If I ask Tom, “Is anything wrong?” and he smiles, connects with me, and says, “Nothing’s wrong,”… I generally believe him. However, if I ask him, “What’s wrong, honey?” and his response is a mumbled, “Nothing,” accompanied by a sour tone, crossed arms, and a frowning face… I’m likely not to believe him. We hardly ever believe someone when their words don’t line up with their tone, facial expressions, and body language. The incongruency causes us not to trust or believe the truth of the message.

When it comes to Courageous Conversations, our message is never delivered with just our words.  What we say is communicated in tandem with our tone, body language, and facial expressions.  UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian’s work (which is often misquoted and misunderstood) supports this theory. “Total Liking = 7% Verbal + 38% Vocal + 55% Facial. Please note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like – dislike). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable.”

In our Courageous Conversations workshops, we give professionals a framework to use as a guide to successfully approach and manage important conversations about performance, expectations, and alignment with values and vision. But before we can teach the conversation framework, we must first focus on the leadership mindset from which the conversation will be delivered. In other words, mindset before skillset.

I firmly believe that the conversation framework we teach works 99% of the time if executed from a strong leadership mindset. But if someone tries to use the framework from a weak emotional platform such as fear, guilt, anger, resentment, jealousy, blame, or frustration, the framework will almost certainly not work.

There is a very strategic reason why “how we think” comes before “how we speak.” If there is any energetic incongruency in the way we think and what we truly believe in relation to the words we are saying, most of our listeners will energetically feel the disconnect and our body language, tone, and energetic communication will trump the actual words we say every time. There is no stronger communication than one that is 100% congruent between your beliefs and the words you use to express them.

This week, before you engage in an important conversation, check in with yourself. Make sure your words will be a true reflection of how you feel and what you believe. Challenge your limiting beliefs about the people and circumstances involved. Make sure you know how to get yourself on a strong and solid emotional platform before you speak into existence a new reality. And remember, if you need any help with a quick method to make this shift, we’re just one workshop or coaching session away here at LionSpeak.

Have you ever experienced an incongruent message? We’d love to know what you think about this idea. Be sure to share your experiences, thoughts, and questions below.

Integrity means congruence.  Words and behavior match.
~ Nathanial Branden

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