It was a challenging week.  A week when the universe shouted at me Paul Watzlawick’s communication axiom.  “One cannot not communicate”.

Yes, every behaviour communicates something.  Even silence and ‘non-action’  transmits data and information. Data which is received and decoded. Then interpreted by the receiver. Based on their own filters.   People may often not even know what they are thinking. But their unconscious behaviour will enact their thoughts. They will show you.

Clues and cultural layers

In the context of leadership, an ex-colleague of mine would talk of Forensic Leadership. That we are constantly looking for clues, signals and pieces of information. About our leaders. Who they are and what they stand for. How aligned they are with words and actions. And all this helps us to ascertain if we can trust them or not. Whether we want to follow them or not.

We were co-delivering an intensive 4 day programme in Bangkok. With a diverse group of highly experienced and senior leaders of an international non-governmental organisation. It was a reminder about the choices we make as senders and recipients of information. And how the clues we look for can be even more complex. Particularly when a multiplicity of cultural layers (personal, organisational, ethnic, generational, religious, class, gender, professional/educational, regional, national) are at play.

Sometimes our antennae aren’t developed enough to see the signs. Or our filter is not ‘pure enough’ to receive the message clearly. Sometimes we pretend not to notice. Other times we just get it right.

Jetlagged musings so far. But in my view, when we communicate well, we are:

  • Purposeful: We know what we want to communicate and make conscious choices.
  • Use our sensory awareness:  Through experience and knowledge we finely tune our antennas. And in a heightened presence in the moment, we use our sensory awareness to notice and to act.
  • Flexible:  Interested in the other and driven to understand and integrate. We  remain non judgemental and adjust our style for mutual benefit.
  • Go easy on ourselves and others when it all goes a little ‘wobbly’.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash


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