Welcome to First Thursday! On the first Thursday of each month, Corporate Speech Solutions features an expert that has a skill or expertise that will enhance your professional skill set. Today, we’re joined by Kim Ann Curtin, founder and CEO of The Wall Street Coach, an international executive coaching and culture development firm. Today, Kim shares her strategies for incorporating conscious communication into your professional interactions. What exactly is “conscious communication”? Read on to find out!
One of the things I most admire about Jayne’s work is her commitment to improving communication. Conscious communication – or interacting with one another while being in tune with the other person’s needs – improves everything from employee and client engagement to company culture, branding and marketing.
Oftentimes we communicate in our own “language” or with our desired outcome as the only priority, without being aware of how the person opposite us is receiving the information. For example, earlier in my career when I worked as an executive assistant on Wall Street, one of the things that drove me crazy was when someone left me a voice message that was so challenging to understand that I would have to listen to it multiple times to understand what they were saying or to simply retrieve the phone number they gave. I learned from this experience that others might be enduring the same thing, so I began to be more aware of how I left my own voice mail messages. I would speak slowly and articulate my message, especially if important details were involved. I would also be sure to say the callback number slowly so the listener had time to write it down. Immediately I began to hear gratitude from those returning my calls. Over time, I realized that it was more than just the convenience that impacted them – it was that they felt I was in tune with their needs. It was a simple behavior, but it facilitated the building of a relationship because it showed that I could be “over there” in their shoes.
The key to conscious communication is understanding the needs of your communication partner. As an Executive Coach, my work revolves around providing tools to help executives understand their own needs personally and professionally. We feel joyful, happy, and peaceful, when our needs are met. We feel frustrated, sad, and angry when they are not. Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of Non-Violent Communication, explains the difference between a “want” versus a “need”. Most people speak about what they “want” but don’t necessarily know the “need” underneath it. Imagine this: you’re the new guy at work and you pull into the parking lot, and there are nothing but BMWs as far as the eye can see. You may “want” that car now, but if you began to be included at an afterhours meet up at the local watering hole or were invited to join a round of golf with your peers, you might still want this car, but perhaps not at the same level. Why? Because what you really needed was community, to “be one of the guys”, to be included. Becoming fluent in understanding all the needs that drive you begins to change the lens you look through and also assists you in being able to understand the needs of your colleagues and your clients.
Meeting and understanding needs is one of what I call The Five Practices. These practices are ones that I personally use and that are outlined in my book Transforming Wall Street: A Conscious Path for a New Future. This practice is called Self/Other Empathy. Empathy facilitates the direct connection between ourselves and one another. It begins by choosing to be present to the needs at hand for the other and doing our very best to meet them. Not being focused on what you want to say next. Not even focused on the solution, but simply “being with” them and listening for their need in the moment.
When we bring awareness to the moment with a client, a colleague or anyone we are connecting with, we become more successful in our ability to properly communicate. Each of us has a style and the question is – is that our style being received the way you think it is? Is our style in our best interest and in alignment with the goals we have for ourselves? Every personal and professional relationship hinges on how you speak and communicate. Take the time to make sure that how you come across is in alignment with how you would like others to experience you.
Kim Ann Curtin is the author of Transforming Wall Street: A Conscious Path for a New Future where she shares her trailblazing interviews with 50 top Wall Street executives, thought leaders, teachers of mindfulness, and academic leaders. She is also the Founder & CEO of The Wall Street Coach, an international executive coaching and culture development firm. Kim and her team help C-Suite executives accelerate their personal and professional success through consciousness, enabling them to become as successful on the inside as they are on the outside.
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