Episode 6: Communication Excellence with Ian Blei, Founder of Optimized Results and Author of Kind Ambition.

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Jason Interviews Ian Blei, Founder of Optimized Results and Author of Kind Ambition on the theme of Communication Excellence. Learn how to demystify communication for more effective relationships and professional associations allowing for greater connection in your personal life and increased efficiency in your professional life. Learn the three strikes of communication including assumptions, projections, and avoidance and how noticing them and avoiding them can improve your life and your relationships allowing for increased happiness and authenticity in your relationships. FInally, learn the importance of being of service of your clients as well as the power of walking your talk in increasing your credibility as a coach and growing your transformational practice as a result.

Transcript

Communication Excellence with Ian Blei, Founder of Optimized Results

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com.

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Jason McClain:  Welcome to ‘Coaching the Life Coach - Strategies to Grow Your Transformational Practice’.  I'm your host Jason McClain, your guide in the 21st century marketplace.  Today on the show we are talking about excellence in communication.  Why is demystifying communication important?

Well, what I have noticed over the years is that there is an incredible amount of time that gets wasted in at least stewing over the last interaction we just had with someone.

We use language all the time in our heads.  We talk to ourselves.  We drop a glass in the sink and either we curse the glass or we curse ourselves.  That has a lot to do with how we treat everyone else.

Assumptions are primarily about the information itself.  We don't have certain information so we fill in the blank because nature abhors a void.  So we will just come up with something out of our heads. 

Projection is more about the experience.  We don't understand what someone's experience is, so we take our own experience and extrapolate outward and say, “Ah, if it was me, then . . .” and fill in the blank.

Avoidance is, of course, how we don't find out the information.  We don't go after it for various reasons.  We just say, “OK.  Well, this is good enough.  This information, whether it is right or wrong or indifferent, we are going to hold onto this as being our ‘truth’.”

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Jason McClain: Our guest is Ian Blei of Optimized Results.  Welcome Ian.

Ian Blei:  It’s great to be here.

Jason McClain:  Ian is known for emphasizing integrity and honesty.  I am pleased to have you with us today Ian.  I'm sure that everybody could use a little bit more communication excellence.  I'm sure they care about that.

So today we are going to be talking about first, demystifying communication.  And also something you are calling The Three Strikes of Communication, which I love.  I can't wait to get into that.  And then finally will be talking about, to what you attribute your success as a coach.  So those are the three subjects we will be exploring today.

So Ian, let me first ask you a few questions about demystifying communication.  What do you mean by demystifying communication?  Isn't communication clear already? [Laughs]

Ian Blei:  That's actually stepping right into the main problem.  We seem to think that it is so easy, and it seems to be so on the surface.  But unfortunately we all speak a different variety of English.  The assumptions that we have between you're seeing in your head exactly what I am seeing in my head when I am speaking to you and then we just move on from there in this autopilot fashion.  Unfortunately, we are wrong almost all the time.

[Laughter]

Jason McClain:  Gotcha.  So the answer to that question may seem obvious.  But why is demystifying communication important?

Ian Blei:  Well, what I have noticed over the years is that there is an incredible amount of time that gets wasted in at least stewing over the last interaction we just had with someone.  It's always stewing over things like being judged or stewing over,  ‘did they really understand what I was saying?  Or did I really understand what they were saying?  Gee, if it were me it would have meant this if I had said that’, that sort of thing.

Things are not getting accomplished.  Things are not getting done while people are stewing and getting involved in all kinds of political mess.

Jason McClain:  OK.  Gotcha.  So if there were some steps, how do you assist your clients in demystifying communication?  How do you do that?

Ian Blei:  It's a number of steps.  I start out with understanding what their framework is, the way that they take in and sort information, the way their filtration system works because the most important thing to be able to do actually is to step into an interaction with a very clean slate, with a very blank slate.  The only way to do that is to know what your own stuff is so that you can empty it out before you start. 

I call it the ‘empty cup’.  It's from the old Zen story about the teacup.  The student wants to know all the rest of the information.  They feel they are ready to hear the end of it and the teacher says, “OK” and he starts filling their teacup.  It starts spilling out all over the table.  And the student is saying, “No, no.  Stop.  You are filling it too much.  It's overflowing.”  And the teacher says, “Yes, maybe you should come back when your cup is empty.”

Jason McClain:  [laughs] That's great.  That's great.  So what are some other steps or practices to demystifying communication?

