Two years ago, my business partner invited me to tag along to an event about masterminds. I had no idea who the host was, but I knew we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t important. Little did I realize that I was in for a life-changing experience where I’d gain a mentor who would not only become my role model for life-and-business-goals but would also become a bit of a father figure.
It all started when he took the stage, and I was taken aback by how different he was. The way he commanded the room with a quiet sense of confidence changed the way I looked at communication forever.
Coming from an entertainment background, I’d always seen leading men and hosts the same way — big personalities that you couldn’t help but notice.
Jay was different.
Jay didn’t have loud, showy tactics to get the attention of the room. He didn’t come on stage dancing and getting the audience amped. He waited for the audience to simmer, drawing people in with his heartfelt stories and undeniable brilliance. It was impossible to be in the room and not feel that his entire being was dedicated to making other people’s lives better.
The way he communicated with his audience made them hungry for more. All eyes were on him, and he created a community among a room of strangers in less than three days. Here are the lessons he taught me.
Don’t slow your roll for someone else.
Like most events, there was a firehose worth of information to absorb, and this guy spoke fast. An audience member went to the microphone and asked him to slow down so they could take better notes.
My chest contracted a little with the level of head nods I saw around the room. Even minimal confrontation gave me a fight or flight feeling, but this man didn’t skip a beat!
“We’ve got a lot of information to get through that I promised we’d cover, so we’re not going to slow down. But fun fact, your brain will catch up to the pace naturally.” With that statement, he continued on with the content.
In this matter-of-fact, unapologetic reply, he communicated to the entire audience that he was dedicated to keeping his commitments, which meant not pandering to individual requests that didn’t support the group.
He did not give in to the limiting belief that his audience couldn’t keep up. Instead, he inspired them to listen deeper and focus more while earning a deeper level of respect from the room.
Sugarcoating need not apply.
Throughout the weekend, there were a lot of questions and stories shared by the audience. Some of them engaging and moving, and others… more rambling and disjointed. The second variety usually came from people who either weren’t listening, had some kind of agenda, or wanted to enroll Jay and the audience in their limiting beliefs.
Jay listened to all of the comments with an equal level of focus, respect, and connection. He let every person share until they were complete and each answer he gave was thoughtful. But what he didn’t do was deliver overly nice replies. Instead, he mastered the art of the “I hear you, and…” response.
This was genius. It was a way to validate someone’s emotions and experiences while helping them take responsibility for creating change or seeing things differently. His answers weren’t based on emotion, and there was zero finger-pointing involved.
Jay just slid his hand into the front pocket of his jeans and simply stated the advice like a mechanic saying, “Dude, you’ve got a flat tire. Until you change the tire for a new one, driving your car is going to both suck and be dangerous.”
This style of communicating consistently made it clear for the audience members what to do next and empowered them to make changes. By not sugarcoating the truth and believing in his audience’s ability to overcome whatever they were facing, Jay was able to inspire attendees to believe in themselves and take action.
They either want it or they don’t.
This was a lesson that made me laugh out loud. If you’ve ever been to a live event, then you know after the group comes back from breaks, it can be a little loud and chaotic. It usually takes some effort to get the room to pay attention again.
The room was buzzing, and Jay sat in a chair on the stage. “Okay, gang. Let’s get started.” That’s all he said. What he did next was brilliant. He didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t stand up and motion for everyone to quiet down. Nope.
He leaned back in his chair, shrugged, crossed his arms, and waited.
There wasn’t any stress in his face or body language. I was in awe at the power of the nonverbal statement. His energy read: You either want to learn some tools that can change your life or you don’t. Your choice.
There was no question in him whether or not he was worth listening to or if he could get the audience to be quiet. He knew what he had to share was valuable and he was unattached to whether or not the audience would take full advantage of his expertise. So he waited, and the commotion died down quicker than the hush that fell over the crowd.
All I could think was, this is what powerful communication and respect look like.
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Photo Credit: @theunsteady5 on Unsplash