Thursday, February 28, 2013
Maybe this list is just the tip of the iceberg and they might not be the worst.
I’m sure there are numerous examples that you can add – and please do so in the comments section.
These are just some of the unproductive thoughts that I excavate when coaching employees. To be totally clear: I encounter them at all levels, in every industry, in many different cultures, and in my own thinking.
So here we go, unproductive thoughts at work and in life
If I knew then what I know now.
That won’t work. We’ve tried it before.
It’s stupid to say “I don’t understand.”
Come January first I will start …
I don’t have to explain this. They know me.
That cannot be true.
I will try that some other time.
You shouldn’t just change your opinion.
I know how he thinks about me.
It’s a weakness to admit that you don’t know something.
I will soon make that a priority.
I know what you mean.
How about your turn now?
Monday, February 18, 2013
The most destructive conversations in the workplace are the ones left unsaid.
Most people instinctively avoid conflict even though good disagreement is central to progress.
Conflict avoidance and selective blindness lead managers, employees, and organizations astray.
Self-deception is inherent in the psychology of human beings. Self-deluded people believe that intention automatically translates into behavior.
The best partners aren’t echo-chambers and yes-men. The best teams allow people to deeply disagree.
One of the saddest phrases in the workplace: No one ever told me.
When you avoid negative feedback and conflict, you lack accountability and you do a disservice to all involved. You waste everyone’s time.
There are many situations in the workplace where conversations benefit from subtlety and nuance. There are at least as many that need plain directness and courageous candor.
I choose my top two and went to work.
Which one needs your attention most? Choose and get going. Now.
Now isn't just the best time, but really the only time to start growing and improving.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I googled ‘communication’: 224 million results in 0.23 seconds. Numerous scholarly and non-scholarly articles, so here’s my brief take on communication in under 330 words:
I can talk, write, and coach all I want, communication is about two things:
It’s as simple as that. As Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write in an HBR Blog Network Post called How Poor Leaders Become Good Leaders: “Communication skills are highly malleable … improvement here was less about learning new skills than about using the skills they already had more often and with more people.”
This hits my take on how to improve your communication. There are three parts to it:
1. Believe me. You have to improve and you can improve.
2. Increase your awareness of how your communication is being perceived and received (as opposed to how you intended it, or to how you think others receive it). 360 Feedback is one of your tools, but the conversation about the feedback you receive is what matters most.
3. Practice, practice, practice the skills that you use in some areas, and not or too little in other situations. We all know how to really listen, if only in conversations that really get our attention. Now it’s time to deliberately and intentionally make it a concerted habit (not effort, I often don’t like efforts – too easy, too much excuse-prone) to listen in every situation. Your improvement might be in other areas: If you need to speak more plainly about complex matter, take your conversation with a 5 year old as a model. If you need to be more candid in your feedback, take your courageous conversation with a dear friend as an example. The skills are there, most of them are anyway. You and I often just do a bad job transferring them to a variety of situations. I know, the situations and stakes are different, but remember, the skills remains the same. The question is just: Do you take it, do you take yourself, do you take your audience seriously?
Wishing you plenty of practice and healthy habit forming.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Bits and pieces from the Tao Te Ching.
No explanations needed, I’ll let Lao Tzu do some talking.
The best leader is one whose existence is barely known
Next best is one who is loved and praised
Next is one who is feared
Worst of all is a leader who is despised
If you fail to trust people
They won’t turn out to be trustworthy
The wise person sets an example by
Emptying his mind
Opening his heart
Relaxing his ambitions
Relinquishing his desires
Cultivating his character
Having conquered his own cunning and cravings
He can’t be manipulated by anyone.
Knowing others is intelligence
Knowing the self is enlightenment
Conquering others is power
Conquering the self is strength
Know what is enough, and you’ll be rich
Persevere, and you’ll develop a will
Remain in the center, and you’ll always be at home
The wise person acts without effort
And teaches by quiet example
He accepts things as they come
Creates without possessing
Nourishes without demanding
Accomplishes without taking credit.
That the birds of worry fly over your head
This you cannot prevent
But that they build nests in your hair
This you can!
The five colors blind the eye
The five tones deafen the ear
The five flavors overwhelm the palate
Fancy things get in the way of one’s growth
Racing here and there
Hunting for this and that
Good ways to madden your mind, that’s all
Relinquish what is without
Cultivate what is within
Live for your center, not your senses
If you compete with no one
No one can compete with you.