Conversatin' on the improve it! Couch: Using Active Communication and Learning How to "Walk the Walk"

improve you blog.png

Join Allie & Erin on the improve it! couch to chat about why "Effective Communication" is our most popular workshop, how they "Walk the Walk" with their internal team, and their communication role models.

Feel free to listen in via podcast, or get the highlights from the conversation below!

Curious how to apply the improve it! methodology to your own dreams? Check out our "Active Communication" DIY Coaching Curriculum here as a part of our improve You! Series.

Why Erin developed "Effective Communication" as one of the first improve it! workshops:

Erin: So, I will say... the crux of any good organization or any good leader is effective communication. And it’s a part of what we do – it’s how we operate. So, if we’re not communicating number one with empathy, but also being cognizant of the way we carry our tone, the way we carry our bodies, how we listen – and then how we make others feel with what we say, I think then we’re not being the best leader we can be.

Because you and I, we tend to overcommunicate versus undercommunicate – and that’s why we work so well together. And I think sometimes, in my experience in the professional world – I noticed that, the people that I latched onto and the leaders that I want to follow were people who communicated with passion, were people who were empathetic, that I trusted. And I think a lot of what "Effective Communication" is, is establishing trust with the way that you carry yourself.

I heard this somewhere on a quote board, it said that your smile is your business card.


On how Erin and Allie stay honest with positive communication:

Erin: I have noticed that a lot of times – we say this in our Effective Communication workshops – arms crossed sometimes means we’re cold, right?

[both laugh]

Allie: Sometimes it’s temperature.

Erin: Because we live in Chicago! However, if I’m in a meeting, I have cognizant-ly moved my arms away from my chest. Or if I’m sitting at a table and I’m leaning on the table and I’m just, not looking at the person and my body language is slumped. Versus sitting up, making eye contact – I’ll notice myself and I’ll quickly adjust. Just because we talk about it so much! So I definitely try with my body to be all in. Even if it’s as simple as – if I’m writing an email to someone, and someone has a question in the office – I’ll say, “Hold on give me one minute to finish this thought.” Or I’ll remember to turn away from the desk and turn my body toward the person. And I don’t always do that – I sometimes slip, it’s a cognizant thing to do that.

Allie: That’s a good one… I’m trying to think…

Erin: Yea – what do you do?

Allie: Listening is something I definitely, actively try to make myself do when I’m communicating with people. ...I know your professional history is very people-oriented. And it’s very communicative. Versus my professional history is very – solitary. I worked a lot with computers and writing things on my own – and of course there was an element of speaking to clients and you work on a team and everything, but even then it wasn’t a priority to have great communication for whatever reason – we don’t have to get into why.

So, I’m not comfortable or used to coming in every morning and checking in with everybody and saying, “How was your day?” and all that. To me in my robot brain, I think, “I don’t need to talk to them, I need to finish the things I said I would do today – they’re busy too.” It’s not like I don’t care about anyone else, it’s just not an instinct of mine. Versus for you, I think it definitely is. So that’s something I think – “Oh, yea – that’s a good idea.” Because we’re literally in a box!

[Both laugh]

Erin: We’re in a box!

Allie: And reading the room – sometimes it’s just a couple of us in here and, you know, and we’re both pretty focused I’m like, “Okay, I don’t have to talk.” But I have to actively engage with other people. And listening, especially in client meetings. Because a lot of times, clients want to say what they want to say. Even if it’s something that’s already been said, or something that doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re doing. Sometimes just sitting and being that sponge for them is helpful and creates that bond.


On Erin and Allie's Communication Role Models:

Erin: I ALWAYS have loved Oprah. I know that’s everybody’s go-to, but I have loved her since I was 13 years old – I wanted to be Oprah. It was kind of a joke, my last name used to be Holbrook so they used to call me “The Erin Holbrook Show” and I had nothing to talk about. But I just thought she was so wonderful because people would come to her show and leave happier. And I think now, I see Ellen Degeneres as my biggest idol because she’s sort of a blend of everything we do. She is a fantastic interviewer, she’s a great listener but she’s also funny. And she incorporates physicality with the dancing – but you never see someone go on her show and she never makes them feel bad about themselves or uncomfortable. She uplifts them and she uses humor to do that... What about you?

Allie: I like Ellen and Oprah. The people recently that have really struck me, specifically in communication and presentation of themselves…. Either last year or a couple years ago, Viola Davis…

Erin: Ohhh! Yes!

Allie:…Presented Meryl Streep with some kind of lifetime achievement award. And I remember the first three seconds, she just stood on the stage in a way that everyone got quiet. And I remember watching it and being like, “Oof – that’s good.” People who can just command a room with their presence and without speaking. Just being very confident, and quiet, and patient. I think that’s something, when I’m trying to be a leader I always revert to over-explaining. Especially since we’re younger entrepreneurs and younger people, I think we want to prove that we know what we’re talking about so we over-talk sometimes and I find myself doing that sometimes on conversations with people or client calls. Instead of just saying, “This is what it is” – end of sentence, wait for the response. She does that and I think it’s amazing, she has such a wonderful presence. And also, I’ll say Hilary Clinton.

[both laugh]

Allie: Watching all her debates. Just, the same thing – just patient, precise, and confident. I think are things I’m like – okay, I want to be able to do those things.


On What to Expect from "Active Communication":

Allie: If you could administer either this ["Active Communication" improve You!] course or the Effective Communication course to everyone in the world and they could come away with one thing, what would you want that thing to be?

Erin: ...I think it’s – be thoughtful in every action that you do when interacting with someone else, and make someone feel better after they’ve left talking with you. Make them walk away and think, “Wow, that was a positive experience.”