Category Archives: Communication

leadership lost

“Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”
― Beth Revis

 

You may have heard about the recent event on United Airlines that resulted in having a passenger forcibly removed from a plane.   It was an event that you’d think would never happen unless that passenger was threat to others or the plane.  In this case it was just someone unfortunate enough to be “randomly” selected to give up their seat to an United employee.

The event is a great lesson in leadership or the lack of leadership.  Years ago a great experiment was conducted, “The Stanford Prison Experiment” which demonstrated that just following the rules can lead to unwelcome outcomes.  Something similar happened when the gate agents followed their rules and asked for some help from the security contingent.   The security team decided to forcibly remove the passenger (just doing their job).   In the process of removing the passenger, the passenger was injured.   As it turns out people will conform to their roles and act accordingly.

When leadership doesn’t empower their employees to provide great customer service they rely on the rules, rules that don’t take into consideration the meaning and real value of the people who are to be served.

What would need to change for United to be a customer focused organization?

 

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new era of communications

SONY DSC“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw

It’s not how much you say, it’s how little you can say and get a point across.  In every arena of life there is pressure to reduce content to the minimal amount possible.

Presentations – One image – short text.

Emails – brief, be brief.

Twitter – short is great.

Facebook – the fewer words the better.

Texting –  keep it short.

Is it effective?  Is it better?
People want to only know if they have to do  something or respond with something.   Stories are being shortened and compressed.  Take your minute and use it wisely.

compassionate communication

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

SONY DSC

Have you ever stopped to think about compassionate communications?  I would imagine that most people haven’t thought it about or communicated with others compassionately.   It’s not really how most people think or do communications.  We communicate to “say” something and then move on to the next thing on our daily agenda.   Communications in many cases is “directive” communication and because there is so much directive communication coming from a variety of channels in our lives it can be ignored.

What does compassionate communication look like?

It is a 12 step process that I’ll cover in the next few blog postings.  The outline of the process is:

1. Relax
2. Stay present
3. Create inner silence
4. Increase positive emotions/thinking
5. Reflect on your deepest values
6. Access a pleasant memory
7. Observe non-verbal cues
8. Express appreciation
9. Speak slowly
10. Speak warmly
11. Speak briefly
12. Listen deeply
(This material comes from the book, “Words can change your brain: 12 conversation strategies to build trust, resolve conflict, and increase intimacy” by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

The process may seem easy and even a common sense approach to better communications and it would be if it were followed more often.

enter the critic

“But instead of spending our lives running towards our dreams, we are often running away from a fear of failure or a fear of criticism.”
― Eric Wright
The Happiness Project (2009)

Here’s a post by Gretchen Rubin on criticism.    What lessons can you learn?

It’s easy to talk first and listen later.  The price is often much higher when we listen after the fact.    How often are you forming a response to what someone is saying and missing the essence of what they have said?   We spend so much time thinking  about what to respond with that  we fail to hear their words.

What happens when someone critiques you?   Do you immediately go on the defensive?  Do you shutdown and stop listening?   Do you start preparing a message to defend your position?   Most people do just that, they are not listening they are preparing a defense and missing out on the importance of the information being shared.    Next time try a different approach and listen to what is being said.   Understand the real issue.   Is there something you can learn?  Is the information useful to you?

It is easier to respond when someone is criticizing you than it is to step back for a few seconds and think about what was being said.   The first reaction to criticism is to respond like a tiger is attacking you.    Ask yourself if what is being said is really threat.   What is really happening?   Understand what is triggering your emotions.   To engage your higher order thinking means to take five seconds or so to shift the automatic response to a cognitive thought process and respond with a well thought out statement.   Try it and see what happens.

Being willing to admit that you made a mistake if you did make one.   Be accountable and responsible for your actions and that will reduce the intensity of any criticism.  If you understand how the mistake was made you can correct it and offer that as a solution to the critic.  Make it easy on yourself and make it easier for the other person.   Make it a win-win outcome.
You can learn more about Gretchen here.

what words …

Sometimes words reach out from the page a grab us.   Sometimes what we read pulls in with a warm embrace.   Sometimes the message finds a soft spot in our hearts.   Sometimes words give us the courage to face another day.   Our words are important no matter what form they may take.

What words comfort you?   What words challenge you?   What words do you use?

“Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men’s souls, and a beautiful image it is. “, wrote Blaise Pascal.

Thank-you!

Choose your words wisely!

“It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being gratefulfor every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”   Wallace D. Wattles

 

 

the stormy present

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. “
–December 1, 1862  Abraham Lincoln

Make today the day you start doing something new for yourself.  In 1862 President Lincoln called out to say, “we face a new day,  a new era, new changes and we can no longer think and act like we did in the past.”   We are at that new day, that new era, that new place and we can no longer depend on what worked in the past to work for us in the future.

The economy is floundering and bouncing around without a clear direction.  It is waiting for something but what?  It is waiting for “you” to take action.

If you’re thinking, “How can I change the economy?”   It starts when you fully engage in everyday life.   It starts when you go to work and you put in 100% of you into the work.  It starts when you put 100% of you into life.  It starts when you believe that you can make a difference.

