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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Communication: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34 -- Theme Thursday Season 5


Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Communication talent theme -- helping you unlock the power of truly understanding yourself through how you get things done, influence others, connect with people and think critically -- on this Theme Thursday Season 5 webcast.


NEW for Season 5: Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above. 

Jim Collison  0:00 
Hi, I'm Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on July 25, 2019.


Jim Collison  0:21 
Theme Thursday is Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths theme, one theme at a time, and today's theme is Communication. If you're listening live, we'd love to have your questions in the chat room, or, if you're listening to the recorded version, you can always send us an email coaching@gallup.com. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here at Gallup. Maika, welcome back to another Theme Thursday.


Maika Leibbrandt  0:42 
Thanks, Jim. And welcome. Thank you for being here. It is one of the best themes that we're talking about today, one that both Jim and I share as dominant themes. Today we're talking about the theme of Communication. Now whether or not you have Communication as part of your dominant themes, this podcast is for you -- will speak to to you if you have this as a dominant theme. But chances are you've interacted with or maybe care about someone with Communication. If it's part of your dominant themes, that means it always describes you -- those themes that you probably naturally do very well, because they describe the things that you cannot help but do. And the entire idea around looking at your CliftonStrengths 34 profile is to understand those themes at the top, how they play around with each other, and how you can lean more into them more, lean into them more intentionally.


Jim Collison  1:28 
We say one of the best themes because we're heavily biased, right? We say that kind of tongue-in-cheek; you can send us an email and be like, I don't think so. But what does it -- as we focus on this for everybody, what does it mean to have Communication as one of my top talent themes?


Maika Leibbrandt  1:40 
It means that you have a way with words, maybe it means that you can sneak in tongue-in-cheek and wonder if people get it. If you have Communication really high, it means you very likely think out loud, and are rather effective at being understood while you're thinking out loud.


Jim Collison  1:56 
Now, you still listen as well, you still do listen, I think that's a misnomer in a lot of cases. But how might people with this dominant Communication theme notice this in their life? What would they be looking for?


Maika Leibbrandt  2:06 
I think about times when somebody has told you, Yes, that's exactly what I meant. I just didn't have the words. People with high Communication find ease and speed at putting thoughts into words. And it might not just be their thoughts, it might be what other people are trying to spit out. People with high Communication can almost compute really quickly from from a thought into into words, words for for Communication are where you find clarity. Maybe you, when you're really frustrated, or a little bit confused, you either talk it out, or you write it out and you find clarity. You might also notice in your life, that you're a bit of a storyteller, or maybe even a story collector, that you're drawn to the idea of story. You might have a drive or a care to be understood, meaning that that might be your goal. And that you also notice when you're misunderstood and really can't let it go, you have to try again, to clarify really what it was that you meant. You might also realize that your own ideas escape through your words, as stories or characters, sometimes before you even have an opportunity to script them.


Jim Collison  3:16 
Maika, you said something in there, I think I'll add this in on the Communication. But as I'm talking to people, I'm reading their body language. So right now as you and I are doing this, I'm watching your eyes to see if what I'm saying is landing with you or do you have questions. And it's it's I think it's one of those things that Communication people do naturally -- we just look at, Is what I'm saying landing? Is it -- is it making a difference? We'll do this in big groups as well, right? It's one of those kinds of things where we think about, people don't realize when they're sitting in big groups of people, the speaker can see them more than they see the speaker. Oftentimes, we think we're hidden in a big group when a speaker can see it all -- I am reading or I think people with high in Communication are reading groups very, very quickly and can tell -- Is what I'm saying or what I'm trying to communicate landing? There are as we think about some of the in the new 34 report that we have, there is this idea of blind spots in communication, just like anything else, even though we don't think it does, has these blind spots. When we think about that, what can hold us back or what could hinder some of that excellence?


Maika Leibbrandt  4:21 
Yeah, and I think that the very nature of talent means that sometimes that talent can be just so powerful that it it can be less great than it than if it was filtered a little bit more. So when we talk about blind spots, it's not just this, this diagnosis that if you have Communication, here's how you're going to fail. Nobody's guaranteed to ever really experience these blind spots. But it is our responsibility to understand how does this big, massive, high-octane talent show up in the world? And how can we hone it, refine it and make it even more powerful? For people with with high Command, talking is probably something you do very well. Or I would say, putting ideas into words, because it could also be writing, it doesn't necessarily have to be typing -- it usually is both, but it doesn't have to be. You'll probably experience success and be asked to do more. But world-class Communication includes listening really, really well, too. So don't let your success in talking hold you back from being even better at listening.


