At Bilue we aim to do impactful work. We collaborate with clients, we encourage creativity and we deliver inspired solutions. Recently at our half yearly team day our CEO Cameron Barrie, urged us to pursue personal and collective growth in the year ahead. Cameron said connection is fundamental to the work we do at Bilue, but in order to truly connect and inspire others, strong communication skills are critical at both an individual and company level.
Only 7% of communication takes place through words. Voice makes up 38% and body language a whopping 55%. It is essential to be aware of your body language and align how you present yourself with what you’re saying, in order to get your point across and inspire others to listen to what you have to say.
To this end Cameron invited leadership developer and coach, James Brett, to facilitate a half day training for the company in body language, connecting and creating rapport. Having worked in technology for 20 years, James is able to appreciate the synchronicity between understanding the problem space as a developer and understanding the problem space as a consultant.
It is our mission at Bilue to empower people through technology. When we present our inspired ideas the physical messages we communicate are potentially more powerful than the words we use. For example if we cover our mouth with our hands or stand with folded arms, our audience may not feel our message is genuine and they may not be convinced by what we say. If we are busy scratching our nose or stroking our chin, clients might think we are untrustworthy and unreliable.
Furthermore, understanding the problem space for our clients involves reading their body language and observing the visual cues they provide. James taught us about four levels of active listening, ranging from simply ‘downloading’ what someone is saying, to taking in content and observing body language ‘factually’, to more ‘empathic’ listening, and finally what he called ‘presence’ and so listening without having any agenda at all. To define the core problem our clients are communicating to us, engaging active listening and empathy helps us develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts and motivations.
During the second half of our team day we were given the opportunity to put our increased appreciation for the power of body language and active listening into practise. Impro Australia facilitated a highly active session to loosen us up and take us out of our comfort zones. Working together in pairs or groups and individually, we were forced to think laterally and quickly on our feet. Encouraging us to have fun with communication, we were taught how to deliver a message with confidence and to embody excitement and enthusiasm.
Marina, Annelise, Marcelo and Phill doing the “Arms, Double Figures” game
We were given exercises to challenge and extend boundaries by responding to spontaneous challenges. One of the most powerful games we played was the “Yes, But”, “Yes, And” game. Countering everything our partner had to say with “yes but” was surprisingly easy. Being on the receiving end of this was much more difficult and constantly having to defend decisions and come up with counter offers was draining in the end. When you apply “yes, and” to real life situations people feel heard and supported. When you apply “yes, but” it is deflating and shuts the conversation down. Having a potentially difficult conversation with “yes, and” is much more effective and people feel like they are part of the solution rather than the problem.
With our new perspective on communication and connection we finished the day in true Bilue fashion with an awesome party back at Bilue headquarters. Putting our new found confidence into practise, there was twerking, the cha cha and even some dirty dancing! Come Monday morning we needed just a little refresher on what had transpired the Friday before and then we determined to stay aware of our body language wherever possible. Feel free to point out if we are folding our arms and crossing our feet when we meet you. I’m confident we will get to it before you do and our expression will be open and confident within the blink of an eye.
Rhys, Marcelo, Phill, Craig, Tom and Gary finsihing the day with a beer