Every single element of what we learn when we learn to master the craft of language, when we choose to step up our speaking skills, opens a world of understanding, connection, and ultimately possibility.

Because the world has got it right, we learn through story. We get attention and lift engagement through the stories we craft for ourselves and speaking to the people around us.

But the way we drive connection, human to human, and layer it up with understanding?

That can only happen through mastering the craft of language and speaking, and everything that comes with it.

In 2013 I was still working as an industrial relations consultant when one of my clients asked if I could deliver my communications training for their general workforce.

The general workforce was a bunch of unskilled guys who lived in a hard and fast world in wrecking yards and spare parts shops, and in the pre-workshop preparation I was briefed that one of the young men who would be coming to the first workshop – a mix of the men and their managers – was under heavy performance management and probably wasn’t going to make it through. And when we opened the doors to the workshop a week later, I didn’t need anyone to tell me who he was; his attitude as he came into the room was all I needed to see.

I made a decision in that instant to not give his attitude the ability to breed in the room, and simply kept him part of the work without providing an opportunity for him to let his energy impact us.

One of the elements I had strongly considered leaving out was the Representational Systems, believing that on top of a lot of new ways to think about communicating and speaking, it may overload the room. And I must admit, even as we got to it and I watched a lot of these men struggle to answer the questionnaire that sets the foundation for what they were about to learn, I was increasingly nervous about whether or not this would fly.

As we started working through what the representational systems meant, and how to use this in the language that we use and how we communicate, I noticed to the side of me that his young man was getting to his feet, fast and with a hell of a lot of energy launching him, and as I turned towards him to start to take control of whatever was about to happen next, I realised within that split second that he had tears streaming down his face, and his voice was strong and passionate as he almost yelled across to his manager a statement I will never forget.

“Now do you see? You keep trying to teach me the parts and how to pull them down from pictures and manuals in the f^king shop! But what happens when you take me out in the yard and you show me? I get it. I get it every time. Don’t I?? This test says I’m kinaesthetic (sic). You have to show me. Just damn well show me!”

And he sat down with tears still streaming down his face, remarkably calm. As I turned my attention back towards his manager I saw a man in shock who could only say “oh my god”.

And that young man went on to stay with the business, a wanted part of the team, for years after that.

And this is what I love.

That every single element of what we learn when we learn to master the craft of speaking opens a world of understanding, connection, and ultimately possibility that didn’t previously exist, no matter where we currently sit.

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Never Just The Speaking