Living and Leading with Impact

Living and Leading with Impact

Living and Leading with Impact

 

It’s all very well spending hours, months and thousands of pounds trying to understand your values, your purpose and your mission. Far too often, that never gets translated into behaviour. Ultimately, it is the impact you, your colleagues and your employees have on each other and your clients that will dictate your culture, narrative and success. As we return to the new normal, right now is the perfect time to think about the ‘new you’ at work – new ways of communicating, new choices and making a new impact.

We talk a lot about impact but what actually is impact

You can think of impact as having 6 elements:

1. It’s how you show up
2. How you communicate
3. How you respond
4. How you feel
5. How other people feel about you
6. How people then talk about you – today, tomorrow, into the future and when you’re not in in the room

That is your Impact.

Impact and communication is not just the icing on top of the cake – it’s who we are and our life experience. We are not who we are without all our qualities and relationships, successes and failures and then we add on the communication in the impact. It’s the complete reverse. As physicist Carlo Rovelli says: “we are the sum of our interactions.” In other words – how you communicate, how you impact other people and how you show up in relationships will completely determine your experience of yourself, your career and life.

Every single moment of every interaction, your impact is dictating who you are and how you will live your life. The idea that ‘leadership impact’ is somehow an ‘add-on’ is quite frankly crazy. Your impact as a leader is who you are, as a leader. It will inform whether people follow you, whether you can make things happen, whether you can create change or bring a strategy to life. All of this will come down to your interactions and your impact.

Top tips on creating an intentional impact:

1. Energy

Energy is everything. The energy you emit will determine how much of an impact you make. Are you making an energetic impact on others?

 

2. Intention

Are you thinking beyond tasks and meetings to how you actually want the people around you to FEEL?

 

3. Language

What words are you using about yourself and your work? Because that’s how people will then talk about you.

 

4. When things go wrong

As a leader your Impact in times of crisis, change or conflict will determine who you are and how people experience you almost more than any other time.

 

5. Be the author of you

Imagine for one day, that every single moment of that day, you are writing the brand or story of you. Not just with the words you use but with the way you physically show up, your posture, your attitude towards people, the eye contact you make or whether you smile or not… every single moment is building the story of you.

We may all aspire to live our deepest values and to believe we are aligned every moment of every day to our higher purpose but the truth is that actions speak louder than words. It’s not until we make conscious choices around our behaviours and attitudes that we can truly make the leadership impact we want to make.

How we can help

At 4D we are passionate about helping you expand you range to make the Impact you want to make and enabling organisations to build a culture of integrity, inclusion and inspiration. Now is the time to take on some new Impact tools for the ‘new you‘ in the new normal.

We are delighted to announce for the very first time, our successful 4D courses are available as open programmes and we are super excited to bring the 4D Human Being Experience to an even wider audience. The first open course program will be starting June 14th with our highly requested – “4D Essential Leadership Communication.” 

Email us at philippa@4dhumanbeing.com to find out more or get in touch below!

 

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How Gen Z is transforming the workplace

How Gen Z is transforming the workplace

The corporate world has been abuzz with talk about how to train the millennial generation for a while now. However, times are changing and if we want our businesses to stay ahead of the curve, it’s time we think ahead to the next generation that is growing up and rapidly entering the workforce: Generation Z.

Generation Improviser

 

Born after the mid-’90s and raised in the 2000s, Gen Z already makes up 24% of the workforce. Radically different from millennials, Gen Z “has an entirely unique perspective on careers and how to define success in life and in the workforce” (Deloitte). They’ve grown up during a time of great economic and political instability and are driven towards finding stable and secure jobs. 

However, with the COVID curveball- that has hit us all – has come an even stronger reminder of the importance of a flexible, adaptable and systems-orientated leadership. With an uncertain future and the speed of change accelerating faster than ever before, no generation has needed these leadership qualities more.

So how might we encourage these qualities in Generation Z? And gear our training towards Gen Z and their older- millennial- siblings? We can start to look at what’s new and what’s changing. What are the similarities between Millennials and Gen Z and what are the differences that make Gen Z uniquely different? And what can we learn from these similarities and differences to maximize the talent and energy of our Gen Zers in our workplaces?

Similarities to Millennials:

 

1. Flexibility of Work

One Deloitte study found that 75% of Gen Zers were interested in inhabiting numerous roles within a company. 

At 4D we talk a lot about range- and how- as human beings- we have so much more range than we often realise. And quite often we only use a very small percentage of our range, particularly in our working lives. Whilst this ‘autopilot’ range can serve us well most of the time, it can leave us feeling disconnected in our work and boxed into a certain ‘role.’ So how might you bring a sense of breadth to your Gen Zers role and responsibilities? Encourage them to stretch. If you hear the words ‘that’s not me’ or ‘I’m not very…’ then you know there’s some limiting self-talk going on. And at 4D we believe the unique range of each human being is well…infinite. One only has to look to the world of theatre and study really good actors, to understand that they’re not simply placing a character on top of themselves but stretching into a different part of who they are. And as human beings, we can do the same. 

So, it may not even be necessary for an external role change. How can you motivate a Gen Zer on your team to step into a different internal part of self? Such as their risk-taking part, their organising part, their diligent part, their leader part or their persevering part. Or maybe it’s their inner joker, or serious player or the part of them that sees possibilities rather than problems. So, that they can stretch their sense of self within the specs of that job.

