Monthly Archives: February 2018


What You Said is Not what I Heard


by on Feb 28, 2018 7:01 PM

Has this ever happened to you? You are speaking with someone and their response is not at all what you expected based on what you said.  At least, what you thought you said! At Trilogy Partners, we frequently hear this frustration from business owners which prompts the question, do you communicate effectively?

Communication is complicated all by itself.
Imagine how complicated communication gets when we mix different cultural understandings, gender-speak, frustration, unhappiness, underlying tensions, and the pressure of expectations and deadlines. It’s amazing we get anything right with all the challenges of effective communication and these are just some of the barriers we face!

Communication ‘gaps’ create unexpected challenges – an example:
Recently, I facilitated a training class attended by leaders of a multinational company. Suddenly, there was a big “AHA moment”.  While watching videos of themselves in conversation with each other, one leader after another said, “Why do I sound like that?  That’s not the message that I was trying to convey.”

At that moment, it became self-evident that each person experienced a ‘gap’ between their intended message and their actual behavior when communicating that message.  Why does this happen?

Components of effective communication.
How we say what we say makes a big difference in others understanding or even listening to our message.  The value of our words is only one of many components of communication.  When speaking – words are not nearly as important as your tone of voice and body language.  It has been estimated that words account for only 7% of communication while tone is about 38% and body language is 55%.  (Albert Mehrabian, 1967). How we say what we say has more meaning than the words themselves.

What these leaders saw in the video was the impact of their tone of voice and their body language.  It was their tone that communicated most loudly.  It communicated how they were feeling in a way so strongly, the words did not matter. And when they added in their body language, such as rolling eyes, dropping or shaking one’s head and even the use of a cell phone, the message was even stronger.  One leader said, “I can’t believe I came across so harshly, so rude, so disrespectful. I really do like you guys, honestly!”

Remember, we judge others by their behavior; however, we judge ourselves by our intentions.  These leaders had a gap between their intentions and their behavior.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Tone is the most powerful tool when speaking. Being aware of your tone is critical to make sure your intended message is received the way you want.
  2. Feelings and attitudes beneath the surface show in tone and body language. Be aware that you may sound criticizing, attacking or even nasty when you are simply frustrated.
  3. Rely on others and check in with each other to ensure the right messages are getting across in the intended way. Asking others for feedback about your communication style is the beginning of changing the way you communicate.

Leadership is not about doing what is easy, it is about facing challenges and committing to change.  This change needs to start with ourselves.  Ask yourself how can you become a better communicator? And consider ways to gain an outsider’s perspective on your communication style.

If you are interested in improving your communication effectiveness, email me at results@gettrilogypartners.com or call 609-688-0428.

A Business Case for Courage


by on Feb 1, 2018 9:11 AM

Business growth is directed through strategy.  This should not be news. Most business leaders have varying levels of implementation around strategy, but most agree that something has to be done with forethought and purpose.  But what really fuels this? At Trilogy Partners, we believe that COURAGE leads to passion that inspires growth.

In August 2015, Forbes published an article (A Measure of Courage) highlighting the American Courage Index.  The article outlined business-related questions geared towards courage, as well as those questions that spoke to the social, moral and emotional aspects of courage.  Not surprisingly perhaps, the results showed that business owners are more courageous than the rest of the US population.  And further, emotional courage increases with age.  Conceptually, these outcomes make sense and jive with many of our personal experiences in the business community.

However, not everyone who works for us is a business owner or of a certain age.  What do we do about measuring and developing courage in those folks?

Courage is a difficult trait to measure.  How do we measure fortitude or fearlessness?  What about bravery or gumption?  The metrics for those should be high in those leading organizations through advancement and change.  But how do we know who has it and who doesn’t?

The arc for this type of measurement is best found in situational and behavioral study.  Measuring based upon a range of responsiveness will serve to illuminate those innate skills and aptitudes.  Survey questions are fine as step one in the process, but it should not serve as the final marker.  Those questions should challenge people to face scenarios.  Those situations should force the responder to make a choice; refrain from the “middle of the road” options as much as possible.  By doing so, we can uncover the heart behind the answer.

To reveal the emotional understanding takes conversation.  These surveys ought to foster conversation.  “What did you pick and why?” is a great opening question.  And while this may seem overly simplistic, it is valuable to the natural responsiveness needed.  It won’t be manufactured if the question is open-ended and completely based upon personal action and opinion.  People like to share what they are thinking, by and large.  And having had a written survey already done gives the employee a heads-up as to what will be reviewed.

As a commodity, courage is something to cultivate.  It’s part of the fabric that organizations often are lacking. We’re such a fear-encouraging culture – retaliation, over-compliance, bad press – that we tend to stay in our lanes and avoid risk.  That fear cripples an organization’s growth.  We are even afraid to dream.

It is a business necessity to foster courage and at Trilogy, we tackle the behavioral dynamics that often hold businesses back. We believe competitive advantages are often born out of fearlessness, risk and passion.  It takes courage to walk such a path, and it takes a courageous company to light that path.

Ready to promote and cultivate courage in your organization? Contact us at results@gettrilogypartners.com or 609-688-0428.