“If we want them to understand change, we need to speak their language”

pcm Sep 05, 2017

Successful businesses are built with effective communicators - not just top down to ensure the strategy and values are known, or bottom up to ensure low-level concerns are shared to the senior leadership team, but everywhere.  

One of the most important times to ensure communications are effective is during any change programme. Primarily because change involves uncertainty which often leads to fear. Change is also hard for leaders because followers have to perceive twice the benefit before they will even consider the proposal!

If the resistance to change is about fear and a perceived threat, we need to understand the negative perceptions so we can minimise the fear, and harness the positive perceptions to facilitate recognition of the benefits. Research shows that everyone has a preferred perceptual frame of reference through which we interact with the world. We also have a preferred psychological need; this underpins our motivation. These perceptions and needs provide a verbal and non-verbal language which we use to communicate. Consequently, we need to choose the most effective ‘language’, because how we say something (process) is often more important than what we say (content). Get it wrong and miscommunication and conflict occurs.

Using process isn’t as hard as you might think because the ‘preferred language’ of others is observable through words, gestures, facial expressions, tones and posture, along with how they respond when in distress. These distress behaviours are easily recognised and using the unique responses for each perception, we can quickly reduce distress. This process becomes easier when the personality structure of the other party is known via a personal profile.

 Crucially, the Process Communication Model is not about pigeon-holing: it is about communicating in the preferred language of the listener. When this is not achieved, the listener is likely to misinterpret our message which makes change much harder to achieve.

If you'd like to know more about PCM, an award-winning communication and behavioural tool used for nearly 20 years by NASA and now used in business, healthcare and education to improve performance, patient safety and the bottom line, you can get in touch

Human in the System is niche consultancy focussing on human performance and non-technical skills development. We are the only company in the UK licensed for the GemaSim computer-based simulation and one of a few UK-based trainers certified to train in the Process Communication Model, a model used by NASA for nearly 20 years as part of the astronaut selection programme.

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