Oil and Water People in the Office

Are members of your staff like oil and water – not mixing well enough to become a team? As a manager, you’ve seen the stress involved, and are not immune to their feelings as well as the pressure from your own boss about budgets, time constraints and deadlines. Tempers can (more…)

The objective of education is not what you think

I recently read an article from Knowledge @ Wharton that gave an interesting perspective: It asks

Why doesn’t education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?

It goes on to say

Teaching enables the teacher to discover what one thinks about the subject being taught. Schools are upside down: Students should be teaching and faculty learning.

In their book, Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track, authors Russell L. Ackhoff and Daniel Greenberg state that there are numerous ways to learn …. teaching, or lecturing, is only one of them. Studies have shown that this is the least effective way for someone to learn … remember how boring it was to hear an instructor drone on and on and on … how much of that monologue did you actually remember?

Group discussions, provided they are brainstorming sessions, are great ways to remember theories and concepts.

The most effective way is to teach .. or ‘teach back’. This is when you teach someone else, either in a formal or informal session, what you learned. To be able to do that effectively does not require a high ability to teach or train … it requires a desire to communicate more clearly.

Being aware of your communications, your perspective and what gets you defensive or impatient, and taking the steps to handle each of these appropriately, is one sign of high emotional intelligence. And the makings of a great leader.

Let me ask you ….. what is your level of emotional intelligence?

If you can't read ….

Recently Stephen King said this:

I don’t want to sound like an ad, a public service ad on TV, but the fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don’t, then you’ve got, the Army, Iraq, I don’t know, something like that. It’s, it’s not as bright. So, that’s my little commercial for that.

When asked about this statement by the Bangor Daily News, Mr. King ended his response with “…of course we all support the troops.”

Nearly 100% of our courageous soldiers have a high school education, and many are trained specifically for high tech duties and responsibilities.

Mr. King, I say to you: it isn’t what you said, it’s what we think we heard.

Can you draw this …

How clearly do you think you give directions? I’m not talking about directions to a specific location; I’m talking about giving instructions to someone else so they understand what you want. If you think you are pretty good in doing this, try this activity: sit with your back to a (more…)

Striped Patterns … or Plaid?

I’m reading a great book about blame.  Blame is a big part of team dysfunctions and conflict.  Blame is part of the no-win situation, for blame has no constructive value.  Blame will simply fuel the conflict fire.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in this blame-game and finger-pointing, (more…)

Does ‘Pilot Error’ Really Exist?

As we know, ‘pilot error’ is the cause of many accidents. The precursor of Pilot Error is aviation medicine …. This was a result of the aircraft manufacturers having to replace numerous crashed planes by pilot wanna-be’s. In the early days, the pilot wanna-be’s had to go through a series (more…)

One Solution to Smelling Badly?

Has this confusion ever happened to you?

There’s an old tale in the Marine Corps about a lieutenant who inspected his platoon, and told the sergeant that the troops smelled badly. The lieutenant suggested that the troops change their underwear.

The sergeant responded, “Yes sir; I’ll see to it immediately.”

He went into the tent and said, “The lieutenant thinks you guys smell bad, and he wants you to change your underwear. Smith, you change with Jones; McCarthy, you change with Witkowskie; Brown, you change with Schultz. Get to it !”

It isn’t what the lieutenant said, it’s what the sergeant heard!

All you need is …. remember we’re in the workplace

I gave a Supervisor and Communications seminar recently to first and second level supervisors.  One of the topics the President wanted me to discuss was “How do you let your direct reports, and others that are not your direct reports, know their jobs are important?” Instead of (more…)

Quick Communique: Points to Ponder Confusion vs. Clarity

“Confusion and ambiguity kills; clarity keeps us safe.” Anonymous

How many times have you given instructions only to have an outcome not at all what you thought it would be?  For instance, you are driving down the road and are told to “make a right at the third intersection”.  Sounds clear – except if (more…)

State of Mind

What importance does your state of mind play in your communication interactions? Does it really make a difference if you are 100% focused on your conversation … on both sides of the conversation?

When we are preoccupied and have a conversation, we are less likely to be picking up on the cues the other person sends us when they are talking. Our responses are more likely to be tainted when are not fully engaged in our present conversation. Tainted either in a positive or negative way.

If you are preoccupied with something good that happened … you just made a big sale, or got a raise. How will that affect your concentration with others? Your attention span may be lessened, as you are still reveling in your success.

If you are preoccupied with something not good that happened …. You lost a big sale or you are feeling pressure from your boss. How will that affect your concentration with others? Your attention span may be lessened, and you also may be quicker to anger or irritability.

So what are you to do? How are you to leave these distractions out of your conversation, so you can keep your mind clear and make the right decision?  Contrary to popular belief, your brain cannot multi-task.  It is a physical and physiological impossibility.

- Mentally leave the irritants outside the room that you are in. You can, in your mind, toss them in the trash or hang them on a hook or the doorknob.

- Take a few minutes and write down the situation and what you are feeling. Journaling is a great way to get things off your mind and to see things in a clearer light

- Postpone the meeting for another time, when you are able to think more clearly

As a leader, you are showing respect for your staff. As a team member, others will appreciate and thank you.

Especially in stressful times, it isn’t what you said, it’s what they think they heard.