Tag Archives: trust

Visuals, Verbals, Vocals


“What’s wrong, Honey?”  I ask.

“Nothing!  Absolutely nothing!” she says between gritted teeth as she slams cabinet doors in our kitchen.

I have a choice to make at this point.  I can believe what she says (that nothing is wrong) and go about my business, or I can believe what her tone of voice and body language are telling me (that something is most definitely wrong).  I’ve taken a few lumps in our marriage, and I’ve learned to disregard what she says if it doesn’t match how she says it.  Saying, “Okay, Sweetheart.  I’ll be in the garage if you need me,” only gets me in a deeper stew.

Professor Albert Mehrabian (UCLA) has done research that would have been useful to me a little earlier in our marriage.  He analyzed where our messages come from when we communicate, and his findings are surprising.

  • 55% of our message comes from nonverbals, or Visuals, (i.e. our body language, gestures, facial expressions, posture…).
  • 38% of our message comes from our tone of voice, sounds we make, our rate of speech…, or Vocals.
  • 7% of our message comes from the words we use, or Verbals.

Only 7%!  Seems unbelievable, but I’ll tell you why I believe it…because we lie.  We are expert liars.  My wife was lying when she said nothing was wrong, even though she really wanted me to know that something was.  We lie all the time to avoid facing unpleasant circumstances directly.  Our boss brings us a huge project Friday afternoon and asks if we have time for it.  “Oh, sure.  I’ll fit it in,” we sigh, knowing that our plans for the weekend have gone out the window.  We’re told that team meetings will now be breakfast meetings and start at 6:30 a.m.  “Hey, there’s a great idea!” we tell a peer sarcastically.  A friend asks us what we thought of his presentation.  “It was terrific,” we lie, because we don’t want to hurt his feelings.

We’ve learned from experience that you can’t always trust what people say.  However, Visuals and Vocals are much more reliable.  People send signals through their body language, tone of voice and other nonverbals.  Sometimes they do it intentionally (my wife, for example), and sometimes they just can’t help it.  We bring the team together and tell them about a new change that means doing more with less.  As the leader, you know you have to put a positive spin on it, but your fake smile and monotone voice quality give you away.  People put your words on a shelf and judge your sincerity by your nonverbal communication.

Often, we are telling the truth, but people misread our nonverbals.  We ask a simple and sincere question, but our arms are crossed at the time, and the other person goes away with the idea that we are totally against her proposal.  We were up late the night before, and some of our team members perceive that we are in bad mood because we didn’t sound cheerful when we greeted them.  We are fast talkers, and we find that slower talkers distrust our message because we seem “slick.”

The key is matching your verbals and your nonverbals.  If we want our message to hit home, Verbals, Visuals and Vocals all have to be marching in the same direction.  It may take practice in front of a mirror or with a tape recorder, but you can improve how you communicate by increasing the consistency of these three components.

On the flip side, don’t allow yourself to accept what someone says as the whole story.  Watch and listen to their nonverbals to determine if they match the message.  If they don’t, respond to the nonverbals rather than the verbals.  Back to my example with my wife…a better response to her would have been, “You seem upset.  Would you like to talk?”  Notice that I’m disregarding the words she used and focusing on the underlying message.  You may need to make several attempts at this before the other person is willing to be honest Verbally, but their nonverbals have been telling the truth all along.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under communication, conflict, culture, emotions, feedback, Interpersonal, listening, public speaking, Relationships, speaking

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks


Maybe you’ve heard the analogy about how difficult it is to teach an “old dog” new tricks.  An “old dog” is someone who is set in their ways, who’s “been there and done that” and who is not particularly impressed by our leadership credentials.  We run into “old dogs” all the time when we inherit teams, and they can make our jobs a chore.  I once had a children’s joke book that had stellar advice about how to deal with “old dogs.”  The joke went like this:

“What do you need to know to teach an old dog new tricks?”


“More than the dog.”

 

Great advice!  As leaders, we need to stay at least one step ahead of those on our teams.  You do this through continuous improvement – taking courses, being a bookworm or a tapeworm (someone who listens to tapes), reading trade publications, attending conferences….  There are a gazillion options available to us.  The hard part isn’t finding a way to learn more; it’s making it into a habit!

Think about this:

If you haven’t learned anything new lately, have you earned the credibility to lead a group of people who are experts in what they do on a daily basis?  You can’t lead any farther than you yourself have gone.

Leave a comment

Filed under authority, coaching, discipleship, expertise, Fathering, growth, habits, leadership, learning, mentoring, modeling, parenting, Sharpening the Saw, Spiritual Growth, Teaching, trust

Your Right-Hand Man


Everyone wants to have a right-hand man (or woman), right?  Someone you trust implicitly.  Someone who will cover for you in a pinch and make decisions just as you would have made them.  Someone you can groom to be your successor when the inevitable promotion opportunities come rolling in.

