Effectively Communicating Who You are

This month’s featured card is one in the series of 52 personal leadership tools from the Kairology pack in each issue of Smile.

In the last issue we looked at the importance of your personal and business values. This time I want to develop that into how you express and communicate your values. What we say and how we say it tells others a great deal about who we really are, what’s going on in our head, and how we are likely to behave.

I head up a family business in hospitality. Family businesses are known to be perilous, and hospitality is one of the hardest (though enjoyable) industries. So before we even set out on the journey of buying a business and working together, we gave a great deal of thought to what our business values might be. One of the advantages of looking at this in a family business context is that there are likely to be some very strong shared values among the family, which we found there were. We brainstormed our values and after a lot of discussion we narrowed them down to three words: Teamwork, Integrity and Excellence.

Clearly behind the words, there is a statement of what they mean to us as a family business. Having gone through the process we were able to include these values as the core of our business plan, and then explain to our staff why we have business values, and what they mean in respect of the expectations of staff, and the intended impact on everything we do – in particular our approach to customer service, which of course is at the heart of hospitality. Inevitably in a customer-facing industry we meet the best and worst of people’s expression and behaviour, but having a set of core values enables us to have a base from which to work, and to hold each-other accountable within the family and the staff.

Why am I relating all this?

Well firstly I believe that any business has to establish core values at the outset, and review them regularly. They summarise the essence of what you are passionate about, individually and collectively. They are a cornerstone of what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for! There are many ways in which they then become a very practical business tool, which I’ll come back to in the next issue when we look at ‘values in action’.
Secondly values draw a line in the sand for you personally. They are helpful in self-discipline and in a sense holding you accountable to yourself. They give you something by which to measure what you do and how you go about it.
And thirdly they are at the core of relationships. We are drawn to people with similar values and find that we want to spend time with them. We find we have things in common. On the other hand, they also tell us, in the expression and behaviour of others, who we don’t want a relationship with.

We’ll come back to behaviour and action next time. For now I want to focus on expression of values. I think there are two main ways in which this expression is important: internal conversation (self-talk) and expression to others (verbal and non-verbal).

Internal

We have something like 50-60,000 thoughts go through our head every day. How amazing is that! To a large extend we choose what and how we think, based on our core beliefs. We touched on this last time. For example if I have a core belief that tells me I’m not up to much, that will impact badly on my self-talk, my self-confidence, and in turn what I feel I can or can’t achieve – or even attempt to achieve. Just as importantly the words I use in my head will end up being how I express myself to those around me. So to keep healthy and productive communication with others, I need to keep it that way in my thinking.

External

The tongue, along with non-verbal expression, is very powerful! We can use it to show the best or worst of ourselves. And of course others interpret all that information while they make their minds up about us in an instant! We can express ourselves positively and use it to build others, or have a very negative and destructive impact – even with a smile while we do it. Do you know anyone like that? Listen to how you express yourself, and more importantly ask others how they think you come across.

So I encourage you to take control of your internal and external expression, and check out how it relates to your personal values. Often people find themselves thinking and saying things they really don’t intend – but then it’s too late!! In coaching others my most often used phrase is ‘stop and think’. It’s good advice if you want some great relationships with others, and if you would quite like to like yourself.

So that’s the Kairology tool for this time, and here are some coaching questions to help your thinking and change:

How does what you say:

represent your values and beliefs?
represent the person you portray?
build or destroy your confidence and sense of worth?
build or destroy others around you?
align and prepare the way for what you do?

Start a journal (if you haven’t already) for these questions and your answers, or contact Ian for a workbook.  As always, don’t make heavy weather of this challenge, but have fun with it, be bold and have courage. It’s easy to drift and live with the same old same old lifestyle and values. If you don’t know where to begin with values, ask me for a full set of common values that might help you select and eliminate values, either for yourself or your business. Have fun in exploring and improving your expression!