On this episode of Communicate I/O, Erica reminds listeners that on average organizations waste $12,506 PER employee PER year on poor communication (and this number increases as your salary increases). One way to help mitigate this? By implementing the law of little things. Listen to this episode to find out what that is! For more information on the power of language and communication, download Erica’s FREE ebook here!
This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart on the Communicate I/O podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!
outcomes, communication, inputs, achieve, problem, law, feel, leaders, team, overhaul, project, terms, apply, verbs, brain, communicate, protocol
Erica Mills Barnhart
Welcome to the Communicate I/O podcast. If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a regular listener, thank you for being here. In this episode, I want to offer you a few small virtual switch ups that can make a big difference. So sometimes, when we’re thinking about communication, it can feel overwhelming, like you have to overhaul something to “get it right”. But in my experience, the law of little things can make a huge, magical difference. What do I mean by that? So, before we go deeper on the law and how you can put it into play, let’s reset the table on how high achieving purpose center leaders like you are going to get the best bang for communication buck, you’re going to start by asking, what are the outcomes I want or need to achieve with this communication? Let me just back up for a quick sec. If I can, communication buck, the best bang, the best ROI for your buck, I just want to remind us of a startling statistic. That is on average organizations waste $12,506 per employee. Now that’s for an entire organization. For leaders who have a higher salary, his can be anywhere from $17,000 to $30,000. And it goes up and up and up, the bigger your salary, the bigger the wastage because it turns out individual employees within an organization wastes almost one full day per week, one full day, almost 20% It’s like 19.68% or something, they lose the time because of ineffective communication. So, this is worth figuring out right? Like think of the time savings, the cost savings, the like happy feelings that will come out of this. Okay, so that’s what I mean by getting the biggest bang for your communication buck. Okay, so the communication can be anything from an email to a big speech, it doesn’t matter. The Communicate I/O protocol remains the same. Now, of course, you’re busy. So, you’ll want to make strategic choices about when you take the time to really, really think through this system and the protocol and apply it versus when you’re just rushing through something doesn’t feel as high stakes. Definitely, definitely, definitely. If you know that your communication, how it lands really matters. Work the protocol, right? So, you start with outcomes. That’s the O, both tangible and intangible, right? And then reverse engineer into the inputs. That’s the words and all the other things that are options in terms of input when it comes to communication. Now let’s look at the law of little things as it relates to something outside of the workplace, right, we’re going to ease on into that. Let’s take for instance, shedding some weight. I am coming off what I refer to as birthday palooza. Birthday palooza for me occurred in April when it is my birthday. It was fabulous. I ate so much delicious food with friends and family and loved ones and it was just oh my gosh, endless blessings. And I also consume more adult beverages than I usually consume. Those were the inputs, the food, the adult beverages, all of that. The outcome was not surprisingly, you know, I put on about five pounds. I expected this so I’m not really fussed about it. But you know, I’m also keen to get to my regular scheduled size. I’m not that tall. Not that big. So actually, five pounds matters. It sounds like oh Erica, who cares? Criminy don’t you have bigger things to worry about? I do, but this is on my mind because I want to feel like good in my body. Okay, so let’s be clear, the outcome applying the protocol is that I want to achieve losing these five pounds, you know losing weight is such a weird term, can we just pause on that, like, do you ever want to find it? Not really. I hear people say, let go of the weight, that feels a bit more, you know, compassionate. So, I want to let go, release back into the world, these five pounds, the tangible outcome of that will be that I can comfortably wear all my clothes again, which will be real nice. The intangible outcome is that I’m going to feel much better in my body, right? Proud, confident. So how will I switch up my inputs to get the outcomes I desire? Not a juice cleanse, no fasting, nothing extreme, right? Because as we all know, if you do that, they’re just going to find their way back onto the body. Nope. Instead, I will apply and I’m applying the law of little things throughout the day, each day, this looks like leaving two to three bites on my plate each meal, it looks like having one bite of chocolate, those are so good, right? And they’re in the like, the metal wrapping, and they have those inspirational quotes inside. I love chocolate, I really do. Right. And I’m going to have one rather than two, after dinner, it looks like a reasonable number of adult beverages during the week. You know, none of this is extreme. There’s no sense of sacrifice, which I think is so