2. Positive workplaces

 

Studies have shown that a positive work environment is important to Gen Z. Up to 70% will look for workplace reviews on websites such as ‘Glassdoor’ before applying for a job. 

A study by Deloitte found that Gen Zers are ‘likely to be loyal to organizations with a positive workplace culture.’ 

Now, of course, it can be hard to stay positive when there’s a lot of pressure on at work. Even more so during 2020! However, as leaders, we must celebrate successes (however small) because of the positive impact of well…positivity! There are numerous psychological and physical benefits to positive environments and emotions like reduced anxiety and a stronger immune system. 

Relationship expert John Gottman has worked out that the golden ratio for successful relationships (this applies for both personal and professional relationships) is 5:1: 5 positive interaction to every negative interaction. A positive interaction doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it could be as simple as saying “good morning” to your colleagues. Keep filling your emotional bank account, so that you’ve balanced out any negativity for when it does inevitably arise. Because this isn’t about avoiding negativity. If you take the ratio too high- approximately 13 positives to one negative- trust erodes within the relationship. This is because negativity and truth aren’t being expressed. 

So why- given all the benefits- can it be difficult to stay positive? 

Due to the brain’s negative bias, the brain prioritises negative experiences over positive ones because negative experiences pose a chance of danger. This was useful for our ancestors on the savannah – being negatively biased quite literally kept you alive. But now this isn’t so useful. So, we need to update this old operating system, so that it can better serve us and our teams. As leaders how can we inject more positivity into a stressful day? An easy way to do this can be to shift the focus at the start of a meeting. “Which of your colleagues would you like to celebrate this week?” or “What’s one thing you’re proud of?” Simple check-in questions like this start to shift the focus of the team. And what you focus on ultimately shapes your experience of life. 

Do this at the start of your team meeting for two months and see what happens for you- and the Gen Zers- in your team. 

3. Love of Technology

Gen Z has never grown up in a world without the internet, and so technology has become inextricably intertwined with their lives. They are digital natives and have grown up with a smartphone and social media. Which- as the hair-raising Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ suggests- has its benefits and its challenges: “Social media starts to dig deeper and deeper, deeper down into the brain stem and take over kids’ sense of self-worth and identity.” So, whether we agree with it or not, the majority of Gen Zers will- to a certain degree- recognize themselves through the lens (or reach) of an online profile. And this is probably true for any of us with some kind of online presence, whether that be Tik Tok, Twitter or Instagram. 

However, social media is not all negative – connecting and communicating virtually can also be incredibly creative. As long as we are conscious and at choice about our use. One only has to look at apps like Snapchat or features like Instagram stories to consider the breadth of communication styles on offer. All these different ways of communicating engage a much wider collection of thinking styles and can empower a wider variety of individuals to have impact without having to say a word.

So, how might you capitalise on Gen Zs fluency and ease with technology? Bring some of these tools into your team meetings and training. At 4D we’ve been taking advantage of some fantastic virtual tools to bring different learning styles and creativity options into our sessions. A 4D favourite right now is Menti– an online polling platform, that has participants voting in real-time, and watching as their votes anonymously show up on the screen. Polling tools like Menti can help you to efficiently scan the team, without having to get a verbal check-in from everyone. With a quick poll, everyone’s ‘voice’ in the room gets heard, without them having to say a word. It also gives you- as the team lead or host- a better sense of what is going on with the whole team, as opposed to just those with the loudest voices. 

 

Differences to millennials:

1. Highly Competitive

 

Gen Z is arguably more success-orientated than any other generation. They are driven and determined and also, more vulnerable to ego triggers. 

Now the ego gets a bad rap but we all have an ego. And we can talk about the ego being big or small but also in terms of being healthy or unhealthy. One of the challenges of needing to be right, sounding clever, or solving a problem can be that an unhealthy ego gets in the way. 

 

  • An UNHEALTHY Ego- is a fragile ego, that feels under attack. The ego believes others have the power to diminish it, so self-punishes or tries to diminish someone else’s ego in order to protect itself.

  • A HEALTHY EGO- is solid and intact. It isn’t dependent on other people to be whole and safe. IT might enjoy praise or win, but it’s not dependent on these things and won’t be devastated if they don’t happen. With a healthy ego, you will be strong, confident and resilient in your abilities, honest about your talents whilst being available to grow, open to constructive feedback, curious in the face of conflict and able to acknowledge mistakes with a clear mind and heart.

So thinking about an ego triggering situation that feels unfair to you. How might you react if you were operating from a…

  • Low-Unhealthy Ego state- Victim
  • High- Unhealthy Ego State- Aggression
  • Low- Healthy Ego State- Acceptance
  • High- Healthy Ego State- Curiosity

Our patterned reactions are there for a good reason. They’re our instinctive reactions and defences that we’ve adapted to keep us safe. So, this isn’t about criticising our triggers- this is about becoming conscious of our default reactions to these triggers so that we can choose to respond differently- as opposed to reacting unconsciously. The difference between the world happening to you and you happening to the world. 

Consider how you can model the healthy ego (in particular the high healthy ego state) by practicing leaning in with curiosity. Maybe you get a tricky question during a presentation or push back from a client- rather than defend yourself or the project or insist you are ‘right’ – how might you lean in with genuine curiosity, and encourage a culture of curiosity for your Gen Zers? 

