Dr. Trudi Chalmers is the lead resident psychologist at ATB Financial. Her current and primary role is coaching for mastery by helping financial advisors learn how to better connect with clients using video observation and applying scientific based methodology for improved listening and customer driven solutions. She received her Ph.D in Neuroscience from the University of Calgary. She was also recently picked as an ATB “spark”; a company catalyst and example of inspired leadership. I am pleased to have Trudi be the FIRST guest celebrity blogger on lornerubis.com.
KEY POINT: Building on Lorne’s Character Triangle, I invite you to start noticing how your body and emotions impact how you show up to others. We often spend a lot of time thinking about (scripting) what we’re going to say to others… Or, we spend time reflecting on what we did say, wondering if we could have said something different. What we forget, or maybe don’t realize, is how we hold ourselves (body), and the emotional place we are speaking from, often has a greater impact than the actual words we use. Practice in this area plays into our accountability (accepting our influence and taking responsibility for how we show up) and respect (for ourselves and the people we engage with).
Susan Scott shares a fantastic insight in her book Fierce Conversations, where she draws to our attention that any interaction with another involves three conversations; the one we believe we’re having (the story we’re telling ourselves), the one the other believes they’re having (the story they’re telling their self), and the literal one taken from the words being spoken. It’s difficult to know the story the other person is telling their self, but rest assured that your body language and emotional tone is having an influence. How we hold ourselves physically (body), and the emotional place we’re acting from creates subtleties layered on what’s actually being said (language) and can drastically influence the interpretation of your words – and the result you get. If you frequently find that you’re not achieving the results you want from your communication/interactions with others… It’s probably time to start noticing what your body and emotional tone are saying. We forget what people say… But, we always remember how they made us feel. The words we use may be great, but if the tone and body is saying something else… That’s what’s going to stick.
Why does our body language and emotional tone leave such a huge impression and colour our communication? Looking at this from a neuroscientific perspective, there are several explanations. Allowing us to unconsciously understand and feel other people’s emotions are our “mirror neurons.” As the name suggests, this network of neurons mirror what we’re observing, allowing us to feel empathy by experiencing what we’re seeing in other people. This is great for building connections, but can be detrimental when we take on the defensive tone that someone is communicating to us. Once we see (and thanks to our mirror neurons, feel) the defensiveness of someone, we assume an attack is heading towards us. This makes good evolutionary sense! We need to protect ourselves, so we’re wired to respond to the emotions of others. If the emotional tone and body language suggest an attack is coming, our fight or flight mechanism kicks in narrowing our attention and preparing us to defend ourselves. Most of the time, this is not the space we want to have our interactions from, and certainly not a space conducive to resolution or exploration.
The words you use may be “I want to give you feedback on how you facilitated that meeting…” But depending on the tone and body language that these words are coming from, you may be inadvertently shutting down the other to opportunities for growth before you even begin.
- Practice centering. Take 10 seconds before you approach someone and notice what you’re feeling. Can you choose where you want your message to come from (what emotional tone)? Can you be in the place where you want your message to come from? If not, maybe now is not the best time for this conversation.
- Notice your default tone and body language. How do you hold yourself when you’re conversing with others? Does this change depending on who it is you’re in conversation with? What’s your emotional tone?
- Are you getting the results you want with your conversations? Are there any patterns here? For example, is it always the same people who you struggle with? Are there particular types of situations where you can’t seem to get the results you want? If you’re not getting the results you want, it may be time to look at how you’re showing up to the other person.
Showing up in The Triangle,
Dr. Trudi Chalmers
Thank you Dr. Chalmers,
P.S. download the The Character Triangle Companion today!