How to Overcome Barriers to Effective Communication-Part 2

People tend to mirror others, and when you behave, purposefully, in a way that says you understand and support their dreams — the objectives that are pulling them forward — they tend to want to understand and support yours.

Last time, we talked about non-person obstacles, both physical and circumstantial. We saw how, in making agreements with our parents about dangers in the world and important behaviors, we formed beliefs. With those beliefs in place, we have a guide-path for our behavior.

Now, let’s talk about person obstacles.

Obstacle 3: Person — Other

Person obstacles are a bigger challenge than non-person ones. They still involve agreements we make, but what’s more important is how we deal with a person being an obstacle to our resolve.

The first, most organic way to transform people from being obstacles to being allies, or at least not to stand in your way, is to influence them to do so. Influence is a long-term, lifestyle-based approach. And it’s a subject best discussed at length, at another time.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll say that the essential formula for influence others is this . . .

Build a bridge. This is the connection part of communication. It’s created by having and demonstrating respect, and the beauty of it is that it also commands respect from the other person. You invoke conversations.

Build rapport, mainly through active listening. You’ve begun to build rapport when you started building the bridge (in the previous paragraph), and now you’re building it in a nearly irresistible way. Listening involves several levels of quiet communication on your part — body language primarily but also spoken language — and if this is a new skill, mastering it will be a challenge.

Buy in. Listen for hints of the other person’s dream and encourage it. As you’re doing so, he or she is opening up and preparing to reciprocate, buying into your dream or objective.

People tend to mirror others, and when you behave, purposefully, in a way that says you understand and support their dreams — that is, the objectives that are pulling them forward — they tend to want to understand and support yours.

That sentence, the one just above, is hugely important for you to understand.

You then lead through having a resolve you can articulate. That resolve is going to have objectives — big ones and small ones — and one of them is going to be a victory that person can take on for himself. When one of your victories becomes that other person’s adopted victory, you’ve got a strong ally and a worthy workmate.

Obstacle 4: Person — Self

This is often the toughest obstacle of all. If you’re willing to tackle your own self-defeating behaviors, it’s a journey that’s as fulfilling as it is challenging. If you’re not willing, you avoid that growth-pain, but you also forever miss out on everything you could be, do, and possess.

Human beings are dream creatures, and all great achievements involve a person knowing what will pull her forward (instead of spending life pushing and pushing) and then leading a team to accomplish it.

One of the best ways of knowing what your dream is — what pulls you forward through life — is answering the 5 Whys.

Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota Industries, came up with this brilliantly simple method of finding root causes of problems that came up in the manufacturing process.

But it’s just as valuable for discovering what your dream is: what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and work hard. I don’t mean a life-dream you inherited from a parent. And I don’t mean the expectations of some other authority in your life.

Living your dream is where you’ll discover your destiny. It’s where your greatest efforts will be realized, along with your greatest achievements.

And, by the way, there’s nothing special about the number five in the 5 Whys. When I went through this exercise, I asked, “Why?” four times to find out what my greatest motivator in working was. For you, it might only be 3 Whys.

Doesn’t matter. Just ask until you get to an irreducible level.

First, write down your intention. For example, “I want to create [this business, whatever it is for you].” Or it could be, “I want to double my income this coming year.”

Let’s say it’s this: “I want to start [this business].” Actually name the business. Then, ask, “Why?”

Maybe your answer is, “I want to make a million dollars a year.”


“I want to live in Montana, on a ranch.”


“I want to feel the wind in my face and hear the sounds of nature.”


“To me, these things represent freedom and a stress-free life. That’s what I want: freedom and relaxation.”

That’s it. That’s what you’re working toward. Make it your banner.

There’s a lot more to overcoming self-oriented obstacles than the 5 Whys. Everyone needs a cheering section, for example, and there are ways of developing it. There are even ways of becoming your own cheering section.

And make no mistake, when you have a cheering section in place, you can perform better than (what you think is) your best. I prove it to my workshop participants all the time.

For now, use this exercise — the 5 (or however many) Whys — to discover what really pulls you forward. It will help you overcome a host of psychological and emotional things that seek to drag you down.

Next time, we’ll talk about your almost magically powerful imagination and how you can use it to overcome obstacles.

© 2016 Stephen D. Wedan

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