So I was talking to a friend the other day and I thought I was giving him a compliment.
This is what happened:
His eyes grew afraid. His brow furrowed deeply and he began slowly backing away from me.
Confused, I leaned towards him to explain even more fervently that I was trying to give him a compliment-- that I was trying to say something that made him feel good...
...and the more I tried the more he shrieked away in fear.
After the conversation was over I tried to figure out what went wrong. Did he not understand the words that were coming out of my mouth? I was trying to compliment the man, for crying out loud!
That's when I realized that we spoke two different languages. We both spoke English, but he cared less about what I was saying and more about what was showing on my face. My words may have been kind but my face, in the language my friend speaks, said "I hate your guts."
Another example happens in meetings where I try to say something encouraging and it deflates the room. And then someone else might say something discouraging but everyone is nodding their heads. It's not our words. It's our vibe. Our energy.
I'm discovering that if I want to have the impact I want my word choice is important but equally important is the energy that I bring to the conversation.
So what's your vibe? Do people ever react in a way that is opposite from what you intended? If people aren't emotionally resonating in the ways you hoped-- whether that's joy, seriousness, or maybe simply understanding-- that's probably because you haven't learned to speak their language.
You may be rockin' the right vibe but missing the right words. Or you may have the perfect words but missing the right vibe.
It takes both.
Most people are more fluent at words or energy. Which one comes most naturally to you?
For more info on creating a positive vibe check out my friend Steve's book here.
Posted on Tue, December 15, 2009