Category Archives: workplace communication

Are You Making These Mistakes in Getting the Results You Want?

At times, we all need to get someone else to make a decision. Whether it’s about signing off on a project, buying our product or service, or making reservations for dinner, results depend on someone  making a decision.

The thing is, they will make the decision their way. They can’t do it any other way, and if they try, they will most likely be unhappy with the result.

Have you seen this to be the case? Have you, or someone close to you, said, “I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I shouldn’t have gone along just because I was talked into it.”

When we really want something for the other person, or need something from them, our good intentions can actually get in the way of how they NEED to make the decision.

Here are three common mistakes that block our effectiveness at helping others make good decisions.

Mistake #1: Putting our attention in the wrong place. When we are so attached to our own agenda, or really working on the best way to present our offer, or just nervous and worrying about how we are doing, our attention is on ourselves and not the other person. This not only keeps us from getting the information we need from them, it also unintentionally conveys that we are not really interested in them. Bad move for gaining trust.

Mistake #2: Being logical. Or, more specifically, using your own logic rather than the logic of the other person. Even if you listen carefully to what the other person wants, you are likely to organize the solution using your own logic rather than the sequence or emphasis that feels natural to them. If you offer services to others, the more you know about how they think and decide, the better service you can provide for them.

Mistake #3. Leading too soon or too much. People who are great at influencing have a wide range of behavioral flexibility. They can move quickly or they can be more deliberate to match the pace of their client. They don’t rush decisions. It’s a lot easier to avoid this mistake if you are avoiding mistakes 1 and 2 – so that you are listening and following the other person’s logic.

Correcting these mistakes shows the other person that you are being responsive to them. If you genuinely want to get decisions that are mutually beneficial, follow their logic and provide the information that they need to make a good decision for them.

Not only will you get better results in the short run, your relationships become stronger over the long run.

Innovation: Why We Need to Connect with Each Other

Click on this post to view a short fun video that shows us that the connected mind is where good ideas come from.

Love and Work

Today is Valentine’s Day, when we think a lot about love. Most of the focus is on romantic love, hearts and flowers, and all that.

Let’s take a moment to recognize another aspect of love: the love we express when we work.
 
Gifts from the Heart
No matter what form your work takes, when you show up and contribute energy, smarts, and time, you are sharing your uniqueness.
 
You may think of your value in terms of the tasks you perform. Yes, that contribution is important.
 
How you do those tasks and interact with people is at least as important. You have a direct effect on the well-being of those around you. Perhaps you wouldn’t say you love every one of those people. Just the same, they feel your presence — and your love.
 
Even better, what is good for you, i.e., whatever nurtures your soul, gives you joy, makes your day, is also good for the people around you.

Doing Work You Love
A real luxury in life is getting to do work that you love. Those moments of being fully absorbed, creating results, helping people, learning, succeeding, and being recognized, are sources of motivation.
 
If this is a frequent experience for you, congratulations.
 
If you don’t have much of that, guess what? It is up to you to get creative in your career. Whether by enhancing what you are doing now, or following your heart to make a change, or finding a way to do what you love outside of work, you have to express your gift.
 
An Underrated Resource
For some bizarre reason, work cultures often undermine or discount the gifts of the heart.
 
HR manager and author Tony DeBlauwe has identified a condition he calls EAD, or Employee Adaptive Displacement, which names the hidden demoralization of many people at work. You can read his recent blog post and download the full paper for more of Tony’s insight.
 
These workers’ hearts are not engaged. Not only are they unhappy, they are not performing at their potential. 
 
Engaging the heart has many benefits. The Institute of Heartmath offers statistics proving that the heart has many times more electrical current than the brain.
 
They and others also show that appreciation and gratitude reduce stress and increase health at work. There are lots of reasons for your left brain to buy into the love thing. Today, use the excuse that it is Valentine’s Day!
 

A Round of Appreciation

Why not add a few ounces of appreciation for yourself and others today?
 
Start by recognizing the commitment it takes for you to do your work, to offer your skills, and to help the team.
Give yourself some appreciation for that!
 
Look around, either in person or in your mind, at the people in your work life. Is it not some form of love that they express each day?
 
It may seem strange to think of our presence and our contributions as love.  Try putting on that filter and experience the giving and receiving of love that constitutes work. Open your heart to the possibilities.
 
Share the love this Valentine’s Day.  Namaste
 
(You can read the Messenger, including Why Influence? at http://emailbrain.com/new/viewnewsletter2.aspx?SiteID=9958&SID=1&NewsletterID=1065542)

How to Break the Communication Barrier

Is there someone with whom you have built up a barrier to communication?

