“Now I’m Gonna Pretend I Didn’t Hear What I Clearly Just Heard”

Laura Jennings
June 5, 2024
“Now I’m Gonna Pretend I Didn’t Hear What I Clearly Just Heard”

How many of us have felt like Whiplash from the movie Turbo? Whether in the conference room or the conference call, someone may chime in and say something that sounds completely opposite of what you were thinking. Or they may say something that doesn’t seem relevant or helpful. When this happens, what is the first thought in your mind? Probably something along the lines of: I don’t want to work with this person. 

My daughter is a teenager at the point where she’s thinking seriously about college and her future. When her teachers start applying pressure about the impact of the choices they are making now, she really panics. I have to remind her to take a look at how she processes information. She needs to consider if the message is supposed to make her panic, or maybe ignite some focus in her peers. If she looks at her commitment, drive, and dedication, does she really need to be scared? 

Strategically looking at your processing and the processing of the folks around you opens up your perspective and takes away that snap reaction of judgment or fear. What if you could understand WHY people are saying the things they say because you understand WHERE they are coming from? 

I lead a remote, autonomous team and we don’t have a lot of face-to-face interaction. We have to be vigilant about considering how we process information, and how the sender processes information, to make sure both parties are clear with the communication. When I speak to others I have to think about how this message is going to land with people who process information differently than I do.

At LVL-Up, we use the GiANT Five Voices tools to help navigate these kinds of questions and keep our communications objective instead of subjective. We also use the Five Voices and a number of other GiANT tools to provide common language for the team. An objective approach with common language helps build a safe psychological space where everyone can show up as themselves with their own set of “superpowers” and learn how to be intentional with their communication. 

Laura Jennings, certified GiANT Guide and Creative Connector, poses with her “first voice” weapons system: The Incredible Hulk.

My Pioneer first voice partner, Rona Jobe, is always working on something new. She may send the team messages and notes that I like to call “trailers.” Luckily, I’ve been working with Rona for a long time and I’ve seen her ideas full-circle – they work! With a Pioneer, you don’t need to know the whole story at first. The “trailers” are just practice verbalizations. This is never the time to shut down a Pioneer or start picking things apart. Although, I do think she picked me as a partner because I am a Creative first voice who can spot speedbumps. Rona knows I will say “Great idea, some of it is borderline illegal, but don’t scrap the entire idea. Just pivot a little.” 

These “trailers” can be daunting though, and the team will come to me and ask, “What is this about? I don’t understand it.” I have to say to my first-voice Nurturers, who are present-oriented and process information with a people-focused lens, “This is a long-game initiative, put it out of your mind.” I have to let them know that something’s coming down the pike, but it’ll be much more formulated before they are tasked. I can tell a Nurturer that we will probably meet up with that idea somewhere in the middle to fine-tune and test. 

Of course, I can’t say that to my first-voice Guardian teammates who would start to panic about the ambiguous “somewhere in the middle” line. What do you mean? How can we not start looking at the risks? What are the parameters? What’s the strain on resources going to be? These are Guardian questions, so when I talk to a Guardian, I can’t just say, “Oh don’t worry about that right now.” I better be prepared to give some clarity on the expected return and testing period built into any new ventures. 

Honestly, since LVL-Up has had this shared language for so long, much of my team will understand Rona’s request and Pioneer voice. Rather than panic, they tend to cheer her on with, “I don’t know what you are doing, but keep going!”

An objective language and knowing how to make our teammates' feel confident and safe in the company has certainly helped us progress and grow quickly. Most LVL-Uppers can read a message, filter it through their natural processing tendencies, filter it through the senders’ processing tendencies, and move forward. We cut down on confusion and streamline our ability to work together. I might say, “I am asking you this because you’re a Nurturer first voice and I need your talents here.” Or I might ask a Connector, “Who in our client base needs this initiative and how can we best get it to them?” Each voice order has its own set of superpowers and, when tapped, is happy to lend their talents to the benefit of the entire team. 

This works with our clients too. When we have clients who are not doing the homework they promised, it can make some of our present-voice Guardian and Nurturer teammates quite stressed. It can affect our first-voice Connectors because they start to see delays as a poor reflection of their own work. When we can look at the way we process information, we can move away from that panic or negative self-talk and find ways to solve roadblocks. 

While we don’t let our clients push off their own progress, we can make sure we are talking to them in a way that they can easily process. How can we motivate our already-overwhelmed clients to prioritize this work? Can we filter our messaging in a way that they will better respond to? 

For example, if your first voice is Guardian, you think it is natural to ask your client a bunch of questions about their progress. However, if the client is not a Guardian or Pioneer first voice, they could easily shut down. I’m not saying to avoid the hard questions, but you can’t jump in like that with someone who has a Connector first voice. The client needs to know that you see their value first. 

In the same respect, before you lose time, sleep, and mind space on something you are told, make sure you filter it with that objective lens: 

  • Who did the message come from? 
  • How do they tend to process information? 
  • How do I tend to process information? 
  • What are my pitfalls when receiving information? 

When you have answers to these kinds of questions, you can usually filter the message you’ve received into an objective message that is reasonable and solutions-focused. At the very least you will have context so that you can move forward.

Sounds like a lot of effort? It does take effort to be intentional, but with tools like GiANT’s Five Voices, we can get there faster. And putting in the work now will pay off with a productive, healthy team and a solid book of clients down the road. Better yet, folks in the conference room or on the virtual call will feel safe offering their insights without fear of being completely off base. Colleagues can understand how each member of the team processes information, speakers communicate with more intention, and the safe environment will lead to progress. 

Want to find out more about what these voice orders are and how they work? Our free Five Voices assessment is the first step in learning a bit more about yourself.

Laura Jennings