Ian Blei:  Well, demystifying communication means uncovering the hidden, basically.  So the first step is I do a diagnostic phase to understand what your lens is and how you understand the world.  I use the Enneagram as my primary diagnostic tool.  It seems to work very well, because it has no clouding from behavior.

Behavior seems to be mostly about our defense systems and strategies and things like that.  It has very little to do with who we actually are.  But our motivation speaks very deeply to who we are.  So understanding that through the Enneagram helps me to understand that your words, your images, your metaphors coming from the lens with which you see life.

Jason McClain:  And the Enneagram, for those lay people out there, is some sort of typing system or some sort of classification?  What is that?

Ian Blei:  It is a wonderfully misunderstood system that on one end is somewhat of a typology, typing system.  But for the most part, it can really be simplified as imagining yourself sitting around a circle with a number of people.  Everyone has a field of view that is directly in front of them.  Everybody sees a slightly different picture directly in front of them.  Nobody sees directly what is behind them.  That is our blind spot.  And our field of view in front of us is how we see life.

Jason McClain:  Fantastic.  Great.  And so Ian, what does it make possible for people when they demystify communication, when they understand motivations and when they understand these filters, and they really start to take these necessary steps to demystify communication?  What does it open up in their lives?  What does it make possible or allow for?

Ian Blei:  It opens up an ability to connect not only with other people in a much more authentic fashion, but also an ability to connect with themselves in a much more authentic fashion.  We use language all the time in our heads. We talk to ourselves.  We drop a glass in the sink and either we curse the glass or we curse ourselves.  That has a lot to do with how we treat everyone else.

So understanding how this works, we can start to become much more conscious and aware of how we approach these situations, rather than just the autopilot - push the button and there it is.

Jason McClain:  Perfect.  Thank you.  Is there anything else you would like to say about demystifying communication?

Ian Blei:  Well, primarily that it is not as complex as we are afraid that it is.  A lot of the time, what we are avoiding is this dark, vague, scary area.  As soon as we start digging into it, it actually becomes pretty fun.  It's actually an enjoyable process.  It's not a scary process at all.

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Jason McClain:  Great.  Thank you.  We are going to take a short break to support our sponsors.  I'm Jason McClain, your host on Coaching the Life Coach.  I am here with Ian Blei, talking about communication excellence.  We will be right back.

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[Commercial]

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Jason McClain:  Welcome back.  I'm Jason McClain, here with Ian Blei.  Before the break we were talking about steps to demystifying communication. 

The next thing I would love to ask you is about this concept you have of the Three Strikes of Communication.  Can you say what you mean about that?  It sounds very interesting.

Ian Blei: Well, the three strikes are assumptions, projections and avoidance.  All three of them combine to fill up the space where we would normally be asking questions and finding out the real information.

Jason McClain:  And can you say what each of those are?

Ian Blei: Sure.  Assumptions are primarily about the information itself.  We don't have certain information.  So we fill in the blank because nature abhors a void. So we will just come up with something out of our heads. 

Projection is more about the experience.  We don't understand what someone's experience is, so we take our own experience and extrapolate outward and say, “Ah, if it was me, then . . .” and fill in the blank.

Avoidance is, of course, how we don't find out the information.  We don't go after it for various reasons.  We just say, “OK.  Well, this is good enough.  This information, whether it is right or wrong or indifferent, we are going to hold onto this as being our ‘truth’.”

Jason McClain:  OK.  So why is it important to avoid these strikes?

Ian Blei:  In order to connect with another person it is imperative that we actually ‘get’ what they are trying to say and what they are feeling etcetera.  When we fill in the blanks, what we have done is, on several levels, on one level we have disallowed their experience and disallowed anything that they have to bring to the interaction.

The other thing that we've done is we've, on another level shut them out by letting them know either nonverbally or energetically or whatever that we are so full of the information that we have created in our own mind that there is no way to get across that bridge.  There is no bridge to make.

The avoidance is just a reaffirmation of  “Whatever is in my head is good enough so I don't need to go after it.”  But it can be from anything from, “Well, I love the connection that I think we have, so I am going to pretend that I know what's going on in your head.  And I pretend that I know what's going on in your heart.”  By doing that I actually shut you out so that you can't let me know what that is.

Jason McClain:  So there is a sense in which we live in this illusion, because we like the illusion, is that what you're saying?

