A Purposeful Why

I am purposeful in how I present myself to the world.
I want my ideas to be taken seriously,
and so I present myself in a way
that allows people to see me
and listen to what I have to say.

                                                                                                          -Marley Dias

In 2009 Simon Sinek introduced us to the concept of “WHY” with his Ted talk, “Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Action” It started a movement; Sinek’s talk became the second most viewed YouTube video of all time with over 50 million hits.   A subsequent 2016 video interview, Millennials in the Workplace” went viral with 80 million views in its first week.  This led to Sinek being YouTube’s fifth most searched term in 2017.  You are probably asking, “why?”

The question, “Why?” once associated with the repeated questioning of a curious four-year old, has now become a topic of discussion for corporate leaders, non-profit executives, and individuals searching for mission and/or vision.  Like anything else worthwhile, our “Whys” are not to be found quickly, rather ,they are discovered over time through our interactions with others.  Some might say they evolve from “Purposeful Communication”.

When you think about it, it makes sense.  Why do we communicate with others? There are a myriad of reasons; to make a point, to express a sentiment, or maybe to sell an idea or product.  But the question becomes, how purposeful is our communication? Alexandra Leo is a contributor to medium.com. Her recent post, Purposeful Communication:  What is it and Why Does it Matter considers this question.  Leo believes that purposeful communication goes beyond the understanding associated with an exchange of ideas.  Purposeful communication encourages us to develop an understanding of why the thought or idea exists.  It encourages individuals and organizations to think about the reason(s) behind their communication(s), the best approach to take, and the outcomes sought.  So how can this be accomplished?

Brian Eagar is the founder and group CEO of the TowerStone Leadership Centre located in South Africa.  In a recent Bizcommunity.com post, he shares Five Essentials of Purposeful Communication:

  1. Build Your Communication on Purpose – Or as Stephen Covey reminded us, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Know what you want to achieve up front. Is your purpose to learn, to solicit ideas, to convince?  Think about, “Why arm I initiating this communication?

  2. Choose your Frame, Create Context – How is this message best delivered.  Take time to understand your audience’s context so that you can present your message in a way that enables them to embrace it.  Sometimes the same message requires different frames for different audiences.  Think about, “Why am I selecting this frame with this individual or audience?”

  3. Leverage Logic and Reason – Relevancy is critical.  Assure that you use facts that are relevant both to your message and your audience.  Equally important, enable identification.  Include examples or parallels that will help your audience to understand the information, put it into perspective, and identify with it.  Think about, “Why is this message important to them?”

  4. Inspire Belief – By communicating in a manner that reflects enthusiasm, empathy, and authenticity, we can acquire and maintain the trust of those receiving our message.  Think about, “Why should they believe me?”

  5. Touch Their Hearts – This is about emotional appeal and getting people to buy into your message.  In other words, what is in it for your audience and why would they benefit from listening to you?   This is where your message makes the transition from mind to heart to hands.  Think about, “Why will they benefit by listening to me?

Purposeful Communication has very little to do with what we say, and very much to do with why and how we say it.  It brings thought and clarity to our interactions.  This is why it is vital for each of us to harness its power and communicate so that our words serve to inspire others, enhance collaboration, and foster relationships.

Embrace the Challenge