 

2. Orientated towards job security and salary

 

Whilst millennials were stereotyped as chronic ‘job hoppers’ Gen Z are more interested in long-term job security and stability. Having grown up during a time of great economic and political volatility (they were only 11 when then the 2008 great recession hit) they are interested in finding steady, secure jobs.

However, within these stable and secure jobs, Gen Zers are looking for autonomy. The freedom to work when they want to work, as opposed to fitting their lives around a 9-5 schedule. In his book ‘Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us’ Daniel Pink writes: “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”  

In 2020, autonomy has- for many people- been delivered in overdrive with the global pandemic this year. Without the geography of an ‘office’ and the presence of a physical boss, autonomy is perhaps less of a concern than is accountability. So, how can we create a sense of accountability- without intruding on a person’s autonomy? We can encourage self-accountability. Team check-ins over zoom or team spaces where colleagues feedback to their team are a great way of keeping virtual teams connected whilst also fostering a sense of personal purpose and pride in the individual’s work. 

Recognising that everyone on your team is a voice of that team or ‘system’ is a powerful way of empowering people- particularly the younger members of your team or organisation. Your grads and Gen Zers will benefit greatly from feeling respected and trusted, through autonomous work and a model of positive reinforcement and self-accountability. 

3. Entrepreneurial

 

Gen Zs are entrepreneurial in spirit and are often working on a side hustle, whether that be a small craft business they run on Etsy or a part-time photography gig. The entrepreneurial and the improviser mindset have a lot in common- and both have the potential to make great leaders. So how can we release this leadership capacity within our Gen Zers? Invest in training Gen Z early, particularly those identified as having high potential. Whilst they might just be at the start of their corporate careers, they come with a unique perspective on our interdependence with technology and will be the generation to lead us into a century of development and change like no other. Help them become great communicators so they can share their unique perspectives with your wider business and customers, with a sense of gravitas and credibility.

 

This also plays into Gen Z’s desire to find workplaces with a diversity of rich learning experiences and opportunities for personal growth. Whilst salary is important to Gen Z, they are still motivated by work satisfaction. According to a Deloitte study“Gen Z, employers must be ready to adopt a speed of evolution that matches the external environment. That means developing robust training and leadership programs, with a real and tangible focus on diversity.” 

For Gen Z, actions speak louder than words, which is what we’re all about at 4D Human Being. Helping people to mind the gap between how they think they’re being and how they’re coming across so that they can consciously create the impact they choose.

Are your Gen Zers happening to the world or is the world happening to them? 

 

Our personal impact programs empower the Gen Z workforce along the path towards conscious communication and an awareness that they are always at choice. 

Planting Intentional Seeds

Planting Intentional Seeds

Looking ahead and embracing the seasons…

Autumn is the time to plant bulbs in the knowledge that in the Spring those actions will be rewarded with wonderful colour and new life. And we also ‘take stock’, we create the conditions for how our gardens can thrive next year and we take time to rest.

This October, join 4D’s Matt as he looks forward to Autumn and opportunities for new growth…

On the 30th September 1859, Abraham Lincoln recounted this story:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words:

 

 

 

 

“And this, too, shall pass away”

 

How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

It has been a very tough year for all of us. An extraordinary year in many ways. And whilst you MAY have used this time to be creative, learn five languages and become a sourdough-baking-genius, the chances are that you may have had quite enough of home-schooling, one-way systems and mask-wearing and have been looking forward to the steady return of normality.

So, if you are living in a country that is experiencing ongoing, or the recent re-imposition, of restrictions to our lives this can be a disheartening experience. It is easy to slip into melancholy, perhaps even despair, that hope, happiness, frivolity, joy – some of the emotions that really make life worth living – will ever come again. The challenges may not be so much the specific constraints on our life (my time of going out with ‘the lads’ until 2am are long gone) but that when we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel it now seems much further away.


And this is also literally true as we enter Autumn across the Northern hemisphere – the days are getting shorter, the temperatures cooler and (certainly in the UK!) the promise of grey and rainy days to come. Autumn is a time that can be disheartening for all sorts of reasons, the darker evenings and mornings encouraging us to hunker down for the months of dark and gloom ahead of us.

 

 

 

At the centre of the 4D2C model is the Intentional Dimension. That dimension that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom – the ability we have to act with an awareness of the likely impact of our actions on our future selves and those with whom we interact. This is our blessing as well as our curse – being the only species on the planet with a heightened consciousness about ourselves, our actions and our future.

 


As Dean Buonomano tells us on the first page of his book, Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time.

“The human brain is a time machine that allows us to mentally travel backward and forward, to plan for the future and agonizingly regret that past like no other animal”

And when the future is highly unpredictable it can be extremely disorientating. Our life normally consists of a degree of predictability, of exciting plans and hopes for the future so when we are robbed of this it can affect us profoundly. Buonomano goes on:

“And it’s the ability to see the long-term future that I think is distinctly human. It’s impossible to overestimate how important that is, how much of your life is future-oriented….And one of the most transformative inventions humans have ever engaged in was agriculture. The notion of planting a seed and coming back a year later is something we take for granted now, but it’s hard to think of anything more important than that ability.”

Farming provides rich metaphors for many aspects of our life, from the building of healthy habits to the ability of leaders to patiently enable autonomy and time to grow.

Indeed, many of us have found joy connecting with simple things during this period – whether that’s baking, cooking or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, time in the garden.

Autumn is the time to plant bulbs in the knowledge that in the Spring those actions will be rewarded with wonderful colour and new life. And we also ‘take stock’, we create the conditions for how our gardens can thrive next year and we take time to rest.

