Hacking Communication: 6 Filters That Grow or Reduce Your Influence

If I had to guess, I would say that 75% of the pictures on my phone are of my dog, Brodie. His cuteness deserves every pixel of space he inhabits on my phone.

Shari's Dog

Plus, it’s so much fun to amplify his cuteness with the many filters and effects that are so readily available through the multitude of apps. Instagram, Big Lens, and even Facebook let you turn an ordinary picture into a piece of art. Or, in my case, just pretty neat.

Each filter generates conveys different emotions. We have a different internal reaction to the exact same picture, with only a few slight adjustments.

The same can be said with communication and influence.

No one says absolutely everything they are thinking and feeling all the time. We all pick and choose our words according to the relationship we have with the people around us, the needs we have in that moment, the urgency of a situation, and the emotions we are feeling or fighting against.

These are the filters we use every day in every situation, every time we speak.

Knowing and naming some of the filters will give you more tactical power in conversations. When you can identify the filters another person is using, you will easily be able to bring out the best of that filter or have strategies at your disposal for counterproductive filters.

While there are too many filters to name in this blog post, I have compiled a list of the 6 most common filters used, especially in business meetings and conversations.

Ego Filter

By far, the most common communication filter is the Ego Filter. It is in escapable.

When someone is communicating through the Ego Filter, they are focused on sharing their needs, their feelings, and accomplishing their goals.

There is nothing innately wrong with the Ego Filter. There are times when you must clearly communicate from your personal perspective. It can be critical to express how the actions of another person directly effected you, for better or worse.

Sometimes, using the Ego Filter takes courage. Being assertive in a difficult situation might require you to dig deep to be open and honest with your needs and desires.

For those reasons, the Ego Filter will serve you well.

On the other hand, if the Ego Filter is always your default filter, then you will likely notice that your influential powers are lacking. Approaching everything with the Ego Filter will quickly strangle your relationships. Your Ego will suck out all the oxygen in the room, leaving nothing left for another person to inhabit the space.

The easiest way to detect if you are using the Ego Filter is if these words are the most repetitive in your sentences: I, me, mine, and my.

  • “The way I see it…”
  • “Let me tell you what I think…”
  • “I feel like I need to say something here.”
  • “Let me share where I’m coming from.”

Understanding Filter

One of the best relationship building skills you can develop is to be sensitive to another person’s perspective. Listen and actively search for their wants and desires. Then, incorporate those wants and desires in your conversation.

Unlike the Ego Filter, your speech will have a higher concentration of words like you, yours, your, you’re.

  • “I understand that X is really important to you.”
  • “You said earlier that you would like to X.”
  • “I totally see where you’re coming from.”

Not everyone is skilled about being forthcoming with their needs and wants. So how can you detect what is important to the other person?

They will give clues with their body language. When does their face figuratively light up? When do their eyebrows raise and their eyes widen? When do they sit a little straighter and lean in?

And if it’s still not clear after a period of time, then you can always ask them. “I’m hoping we accomplish everything that you want to get out of our conversation. Can you tell me if there are any expectations or hopes you had for our discussion?”

The discovery of the person’s needs and desired will help you lead the conversation. They will become benchmarks for the discussion. They will be your mile markers as things progress and you will be able to tell if the conversation is veering off course. How can you tell if the conversation was a success? After you put a mental check mark next to each item on the needs/wants list.

If the conversation is a heated one and emotions are running high, these benchmarks are a perfect way to steer the conversation to a more productive route. “I remember you mentioned that X was your top concern for today. I really want to make sure that we conquer that for you before we end things.”

Blame Filter

dodgeball

For the NLP junkies, this is also called the Blame Frame. I imagine the Blame Filter like a big red dodgeball. Someone who is using the blame filter is prepared to point out and pelt anyone or anything that could be causing problems. The Blame Filter can easily feel like an attack.

The Blame Filter narrows your focus to all the problems and blinds you to the solutions. (Click to Tweet That Tidbit.)
 

Who is to blame for this problem? Who’s fault is this? Who could have done something, but didn’t? What is wrong with the situation?

The Blame Filter can be a very cozy filter. It places all the responsibilities and powers outside of yourself. You can wrap yourself up in the Blame Filter like a blanket, curl up on the couch, and point the finger outward and say, “That is what’s doing this to me.”

