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7 Sins Of Inspiring Communication Or How Not To Inspire Others

May 16, 2011 fm

Today, I will leave my own path of positivism and constructivism. Enough of “How-tos”, enough of “You-could-even-do-better-by-…”, enough of sugarcoating. Enough!

And – why not? A father myself, today I listen more carefully to what other parents tell their children. “Don’t do this!” and “Don’t do that!”. Frankly, this seems to be the language we understand best.

Today, I will not tell you about how to inspire people around you. Instead, I will tell you about how NOT to inspire people around you.

Today, I will offer you the 7 Sins of Inspiring Communication.

01 No Positivism

According to dictionary.com the verb “inspire” means “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence.”

Those whose glass is always half empty wil never, never, never, never inspire others. Not in this universe. Not on this planet. Not in the past, not in the present, not in the future. Period.

02 No Passion

JFK inspired generations – during his life, after his death. He loved politics and diplomacy. He was a passionate Democrat and he passionately fought for freedom.

Gandhi inspired generations – during his life, after his death. He loved justice and self-determination. He fought peacefully and passionately for it.

Vince Lombardi inspired American Football fans – far beyond the city limits of Greenbay. He just loved the game.

No passion and no love for what you do equals no inspiration for others.

03 No Enthusiasm

Speakers and leaders stiff as tin soldiers cannot throw sparkles of excitement at others. A boring attitude – a monotonous voice combined with an ever mute body language – will never engage anyone.

The vibrating voice of MLK at Lincoln memorial, filled with anger, frustration and hope, did inspire 500,000 people.

Not expressing your emotions, not sharing your excitement, not showing enthusiasm for your cause – you will not inspire others.

04 No Constructivism

Are you inspired by people who put you down with destructive comments and destructive feedback?

Are you inspired by comments like “I didn’t like…”, “I missed…”, “You failed in…”?

If you are that person who makes those comments, you might be a good manager, but you will never be a great leader. Not helping others grow, not giving constructive feedback – you will never inspire others.

05 No Humaneness

Who inspires you? An unemotional robot or a human being? I remember the former CEO of Siemens starting his speech talking about his passion for soccer. Human, humorous, approachable.

Weaknesses, worries, failures, pride, envy, but also joy, strengths, self-realization – how difficult it is for people to openly address these and other human facets. They constantly hide any of these aspects in order to protect themselves against an illusionary evil.

Yet, without connecting with your people on a human level, you will never inspire them to follow your cause.

Just one question… Was Gandhi human?

06 No Example

Every Disney top executive has to sell french fries and tickets at their fun parks once a year.

Every Mc Donald’s top executive has to cook and sell burgers once a year.

Every new Lidl (European discounter) manager has to work in one of their stores for two weeks.

For an inspiring leader and communicator it doesn’t even take HR regulations to make him or her become an example, a role model.

Once I gave an inspiring communication seminar for the management team of a Munich-based hotel. The hotel director called me in advance because he wasn’t sure whether he should participate or not.

Of course, I made him participate. Those were magical moments when his team began to evaluate him in the seminar. It was so inspiring for them to experience their leader’s spirit of self-improvement. He is a leader by example.

In an ivory tower there is no space for inspiration.

07 No Vision

“To fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence.” Can we fill anyone with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence without vision? No.

Are you inspired by people who see less than you? Or, are you inspired by people who see more than yourself?

Jonathan Swift says, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” Your job as an inspiring communicator is to give them eyeglasses, binos, telescopes – to make them see what you already see.

If you have no vision, go back to

01 No Positivism.

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