Communication is a skill that takes years to develop. The way in which you communicate in different situations is incredibly important as it can either make or break it. However, nothing in the world is perfect and we all falter from time to time. Just think of any argument you’ve had in the last little while.
The key to communicating effectively and being understood is realising that everyone uses different voices. This doesn’t refer to tone, but rather to the way in which they communicate. Understanding these different voices can therefore be advantageous as it will allow you to decide which voice you should be using yourself and what others are trying to say. This will make conversations much more productive and everyone feel fully understood.
In this book summary readers will be guided through:
- How to best use the 5 voices
Key lesson one: Nurturers
Nurturers are those people who always strive for harmony within a group and who value the input of others. They tend to put others before themselves and thrive in places where everyone believes in kindness. Nurturers also like to look at ways that can help presently so that it sets up a good foundation for people and the organizations they work for thus ensuring a brighter future. Nurturing managers are those that believe that people are the most important assets that a company can have and not profits. They will put in the extra time to ensure that their employees are happy and have everything they need to perform optimally. In their personal relationships, nurturers will also give up their own time to help out a friend.
Nurturers make up approximately 43 per cent of the population. That is a massive amount of people and they are definitely needed. Without them, no one would look out for people as they try to meet the constant deadlines of the working world. But there’s one big drawback to being a nurturer – they often battle with being heard. They are so busy looking after everyone else they often forget about themselves. In addition, since they’re quite humble in nature, they won’t speak up.
Key lesson two: Creatives
Creatives are those people who are constantly thinking about the next big thing. They have big imaginations, spending loads of time daydreaming and coming up with innovative business ideas. Creatives are present in every industry and they are necessary for change. They are always coming up with new ways to answer old questions or completely redefine them in the process.
Creatives make up approximately 9 per cent of the population making them quite rare. Depending on your personality type, you may love or hate working with a creative. If you value their out-of-the-box thinking, then great. However, if you find creatives unrealistic, then you are going to butt heads. Creatives themselves have difficulty working with others in general because they find it hard to get other people to understand their ideas. It is predictable since it is often hard for a creative to explain how they think to someone who is not creative. They find it quite disappointing when someone with a logical mind cannot understand them. This leads to them shying away from expressing themselves to others. Creatives should instead strive to work more on how they communicate their ideas to others. Those who are not creative should also be aware of this and work on how they react to creatives. They need to show that they value the contributions of creatives – even if it takes a bit more effort to understand.
Key lesson three: Guardians
Guardians can be considered traditionalists. They like to protect things as they are, preventing what they consider to be unnecessary change. Guardians believe that the systems that are in place presently are working fine and cannot understand why it needs to change. As one can imagine, people don’t like guardians much. In a world of innovation and constant growth, they come across as those that hold on to the past. It is because of this that guardians are underestimated. People tend to think they lack intelligence which is why they resist change but this is not true.
Guardians are realists and often have good reasons for wanting to hold on to the current systems. They sometimes save companies from overly ambitious plans that require excessive amounts of time, money and energy. Guardians are the ones who will investigate in order to determine if something is too good to be true. This may make them the naysayers but they still remain an integral part of any organization or group.
Key lesson four: Connectors
We all know of someone who is a connector. They are the people who can bring a group of strangers together making them feel as of they had known each other for ages. Connectors know people who can help and aren’t hesitant to contact them. They seem to have an infinite number of useful contacts and their gift of the gab is unprecedented. This makes connectors excellent assets for any organization.
Connectors motivate others in their team and are enthusiastic about virtually everything. This makes sense though because they always know someone who has had success in a particular area or could help with their knowledge. Needless to say, a connector loves to collaborate and will always make everyone involved feel connected. There is no need to feel incompetent with a connector around. The only downside of being a connector though is even though you have such a huge network of contacts, you tend to have very few true friends.
Key lesson five: Pioneers
Pioneers are a somewhat difficult lot. They tend to be stubborn and ambitious having a very strict path that they would like to follow to attain their goals. Pioneers are the people who argue with conviction no matter if they are right or wrong and trying to point this out may be futile. Since they have their strategies all planned out, if you try to alter the course in any way, you will find yourself being shoved to the side. Their ambition drives them and they dream big because of it. Pioneers know that their goals can sometimes be a ‘go big or go home’ situation and they are willing to make sacrifices because of it.
Key lesson six: How to best use the 5 voices
Now that you are aware of the 5 voices that exist, you should know that every individual tends to use all 5, with one being dominant. It is therefore imperative that in a team setting you make sure all voices are heard equally. We have all witnessed the situation in a meeting where the loud people do all the talking while the quiet ones take a backseat. There are ways however to make sure that all team members can benefit.
Starting with the nurturers, you should encourage them to speak up whilst also getting the louder members to listen. If nurturers spend an entire meeting listening to everyone else, they will start thinking that their opinion is less important than others so it need not be heard. Tell your nurturers that their opinions are valued because you understand that it also represents the others in the organization.
With the creatives, you need to give them a little space to think outside the box. Even the craziest ideas can produce a spark of inspiration. So, instead of rejecting them immediately take some time to consider the potential in them and convince other team members to do the same. Not everything will work, but each plan will be a stepping stone closer to success.
When it comes to guardians, they may annoy others with their resistance to change but the questions they ask are indeed important. Remind everyone in the team that guardians don’t mean to be difficult. They are just trying to safeguard the organization. This is essential to any company and answering a guardian’s questions could point out things that you may not even have considered.
Connectors have to be held back until a certain time in a meeting. They function best after the guardians have scrutinised everything. This is the time they get everyone hyped up and motivated with what they have to do moving forward. Connectors can use their social skills at this point to get everyone excited and ready to go.
Pioneers, often being the loudest in the room, need to have their say last after everyone else has been heard. If they go first, they will overtake the others. Chances are, they may even cut in when others are speaking. You have to keep reminding them to remain constructive and not critical or dismissive.
If you follow these steps to guide meetings, chances are you will get the most out of everyone in the room and it will be wholly productive. As a manager, one should always remember to keep their own voices in line whilst guiding others. You have to lead by example, so to speak. But whatever your dominant voice may be, the other voices will help your understanding of others. You can also try to switch voices consciously if you feel that it will be better in the situation you are dealing with. It all comes from an awareness of the voices and the potential they have.
The key takeaway from 5 Voices is:
When it comes to communication there are 5 voices that come across. People tend to use all five at some point but have one dominant one that is used. These voices are known as the nurturers, creatives, guardians, connectors and pioneers. Each voice has its advantages and disadvantages. Thus knowing how each one operates can greatly help you identify areas o work on when you communicate both personally and professionally.
How can I implement the lessons learned in 5 Voices:
Knowing how the different voices function, evaluate your organization as a whole. Are systems being passed just because pioneers are the loudest at meetings and therefore make themselves heard? Is your organization missing out on potential growth because the creatives are afraid they will be rejected? Or are your nurturers suffering in silence because they spend too much time making everyone else’s life easy? Knowledge of the voices put things into perspective. Take time to figure out if there are problems you need to rectify that has been overlooked. You might be surprised as to what you find.