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Communication Hacks To Make Our Lives Better with Dr. Julee Hafner
I feel incredibly blessed to be here with you and enjoying being alive at this moment, feeling lucky to be breathing, knowing that that’s not a guarantee all the time as we all know that underneath the surface. In my conscious thoughts, I’m not always appreciative of the fact that it’s good to be alive. More than anything, I know that we’re all evolving. I’m always evolving. I’m always growing. If I’m not growing, then I’m dying so I feel in growth mode at this moment. I hope you do as well. I’ve got to believe you’re only consuming this content because you yourself are in growth mode as well. Welcome to the show. I’ve got an incredible guest. She’s somebody that I adore that I get to spend some time with now selfishly. I get to do that, but I also have the honor to be able to share this individual with all of you and you’ll get to learn from her.
She is an incredible communicator. She’s an amazing diagnostician. Somebody that can take a look at how we communicate, how I communicate, you communicate and lets you know where it is that you might be missing the mark or at least not speaking heroically in a way that moves other people. That is courageous and there’s a depth to that conversation that I am interested in having. I’ll jump right in with an amazing educator, speaker, and author. Her name is Dr. Julee Hafner. I’m thrilled to have her on the show. Dr. Hafner, it’s great to have you with us.
Thank you so much. I love being here and I’m appreciative for sure.
I was going to ask you what’s one thing that you’re grateful for at this moment?
It’s my telepathy.
I am most grateful for my telepathy when it’s turned on. Do you think that we all have telepathic powers or abilities?
I believe that every person is made up of energy and we sense in the environment the energy that’s there. We all are communicating constantly and whether it’s a nonverbal, it’s energy like a telepathy type of information or communicating something every single day. No matter whether we sit and stare into space or we’re out there doing something fun.
We’re all communicating every day. I don’t know that anybody would argue against that. Some of that communication is verbal, it’s things we say to people. Some of it’s nonverbal. I want to dive into what nonverbal communication might look like. How is that communication different or could be different so that our lives might be better, different and even better in some ways? Share a little bit about your background if you would.
I’ve been a consultant speech pathologist working with people, wide backgrounds and educational levels. I also have my Ph.D. in Leadership, that’s my educational background. I’m a lifelong learner and as such, I am interested in many things, personal wellness, professional and personal growth. When you talk about communication, we figure that everybody listens to the words and everybody’s interested in, “This is the message.” There’s so much going on underneath the message that you don’t realize that’s the nonverbal message that you’re sending out all the time. When we talk about nonverbal communication, we’re talking about all of those gestures, the eye contact and all these subtle parts of the language. In my book, The 7 Tactics To Communication Completions, I go through all of those. I look at the seven tools that you can use to figure out that message, not just what the words that the person is saying. What’s underneath it? What parts do you need to be aware of? What things don’t connect? Why is it someone that you’d meet immediately in two seconds, that you feel there’s something about that person I’m not too sure about? That’s our survival mode and that’s our excitement going on full tilt saying, “There’s something about this person. I don’t know what it is. What do I do?” That’s all about nonverbal communication.
This is the way I look at it. We’re assessment machines, we’re meaning-making machines and we have to make meaning out of things for us to feel safe. We want all these great things happening in our lives and we’re working toward those things. The basic instinct is our survival instinct. You’re looking at the noise in the bush and you’re thinking, “Is that something that I’m going to eat or is that something that’s going to eat me?”
It’s a filtering system. You’re constantly taking incoming stimuli and you’re filtering and sorting it out and you’re saying, “What do I do with this?” We have millions and millions of messages that are coming into our brains every day whether it’s the media, whether it’s your conversation with me. Those are all stimuli. What’s going on in the background? Everything’s information and how do we deal with all that stuff? It’s a challenge.
Does that mean everybody’s walking around with their heads muddled with all this information, all these stimuli?
For some of us, yes. There are people that cannot decide what thing to listen to, what thing to pay attention to. It’s a difficult problem for a lot of people to be able to sort out what’s important for them. Even back from the days of the caveman, we needed to know what was safe and what wasn’t. What people were safe? You don’t just walk up to anybody because somebody might hit you on the head, that’ll be it. We’re in survival mode a lot of times, which is why we are stressed about what that information is coming into us and how we communicate with each other. It’s important that we all know about that.