The expression “right-hand man” (as well as the tradition of seating the guest of honor at the right hand of the host) originated from times when leaders had to worry about assassination on a daily basis.  Before the days of explosives and automatic weapons, the easiest way to assassinate a leader was to have the person sitting to his right grab his sword arm and hang on, rendering him relatively helpless so that others in the room could then kill him.  If you were a leader, it was in your best interest to put the person you most trusted next to your sword arm. Since most people are right-handed, the “right-hand man” came to be synonymous for someone you could trust with your life.

Leadership can be a lonely role.  Having a right-hand man (person) will encourage you when things get rough.  A trusted “second-in-command” can keep an eye on your blind spots and warn you when you’re stepping into dangerous territory.  If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to develop that person (or to look for someone with the right qualities to fill your next open position.)

(Interestingly enough, the word “sinister” originally meant “on the left.”  Maybe that’s where we get the idea of “hold your friends close but your enemies closer.”)

Leave a comment

Filed under character, conflict, deception, delegation, leadership, management, Protection, Relationships, trust

Shepherd or Sheepdog?


Shepherds and sheepdogs are similar in that both are responsible for taking care of the sheep and moving them in a particular direction.  They protect the sheep from danger and round up strays, but their approaches are totally different.

The sheepdog runs barking into the herd to get them going.  Its approach is effective at creating movement, but it tends to cause them to head off in all different directions.  The dog then has to run frantically around the herd to get them moving together.  On the other hand, the shepherd simply leads, and the sheep follow.  The sheepdog motivates through fear, the shepherd through trust.

In this metaphor, you can see two different approaches to managing people: push and pull.  The sheepdog pushes the herd much like an ineffective manager pushes his/her people.  Cajoling, warning and threatening, the sheepdog manager tries to get his people moving.  Unfortunately, he creates so much fear, confusion and discord that everyone is looking to his own interests.  The ineffective manager then has to round up the stragglers and try to cajole, warn and threaten them to start marching toward the group goal.  By barking threats, he eventually gets them to their destination.

The shepherd pulls the herd much like an effective manager pulls his/her people.  She doesn’t need to cajole, warn or threaten.  Her values, dedication and interpersonal skills draw people to follow her.  She shows her people how achieving the organization’s goals will help them achieve their own goals.  She points them toward the horizon and tells them why it’s worth achieving.  She creates trust that she has her peoples’ best interests at heart.

By modeling the behaviors he wants to see from the front, the shepherd leader inspires others to follow.  A shepherd leader doesn’t need a lot of noise and frenetic activity to get the job done.

Leave a comment

Filed under leadership, management

Trust By Association


I’m just emerging from a very difficult year and some months of adjustment.  I joined a ministry in August, 2007, in a vaguely defined role that wasn’t really wanted or appreciated by those who it was created to serve.  It was really important that my role not be forced upon them, because the organization was/is making a genuine effort to empower our field offices.   They had to want what I had to offer.  Unfortunately, they made it clear that I had little to nothing that would benefit them.

I moved my family overseas to get closer to my customers, but that didn’t convince them to call on me.  I visited all our field offices with my team members several times to build relationships, but the phone didn’t ring.  I made lists of the things we could do to help their ministries, but they weren’t interested.  It was a very humbling, frustrating, confidence-shaking experience.

But then a change happened organizationally, and I began reporting to a new boss.  One of the first things he did was take me on trips with him to visit each of the offices.  In meetings, he would give me pieces to present.  In discussions, he would hold his opinion until after I had a chance to give mine.  When I finally found something that a field office wanted that I was able to deliver, he gave me the freedom to follow-through even though it wasn’t specifically part of my role.  At conferences, he let me lead most of the sessions.  Before long, I had more requests for my services than I was able to fulfill.

What happened?  As I’ve tried to unpack the transition over the past few months, I’m reminded of Barnabas from the Bible.  His real name is Joseph, but he was such an encourager that the apostles named him Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”).  In Acts 4, we learn that he sold a field he owned and brought all the money to the apostles’ to help them with meeting the needs of the growing Church.  This was a man that almost everyone had to have liked.

In Acts 9, we hear about Saul’s (Paul’s) miraculous conversion.  After the scales of blindness dropped from his eyes, Paul began to preach in Damascus, but it wasn’t long before the Jews in that town wanted to kill him for what he was saying about Jesus.  Paul left and went to Jerusalem, but no one wanted him there, either, because he had persecuted the Christians so vigorously before his conversion.  Because of his reputation, they doubted that he could be a genuine follower of Christ.

Then Barnabas did something unexpected.  He vouched for Paul.  He brought Paul before the apostles and introduced him.  He told Paul’s story and showed through his actions that he believed it.  Barnabas had trust and credibility with the apostles and other believers, and he lent some of it to Paul.  Everyone knew Barnabas’ character, so if he was willing to put his trust into Paul, Paul must be trustworthy.