As a keen gardener myself I follow the methods of British expert Charles Dowding. Dowding’s philosophy rejects the use of fertilisers and chemicals to feed plants. Instead he focuses on feeding the soil to create the conditions in which plants can flourish. In the autumn we spread a layer of compost on the beds and allow the worms to do their thing, drawing it into the soil and breaking it down. According to Dowding by not digging over the soil we preserve its structure enabling it to nurture our plants better. And it’s a lot less hard work!

One of the other things we also know about Autumn is that Spring will come again… That, despite the cold, the darkness and the drizzle, there will be daffodils once more, sunshine, lush grass, and new growth.

And it’s not just about looking to the future and ‘getting through’ the next few months. Some of the cultures that face the harshest winters have adapted their mindset to embrace the opportunity that winter brings. Health Psychologist Kari Liebowitz spent the Winter in Tromso, Norway in 2014/5 and found that she could predict the ongoing wellbeing of residents during the winter based on the way they responded to statements such as…

  •  There are many things to enjoy about the winter
  •  I love the cosiness of the winter months
  •  Winter brings many wonderful seasonal changes

Our mindset makes an enormous difference to how we see the world and respond to the challenges that new seasons, political decisions and tough environmental challenges present us with. By being more conscious of our mindset we can also be more conscious of the behaviours and actions that will bring us solace. That doesn’t mean we have to learn Russian or write a novel, but that we take greater control of our attitude and focus on the small actions that can bring us growth and comfort.

What can we nurture now in ourselves, and those we love, to carry us through these next few months? This year more than ever might be ideal for fully embracing the Danish quality of ‘hygge’ as we spend even more time than normal at home.

One of the challenges of this period is the lack of control we feel over our own life and the future. If, as Buonomo argues, we are ‘prediction machines’, then the inability to predict the future, let alone a future of happiness and joy can be very damaging to us.

Francesca Gino and Michael Norton in their 2013 research, Why Rituals Work, explored how human beings respond to rituals. According to Gino and Norton:

“Humans feel uncertain and anxious in a host of situations….Creating personal rituals can help people take control of otherwise out-of-control seeming situations.”

Whilst you may not quite want to go as far as creating full blown rituals, concentrating on small things that you can predict and control can increase our sense of agency and leave us feeling less buffeted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are affecting us all.

When other people and the environment are impacting on us like never before, how might we employ our physical, intellectual and emotional choices to maintain control over our lives?

Whilst the future remains so unpredictable it can be hugely valuable to concentrate on the now. To bring the torch beam in from a hundred metres away to what is right in front of our feet so we can navigate one step at a time.

What Intentional activities and behaviours can you commit to through this time? Consider all three dimensions. For example:

 

  • Physically – your diet, exercise, rest and time outdoors to stock up on Vitamin D
  • Emotional – who are you spending time with, how are you finding joy? Can a discipline like conscious breathing, meditation or mindfulness help to keep you on an even keel?
  •  Intellectual – how are you spending your precious attention? How is your work/life balance? Notice how what you consume impacts your mood – especially in the news and social media.

As well as helping to bring you through challenging times these ‘seeds’ that you plant now may help you to flourish more in the Spring.

As we at 4D have said throughout this pandemic it is also worth remembering not to be too hard on yourself or expect too much. This is an unprecedented period, the most extraordinary of our lifetimes, and, taking care of yourself and your relationships really is enough.

Spring will arrive, joy will return, Covid will no longer be front page news.

We’ll all have been changed by this period, for better and for worse… but this too shall pass.

 

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The Body Still Counts!

The Body Still Counts!

Saying it all, without saying a word… Have we forgotten part of our language skills in the online world?

 

 

“You say it best when you say nothing at all…”

 

(Boyzone, 1999).

It wasn’t easy, but I have indeed managed to start this month’s newsletter with a quote from Boyzone (bear with me readers!) Now whilst I am admittedly a fan of 90’s pop music- and even more so of the film Notting Hill where this song featured – there’s rhyme and reason for the reference. When we think about our communication, how we are going to prepare for a speech, presentation, interview or difficult conversation – we tend to focus on the words, content or the script. And yet we know that as human beings over HALF of what we ‘say’ is not what comes out of our mouths. It comes out of what we say with the rest of our bodies. And this is still true if we are practising social distancing or communicating in an online world. Even though perhaps we may have lost sight of the impact of our bodies in our new world of virtual communication. So, this month it’s time to get physical – and we don’t mean pulling on leggings and going to the gym (now that they are open!). Join us this month as we delve into the intriguing and often underestimated world of Body Language.

 

Animal Instincts

 

I speak for each and every one of you when I say you are highly developed, highly intelligent, sensitive, self-aware creatures (I would expect nothing less from our fabulous readers!). And yet… all of us- at our core- are animals.

 

 

 

 

As animals, we have some basic survival instincts -food, safety and continuation of our species. These instincts existed way before our modern language did and yet somehow, we managed to communicate with each other – and not only survive- but thrive. We had to be very good at not only at signalling our needs and fears but also reading them in others, even when no words were spoken. In our era of modern language and high-speed communication, we have sophisticated and subtle means and methods of communicating. And yet, the hardware of who we are as human beings remains unchanged.