One of the problems we face today is the fact that everyone is waiting for someone else to make a difference.     Take a look at a company like Zappos where their values reflect leadership, authenticity, and creativity.  They have abolished a model of leadership that should have passed away at the end of the industrial age.   It is a place where ideas flourish and egos (those who use positional power as a leadership model) have faded out of the picture.   Zappos has instituted a new model of leadership that engages people in the work they do. The point is that when a company (which is just a large community of people with a common purpose, focus and goal) takes action things happen for the good.  If you took action and had a purpose, focus and a goal imagine what would happen in your life.

If you are waiting for something to happen for you then you’re not taking charge of your life.   If you are someone who is desiring to create change not only for yourself but for others then what are you waiting for.  The time is today to make the change for you.

When do you want to start living the life you really want to live?

“To change one’s life:  Start immediately.  Do it flamboyantly.  No exceptions.”  William James

6 stages of change

“Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts; the sight of the deep-blue sky and the clustering stars above seems to impart a quiet to the mind.” Jonathan Edwards

For many people the thought of change is something that pulls them back into the closet of darkness.  Not so much the thought of making a change but making change happen.   Change invokes fear, a kind of fear that increases stress to the point of creating anger, grief, sadness or even withdrawal.   Think about it, when was the last time you were asked to change how did it feel?

So, where does change start?  For some people change starts with someone else making a change.   That’s right someone else needs to change more than you need to change.   It sounds like “If that other person would change I would feel a lot better”, or “If they asked me first about the change I would tell them what should have been done”.     People in this early change phase are really acting like victims, unable to control themselves they desire to control others and blame others when things go wrong.   You might know some people who are constantly blaming others and circumstances for their feelings.     This phase of change is called precontemplation, a place of denial.   Why me?   “Look over there, look at that.”   Someone in precontemplation wants anything but to talk about change, especially personal change.

“I don’t know how”, or “Something is stopping me”, these people are in the stage known as contemplation and while they can acknowledge that they should change they are only thinking about change.    There is a restless energy about making a change, a feeling of unease and dissatisfaction, but not enough energy to actually start the change process.    It is almost like having packed for a trip with a planned destination but no ticket to get there.    Here they are standing at the curb, bags packed, ready and waiting to go.    Someday they will actually make the trip, it is anybody’s guess when that will happen.   Have you experienced this phase in your life?   Maybe you are there right now.

When people are ready to make a change they are putting more focus on the solution to their problem than the problem itself.   There is a marked energy increase but not enough to actually implement change.   These people are fence sitters, they are ready to jump but not quite.   This is a place where the thought of “what will happen to me” frequently enter the thought stream.   “What if it doesn’t work then what?”     People in the preparation phase may make small steps but not enough to make a real change.

Eventually the desire is greater than the pain of staying in place.   The action phase is where people make a commitment to changing their behavior.    So, in a burst of activity the individual starts taking steps and making progress towards change.    Great progress is being made and then, and then it stops.   The change has been going well but suddenly the lack of outside encouragement to push through the change is missing or disappears.   The action phase can cause burnout if there isn’t someone who can act as a cheerleader in the change process.    For those who maintain the energy to move forward change will happen.

For those who make the behavioral change and have passed that initial burst of energy required to make the change the next phase is the maintenance phase.  As important as the change is maintaining the new habit is important or it is possible that the change will reverse and the old habit will come back. You’ve probably seen this happen many times yourself.   People will go on a diet and lose a lot of weight and then before long that weight comes back.  Without a strong maintenance phase reversal is possible.

With effort and positive reinforcement people transition into the final phase or termination.  When people reach this phase the behavioral change is permanent and is the habit.

Organizations that are trying to create change need to be aware that people transition through the  phases at different rates.   It is easy for leaders who have contemplated and pushed for change to grow weary of the change effort and forget about reinforcing the change and helping people move through action to maintenance.    Organizations that fail to provide strong reinforcement programs that are positive and reassuring will end up falling back into the previous behaviors.

Too often organizations fail to realize how large some changes are and the impact change can have on its employees.   Businesses may assume that everyone is going to grab hold of the change initiative and move right into action.    Leaders or managers will be asked to ensure that the change happens quickly and if it doesn’t blame the individual contributors for not taking the change seriously.

People who are dealing with significant changes in their lives may have external events put before them that push them into the precontemplation stage.     Changes in career, life circumstances, major moves, death, illness or other high stress events push many people into the precontemplation phase.  Moving out of precontemplation requires shifting the energy towards the positive, lots of encouragement and plenty of success stories need to be used as an intrinsic motivator.

Each phase of change requires different incentives and rewards so that falling back into previous patterns can be avoided.  Again, organizations need to properly manage change as people will not all be in the same phase.  Mixing the incentives and messages to align with each stage a person is going through should be considered.

Where are you stuck?   What changes are you avoiding?   What is it costing you not to change?   What are the benefits of not changing?

The change process

1. Precontemplation

2. Contemplation

3. Preparation

4. Action

5. Maintenance

6. Termination

If change seems daunting to you, find someone who can work with you through the change.   Friends aren’t always the best people to support your change effort because of their emotional connection to you.   Try finding someone who isn’t going to judge you during the change and someone who can support you through the change.

What are you thinking about changing?   Write them down and identify each stage of change you are in.

 

For more information, read “Changing for Good”  Prochask, Norcross & Diclemente (1994)

Love is the biggest eraser there is. Love erases even the deepest imprinting because love goes deeper than anything. If your childhood imprinting was very strong, and you keep saying: “It’s their fault. I can’t change,” you stay stuck. Louise Hay