Process Communication Model

Compassion Re-Imagined for 2020

2020 will be a year of great challenge and great opportunity. Division and drama are at an all time high. Globally 85% of workers are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Yet everywhere we travel around the world, leaders tell us they are craving positive connections and authentic relationships. They are tired of the drain and want their energy back! They are looking for a better way. (more…)

Read More

Two Mistakes That Will Kill Your Employee Recognition Program

This SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that less than 30% of employees surveyed were satisfied with their organization’s recognition efforts. Among organizations who had a formal recognition program, less than 50% were satisfied.

How can it be that even among organizations who are making the effort and have good intentions, less than half of their employees are satisfied?

Two mistakes can kill even the best-intentioned recognition efforts; Focus on recognition instead of motivation, and selective hearing which leads to prejudice. (more…)

Read More

Leadership and Manipulation: Donald Trump Case Study, Part 2

What’s the difference between leadership and manipulation? This two-part series explores this very question using Donald Trump as the case study. In Part One I introduced the topic and shared three of the six tactics that skilled manipulators use to get what they want. Here are the other three, along with positive leadership lessons. (more…)

Read More

How to Increase Engagement With Coaching Clients: Adaptive Communication Part 2

Personality only matters if two or more people are trying to get something done.

This is Part 2 of a short series on how to increase engagement with six different personality types in coaching. Using the Process Communication Model (PCM®), coaches can adapt how they communicate and motivate to greatly increase buy-in, engagement, and participation in coaching. Coaches can use these insights to monitor their own behavior better, recognize how to keep themselves in a healthy place, and reduce miscommunication with their clients.

Read Part 1


Read More

How to Increase Engagement With Coaching Clients: Adaptive Communication Part 1

Last Spring I attended an introductory coaching course offered by the Coactive Training Institute. The two facilitators, both experienced coaches, were extremely gifted at establishing rapport. They were able to create a safe place for the 25 plus participants to open up and explore difficult issues. And, they had something more. Both of them had an uncanny knack for adjusting the way they communicated depending on the personality of the person with whom they were interacting. I noticed one situation where one facilitator gave a participant high-five and exchanged joking banter. With another person, she sat down next to her and exchange warm, nurturing conversation.

This pattern continued through out the three days as they “read” the audience and individualized their communication and motivation for each person in the room. Furthermore, these two professionals demonstrated keen self-awareness and self-management around their own needs, preferences, and distress. Somehow they managed to be themselves by letting their personality shine through, while still adjusting to others.

Adaptive Communication and Coaching

I imagine what I experienced from these gifted coaches was an extension of the adaptive communication skills they use in their one-on-one coaching relationships.

Adaptive communication is the ability to recognize individual differences in personality and communication and adapt our approach accordingly.

Some people are naturally good at it. Some develop it through experience. The rest of us can either wing it and take our chances, or learn how to do it. Ideally, coaches could fast-track their skills in this area since it is fundamental to developing rapport and nurturing an effective coaching alliance.

Adaptive communication does not depend on a formal profile on the other person, although these can be incredibly helpful to the coaching process.

Adaptive communication requires the ability to assess and decode verbal and nonverbal communication and discern patterns correlating with someone’s personality structure.

From here, a coach can adapt how he/she connects, motivates, and proactively deals with distress behavior. This skill goes far beyond rapport, and helps coaches create a strong, trusting, working relationship that greatly improves the chances of helping clients achieve their goals. As it was with my coach trainers, it also helps coaches with their own self-care and self-management, a critical component of healthy, ethical coaching.

PCM: A Framework for Adaptive Communication in Coaching

Using the framework of Process Communication Model (PCM®), a behavior-based model of personality and communication, coaches can predict with high-levels of accuracy how to individualize their approach in order to quickly build rapport, enhance communication, properly motivate clients, and anticipate and respond proactively to sabotage behavior.

There are six different personality types that a coach might encounter. For each, I’ll outline how to quickly establish rapport, how to motivate them towards positive behavior change, what types of sabotage behavior is most likely, and how to respond positively. I will also include comments on self-care if this happens to be the coach’s personality preference. I’ll introduce two of the six types in this article, the other four will be covered in the follow-up article.

CAVEAT: Before reading further, I want to caution that none of the six types explained below exist in isolation. We all have all six within us, arranged in a preferred, set order. And, we all have types that are more developed, more primary, and a stronger driver of our behavior. As a coach, you will likely experience one predominant type, and one or two other secondary types displayed in coaching. The predominant type will come into the foreground especially when personal/professional motivation is in focus and during distress.

Every coach has a sweet spot and a blind spot. Sweet spots are where a coach can leverage their own strengths, but can also unconsciously assume that others see and experience with world that same way. Blind spots are where a coach can’t relate to a personality type that’s less developed in themselves, so they unconsciously have negative bias.

PCM represents personality like a six-floor condominium, with a preferred base floor, and five other floors arranged in a preferred, set order. Each floor has corresponding communication, motivation, and distress patterns. These are evident by decoding language structure and nonverbal communication. Connecting with, and leveraging a person’s communication profile can greatly enhance rapport, motivation, and success in coaching.