 

 

 

In Paul MacLean’s 3 brain model, our reptilian brain was the first part of the brain to develop and is responsible for protection, safety and non-verbal communication. So, whether we like it or not (or are aware of it or not) we still use our non-verbal communication to provide a wealth of information. AND we are always being read and interpreted by others, based on the non-verbal cues we project. So, imagine the powerful impact we could make every day if we consciously communicated- not only with our words- but with all of our being. 

“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”

 

– William Bernbach (1911–1982), American advertising creative director

 

Posture

 

So, what about our posture? Well, it’s often something we only think about if we have to go to an osteopath or chiropractor due to back pain. However, an Ohio State University study (2015) showed that holding a slumped posture for 30-minutes could significantly increase stress levels, depression, and fear. On the other hand – maintaining an upright posture can result in greater confidence and lower stress levels. Bear this in mind particularly if you are now working remotely and are sitting for much of the day. Our health and mobility are important, and… let’s keep in mind that there is so much more to our posture and how it is serving us. Looking at a number of studies, evidence suggests that our posture matters more than company hierarchies in terms of making a person think and act more powerfully!

Why is this? Well going back to the caveman… a slumped posture – (head dropped and rounded shoulders) would have been a demonstration of “flight” (fear/submission) posturing and can have a very real neurological and psychological impact on our systems. So, next time you are in a meeting or virtual meeting, even if you are feeling nervous you may want to try this:

 

1. Sit forward on your chair or stand up and either way – with feet apart and firmly grounded on the floor

 

2. Shoulders back

 

3. Chin up/not too tucked in

 

You may be amazed not only by how you feel but by how you present yourself and ultimately by the words that come out of your mouth. As we say here at 4D, it all starts with the physical…

I recall going through some rather draining legal proceedings a few years back. As anyone who has experienced this will know, it can be intellectually overwhelming and emotionally draining. I recall those feelings and the sense of not having any control or power (a core human need). But one thing I could do was get a hold of was how I showed up: how I behaved and interacted physically. So, I made a conscious and deliberate decision to maintain a strong, grounded posture with shoulders back and head held high. It was incredible to notice how different I felt and also, how it changed the verbal language I used and the way other people responded to me. It was a game-changer.

“Isn’t it odd. We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside”

 

– Charlie Macksey

 

Proxemics

 

 

Proxemics explain how people treat the space between them and others. It’s a form of nonverbal communication and the distance of the proxemic can make situations either intimidating or acceptable. And what we find acceptable, varies from person-to-person, when it comes to our personal space.

As animals, we have a sense of what physical proxemic feels acceptable and what feels threatening. As you can imagine, smaller animals than us have an even greater sense of this hidden dimension – anyone who has a guinea pig or rabbit will know that it can be hard to catch a sight of them. Yesterday, I was at my sister’s house and I was determined to catch a glimpse of her new guinea pig – Manuel. So, I crept into the room his cage was in. He remained static until I came within 1 metre. and then – boom, he bolted. It was almost like I had tripped a tripwire that caused him to scurry at breakneck speed into his little guinea pig house! Animals’ bodies respond to their intuition and signal their levels of discomfort. I had entered his ‘intimate’ proxemic and all of his body told him to run. Sorry, Manuel!

As human beings we are no different and understanding how to use your space and reading others’ space is crucial for creating the right connections and leaving a good impression. Many of us feel this only too acutely at the moment with the emotional distance that can be created by the extended proxemic of social distancing. It has an impact! And whilst we need to be mindful of keeping our distance to keep our communicates safe, we would do well to recognise there is an impact on how we may make each other feel as well as look to compensate for the distance through other body language strategies.

 

The 4 Levels of Gesture

 

 

Research has demonstrated that in everyday interpersonal communication people spontaneously generate images via hand gestures to accompany their speech. In this way, they help to encode the speech into the listener’s memory by utilising two cognitive aspects: words and images.

 

The physical act of moving our arms and hands generates energy within our bodies. The higher the level of gestures we make the higher the level of energy we release. But there is also another hidden effect of gestures involving the brain. Psychologists Rizzolatti and Arbib (Language Within Our Grasp 1998) discovered that when we perform an activity, such as gesturing, we activate motor neurons in the brain. Curiously, similar neurons are also activated when we merely watch an activity. These are called mirror neurons.

When we watch someone moving, mirror neurons fire off in our brains and we not only witness a gesture but also experience and feel the gesture in our minds. Watching gestures- or any movement- literally creates an energetic reaction in the brain. This is why watching people dance or sing can be a contagious and emotional experience- and we may feel compelled to express ourselves too! This suggests that gesture can expand the effectiveness of our communication, by improving cognition, opening up different levels of meaning for the listener and also, by boosting energy levels (for both the speaker and the listener).

So how can you utilise the power of gestures: By using specific gestures to accompany your speech you can:

 

 

1. Appear more confident

 

2. Feel more confident

 

3. Enhance your communications

 

4. Raise not only your energy but also the energy levels of those who watch or interact with you

 

Increase the vocabulary available to you in the moment (research shows that restricting hand gestures makes it more difficult to find the right words.)
I often hear comments from people I work with that working remotely limits our ability to use our gestures and whilst there is some truth to that, we are still #always at choice. Push your computer screen back so that you give yourself a wide frame on screen from the chest up (or better still stand up) and get those arms on camera!