I want to draw a conclusion here and I don’t know if it’s appropriate to do so. Does being in survival mode also mean being stressed or being in stress? Is that fair?
Yes, your brain only is able to process much information and decide about X and Y and Z. Meanwhile A, B, and C are coming in and the brain’s going, “Stop. Halt. I can’t do it all,” and we get stressed. Sometimes the processing system is not quite as quick or we fail to make that connection between what’s coming in and what we should be processing it as. That’s a big problem and it does lead to stress. We can’t do it all, unfortunately.
We want to do it all. Who doesn’t want to do it all? What I’m hearing you say is on some level, communication has something to do with our instinct or our programming for safety to avoid pain or to avoid something catastrophic happening to us. There are other types of communication where we’re trying to learn new things. You’re a lifelong learner and acquiring that knowledge. The caveman examples of that might be where’s the best food? Where do we find water and shelter? That’s from the past. Let’s talk about what communication looks like now for people. We’re not exactly watching out for the dinosaur stepping on us or something anymore.
Think about the impact of technology. We use the cell phone. We use faxes. We use computers. We use all these technologies to help us connect. What do we do need to develop there? That’s our lifeline, our connection. We as human beings, we are hardwired to connect with each other. Not only do we need to survive because as a species we have to survive. We also need to share knowledge as to how to survive better. Both of those things are extremely important. Now, through the miraculous thing of technology or the bane of our existence for some of us, technology makes a difference in how we connect and how we feel about that connection. If we don’t connect correctly, it leaves us feeling empty and hollow and that’s not a good thing.
I’m not going to be a predictor of anything because I’m not in that game and I’m not a sociologist either. It will be interesting in many years to look back and see, “What did happen to those all-important connections?” People are living in the box and part of what is required to feel connected in society is that you’re in the box because you’re in the box with everybody else. When you’re outside of the box, you are unique and you’re doing it your way and you feel good about that. You feel enlivened about the fact that you are living your unique way and yet you’re disconnected or may feel disconnected from those who are in the boxes representing the herd.
We’re herd animals. As people, as human beings, but like any living organism, we all are connected to everything else. Whether we require that or not, I won’t make that judgment. How can we be connected? How can we be a cell in the organism of a greater thing, a greater being, a greater existence or energy even and not have a requirement that we feel connected to it? That we have some awareness of being connected to it. Outside the box is great. Yet there’s this urge in all of us on a physical level, on an emotional level, on a psychological level to also feel connected and one with the herd as well.
There’s this potential that in communication and advances in technology leading us to be able to work at a distance. There’s a great book called The Future Of Work by Thomas Malone, a Harvard researcher and professor talking about how technology advances have enabled us to move further away from the kingdom. The corporation being that hub and that kingdom, where everybody gets to see each other, communicate and meet in the break room, at the water cooler, the jokes, the harassment and all the other stuff that goes on inside of a workplace. The movement is toward virtual working. More than a billion people are working virtually around the world and that’s going to increase even more over time. What can you say about that? The observation that communication may be even more important in the future where we’re not in that central hub, we’re not in the box, we’re not in the herd, in the corral with all the other of our species.
Communication is essential to our lives. It is our human connection system. People are reporting more and more feelings of loneliness and unhappiness. There was a study from Harvard University that they said that loneliness, that feeling of disconnect is up over 300% in the last many years. When we look at technology, which is making further away connections or through technology, we realize that we need that face to face human connection. Technological opportunities to connect are not enough. People are finding that the right communication, that human connection is essential to their feelings of connection, happiness and lack of loneliness per se. That’s what is important. Happiness comes from our ability and opportunities to connect face to face with others. That’s communication in a nutshell. In 500 years, hopefully, we’re going to go back to at least some face to face communication. It’s essential.
There are two types of communication for me. One is the communication that we have with other people. It’s important we are connected to other people, other human beings. The other communication is internal. One is external, one is internal. One’s with others and one with ourselves. Do you agree with that?
