Three Foundational Mindsets

Great communication requires a full toolbox of strong communication skills. And my colleagues and I can (and do) talk about such skills with our clients every day.

But before we can fill up your toolbox with strong skills, we first need to lay the foundation of strong mindsets. When we lay that foundation of strong mindsets, and build upon it with strong skill sets, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible.

So let’s spend a few minutes today talking about some strong communication mindsets. I will give you three:

  1. Shift from an “egocentric mindset” to an “allocentric mindset.” Many people communicate from a place of self-interest, especially in the workplace. Most people’s messaging in meetings, conversations and presentations is based on getting or achieving what they want, built on their own needs, beliefs and biases. But the most powerful mindset is not egocentric. It is allocentric, where we put considerable effort and mindshare into thinking about, understanding and respecting the needs and perspectives of others. When we enter conversations with an allocentric mindset, we are not just trying to “win” the discussion. We are trying to understand, build common ground, and treat others with respect.
  2. Shift from the “messenger mindset” to an “outcome mindset.” The messenger mindset is pervasive in most organizations, where people speaking in meetings or presentations are simply trying to communicate information. On the surface that doesn’t sound so bad. But in reality, it leads to an enormous waste of time. Because when all we are thinking about is “did I say what I needed to say” we are leaving out the most important variable in communication… the other person or people in the conversation. So instead of just thinking about “what should I say on slide 2?” we should be thinking about “what outcome do I want to create?” or “how do I want my audience to react/think/feel?” This builds off of mindset #1. When we think about outcome, instead of simply message delivery, it forces us to take an allocentric mindset, and factor the audience’s perspective into our message planning.
  3. Shift from the “rabbit hole mindset” to the “translation mindset.” Twenty years ago, for a variety of reasons, the most valuable person in the room was the one who showed up with the most data, the spreadsheet, the deep detail. Why? Because we had far less access to and organization of the details and data we need in the workplace. Our problem was that data was harder to get to and utilize. Today we have a very different problem… no longer do we struggle with not enough data or detail. Now we struggle with too much. So today, the most valuable person in the room is often the person who can create simplicity amidst the chaos, who can translate things into simple ideas or steps, who can help their colleagues or clients synthesize. The person who leads us down rabbit holes now usually generates a collective “eye roll” from the others in the room.

If you want to be a great communicator in our crazy, distracted, information-overload world, then you need to build your skills upon a foundation of these three mindsets: allocentricity, outcomes and translation.

Adopt these three, and you are on way to being the most valuable person in the conversation. People will line up to be on your team, to listen to you, and to follow your lead.

Have a great day.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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2 responses to “Three Foundational Mindsets”

  1. Doug Shefsky says:

    FYI, think you’ve got a typo above:
    Today we have a very different problem… no longer do we struggle with too much data or detail. Now we struggle with too much.

    All in the spirit of continuous improvement.

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.