Micromessaging: Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words – Stephen Young
The stuff we say without saying.
The Subtle Art Of Messaging
Micromessages can either inspire confidence and encourage an individual to strive for greater heights, or they can undermine a worker’s self-confidence and cause him or her to second-guess every decision. They have the ability to accomplish this with barely a spoken word.
Micromessaging And Leadership
Micromessaging and its influence are defined by the almost imperceptible subtleties of sending and receiving messages. These micro messages show us how much we are valued and respected by those who have power over our careers.
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Micromessages tell us where we are and how far we are likely to travel. They are as intangible as the medium in which they are transmitted.
The Blind Spot
Examine how colleagues greet one another and make eye contact.
Such greetings may appear repetitive, but if you look closely at the gestures, tone, inflexion, and gazes, you can see where everyone stands.
Even without saying a single word, the micromessages of a silent greeting can reveal who is and who is not “connected.”
One leadership blind spot is the way questions are asked. Questions frequently reveal our desires or expectations for the answer.
A question’s structure typically falls into one of three categories: assumptive no, assumptive yes, or neutral.
- You ask the question in the manner in which you want the answer. Sometimes questions are statements, and sometimes statements are questions.
- Consider the micromessages contained within the questions you are asked, as well as those you ask.
- Meetings can waste valuable time in a circular dance of questions that lead down the wrong paths.
Words Are Important But…
We’ve been told our entire lives that words are extremely important. The size of one’s vocabulary is frequently used to indicate intelligence and education. Acceptance in most business communities requires a strong command of grammar and word usage. However, the impact and influence of unspoken messages is even greater than that of spoken messages.
Messages Are Relative
The cultural context in which a business operates influences its operations. The same top-down pressure that may boost individual worker performance in Singapore may have the opposite effect in Ireland.
Holding your body upright and puffing out your chest may be necessary for a boss to command respect in a Latin American culture, but in Ireland, the same posture could be interpreted as bullying or arrogance.
Culture shock: we disregard reality and see what we want
Each of us carries behavioural and interpretation patterns that take decades to learn. It serves as our cultural template. Everyone understands that behaviours differ across geographic regions, but when we are thrust into a culture that is vastly different from our own, intellect collides with reality, and we experience culture shock for a brief moment.
A Truly Effective Leader
The true power of diversity is the ability to identify what makes each member of the team unique and to apply specific developmental and motivational strategies that boost their performance.
You cannot be a truly great leader unless you can identify the unique characteristics that motivate people differently and use that awareness as a catalyst to generate maximum commitment, support, collaboration, loyalty, and performance from the entire team.
Who is saying it matters, not what is being said
If you really want to see microinequities in action, you need to go no further than everyday business meetings. You make a suggestion, and it is met with a very bland, ho-hum response. Then, fifteen minutes later, someone else offers the same half-dozen as “six” and suddenly it shows profound insight.
Our delivery certainly influences how others hear what we say, but there are often other influences at play.
Fixing the micromessaging problem
1. Actively seek feedback
2. Establish a personal connection
3. Ask questions all the time.
4. Ideas for attribution/credit
5. Keep an eye on your facial expressions.
6. Actively listen to everyone
7. Encourage participation
8. Keep track of personal greetings
9. Constructively respond to disagreements
10. Minimize interruptions.