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Today we focus on 38% of communication. 

Coaching Question: What intonation do you use with yourself (inner self-talk)? With others?

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Make the choice to use your intonation to make Jesus recognizable in your communication.

The interesting thing about strategic communication is the fact that we have a choice to be strategic or not. When we are not strategic in the way we communicate, more often than not, we get hijacked by our triggers. When we are hijacked by triggers our emotions get involved and do a funny thing: they cause us to attribute motives to other people’s behavior that are not aligned with truth. For example, you find out that one of your colleagues in upper management sent out an email to coordinate a meeting and you were not included. Instantly you feel triggered into negative emotions fueled by the feeling of being overlooked which may fuel the assumption that you were left out of the meeting invite because they don’t feel that you are doing a good job or that you don’t bring value to the conversation. Instantly you become a mind-reader who begins to fortune tell (make up a story about something in the future). This is how drama begins to take over our relationships. The foundation of drama is built on a bed of lies or half-truths that create dis-connect and disruption within relationships we actually care about.

When we are triggered, we often attribute false motives to people’s behaviors. The solution is to ask for clarity using an intonation that honors God: I noticed I wasn’t included on an email for an upcoming meeting…I’m curious as to your thinking around that? Satan wants to pit us against each other and tempts us into the pit of attributing false motives to people’s behavior. The case study above is based on a true story from a client of mine who found out the real reason why they were not included in the meeting invite: Their colleague saw that they had back-to-back meetings that particular day and thought they would give them a break.

The ONE thing that will give you entrance into strategic communication which is too often overlooked is your intonation. When you offer up your intonation to be used by the Holy Spirit to bring Glory to God, you discover a freedom in your ability to deliver messages that are well received. Why? Because the intonation you use is void of shame, blame or judgment. We have a tool in Sherpa Executive Coaching called: I am right, and I am wrong. It falls under one of the 4 areas of intimidation: Intimidation by demand. You are right in wanting to share your ideas, opinions and feedback and you are wrong in your delivery. Only 7% of communication is the words we use, approximately 58% is your body language (particularly your facial expressions) and 38% is your intonation.

Colossians 3 invites us to clothe ourselves with kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience and above all, love. As you ground your intonation in the love God has for you, an effective archway through which you can deliver kind, compassionate messages with gentleness and patience begins to emerge.

Too often we underestimate the impact of intonation when it comes to gaining clarity within a crucial conversation. It’s not what you say it’s how you say it. In the Biblical DISC personality profile, there are four traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. Simply put, some people are: Task Driven, People Driven, Process Driven and Logic (data) Driven. Intonation matters most when communicating with someone who is people driven and/or process driven. Task driven and Logic driven people also care about intonation yet are more prone to forget the importance of intonation in the midst of asking for the data they need or moving a task forward toward completion.  Often times putting things before people causes kind intonation in the delivery of the “words” we use to take a back seat, yet it can make ALL the difference in the outcomes we desire to see in our relationships.

Take Action:

This week observe the intonation you use, with yourself (inner self-talk) and others.

  • Is it kind?
  • Loving?
  • Does it reflect patience and grace?
  • Does it come across as condescending?
  • Pushy?
  • Critical?
  • Demanding?

Emotional Intelligence in Christ invites us to move past our judgements into high noticing around the presence of the Holy Spirit within us who moves us to make the love of God recognizable in this world. When we are left to our own triggers and emotional flare-ups, drama overrides positive forward steps in our relationships.

This is for sure a job for Jesus. He was masterful at the use of His intonation to drive home truth in a loving way. Ask for His help. Give Him permission to use your intonation to make His love and grace available to the people you encounter. An example comes from John 4 when Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. He declares the truth of her situation with such divine delivery (packaged in truth, love and grace) that the woman doesn’t get defensive and takes accountability for her situation as she declares Him to be a prophet and then accepts Him as her Savior. Read John 4:4-42.

Emotional Intelligence in Christ is the activation (wakefulness, attentiveness) of the Holy Spirit within us to help us discern and manage our emotions and behaviors (intonation, body language) in a way that honors God, by loving others well as Jesus did. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I invite you to make the love of my Savior recognizable in the intonation I use with myself and others, more today than yesterday.

It’s easy in the midst of hardship to use a harsh intonation. Explore the witness of Joni Eareckson Tada on how to stand in Christ in the eye of the storm: Don’t Waste Your Suffering Part 3 With Joni Eareckson Tada

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