Absolutely. We put on the facade to communicate face to face and even through technology, but it’s the messages that are within ourselves and how we decide what we want to say to ourselves. One of the things I feel is that we have a choice every day to be heroic. By heroic we want to have our communication effective, authentic and we also want to have it be the message that we want. When communication inspires others, you’ll learn more, you do more and you can become more. That is the heroic communication that we need to keep putting into our brains every day.
On what level in speaking with yourself, having an internal conversation or even in your communication outside of yourself with other people? To what degree does that require an element of courage? We’re getting messages from left, right and center. We have this desire to connect and loneliness is something that’s not out of the norm now. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, these are things that people feel regularly. Yet to be able to reach out to another person to connect so that you don’t have that feeling of loneliness, that can be a dangerous activity and the more we are moving away from the workplace, the central hub of seeing people. We have to communicate because you’re working with them face to face, back to back, cubicle to cubicle, office to office or whatever it looks like or it did look like. Now, people are working from their home. They’re working from coffee shops. They’re working from the beach. They’re working from virtually anywhere, but they’re by themselves in many ways.
The ability to connect with people is going to require and speak even because our company works with speakers on their ability to speak publicly and be able to be effective at doing that. There’s an element of courage that’s required. I was trying to tie together this idea of that courageous communication with what would be valuable in terms of whether it’s alleviating the issues of loneliness and aloneness or feeling alone. The ability to sell something, to be able to be more effective at selling yourself, at selling a product you might have, real tangible skills. Tell us a little bit about heroic communication and how it is that you teach that. What’s required? Are there steps involved?
I’m a coach and an author and also a speaker. I do a lot of programs, workshops and things like that to help people learn the essential skills to become heroic. Heroic may be a subjective term, but nonetheless, we are all capable of rising to the occasion to being more. Let me tell you a little bit about heroic communication. It’s a two-step process. You got to have both steps. You have to have the desire to act and then you have to have the decision to act. Let me give you an example. I was at Starbucks and everybody has been to Starbucks once in their life. I was standing behind a lady in the line and she was talking to the air. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. She was muttering to herself, “My husband doesn’t understand me. He’s a pain.” We’ve all been there, married or not. I had to sit and think for a second and the communication in my head was going off, “What’s going on? Is she crazy? Maybe she’s not crazy, maybe she’s angry. What do I do? Do I open up and make a conversation? Do I try to connect with her? Maybe I can help. Do I go buy coffee and quickly walk out the door?”
We’ve all had that situation where we’ve had to make that fork in the road. We’ve had to go one way or the other. It’s because of the way I am, I opened up and I created a conversation. Through our conversation, we got to the chance to share and connect. I had some pieces of information that were helpful for her. She calmed down. She thanked me and we still got the coffee and got out the door in a pretty good time. It’s making that decision to connect, making that vulnerability that you have and not being afraid. Listening to those voices in your head, “Don’t connect. Don’t say it.” It’s to reach out and take that chance to create that bond and that connection. That’s heroic communication, “Could I be more? Could I do more to help my fellow person in the Starbucks line? Could she become better, calmer, all those things?” I could answer yes to all those things. When I did that, I left with my coffee and I felt great. I took the chance. I decided to connect. I had that desire, but I decided to connect and did. That’s heroic communication.
We’ve all been to the Starbucks and saw somebody or observed something and looked. How poignant that example is in the context of what’s going on in the world. Starbucks in Philadelphia had a big issue show up. There were two African-American men that were meeting someone or waiting to meet someone at a Starbucks for a real estate meeting. They asked to use the restroom. They’re escorted out by the police.
There’s the chance you’re working at a Starbucks or you’re in a Starbucks and you see something. You had that desire to figure out what was going on. You had to make that decision and take that chance. That whole thing could have been solved in two seconds if somebody went over and said, “How are you doing? By the way, whatever.” It started a conversation. The gentleman I’m sure would have said. “We’re still waiting for our friend. We don’t want to get our coffee yet until he gets in because we’ll drink it all. We’ll have to order another one.” It solved the problem.
Heroic communication in that instance could have solved that whole issue. It also sounded like when I’m debriefing it in my mind. It seems there’s a two-part process to what heroic communication is, at least how it is that it shows up. Is it two parts?