Perhaps you reached an impasse years ago and still work with this person. Perhaps you know what you want to say and do not feel you can say it, or maybe you are not clear at all. For whatever reason, there’s a wall between you.

It’s hard to talk with him or her, and it’s different from the many work relationships where you and others get along fine.

If you would prefer that the wall weren’t there, here are some steps to take.

First, what are your assumptions? We commonly assume that the correct solutions are obvious, the other person’s position is unchangeable, that they are not rational, and that we have no responsibility for the breakdown.

Recognizing and questioning those assumptions can open the door for dialogue.

The next important step is to be careful NOT to jump in and give a good explanation of where you are coming from. Invite a conversation and then listen.

Listening through what the other person has to say may be difficult. Listen without interrupting, and with empathy.

If you find you are not able to listen through, take time to reflect. Maybe take out a piece of paper and write out your thoughts. Speak with a friend or communication coach to sort out what’s in the way and to build the skill of listening well.

If you can do this, there are few barriers to communication that will stand.

Send It Again, Sam!

Research supports repetition
If you really want to get something done, walk down the hall or pick up the phone, send an email and follow up with a text. That’s what a project manager in a recent study did to make sure that her message got through.

Turns out that the more we ask, and the more channels we use, the more likely we are to get action. Clarity of requests is not as essential as repetition (even though we at Syntax still strongly favor clear requests!).

Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge newsletter reported on the surprising results of a study by professors at Harvard and Northwestern. They shadowed 13 project managers across three industries for a total of 256 hours, examining media, timing, and power.

One interesting aspect of the study was that messages to nudge people into action communicated a threat of what would happen if they didn’t act quickly. These were project managers under pressure. They apparently transmitted the urgency they were feeling. Some spelled out the threat, others made it evident more indirectly.

Authority Is No Guarantee

How often and how creatively the requesters communicated varied first of all with their position power.

The managers with direct authority tended to ask once, or maybe twice, maybe just in an email message.

Their messages told recipients of the negative consequences they wanted to avert. It didn’t work very well. These managers more often had to do damage control because the action they counted on was not in fact done.
Other managers who had to influence without direct authority took more initiative and used more channels to communicate. They were the ones who made personal requests and then used other media.

A nuance in the communication was that these managers often conveyed the threat indirectly, leaving it up to the recipient to recognize the urgency. The number of messages and the use of various media increased the odds of the message getting a response.
Go Ahead, Ask Again

Bottom line is a reminder of the adage we heard many years ago: instructions have to be given at least three times. We follow that to advantage when teaching SYNTAX courses.

As they said in Working Knowledge, perhaps it isn’t nagging. Or maybe it is, and it’s just what you have to do in this overly stimulating world of workplace communication!

Either way: be prepared to send crucial information and requests more than once, in more than one medium, if you want people to respond.

What Can Communication Coaching Do For You?

Especially at work, what we communicate is who we are. As leaders and co-workers, we enhance or detract from the success of our enterprise with the communication competence we demonstrate. This is a skill set that has to grow to keep pace with complexity.
Working with a communication coach is a high-leverage way to accomplish several objectives at once:
-dedicating time and focus to this crucial area of your work life
-learning new skills tailored to your style and your goals
-and, perhaps most important, having an observer who can give you feedback and a place to test your thinking.

Many well-known C-level executives and other leaders rely on coaches, particularly to prepare for communication situations. If you want to reduce the stress and optimize your traction in communicating, it is likely that your HR folks or your department’s budget can provide funds for coaching.

No longer seen as remedial, communication coaching is fuel for career advancement and business success. For entrepreneurs, the return on investment is easy to measure through direct results.

Some criteria for selecting a communication coach:
– they make a clear contract for a number of sessions and / or a measurable outcome
– they do not have a conflicting relationship with you, i.e. they are not your boss or your best friend
– they are able to explain their approach, the communication models or assessments they use, and how this is applicable to your goals
-they will have an introductory conversation with you to determine best fit.

One of the criteria for choosing a coach is what you can learn from him or her. Coaches who are skilled with communication models help you put them into practice on a daily basis.

We all have blind spots, or simply preferences that don’t match up with those of co-workers or customers. Coaching can help prevent breakdowns or help us learn from them. An extra benefit is getting a reality check from a trusted advisor. Priceless.

We live in an amazingly complex world and an information-rich environment. The more intelligence you bring to it, the more you gain. Communication coaching helps you focus on what matters most to reach your goals. If you’re ready, let’s talk!