Talking Beyond Talk #11: Challenge for Change

soundwave challenge for change

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So, You Think You’ve Got The Challenge Voice? 

In short, the challenge voice can be, well, challenging.
Most of us tend to operate in our lives with assumptions, following the status quo. It’s not always wrong—assumptions are important to facilitate our decision-making process. They form the basis of our understanding and help to simplify complex information for us to move forward.
However, relying too much on our preconceived notions creates a blind spot and prevents us from seeing the reality of things. This is where we challenge for change. Where you ask ‘Why?’, the challenge voice asks ‘Why not?’ We force someone to stop and rethink their ideas, perceptions and assumptions, and wonder if it truly is the best way forward.
In everyday life, the sound of this voice reverberates. We tend to know how testing it can be for those on the receiving end of it because we often ‘sound-post’ before we use it – “I need to challenge that…”, is perhaps the most commonly spoken way of doing this.

Challenge Voice: The Hidden Power

In SoundWave, the challenge voice refers to the brilliance of disruption. Use it to get others to think and act differently about what they are doing or proposing to do. Or if you feel dissatisfied because of a belief or sense that better ways can be found to get things done. It is a stimulus to change. Its power goes way beyond simply opposing.
At one level, the challenge voice is all around us. We tune in to it fast; the argument in the playground, the disagreement at work. It is even within us, when we challenge our own thoughts, notions and beliefs. We notice it because it often stops us in our tracks and compels us to re-think. It causes us to become more alert, almost vigilant, and drives us to reflect. It is no wonder that skilful use of this voice carries the impact for great change!

Using The Challenge Voice Too Much, And Too Little 

The real impact of the challenge voice can go above enacting change. It helps us embrace uncertainty. Remember Kodak? At one point in time, the film brand was a giant in its industry. They started off as pioneers of digital film technology, creating and dominating the world of amateur photography. Today, it is a mere shadow of its former self. Complacency, a lack of new perspective and fixed assumptions led to its downfall. Leaders refused to consider the changing photography landscape. They failed to challenge their own preconceived notions, stuck on the idea that they had already created the ‘perfect’ product for consumers in the years to come.
The case of Kodak is simply one of the many examples of why it is important for us to challenge for change. A failure to do so when it is needed amounts to a lost opportunity to try new things, and an acceptance that the status quo will reign supreme. How much further can we go, if we took the time to disrupt?
However, it is equally important to use the challenge voice selectively for impact. When we overuse it, listeners may experience it as an attack. This will risk creating tension and defensiveness. It causes displeasure amongst recipients, making them tired or reducing the effectiveness of its impact.

How to Challenge For Change Skilfully?

The challenge voice is a hammer—a sudden force that breaks down ideas and preconceived notions, demolishing ideas and preconceived notions. In the right hands, it breaks down walls that hide, , obstruct, divide and cover, to reveal better ideas and better paths.
Arch challengers are natural protagonists. They are adept at identifying the inconsistencies or contradictions in peoples’ thoughts and actions and prepared to risk disagreement by voicing these. They thrive on moving people to the edge of their comfort zone, enabling them to achieve things they were previously unaware were within their grasp.
To fully exploit the brilliance of the challenge voice, it is important to:
  1. Not make it personal. Remember that it is about identifying and disrupting conservative patterns and thoughts. Challenge ideas, not people. 
  1. Combine it with the use of articulate or inquire. This helps you to be inclusive rather than alienating those whose cooperation you need..
  1. Listen well to observe inconsistencies and contradictions. Challenge is a voice that can be easily misheard. Ensuring that you are listening in order to understand and intervene with care makes this voice easier to digest.

We differ from other living beings in two ways. One is the ability to converse verbally, through the use of language and conversation. The second is in our ability to think critically. Entire civilizations have thrived because of those who dare to disrupt, and those same civilizations have fallen from people who insist on sticking to the status quo. This is your call to action, to use the brilliance of your challenge voice, and refuse to accept ideas unknowingly. Instead, have the courage to choose to be the necessary catalyst for change.

Think you’ve got a knack for the challenge voice? Take our SoundWave Brilliance 3 Communication Assessment to find out your top preferred voices!


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Maalikka is the latest addition to SoundWave's team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix, and cats.

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