It’s not what you say but how you say it.

Everyone knows that communication is not only all about what you say but how you say it. But I wonder if you are aware of just how accurate that comment is, and the depth that we can now go to in discovering the unconscious filters that can get in the way of the message you may be trying to deliver to your colleagues?

Most people in the workforce are aware of the effect of ‘body language’ (or physiology to be more precise), in communicating the true meaning of what someone is saying, and certainly those people who use the phone as their main means of communication will also be aware of the deeper layers of meaning that can be detected in someone’s tonality in addition to the words they are actually speaking.

But not everyone is aware that there is another layer of understanding that can make a world of difference to the effectiveness of your communication and the influence it can have on those with whom you interact on a daily basis. In the world of a profiler, these layers are called “Convincer Channels.”  Simply put, convincer channels are the primary ways in which someone needs to receive information in order to be convinced about something, or to make a decision. (e.g. See, Hear, Read & Do) Here are the four main channels of input.

  1. Convinced by Seeing:  A person whose preference is Convinced by Seeing is someone who prefers to see something for themselves in order to be convinced. The saying ‘Seeing is Believing’ could have been written just for them.
  2. Convinced by Hearing: A person whose preference is Convinced by Hearing is someone who likes to hear about something in order to be convinced. They like to engage in discussion with their colleagues as part of their decision making strategy. ‘Word of Mouth’ definitely has an impact for them in their decisions.
  3. Convinced by Reading: A person whose preference is Convinced by Reading is someone who prefers to read information, reports, instructions and other written material in order to become convinced. For them it’s all about ‘reasoning, sense and logic’ and that is best digested and tested through the written word for them.
  4. Convinced by Doing: A person whose preference is Convinced by Doing is someone who prefers to take action or perform the task themselves in order to be convinced. Getting a ‘feel’ for the task at hand definitely appeals to them.

Here is an excellent example of the difference that knowing the preferred convincer channels can make to the effectiveness of the communication flow within a senior management team.

Some time ago I was engaged by a client to assist them with their leadership team. A newly appointed Executive General Manager had just recently assembled his team of direct reports and he was keen to gain a deeper understanding of the team dynamics at play so that he could engender an atmosphere of more open communication and more effective decision making. The team had been working together for approximately three months before I was called in, and it seemed that the decision making process was not as smooth as it potentially could have been between the EGM and his executive team.

Once I had completed my initial investigations one-on-one with the EGM and each member of his executive team, I then conducted an inventory of the team members’ profiles. The most telling discovery that we made early on in the piece was that almost all of the EGM’s direct reports were executives who shared the ‘Convinced by Reading’  convincer channel, whereas their EGM was the ‘odd man out’ because he was very strongly in the ‘Convinced by Hearing’ camp.

Now this may not seem a big deal on the surface, but I can assure you that the effect of this dissonance in convincer channels between the EGM and his executive team was impacting negatively upon their decision making process, and if left unresolved, it had the potential to lead to a dysfunctional relationship.

‘How so?’ you may well ask.

Well here is how the communications were playing out with regard to any key decisions needing to be made. When any of his direct reports needed to gain the support of their EGM for a key initiative, or when any of them needed to put up a business case for a major budgetary decision, they were following what they naturally felt was the key channel of communication. i.e. They prepared a thorough and detailed written report or submission and then they made an appointment with their boss at which time they tabled their submission.

Invariably, he in turn glanced ever so briefly over their report and then without so much as a second look at the material they may have laboured over for a considerable period of time, proceeded to engage them in conversation all about their findings and their recommendations. Each time it developed quickly into a real ‘heart to heart,’ and each time the direct report left the meeting feeling like their submission or proposal had not been taken as seriously it deserved, and that their boss was being almost dismissive in his approach to their carefully considered proposal. They would have preferred that he read their report thoroughly before engaging them in further conversation and deliberation.

For his part, their EGM shared with me the fact that whenever his direct reports came into his office to discuss something of significance that needed his approval or support, he felt like he was getting ‘snowed’ into the decision because in his perception, their written submission was already laying out chapter and verse what they were wanting him to do, without giving him the opportunity to discuss their ideas with him and mull over the consequences, before reviewing the detail of their work.

Both points of view were valid, but it was the perceptual filters of how the two camps were preferring to give or receive information in order to make critical decisions, that was getting in the way of a smooth and effective decision making process.

How was it resolved? Quite easily in fact, once I had explained to both sides of the ‘perceptual fence’ how their convincer modes of interpretation were getting in the way of smooth communication. Once the understanding of each others’ different models of the world was laid on the table, an agreement was quickly reached whereby in future, each of the EGM’s direct reports would first make an appointment to discuss in general terms their issue or proposal and their recommendations emanating from that, and only after that discussion was ‘done and dusted’  would they engage in the completion of their written submission and deliver it to their boss for his final consideration.

In this way his convincer strategy was being served in order for him to proceed with a decision either way, and their convincer strategy was being served as a critical step in the executive decision making process.

These convincer patterns are just 4 of the 48 patterns of thinking we can measure in the workplace and sometimes it is just the simplest of things that can make the world of difference. But first you have to know where to look, and then what to do about it. If you would like to know more… drop me a line and let’s talk, and together we’ll look at what you can do.


Until next time… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.   Have a great week – Brian

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick? Revealing the hidden secrets about yourself and your colleagues that even you didn’t know.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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