Logical, responsible, and organized, Thinkers want data and facts so that they can form logical conclusions. Logic is their communication currency. Small-talk, sharing feelings, and playful exchanges are aversive because they want a structured, linear flow that connects the dots. In distress they will disrupt by over controlling, dominating conversation with excessive over-explaining, and criticizing the logic of the coach’s and others’ ideas. Motivate them towards positive behavior by acknowledging their hard work and respect the value of their time. If you are a Thinker coach, be careful of imposing your need for structure on other personality types. Take time every day to make note of your accomplishments. Respect your own time and don’t over-commit.


Compassionate, sensitive, and warm, Harmonizers seek harmony. They embrace relationships and anything that will help people get along better. Compassion is their communication currency. They love intimate environments where they feel safe to speak up. In distress they can interfere with the coaching process by losing assertiveness, not asking for what they want, and avoiding conflict. Motivate them towards positive behavior by affirming them as a person, attending to creature comforts, and showing you care about them unconditionally. If this is you, give yourself permission to take elegant care of you and hold firm to boundaries. Be careful not to take things to personally, and practice leaving your clients’ problems at the door.

Tune in to Part 2 to learn about the other four Kahler Types and how to adapt your communication for better engagement in coaching.

Develop your adaptive communication skills for coaching and beyond by attending our PCM seminars or getting certified as a PCM provider or coach.

Read More

Three Kinds of Introverts, And How To Communicate With Them

Introverts are getting more positive attention these days. Here’s a wonderful Ted Talk by Susan Cain showing the extraordinary talents and virtues introverts bring to the world.

And there’s still a big problem. Introverts have been lumped together in one big basket that does them a lot of disservice because not all introverts are the same.

There are three kinds of introverts. (more…)

Read More

Borders, Walls, and Smokescreens: Part 2

Everybody has borders they want to protect. Nothing wrong with that. We all build walls to protect those borders. That’s normal.

The problem is, most of us claim borders and build walls that are a cover up for the real issues. These smoke screens serve the purpose of helping us feel justified, but aren’t effective in the long run because of the sacrifices they require.

In Part 1 I outlined three of the six smokescreens we use to justify building a wall. Here are the other three.  (more…)

Read More

Borders, Walls and Smokescreens: Part 1

Everybody has borders they want to protect. Nothing wrong with that. We all build walls to protect those borders. That’s normal.

The problem is, most of us claim borders and build walls that are a cover up for the real issues. These smoke screens serve the purpose of helping us feel justified, but aren’t effective in the long run because of the sacrifices they require. (more…)

Read More

What’s In Your Bird Box?

Have you seen Bird Box? It’s become quite a phenomenon.

Everyone has a Bird Box, a warning sign that danger is approaching. We all fear what might happen if we look at the demons or bring them out into the light of day, which is why we keep things in the dark. Just like Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie, you might cover yourself to avoid looking. But everyone can see the message you are sending out.

There are six types of “birds” who squawk when danger approaches. Each one is trying to protect us from something, and copes with this danger in a unique way. Which one is yours? What can you do to soothe it?

I gotta be perfect

This bird tries to protect itself from the grief associated with loss. Loss of what should have been, a change in plans, the unexpected. Anything that represents loss of control will agitate the bird. This bird copes by trying to be perfect by over-thinking, hoping to avoid loss of control. The squawking sounds like over-explaining, over-detailing, and too many details. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by reminding yourself that it’s OK to grieve little and big losses and make adjustments. Control is an illusion anyways.

I gotta be strong

This bird tries to protect itself from autonomy, especially when they are alone and need to make independent decisions. This bird copes by withdrawing and hunkering down, as if trying to show they can tough it out. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by reminding yourself that you are capable of making decisions and asking for direction if you don’t know what to do next.

I gotta please

This bird tries to protect itself from its own shadow – anger. When others say or do mean things, this bird copes by stuffing its anger and tries to make everyone happy instead. It will even go without food and water to keep the peace. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by reminding it that healthy assertive anger is a sign that you care about relationships and it can actually bring people closer together.

I gotta try harder

This bird tries to protect itself from responsibility. It absolutely hates feeling bad, especially when it made a mistake. To cope, this bird plays dumb, trying hard to understand by just not quite getting, hoping that maybe someone will swoop in and take over responsibility. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by affirming how creative you are and how making a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake. You can fix it. You got this!

You gotta be strong

This bird tries to protect itself from intimacy. It gets very uncomfortable when people want to get close emotionally. This bird copes by pulling away and leaving others to fend for themselves. If necessary, it will create a diversion. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by reminding yourself that you can be self-sufficient and interdependent at the same time.

You gotta be perfect

This bird tries to protect itself from fear. It is a natural protector so it is very suspicious of anything that threatens the standards. It copes by raising the standards for everyone else, expecting perfection as a way to prevent anything bad from happening. If this is your bird, you can soothe it by reassuring yourself that you are committed, you do care deeply, and that true courage means being transparent about your fear and facing it with others.

Copyright 2019 Next Element Consulting, LLC

These six warning signs are based on the groundbreaking research by Dr. Taibi Kahler. Each one is correlated with one of the six Kahler Personality types. Discover your personality and how to communicate with all six types by attending one of our Process Communication Model seminars.


Read More

What Is The Secret Chemistry Of High-Performing Teams?

I am reposting this article because it’s as true today as it was three and a half years ago when it originally posted. Last week our team had a mini retreat to step back and reflect on how we were functioning as a team. As we evolve and grow it’s important that we tend to the team dynamics so critical to our success. What we realized again is that what really keeps us happy and productive isn’t the content of what we are doing, but how we are with each other while doing it.


Read More