Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saying it as it is

Though I generally prefer to think and talk in affirmative language rather than the language of don’ts, I believe this post to be a useful exception. When confronted with difficult interpersonal situations that involve critique, confrontation or other ingredients that likely create tensions, we often revert to response patterns such as avoidance, denial and sugarcoating. That’s why this post focuses on what to avoid and why.

1. Don’t sugar coat or downplay what happened - this leaves room for more positive interpretations and conclusions than are warranted. It’s misleading and once the person discovers what you really meant, trust is harmed. It results in confusion about where you stand and what you expect. It is dishonest, ineffective, and interferes with timely performance management.

2. Even worse, don’t ignore and avoid the situation all together or underestimate the severity - this would make you an accomplice to the situation, an enabler, since you allow it to happen or at least continue. In the absence of accountability, you open the door for others to behave similarly thinking that it will have no consequences. At the same time, ignoring and underestimating a situation can be seen as cowardly and as a sign of incompetence.  

3. Don't resort to corporate speak - this creates a distance between you and others, and it's generally perceived as inauthentic. It portrays you as disconnected, as if operating from an ivory tower. Corporate speak can be interpreted as an attempt to abdicate responsibility with an air of blaming and hiding. 

4. Don't solely focus on emotions - this can feed into escalations and direct attention away from critical thinking and problem solving. If you focus on emotions too strongly you may needlessly emphasize personal sensitivities and interpersonal dislikes. This hampers logic and crisis management. Emotions absolutely need to be acknowledged and taken into account, just be careful when to attend to them and in what manner. Know when to focus on facts, when on emotions. 

5. Don't use overly positive phrases such as "We are really lucky to be handed this learning opportunity" or vague phrases such as "A mistake was made" - this too creates confusion and communicates a lack of accountability. Such phrases are generally not credible thereby eroding trust and engagement. Instead, be clear: "We delivered this project passed the deadline because we misjudged the length it would take to accomplish step 3 and 4. We will now take the following action ..."

Say it as it is, pretty or not. Do it respectfully and expect the person to find it difficult to deal with such candor. For more information on this topic:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Your complimentary online coaching session

Regardless of your industry, company, position, and present level of success, I’m sure there are problems on your plate for which coaching would be beneficial. The value of coaching is for a great deal in the interaction. For interaction with a skilled, astute coach creates deeper levels of awareness, stronger critical thinking skills, strengthened resilience, and improved accountability. This post is far from interactive, however, the following 21 questions can get you started when dealing with people, project, or other challenges. Answer them all, candidly and on paper, then revisit the questions and your responses in a few hours or, if it can wait a little longer, the next day:

1. Why is the problem a problem for everyone involved?
2. Which are your assumptions about the problem?
3. Which are your assumptions about every individual involved?
4. Do you recognize any untested and biased assumptions on your end?
5. What is the influence of power dynamics between you and others involved?
6. What are you trying to accomplish and whereto – for what bigger reason?
7. What’s important about that to you and others aware of this?
8. How are your sensitivities and ‘interpersonal allergies’ at play here?
9. What might someone who knows you well observe in this situation?
10. How candid have you been with yourself and with others?
11. How may stakeholders think totally different from you and why?
12. What specifically is it that the involved people are working to accomplish?
13. What have you tried so far and with what results?
14. What’s got you stuck, do you see connections with previous situations?
15. What is it that you may be fearing? And others?
16. What else would you do if you didn’t feel restricted by anything/anyone?
17. What would you need and from whom to actually do that?
18. How can you significantly change the conversation with those involved?
19. What are the next specific steps you will take to move things forward?
20. How will you know that you are progressing toward your goal?
21. How will you hold yourself accountable for progress and results?

Seriously answering every single question on paper, rather than zooming through them with an “I’ve gone through this before” or “I already know the answer to this question” – attitude, will help you think, choose, and accomplish differently.