The Five Axioms of conscious communication

Leadership Summit
Developing Strategic Leaders
Effective Relationships: Increase
Value Through Collaboration
Francine Edwards, PhD
Session Overview:
• How to build work relationships
• Behaviors that support or undermine
trust-based relationships
• The five axioms of conscious
• Relational communication and listening
• The process for addressing relational
change and conflict
MODULE 1: Effective Work Relationships
What does it mean to have an effective work relationship?
Developing positive relationships with the individuals you interact with
at work is important to the work you do as a part of the Society.
An effective working relationship is grounded in:
• Trust
• Teamwork
• Communication
• Respect
How do you build work relationships?
Steps to building effective work relationships:
• Consider each volunteer’s ideas as valuable
• Be aware of unspoken feelings
• Act as a harmonizing influence
• Be clear when communicating
• Encourage trust and cooperation among all members
• Encourage the sharing of information
• Empower team members to problem-solve
• Establish group values and goals
• Use consensus
• Encourage listening
Behaviors that undermine effective work relationships
Behaviors that Undermine Trust
• Hype and overpromise
• Lies, half-truths, and spin
• Botched delivery of a difficult message
• Not extending trust
• Combative conflict-management style
Assessing your relationships
We can understand how the contrast between positive and negative
emotion plays out in the workplace if we consider how ongoing
organizational changes are dealt with in differing ways. Assessing
relationships can help individuals get to know one another and meet
organizational needs more creatively.
• Consider:
– workplace attitudes as they relate to business outcomes
– how you respond to each unique individual
– whether basic needs of volunteers are being met
MODULE 2: Communication and Perception
How a person perceives themselves, as well as how the same person
perceives others, substantially influences the communication between
the individual and other persons in every aspect of communications.
Communication is essentially a two-way process. Perception is
important in this process because it defines how one addresses
Perception checking
Clarifying your perception, aligning these with others, and noting
perceptual differences are important in effective communication.
Benefits of perception checking:
• Allows us to describe what we perceive
• We offer opportunities for validation
• We reduce defensiveness and the potential for conflict
Perception checking has three parts:
• Description
• Interpretation
• Clarification
EXERCISE: Perception Checking
A Society volunteer has not joined you for your regular lunchtime walks
during the past three days even though you’ve left messages to let
the person know that you miss their company on your lunchtime walks
and would like for them to join you for a stroll. He/she usually responds
to your messages or walks with you. Recently, he/she hasn’t
responded. On your work sheet, answer the following perception
checking questions.
1. Describe the behavior you have observed
2. Provide at least two possible interpretations of the behavior
3. Ask for clarification (what would you say)
Trust busters and how to fix them
• Lack of communication
• Dishonesty
• Breaking confidentiality
• Taking credit for others’ work
• Give credit
• Listen
• Set clear goals
• Be honest
• Follow through
SOURCE: The Ken Blanchard Companies.
The Five Axioms of conscious communication
Much of our communication is carried on below the level of consciousness.
You don't have to think about this sort of communication, it just happens
automatically. This certainly saves some effort, but it does not always have
the effect you might have chosen.
The Five Axioms of conscious communication :
• Axiom 1  cannot not communicate
• Axiom 2  content and relationship
• Axiom 3  punctuation
• Axiom 4  analogic
• Axiom 5  symmetric or complementary
Mirroring and rapport
• Mirroring is extremely useful in building trust, communication and
rapport. Thus by matching and mirroring the physiology and tonality
of the person we are communicating with we can make ourselves
most like them, and thus generate rapport, without their becoming
consciously aware of the process. Remember that subtlety is the
• Five Simple Techniques to Building Rapport
– Know your people
– Give feedback
– Be accessible
– Say hello and good bye
– Remind them of their value
MODULE 3: Relationship Building
Three essential components of consciously building trust at work:
• Demonstrate competence on the job
• Be a person of integrity
• Demonstrate genuine benevolence
Consciously building trust at work
Three essential components of consciously building trust at work:
• Demonstrate competence on the job
• Be a person of integrity
• Demonstrate genuine benevolence
Consciously building trust at work (continued)
Distrust and defensiveness are
most likely to occur when:
Four crucial areas that directly
impact levels of trust:
• Top management is feared
• Excessive pressure is placed on
• Emergencies arise
• Labor pressures exist
• The vision of the company is
The organization’s vision
The organization’s values
The work environment
Personnel decisions
Expressing needs within work relationships
The key principle of expressing needs at work is making it as easy as
possible for the other person to meet your need by asking for the
specific behavior that will fulfill that need.
• Whenever there is frustration in the workplace, realize that it is
because you have an unmet need.
• Identify what happened that was different from what you expected.
• Identify what you need that you did not get.
• Ask for the behavior, being as specific as possible
Expressing needs within work relationships (continued)
Additional techniques for expressing needs:
• Express the need in a productive manner
• Respectfully discuss issues that may be bothering you
• Express difficult feelings without attacking the self worth of the other
• Clarify what you feel
• Communicate difficult needs in a manner that minimizes the other
person’s need to be defensive
Influencing others
One of the best ways to improve your ability to influence other people is
to better understand your talents -- and how you can positively apply
those talents to the act of influencing.
Leading by influence is more profound than leading by your positional
power alone.
Do the work that you expect others to do
Be positive
Allow others to approach you at any time
Remain consistent at all times
MODULE 4: Relational Communication
Relational communication encompasses communication processes in
personal relationships We assess the role of communication in
developing, maintaining, and dissolving relationships, and how to improve
relational quality or individual well-being through communication.
Identifying your communication style
The pattern of behavior that others can observe is called communication
style. Each person has a unique communication style. By getting to know
your style, you can achieve greater self-awareness and learn how to
develop more effective interpersonal relations with others.
