When determining the path for our lives, it is often difficult to take one straight and easy path to our ultimate career dream. Life has a funny, yet predictable, habit of throwing bends and detours into the road. One key skill which will almost always assist us in getting back on our way is learning to communicate with influence.
We spoke with Jennie Mitchell of Speak Up Communication to learn her tips for amping up communication with others and how she personally learned the importance of facing life’s roadblocks head-on. Jennie believes communication is the key to living out a daily legacy of influence and life-long relationships.
4word: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jennie: I am a woman of God, confident and humble. I worked eighteen years in High Tech as an engineer and international manager. I then worked seven years as a counselor, teacher, and an international director of a non-profit. I’ve been an entrepreneur for three years, and my passion is to help leaders communicate with positive influence. I help leaders communicate with influence because I didn’t learn this growing up, (even though I have amazing parents who are teachers,) and because I didn’t learn how to communicate with influence in large high tech businesses, despite receiving a ton of management training.
I used to be directive, critical, and a perfectionist. I had a need to be right and an irrational sense of urgency. Those personality attributes can serve us well when doing tasks, but when it comes to interacting with people, these same attributes can shut down trust, creativity, and innovation. Most moms and corporate leaders also have similar directive communication patterns. We can be caring, loving people on the inside, but we don’t realize how our communication style is impacting others emotionally and spiritually.
Until I was looking in the mirror and watching my mother when we traveled to Africa together in 2004, I didn’t know how my communication impacted others. Most of us can get pretty irritated with our moms, especially when we are 40 years old and together for 30 days, including sleeping in the same bed. I especially found myself irritated when she said something like “No, do it this way” or “Carry my purse.” I felt minimized, disrespected, and misunderstood. God was working on me and taught me in each of these moments the truth, that I do the same thing to others. I recognized I was looking in the mirror.
The really amazing news is rather than accept that this is the way I would stay, God challenged me to UNLEARN. The first key to healing is deciding to focus on our own action rather than blaming someone else. I decided in each of these instances that I cared too much to have people feel this way and I was going to change. I decided to UNLEARN this normal leadership communication style (directive) and to learn to communicate with influence. As a continuous “process improvement” person from my work in High Tech manufacturing, it was natural for me to develop step-by-step training tools to help people unlearn the things that hold them back from communicating with positive influence in every conversation.
I grew up as the youngest of three girls and was loving, comforting, quiet, and shy. My parents taught us experientially about death, God, sickness, marriage struggles, prayer, life-time relationships, giving, patriotism, history, culture, love of outdoors, BIG family, and our global humanity. I have been to 30 countries, and I love people, experiential learning, and exploring. My mother is the founder of a counseling & teaching ministry that operates in 32 countries and is based on a personal calling from the Lord of “Teach nothing but His Kingdom.”
4word: Your mother was a strong, successful woman with a thriving ministry. Why did you feel like you needed to differentiate yourself from her legacy? What steps did you take to do this?
Jennie: Imagine your mom opening a ministry in your home, when you are a thirteen-year-old girl trying to fit in with your peers. Non-profits weren’t so fashionable back then, and she decided to answer God’s call by listening to people’s life stories. The poor in spirit showed up in our home and their stories included addiction, depression, and marital /family problems. The most challenging mentally ill clients stayed for dinner. As a daughter (trying to fit in at school), I felt unsupported by my mother, and this drove me to make a silent oath of “I just want to be normal in my life.”
Driven by the strong need to fit in and to be normal, I didn’t want anything to do with Mom’s legacy or her ministry until my husband left me when I was 38 years old. After he left, I started working on myself and learned we each have our own story, and there is no such thing as normal. It is a miracle that I went to work for the ministry Mom founded because a few years before, I would have told anyone that was a CRAZY idea, and I was NEVER going to be involved with her ministry. I was angry with my mom and I didn’t even know it until I clarified my own emotions and forgave her and many others. After working with thousands of men and women, it is clear that most of us are upset with our parents and we have not even realized it since we have been stuffing our emotions for years.
God called me to go to Good Samaritan Ministries, and He called me to leave. I worked there full-time for seven years and helped transition the ministry from a founder-based ministry to God’s ministry with many empowered leaders. God spoke to me very clearly about timing and when to leave the ministry. Mom and I grew closer through working together and experiencing my Dad’s graduation to heaven in January 2015. Mom has influenced me more than anyone, and she is still my number one mentor due to her spiritual wisdom. She respects me because she sees my spiritual wisdom and courage to improve and change things.
