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?

The Habits of the Mind ….

Time for Points to Ponder The Habits of Mind of Professional Behavior* … This can bring up many different habits — think before speaking, don’t cuss or use inappropriate words, keep an open mind ….. and these may have a direct influence on your success.  Dr. George Walker of Cleveland State University has done research on effective executive leadership.  The three habits he found that have been most helpful are:

  • Learn to Learn — and to Lead
  • Passion to Learn — and to Lead
  • Confidence to Learn — and to Lead*

This last one struck me, ties into your ‘caveman’ brain and into several of these past newsletters.

  • How willing are you to get outside your comfort arena?  Do you eagerly jump out, or do you turn your back to the ‘barrier’?
  • How secure are you in your leadership abilities, and reputation, to fail?
  • How open are you to why you failed … or did not accomplish what you wanted to accomplish?
  • When do you admit you don’t know how to resolve a situation, especially when you have been trained in that are and consider that your expertise?

What action can you take (more…)

Where did I go wrong?

My Razr cell phoneback of phone I just found my old phone, [the red one on the left pictured above] and I recalled when I had a problem with the battery . It was on yellow [red means it is nearly completely depleted]. I connected it to the charger and walked away. Several hours later I checked on it and found out it could not be charged. I knew the battery had to be reset, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the back cover off! I called customer service and told my sad tale of woe to the customer rep. He told me to turn the phone over and, by the hinge, there was a place to push in to unhook the clasp to get the back cover off. The only thing I could find was a circle close to the ‘vent’ to push in. I confirmed that that was what I was to push. He reassured me it was. Here I was, using a pen to push in this little circle [seen above on the upper left corner of the black phone], trying to push in and remove the back of the phone. I pushed and pulled and tried to move, using not only the pen tip but also a small butter knife and a h’ors d’oeuvres fork! All to no avail. The customer service rep was oh-so-very-patiently waiting. I finally, after nearly breaking the phone, found the right area to push. It was not at all close to where I was pushing. There is a small silver area about 1/2″ [on the back of the phone] from the camera eye on the front of the phone. Once I clicked that, the back panel came off with (more…)

Why Won't She Answer Me?

When you procrastinate, or when you think someone else is procrastinating, do you know why they are doing it?

Could it be that the other person doesn’t have enough information to make a decision they feel comfortable with?

I was having this discussion with Lisa and Reggie, two aviation colleagues. Actually they are top-notch dispatchers. I gave this example:

Me: Lisa, I need to be in New York at 3 p.m. What time do I need to leave Houston?

No immediate response from Lisa. Yet she is thinking: Do you have a meeting planned after your arrival? At your hotel or offsite? Location? Manhattan? Newark? Is this a day trip or RON? Answers to these questions determine our course of action.

Me: This is not a difficult question … how long does it take to fly to New York .. 5 hours? So I need to be here at, what, time in the morning? [can’t you feel the frustration on my part?]

No immediate response from Lisa. Her thoughts continue: Where exactly in New York do you need to be? There are several business airports … which one is closest to where you need to be? Time of day … how heavy will the traffic be? What limo company is the most efficient and the most reliable? Which aircraft is available, and how long will it take that plane to fly there? What crew members are not scheduled?

….and her list goes on and on ….. details that she needs to fulfill my request.

Meanwhile I think she doesn’t hear me, doesn’t understand my question, doesn’t want to answer me … and my list goes on and on and on …. I think she’s procrastinating or ignoring me … in reality she doesn’t have enough information from me to give me an accurate answer. Plus she is logically going through her questions to ask them in a progressive order, not happenstance.

Notice what she did: she answered my question with qualifying questions. As a dispatcher, they are not afraid to ask but listening is also the key. Often listening will resolve your questions. How very true!

Remember: It’s not what you think you said, it’s what they think they heard.