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© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Beliefs are something that a person possesses and feels, more than material goods. 

Let’s imagine asking a person “what do you think of natural yoghurt”? without really knowing anything about that person, never having met him/her before. 

You might answer “good”, but in reality, what the concept “natural yoghurt” evokes is something far more complex. And are we satisfied with that answer or do we want to analyse it deeply? If we are market researchers, we might be very interested in understanding which “worlds” are hidden behind a word; but it must happen the same even if we are coaches, counsellors or researchers. 

In everyday life, in many cases answering “good” might be enough. I know for example that I can put it in the shopping cart if we have to go on a trip together. But I don’t really know why. 

In this scheme – a true mind map that shows what is evoked in a person’s mind when he/she thinks of “natural yoghurt” – we can observe the great complexity behind it. 

How much of this complexity will we be able to grasp? It depends on our listening skills. This example, mind you, serves as a metaphor. It is necessary to understand that behind words there are “semantic worlds”, “worlds of meanings”. Yoghurt is just an excuse to understand how the mechanism works. 

The mental maps that hide behind words are what interests us, our research. From infinite shades, up to entire universes of meaning that hide in the folds of words. 

And are we really interested in grasping them? It depends. Sometimes it may not interest us, sometimes, especially in companies, it may become what makes the difference between understanding a customer and selling, and not understanding him/her and not selling. The difference between failure and success. 

In the example shown below – resulted from a Danish research carried out among a sample of consumers – we highlight the semantic network that is associated with a specific product, the whole milk yoghurt.  

This is literally “what is on that person’s mind”, his/her “semantic network”. And this is the concept that interests us, beyond yogurt. 

A belief is an idea about “how things work” that is accepted as being true or real. 

The semantic networks linked to the “traditional non-skimmed product” are far from a simple food evaluation. In fact, that product can evoke the “memory of the old days”, a sense of trust that comes from the possibility of having more energy to work hard, a sense of happiness and internal harmony – even though a dissonance between fat content and health can be noted. 

If we compare the previous map with that of a much more “problematic” product (e.g., a genetically modified yoghurt) we can understand how perceptual maps allow us to bring out product perceptions and semantic barriers. 

 

 

The genetically modified product is linked to fears, mistrust, a sense of immorality. “Organic”, psychological evaluative components – such as the dissonance between biological non-naturality and internal harmony -, social and cultural evaluations and the responsibilities for the well-being of humanity come to light: what is my contribution to this purchase? what values do I support? 

This choice cannot be related only to the product as “food”, but it takes on a connotation full of cultural, ethical and social values (what do I do while buying? Who do I finance? What are my values and theirs?). Our evaluation process does not depend on the economic value, but it is highly correlated with the symbolic value assumed by the purchase deed. A central topic related to beliefs listening is the awareness of the “active” semantic networks inside the client. Listening to beliefs is also essential to understand what motivates people. Both ordinary people and great champions formulate beliefs, which firstly become paradigms of truth, and after a time, their own reality. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Really important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. 

(Paulo Coelho) 

Cultural and professional backgrounds, combined with our personal history, our state of mind, our values, make us unique “systems”. 

Everyone is unique, a ‘sphere’ of meanings, energies, dreams, ambitions, tangible cells, and intangible thoughts. 

Listening means getting closer to that sphere. Deep listening means entering that sphere. 

The more you activate empathy, the more you enter the “core” of the person. 

Each person can be likened metaphorically to an energy field, a field of light, which at some time meets other energy fields, other fields of light, finding or not finding possibilities for exchange, osmosis, transmission of signals, or remaining distant, impermeable. 

 

“Eventually soulmates meet, for they have the same hiding place.” 

(Robert Brault) 

 

If I assume that we will magically understand each other, I will not be doing quality listening. Listening means being ready to approach worlds we do not know, and not just letting words in through our ears. 

We find ourselves in a world in which everyone is within their own ‘sphere’ – a set of thoughts, signals, words, values, – together referred to in the HPM method as the ‘Semiosphere’. Each of us lives in a ‘world’, in a sphere of words, concepts, ideologies and beliefs about the world and ourselves. Communication poses the challenge of passing messages between people from different backgrounds. Listening must always consider the possibility that the other person has a different culture from ours, even if it is only slightly different, which would imply the need to listen without preconceptions. Even the difference between a humanistic and a technical-engineering education can create a degree of incommunicability. Not understanding each other is more frequent than we think. 

 

Every day we go around in a crowd, we run here and there, we almost touch each other but, there is truly little contact. All those missed encounters. All those missed opportunities. It is disturbing when you think about it. Maybe it is better not to think about it at all. 

