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.

What did I really mean?

I recently gave a speech at the evening meeting of a NAPM chapter in Florida, and followed it up with a four-hour seminar the next day that encompassed emotional and social intelligence, and problem solving. We had just completed an activity where the participants, in groups, had to draw a (more…)

I did not interpret ….

I had to go to an attorney to look over a many-page legal document. I do not like to deal in details, especially legalese-details. Just to be sure, I thought having an attorney review it would be in my best interest. After he read my document, he (more…)

Communication and Autism

I saw on the news that a 13-year old girl, Carly, who is severely autistic, is now communicating on the computer. Her parents were astounded when, two years ago, Carly typed out some words. She is communicating, through the voice on the computer, what it’s like inside her (more…)

To Fluff … or not to fluff

One of my passions, and as luck would have it, most popular workshops is the one on communicating in the way that your listener needs to be communicated to.  In other words, talk slower to those that talk slower, and speed up your speech when you are talking to a fast talker.

I was giving this seminar last week to an aviation department.We were talking about the different personality dimensions, how some people don’t mind if you get straight into your business.Other people need to be eased into the business discussion.That is important in gaining rapport and building respect.

One person from the back of the room spoke up “Shari, we run on tight deadlines and with a sense of urgency.We don’t have time to spend 5-10 minutes talking about someone’s family.We need to take immediate action!”  With that, he puffed out his chest and very proudly sat down.

“That’s true” I responded quietly, yet firmly “your industry and your situations are immediate and time cannot be wasted.There are different ways to say ‘drop the wheels’.You can say it harsh and with an edge to your voice, or you can say it with the same amount of urgency yet in a softer tone with no edge, and with a bit of a smile or a relaxed face.You are still stressing the urgency.You are simply getting the message across in the best way that your listener will hear it and take action. If you choose the first way with a person that is not aggressive, they may back off and become intimidated.That’s what you want to avoid.”

He presented an excellent example of where emotional intelligence can make or break a situation.  On one hand, you can display your negative emotions by irritatingly demand that the mechanic immediately work on what is important to you.  Or, realizing the the person you are talking to has priorities, feelings and a brain of his/her own, you can approach him more objectively and gain his buy-in of the urgency.

So let me ask you …. What did you say, and what did they think they heard?