Allison van Tilborgh
Why Empathy is the Secret to Communicating Vision
And what Peak Communication Experiences have to do with it.
As a leader, you have probably experienced your fair share of moments where your vision did not translate. These moments can be frustrating, though they should not bewilder us.
Communicating a vision requires more than just words. Communication is an exercise in empathy. Visionaries must recognize that their dreams are bound by their physical bodies. They can sit with themselves, think hard, and long developing their visions for years without anything coming of it.
That is because it is the responsibility of the leader to equip strategies to package that information in such a way that their communities (workplace, ministry or other organizations) will actually understand what they mean.
They have not spent years in your mind alongside you, so how can one expect them to truly internalize the string of sentences you may use to describe that vision?
Frankly, why should they even care?
One strategy successful leaders deploy is the facilitation of Peak Communication Experiences (PCEs). Originally developed by Abraham Maslow, PCEs are wrapped up in a theory that describes humans as “perpetually wanting” beings.
We are motivated by many things: spiritual fulfillment, wealth, community, and also the glimmering hope of Peak Communication Experiences, that is incredibly rare moments of euphoria where our communicated visions are actualized when our peers seem to internalize what we are saying when we feel seen, when our words feel authentic to our person.
The only way our divinely inspired visions can imprint on this world is by truly recognizing the persons we are talking to, acknowledging the inevitable barriers that prevent us from seeing eye to eye (whether that be economic station, gender, length of time serving an organization and so on), expressing unconditional acceptance, avoiding premeditation, trusting the process, and to some extent, leaving it up to the powers at will.
The most important component to translating your vision to reality, and facilitating more of these Peak Communication Experiences, is exhibiting empathy. The better you understand others, the more equipped you can become in reaching them with your message.
The root of the word “communication,” after all, is “commune,” as in both “community” and “communion.” Communication is a communal process, one that requires an other-oriented outlook. Sometimes, it's about verbalizing every detail you possibly can. It’s not about facts or calculations. Often, effective communication is about finding words that fit the life experiences and outlook of your community at their particular place, time, and station.
Internalizing these realities has im-mense business applications, of course. Visionaries in the marketplace sector that produce Peak Communication Experiences with their teams can help make the organization more money, increase efficiency and produce better products.
Individuals who feel gratified by their position and workplace at large have been proven to produce work of a higher quality. But as faith leaders, orienting ourselves toward empathy is more than efficient.
Effective empathetic communication provides us the opportunity to spiritually connect with the individuals in our networks; it gives us a look into the motivators, heart, and desires of that we work alongside.
Accepting that vision does not manifest in isolation is an important step in the journey of a leader. Tapping into the worldview of our adjacent communities can better equip us to translate vision through communication into the marketplaces, ministry, and our personal relationships.