(Jonathan Coe) 

 

Every professional or family background offers you a world of words that you use daily, until those words become your world. This world becomes your daily sphere, your sphere of words, your sphere of relationships, your sphere of high or low, strong, or weak energies. 

At some moment, these spheres have occasion for contact, but the different backgrounds make understanding not automatic or obvious. 

When this moment of contact occurs, the two ‘spheres’ can repel each other ‘by the skin’, like two balls of equal magnetic charge repel each other.  

Attraction or repulsion occurs when archaic elements of the brain (archipallium) give us signals of displeasure or pleasantness, towards a face or smells that offer us signals of danger, or with signals that also come from body language, posture, smiles and facial expressions. If the signals are negative, they alert our alarm systems, they are certainly not conducive to listening, but if we know that they are being activated, we can go beyond those signals, listen, and perceive with greater awareness what is happening inside us. 

Listening to a person who disturbs us is something we avoid as much as possible and reduce to the bare minimum, and we notice this even between people who love each other but have had a fight. There is no less talking, there is less listening. 

Listening therefore means much more than hearing words, but observing movement, the body, gestures, facial expressions, objects, moods. 

Miraculously (but it is not a miracle, but the effect of well analysable human mechanisms) the opposite can also happen, a magnetic-like attraction, a human contact where we can find an understanding with someone, a way to share something between our spheres of meaning. And almost always, in this case, listening will become an extremely pleasant process. 

 

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter. 

(Winston Churchill)

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

From vocal stress to quality of pronunciation, to confidence and trustworthiness, to gait. Listening to the ‘whole’ 

Auditory listening comes through the vibrations of the vocal cords creating sounds, which we recognise as words. 

When we are stressed, e.g., by telling a lie, or dealing with a subject that is overly sensitive to us, the body unconsciously activates the attack-escape system (sympathetic nervous system) – increasing the readiness of the muscles to spring into action. The vocal cords do not escape, and their vibration goes from a state of relaxation to a more tremulous voice (micro tremors) which corresponds to a voice under stress. 

This is to say that while we are listening, not only do ‘grammatical’ words come in, but my processing of what I hear takes place, and a form of judgement or evaluation is triggered, not only of the content (ethical or moral evaluation), but also of the speaker’s skills, or his state of stress. If an Italian person quotes a word in English, e.g., Bed & Breakfast, based on how well he pronounces even single words in English, I will understand how familiar he is with that language, how much he has studied it, and even whether he has lived there for a long time. This is augmented perception. Someone who talks about sales and uses the word Sales literally, verbatim – is telling us, unintentionally, that they have extremely poor English and probably do not have the awareness to make a big impression on someone who knows the language well. 

 

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colours. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them. 

 (Markus Zusak) 

 

If while the person is speaking, we hear a vocal tremor, we are practicing advanced listening, listening to the components of vocal stress is an indicator of ongoing lies or emotional difficulties, we think the person is under stress.  

Not only that, but we also listen more than words if we phone a person in the morning, and we hear a low timbre of voice, so we go as far as to ask, “oh sorry, did you just wake up?” even if the person answering the phone does not mention it at all. We pick it up from the voice, from its qualities. Our mirror neurons allow us to identify and feel what we perceive. The thought of what might be happening takes shape in our mind, based on what might have happened to us on similar occasions. This is also an advanced and active listening dynamic. 

 

“The first step to understanding reality is to become aware of how it takes shape in our mind.”  

Stefano Nasetti 

 

But back to examples of content. If I talk about white fibres and red fibres (two different types of muscle fibres) 7, I assume that the other person understands me and has studied motor sciences or medicine or physiology. 

And not only that. The quality of the exposition will tell me a lot about his cultural status, and the calmness with which he expounds will help me to understand if it is the first time or one of the many he talks about, and therefore if he is an expert in the field or not (and this without the person having either said or officially announced it). 

And always looking at the ‘unspoken’, it is enough to see a person enter a bar or walk down the street and deduce from the type of walk, posture and body size and their proportions, a lot of data with respect to age, state of health, doing or not doing sports, and a lot of other information.  

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

A question of voice, words, and content 

During any human interaction, there are moments of rapprochement and estrangement between people. Listening, when well done, is certainly a moment of relational rapprochement. 

Words take on meaning only based on an agreement between the parties, otherwise they would just be empty sounds. The theory of the Coordinated Management of Meanings5 highlights precisely that the word with its set of shared meanings is the result of a work of coordination between the many possible meanings. For the listener, being reassured about the meaning of the primary words we are using is crucial. 

If an entire discourse, for example, revolves around the theme of Corporate Training, it is not a bad idea to actively ask “What is your conception of Corporate Training?” and compare it with your own. 

