How good a chameleon are you in your interaction with those you wish to influence and win-over? Does your behavioural and communication flexibility differentiate you from the average and ordinary? If not, are you interested in learning how?
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Think of a Chameleon You Admire
Think about someone that you really admire for their communication and influencing skills. A real gun. What makes them so good? Is it their ability to give you their complete undivided attention when speaking with you, as if there were nobody else in the room? Is it because they listen so actively, playing back their understanding of what you said? Is it the language they use? Or is it their ability to adapt their language to yours so you feel part of the team? Is it that they just make you feel comfortable to talk with them so that you don’t feel intimidated or self-concious? Is that even if they are being assertive, you still feel respected? Is it because they have this ability to vary their style to suit the situation or the person they’re speaking with? You know, to be just like the chameleon that can adapt its colour to match its surroundings to better camouflage its presence (purpose)? What else do you notice that you admire in their skills?
Are You more Stereotype or Chameleon?
Now think about your normal style of communication in contrast to that for a minute. Are you known to be more stereotyped in the way you communicate? As in, might you be more strongly introverted or extroverted and stick to that preference? Or maybe more quiet and reserved or loud and forthright? Sensitive or blunt? Considerate or gung-ho? Friendly or abrasive? Accommodating or competitive? Cautious or animated? And perhaps have to own up to sticking to these approaches irrespective?
Whatever they are for you, is that it? Always predictably the same because “that’s the way I am”? Or are you able to flex them to suit the situation and the person or people you are interacting with?
How aware are you of how well we can leverage this difference in your communication style to our influential advantage?
The Chameleon. Superior Communicator and Influencer
I am known for my ability to coach business people to extraordinarily superior levels of “soft skills”. I leverage what I’ve learned from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and from thousands of hours coaching hundreds of business executives, owners and professionals. Together we have developed what we know truly works for each one.
In this process, many learn to become the chameleon. That is to have developed an acute awareness of the subtleties and nuances and “vibes” embedded in the manner in which the other person communicates. And then to adapt their own style to match and to mirror it to the styles they have observed. Like a chameleon does to its surroundings, they elegantly adapt to the other person’s manner. Subtly matching and mirroring their language, their gesture and animation and their posture or body language.
Why? Well because this subtle but powerful form of influence results in the other person’s unconscious mind picking up these vibes that it interprets akin to “this person is speaking my language – I’m beginning to warm to them“. And usually without their conscious level mind’s awareness of that. This is what we call “rapport“. The state of trust and responsiveness between one person and another(s). And it is in this state of rapport that we are able to enhance our level of influence.
What Makes a Good Chameleon?
Ironically to be labelled “a good conversationalist”, one has to let the other person do all the talking. This is similar to my message in the blog “Interested or Interesting” where I suggest that to make yourself interesting to the other person, you need to show you are interested in them.
Then you can display how actively you are listening – enough to keep playing back to acknowledge what you’re hearing so thet they feel truly listened to. That’s rare today, isn’t it?
That’s a pre-requisite to becoming a good chameleon.
A Chameleon Observes, Notices and then Adapts/Emulates
Why? We listen to respond not to understand. Because we are exclusively focused on us. And so we aren’t watching or listening for valuable cues or vibes or signals. Those that tell us where the other person might be coming from or going and what really matters to them.
If you choose to play at this level of sophisticated communications and influence, then the key to such a transition is an acute awareness. Both of our own and more particularly of others’ style of communication. One that has you keep practicing to observe not only what they’re saying, but also what they’re not saying and most importantly how they’re saying it. So that you can adapt your style more towards theirs and to start emulating them. And to creating a gap or pause in which you consider the impact of your intended response or statement or question before you make it.
Your response will always be more considered (and considerate) and probably serve you to better achieve the intended influence and outcome you desire.
The Chameleon. So What?
So what if you were to try this out over the coming weeks? Firstly to observe how others you admire actually do this and then practice “having a go“. To try on some different approaches that work for and suit your personality so you and the others don’t feel you are fakely staging this.
Perhaps you also want to confide in someone you know and trust that is able to see you in action? Share your goal with them and seek their feedback on how they think you’re doing, or where you might want to adjust.
Can you imagine how good it will be if in say 6 months time you too will be one of those who others acknowledge to be “such a chameleon”? What if you could?