a conflict, you can also pick any scenario where there’s been a missunderstanding or you were bemused by another person’s response.

1. Pick a situation to play with where the communication that took place didn’t go the way you intended.

2. Grab a pen and paper and tell the story from your perspective from start to finish.

3. Once you’ve finished telling that story, either pick somewhere else to sit or a different position in which to sit. Yes I know it’s a strange instruction, and one that may be tempting to miss out but it’s in here to make the rest of the steps easier!

4. Now imagine the same scenario from the other person’s perspective. If you like you can literally imagine stepping into their shoes and seeing through their eyes. Write down their verson of events – remember it’s their version so you’ll need to be ensure that your description is as if it had happened to you personally ie “I was …”

5. When finished, again change where or how you are sat to a new third position. – Honest, people really do find this helps to see from a new perspective.

6. Now, imagine that a third party was watching the same scenario and see it through their eyes. This is someone who has no personal investment in the situation, so it’s an unbiased view. How would they describe what they saw?

Bonus steps: If you like repeat steps 5 and 6 and pick imagining getting the perspective from a mentor and/or someone you view as an expert in such a situation. What advice would they give you having seen their perspective?

7. Re-read each version and notice any new insights you’ve learned. How can you use this information and perspective in the future?

Remember, this is not an exercise to beat yourself up using the benefit of hindsight about what you could have done. It’s an exercise to help you get even more out of your communication and life – maybe even allow you to work miracles ;)

Have a week full of perspectives




Influence you own life
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14 05 2009

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Influence your own life

13 05 2009

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” (Scott Adams)

I have just got back from assisting on a training in London. One of the compliments I received while I was there was that they could tell who had influenced my style and my work.

One reason I took this as a compliment is firstly because the person they had identified as an influence is someone I think is world class at what they do.

The other reason I took it as a compliment is that several years ago I made a conscious decision to surround myself with those whose work I admired. It’s something I’ve found can really influence how easily I have a “good” day. Especially when I include people, events etc who when I found that when I was around things seemed easier or more pleasant.

You may have read or heard interviews with musicians or actors who will credit other acts or artists as being an influence on their style.

This does not mean that these performers copy those who have been influential. Nor does it mean that the influencers have magically transformed those spectators.

Part of the dictionary definition of influence is “the capacity of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviours, opinions, etc, of others”

For me, the key part of that the phrase is there is “a compelling force”, it’s not about removing all choice.

While I have made a conscious decision to be around positive influences, in the past I have also made decisions to remove and/or limit exposure from being around other situations who’s influence I found not to be positive.

It seems to make sense to me that by spending more time around the positive influences and less around those that don’t. This week I invite you to play with the following to influence your own life:

1. Make a list of at least 10 things, people, events, activities, places etc you know that it’s easier to feel fantastic/have a good day when you include them.

2. Make a list of at least 20 things that bug you but not enough for you to have taken action on yet – these don’t have to be big things – it may just be an occasional leaking tap in the bathroom.

3. This week I invite you to spend some time enjoying connecting with someone or thing from your first list. I also invite you to take action to remove something from your second list.

4. Notice how this influences you and your life.

Create a fantastically influential week




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