The Invisible Components of Communication

I often get leaders who are weary of going to a communication skills training and being “taught” techniques that in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world do not work.  We’ve all been to the one-time workshop only to go back into the real world where we get frustrated, triggered, and misunderstood.

One reason the communication skills workshop you went to didn’t take hold is because, it takes practice to make theory work in the real world.

Another reason is because there was no accountability and follow up through behavioral coaching.

But there’s yet another reason many struggle with their leadership communication: The invisible aspects of communication.  Most executive education does not focus nearly enough on the invisible aspects  that always influence communication: emotions, intentions, hidden agendas, energy systems and so on.

In my new keynote, Critical Skills for the No-Drama Leader, I talk about those hidden aspects that influence our conversations and our communications.  Think of the acronym, HIDE

Like it or not, your history colors everything you think, say or do. Your background, culture, gender and genetics are the filter through which you experience the world. Think about how this applies to teams that include a diverse mix of cultures.

Most of what we perceive or think comes from our imagination and not based on fact. We can only see what we believe to be true or possible. Neuropsychologist Dr. Kevin Fleming, author of The Half-Truth High, once told me, “You are getting 200 million bits of information every nanosecond, and you can only process 5 percent. This means 95 percent of the world is actually passing you by. There’s a concept in psychology called confirmation bias, which means that what you will look for evidence of that which you believe to be true! Think about how this applies to disciplining a problem employee.

Your desires, wishes and dreams motivate and influence your communication. The problem with desire is that sometimes we have desires we are unaware of, or competing desires. For example the desire for peace conflicts with the desire to speak honestly about a performance issue. Think about the times you have been the receiver of mixed messages, and you can see the evidence of the hidden aspect of desire at work in the communication pattern.

Your history, imagination and desire work together to create emotion. How you feel always influences your communication. When you don’t get what you want (desire) you get edgy. Then your imagination kicks in to tell you that the VP of finance is to blame. That’s when you consult your history and seek evidence to support your current reality.

In Conclusion
Where ever there are repeating patterns you can be sure the invisible aspects of communication are at play.

When it comes to history you can overcome it, benefit from it or blame it for your circumstances. With your imagination, you can either create a dream or a nightmare. Your desires either provide focus or distraction. You can either learn to master your emotion or become a slave to them. The key is to use the conscious mind to take charge instead of being ruled by the unconscious mind. We teach these executive skills in my new program: Critical Skills for the No-Drama Leader.

Marlene-Blk4Marlene Chism is an executive educator, consultant, and author of Stop Workplace Drama, (Wiley 2011) and No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015). She works with executives, and high-performing leaders who want to transform culture in the workplace. To explore opportunities please email