lovely and important. It’s just little things. But these little things add up, and then voila, results are achieved my outcomes and desired outcomes are achieved. You know, I’m going to be able to check that box next to desired outcomes without much sacrifice, achieved magic. When I first started trying this, I felt so too. It was right there with you. But I’m telling you, it works. And it works from a place of being so kind and compassionate with ourselves. And you know, there’s lots more to say about that as it relates to communication and leadership and just being humans. But as it relates to what did I say? Shedding No, not shedding, letting go of weight. It really it comes from a place of compassion and kindness rather than like self-flagellation, and like, you shouldn’t have had so much food. It was delicious. I don’t regret one single bite of birthday Palooza food consumption, fan friggin tastic. And here I am. It’s not good or bad. It just is. So, let’s apply this the law of little things to workplace communication. Okay. There are so many possible inputs when it comes to communication. It’s dazzling right there. It depends on the source, but somewhere between 250,000 to a million words in the English language. And the average adult goes through 15,000 words per day. So that’s a lot of inputs right there. And if you’re communicating verbally, your universe of possible options, increases dramatically, pacing, intonation, gesticulation, all of this, by the way, it’s called para language. And then also the strategic use of silence, say an undervalued input in the leadership communication space. So, let’s play this out. Let’s say you’re about to announce a new product, or it could be a service, whatever works for you, okay. This product has been many, many months in the making, and you’re unveiling it at an event in two weeks. So, there’s a hard deadline here. You have blessedly months before you found the perfect spokesperson. This person’s going to knock it out of the park, it’s going to be amazing. So, your team’s feeling like, okay, there’s a lot to do. But they’re feeling confident that this is going to be a success. And then with two weeks to go, your fan flippin tastic spokesperson bows out. Now, rather than feeling calm under control, right, your team is frantic, and they are worried that this event, this reveal, is it’s going to be a big flop. Because you are depending on this person. What do you do? So, you could go to your team just be like, we got a problem, right? Just like we are also probably I don’t know, I’m dating myself, but Apollo 13. Great scene, Houston, we’ve got a problem. Okay, you could go and do that. Now, for most people or brains don’t actually like problems comes invoke fear of like failing or of looking bad, or of so many things depends on the person and you know, what you got going on. But generally speaking, the word problem turns off our prefrontal cortex and activates our reptilian brain, meaning it shuts off the part of our brain, prefrontal cortex that is real, real good at solving problems, right? So we still have a problem to be solved. It’s not like that has gone away. You don’t have your event just shifted in a nanosecond. Let’s apply Communicate I/O, and the law of little things, bring them together and see what an alternative might be. The outcome you need to achieve has not changed successful events successful launch, do you need your team now to come up with an alternative? Write a solution? How do you need your team to feel in order to be able to brainstorm so you can get to that place of solution? Maybe they need to open or energize, get clear on that. That is an intangible outcome. Right. And this is, and I talked about this in previous episode, like this is one of the biggest mistakes that leaders make is they leap over really thinking about how do I need people to feel in order to achieve the outcomes, the tangible outcomes that I need, or want to now get clear on how they need to feel, I think I’m not saying just sweep the negative emotions your team has been having under the under the table or the rug or wherever. That’s like magical thinking. It’s not literally, people are going to feel their feels, we are human, right? So, create space for the frustration, angst, whatever else is going on so they can move through that. And then okay, and then use the law of little things. So rather than coming out of the gate with a, we’ve got a problem, try, I think we can all acknowledge that we have a time sensitive project to tackle, let’s put all ideas on the table and find a solution. I know we can do this, I can do this. It may not feel great right now. And I believe in this team. And I know we can do it. So, the problem has now become a project, projects aren’t generally speaking, scary, it’s a project, it’s a thing that needs to be done. So, they invoke little to no fear. Unless it’s, I don’t know, super scary project. But in general, just the word itself has it does something completely different in our brains. So rather than stopping people in their mental and energetic tracks, you’re inviting them to focus on the solution, rather than the problem. Our subconscious minds will kick into gear, right? They’re going to kick into gear in a like focusing on the positive and you’re going to keep this prefrontal cortex online, so it’s just going to be like brain palooza. This is such a simple reframe, right, from negative to positive. And, and you could do this in a lot