It's Not Just an Emotion

"The purpose of arguments, should not be victory, but progress." - Unknown

Aaaah… wouldn't it be wonderful if all arguments led to shared understanding, positive outcomes, and progress? If this were the case, people would embrace arguments instead of avoiding them - like a plague. One argument against arguments (I couldn't resist!) might be the feelings conjured up by a heated debate. EMOTIONS!

Emotions and arguments typically go together. However, when emotions take over it can be difficult to focus on the matter at hand. And then there's the matter of really understanding the emotions one might be experiencing.

The authors of, Crucial Conversations - Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High encourage their readers to "expand their emotional vocabulary." Most people keep it simple when it comes to describing their emotions; especially "negative" emotions. For example, a commonly expressed emotion is anger. In any given day you may hear someone say, "I'm so angry!" What could really be going on is they are feeling disrespected, unsafe or even jealous. Angry is the "go-to" or quick and easy way to describe what they might be feeling.

Here's an example of expanding emotional vocabulary:

Lou: I'm so ticked off at my son!
Jean: Really?
Lou: Yeah. He's turning into an ungrateful brat!
Jean: Whoa! What did he do?
Lou: He lost his watch.
Jean: You know teenagers. They'd lose their heads if they weren't attached to their bodies.
Lou: I'm really angry! He knew how much that watch meant to me!
Jean: Oh! The watch was special?
Lou: Yes! It was my dad's. Funny thing is - my dad never let me wear it when I was a kid. Whenever I'd ask to borrow it, he would say, "Oh, no! You'd lose your head if it wasn't attached to your body." (Laugh)
Jean: I guess his words are coming back to haunt you?
Lou: Yeah. That's exactly it. Dad's words are haunting me. I'm not angry at my son for losing the watch. I feel indirectly responsible for losing it. (EXPANDED EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY)
Lou: If only I had been a hard-nose like my dad. (Laugh)

Getting in touch with our emotions isn't easy. However, it can help us, as well as others, to understand our reactions or responses in a situation - especially an argument.

Keeping it R.E.A.L.
Is there someone in your life to whom you enjoying talking? The time just seems to fly whenever you’re with them. No matter how long you talk there never seems to be enough time. As soon as the conversation ends, you’re looking forward to the next time you’ll be talking with this person! This is a sign that R.E.A.L. talk has occurred.

R.E.A.L. talk is:

• Recognizing and Respecting
• Exploring and Expanding
• Acknowledging and Accepting
• Listening

It’s been said that, “no two people are alike,” and so it goes with communication. The conversations that keep us engaged are the talks that respect and recognize our needs in that moment. Where each party feels, “he/she gets me.” There are times when we might need someone to use warm, encouraging or comforting language in response to what we are sharing. At other times, we may need a direct to-the-point response.

Respect and recognition can be shown in a variety of ways. Asking sincere questions or sharing an appropriate anecdote are both indications that you are willing to explore and expand upon what the speaker is sharing. Imagine you’re pouring your heart out to someone and all you get is dead silence or they simply change the subject. What message might that send? They’re not interested; they’re not listening; maybe they don’t understand you; or they don’t know how to respond.

You may be thinking, “What if I don’t really agree with what’s being said? Do I have to fake it?”

In order to build trust we must have authentic conversations. However, there will be times when you can simply acknowledge and accept what is being said in the moment. Think of this as a gift you’re giving to the other person. The gift of listening without judgement. Of course you may have your thoughts and opinions to share, and in a R.E.A.L. conversation you will certainly have an opportunity to do so.

Do You Fear Public Speaking?
If you answered yes, you're not alone. Many polls show that the fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death.

"…This means the average person would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” - Jerry Seinfeld.

Where does all this fear come from? Let's break it down.

FEAR 1 - I'm afraid I won't know what to say.

SUGGESTION - Research, study, practice. Do what works for you, but by all means do it. Don't attempt to fake it. An audience can see through an unprepared presenter.

FEAR 2 - What if I forget what I want to say?