To break someone (and yourself) out of the Blame Filter, you want to turn to the Solution and Possibilities Filters. But first, let me cover one more filter that you are likely to encounter and use.

Objection Filter

When you are in a discussion and all you hear in response to what you’re saying is, “yeah, but….,” then your conversation companion is communicating through the Objection Filter.

As annoying as the “yeah, buts” are, it is important to note that the Objection Filter can serve a very important purpose. A plan becomes stronger after someone has poked a few holes in it. An idea is solidified after someone has attacked it from every angle. A good “yeah, but” could help you see what you might have missed.

On the other side of the coin, if someone is chronically “yeah, butting” their way through a conversation, then you are stuck. They will likely find more wrong things to point out unless you have your countermoves.

The Objection Filter is probably most prevalent in sales situations. The customer is wanting to make the best purchase possible, and, therefore, looks for all the reasons not to buy.

That is why it is important for every sales person to see their offer through the Objection Filter before making the pitch. After strengthening your offer through the Objection Filter, you will be prepared against all possible objections and your counter-objections will be locked and loaded. The Objection Filter will increase your chances of closing the sale because you will have proven that your know every aspect of your offer and that you truly understand your customer.

Solution Filter

On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Blame Filter is the Solution Filter. Rather than dwelling on what is wrong, the Solution Filter adjusts your focus to positive outcomes.

seeking solutions

This is, by far, one of the best filters. It is a common filter that goal setting experts teach.

When using the Solution Filter, your mind is focused on actions that move to a specific outcome, unlike the Blame Filter, which takes a passive role in order to move away from fears and negative potential outcomes.

The Solution Filter has a clear target.

The Solution Filter only sees positive actions that can  achieve the goal. The Solution Filter can also be a guiding light, helping you realize that you have more power than you might thought. The Solution Filter often reveals that all solutions are within your grasp. (Click to Tweet that Tidbit.)

Possibility Filter

This is probably the most fun filter of them all. The Possibility Filter opens your mind to the untapped parts of your imagination. You can achieve more than you ever thought you could when you use the Possibility Filter. You know you are using the Possibility Filter when you use the magic word.

What is the magic word?

If.

Asking questions like “What if…?” is a wonderful was to trick your mind into unexplored thoughts. Just as the Blame Filter narrows your focus, the Possibility Filter broadens your perspective to see resources, goals, ideas, and creative outlets.

  • “What if we had all the money in the world?”
  • “What if you knew you could reach your goal by next week?”
  • “What if that weren’t a problem?”
  • “What if you were the person who had all the control?”
  • “What if you felt confident?”
  • “What if you didn’t have that to worry about?”

The Possibility Filter is a wonderful counterattack to the Blame and Objections Filters in order to seduce someone into the Solutions Filter.

“If” helps you drop all perceived barriers and open your eyes to possibilities that can easily become reality. (Click to Tweet that Awesome Tidbit.) You missed them before because you were using the wrong filters.

 

If you found any of this helpful, it sure would be swell if you shared it!

  1. Click the pretty buttons below to share this on your various social media platforms.
  2. I would LOVE to hear your comments and experiences with any of the communication filters!
  3. Got any ideas for future posts? Let me know in the comments below!
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  • http://rockyourtravel.com Algis Tamosaitis

    This is great reminder to actually pay attention to which filter you are using as well as the filter someone else is using when engaged in conversation. Being aware of those things when talking with someone allows for a much deeper understanding of what’s really going on. Will keep it in mind.

    • Sharí

      I would also add that being aware of these filters during SELF TALK is very important as well. Sometimes we can get trapped in some of these filters in the discussions in our own minds.

  • http://www.luttingerassociates.com margaret luttinger

    Shari

    It was a good thought to add the comment about self-talk.
    I enjoyed this post and I think you conveyed things well and clearly. Providing examples for each of the filters was helpful for a reader for future reflection.

    Margaret

  • http://joestauffacher.com Joe Stauffacher

    This reminds me so much of the frame game presented in “Pitch Anything” http://amzn.to/YZfXcq

    How might you describe the difference between filters and frames?

  • http://www.MyMiBoSo.com Sabrina at MyMiBoSo

    This made me take a closer look at all of my coaching conversations Shari, and is such a great reminder for me to continue finding that balance between my “filters” – though I’m happy to say that I do spend a lot of time in the “possibility” filter!

  • http://www.HeyAgatha.com Agatha

    Very eloquently said :)

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