of different ways that, you know, project is one, you know, opportunity, you want to be mindful of that in your delivery, you feel it in your cells, right. So, you’re not being like, ignoring it, you know, like, oftentimes, like here are your strengths and your opportunities for growth. We all know that that means weaknesses, right? But, but if you genuinely feel like they are opportunities for growth, you’re para language allows you to use that. And again, the same things apply in terms of what’s happening in people’s brains. Okay? This is the law of little things in action, the law of little things. And again, just because this feels super important, as some leaders, I’m not saying it’s you, just some, skip over the part where you let your team feel their feels, this does not need to go on indefinitely, right, because you do need you have a time sensitive project in front of you, you need to find a solution. But what you resist persists. And so, if you’re saying your team resist those negative emotions, they’re still there, which means their whole brain, their whole humaneness, just can’t show up to the brainstorming session. And that’s what we want, right? The whole human. The power of little things, the power of the law of little things, is why I encourage my clients to focus on their verbs. You’ve heard me talk about verbs on this podcast many times, they are the superheroes of every sentence. And that’s because they pack a lot of energetic punch, a lot of energetic time. So, change your verbs, and you can change your outcomes. For real, it can be that simple. The law of little things, it’s also the premise behind the free ebook that I put out, called Recharge: Energize your employees and yourself one word at a time. So, I don’t want to diminish how deep and pervasive and challenging burnout can be. Okay. It’s a doozy. And there’s that there’s a ton of resources out there, but I wanted to offer people like you is like, Okay, I’m feeling this, what is something small and do a level that I can put into play, like into action right here right now, today. That’s where recharge came from. Because when you’re feeling burnt out, it’s really tough to work out to the big overhauls. You kind of have to ladder up to it. It’s again, it’s free to download. Okay, so to wrap up, yes, sometimes the outcome that you are looking to achieve requires like an overhaul or something big to happen. I’ve worked with loads of leaders and find that they are all over the place and that’s not a bad thing. There can be some fun and play and that as well. But it’s not actually the norm. Right. I would say the norm to achieving the results you want, particularly in terms of leadership communication, not a little less in terms of external marketing. But definitely in terms of leadership communication, don’t underestimate the power of the law of little things. The power of tweaking and pruning and fine-tuning or swapping things out. I was gardening the other day because it was finally nice enough here in Seattle to do so it’s a bit like tending to gardener yard, you know, like, if it’s a mature-ish yard that I’m not saying you’re starting from scratch, that’s a different deal. But most yards, they’re there, right? And so, generally what are you doing, you’re pruning, you’re moving things around, so that they you know, get into that spot where they have the light or location or soil that will allow them to thrive. You add some new plants now and then I definitely did repot my pots, they makes me happy to come home and have like nice spots to greet me. And they weren’t they were very sad, right? They had gotten to end of winter sad. And so, the feeling I’m getting is like a lot of happiness and joy every time I pull up to the house. Right. So, it’s a little like that, right? You’re not like completely overhauling. Now, if you want to go from like a, you know, the large yard you have now until like a low to no water yard. There’s a term for that that I’m blanking on. But you know what I mean? Where it’s a yard where you don’t have to water it. Okay, that’s probably a bigger, that’s a bigger deal. That’s a bigger project, right? And yet the fundamentals are the same, right? You have a desired outcome, your desired outcome change. Now you want this a low water version? So, your inputs need to be different, it is exactly the same. Was communication exactly the same? How might you apply? And this is an invitation, the law of little things to your life, do your work to how you lead your team. I want you to pick one thing today. And it doesn’t have to be a big thing, right? It can be a little thing as always, like this is about play. It’s about curiosity. It’s about like trying out these things. See what you learn? Did it help you get the outcomes or the results that you want? Like swap out a verb? See how it lands check in with your team, check-in with them in you don’t need to be like hey, what did you think of that verb swap out? Right? Like if the question isn’t about the inputs quite although that would be pretty funny. I would love for some of you to do that to be honest. But the point is getting aside, did you more effectively more efficiently with more joy with more whatever achieved the outcomes that you’re looking to achieve? We’re all learning as we go. Thank you for listening and for being a leader who cares enough and is committed enough to constantly be looking for ways to better your best. You’re awesome, keep it up and see you next time.