SUGGESTION - You're the only one who knows the content of your presentation. If you forget something let it go. There is one caveat to this: If you've omitted a critical component of your message, weave it in later in the presentation. Present it and move on.

FEAR 3 - I fear questions from the audience.

SUGGESTION - Park Them! If questions come up from the audience that you cannot answer take note of them. Having poster paper or a dry-erase board in the room will help with this. Write PARKING LOT in large letters across the top of the paper or board. Explain to the audience that this is a holding spot for any unanswered questions. During break or after the presentation be sure to research answers to the questions. Respond back to the audience within a day if possible. Email or a social media outlet may be a good method of communicating back to the audience with the answers. It will be a way for the entire audience to receive the response.

FEAR 4 - I fear how the audience will react to my presentation.

SUGGESTION - You have no control over other people. However, you may influence how they respond to your presentation by using the suggestions outlined above. When the audience senses that you are calm, cool, and collected they will relax.

In the words of Marianne Williamson, "As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Say Thank You to Your Co-workers
People want to know that they are appreciated. For some, being given a heartfelt thank you is a sign of respect. Of course there's the view that a paycheck is the "thank-you." However, a paycheck does not equate gratitude. It is simply an expected result or outcome for work rendered. Saying THANK YOU is an expression of gratitude. It is a reminder that one is appreciated and valued for their contribution. An employee will feel sincere appreciation long after the money is gone. Chances are you have seen a certificate of appreciation or a thank you note from a customer posted in a person's work area. How about a dollar bill?

If you still feel strongly that the paycheck is enough, here's an example of how you might combine salary and gratitude:

A manager in a mid-size company attaches notes to the envelopes of her employees' paychecks. They are not lengthy messages. A few words thanking the employee for his/her commitment or something specific that they've accomplished.

Taking the time to show and express gratitude to those whom you work can help to build effective workplace relationships. It can go a long way in creating a climate of employee commitment and engagement. It's also a way to boost your own positive feelings toward your work and your co-workers.

Thank you for your commitment to our posts each week. We truly appreciate your following us.

Remember to Rap with Remote Employees
Leaders build trust with their team through open, honest, and continuous communication - including small talk. However, building trust through communication can be a challenge when team members are remote. The usual light exchanges or impromptu meetings that often occur in passing between leaders and their employees, simply don't happen. Leaders have to become creative when it comes to "rapping" with remote employees.

The following suggestions may assist you with building rapport and trust with your remote team:
1. Virtual coffee breaks. Schedule time once or twice per month to meet for coffee - virtually. Engage in a casual 10-15 minute conversation to catch-up with each other. This time can be thought of as similar to those impromptu conversations that you have with team members in the break room by the coffee maker.
2. Monday meet-ups. Conduct a weekly meeting with the entire team to keep all members of the team connected and engaged.
3. Tech-talks. Use technology! Face time and video conference are the next best things to being in person.
4. Quarterly quests. Bring your remote employees into home office on a quarterly basis. Have a planned agenda for the meetings. Be sure to include a group dinner or other team-building opportunities.

Effective leaders know how important it is for employees to feel connected and engaged at work. Going the extra mile to connect with remote employees is not only good for the employee, it's also good for the organization.

Communicating with Compassion
The American Heritage dictionary defines communication as follows: “To express oneself in such a way that one is readily and clearly understood.” A few behaviors that prevent clear understanding are: half hearted listening to what's being said, then jumping to a conclusion; waiting for the speaker to get to the bottom line, but never really listening to what he/she is saying; or belittling the speaker's comments or requests.

You may know people who are unpleasant to talk to. You need their expertise, but you could do without their sarcasm, dismissive style or downright rudeness. Linda Hill and Kent Lineback in their book: Being the Boss - The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, refer to this type of person as a competent jerk. Overtime, people will only deal with them when absolutely necessary.

So what can you do to be a more compassionate communicator? One method you might consider is the 0/100 model of communicating. Barry Oshry, author of Seeing Systems and Leading Systems, in his framework for Action Learning, provides this model for communicating on teams. When communicating compassionately, you zero yourself and your opinion out and focus one-hundred percent on what the speaker is saying. This type of compassionate communication makes it possible for you to clearly understand what is important to the speaker.