 

Eye contact

 

 

Eye contact may seem an obvious element of our physical language, but we can all too often be unaware of where our eyes may be focused and how we may be impacting others. Eye contact can demonstrate in an instance – respect, appreciation, interest, understanding confidence, engagement, making people feel connected and important. AND it can suggest fear, nervousness, disinterest to name just a few. Now that isn’t to say that removing eye contact is not sometimes useful. If you want someone to stop talking or if you have a consistent tricky ‘challenger’ in your audience – gently removing your eye contact after a few seconds is often a great way to change the dynamic.

 

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”

 

– Peter Drucker

 

Create your New Norm

 

We are responding cognitively all the time to the signals and signs our bodies give us. At the same time, we are also reading other peoples’ body language – perhaps even more than the words that come out of their mouths. And other people are doing the same to us. Over our lives, we have built up patterns of body language. But we can choose to change those behaviours that aren’t serving us anymore. Of course, when it comes to breaking patterns and creating new ones, practice makes perfect.

 

 

So – whether you have been consistently working in a face-to-face environment or are soon returning to an office or communal place of work – at 4D we want to encourage you to think about your body language. Trying our new or unfamiliar ideas (such as taking a stronger posture, smiling more than usual or using higher arm gestures) may feel strange at first, but over time, this new pattern of body language will become your new normal. A part of who you are and how you communicate. And… 

 

…don’t imagine that if you are primarily interacting and communicating in a virtual environment that the ‘language’ you are speaking with your body doesn’t matter. On the contrary – it matters even more! Three top reasons to focus on your body language even when in virtual meetings are:

 

 

1. Because your mind-body loop will be affected by the physical position and gestures that you choose to do. Remember your body is constantly sending messages to your brain! So your impact even on the phone is affected by how you sit, stand and physically behave.

 

2. Quite simply, connectivity and communication ARE harder when we’re not face-to-face. So why not use ALL the tools at your disposal to really land your message, build great bonds, influence and communicate with impact.

 

3. If on a video call no one else has their camera switched on – stand out from the crowd. What a gift to leave an even stronger impression! TURN YOUR CAMERA ON!

 

 

 

 

What is your body language saying about you?

 

 

 

You can find out more and sign up for our newsletter through our website as well as check out the 4D articles, podcasts, videos and online training programmes. If you’d like us at 4DHB to help you engage your audience, get your messages across online and have some fun…do get in touch.

 

4D Human Being – helping leaders, teams and individuals consciously communicate with impact every day.

 

Relationships? Or “Communication-ships”

Relationships? Or “Communication-ships”

Communication is EVERYTHING!

 

Of course at 4D Human Being we pretty much believe this to be true and whilst (strictly speaking) there are other things in the world aside from communication (), we truly believe that communication is core to who we are and the experience of life that we are creating for ourselves and one another. So no small thing!

And yet, why is it that so often we don’t communicate, or feel that others fail to communicate with us? This can be because literally no communication occurs. And it can also refer to communication simply not landing in the way we/others intend – and so what takes place is ‘miscommunication’. We could write a book (actually a library) on why communication is important and the skills and tools we can use to be better communicators. But this August Newsletter will not be a book. Instead, we want to offer one focus to help us step in and communicate and to be better communicators. And that is…

…that communication is relational. So join us as we release the focus from ourselves as ‘individual communicators’. And we shift the arc of focus to the relationship – to the audience (or our partner!) to create a different experience of what communication really is.

 

 

Why is Communication Important

 

Any list of ‘top required soft skills in the workplace’ will certainly have communication skills at the top or very near the top. These skills are critical to our success and the success of our organisations – never more so than at the moment – whether collaborating across organisations during the pandemic to save lives or as is the case for many of us working hard to sustain business performance across teams and customer bases when working under challenging economic conditions and doing so virtually. And aside from the professional benefits of strong communication, let’s not forget that research suggests that in our personal relationships, it is effective communication that we struggle with the most and is the #1 reason for relationships breaking down (John Gottman Institute).

We can tell ourselves that the reason to be a great communicator is to effectively transfer information from one human being to another. And whilst this is true – and has been critical to the survival and development of our species, communication serves so much more. Communication enables us to create, build and nurture relationships with other people and to create shared meaning in our lives. And when that becomes the focus of why and how we communicate, well… we are entering a whole new ball game.

 

Why it Fails

 

There are many reasons why communication either doesn’t take place at all or it fails for some reason. One way to think about why this might be the case is to consider where is your focus of attention? Think about the last time you needed to have a difficult conversation or perhaps get up to present in public or even participate in an interview. It’s likely that any preoccupation prior to the ‘communication’ would have been focused on you. Will I do well? Will I say the wrong thing? Will I forget something?

Sound familiar…?

And if this is the case then several things may be happening, such as…
We may want to be ‘right’
We may be fearful of looking stupid or being criticized or attacked
We may choose language that focuses on our own needs/opinions
We may not listen
We may end up trying to avoid having the conversation
We may (consciously or unconsciously) be preparing counter-arguments for why the other person is wrong

And so the list goes on.

As a business owner occasionally I do have to step into some difficult conversations and back in the day when I was younger, and working in the corporate world, I sometimes would prepare a lot for such ‘encounters’. However looking back now, my ‘preparation’ was undoubtedly attempting to secure me in some of the above positions. Rather than focus on a true two-way communication.

 

Communication is Relational

 

Communication is so much more than words and information. It’s relational. Communication creates, builds and transforms our relationships with everyone from our family, friends, colleagues, boss, clients and anyone from the postman to the slightly grumpy neighbour!