In this way we will know if there are any divergences of meaning (semantic divergences) that might hinder our understanding. 

 

To judge a man, one must at least know the secret of his thought, of his misfortunes, of his emotions. (Honoré de Balzac) 

 

There are distances, relational distances, no less important than physical distances. Listening is the most powerful mechanism we have for reducing relational distances between human beings. 

Incommunicability, on the other hand, is an enemy both of communication between people and of human mechanisms such as being friends, getting along, doing things together and having fun. It also affects relations in companies, between companies, between nations and even between whole cultures and global areas. 

I give a brief initial example of good listening skills, made, not by chance, by a friend who is also a psychotherapist and counsellor, to whom I tell by phone the joy of starting this book:  

  • Daniele “You know Lorenzo, it’s coming out really well, today I was in the library with all the windows open, crisp air, and I wrote really well, the book is starting to take shape, I can feel it flowing”. 
  • Lorenzo: “I’m glad to hear you are so lively”. 

As can be seen, the active listening of my colleague and friend Dr. Lorenzo Manfredini does not even concern himself with the content (he could have asked, for example, which chapter I was on), but “reflects” a very special kind of listening, that of my mood, perceived above all by the paralinguistic system (tone of voice, timbre, speed of speech, intonation), even more than by the words themselves (verbal component, the words I used). 

Intonation is one of the ‘prosodic elements’ of language. It  is composed of the tone and modulation of the voice during the articulation of a word or sentence. Prosody is the part of linguistics that studies the intonation, rhythm, duration, and accent of spoken language. Prosodic information, such as intonation, is full of meanings, for example, it tells us something about the health and fitness of the speaker, the energy in circulation, the mood. An example of augmented listening is listening to intonation: 

 

“The rising and falling tone or the use of a particular chant are ‘paralinguistic’ elements of communication, which add to the meaning conveyed by words. This level of communication can never be eliminated from vocal communication, not even from artificially produced communication, which in fact often appears mechanical to us precisely because of its ‘flat’ intonation. Paralinguistic communication mainly conveys information about the identity of the speaker (gender, geographical origin, etc.) and about the relationships that the sender intends to establish with the recipient (play, joke, command, question, etc.)”. 6   

 

And that is exactly what the friend did, connecting to the relationship of “sharing happiness” which was my primary communicative intent. 

Listening to the underlying communicative intent, and not just the words, is an example of listening beyond words, and augmented perception. 

This is to say that advanced active listening can enter our every moment, our every day, it requires skills, and it is not just about the words, but rather and above all about the communicative intent that a person expresses, usually doing so in a totally undeclared way. 

If we had been in a project in which this transmission of messages was connected to a deadline, the question could have been about what page I was on in relation to the deadline; the communicative intent could have been about a practical need to understand if we were late, and that would have been the appropriate question, but as this was not the case, a far superior, advanced, active listening competence emerged. 

 

“Speech belongs half to the speaker, half to the listener.”  

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne 

 

Whenever we listen deeply, in some way, we are connecting to the inner worlds of people, we are getting closer to the ‘core’ of the individual, to their ‘moods’, their personality, their history, and not just facts and figures. Then, and only then, can we begin to grasp its infinite nuances, and begin to understand it. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

The world of the listener and the world of the speaker are two different worlds

They are two different stories, they have different pasts, friends, relatives, different experiences, different bodies, different sensitivities. Active and empathic listening can perform the miracle of creating a bridge between these two worlds. 

Each of us has different mental images for every word that exists, even for the word ‘tree’, if we could create a drawing of it, 10 different trees would emerge out of 10 different people, ranging from palm trees to pines, with a great variety. Let alone when we talk about concepts like ‘love’ or ‘friendship’. 

 

Two people say ‘I love you’ to each other, or think it, and each means a different thing, a different life, even perhaps a different colour or a different aroma, in the abstract sum of impressions that constitutes the activity of the soul. 

(Fernando Pessoa) 

Imagine the difference between a senior basketball coach and a basketball player in his early twenties. There are huge differences, in age, in height, in physical performance, or in outlook on life.  

But if the player does not learn to listen, he will never get anything out of it, no juice, no teaching, and will remain at his level or maybe even get worse or not participate in the team game. 

There is something fundamental about listening, wanting to enter the world of the other, if only for your own interest. 

“If you listen and learn, you will win basketball games and, gentlemen, winning in here is the key to winning out there! ”  

Samuel L. Jackson – Ken Carter 

And for the coach, it’s no different. Listening to a complaint or a suggestion about a different position on the court to take, and understanding, can make the difference between a player who is comfortable on the court, and a player who quits the sport because he is forced into a role that is not his own, which for so long he has been trying to get the coach to understand. Listening, once again, is at the root of whole chains of events. 

