Managers must constantly evolve in order to best promote the potential of their employees as well as the company for whose success they are jointly responsible. I have already emphasized in previous blog posts that this process requires a great deal of courage, because it involves the ability to question oneself and to be questioned. An integral part of good and successful leadership is communication.
It is well known that we communicate not only with words, but also with our bodies. Likewise, we know that communication is not just about “sending” messages, but also about “receiving” them, listening properly and learning. There are numerous models of communication that are worth taking a closer look at. “You can’t not communicate,” noted communications researcher Paul Watzlawick, for example. This is because interpersonal communication also takes place on a meta-level. People communicate even when, in their own mind, they don’t.
The communication psychologist and trainer Friedemann Schulz von Thun developed the communication square, also known as the 4-ears model. Behind it lies the theory that everything we say contains four messages at the same time: a factual information, a self-disclosure, a relationship cue and an appeal. It is often advisable to switch levels during a conversation to allow for better understanding.
You see: On the way of words from the sending person to the receiving counterpart, an extremely large amount happens – consciously and unconsciously.
Our body also speaks. Always. Even if we are not aware of it at all. “The body is the biggest talker,” notes body language expert Samy Molcho with a twinkle in his eye. The body speaks through our facial expressions and gestures, our posture, our interpersonal movements and touches, and the spatial relationship (closeness or distance) to the other person. Our body reveals a lot about what we are really thinking and feeling. When our nonverbal signals match our statements, a coherent picture emerges and with-it authenticity, credibility and trust.
Unlike spoken language, the language of the body is universal and can overcome language barriers. Our body is able to express things that our words cannot convey. Therefore, we should pay our utmost attention to the signals we send out physically, because they are crucial for building and shaping relationships: They can foster respect, arouse sympathy, win trust and convince people. But they can also cause uncertainty, create misunderstandings, and deeply hurt. Some studies conclude that our body language accounts for up to 80 percent of the communicative effect. Since it is in most cases an unconscious form of expression, it is all the more important that we deal with it intensively. The successful relationship with our peers, employees or customers depends to a large extent on it and consequently determines the economic success of a company.
Questions that we have to ask ourselves in the context of communication are, for example:
- Is my communication clear or do I create misunderstandings
- What are the reasons for misunderstandings?
- What reaction do I trigger with my impulses?
- Do my employees recognize my direction and goal?
- Do I have anything new to report or am I repeating myself?
- Can I convey emotions or am I too matter of fact?
- Do I give enough freedom or do I restrict my counterpart too much?
At this point I like to come back to Tango Argentino. Because it is just like a conversation. It is about respect, trust, empathy, sensitivity, commitment, sensuality and passion and the resulting energy for the common goal. Tango Dynamics gives the opportunity to experience on all levels how I lead, how my leadership is understood and how important listening is. It is also possible to experience what happens when I am indecisive, do not represent my point of view, do not know my direction, and am therefore basically unable to act. A leader, however, must give clear, understandable impulses.
The American psychotherapist Virginia Satir stated, “I believe the greatest gift I can receive from someone is that they see me, listen to me, understand me, and touch me. The greatest gift I can give another person is to see them, listen to them, understand them, and touch them. When I succeed in doing that, I feel that we have really met.”
Who doesn’t wish for that?