There are a lot of times, say for example we walk into that Starbucks and we have no desire to connect. We’re having a bad day. Right then and there, the whole process is gone. We may have the desire to talk or to connect with that person, but then we have to do something. We have to open our mouths and we have to let out an appropriate comment. It’s a two-step process. The desire and the decision have got to happen together because if you have a desire without a decision, nothing’s going to happen. If you have a desire and you don’t act, nothing happens. It’s important that both things have to occur.
Desire meaning this part inside of you, the internal communications that say, “I want to connect. I want to help somebody.” Let’s say I want to sell my services. Many people are shy about asking for the sale. They’re shy about asking for what it is they want, which is to engage in a relationship of some kind, whether it’s a professional one as in, “Here’s a product would be of value to you. Are you interested in learning more about it? Can we have a conversation about that?” On a personal level, “I’m interested in you. I’d like to learn more about you. I’m curious about you and would love to get to know you.” People are shy about connecting at that level as well. This is only getting more prevalent. My disclaimer, I’m not a sociologist, a psychologist. We’ll know many years from now when they write about this stuff what was going on.
The more people are working virtually and not in that central hub of some kind to communicate, the communication skills can erode. They can become atrophied, like when you don’t exercise your body or your muscles, they atrophy. They get smaller. It’s possible that communication skills could be going in the wrong direction. That’s why the work that you’re doing and the work you’ve shared with us are profound. It’s important. There are two steps it seems, the desire to connect and then the doing, the part that says, “I’m going to do something.” You could have been standing on that line at Starbucks watching this woman in some form of pain or confusion and decide, “I’m going to get my coffee and leave.” A lot of people probably walked right past her and watched, witnessed and said, “Not my fight now. What can I do? She could be crazy. I don’t want to get involved in that.”
There’s a lot of internal conversation. People laugh about the angel and the devil on both shoulders, “Should I? No. Yes. No. Yes.” It gets crazy. You have to say, “What’s my goal in everything? Do I want to end loneliness, be happier and make a connection or do I choose not to?” As we go through all these problems in our world and we say, “I’m going to close my eyes to being a human being in the world,” that’s a sad thing. Sometimes we need to have those difficult conversations. We want to get a problem solved, but we have to decide to act. For example, some service that you didn’t like. You need to speak up and say, “Can we work this out?” That’s a difficult conversation. Who wants to be a complainer and a whiner?
Anybody I know, the most difficult thing in their communications is when they have to hold someone accountable, gives them feedback or when they’re the recipient of feedback. There’s no question that it takes courage to speak up. What are the ways that you can develop or cultivate more heroic communication within yourself?
There are a couple of different ways. One of the biggest ways is through personal coaching because each person has their own barriers, roadblocks and giant boulders in front of them that they may not be perceptually aware of. I like to look at them and assess them and talk with them and see where we need to focus. That’s one thing I want to say. That’s my disclaimer. The other thing to simply change some of the perceptions that developing that awareness, putting those people in front of the boulders and saying, “There it is. There’s what you need.” Creating the ability to change some of the internal communication with themselves.
I do a lot of programs whether it is workshops or one-on-ones that talk about how do we replace the previous learning and the internal dialogue that we have with ourselves? How do we replace it? It’s important that when we’re ready to replace, we know that things are going to happen. We want to make sure that we don’t say, “I’m never going to say that again,” because you create a lovely vacuum. Do you know what vacuums do? They suck in all kinds of junk, anything that you come across. It might be worse programming. It might be worse comments. What you want to do is carefully and systematically replaces the old with the new and improved better version of yourself. That takes practice and skill. There are certain compensatory techniques that I teach and making that decision that you want to be better. How many people out there want to be better? That’s courage right up front right there.
I have enjoyed this conversation and I’m certain that the folks that are reading this from all over the world have gotten great value out of it. I would love for you to say the name of your book once again. I know it will be available on Amazon.