 

“I hate man-marking, I’m a creative person, I like to create play, I’m not a puppet who has to stick to a guy and follow him even if he goes to the bathroom. If this continues, if the coach doesn’t stop putting me on man-to-man, I’ll quit football. I’ve told him 50 times, he doesn’t listen, he doesn’t understand, he hasn’t understood that I won’t be there next game. In fact, from now on, I’m not going to be a dummy.” (real testimony of a youth football player) 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Use of vocalisations that show interest in the “story” and simplify expression – e.g. guttural speech sounds and whispery voice such as “Uhm”, “Oh”. Giving a written report of these expressions is not possible, but if we listened to a person that “listens well”, we would notice that they make careful and particular use of paralanguage and sounds during essential parts of the speech. Paralinguistic techniques – together with visual non-verbal techniques – aim to provide phatic signals (contact signals), so that the interlocutor understands that we are listening, we are understanding and we are focused and interested. 

Non-verbal active listening techniques 

Non-verbal active listening techniques use body language to express interest: 

  • Open and leaning forward posture to express willingness; relaxed body posture; 
  • Proxemic (approaching and moving away): reducing the distance from the interlocutor during moments of great interest, moving away in moments of loosening; 
  •  Facial expression: vigilant, careful and caring – not doubtful, ironic or aggressive; 
  • Vigilant and direct gaze; 
  • Eyebrow movement combined with key points of the interlocutor’s speech; 
  • Nods – approval or rejection; 
  • Soft, slow and rolling gestures to communicate a feeling of relaxation and to encourage moving forward; 
  • Non-verbal metaphors: use of body language to show comprehension of what the interlocutor is saying. 

In terms of non-verbal level, it is important to consider that many cultures restrain non-verbal expression of emotions (e.g. Asian culture), but this is also a communicative stereotype – it has a probabilistic value and does not provide certainty. 

In short, the main techniques for effective listening are: 

  • curiosity and interest; 
  • paraphrase: the listener repeats what they understood (that does not mean agreeing with what the person is saying); 
  • summary and recap: rephrasing what the interlocutor said in order to gather information; 
  • targeted questions (conversational refocusing) in order to clarify unclear parts of the speech; 
  • avoiding personal questions until a solid relationship has been established; 
  • offering the speaker the opportunity to figure out whether what they understood is correct, accurate or, on the other side, twisted and incomplete; 
  • listening not only words, but also feelings and non-verbal signals in order to assess feeling and moods; 
  • checking for correct understanding of both feelings and content and not ignoring the latter; 
  • do not tell people how they should feel or what they should think (during the listening phase, it is essential to just draw information, without teaching or judging). 

One must not judge men as we judge a painting or a statue, to a first and unique look; there is an interiority and a soul that must be deepened. 

(Jean de La Bruyère) 

 

These attitudes are essential and they determine the quality of the listening phase. Yet, regarding business listening phases, they should not be confused with the goals of a whole negotiation (that includes listening and propositional phases and statements – which sometimes are harsh or assertive). 

During a negotiation, modifying what other people think (cognitive and persuasive restructuring) or how they feel (emotional action) is possible – this is one of the strategic goals –, but this goal can be pursued only once the negotiator has succeeded in actively listening, using empathy in order to understand the situation in which they are working. 

Listening is not only a technique, but it is also expression and connotation of a state of attraction and love – that can also be just an idea, not necessarily a person. Stopping listening means that something between that idea and us broke and we have to choose between mending that relationship by listening again, or letting it go forever. 

“Love ends when listening does.” 

Enrico Maria Secci

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

The Four Distances model tells us about a variegated set of variables that affect communication and make it of excellent quality, satisfying, constructive, or bad, destructive and miserable.

It is good to start the more in-depth exposition of the model with an overall picture, and then move on to the analysis of each single point and each single “Distance”.

  1. The basis of the model dates back to the simple acknowledgment that:
  2. Man uses words to express himself (or signs, or gestures).
  3. The word is the representative of an idea, of a concept. Since the person cannot transfer the direct experience of what he does or feels and experiences, he is forced to use the word, or gesture or sign, with all the limits that it entails.
  4. The concept or idea is formed following contact with some aspect of reality, external reality (things, objects) or internal reality (emotions, moods), the so-called external referents.
    Every single living person carries out this process with differences, slight or large, giving rise to an interpersonal communication that opens up to many misunderstandings and intercultural misunderstandings.