I have a heart for corporate, non-profit, and community leaders learning to live out a daily legacy of influence and not waiting for ‘someday.’ I also have a passion for people having excellent marriages where they ‘date for life.’ Mom has a heart for the mentally ill. Bettie P. Mitchell’s greatest gift is to teach people to teach the word of God, and I am still involved in this area of GSM. Mom and I rest the ministry in God’s arms, and I am still teaching the Kingdom of God, but teaching it to leaders in a non-religious, Jesus-like fashion.
4word: A big part of your career in executive coaching is that you teach your clients to communicate with influence. Can you explain this communication style?
Jennie: Communicating with influence means you listen to understand, you know that what people say is not about you, you speak up and clarify agreements, and you empower, believe in, and bring out the best in each person authentically.
The executive coaching I am doing today is just a step in my path of training thousands of leaders to empower millions of leaders to communicate with influence. I am looking for other leaders who want to learn and teach others to communicate with influence using the tools God has given me. When you communicate with influence, you are authentic, positive, non-judgmental, compassionate, empowering, and able to admit your mistakes. You will engage with people by asking powerful questions that encourage and inspire them. You will build a bridge of agreement and understanding in each conversation. You will help yourself and others to be heard, understood, and affirmed. You clarify and release your own emotions and “cases against yourself and others” daily.
4word: What causes most professionals to struggle with effective communication?
My experience working with people as a counselor and in corporate environments has shown me:
- We are in a hurry and we put tasks before people.
- We are belly gazing (engaged with devices or thinking of our task list) and not noticing and interacting with people proactively when we are out and about.
- We think people are judging us, so we get self-conscious and lose self-confidence when we interact with others. Instead, we need to remember “it’s not about us” and proactively engage people with our eyes, ears, and words.
- We have our own frustration and emotions that impact our non-verbal communication daily. For example, we might hear someone say in a high-pitched voice, “I’m not frustrated. What do you mean I sound frustrated?”. In this example, the person is clearly frustrated, and the frustration is revealed through pitch and defensive phrasing.
- We have old habits and styles we learned growing up and in our profession that are directive & emotionally triggering to others, and we don’t even know we have these habits.
- Many times we have been so busy working, being a mom, or being a wife that we have lost track of who we are as a woman of God and how to connect with people to leave a daily legacy of influence.
4word: What advice would you share with professionals who have realized their communication has been hindering them and would like to get themselves on track to becoming better communicators?
I recommend that people who are ready to begin communicating with influence:
- Decide to make a serious investment in relationships. Investing in relationships needs to become your number one priority on a daily basis. Doing so will build a legacy of positive influence that will enrich every interaction each day of your life.
- Start following the training I will be offering and let me know that you would like to get my training flash cards.
- Schedule a strategy session with me to get specific steps to start working on what you need to UNLEARN to grow in your ability to communicate with influence. JennieLMitchell.com
- Take the Communicate with Influence Group Course that will be starting in mid-October.
- Engage with me or another coach in one-on-one coaching or mentoring to learn to communicate with influence. Unlearn the old habits that are holding you back from living a daily legacy of influence.
Do you feel like you communicate with influence? Do you find yourself wishing that you could have more impact when interacting with those around you, both in the office and in everyday life? Take Jennie’s advice and DECIDE to invest in YOU, your #1 asset. Apply steps for getting on track as a good communicator. You’ll find yourself communicating with influence in no time!
If you’d like to participate in a group coaching session with Jennie, click here to sign up and a special early-bird offer!
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Jennie Mitchell is the founder of Speak Up Communiation. As a speaker, executive coach, and trainer, she helps ambitious business leaders communicate with influence. She is an executive coach, mentor, and communication specialist for purpose-driven executives, helping them leverage their purpose and passion into powerful legacy in every interaction.
Jennie teaches ambitious business leaders to communicate with influence in every interaction. Many successful executives come across in their communication as corporate-minded and critical. Jennie teaches people to UNLEARN verbal and nonverbal communication that creates barriers to innovation. Leaders learn exactly what to say and how to speak up in positive ways even in negative, toxic situations.
Jennie speaks globally on discovering and creating a powerful legacy daily. She has created straightforward tools for thousands of people, resulting in people having less stress while connecting more quickly. A compassionate, caring executive coach, Jennie is on a mission to increase influence for leaders in their businesses, homes, and communities. She will challenge you to think differently and give you actionable steps to communicate with influence.
Jennie graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering. She credits her family’s experiential learning and continuous improvement training in helping her to train leaders to create a powerful relational legacy with each person they meet.