Last week I gave a presentation at Manchester Metropolitan University.
I am an alumnus of MMU and it was with a mixture of both nostalgia and more than a I little fretting about the passing years that I walked into the very new and impressive business school. I also think it is the first time I had been in a lecture room before 8.30am ever.
My purpose was to present to a group of local business owners on the universality of emotional expression and how raising our awareness to facial micro expressions can used as part of continuing development in all elements of face to face communication. At In The Moment this has become a very successful part of our executive coaching programme as it provides a structure for raising self regulation. I tend to call it self control, which is our ability to delay, reflect and make decisions that require conscious effort.
This is a core element of communication.Our capacity to shift our attention more effectively between ourselves, those around us and the context of why we are there requires a nimble, resilient and focused mindset when we engage with others. It may be of no surprise to you that shifting the context of why we are in a meeting room to one that’s far more personal is a fine balancing act that needs real time adaptability.
Part of the session was a video based version of the show ‘Would I lie to you?’ The purpose of this is to show the group that despite our best efforts we all present certain cues and clues when under increasing pressure that can detect the level of comfort or discomfort in the truth of what we are saying. Three delegates sat in front of the rest of us and two told real experiences whilst the third did not. Up to this point my audience had been polite and attentive but the feedback had been limited. As soon as we got into doing, everything fell into place. What the group saw were the subtle cues and clues that we all give away in the context of themselves. The competitive business edge kicked in and they started to try and suss the others out. Now this was an immersive learning experience.
At the end of the session it was time to deliver feedback… to me.
- “I think you are missing a trick here”
- “Where’s the whats in it for me?”
- “How do I apply this in my business?”
Tough questions from tough business people. Then Dave Roberts, who runs an MBA programme at MMU stood up and spoke;
- “Hands up who’s been dealing with tricky people this week?” All hands were raised.
- “Hands up who’s left a buyer negotiation with a gut feeling they did not the best deal?” All hands were raised.
- “Hands up who would like their sales team to deliver more quality than quantity?” All hands were raised.
It’s simple really, but the speaker had learned from the audience. The group needed a solution from what I was presenting upon I just needed to step into their shoes for a few moments. With incremental improvement, the changes can be paper thin but their impact can be massive.
Don’t get too many experts around a table when you want new ideas.
If you want to create new ideas and innovate do not have solely experts making up your group. There is a tendency, as we get older, for our thinking to become less plastic fantastic and more dogma. As we see ourselves as experts in a field, it does not mean we cannot learn more. This is stating the obvious, but that is how our biases can blind side us when we think we are being open, we are actually super filtering our thinking channels into the same answer as yesterday. This may work in many cases, but it can limit innovation It sucks sometimes, but the nimble mind that is not burdened by years of experience can consider new ideas that can shift existing paradigms.