This is in summary the representation of a thought that dates back even to the famous “Essay on Human Intellect” by John Locke, a 17th century British philosopher and physician, pioneer of the studies on language and communication [1]. Locke, for example, distinguished:

Ideas of sensation, those that come from external experience, from sensations such as, for example, colors. The formation of these ideas takes place from external objects, from which data come that are imprinted on that blank slate that is our sensitivity.
Ideas of reflection concern the internal experience or reflection on the internal acts of our mind such as thinking, the birth of ideas, doubting, wanting, etc.
The overall model can be represented as follows:

Figure 9 – 4DM – 4 Distances Model – Model of the Four Distances

the four distances model of intercultural communication

 

In this model, the distinction between Hard and Soft variables does not have to do with common perception (Hard = solid, concrete, and Soft = light or less important), but with the very nature of a variable. Both hard and soft variables are absolutely important.

The difference lies in their greater or lesser tangibility. Values ​​are something intangible, but the resulting behaviors are very tangible – for example, the abstract value of ecology gives rise to the concrete behavior of recycling paper, plastic and glass, among other things, and not polluting, so don’t we confuse the fact of being intangible with an alleged minor importance of a variable.

In a person, the number of years (age) will be a hard datum, and a soft datum (but much more important) the personality type, or even the personality state with which the person is living.

In fact, at a certain moment, I can communicate with someone and find myself – as Transactional Analysis shows, in a state of Parental personality, or Adult State, or Child State, with various sub-categories and nuances. This will affect how I communicate, on every front, what I say, how I say it, what distances I place with the person I’m interacting with, and what attitudes I use.

The state of consciousness can be counted among the hard components, although it may seem intangible. In fact, the brain frequencies associated with each state of consciousness are a physical datum and are measurable, and the state of consciousness then produces behaviors and physiological states, even partially directly observable.

In the Science of Neuro-Associative Programming ™ (PNA) [2] the phenomenon of the connection between a mental state (let’s say relaxation, or the activation of positive emotions) with an external state or performance, such as communicating in public, is concretely realized , intercultural communication, negotiation, sales, training or sports performance.

The essential thing is to understand in which mental state the greatest well-being for the person and the best performance for her are produced at the same time.

In intercultural communication, returning to the Fischer scale, certainly better results are produced by associating relaxation and sensitivity to the communicative act, while at the same time avoiding the onset of anxiety or altered negative states of consciousness.

This also applies to doctor-patient communication and any professional communication, including helping relationships such as coaching, counseling, psychotherapy and training.

[1] Locke, John (1960) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. London, The Baffet.

The keywords of this article on Neuro-Associative Programming and Intercultural Communication are:

  • Analysis
  • Anxiety
  • Activation
  • Welllness
  • Wellbeing
  • Coaching
  • Active coaching
  • Experiential coaching
  • In-depth coaching
  • Scientific coaching
  • Behaviors
  • Behavior
  • To communicate
  • Communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Counseling
  • Creativity
  • Deep Coaching
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Training
  • Active training
  • Corporate training
  • Active corporate training
  • Management training
  • Brain frequencies
  • Fisher Map
  • Model of the four distances of communication
  • To negotiate
  • Public speaking
  • Neogotiation
  • Life coaching
  • sports coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Performance
  • Human potential
  • Mental programming
  • Neuro-associative programming
  • Neuroassociative programming
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation
  • Performance science
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • States of mind
  • States of consciousness
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • State of mind
  • State of consciousness
  • Values
  • Intangible values

To contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani


© Copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani, Studio Trevisani Consulting Training Coaching and Research, article extracted in editorial preview from the text “Neuro-Associative Programming™”, Franco Angeli publisher, Milan.

Bring out your own inner dialogue. Identity, State of Consciousness, Communication Situation (COMSIT) in Intercultural Communication

Communication implies an exchange of information and emotions. Reasoning about our identity asks us to shed light on our true nature, on our being. Transferring “who we are” to others is always difficult, as human complexity and the many roles and shades of personality that are part of us form a truly huge galaxy. We are atoms in an infinite aquarium of molecules, every now and then we try to stop and talk to each other, but we realize how difficult it is, both to stop and to talk to each other.

In intercultural communication it is very important to come to understand which part of our inner dialogue is emerging, which part we would like to share, and if “understanding deeply” is difficult, at least knowing is possible. This requires adequate exercises of focusing on the “multiple Selfs” that we carry within us. And how they communicate externally, that is, what part of us is emerging in intercultural communication. Is the “scientist” emerging, is the hero emerging, is the victim emerging, is the traveler or the researcher emerging? Which archetype guides me at a certain moment? And by which archetype is the other guided? This step is essential to know the possible D1, the role distances, and how these can impact intercultural communication.