So with this in mind, where is our ‘arc of focus’? Think of an arc stretching from you to the other person/audience and if THAT is where the focus is, we can transform how we communicate and how we feel about communication. And transform our relationships.

The arc of focus and The Big B

(Intellectual Dimension)

 

It takes effort (in all 4 dimension – physical, emotional, intellectual and intentional) to remove the focus from ourselves and truly focus on other people. As the novelist Zadie Smith recently pointed out on a podcast interview (The Adam Buxton Podcast ep.130) – when she met Tom Hanks, she thought what a kind and generous person he was and how he is so outward facing to everyone he meets. This is a generous thing to do and can have an enormous effect on other people. But as she also pointed out, it takes practice and it can look an exhausting thing to do for any length of time, especially if that focus of attention in communication is not reciprocated.

So, accepting we are not all perfect and selfless beings. And we are not even all Tom Hanks, what can we do? How can we shift our arc of focus to the ‘other’?

One thing to consider is to craft into your communication the benefit to the other person of what you are saying/offering. It sounds obvious but so often we can forget and we can communicate just from our own perspective – with an unconscious emphasis on what WE want. Build in the Big B (benefit) upfront and not only are people more likely to listen, but the communication is also much more likely to be relationship-focused.

 

 

Open-armed

(Physical dimension)

Our gestures say so much about where we are operating from and whilst gestures such as pointing fingers, folded arms, exasperated shrugs all perhaps have their place and… we can choose to use our physical gestures to engage relationally when speaking. Or even when being silent.

For example, open arms and open palms is a universal sign of ‘peace and openness’ and demonstrates empathy and a willingness to be open and that we are not hiding anything. This simple gesture can have an enormous impact on the neurochemistry of the person standing in front of us.

One of the most impactful examples of this that I find personally is when I manage to find myself in my more ‘conscious’ parenting state and respond to tantrums or anger from my kids with a simple open arm gesture. It doesn’t always work (and let’s be clear I don’t always find that it’s my first response!) but I am constantly surprised at how often it does work. It calms the situation and opens a new line of communication, where my child intuitively feels that I am open to hearing their viewpoint or underlying needs.

 

The Listening Vase

(Emotional Dimension)

 

Emotionally we can boost our empathy by listening rather than talking. Not only does this help people feel heard but as the listener you are more powerful than you perhaps think! Not only in terms of shaping the conversation and landing the communication – but with the added bonus of simultaneously focusing on and building the relationship. If you feel that communicating your message is all about you talking, think again. Think of someone else’s words as the liquid and you as the person listening is the vase. Depending on how you listen, facial expressions, body language, attitude, concentration, focus, you will be shifting the shape of the vase and how the message is finally formed. At the extreme of course – if you stop listening, the speaker will finally stop speaking!

The 2% Truth

(Intentional Dimension)

“I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honoured, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.” ― Ken Wilber
If we enter into conversation wanting to be right or to win it’s unlikely communication will truly take place or at least not land in a way that makes it effective. We each have our own truth and whilst we may not hold ourselves out to be perfect, flawless and always right, we do fundamentally have a viewpoint and a belief that is important to us. And of course… that is true of every other person on the planet. So… Intentionally, how can we hold both our own truth and also that of others? Without entering a battle or fully conceding? The answer is to understand that we are all partially right.

One way to practice this mindset is to enter a conversation knowing that whatever the other person says there will be at least a 2% truth in what they say… This small % means that we can hold our position/opinion as our own truth AND we can also allow space for the fact that the other person’s opinion or point of view even if vastly different to our own could at the very least hold a 2% truth even for ourselves.

 

Many of us may sometimes have conversations around the current pandemic and there are many differing opinions out there. I and many other people have for example travelled abroad recently for certain reasons (e.g. me – to collect my kids from their dad’s house in Italy). Yet some of us may question why people are travelling abroad at the moment especially when quick changes in quarantine measures could arise at any moment. My mind wants to leap to many defences of MY choice to travel abroad and yet taking a breath, perhaps I don’t need to justify my reasons. Perhaps I can be true both to the many thought-through reasons surrounding my decision, careful choices I had made, and how I had managed the trip cautiously – whilst also recognising that yes there is also a truth in mass movement not being ideal at the moment. Neither of us was fully right or wrong. There is truth everywhere not just somewhere.

The information you need to share (whether in a personal or professional relationship) is important to you and potentially important to others. And yet your communication does so much more than transfer information from one human being to another. You are creating a connection (Communication-ships!) between yourself and other human beings – in every moment. And if that is our focus every time we go to communicate, what might we change and… what might we create?

Choose Your Impact

Choose Your Impact


Do you focus more on your intentions or your impact? And which one is more important…

 

This has been a central theme for us at 4D Human Being since we began all those years ago! Working in leadership, communications skills, coaching and development programmes means this subject is incredibly important to us. While we focus heavily on conscious intention, one of our company taglines has for a long time been “Helping Leaders, Teams and Individuals consciously create their impact every day.” So, intention or impact, which should we focus on more…?

 

This question is not only relevant in terms of organisational leadership and communication. It is relevant to whatever work you do. It is relevant in your personal life. And it is definitely relevant in every single one of your relationships. From the intimate to the every day to the people you may only meet once in your life. And today this topic is hugely relevant when it comes to how we explore and communicate social injustice, systemic racism and any number of inequalities in our communities and in wider society. Whether we are trying to engage our teams with motivational sales targets, whether we are presenting a keynote at a global conference, whether we are trying to keep children interested in online schooling, whether we are navigating our personal relationships through and out of lockdown, or whether we are tackling urgent social justice issues – have we checked in with and set our underlying intention? And even if we have, what is our ultimate impact..?

