‘Watch Your Language’ chapter excerpt from new book, “Presence, Impact and Influence”

Watch Your Language IV - Mirroring and Re-Phrasing

‘Watch Your Language’ chapter excerpt new book, “Presence, Impact and Influence”

Watch Your Language IV - Mirroring and Re-Phrasing

Rephrasing involves identifying vocabulary style that is able to move from a foundation of nullification to declaration language, from limiting to constructive.  Rephrasing moves from the world of stories, opinions, history and judgment to the realm of action, commitments and declaration towards real change or bringing something new into existence. 

Mirroring sets the stage to acknowledge what you have created for yourself and your ability to change it.  Your ultimate goal is to place the focus back on action and advancement and moving in a new direction.  For many teams buried in nullifications, they quickly will find themselves in downward spirals filled with stories, deflections, blame and conflicts.  Your ability to allow for mirroring and rephrasing with both yourself, and others, will be one of the most important tools in your influencing skill sets.  The art of leadership, real coaching and influence lies in this work.

So many stories and situations begin with conflict and spiral downward over time with further opinions, experiences and judgements. These become more and more elaborate when justified, or even agreed upon by others.  The attraction of blame, criticism and complaining is prevalent in many teams quite simply because it is easier than working towards a solution.  

Some statements, if left unchecked or rephrased will spiral downward and become more elaborate over time.  The unsubstantiated story gets more real every time it repeats itself.

“I have not received my performance check-in …… my manager does not care.”
“She did not do what I requested …… she is not engaged with this team.”
“He forgot my birthday again ……. he is checked out.”
“Marketing is late again on this project …… they just don’t get it.”
“He did not balance remittances this month …… he is struggling at his job.”
“The kids did not take out the garbage ……  they are lazy.”

The key to the practice of rephrasing, is to distill stories, and conflicts down to their core beginning, essence or underlying structure in one short statement.  Root causes and starting points from initial interpretation is necessary.  The longer the story has existed, the further back you will need to travel.  

When did you, or the other person start creating this interpretation about how the world works? 
What factors influenced these decisions? 
Have they repeated themselves over time? 
Is there any other way to observe and be in the situation? 
What is it about you, that this story exists for you? 
What power do you have to change or adjust the narrative?

Allowing people to visualize and see the limitations of their historical language is the starting point to move forward.  The awareness of the limitations in language and commitment to contribute differently is a powerful breakthrough for any individual or team.

You may require simple direct rephrasing, where just a word or two is changed in the story.

“I can’t stop thinking about the problem.” 
“I can stop thinking about the problem.”

If more structural change is required then structural rephrasing will be necessary.  After mirroring and identification occurs, structural rephrasing will require fundamental and creative changes to statements made, generally involving a change in the action, feeling or outcome. 

“I do not want to feel anxious anymore and nervous about situations.”
This can be adjusted to:
“I choose to feel calm and confident in the situations I find myself in.”

The goal of any structural rephrasing is to disrupt the pattern or logic loop that has taken up residence in your mind.  The art in this action, it to firstly distill any conflict that exists in the language or story and identify the nullification(s) being used.  Honesty in your mirroring here is required, being willing to let go of the stories that have defined you for so far.  If that story was created, then in turn, it can be changed, breaking the cycle of projection and limiting beliefs.

Rephrasing Leads to Reprogramming Patterns

When the limitations of nullifications, limiting language and deflections are realized, reprogramming can now occur.  Awareness has occurred in the mirroring process.  You now realize life-long habits of applying nullifications to situations and language no longer serve you. 

The word ‘you’ is applied here as changes always start firstly within yourself, then projected onto others through self learning and awareness.

This will not be easy at first as long term habits have strengthened the myelin insulation around the brain, where repeatedly used networks are insulated from change. Certain responses, skills and interpretation have become more and more automatic.  Put simply, if a certain action or thought is repeated, the neural pathway becomes insulated.  Once insulated, the action or thought becomes automatic.

A golfer who has practiced a poor stroke habit for years, will find themselves simply trying to improve the bad habit.  When the correct stroke is introduced through coaching, it is uncomfortable at first, and will take a lot of work to improve the score.

A manager who was taught early in their career to not trust employees, as they will always disappoint them and leave at the first chance, will struggle to build a trusting culture or engagement. 

Recruiters who have been disappointed with the work ethic if candidates who are younger may reflect these habits to all young people. “It is just the way they all are, they will ghost you at the first chance they get.”

Entrepreneurs who struggle or fail at first attempts at a starting up, will declare how business is so difficult, never to take the leap again.

In certain disciplines such as sports, teaching, the trades and healthy choices, insulators are not a bad thing.  Correct motion mechanics and habits can lead to muscle and brain memory that is beneficial.  It is when additional skills, exponential change and innovation is required, such as many business environments today, these myelin insulators can be limiting.  You will hear insulators in action with terms like. “This is the way we have always done things around here.”

Neuroplasticity is now required.  Neuroplasticity refers to adjustments to neural pathways and synapses required to changes in behaviour, environment, thinking and emotions.  What this means for us, is by changing our words, stories and perception of reality, we will create physical changes to our brains.  After enough of those changes new patterns and habits will become engrained.  World class athletes see this reality in always working to improve their performance every day. 