“If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary.” Primo Levi

Lack of communication can prevent us from making others understand what we would like to do, how we feel, what we really are, and what we could be.

A great source of incommunicability occurs when we ourselves have not made a clear picture of us, first of all about ourselves, about our being, about the boundaries of our mental space and our role in the world. I may not be able to correctly transfer information also because I myself have a blurred, uncleared representation of my Self. The communication that will come out will certainly be the bearer of doses of incommunicability, at the start.

The whole problem of life is this: how to break one’s loneliness, how to communicate with others. Cesare Pavese

Targeted Introspection has a name in psychology, it means Focusing. Focusing (both in the variant of emotional focusing – shedding light on emotions, and in informative focusing – clarifying data and facts), allows us to clarify – first of all to ourselves – what we want to convey, what we feel is important to convey, and what we want to happen as a result of our communication (communicative effect or result).

The issue of incommunicability leads us to ask ourselves what the possible “common ground” is, what “you and I” potentially have to share, what common interests we have or could have, what we could talk about.

The following principle speaks of this:

Principle 5 – Focusing on one’s identity and multiple roles, State of Consciousness and COMSIT

Intercultural communication becomes positive and effective the more:

  • people have practiced “focusing” on their own identity;
  • people have practiced focusing on their multiple life roles;
  • people understand with what role it is good to communicate and are consistent in doing so, given the COMSIT (Communication Situation) they have to face;
  • the person experiences the intercultural relationship in a positive role and within a “cognitive space” of pleasure, in a positive neurophysiological state of consciousness, connected to relaxation, and appropriate to the situation;
  • the people or a person accept each other (one accepts the other) in the specific role they have decided to put in place and represent during the interaction;
  • people play the right role in relation to the ongoing COMSIT;
  • people are looking for a “Common Ground” or common ground of role, identity and project and the possible necessary relational glue.

Intercultural communication becomes difficult or ineffective when:

  • people have not practiced “focusing” on their identity and this acts in the background but without awareness;
    people have not practiced “focusing” on their multiple life roles and therefore do not know exactly which role to play or stage the wrong role;
  • people do not understand with which role it is good to communicate and are not consistent in doing so, given the COMSIT (Communication Situation) they have to face;
  • the person experiences intercultural interaction with a negative role, within a “cognitive space” of malaise and in a negative neurophysiological state of consciousness dominated by anxiety and / or altered with respect to the situation;
  • people or a person do not accept each other (or one does not accept the other) in the specific role they have decided to put in place and represent during the interaction;
  • people play the wrong role in relation to the ongoing COMSIT;
  • people do not look for a “Common Ground” or common ground of role, identity and project, and they do not actively nourish the possible relational glue.

The map of our states of consciousness and altered states of consciousness is useful, as well as for well-being, to improve our communication

The Fisher Scale, or map of states of consciousness, highlights the position of any person, in the mental continuum between agitation and relaxation, up to the extremes of deep meditation (on the right) and hysteria (on the left), passing through states such as daily perception, anxiety, creativity and others.

It is a very important tool to understand where we are when we communicate interculturally

Figure 5 – Fisher’s map (map of states of consciousness) [1]

Varieties-of-conscious-states-mapped-on-a-perception-hallucination-continuum

Each position along the scale corresponds to a precise, scientifically measurable brain frequency.

Varieties of conscious states mapped on a perception-hallucination continuum of increasing ergotropic arousal (left) and a perception-meditation continuum of increasing trophotropic arousal (right). These levels of hyper-and hypoarousal are interpreted by man as normal, creative, psychotic, and ecstatic states (left) and Zazen and samadhi (right). The loop connecting ecstasy and samadhi represents the rebound from ecstasy to samadhi, which is observed in response to intense ergotropic excitation. The numbers 35 to 7 on the perception-hallucination continuum are Goldstein’s coefficient of variation (46), specifying the decrease in variability of the EEG amplitude with increasing ergotropic arousal. The numbers 26 to 4 on the perception-meditation continuum, on the other hand, refer to those beta, alpha, and theta EEG waves (measured in hertz) that predominate during, but are not specific to, these states. Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324877864_The_Fractal_Limit_of_Human_Thought/figures?lo=1)

Anchoring the state of mind on the Fisher Scale

The work of Neuro-Associative Programming ™ consists precisely in anchoring a state of mind to a task or performance that we want to carry out in the best possible state. In this case, communicating interculturally will be more effective if done in conditions of relaxation rather than in a state of anxiety or agitation.

As I highlighted in the text “Psychology of Freedom” [2], Fisher in this pioneering work warns us: we are increasingly bombarded with information, but in some contexts, further increases risk saturation: further increases in the content of the data can not finding adequate correspondence in an adequate processing rate of these data.

