communication styles

The Anatomy of Inspiration: Dissecting Your Communication to Find the Right Approach to Influence Others

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
—Kenneth Blanchard

Are you as influential as you could be? If you’re like other leaders, you typically use only one style when it comes to influence, regardless of the situation. Sometimes you get lucky and it works. However, by developing greater flexibility and range of communication when interfacing with others, you can be even more effective. Assess the breadth of your conversation toolkit by associating different parts of the body with different influence styles you need to influence a variety of personality types.

Left Brain. The left brain is where facts, logic, analysis, information, and data are processed. When you are an authority, or when you know data matters to the other person, using left brain language can help you convince the other person that your idea makes sense. Often overused, there are limits to left-brain facts and logic. For example, when was the last time you were inspired by a PowerPoint presentation? “Bueller. Bueller.”

Right Brain. The right brain houses big picture concepts, images, stories, metaphors, and pictures. It is an entryway to the other person’s subconscious. Adding right-brain stories, images and graphics to data can help you connect with people at a deeper level than you could with the left brain alone.

Gut. The gut is your instinctual center. This is where you come from when you set boundaries that allow you to take a stand, negotiate, be assertive, or create a contract. For example, when you influence from the gut, you tell an employee what you like and don’t like about their performance. It’s also where you come from when you set expectations or create incentives to encourage compliance or performance.

Heart. Coming from the heart is critical when you seek an authentic connection or commitment from someone. This is where you show some vulnerability. When communicating from the heart, you shift to asking for advice and help, listening for and tapping into the other person’s aspirations and goals to come up with a mutually appealing solution while showing flexibility around how things get done. When you come from the heart, you don’t have to be wimpy, especially on the final outcome you want to achieve. Instead, you remain open to new ideas about how the other person can improve and the way to get to the goal.

Spirit. When appealing to another’s spirit or coming from your own soul, you communicate about shared values and experiences. Here, you talk about common ground and the ties that bind you together. This is a great approach when forming teams and getting everyone to pull together to head off in the same direction.

Vision. Vision is used to describe that point on the horizon where you are heading. When using vision you paint a vibrant and inspiring vignette about where the group can go. You then invite others to join you and to add to the vision.  The vision approach is great for a team that is kicking off a project, or when people need a boost to move forward through challenges that are holding them back. Combine vision with right brain and spirit, and you will create compelling communication that aligns a team so they become unstoppable.

Legs. If a conversation starts to go south on you due to emotions or you aren’t making inroads with another, use your legs and gracefully exit the conversation. Without giving up, take some time to re-group by excusing yourself and agree to meet again at a later date or time. The Harvard Negotiation Project calls this “Going to the Balcony”, and it prevents a meeting from spiraling downwards.

By tailoring your conversations using these “body part” communication techniques, you will become more skilled at having the right conversation using the right appeal with the right people. You’ll achieve your goals while effortlessly influencing others.


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman is a leadership coach who works with executives who want to increase their influence and powerbase for greater confidence, influence, and enhanced leadership presence. Learn more about her company Firebrand Consulting LLC at:

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