If you are a regular here at the Champion Performance Topic of the Week you have heard me talk about everyone having an individual communication fingerprint; the default way they use language. A question I regularly receive and one Jaime recently posted on our Facebook page is, “How can I figure out what my communication fingerprint is?” There are a few different places to look to gather that information:
Your family – When you spend time with the people who lived with you growing up (typically parents and siblings) how do you interact with them? Do you speak over others? Do they speak over you? Are you reserved or outspoken? When the conversation becomes heated do you yell or shut down? Are you a power player in some conversations and take a backseat in others? Who else is involved in the conversation and why do you take the role you do? Observe how the other members of your family interact with each other.
The information you glean from how your family communicates, argues and uses language will provide you with the foundation for your communication fingerprint. Don’t worry if you don’t like what you see. Your fingerprint is yours alter to what works best for you.
Ask those close to you – A great source of information is the people who interact with you regularly. Of course it is only beneficial if they love you enough to tell you the truth and you trust them enough to apply it. Talk to people from different parts of your life, your significant other, a friend and a work colleague. Ask them what your conflict style is. Do you subscribe to the volcano method, are you a Pollyanna or do you practice proactive productive conflict resolution? (For those who have a copy of my book, see page 23 for additional conflict styles and descriptions.) Ask them what it is like to be in a casual conversation with you. Do they feel heard or do you hijack the conversation? Do you talk loud or soft? Are you clear or do they have to dig to find your meaning?
Compare what you learn to the data you got from your family. How similar or different is it? Maybe you start out different from what you learned as a child and migrate toward it as the situation escalates. There is no right or wrong answer. It is just data to observe.
Consider what feels the most natural - This is your chance to add your opinion about your communication fingerprint to the information you have gathered. Remember, this isn’t how you wish you were. Be honest with yourself. How are you really? If you do what is most comfortable, what does that look like? Do you really listen to others or are you thinking about what you want to say?
Put it together - How does the information you gathered fit together? Look for similarities and differences. How does what you learned from personal friends and family compare to people who know you from business? If you are fortunate enough to have access to someone who understands communication fingerprints, sit down with him/her and discuss what you gathered. The ridge detail of your fingerprint will start to emerge and you will be able to start making decisions about what to keep and what would serve you better if you changed it.
How do you think having an understanding of your communication fingerprint will help you be more successful?