This article is all about exploring the every day and the very human idea of intention vs impact. Join us as we look at different ways we can help to bring our intentions and our impact into alignment.

 


Intention vs Impact

 

How many times, when challenged, have you heard or yourself used the response … “but that wasn’t my intention” or “That wasn’t what I meant.”

I’m going to guess we’ve all heard that excuse and used it ourselves more times than any of us could count. Of course we have. Because so often it will have been true. When there is a breakdown in communication, when wires get crossed, when we accidentally upset someone, when we haven’t been fully conscious of what we were saying… the resulting impact certainly wasn’t our intention. So then surely we’re not to blame?

About twenty years ago a friend of mine told me about an incident in a key cutting shop. She had walked into the shop and inadvertently knocked over a stand with hundreds of ready-to-cut keys on it. The key stand and the keys fell onto an elderly lady. The shop owner and another customer started reprimanding my friend who defended herself by saying it was an accident. She didn’t mean to topple the stand. As she recounted the story to me, still smarting from the reaction from her fellow shoppers, she said “I mean if I had walked into that shop with the sole intention of knocking a key stand onto an old lady – then fair enough, have a go at me. But that was clearly not my intention.”

At the time I fully accepted her position. However, after many years of working in corporate communication skills, I started to see things multi-dimensionally. Because intention and impact need to be taken together. They cannot be isolated. We need to focus on both. Whether we are talking about a disappointing presentation from your boss or an argument with your partner – whether the intention was good or not, the impact is what it is, and we need to take responsibility for both. That’s where learning can come in. That’s when we can take on new information and new skills so that we can begin to take charge of our impact. Not just our intention.

In the case of my well-intended friend, the elderly lady in the shop still had to deal with the shock of a fountain of keys suddenly being showered all over her. If we play with the idea of taking responsibility for the impact of accidentally hurling keys over an innocent customer, then maybe we would then be open to thinking more consciously about how we enter small unfamiliar stores with more caution, care and awareness. That learning could be really useful to us and to other people in the future.

 


Mind the Gap

 

As we always say at 4D Human Being, there is pretty much always a gap between our intention and our impact. But by taking responsibility for our impact then we can start to close that gap. And when we close the gap between intention and impact, we really put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our lives. We take a massive step towards living more consciously and with more awareness.

After all we are not the story we keep locked in our heads. We are the story we tell and communicate to the world. Whether that is through words, tone, actions, body language or facial expressions. When we become aware of our impact physically, emotionally and intellectually then we can start to manage how we show up in the world and we can bring our intention and impact closer and closer together.


System 2

 

The problem with solely focusing on intention is that we spend a lot of time operating on autopilot or what Daniel Kahneman calls ‘System 1’. According to Kahneman, System 1, sometimes known as intuitive thinking, “operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and sense of voluntary control.” Whereas System 2 “allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.” Switching on system 2 is what bridges the gap between intention and impact. However, operating with this much more conscious intentionality is tiring and time consuming. Autopilot is efficient and easy and will more often than not take over, which is why our intention and our impact are so often out of alignment. This is why awareness is only the first step.

 


Unconscious Bias

 

With autopilot comes unconscious bias, where our ‘unconscious intention’ will be dictated by unconscious beliefs. Not because we are a bad person. But because we have been conditioned and socialised in certain ways. We’ve just always done our presentations like that. That’s how our first boss did them when we started in our first job, so that’s how we learnt to do them and even though they are mediocre at best, we simply don’t know any other way. Similarly, unconscious bias – when it comes to gender or race or any other area- will be dictated by what we have absorbed up until that moment. From society, education, family, parents, peers, communities and our own continued self-reflection. Some of which may need some serious updating because it too may lead to some behaviours and impact that just isn’t good enough anymore.


Feedback

 

Feedback on our impact is vital if we really do want to close the gap between intention and impact and if we really do want to become the person, we know we can become and communicate at a whole new conscious level. (And this is also true for those of us who find positive feedback difficult to accept or believe!)

Being ashamed of receiving feedback on our impact is the very thing that will hold us back from becoming better. Whether that’s becoming a far better communicator or becoming far more conscious about daily micro-aggressions and learning how to simply stop doing them.

Feedback on our impact is precious. As writer, Robin di Angelo talks about in her book ‘White Fragility’ – feedback is hard to give and so we need to cherish it and thank the person giving us the feedback – for the courage they showed in giving it to us. When people stop giving you feedback on your impact, you should be worried. It means they are either frightened of your response or they have given up on caring about your human potential and development.  Get feedback and get fabulous. You already are…you just might need to close the gap a little!


Impactful Awareness

 

Awareness is our superpower. It enables us to be curious and stay open to the idea that we may not be perfect. From here we can start to close the gap between our intention – how we think we’re being – and our impact – how others experience us.

From there we as individuals can then impact the wider system as we model a more conscious way of being and help others begin to do the same. 

 

If you choose to be interested in growing, learning and welcoming of those who care enough about you and who trust you enough to offer up feedback, your intentions and impact will start to fall into alignment. From here, life will start to feel a little bit less like an uphill climb and more like a dance in the moment. It’s a day-to-day practice and a journey that will help you to become someone who can consciously create the impact you choose – every day!