In a World of relentless data and information, finding a common path, a vision to unite us, to create a mutual understanding is of paramount importance. But how do those people come together? How do I find these people and share my vision?
Fortunately, I have been working on a few skills. For the last 3 years I have been developing skills that I have learnt through my training as a Doctor. Skills that provide a unique insight into why some people will want to share your idea and others won’t.
As a GP, I encounter people every day, part of my role is explaining diseases and conditions and why a certain treatment is the best course of action. Often I need to be able to ‘read’ the person in order to persuade them. They need to understand my point of view, but equally I need to understand theirs.
In order to understand how to get to a point of being able find common ground with others and encourage them to embrace a common vision, it is important to understand most peoples starting point:
An average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.
Leonardo da Vinci
Common ground could also be phrased as ‘common foundation’ as that is our starting point. Empathy is a key skill, we must understand our audience, we must try to ‘read’ them and understand what they are thinking. As a GP, I was taught to understand the ‘Ideas, concerns and expectations’ of the person in front of me.
This applies outside of the the GP surgery. What is their starting point in our interaction? If we can understand their point of view, it is a simple skill of finding the point of the vision that closely matches this.
Of course, they may be at complete odds to your way of think, if this is the case, convincing them will be difficult. But it begs a more important question: ‘is this the right person to share your vision’. Some people will just ‘get’ what you are doing, some will never ‘get’ it. The vast majority, need some persuasion.
If we have a foundation of understanding and commonality, we have a starting point to build our vision. Empathy is as close to mind-reading we can get. If we can understand why someone is thinking in a certain way, we can predict how they will react to what we say and the words we use.
Candour, truthfulness, sincerity are essential in developing a common understanding of vision. Without trust, there is no empathy, there is no relationship. The vision must be sincere, the way you convey it must be sincere and you yourself must be honest in trustworthy in what you do.
It is important to understand that the message here is not ‘tricks to do to get people to go along with you’. You must believe in what you are doing, you must genuinely want to understand why a person feels the way they feel.
If you genuinely seek to see other peoples perspectives, your interactions become more fruitful, people are more willing to interact with you, to express their thoughts, their feelings and ideas. That is the core lesson here and it is worth stressing again:
Whilst communication skills can be learnt, and will improve situations and outcomes for you, if you want true lasting relationships and a culture shift, being sincere in what you do, empathising with the other person and an understanding of self are key.
Understanding of self
“Emotional intelligence” is a common term, often used to convey someone’s ability to interact and communicate with others. Those with high emotional intelligence have good interpersonal intelligence, essential the ability to empathise with others, and good intrapersonal intelligence, the understanding of our own thought processes.
If you really want to be able to develop a close community, to talk on a level that is productive, to convince others of your vision, you need to develop an understanding of self. Understand why you feel the way you feel the way you do, why others make us react in a certain way, how we make decisions.
What does this mean for my Community?
My vision and my message, I hope by now is clear. I think great things can be accomplished by a group of people with a common goal. A goal of fixing the everyday problems felt at the frontline of Healthcare. But there is more required than just a clear vision, that’s for sure. It’s time to start to encourage engagement!
I’ve realised there is too much to explore and explain to write all this in one blog post, so this is the first post, next we will focus on listening:
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
Stephen R. Covey
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