An interview with Ľubomíra Slušná – Franz, the founder of Communication Ltd.
Your carrier started with art. You worked as an art historian. How did you end up coaching and doing communication training?
After finishing my studies at the philosophical faculty I started working on projects in the area of creative art and culture. This was almost exclusively work on projects which brought about new contexts and developed communication. They were predominantly art exhibitions and international projects in the area of culture and education. For example, exhibitions in non-traditional locations and untypical venues – in parks, in the Washington D.C. World Bank atrium, in hospitals, as well as in standard gallery environments both in Europe and in the USA. Projects followed in which the creative elements were focused on the expression of symbolic messages. I gradually started having more and more presentations of this nature in the United States. In 1999 these activities quite naturally resulted in the association for Culture, Education and Communication being set up. And it was chiefly thanks to the association that I started to organise training programs in Roma settlements in Slovakia in 2001, in addition to international projects conducted abroad. It was here that I noticed the huge barriers regarding resolution of the Roma issue resulting from bad communication. This theme interested me so much that I started to teach settlement inhabitants basic communication skills. At the same time I had also been conducting communication and personal development training and coaching for top managers in international enterprises. I must admit that this is something I have continued with to the present day, because I see a meaning in this line of work and it also brings about tangible results.
I've always had the fortune of meeting great people in this organisation. Securing the running of an organisation and obtaining money for the implementation of projects has always been harder than being employed somewhere and having a secure income. On the other hand it has also given us the opportunity to put into practice many a bold concept and has decisively pushed us all forward in terms of personal growth.
When we take a look at the work you have already performed, we can state that your whole life has been dedicated to the principle of effective communication. Why do you deal with it so intensively?
Yes, if we are talking about good communication when we say effective. Ten years ago I was involved in projects and I simultaneously dealt with training and couching. Now it’s the opposite way round. For many years I have been intensively working with the development of personalities and communication as my main activity. And why? Maybe because of what we are like, how we communicate and how we live being directly correlated. This means: Personality quality = communication quality = quality of life. Quality can be translated with words such as level and potential etc. The essence of the equation does not change however, it is always personality = communication = life.
According to this equation we could say that communication and personality development are the secret to success. Is there any truth in this in your oppinion?
The development of personalities and communication are truly the secret to every success. Another 'secret' that we all know - even though we don't all live by it - is that without effort it won't work. I see this in myself. I am still willing to able to perform activities that push me forwards as a human being and that is what I consider to be my success. I do everything to deepen my own self-awareness. I have also been exercising to deepen my spiritual development for over two decades.
Since 2005 you have been leading a company focused on communication and personal development which has a very fitting name – Communication. These types of agencies have recently become more common in Slovakia . In what way is your communication training different?
In all our training programs – be they communication, personal development or coaching – we apply METEST© methodology. This is the test on the basis of which the training, personal development or coaching program is prepared. The test reveals where the participant has not been using their potential in percentage points. On the basis of the results a special training program follows, initially for the areas in which the respective participant has the greatest reserves of unused potential. The training course consists of both theory and practical application addressing model situations and interactive practical application techniques of various kinds. These are special exercises that deepen perception from the internal point of view. How demanding the training should be is also set individually, but relaxing and dynamic meditation is also an integral part of all training activities.
In addition to communication training, you also provide coaching. What is coaching?
Coaching, the way I perceive it, is accompanying the person on their road to becoming able to answer the question being asked and find the best solution and the most appropriate approach or means of implementation. A good quality coach has the ability to develop the potential the given individual has. It is a difficult role because the coach has to be internally relaxed and may not judge their solutions. This requires the ability to become detached, to listen thoroughly and to have empathy on the part of the coach. I realised that I could do this only at a concentration level at which I remained open and accessible to what was coming. Refined perception is very important. The exercises I do help me tremendously, including Zen meditation techniques. Coaching is different to training. This requires, on the other hand, a person who has an interest in the working on themselves. Having had the experience I’ve had I am now convinced that without this it would not be possible.
One could argue that we learn the "life experience". Why should we therefore consciously deal with our personal development?
Development of personality and life experience are intertwined. The circumstances of life, and therefore the life experience they bring are something we create ourselves. In other words, our lives look exactly like our internal environment. It's not that life happens and we are somewhere in between. It's the other way; we can truly create our own lives. Therefore, the development of personality plays a key role in our lives. Realising this is the first step. Then we can do something to help us move on. This infers deepening the understanding of ourselves as human beings and consciously working to develop our personalities. And why should we pursue the development of personality? If we care about how we live, it is because there is this direct correlation, of which I have spoken, and it is the personality level that equals the level of communication which in turn equals the quality of life..
The word coaching is linked by many to managers and professional life. Can coaching strengthen other areas of life?
I keep meeting more and more managers who are interested in personal development. The training courses they undergo strengthen their skills, but it is coaching that widens and deepens the extent of their responsibility. They start to think not only about quality but also about the meaning of their work and their purpose in life. Each step forwards on the road to personal development is reflected in their professional and private life. It is not possible to truly to get better at something without it being reflected in other areas of life. If one truly becomes better at something, their entire life improves.
What does coaching look like in practice and how does the METEST©, you have created fall into it?
The coaching begins with the METEST© . The test reveals any unused potential and areas in which it not used adequately. This in its own ways saves time because we first address the areas in which unused potential reaches its highest values. It is an individual thing and depends on the results achieved. With the coaching, as with personal development, the program of meetings is established on the basis of the test results.
Coaching and personal development are based on mutual trust. Mutual awareness helps. Every coach has their own system for this. For me the important thing is to spend time with the client at the beginning, before coaching commences. This could be a number of hours or sometimes days. This time is filled with discussions and strolls. The aim is to relax the atmosphere and deepen our contact, something which supports mutual awareness and trust.