Interested in how you can solve problems and improve performance using language? Read on!
Are you a salesperson or a sales leader? If you are, have you ever noticed that when you’re performing at your best you’re unaware of yourself?
When things are going well, and something great is happening, it’s as though you’re not there. What’s there is the activity you’re engaged in or the work that’s getting done.
It’s like that when you’re driving. As you drive along, you don’t really pay much attention to your feet on the pedals or your hands on the steering wheel. You pull out to pass, you slow down when you see brake lights, you maneuver the car around a parked truck. It’s almost as if you and the car are one.
You're on autopilot.
The same oneness envelopes you when things are going well at work. The proposal you’ve written is exactly on track to win the deal. Your conversation with the buyer is warm and comfortable. The words flow smoothly. You and the other person are in harmony, almost finishing each other’s sentences.
Then the buyer picks another provider.
As you’re shocked into recognition of what’s happening, your first reaction is almost certainly “What did I do?” You instantly become very noticeable. The work gets pushed into the background. Suddenly what was an effortless engagement has become a problem. It’s your problem and the problem is you.
Notice what’s happening.
You become very aware of yourself and of the conversation going on in your head. That conversation is full of assessments, judgments, evaluations, rationalizations, justifications, blame, and shame. It starts to get pretty noisy in there. You might even respond physically, experiencing shortness of breath, a faster heart rate, or general discomfort.
I want you to see this as a powerful insight into how you are when things aren’t going your way. When you’re dealing with significant problems, your point of reference is self-absorption. You obsessively search for the reasons things ended up where they did. You’re seduced by all the nattering in your head. You get stuck on the problem and then become a victim of circumstance.
This doesn’t have to happen. There is a way to be at your best, regardless of the circumstances.
How To Solve Problems and Improve Performance Using Language
I’m suggesting that you shift your frame of reference from the past to the future. A forward-looking frame of reference enables you to invent a new way of dealing with problems. You become responsible for creating new possibilities that take you out of your head and put you in motion.
This happens when you live as your word.
I don’t mean to give your word. I mean to be your word.
When you live as your word, you take responsibility for how you deal with the situations in your life, including your problems. In this frame of mind, you put yourself in action rather than remaining on the treadmill.
To live as your word requires you to be committed to resolution, to integrity, to action, and to authenticity. In this context, your language changes. You begin to use words that are action-based. They actually perform. According to philosopher of language, John L. Austin, they are called performatives. In his book, “How To Do Things With Words” he states that “in the philosophy of language and speech acts theory, performative utterances are sentences that not only describe a given reality, but also change the social reality they are describing.”
An example of a speech act is language that performs what is. When you say “I promise,” the word is itself a promise. Compare this to saying table. The word “table” is not itself a table. When you utter “I promise,” “I request,” “I declare,” “this is true,” “this is untrue,” “I apologize,” it starts to get very quiet inside your head. There is matter-of-factness in taking this approach. There isn’t much of “you” around.
Instead, what’s present is action, resolution, motion, and being at work. What’s present is performance.
Have any ideas on how to solve problems and improve performance using language? Let us know in the comments!