Maika Leibbrandt  5:21 
So I think that comes down to realizing there are some skills involved with Communication, it's not all talent. You can invest in it more purposefully, by thinking about the skill of learning, really calibrating your ear. So learn to listen by forcing yourself to, even if you have to. You might even just say hey, in this meeting, instead of jumping in, I'm going to filter my response and write down a better question that I want to say instead of offering just the observation in a really pithy way that'll stick with people. I would also say, there's this levels of listening that we study when we study coaching or or other sort of listening as an art. And it's being able to hear what is being said, what is being not verbalized. So some of those those nonverbal cues, and also what's being left out. And so I think one of the ways that Communication could get in its own way, is that it's already so good at something so many people want to be good at that you could just not go any farther. And so in and you can maybe could say that for all the themes. If you really want to get to world-class, it's about taking stock for how important it also is to listen. I would also say there's a certain speed with which people with high Communication can respond. Don't discount other people's reactions, if they take longer to jump in and share. So don't take it as criticism, don't take it as people not as the message not landing. But realize that most people take longer to sort out their thoughts and put them into words than you do. So learn to look for those nonverbal cues that someone might be needing time to process. Then think about asking really great questions, that's going to be something that is an extension of your Communication. And we know at Gallup that great, well-researched, thoughtful questions help you truly get to the art of an answer better than just more questions.


Jim Collison  7:17 
Maika, that's such great advice. I've gone into some meetings, intentionally saying I'm not gonna say anything until I'm asked. Like, it's one of those things, I'm just gonna I'm gonna wait. It actually -- the groups that know me, it freaks them out a little bit, because I'm not talking. And they'll be like, OK, what are you thinking? I get, they'll, they'll read my body language. And I'll be intentionally holding back, right? I'm like, No, I want to listen. And they will catch on to that. And so when we think about how Communication plays well, in teams, let's talk a little bit about that team dynamic.


Maika Leibbrandt  7:47 
Sure. So Communication is an influencing theme. And as with most influencing themes, it really thrives when it has an audience. I don't mean audience to be like a one-way sort of someone to receive their message. But Communication does best when there are people to impact, people to work with. As part of a team, Communication can absorb what is being considered by the team, or shared by the team and really accelerate it by putting it into words, either for the team or for the team stakeholders. So you might think about Communication as bringing understanding through messaging. I'm careful to even use that word messaging because I don't want you to misunderstand me -- see a little Communication here? I don't want you to hear the word "messaging" and think "manipulation." Because that's not what I mean. But I do mean that idea of, How do I describe exactly what's trying to be said, in the most elegant -- eloquent way possible? You know, maybe on the team, they are the question-asker, maybe they're the slogan writer, maybe they are the spokesperson who really represents that team in a great way. So let's look even deeper into those influencing themes. I'm going to compare and contrast a few themes. First is Communication and Command. So Communication might say, "My ease with words captures people's attention." Command might say, "My direct clarity of decisions tunes people in to my opinion." Communication might literally say these words, "I think what we're all saying is ..." whereas Command might say, "So here's what we need to do." Communication and Woo. Communication loves the challenge of putting thoughts into words, and words make other people feel heard. Woo loves the challenge of making a connection, and charisma is what they use to make other people feel seen. In partnership, Communication can draw out what's being said and what's being unsaid, or maybe not said very well. Communication can ask questions that really get to the heart of a story. Communication can amplify their partner's message, can notice stories and can tell them so that ideas that are really important, truly stick.


Jim Collison  10:10 
Maika, do you think Communication can sense when others are not communicating or are not being heard, they can kind of sort to that and say, "Hey, I know you're saying something, but I'm going to repeat it back because I don't think everybody's hearing it, or give you the ability to to say that again." Is it? Can it amplify someone else's message as well?


Maika Leibbrandt  10:31 
It can is the answer there. I think the drive to Communication is not so much the good of the whole. It's the "being understood" piece. So if you're talking about somebody noticing somebody who isn't being heard, I almost want to say that might probably come from more of a relationship building theme, or from knowing that, hey, this is an important stakeholder. And that might be that exercise of directing your Communication. I wouldn't count on someone to make sure everybody has a voice simply because they had Communication. What I might do is position somebody with Communication alongside people who struggle to be heard.