This is exactly what my new boss did for me.  I had no trust deposits in the emotional bank accounts of the field leadership, so my boss gave me his on credit until I could earn my own.  I became trustworthy by association with him, and it opened closed doors so that I could show what I could do.  

I’ve since learned that this is hugely important in Asian cultures, but I think it happens in other groups, too.  No one will talk to the new kid at school until one of the popular people sits down with him at lunch.  The new couple can’t seem to fit in at the church until a trusted member invites them to come to a potluck.  The new guy at the office is given the cold shoulder until one of the long-timers takes him around to make introductions.

Are you a Barnabas?  Are you already accepted in a group and notice someone new that’s struggling to join the ranks?  Reach out to him or her.  It’s terribly lonely being a “Saul of Tarsus.”  Don’t you remember what it was like when you were new?  …that terrible feeling of un-acceptance?  It’s unkind to leave someone shivering in the cold outside the warmth of your group.  Be bold!  Have courage, and introduce yourself!  Take a risk!  Welcome them into the fold.  You’ve got credibility to spare, and they could use some.  By giving what you can afford to lose, you might be just the catalyst that a “Saul of Tarsus” needs to become the “Saint Paul” that God intends for him to be.

1 Comment

Filed under acceptance, agape love, barnabas, Change, christianity, comfort zone, forgiveness, Interpersonal, paul

Right-Hand Man


Everyone wants to have a right-hand man (or woman), right?  Someone you trust implicitly.  Someone who will cover for you in a pinch and make decisions just as you would have made them.  Someone you can groom to be your successor when the inevitable promotion opportunities come rolling in.

The expression “right-hand man” (as well as the tradition of seating the guest of honor at the right hand of the host) originated from times when leaders had to worry about assassination on a daily basis.  Before the days of explosives and automatic weapons, the easiest way to assassinate a leader was to have the person sitting to his right grab his sword arm and hang on, rendering him relatively helpless so that others in the room could then kill him.  If you were a leader, it was in your best interest to put the person you most trusted next to your sword arm. Since most people are right-handed, the “right-hand man” came to be synonymous for someone you could trust with your life.

Leadership can be a lonely role.  Having a right-hand man (person) will encourage you when things get rough.  A trusted “second-in-command” can keep an eye on your blind spots and warn you when you’re stepping into dangerous territory.  If you don’t have one, start developing one (or to look for someone with the right qualities to fill your next open position.)

Incidentally, the best “right-hand man” you can have is Jesus.  He’s not seated at your right hand; He’s at the right hand of God, the Father, but he will keep an eye on your blind spots for you.  He will intercede in prayer for you and come to your rescue when you need Him.  He might not make decisions just as you would have made them, but He will make them better.  And He’ll never be your successor, but you won’t experience success in your Christian walk without His power and authority.  Best of all, you can trust Him with your life – both here and in eternity.

1 Comment

Filed under belief, christianity, Covering, faith, leadership, Protection, trust

IF…


My favorite verse in the Bible for the past few years has been Mark 9:24. A father has brought his only son so that Jesus could cast out a demon from him. But when He arrives, He learns that Jesus has gone up the mountain, leaving the disciples in charge. They try over and over to cast out the demon with no success.

.

By the time Jesus returns from the mountain, it’s a circus. A huge crowd has gathered, and the disciples are in a fight with the legal experts of the day about the boy’s condition and what to do about it.

.

The boy’s father cries out from the crowd and explains the situation. Jesus rebukes the disciples (they failed to have faith that God could or would cast out the demon) and asks that the boy be brought to Him. When the boy sees Jesus, the demon throws the boy to the ground, foaming at the mouth. All eyes are on Jesus to see what He will do.

.

Jesus, diagnosing the problem, asks the father for some background information, and the father tells him that the boy has been afflicted since he was young. Often the demon would throw him into the fire or into the water to try and kill the boy. In the next statement, the father’s heart is revealed:

.

“But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

.

“If.” It’s the biggest two-letter word in the dictionary. It often communicates more than we intended to say, showing our doubts and our fears. It might be appropriate when we are talking about the capacity of a friend or a boss or a loved one, but it’s misplaced when talking about the capacity of God. With God, it’s never “if He can;” it’s only “if He will.”

.

Jesus’ reply might have included emphasis on His first word:

.

If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

.

“It’s not about My capacity,” Jesus seems to be saying. “It’s about yours. Can you believe? Can you have enough faith? Can you have more faith than these apostles who have been with me these several years?”

.

And then, my favorite verse:

.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

.

It’s so full of love for his son. It’s so desperate. It’s so….honest! I’ve been there. I want so badly to put my total and complete trust in God to help me with problems, to watch over my kids, to provide for my needs… but I just don’t have enough faith. With the child’s father, I cry out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

.

God always has to meet us more than halfway. He doesn’t require that we have 100% faith before He will go to work, but He does want us to want to believe at the very least. Beyond that, I think the official measurement is “as small as a mustard seed.” And if we can muster up that much faith, all things are possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under belief, faith, prayer, trust