Fundamental concepts supporting communication style:
• Individual differences exist and are important
• Individual style differences tend to be stable
• There is a limited number of styles
• A communication style is a way of thinking and behaving
• To create the most productive working relationships, it is necessary to
get in sync with the behavior patterns (communication style) of the
people you work with
• .
EXERCISE: Identifying your communication style
This 12-item instrument will help you to find your dominant communication
style. After you take the quiz, read the different styles and reflect on how
you can work with others who have a communication style different from
What is your communication style?
• Demonstrator
• Assertor
• Contemplator
• Narrator
Sharpening nonverbal behaviors and skills
Good communication is the foundation of any successful relationship.
The way you listen, look, move, and react tells the other person whether
or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening.
Unfortunately, many people send confusing or negative nonverbal
signals without even knowing it. When this happens, both connection
and trust are damaged.
Nonverbal communication is a rapidly flowing back-and-forth process
requiring your full concentration and attention. You need to stay focused
on the moment-to-moment experience in order to fully understand what’s
going on.
Sharpening nonverbal behaviors and skills (continued)
You need to be aware of your emotions and how they influence you.
Emotional awareness enables you to:
• Accurately read other people
• Create trust in relationships by sending nonverbal signals that match
up with your words
• Respond in ways that show others that you understand, notice, and
• Know if the relationship is meeting your emotional needs
Using questioning skills and feedback to better understand others
Utilizing questions allows us to gain the information, responses or
outcomes that we need more effectively.
Questions are a powerful way of:
• Learning
• Relationship building
• Managing and coaching
• Avoiding misunderstandings
• Defusing a heated situation
• Persuading people
Using questioning skills and feedback to better understand others
As a manager or leader, part of your role is to give feedback. Feedback is
incredibly important to individuals and teams.
Tips for providing feedback:
• Look for the signals that the employee wants feedback
• Relationship building
• Avoid feedback that cannot be acted upon
• Check that the feedback is understood
• Give the opportunity to the other party to discuss how the feedback
might be improved
• Be a role model
• Set up a date for follow-up
MODULE 5: Relational Listening
Attempt to present empathy as a vital ingredient of effective interpersonal
listening. There is no doubt that applying relational listening skills to the
people around you will mark you as a leader, but relational listening goes
beyond ‘listening’. In a greater sense, it is having an awareness of your
surroundings and developing a sensitivity to the environment around you.
Listening barriers and the impact on effective work relationships
Here are a list of barriers and how to overcome them:
Attachment to
beliefs and values
Faking attention
Bringing in emotions
• Respect the other person for his or her knowledge and skills
• Make conscious efforts to take charge of your thoughts
• Face the person who is speaking
• Maintain eye contact while the other person is speaking
• Ensure that you are comfortable
• Learn to appreciate the fact that each and every person has his or her own set
of beliefs and values
• Clarify with the speaker to ensure that you have understood correctly
• Make it a habit to listen attentively
• Avoid thinking about how to reply when the other person is speaking
• It is better to delay conversations when you are driven by excessive emotions
A listening improvement map
Listen for
ideas not
Limit your own
Think like the
other person
Turn off your
Don’t interrupt
EXERCISE: Active listening
Listen to the following story:
“The Bus Driver”
Applying active and reflective listening skills
Active listening
• Preparing yourself to listen
• Waiting and watching for
nonverbal communication
• Being patient
• Removing distractions
• Put the speaker at ease
MODULE 6: Addressing Relational Change and Conflict
There are several unique aspects to conflict:
• Conflict is a struggle
• There needs to be an element of interdependence for conflict to take
• Conflict contains an affective element
Addressing conflict
Leadership and conflict go hand in hand. It can and should be
managed in a healthy, productive fashion. Effectively address conflict
by doing the following:
Define and accept behavior
Hit conflict head-on
Understand the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) factor
Acknowledge the importance factor
View conflict as opportunity
Selecting your conflict style or strategy
Research on conflict management styles has found that each of us
tends to use one or two of the following strategies more than the others.
using formal authority or other power that you possess to satisfy your
concerns without regard to the concerns of the party that you are in
conflict with.
Accommodating allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your
not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve
attempting to resolve a conflict by identifying a solution that is partially
satisfactory to both parties, but completely satisfactory to neither.
cooperating with the other party to understand their concerns and
expressing your own concerns in an effort to find a mutually and
completely satisfactory solution (win-win)
Selecting your conflict style or strategy (continued)
It is important to match the strategy to the situation
• Issue importance - the extent to which important priorities,
principles or values are involved in the conflict
• Relationship importance - how important it is that you maintain a
close, mutually supportive relationship with the other party
• Relative power - how much power you have compared to how
much power other party has
Resolving conflicts with work relationships in mind
Take steps to unite team members in the conflict-resolution
process by staying off the defensive track.
Stay in control
Be direct, factual and sincere
Get into a problem-solving mode
Actively listen
Assume that the other person means well
Developing and practicing a conflict resolution plan
Formulating a strategy and deploying it when necessary is a key tool
for effectively managing conflict.
Allow for flexibility in the conflict resolution plan
Create a culture that values open communication
Allow everyone to be a part of the design process
Emphasize issues rather than positions
To sum it all up…
Human beings are naturally social creatures – we crave friendship and
positive interactions.
Good working relationships give us several benefits: our work is more
enjoyable when we have good relationships with those around us.
Investing in relational communication skills, understanding
communication and perception and being able to manage conflict
become an important part of cultivating an environment in which
stakeholders can thrive.
Building and maintain good work relationships will not only make you
more engaged and committed to your organization; it can also open
doors to key projects, career advancement, and raises.