Want to be heard? Learn to speak their language.

In my consultancy, I have the privilege of coaching educational leaders. During one particular session I was working with a middle leader when one of the comments made was “The principal never listens to me or my team. He thinks we are a bunch of moaners. I have been to him about the need for more help with our priority learners, so it doesn’t become a problem later-on as the children move up the school, but he just doesn’t listen and we end up arguing and nothing happens”.

You may also have people like this you work alongside, leaving you frustrated and despondent. The problem is however, that if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will keep on getting the same response you have always got. Something needs to change, and that ‘Thing’ is how You communicate.

Coaching approaches from the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming concentrate on the language we use. That is, if we are wanting to influence someone, or in this instance, be heard, we need to speak their language. This means we need to communicate in their communication style as opposed to our own.

As an example, if someone is very factually driven, non-emotive and calls a spade-a-spade, communicating to them from a place of high emotion, in long flowery sentences is the last thing to do. Presenting facts in a non-emotive, outcomes driven manner will speak their language, and ultimately be heard, with a very high chance of being acted upon. An example of this might be “In the past 3 years, data shows that 10/15 students identified as showing signs of concern at 5-6 years of age, need learning, behavioural or health support by the age of 8-9 years”.

Alternatively, if we know someone is driven from the heart, and is very passionate about certain things, speak to them using phrases such as “I know you value…, It would make such a difference to…if…, In our own hearts, we can’t let this continue…”.

So, in a nutshell, start to listen to the communication patterns of those you wish to influence. Move from being self-centered in your communication approach, to speaking their language…. Because… you never know; they might just listen!

About the author:

Mary-Anne is a proven successful Tertiary Organisational Development leader, school leader, coach and facilitator. Her accomplishments include successfully leading schools and educational organisations through extensive change processes, speaking, facilitating and coaching at national and international levels.

Contact Mary-Anne to discuss professional learning options for your organisation or school.

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