Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Inflection

In communications there is a convention called "inflection" which is the result of our stressing a particular syllable in a word, altering the cadence or rhythm of our speech, raising or lowering the pitch of our voice, emphasizing certain words or phrases.  Inflection is a nuanced technique designed to gain or refocus attention to the intended and/or underlying meaning of our words.

Those who lead others have another dimension of inflection that can be leveraged.  The way we direct our attention (or not), the things we choose to emphasize (or not), the behaviors we incentivize (or not), the folks we empower (or not) send powerful signals to others.  

Just as we can use words or the sound of our voice to communicate meaning, we also have the power to use non-verbal inflection to communicate meaning.  Those acts of omission and commission serve also to gain or refocus attention to the intended and underlying meaning of our actions/attention/behaviors.

In mathematics, an inflection point is that point on a continuous curve that represents a change of direction.  It is, in effect, the point at which the turning occurs.  We can use both verbal and non-verbal inflection to generate points of inflection, both in the behavior of individuals and in the behavior of the organization.  Some powerful possibilities exist here.

The frequently deployed alternative, of course, is to muddle along, sending unintentional and mushy signals, in thoughtless ways.  Since this approach requires the least thinking and work, it makes sense that it is the default setting for so many leaders.

However, for those aspire for more...  
(yes, that was an example of inflection.)

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