Communicating with compassion is not just about understanding the speaker's words intellectually. It's about understanding the speaker's emotions and state of mind as well. When you communicate with compassion, you build trust.

Do Our Communication Styles Come Out in Text Messages?
An actual texting conversation between friends:

Al: Hi! My meeting ended earlier than I expected. I can meet you at 30th Street Station this morning. What time does your train get in?
Gerry: Lunch time
Al: What time would that be?
Gerry: 1:00 or so
Al: Okay, I’ll see you at 1:00.
Gerry: K
Al: I’m not sure about parking, so I’ll text you when I get to the station to let you know where you can meet me.
Gerry: Yep
Al: (12:45) - Hi! I’m here! I am standing at the Customer Service Desk on the east entrance side. You should see me as you enter the station lobby.
Gerry: K
Gerry: My train should be arriving shortly not sure what station we just left

Al found this conversation very frustrating. Why? What do you think he felt was missing? If you said precise information, like the scheduled arrival time of the train, you guessed it!

On the other hand, Gerry is certain that he communicated clearly. What’s the problem? If your answer is different communication styles, you guessed it again.

While Al may prefer clear, precise details, Gerry prefers a less formal, go with the flow communication style.

Recognizing the styles of others can help eliminate frustration. Once you understand which method someone prefers, being able to cater your message to their communication style can really help. Reaching a place of shared understanding may require us to come out of our communication comfort zone - no matter how painful it may be![Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoor]

Do You Understand?
When was the last time you asked someone, "Do you understand?" Maybe it was when you were offering an explanation, or when teaching a co-worker a new procedure? How about when you were reprimanding your teenager?

"Do you understand?" is a direct question. The problem is this question is not always answered with the direct truth. People may respond with "yes" to avoid further explanation or discussion. They may also need time to process the information you just shared with them.

You may be thinking how do I check for understanding? In place of "Do you understand?" Try these alternatives:

1. Tell me how you see it.
2. What's your biggest concern about what we just discussed/covered?
3. Show me what you would do.
4. What is your biggest take-away from what we discussed?
5. How might I explain it better?

To be sure the message you are sending is received as you intend it to be, you must check for understanding. By using open-ended, reflective type questions and statements, you set the tone for open, honest communication, which will lead to understanding.

Tell us how you see it. If you have a favorite question or statement that you use to check for understanding, please send it our way.

The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback
Have you ever wondered why people withhold feedback? Why they don't tell a person what they are really thinking or feeling? It could be they don't want to cause hurt feelings. They may be afraid of making a scene. Or, maybe, they're not sure if their feedback will make a difference.

For some, it may be easier to give feedback than receive it. While giving feedback puts the giver in the driver's seat, receiving feedback puts the receiver in a position of vulnerability.

The next time you find yourself in the role of the giver or the receiver, consider the following:

When giving feedback:
• Ask for permission to give the person feedback before jumping right in with your thoughts.
• Focus on the behavior or action, not the person. 
• Be specific.
• Ask the person for their perspectives or reaction to your feedback.

When asking for feedback:
• Be specific about the feedback you are seeking.
• Give the person time to think about and formulate his/her feedback.
• Be sincere about your reason for wanting feedback.
• Separate the message from the messenger.

Do you offer those around you feedback? Are you open to receiving feedback? We would love YOUR feedback on our tip. Feel free to comment and/or share!

Are You Making Yourself Small During Job Interviews?
A teenage girl asked her mother, "Why do girls make themselves small when they talk to boys?" She said, "I notice that when girls talk to boys they seem to slouch down or hunch their shoulders over. Or, they lean against the locker. It's as though they want to be smaller than the boy."

What a powerful demonstration of powerless body language!

You may be well past the teenage phase of life, but there still may be times when you make yourself small when speaking. One reason for this shrinking may be a lack of confidence or power in a given situation.

What does it mean to make yourself small?