Jim Collison  11:14 
OK, good, good clarification on that. That's actually just for me, that didn't even come from the chat room.


Maika Leibbrandt  11:18 
Really?


Jim Collison  11:21 
Super good. I was just kind of wondering if it was possible. Any clues or advice on? This seems redundant, but any advice on communicating with Communication?


Maika Leibbrandt  11:28 
I wrote this question just so you would have to say it. Kind of like when I tripped over the word "eloquent." It's a podcast full of irony. What did you say? How do we communicate with Communication?


Jim Collison  11:39 
Yeah, includes her advice on communicating well with Communication.


Maika Leibbrandt  11:43 
Give them time to work things out with words. I would say also, one of the challenges for high Communication is, typically everybody hangs on your every word because it sounds good. But one of the tips that I would give people for communicating with Communication is to forgive that person if it sounds like they're going back and forth on something. Even eloquent rambling is still rambling. So I think it's, it's worth giving that person the time to say, Hey, let's talk through this. Let me play back what I'm hearing; is that what you're saying? Or even after you've talked through an idea, say, Hey, what do you think now, now that you've had a chance to really sort through this out loud? I'm sure I've said this in a previous podcast, but my very first coach at Gallup, Kristen, described Communication to me this way. She said, It's like, I've got a million thoughts in my head. And they're all in a language I don't understand until I filter them through my mouth and actually say them out loud. That translation piece happens when you turn ideas into words. So it might be that you just need to sort through something out loud. And there might be a few iterations before it really gets to the essence of what you mean.


Jim Collison  12:54 
And how might I inspire and motivate somebody with Communication?


Maika Leibbrandt  12:58 
Use them when you need words. They don't need to own the situation or own the solution. It can be an honor for someone with high Communication to be asked to offer ways of saying something, or Hey, if you're if you're struggling to get through to somebody, again, it's an influencing theme. They can help you do that. Say, Hey, what questions do I need to ask this person? Or what do you think the message is that I'm really trying to say? Basically, pull their art in and help them help them craft what it is you're trying to mold. I would also say, give them time spent communicating. Maybe that's becoming a pen pal, or going out for a dedicated meal, or just having coffee. Jim, you and I have high Communication, and one of my very favorite parts of my entire week is the 30 minutes that we get to spend where we're supposed to be testing out our technology right before our podcast, where it is dedicated time just to communicate with each other. Now, you're pretty forgiving of me, and I think sometimes I'll say things out loud, just to sort through them. Because I know you're a safe space to try -- Hey, how does that sound? Is that really what I mean? Time spent communicating is huge. You don't need to have a problem in order to have a conversation. I would also say, give them an audience, and how you can help someone with Communication understand who's listening. That's that's a great amplification of their talent. So talk about the customers, talk about the clients, talk about the followers and help them really get in tune with with who is picking up their message.


Jim Collison  14:25 
I want to go back and rewind what you said there, you don't need a problem to have a conversation. I think that's a really important one to stick with. But how would -- How can people practice this every day?


Maika Leibbrandt  14:36 
Well, in a meeting, find a great way to take notes. Don't just list your tasks, don't just list what's being said, but maybe include how you're feeling or even pin down great questions that other people are asking in that meeting, or ways that you said something that other people reacted to. Pay attention to that. In coaching, we're taught to ignore nothing. I think that's really important as a way to practice Communication. Pay attention to more than just the words. Another -- and I wrote this piece of advice in three words on purpose. So again, the question is, what can people with high Communication do to practice this talent every day? Write shorter emails -- just say what you want to say, and then make it shorter. Or I love this quote from Coco Chanel: "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." It's that idea that maybe you could make editing a habit, whether that's actual editing as as an art and a profession, or really just thinking about what is the essence of what I want to say here?


Jim Collison  15:41 
So speaking of practice, we've been doing these exercises as part of this series this year for Season 5. Walk us through that exercise, and if you're driving, you may want to put this on pause and get back to it after you're done driving. But let's walk us through that.