Ian Blei:  Exactly.  It can either be because we like the illusion or it can be because we are genuinely afraid.  There can be anxiety that, “Well, if I don't know this information, you'll judge me.  You'll think I'm dumb because I don't know it.  Or you'll think I wasn't listening to you, because I don't know it.  Or I will feel some kind of shame around it.”  It's something along those lines.

Jason McClain:  OK.  Great.  Thanks.  So what does it make possible in people's lives if they avoid these three strikes?  What does it open up in their relationships, for them personally, etcetera?

Ian Blei:  It's kind of miraculous.  It's a very simple and a very tiny little adjustment that has enormous ramifications.  By dispensing with it, again, this comes back to that empty cup principle, so the void, the vacuum that we create opens up all of this space for the real information to happen where we can find out what the other person is really thinking and really feeling etcetera.  Nine times out of 10 it is nowhere near as bad as what we were creating in our own mind.  So it reduces a whole lot of stress and anxiety.

On the other side of it, it allows us to actually really, really connect rather than this hopeful, pretend connection that we think we have with people.

Jason McClain: Right.  Thanks Ian.  Is there anything else you would like to say about the Three Strikes  - of Communication that is?

Ian Blei:  [laughs] As opposed to baseball!  The most important thing again is coming down to this, every time you say in your own head, “Wow, if it was me saying that . . .” or “If it were me doing that . . .” if we can just catch ourselves in that one little tiny piece of non compos mentis behavior, then we can put a little interrupt there and say, “Ah!  But it isn't me.  So let me find out what this person means by that.”

Jason McClain:  So in a way, staying in the not knowing and inquiring, inquiring, inquiring?

Ian Blei:  Exactly.  Exactly.  The more that we are in this space of an appreciative inquiry where we are not badgering the person with questions necessarily, but we are never assuming that we know.  If you say in your head, “I don't know” then you open up a space to learn.  But as soon as you say, “I do know” even if you don't, you have closed that space for learning.

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Jason McClain:  Perfect, thanks Ian.  We are going to take a break to support our sponsors.  I'm Jason McClain here with Ian Blei of Optimized Results and we are talking about communication excellence.  And we will be right back.

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Jason McClain:  Welcome back to Coaching the Life Coach.  Before the break we were talking about the Three Strikes of Communication.

Now Ian I would like to ask you to what do you attribute your success as a life coach?  This would be the single most important principle you think there is or a single quality or an approach, something of that nature, some structure or some system.

Ian Blei:  I'd say probably the most important thing is that I completely live my work.  By that I mean, that I embody what I do, almost involuntarily.  I cannot not do what I do; it is so much a part of me.  I'm sure that that comes across.  I'm sure that there is no way that my clients have any other picture in their mind other than I am totally, 100% dedicated to their success.  I don't have any other agenda.  And that comes across and I am able to rid myself of my own ‘stuff’ when I am with them so that I can join and in their experience and not be projecting and not be assuming and certainly not avoiding anything but jumping right in to the thick of it with them.

Jason McClain: Perfect.  Why is it important?  Why is living your work important and why it is really just being fully of service important, from your perspective?

Ian Blei:  It sort of comes back to the old Gandhi quote about ‘We must become the change we want to see’.  I don't think that you can never really break away from the hypocrisy that people will get even on a subconscious level if you are not actually living what you say, breathing it every day of the week.

Jason McClain:  It kind of cuts the credibility a little bit. [Laughs]

Ian Blei:  [laughs] Exactly.  Exactly.  And there is something to be said for just the aspect of living by example.  If you are trying to help people to see that this works, then you certainly have to be doing it so that they can see it in action.  It's not just a verbal thing.  It's not just a cerebral thing.  But there it is actually happening.  So that level of connection that you are talking about them being able to accomplish, you are accomplishing with them right there in the room.  They get it.  They say, “Hey, this is kind of neat.  I want to do this too.”

Jason McClain:  Perfect.  And so Ian how is it that you as a coach always remind yourself or have integrated your work?  How is it that you live your work?  What steps have you taken or would you recommend other life coaches take?

Ian Blei:  Well, it definitely is, I would say probably the most important thing that any coach can do is hire themselves regularly.  If you are a good coach you should definitely hire yourself and look at how you’re doing what you're doing.  Do regular, periodic checkups on your self.  And give yourself coaching exercises in life.  Give yourself things and little places to stretch, little places to grow.  And measure.  You need to be able to look and measure and say, “OK.  Am I doing what I originally intended to do?  What adjustments need to be made to tweak it here or tweak it there and come in, where I want to be?”

