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Corporate Commentary

Connection Before Content: How The Process Communication Model Can Help Your Team Thrive

Jeff King

Every day, we experience crucial second-by-second interactions with colleagues, clients, associates, and partners. These encounters can lead to increased productivity and effectiveness, or conversely, they can become disruptive and counterproductive to your business.

The key to experiencing more of the former is through an organization-wide understanding of individual communication styles. In doing so, the likelihood of your message resonating with a colleague increases exponentially.

As leaders, we’re often focused on simply delivering the intended message itself, with the hopes of garnering a specific result. But before communicating this message, it is equally as important to establish a connection through a person’s individual ‘language’ to ensure the message resonates.

The Process Communication Model (PCM) is an essential tool which helps facilitate these interactions, making them more fruitful and less stressful for staff at all levels. Created by developmental psychologist Dr. Taibi Kahler, PCM has been used by leaders around the world, including former President Bill Clinton, who tapped Dr. Kahler as an advisor during his presidential campaign.

“Taibi Kahler is a genius,” President Clinton once remarked. “He knows more about personality dynamics than anyone I know in the world.”

The workplace is full of a diverse personalities and communication styles. When you and your team can assess these styles on the fly, and subsequently use this understanding to connect with one another, the result is a mutually beneficial interaction for all parties.

PCM characterizes each personality through six mutually exclusive behavior types: Thinker, Promoter, Harmonizer, Imaginer, Rebel and Persister. Within these are six different ‘languages’ that are unique to each personality. By understanding the varying types’ language tendencies, we can assess the typical communication style of an individual and better approach our interactions with that person as a result. Examples of these language styles are as follows:

Thoughts (Thinker)

“I think…”

“What are our options…”

“Does that mean…”

“Who…”

“What…”

“When…”

“Where…”

“Why…”

Opinions (Promoter)

“In my opinion…”

“We should…”

“I believe…”

“…respect”

“…values”

“…admiration”

“…dedication”

“…trust”

Emotions (Harmonizer)

“I feel…”

“I’m comfortable with…”

“I care…”

“I love…”

“…happy”

“…sad”

Inaction (Imaginer)

“Need time to reflect…”

“Wait for more direction…”

“Hold back…”

“Easy pace…”

“Need space…”

“Don’t want to rock the boat…”

“Not sure…”

Reaction (Rebel)

“Wow…”

“I don’t like…”

“I hate….”

“I don’t want…”

“That sounds fun…”

“That sounds lame…”

Action (Persister)

“Bottom line…”

“Give it your best shot…”

“Make it happen”

“Go for it.”

“Enough talk….”

For example, if someone innately gravitates toward the language of thoughts, to ensure a positive and productive interaction with that individual, you would utilize thought-geared language when approaching them.

When dealing with conflict both in and out of the workplace, it’s important to note that such issues typically begin in the initial few seconds of interactions, and only worsen as the miscommunication continues. When someone approaches an interaction through the language of thoughts, and the person with whom they are interacting responds through the language of emotions, conflict is almost inevitable. This can be resolved only when miscommunication has been identified and then altered accordingly.

If a sales team is unable to assess, connect, and motivate potential customers in their language, they will not be able to sell – simply because they are unable to connect. But regardless of industry, teams must understand each other’s language to avoid systemic patterns of conflict and disengagement.

We’ve all encountered colleagues who cannot seem to get along with other staff. In fact, 90 percent of the time, this pattern is perpetuated because neither party will change the way they communicate in an effort to better connect.

A rule we all follow at MUSE School and MUSE Global is this: communication is always about the other person – it’s about “you,” and never about “me.” If all interactions are focused on the other individual, then the communicator will always be inclined to connect first and address topic second. We train all of our leadership, educators and staff members in the PCM method at MUSE, which empowers our teams to not only communicate more effectively with one another, but also in their daily interactions with students.

It is imperative as a leader to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. By focusing first on the other person and identifying their unique personality type and language tendencies, your professional life will flourish.


Written by Jeff King, CEO, MUSE Global. Have you read?

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Jeff King
Jeff King, CEO, MUSE Global, an international child-centered educational system offering effective, innovative and passion-based learning experiences within a plant-based, sustainable environment. Jeff King is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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