Maika Leibbrandt  15:55 
Yeah, sure. You know, I'm really this is less of a guided meditation and more of just a dedicated reflection. So it's not meant to be something that alters the course of the rest of your day. And it shouldn't take too much of your energy, but it's meant to be consumed, I think separately and differently than the rest of our Theme Thursday information is, and it's just amplifying the opportunity, saying we're already here, we're already talking about talent. Let's focus on our own talent very purposefully, every single week. So we're going to call this talent-mindfulness, you can always follow us and interact with us #talentmindfulness on social media, or follow me @strengthstalk on Instagram. This is for anyone, regardless of where Communication falls in your profile. Today is a creative reflection. So you can either do this in your head or at a computer -- wherever you are more comfortable. If you're going to participate by actually typing at a computer, I invite you to open up a blank word processing application right now. If you are doing it in your head, I want you to imagine a word processing application. So let's start with just one deep breath ...


Maika Leibbrandt  17:04 
All right, I'm going to challenge you over the next 3 to 5 minutes. Five minutes from now, you will leave this short headspace, having written, edited and kind of finalized something. So you're going to do a bit of work, get comfortable, get out your wiggles; be here. Imagine that you're typing and you only have one line to use. You must be able to read the font size without straining. This is your canvas -- this one line. And in this one line, in your mind or at a computer, type the answer to this question. I'm gonna ask it several times. So first, I just want your first attempt. Here's the question. What are you great at? Go ahead. If you're really at a computer, type it; if you're not, type it in your mind. ...


Maika Leibbrandt  18:01 
Use the full width of the page, one full line: What are you great at? ...


Maika Leibbrandt  18:15 
If you're struggling, that's OK, we're going to edit a bit to get down to a polished few words. So to help you narrow it down, I'm going to ask you a series of harder questions that help you answer, What are you great at? What do you usually do faster and better than other people? What do your partners tend to ask you for? What has someone else appreciated about you that you thought was just no big deal? Now let's go back to to your computer screen either in your mind or an actual computer screen. Answer the question, What are you great at? in half as many words as you did before. So now you still get one line, but you only get half the width of your paper. ...


Maika Leibbrandt  19:26 
If you're comfortable -- this is a habit I used when I was a journalist, say what you're typing out loud. What are you great at? What are you great at? Now I want you to click "Save" in your brain. This is true. This is something you want to know about yourself and share through contribution with other people. Often we think, gosh, what's next after Name it. Claim it. Aim it.? When we're talking about CliftonStrengths in that coaching journey, as if those are easy steps. But as you probably just realized, naming what you're great at and then editing it to what's really true, what's the essence and what's unique -- that can be hard work. So thank you for starting that hard work today. That's the end of our talent-mindfulness for Communication.


Jim Collison  20:34 
Super great. If you're in the live show, put those answers, if you're comfortable, put those answers in the chat room. We'd love to hear about those as well. If you're listening to the recorded version, you can always come out and join us live. We'd love to have you do that as we work through the rest of these themes this year. If you want to see a list of all of our events that are coming up live via phone, to join us, gallup.eventbrite.com. Maika, anything else you would add before we go?


Maika Leibbrandt  20:57 
Oh, just that I'm thankful for your Communication. Jim. I think both of our Communication shows up in different ways, which is strange, considering it's all wrapped up in Woo and Positivity as well. But I'm certainly thankful for it and I know our community is, too.


Jim Collison  21:10 
Likewise, Maika, I got the privilege yesterday, I was coming up with the synopses for Season 1. And I thought, you know, I wonder if Curt had said anything that would -- during that season. And I went back and listened to the very first episode of Theme Thursday that we did, so Activator is what it was, and Curt and a guest and Jeremy, and Curt said this beautiful line that's going to make its way into the synopses. And I felt privileged to be able to communicate his Communication going forward and being able to kind of carry on that legacy of Theme Thursday, being able to use that talent to take what Curt did and now that you get to carry on with me in this. And who would have thought back on September 15 (I just made that date up), 2014 that we would be doing these things, 5 seasons and in being able to use our Communication talent to hopefully influence and change the world.


Jim Collison  22:03 
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center, just gallupstrengthscenter.com. Send us your questions or comments, you can send those to us in an email, put them in the chat room or send us an email coaching@gallup.com. You can also catch the recorded audio and video of this program as well as all the past ones on our Coaches Blog, coaching.gallup.com. And if you want to join in the conversation, you can follow Maika @strengthstalk on Instagram. Find us on Facebook facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach. I want to thank everybody for joining us today. We'll do this again next week. With that, we'll say, Goodbye everybody.


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