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Habits of Highly Effective Communicators — Part 2: Get Their Attention And Loyalty

by Christine Comaford

5 minute read

    Remember back when Detroit had to declare bankruptcy?

    Financial failure is often a series of communication mistakes—from leadership, from marketing, from sales, from manufacturing, from Board members, from the CEO, the list is endless.

    Poor communication often breaks trust. Break trust and loyalty is toast.

    Want to build connection, trust, loyalty with anyone?

    In a previous blog we learned the first 3 ways to enroll, engage, align with others.

    In this blog we’ll dive into the final 4 ways to communicate powerfully so others can hear you, so they experience connection with you, so they want to move forward into a positive future with you, so they have your attention.

    Getting Their Attention = Speaking Their Language

    As I covered in my previous blog on meta programs, meta programs are a way to speak to a person and gain access to their emotional brain, to gain deep subconscious rapport. That’s why we only use these techniques for good, not evil. We use them to enroll, engage, align—not to manipulate. We use them at turning points, such as when we are in scenarios including:

    • Recruiting/interviewing
    • Conflict resolution
    • Creating alignment and engagement
    • Increasing motivation/leadership
    • Getting others out of Critter State
    • Giving sensitive performance feedback
    • Sales conversations + Marketing messaging


    Here’s the process we teach clients when crafting powerful communications:

    1. Determine the meta programs of the person you want to influence.
    2. What do they want most? Safety, belonging or mattering?
    3. What behavior of theirs would you like to create or change?
    4. Determine the influencing phrase.
      • “I need your help” – powerfully enrolling–dominant person becomes small, subordinate person becomes big.
      • “What if” – engages the other party, helps make it their idea.
      • “Would it be helpful it” – helps shift someone from Critter State to Smart State, activates problem-solving of prefrontal cortex.
    5. Craft your message.

    Here are a few client scenarios in which understanding the recipients’ Meta Programs and speaking in them yielded terrific results.


    Objective: VP of Operations Wants the Regional Manager to Lead More Proactively

    The VP of operations of a Fortune 500 restaurant chain wants her regional manager (RM) to take on more responsibility. The VP sees amazing potential and wants to develop the RM’s leadership skills and make her the poster child for employee development. The problem is that she’s a little timid and seems to be starving for praise. The VP has been trying to help the RM along for months but can’t seem to reach her, and she’s about ready to give up. We coached her through the following transition.

    Meta Programs of Regional Manager: Toward, Options, Specific, Reflective. Craves Mattering.

    Influencing Language Example: The VP needed to change the way she spoke with the RM. “I need your help [becoming subordinate and letting RM become “bigger” to emotionally enroll her and get her to feel more powerful]—I think we have a great opportunity [Toward, Options] for raising your profile [Mattering] and developing you as a leader [Toward]. I’d love your help [enrolling again] in increasing our collective commitment [Toward] to weekly one-on-ones with staff [Specific] so we can catch problems before they occur [Reflective], and discover new ideas and options [Options] to reduce ticket times and increase guest experience numbers [Specific]. I’d love your help [enrolling again] in achieving our numbers [Toward].”

    Outcome: The regional manager stepped up and is now leading one of the top 2 regions in the country.



    Objective: Stop Clare’s Excessive Checking in with Her Boss

    Clare is extremely competent. She really wants to please her boss at a mid-sized West Coast professional services firm but is quite insecure—she can’t seem to do anything on her own. She’s constantly dropping in on the CEO to make sure what she’s doing is okay and to get the boss’s approval. The CEO became so frustrated that he thought about firing Clare but doesn’t want to because Clare is incredibly good at her job.

    Clare’s Meta Programs: Away, Procedures, Specific, Active. Craves Safety and Mattering.

    Influencing Language Example: The CEO received coaching to take advantage of Clare’s competence and give her increased responsibility and projects. At the same time, Clare’s feeling of autonomy and confidence needed boosting. “I need your help [enroll and engage]. I trust you [Mattering] and know you have the answers. It would be a great help to me if you could create whatever processes and procedures [Active, Procedures, Specific, Safety] you need to feel confident completing your assignments without my involvement [Away]. You’re doing great and I know you can rise to the next level this year [Mattering]. Can you help me understand the info you need to do your work without needing to check in with me [Active, Specific, Procedures, Away]?”

    Outcome: Clare’s boss has gained fifteen hours a week—time he used to have to spend stroking Clare or giving her orders. Clare has been promoted.

    Key to remember is you’ll use meta program-based communications only a few times to get the behavior change going. Then you’ll use the next batch of neuro tools to move the change forward.

    How would you like to apply your new communication tools? Are you ready to turbo charge your influence?


    Christine Comaford of SmartTribes Institute applies the latest neuroscience research to help companies build vibrant engaged culture, rich and committed leadership, consistently compelling sales and marketing.

    If you want to learn more check out one of Christine’s four On Demand Seminars on our website!

    Christine Comaford

    Christine Comaford

    Bill Gates calls her “super high bandwidth.” Bill Clinton has thanked her for “fostering American entrepreneurship.” For over 30 years New York Times bestselling author and Leadership and Culture Coach Christine Comaford has helped leaders navigate growth and change. Christine is known for proven strategies to optimize executive performance, powerfully enroll and align teams, and rapidly increase sales and company value. The potent neuroscience techniques she teaches are easy to learn and apply. Christine has built and sold 5 businesses with an average 700% ROI, served on over 24 boards and has invested in over 200 startups, including Google. She has consulted to the White House (Clinton and Bush), 700 of the Fortune 1000, 300 mid-sized business. She was a software engineer in the early days of Microsoft, Apple and Adobe. Be sure to pick up a copy of her 2nd New York Times bestseller SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.

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