As in learning any new skills, practice and repetition becomes easier over time and founded on a commitment and desire to improve the skill or make the changes necessary for the reward.

As a start, just think about how your life would be shaped if you simply consciously applied committed talk instead of limiting talk in your interactions?  Using clarity in your self talk is crucial to effectively achieving goals, ending procrastination, having more confidence and efficiently communicating ideas and feelings to others.  You are now ‘owning up to your language!’

Authentic Accountability

A classic example to language gone awry is how organizations have used language geared towards accountability.  All too often organizations have misinterpreted accountability as a buzz word or core value, hoping that people will develop a sense of self accountability and deliver the results expected of them, or what they promise in meetings.  These scenarios quickly create a parent-child relationship to the definition of what accountability means. 

“We are going to hold you accountable for……..”
“For the next meeting you will be accountable for…….”
“I want my people to be accountable…..” 

This language alone leads directly into a feeling of mistrust and uncertainty that people could not deliver results if left on their own.  How frustrating for the culture.  Just observe how people react, and the non-verbal cues people give off when this language is applied to any team. 

Conversations based within these relationships of ‘holding people accountable’ leads to dysfunctional caretaking.  People will choose compliance, or the appearance of compliance to the demands being made of them.  Apathy and mis-trust us guaranteed to create cynicism. Morale spirals downward; and all this just from the misuse and communications of the word ‘accountability’.

Disengaged people who are treated like children will likely not be committed to culture, customer service excellence, use company resources wisely, or cooperate with other departments.

When management focuses so much attention towards ‘holding people accountable’, they are actually making them less accountable, because the employees are not holding themselves accountable, instead someone else is.  They are just accepting that someone else will hold them accountable. Responsibility is limited because self accountability is missing.

As negative as accountability is, there is one place where it is appropriate.  You are accountable to yourself.  You can really only apply accountability inward in your attitudes and actions.   

Shared accountability or even responsibility, defined correctly can move towards more honest and authentic interactions with increased commitment and improved business results.  It becomes adult-adult in context.  

Changing the conversation here means you must first change your assumptions about people, who they are, and what they can manage under their own responsibility. It means redefining who owns accountability and what it means to lead with independence.

The concept of accountability ‘partners’ or ‘teams’ may be worth considering.  People are partnered off or work together in teams that share responsibility and reporting back.  In business and teaching environments this practice has proven very beneficial, as people will eb asked to report back on behalf of their partners or colleagues.

Practice saying. “As a team we share responsibility to our actions, our customers, our attitudes, our learning, and our results.”  

Making Commitments and Taking Action

Powerful language will go hand in hand with making commitments. Commitments are bold promises.  Performance breakdowns in most companies are attributable to failures of commitment.  Executives, managers and employees make promises every day that they have no intention of fulfilling. It can be found in the language they use. Little talk indicates action, just desire.  The issue is most people do not even realize they are doing it.

Simple listen for the classic automatic nullification ‘try’ in most conversations.  If you truly listen you will hear dozens of limiting statement examples in most meetings.

There is energy lacking in far too many stories.  There needs to be emotion in your massage and truth applied here. Without truth, you can not sell the idea, not even to yourself.

Placing your actions and commitments at the end of your statements will do a great deal to eliminate confusion and incongruencies in your language.  Let people know what you intend and choose to accomplish.  Push for others to do the same. 

The most powerful way to lead business vocabulary and language is to change, purposely and with perseverance the daily conversations, starting with yourself.  For the good of the team, everyone must agree to consciously look for opportunities to share information and ways to lead transparently.  In full disclosure people understand how all elements of the business operate, from how it makes and spends money.  Real priorities, market position and service excellence goals prevail in conversations.  Provide people opportunities to practice new conversation skills, building the truth, seeking rapport and respect, truly listening and using language geared towards engagement.  You will need clear strategies to deal with cynicism, helplessness and lack of commitment; this no longer gets swept under the rug. 

Ignoring resistance will never make it go away; it will persist and fester, only to get stronger until confronted.  At that point the damage may be too far gone to repair, requiring professional guidance and strategies.

You and your team can now take a stand.  It is time to develop a big story, a story of a transformed reality, with the promise of an action plan. This must be a total commitment, from everyone.  Value lies in creating new possibilities, an act of committed imagination. You have to be willing to risk your identity for a bigger future than the present situation that you are living in now.  That is now an interesting story. This is a bold gesture. This is real commitment.

Moving forward no one again leaves a meeting without a commitment to work on at least three actions.  The following meeting opens with people responding back to actions on those commitments.  Excuses, weak language and stories are not allowed; these rules are clear and strongly enforced. 

Watch Your Language IV - Mirroring and Re-Phrasing

If you want to build your presence, impact and influence, lets talk today

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905 - 401 - 1434

Email:

neil@thorntongroup.ca

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If you want to build your presence, impact and influence, lets talk today

Phone Number:

905 - 401 - 1434

Email:

neil@thorntongroup.ca