After receiving very positive feedback on our blog contributions in the last years, we would like to continue this still young tradition of the Liechtenstein Academy Blog also this year.
Also in 2020, it is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. This year, we have been able to attract six well-known guest authors, who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts. Look forward to new and surprising insights from Michael Bursik, complex issues, simply explained by Ulrich Schnabel, philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer, exciting topics around the many topics of working in the digital era by Sibylle Mäder as well as constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.
We wish you a stimulating read.
Your Liechtenstein Academy team
See and be seen
Anyone who claims they have never caused misunderstandings in communicating with another person isn’t telling the truth. It is easy to watch two people in everyday life talking completely past each other – and neither of them noticing. At the same time, the way we communicate with each other, at least in a professional context, has changed a lot over the last few months. While digital meetings were the exception a year ago, they have now become the much relied upon new normality in many companies. Today, it is no longer so important where we happen to be in order to be at a meeting.
This change undoubtedly brings with it many advantages. Our working life has not only become more digitalized in many areas, but also more flexible. At the same time, this new flexibility requires new skills in dealing with the various means of communication available to us. Each means of communication has its own strengths and weaknesses, which we should be aware of. After all, we are all happy when communication not only takes place, but also succeeds. I would like to illustrate this with the aspect of body language:
Last week I gave a speech to a group of colleagues. I could observe wrinkled brows, a slight smile, crossed legs and relaxed shoulders. The colleagues stood freely in the room, leaning against the wall or sitting on chairs. During which there was a quiet whisper, a sip of water, and a shifting of position.
For months our collaboration had been limited to video meetings or meetings in a smaller circle. Now we were finally getting together again in larger groups. And so one of the most important aspects of interpersonal communication was back: body language. It was wonderful.
When I can observe how my interlocutors react to my words, it not only makes communication richer, but in most cases also better. But what is the reason for this? With the help of our body language we are able to give meaning to the words we speak, to the point of completely reversing what we actually said. A motivating speech can have a very different effect depending on whether it is held with good body tension in a standing position or sitting comfortably on a comfortable chair.
In addition, body language is also an enormously important source of feedback. When we speak, we always make a decision about which information we want to share and which we don't. Our body language also often unconsciously adds further information, like whether or not we feel comfortable in a situation, or whether the listeners listen attentively, build up an inner resistance or stand behind the message.
Am I now an advocate of exclusively analog communication? No, absolutely not. But I do think that we should make more conscious decisions about which means of communication to choose for which occasions - and not the other way round, because the means of communication dictates which topics we can communicate adequately. After all, the sooner a topic moves away from the purely factual level and our interpersonal relationships come more to the fore, the sooner we should pay attention to integrating and using body language in communication as much as possible.
We all want our relationships to work and communication to be «easy». We want to be connected, especially when personal exchanges in the office are less frequent. This requires trust on all sides and a certain degree of openness to show ourselves in digital meetings and to get involved as much as possible.
About the author: Christoph von Oldershausen