In other words, when the input information is so many, so many that our ability to process them all progressively decreases, we risk slipping towards schizophrenic states [3]. This had been highlighted in the 70s, let alone now with the increase of channels and social media available.

The fact becomes even more complicated when, in addition to elaborating “normal” communication flows, intercultural differences are introduced to complicate everything.

From the scale it is clear that for daily health, every significant piece of life spent in a state of “agitation” or nervousness, should be accompanied by a state of recovery, tranquility and meditation. Definitely after, but even earlier in some cases as a moment of mental preparation (eg, preparation for a competition or an exam, or a strong intercultural negotiation).

The Fisher scale and its many possible teachings are becoming a factor of personal health. We should all know it, at least to make a daily mapping of how we are and readjust the game on the life situations in which we are.

But of this, we do not speak.

On the other hand, it is very easy to meet horoscopes of all kinds on national and public TVs.

Another indicator that our Semiosphere is full of filth and poor in meaning and knowledge that we would really need.

Our personal power lies in picking up the contents of our personal Semiosphere, working it, putting into it what is useful, throwing out the useless. It is time to fight, it is time to fight for these concepts, for us and for all the people we care about, and for a freer and cleaner humanity, and more capable of meeting different cultures without panicking.

____

[1] Roland Fischer (1971), A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States. In Science, Vol 174 Num 4012 26 November 1971.

[2] See bibliography

[3] From the original text “further increase in data content may not be matched by a corresponding increase in the rate of data processing”

© Copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani, Studio Trevisani Consulting Coach Training and Research, article extracted in editorial preview from the text “Neuro-Associative Programming ™”, Franco Angeli publisher, Milan

Keywords of the article on Neuro-Associative Programming and Communication

  • Analysis
  • Anxiety
  • Activation
  • Welfare
  • Coaching
  • Active coaching
  • Experiential coaching
  • In-depth coaching
  • Scientific coaching
  • Behaviors
  • Behavior
  • To communicate
  • Communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Counseling
  • Creativity
  • Deep Coaching
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Training
  • Active training
  • Corporate training
  • Active corporate training
  • Management training
  • Brain frequencies
  • Fisher Map
  • Model of the four distances of communication
  • To negotiate
  • Performance
  • Human potential
  • Mental programming
  • Neuro-associative programming
  • Neuroassociative programming
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation
  • Performance science
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • States of mind
  • States of consciousness
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • State of mind
  • State of consciousness
  • Values
  • Intangible values

 

To contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani

Copyright by Dr. Daniele Trevisani. Article extracted with author’s permission from the book “Ascolto attivo ed Empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace” (translated title: “Active Listening and Empathy: The Secretes of Effective Communication”. The book’s rights are on sale in any language. Please contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani for information at the website www.danieletrevisani.com

Paths to empathic listening

It is one thing to know the right path, another to take it. 

Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) 

from the movie “Matrix” by Andy Wachowski 

We all know that listening is important, but few do it, and of those few, even fewer are those trained in empathy, which means “trained” to technically develop empathy and empathic listening. Sometimes it takes knowing how to do it methodically, and not just by natural aptitude. 

If you happen to have a person “feeling you by the skin of their teeth,” and you “feel by the skin of your teeth” that they are understanding, you are experiencing a moment of listening beyond words. Magical moments. Listening is absolutely beyond words. Listening is everything that enters us and to which we attribute meaning. Listening then, becomes perception, and it can become “heightened perception” if we enhance it. We can even come to understand more about a person than he understands about himself, because listening, practiced from the outside, is able to grasp elements that a person constantly experiences, but of which he is not aware.  

It’s like walking around all your life with a sign behind your back. Everyone sees it but you. Personality is like that sign. 

Equally hidden are the deeper beliefs. For those peripheral ones, preferences, what you like or dislike, can be picked up from details, with a simple observation of the raising of your nose muscles (as when you smell something unwelcome), and are rarely verbalized in public. Yet, careful nonverbal listening will pick them up.  

When we observe all of this and not just the words, we are practicing “listening beyond the words,” augmented perception. 

Augmented perception means “knowing how to read people“, knowing how to pick up on signals, words, unspoken phrases, gestures, symbols, hints. 

He knew how to listen, and he knew how to read.  

Not books, they are all good, he knew how to read people. 

 (Alessandro Baricco) 

Augmented perception can even go so far as to enhance the sensory systems themselves, making a trained person able to listen for changes in vocal stress (lie or embarrassment signalling), something that typically only specific software can do.  

