Post of the month
The Super-Baddie inside us
Our internal dialogues (1), that is to say what we tell ourselves as we engage with our lives, seem to be structured along the same lines as classic stories (2). A hero (us) embarks on a quest (anything from buying a house to seeking a professional promotion, or winning someone’s heart…). The hero is assisted in his or her task by helpers (desire, interest, motivation, need, the perception of an opportunity), and hampered by opponents (perceived obstacles, ignorance, illness, lack of confidence…).
Amongst the opponents is a ‘super-baddie’ who took up residence inside us so long ago that we no longer even notice him, and mistake his words for ours. It is the Master of Excuses. Sounds familiar? He starts every sentence with “the trouble with that is…”. He has the power to conjure up all the ways in which the proposed actions are impossible, even before we undertake them. And more often than not, his comments are so successful in generating self-doubt, worry or overwhelm that they discourage us from getting started at all.
How did this super-baddie set up home in our psyche? Theories abound but ultimately, that’s not what matters. The fact is that, every single day, we undertake dozens of things without any soul-searching, they just get done. Why not transpose this focused yet relaxed application to things that scare us? Why not transform these “issues that are intractable anyway” into “puzzles that are indeed complex but can be solved through diligence”?
(1) For further information about self-talk, see the work of cognitive psychologists Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck.
(2) Greimas, Algirdas Julien. 1973. “Actants, Actors, and Figures.” On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. Trans. Paul J. Perron and Frank H, Collins. Theory and History of Literature, 38. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987. 106-120.
Presenter of the month
Isaac Lidsky: “what reality are you creating?”
Does reality exist out there, or do we create it as we go along? Isaac Lidsky tells the story of what he discovered when a major life event invited the super-baddie to take over and challenged his perceptions:
It happened to them first
Video-conferencing in the docks
Heard recently during a course: “In our company, you can’t do good presentations anyway, most meetings are done via WebEx, so it’s a write-off from the start. It’s hard enough to get people to listen to you live, but when people are watching you on a screen, they see it as a chance to do something else while you’re talking!”
For Najberg Milne, this is laying the blame on the wrong culprit. Video-conferencing certainly doesn’t make presenting, which is already challenging enough, any easier. And yet, when a film is good, you don’t do something else while watching it; when a TED presenter is captivating, we sit back in our chair and listen. The inescapable conclusion is that if no-one is listening during a WebEx call, it’s not the technology that’s at fault, it’s the speaker
We may not be able to make direct eye contact with our audience, but we have other effective tools in our bag: our voice and our message. By preparing what we want to say in front of the webcam as carefully as if we were facing a live audience, if everything is considered from their perspective, if we structure what we say with a specific outcome, a hook, an emotional journey, a conclusion and stories, the results will definitely be as good as if you were physically in front of them!
What’s in it for you?
Have you ever had the feeling that you couldn’t understand what you were being told? You know the language, you’re familiar with the words, the syntax seems correct, but once the presentation is over, you can’t get your head around what it was all about.
It’s a bit like those cooking programs that are taking over our TV channels, where Masterchef hopefuls create artistic arrangements on the serving plate, tasting of…nothing much.
In the organisational world, the main reason why we don’t ‘get’ a presentation is simply due to the absence of an epilogue, that is to say the behavioural objectives that are the point of the presentation are missing. There are lots of buzz words, lots of different topics thrown at the audience, in short the plate looks full but it’s not proper cuisine.
Masterchef ultimately favours the cook who keeps things simple, who focuses on one objective from start to finish, who respects the essence and taste of ingredients and makes diners happy. Why not do the same in the workplace?
This month’s link
The Science of Persuasion
Influencing others is a skill that science is able to explain. Take a look at this video and notice the similarities with the principles and techniques given in Winning Hearts & Minds (despite sometimes different terminologies):
Najberg Milne news
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