Developing Your Communication Voice

November 4, 2020
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I recently read a really interesting book: How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead. As someone interested in communication, I'm always looking for something that will help me grow with preaching and writing, and this book probably has me thinking as much as any book I've read on the subject does. Anyone who communicates with any regularity eventually discovers the importance of finding and developing your own communication voice; nobody wins by trying to copy someone else, you have to learn to be comfortable being yourself. The idea of finding our own communication voice is much easier said than done though: once we want to do that, how do we actually get started? What handles do we have to begin to identify our voice? What can we do to begin to become more comfortable with it?

This is where Sally's book comes in. A former advertising and marketing guru, she since researched the communication style of hundreds of thousands of people and has developed what is akin to a "communication style personality test." Only unlike other personality tests which test something that exists within us (like our mind's wiring - Meyers Briggs Type Indicator, or our inner motivations - Ennegram, etc), Sally's system helps measure how you are perceived by others; it measures something that lives in the space between you and them (a fascinating thought). Once we understand this, Sally suggests our goal should be to be as fully ourselves as possible. She suggests that the best value we can add to the world is becoming more of ourselves and that rather than focusing on our strengths, we need to highlight our differences.

The System

Sally's Fascination Advantage system is based on seven modes of communication. Each one of these communicates through a different channel. All seven are deeply important and speak a different language:

Sally's system suggests that each of us have a primary and secondary mode of communication, which combine to form our communication archetype:

The fascination communication archetypes (Doing the math, that's 7 x 6 = 42 types!)

The system has an online test which you can take, which sends you a 16-page report on your communication archetype. The test by itself is $59, but if you order a physical copy of the book, it comes with the code in the back - a much cheaper way to get the test.

What I Learned about Myself

Laying this whole system out may seem a bit overwhelming, but once you begin to engage with your personal profile and drill into it, it makes it feel a lot more manageable. When I took the test, I discovered my primary communication mode is innovation, and my secondary mystique. Combined together, these describe the provocateur. See if you can find some of me in this description:

My communication archetype: the provocateur

Learning this system helped me to make some sense of myself. I realized why it is that I feel a strange combination of a constant slew of new ideas (Innovation), and yet I tend to not want to insert myself into conversation, but would prefer to listen to others instead (Mystique). It helped me realize that perhaps the way that God made me is supposed to be a bit unorthodox, and potentially even a bit controversial (not something I love, but something I seem unable to escape). She also highlights the top five adjectives that describe your communication type:

Sound like me?

Reading the content of these and thinking about myself wasn't overly surprising, but I was surprised how empowering it felt to have someone name these and effectively say, "You are supposed to be this way. Lean in, don't try and be something else." It has begun to give me a confidence that the things I see and care about I'm supposed to, even made to. (It might surprise you from a guy who believes and preaches identity so passionately, but we all wrestle with insecurities about our personal shape, myself included.)

This I think is the strength of any personality-type system; they give us a tool to help us begin to see and understand ourselves. In that, they can become a bridge to confidence and a fuller embracing of being who God has made us to be. I definitely found this accurate with this system, and I'm seeing it begin to translate through into my preaching and writing as well. I'm finding myself more confident in expressing these novel ideas, realizing that God made me to see things differently and share my innovative insights with boldness. I'm excited to continue to explore this trajectory. I've also already noticed that it's begun to leak into my understanding and interacting with others too. I am beginning to see the ways different coworkers and friends communicate with me an others.

Growing as a communicator is a life-long journey, there is no one-stop shop that gives us everything we need, and often moving forward is a matter of finding the right things to pursue. I remember I had a major breakthrough when I discovered the revelation is what leads to transformation (blog post on that someday). It was another personal breakthrough to realize that expressing my scientific background with visuals works well for me. Yet another breakthrough when I realized that my most powerful teaching has usually happened when I haven't tried to teach as much as just think through something out loud along with others. Each step has opened up a new avenue of development and led to a mini-journey in growing as a communicator. I have a hunch this book and coming to understand my "communication shape" a little more effectively will be the beginning of another upgrade here. I'm excited; I've found book and this system surprisingly encouraging and helpful! If you're a communicator of some form and are on the journey to discover your voice, I would suggest checking it out and seeing what you learn about yourself and the potential journey of your own.

Putty Putman's Spirit-inspired innovative insights come from his wild journey with Jesus from physicist to pastor to entrepreneur to author and speaker. His three main passions are the Holy Spirit, effective communication, and journeying toward the future God has for the church and the world.

Putty founded the School of Kingdom Ministry and spent eleven years as a pastor on the staff team of The Vineyard Church of Central Illinois, followed by a year and a half as an interim pastor at The Chapel. In February 2023 he moved to Phoenix, Arizona to church pioneer by planting a new "kingdom ecosystem." Putty is the author of two books, and lives with his wife and three children in Tempe, AZ.

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