Augmented perception can lead you to pick up on facial micro-expressions lasting less than 1/10th of a second, so brief, yet so significant, such as the raising of an eyebrow muscle, or a lip muscle, an indicator of interest, or surprise, or alarm. And there is no doubt that when we are sharper in grasping, in perceiving, in listening, we become different people, ourselves. We change within. 

Listening can then be defined as “empathic” when we have really managed to “get inside a person’s head”, understand how they think, understand how they reason, grasp the nuances of their thinking, and understand why they think the way they do, “from inside” their belief system, convictions and emotions.  

This concerns not only simple matters, but also something that seems very strange to us, something arcane that with empathic listening we can understand, because we have managed to grasp the internal logic that the person is using. 

Listening is one of the phases of a “conversation”, of a dialogue, of a relationship. Often, it is the most important. And the most neglected. Listening is an act of gift, understanding a person is a form of gift, and it can turn into a strategic act (for example, in a negotiation) but basically and in daily life, it can be considered a great gift. 

I call religious the one who understands the suffering of others. 

 (Mahatma Gandhi) 

Listening is absolutely not limited to wanting to understand the suffering of others (a theme that touches on psychotherapy, counselling, and helping relationships), but can also enter into increasing the performance of athletes, athletes, managers, businesses and teams, when listening is used as a primary weapon in good performance coaching. 

Empathy, then, also becomes a powerful weapon for overcoming the biggest challenges in our lives, or those of a client. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Copyright by Dr. Daniele Trevisani. Article extracted with author’s permission from the book “Ascolto attivo ed Empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace” (translated title: “Active Listening and Empathy: The Secretes of Effective Communication”. The book’s rights are on sale in any language. Please contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani for information at the website www.danieletrevisani.com

From pressing towards being persuasive to rediscovering quality listening

In our society, we live a sort of “pressing” towards being hyper-communicative and persuasive, quick-quick-wins, but never towards listening. This bias remains strong and pulsating. The time to slow down in order to reason, reflect, the time needed to generate quality and not just quantity, disappears. Yet paradoxically, even in companies – where quality is rightly idolized and rewarded – despite this, people among themselves never really and thoroughly listen to each other, sometimes even in a meeting. Not to mention conversations between bosses and employees.

We are all invited to “speak well,” to be “great communicators”, but less so to “listen well.” Listening also includes “listening to things”. Bridges talk, ships talk, cars talk, if only you know how to listen to their languages, if only you know where and what to watch for, if only you walk by with an eye, ear, and hands trained to catch emergencies, dissonances, and problems.

And if you feel like it.

– Listen to the ship.

– What’s there to listen to?

– Just listen to it.

from the movie “Pandorum – The Parallel Universe”.

We are pushed to be incisive, for example to pass a job interview, or in a public speaking course where we study the mechanisms to get an applause, or in advertising, the strategies to communicate to targets and persuade. But it is always a “one-way” communication. It is never true listening.

Listening is a holistic process. You can listen to a person, you can listen to a waterfall, you can listen to a river. And that has to do with fundamental issues like safety. Never, ever, would anyone think of “listening to a bridge,” or a ship, or an airplane.

The other side of the communication coin, knowing how to listen, how to perceive, has disappeared. Incorporated by a world that “goes too fast” to afford the luxury of stopping to listen. Yet, without listening, we die. You don’t pick up on danger signals, you don’t grasp the nature of subtle messages.

Before it dies or gives way, a structure gives many signals, the case of the 300-meter viaduct that fell in Genoa[1] being an example.

During a period of my life of some years, when I was in charge of coaching Cruise Ship Commanders, with 5,000 people on board, and a staggering burden of responsibility on my back, I used to make the commanders and vice-commanders perform a special exercise, I used to say “Now lie down on the ground and listen to the ship“. “Close your eyes. Listen to the ship.” At first they were stunned, but then after a few minutes an enormous number of signals emerged, the perception became more acute, from the known vibrations to those they had never heard, from the noise of a pump they had never heard (yet it had always been there), to the ability to do a “holistic listening” of the ship, roll, pitch, including the men, the crews, their real conversations and emotional states in manoeuvre.

The “listening to the machine” part is called in my method “Structural Listening”, the “human” part is called “Listening to Emotional Climates, or “Listening to Emotional Aquariums” when applied to Team Leadership situations.

It is time to give dignity and method back to the “hidden part of communication” that is precisely listening, whether it is actively listening to a structure, or empathically to a family member, a worker, a supplier, or a client, or to better understand the data of a work project, to better connect to the emotions of others, to understand one’s own crew and team and understand in what emotional condition they are in, to know how to intervene when necessary.

[1] Date of occurrence: 14-08-2018

_________

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.