Duncan Partridge, Director of Education at the English-Speaking Union, on how being more aware of our speaking styles can help us to communicate more effectively
We are living through an age where we’ve never had more information or more opportunity to debate the issues of the day. At the same time, somewhat paradoxically, many would say that the quality of public discourse around the world is at an all-time low. Why is this?
Has overload led to dysfunction? Are we living in digital echo chambers where we only ever hear our own views repeated back to us? Or are we becoming naïve and passive consumers of information, manipulated by peddlers of fake news and sophistry? Whatever the case, perhaps a more important question to ask is: what can be done about this?
vp-adminIt’s the way that you say it: young voices in action
All organisations have the problem of communications, but what sort of communications problem have you got?
It’s an inevitable by-product of sub-dividing effort. Splitting work into different functions, departments and roles creates differences of priority, attention and concern. It not only produces unintended barriers to the flow of communication, but also real inter-personal tensions and active differences of opinion, arguments and conflicts that need to be recognised and resolved.
The other reason why all organisations have a problem with communications is that individuals differ enormously in how they go about these things. While there is only a limited number of different ‘voices’ – or modes of expression – that we can use (VoicePrint identifies nine useful voices and a further nine dysfunctional ones), individuals tend to draw on them selectively and then exhibit many, many different ways of deploying the particular ones that they prefer to use. The result is that we often talk at crossed purposes.
vp-adminWhat sort of communications problem have you got?
Yes, I know. There’s been a surge of interest in internal communication in the last couple of decades. There are now around 50,000 people in the UK alone involved in developing employee communication. Employee attitude surveys are commonplace whereas they hardly existed until the early 1990s. A new vocabulary has emerged encouraging managers to think in terms of ‘internal marketing’, ‘aligning’ employees with Mission and Vision statements, ‘empowering’ them and most recently ‘engaging’ them. But the fact is much of this internal communication directed at employees has been a lightly disguised form of progaganda.
vp-adminFive Trends Raising the Importance of Employee Voice
SUE WARMAN – HR STRATEGY CONSULTANT, LEADERSHIP COACH AND VOICEPRINT PRACTITIONER
Sue is a senior HR leader with a strong reputation for building and leading highly effective and engaged teams.
With extensive experience in global organisations, predominantly in technology and telecoms, Sue has coached and developed leaders at all levels and has a successful track record for building strong bench strength and succession pipeline.
How would you feel, if you heard a boy loudly and publicly telling his Mother to shut up? Shocked? Embarrassed at his rudeness? Proud of his precocious manliness? Empowered to respond or powerless? Perhaps the answer depends on who you are and with whom you identify: the Mother, the boy himself, his Father?
Carrie Gracie Shows Us How You don’t have to be a man to make your voice heard
I don’t like telling people that they should read something. It’s too directive for my taste. But there is a time and a place for each and every one of the nine voices, and this is a time for the directive voice.
If you’re someone who cares about gender equity, or someone who is interested in good communicating or if you simply spend some of your own hard-earned cash to pay for a BBC licence fee, and want to be assured that the money is being well spent, then you should read the letter that Carrie Gracie published at the beginning of this week, when she resigned from her role as the Corporation’s China Editor.
If we’re serious about gender equity, we need to prove it.
While a few cultures evidently do not believe in equal opportunity for the sexes, most now at least espouse it and have policies that support it. Unfortunately, micro-discourse and behaviour too often belie our public utterances. So when I say that ‘we’ need to prove we’re serious about it, I mean ‘we’ at every level, nationally, organisationally, inter-personally, at every cultural level where people meet and interact.
Some might object that it is time to stop talking about gender equity and start doing more about it, but actually it is time to start talking differently, in a way that respects and manifests gender equity. This is one of the most powerful and immediately available ways of bringing it into being.
vp-adminGender Equity has a Speech Impediment: what are we going to do about it?
If you’re interested in VoicePrint, you’re likely to be someone who not only wants to be a good communicator personally, but also shares our ambition to see improved communication on a much wider scale, between individuals, within organisations and across societies.
On the VoicePrint blog we will continue to publish pieces designed to support and enable improved communication and interaction at all levels. There will be more case studies, more illustrations of ‘voices at work’ in particular roles and contexts, more features with practical guidance on how to develop specific voices for particular responsibilities, occasions and purposes.
But the world goes into its new calendar year at a time when authentic, principled and genuinely useful communication seems in many ways to be under pressure and in real danger. So in 2018 the VoicePrint blog is going to make three highly relevant issues the focus of special and sustained attention.
vp-admin3 New Year Resolutions for Committed Communicators
Understanding the motive behind questions can show us How to Handle Inquiries Effectively.
Why do you ask? How to recognise the motive behind the question
You’ll probably have been on the receiving end of someone’s question and found yourself thinking, ‘Why do you ask?’ It’s a useful piece of wondering for a number of reasons. For a start, it prompts you to consider how you’re going to reply, and thoughtful answers generally make for more productive conversations. For another reason, a range of quite different motives might lie behind the inquirer’s question. An answer, which fails to take account of the motive behind the question, is a risky answer. It might be irrelevant, naive or unethical, an inappropriate, unguarded or unauthorised disclosure, or an opinion that is hasty, narrow or simplistic.
vp-adminWhy Do You Ask – How to Handle Inquiries More Effectively
Sometimes a successful development intervention entails no more than raising awareness about something that people are already equipped to fix. They have the ability and the motivation, but cannot pinpoint what the problem is or what they should do differently. It’s a common problem for teams.
vp-adminDeveloping teams with better meetings using VoicePrint
Each of us has a personal but largely unconscious profile of ‘voices’ which shapes the way we talk and the impact we make. We each favour some voices, and often over-rely on them, while neglecting others.
The effect is not only to leave us less versatile than we could be and need to be, but also deaf and blind to our own inflexibilities and to the consequences of some of our actions.
By bringing your personal pattern of voices, and its impact on others, into conscious awareness, VoicePrint makes your personal, inter-personal and organisational skill-set more complete, more agile and more effective.