Jason McClain:  [laughs] I know I’ve been glad I hired myself on the few occasions.  “Gee, if I were Jason” [laughs]

Ian Blei:  Exactly.

Jason McClain:  “And Jason was my client,” or “If I was Jason's coach, what would I tell him to do here?  What practices would I tell him to take on?”  That's great.  And then, what I am curious is, as a life coach, which do you feel it opens up with your clients and with yourself and your business when you live your work and it is clear to your clients that you are living your work?

Ian Blei:  If I had to pick one word, it would be ‘liberation’.  It is an absolutely liberating process, because to be driven by fixations, to be driven by unconscious compulsions, to be driven by all of these things that we don't quite know why we are doing it this way, why are we repeating patterns that we have told ourselves a thousand times we are not going to do anymore?  And yet we find ourselves doing it.

So, to be able to untie yourself from those kinds of fixations and understand it and become conscious of that and say, “Ah, there is that thing again.  I'm not going to go there!”  allows you to feel much more in charge and much more in control of your own life and a lot easier.  It's just more comfortable and free.

Jason McClain:  I think we'd all like to feel a little more comfortable and free. [Laughs]  Thanks Ian.

Listeners can reach me, Jason McClain, the host of Coaching the Life Coach at [email protected].

Ian, we are almost out of time, but I just have one more question for you.  I'm curious if you could tell us a story to really demonstrate the power of some of these techniques and approaches, this mindset of demystifying communication, not making any assumptions, things of that nature?  Is there a story that would really illustrate this in a meaty way for our listeners?

Ian Blei:  Sure.  Without going too deeply into any actual Enneagramic typing and whatnot –

Jason McClain:  Yeah, let's avoid that!

Ian Blei:  Let's avoid that.  The difference between perspectives can be so extreme as to almost look like people coming from different planets.  The view of the world is so different.  A number of years ago, I had this experience of someone having a stroke and being in a coma.  Two people were rushing off to go and take care of her.  One person sees the way to do this as holding her hand, giving her a good energy, loving, la, la, la.  The other person disappears for a few days and then comes back and does some mechanical stuff that actually works to bring her out of the coma.

Jason McClain:  When you say mechanical stuff, do you mean raised her arms?

Ian Blei:  Actually shifted the angle of the bed to allow for her cerebrospinal fluid to mix at the right ratio.  So, in checking in, like what the heck was this all about?  The person who had left had apparently spent the last two days studying stroke care, cerebrospinal fluid and everything on the Net and had learned how to fix the problem.  Because their view of the world is if there is something wrong, I need to fix it.  If there is a problem here, I need to fix it.

The other person is thinking in terms of, how can I help?  How can I help?  How can I help?

Jason McClain:  More from a loving, compassionate kind of way?

Ian Blei:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Here is the difference.  They are actually both exactly as wrapped up in the love and compassion, but it shows up in such a different way that it can be completely misconstrued and completely misinterpreted.  The person who is showing love and compassion through fixing the problem is seen as being cold, when in fact it has nothing to do with that.  It's just another way of looking at the world.

Jason McClain:  And they brought her out of the coma. [Laughs]

Ian Blei:  Which is what often happens in a lot of the world.  We look at ‘the geeks shall inherit the earth’; well there is a whole other aspect of that where they are actually getting things done that need to be done!  And as much as we can look at them and say, “Wow, if it were me I'd be all weird if I was doing that.”  In fact, they are seeing the world completely as if they are sitting in a circle across from us.  And they see what is behind our head.  And we see what is behind their head.  And it's a completely different picture of the world.

Jason McClain:  Perfect.  Thanks for joining us today and sharing your insights Ian.

Ian Blei:  Thank you.

Jason McClain:  I'm curious, how can people reach you?  Do you do coaching with couples, individuals, both?

Ian Blei:  Absolutely.  Individuals, couples, organizations, teams.  I basically look at couples is being small teams or teams as being very large couples.  It's the same process.  I do coaching, seminars, workshops, and I have a book out called ‘Kind Ambition’.

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Jason McClain:  ‘Kind Ambition’, great.  How can people reach you?

Ian Blei:  My website is www.optimized-results.com.

Jason McClain:  Great.  Thanks again for joining us Ian.  That brings us to the end of our show.  Thank you for listening.  For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at personallifemedia.com.  This is your host Jason McClain, your guide in the 21st century marketplace.

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