It is The 7 Tactics To Communication Completions. There is an accompanying workbook with that too. The workbook’s great because you get to take the activities and you get to do some self-development. My work on my website is DrJuleeHafner.com and I would certainly love to have comments, read the blogs and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Dr. Hafner, it’s been a pleasure and a joy to have you on the show. I appreciate you and appreciate the message that you shared with us. All of you out there, I want to say this before we depart. We’d love to get your feedback as well. If you could leave a review on iTunes, we appreciate that. You can leave comments. We’d love to hear from you. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast, please go ahead and do that. Check out all of the back episodes. We’ve got some incredible ones. Our Facebook group, it’s growing in not just size but in the engagement. There’s tremendous engagement in this Facebook group. You don’t always see that, but there are many people out there who are making the conscious decision to pivot. To pivot in regard to their mind, the way their mind processes information and how they ended up doing things as a result of that. What it is that they’re doing for a living? The decisions they’re making moment-to-moment?
There are lots of subtle and not so subtle pivots in our lives. To make a conscious decision to be better, to work on that self-improvement and that personal or professional improvement, as well as Dr. Hafner, shared with us is fundamental. I want to remind us of something that’s important and that is that now was a blessing. This moment is a blessing. My wish, my hope is that those blessings continue to multiply for all of you. That tomorrow you get to do something miraculous and that is to wake up. I’ve shared for many years around the world the three-step morning ritual which is fundamental in making those changes possible. Those conscious pivots are supported by the fact that we have to take care of ourselves that we have to have rituals for our own resilience. The best one I’ve got is the one that starts the day and it involves waking up.
Number one, that we wake up tomorrow and I hope that wherever you are, you’re agreeing and deciding that you will wake up tomorrow in both the physical sense as well as waking up your consciousness that much more than it is even now. Number two, that you have a moment of gratitude at that time that you realize that is a gift and it wasn’t guaranteed and it is a blessing. Number two, that you are grateful in that moment. Lastly, if you’re willing to do this either from your bed or from the floor or whenever it is that you’re reminded of what a blessing your life is. That you say these words out loud, talk about communication. For many people to say these words are in fact heroic communication. That it is courageous to say out loud, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” Thank you so much for joining me.
I’m so grateful to be here.
Ciao for now. We’ll see you soon.
- Dr. Julee Hafner
- The 7 Tactics To Communication Completions
- The Future Of Work
- The 7 Tactics To Communication Completions workbook
- Dr. Julee Hafner’s blogs
- LinkedIn – Dr. Julee Hafner
- Facebook – Dr. Julee Hafner
- Twitter – Dr. Julee Hafner
- The Conscious Pivot Podcast on iTunes
About Dr. Julee Hafner
Dr. Julee Hafner is a Communication Strategist who partners with executives and solopreneurs to grow their skills, human-to-human. The ability to connect on a human-to-human basis is becoming lost in today’s society. This skill has more impact on the current digital connections we make and are essential to our very survival. Communication skills can make or break your business. It can change your sales numbers. And it can make you disconnected and unhappy. Whether we make or avoid miscommunications, it maintains our silence or pushes us to say the right thing…
Communicating effectively with all types of people is an essential skill, no matter what industry you work in. Understanding what makes up productive conversations. After spending over 20 years in the communication field, working with professionals, helping them to convey their message, build effective active listening skills, and improve constructive feedback strategies, Julee knows what truly drives professionals.
Dr. Julee, an expert speaker, whose audiences have fun learning how to communicate with style, stay positive while confronting tough communication situations, and work more constructively together to solve problems while unleashing the power of communication. Professionals discover how to optimize “soft skills” for success in business.
Dr. Julee is an established researcher with experience in dealing with workplace change- the science of unlearning. Workers who use knowledge must know how to effectively update information in our digital world and convey these messages no matter the form: face-to-face, via phone, email, or on any social media.
Most importantly, Dr. Julee understands that Human Capital is every company’s most important asset. She is committed to the development of professionals through workshops, seminars, and executive mentoring. In mentoring sessions, she develops a unique relationship that benefits her clients, creating awareness, to find internal resources needed by business professionals. As a result, professionals are more aware of how to think and have strategies to improve their performance in any situation.
Dr. Julee holds a Ph.D. in Leadership from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, an M. S. in Communication Sciences from Towson University, and a B. S. degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Julee is a certified John Maxwell speaker and coach, a student of Sandler Sales Training, and certified in D.I.S.C. style analysis. She has published several books, researches and publishes in the field of unlearning- the science of knowledge change.