Amy Cuddy, author of Presence, Bringing your BOLDEST SELF to your BIGGEST CHALLENGES, gives examples of powerlessness in her Ted Talk: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are. In her talk, she shares her research on non-verbal expressions of power and dominance. Amy observes in her many years of study that when people feel powerless they tend to shrink up. They make themselves small. Their shoulders begin to hunch or form into a tight ball like position. Just the opposite occurs when they feel a sense of power and dominance. They expand. They spread out. Arms wide, shoulders back. They appear bolder. In her words, "They tend to occupy space."

So, what are some body language techniques you can use to feel powerful and confident during an interview?

1. Arrive early. This gives you a few minutes to compose yourself before going directly into the interview.
2. Read a newspaper. While waiting in the receptionist area put away the electronic device and pick up a newspaper. When you hunch your shoulders, tuck your chin down, etc., these postures make you look defensive and lacking in confidence. Sitting up with shoulders pulled back, widening your stance, spreading your arms to expand into space, raises your confidence.
3. Practice power posing. Stand up straight, place your hands on your hips, legs slightly apart. Think of this as a Superman or Wonder Woman pose. (Not in the receptionist area of course!)
4. Claim victory. Extend your arms above your head making a V formation. This is called a victory pose. Doing this a few times before the interview will boost your confidence.

1. Firm handshake. This is a tried and true technique that represents confidence and power.
2. Make eye contact. When speaking and listening be sure to look the interviewer in the eye.
3. Smile. When you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do this!”
4. Breathe. Remember to come up for air. Breathing and speaking in a relaxed, but professional manner shows you are confident.

Remember these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you're saying."

What's Not Being Said?
You've just assigned your best team member to a new project. As weeks pass you notice that he has become defensive when you ask for updates. You're hearing through the grapevine that he will not make a decision without first checking in with others. He seems to be withdrawn. He's slow to respond to your emails. Teammates are accusing him of snapping at them. He has missed the last three team meetings.

What's NOT being said?
I don't know what I'm doing. This is too much for me to handle. I'm afraid they will discover I'm not ready for the responsibility. I can't let my manager down. She's counting on me.

Often times communication is expressed through anxious behaviors. Defensiveness, rudeness, and shutting down may all be signs of anxiety. So what's the remedy?

Mel Silberman, Ph.D. and Freda Hansburg, Ph.D. in their program PeopleSmart, Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence, highlight that humans have three basic needs: 1 - the need for control over their lives, 2 - the need to connect with others and 3 - the need to have a sense of competence and mastery in their work. When these needs are compromised most people will demonstrate anxious behaviors. To offset these behaviors try the following strategies:

Communication Strategies for Working Through Anxious Behaviors
Share the control: Keep the person informed and up-to-date. Offer him/her choices. Ask for their input on the project or assignment.

Facilitate connection: Show the person attention before he/she seeks it in less than positive ways. Tactfully and directly set limits when they demand too much attention. Offer conversations in small doses.

Promote competence: Give genuine positive feedback proactively. Avoid putting the person on the spot in front of others. Give him/her a task you know they can do successfully.

These strategies combined with effective listening will reduce anxieties and increase productivity.

How to Get People to Speak Up in Meetings
A blend of communication styles and personal agendas can make speaking up in a team meeting a daunting experience for some. Often styles on teams range from larger-than-life types who will dominate a meeting with personal anecdotes, views and opinions for every agenda topic, to the laid-back type who would rather email a weekly update than attend a team meeting. Then there are the styles that fall somewhere in between. These types see value in coming together as a team on a regular basis, but quickly become frustrated if the meeting is not a valuable use of their time. So, what is the trick to getting people to share the air fairly, speak up when necessary and stay engaged throughout?


The best way to build buy in and keep folks engaged is to talk about topics that matter to them.

Tip #1 - Allow team members to create the agenda. Ask attendees to send their agenda topics and the amount of time necessary to address it. This will help to create accountability. If you're the team/project lead or meeting facilitator and you're reading this article, you may be thinking: "What about my topics? Don't I have a say in the agenda?" Of course you do. But, it is highly likely that there will be overlap in the topics.

Keep the task of building the agenda simple and easy for the team members. The last thing a person wants is another to-do on their list.

Tip #2 - You can use email, a suggestion box in a general team area or a whiteboard to post agenda items. In fact the whiteboard works well for generating ideas. People tend to build on the ideas of others.

Give the team the opportunity to review the final agenda a few days prior to the meeting.

Tip #3 - Make it public - email or post the final agenda a few days prior the meeting for all attendees to see.

It's meeting day!

Tip #4 - Begin by thanking everyone for assisting in creating the agenda. Remind the team that the goal is to address all topics of interest. The meeting facilitator may need to step in at times to keep everyone to the agenda. Be a bit flexible when necessary.

Remember, the goal is to keep everyone interested, engaged and feeling comfortable enough to SPEAK UP!

I would enjoy hearing how your next team meeting goes. Please send an e-mail to Subject: Speaking up in team meetings.

Small Talk
Imagine you are at an event (professional or personal it does not matter). You’re seated at a table with folks you don’t know very well. You’re looking at the door anxiously waiting for your colleague/friend to appear and save you. Yes, save you from the dreaded small talk!

Most people underestimate the power of small talk. They don’t like it, or they feel it’s a waste of time, especially in the workplace. It’s talk that goes nowhere. Professor Dalton Kehoe in his lecture on Effective Communication Skills states, “Small talk is about finding similarities as a basis for connection.” And who doesn’t need a few connections? Most small talk begins with the universal topic - WEATHER. It goes something like this:
Fran: “Boy, this heat is something!”
Jessie: “I know! I have had to switch my morning run into a late night jog.”
Fran: “Oh! You’re a runner? Cool! Can you suggest any trails around here? I’m new to this area and I’d love to get back into my running routine.”
And their off! A connection is made. A small one, but a connection non-the-less. Small talk can open the door for the possibility of deeper conversations in the future. Why is this important? Professionally, small talk can serve as a way for people to build relationships in the workplace. Dr. Linda Hill, co-author of Being the Boss; The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader states, “Who you know determines what you get to do. What you get to do determines what you get to know.”

Building a strong professional network is based on WHO KNOWS YOU. Small talk can assist with this. Let’s look back at our example of the small talk between the runners. A few weeks later, the two runners see each other in the company cafeteria:
Fran: “Hey, how’s it going? I tried that trail you suggested. Thanks.”
Jessie: “No, problem. Hey! A few people in accounting are looking to start a running club. It’s just a small group of us. We plan to meet early on Saturday mornings and run for about an hour.”
Fran: “Thanks, sounds like a great idea. I’m interested! Are you meeting this Saturday?”

There is now the possibility for Fran to gain exposure to more people in the organization. Fran has been considering going back to school for accounting! Maybe this is just the connection he needs. It would be unrealistic to think that small talk will always lead to a life changing event. Sometimes small talk is simply small talk. It is a way to connect socially to another human being, which may be all we need in the moment. Other times, small talk may lead to life altering experiences.

Today, think about a time when small talk led to a significant change in your life.

Communicating through Conflict
Throughout our lifetime we will experience conflict. Some conflicts will stem from simple misunderstandings, while others may be caused by conflicting values (which, by the way, are the most difficult to resolve).
Our emotions run hot in conflict situations which can make it difficult for us to communicate in a rational manner. Each side will take a stand for what they want, feeling that their needs are the right needs! In the end, no one wins. When in a conflict, if you find yourself heading down this dead-end road, here are a few techniques that may help you get to a win-win:
1. Get clear on what you are really disagreeing about. Ask: What is it that they want? What do they think I want?
2. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions in a non-judgmental way. The intent being to gain a clearer understanding of the other person's needs in this situation.
3. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Ask yourself, "What would I do if I were in their shoes?"
4. Brainstorm solutions. The intent is to find common ground. The win-win! Today, remember this: "As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might." - Marian Anderson

Man Cannot Learn By Listening Alone - The Recipe for an Impactful Presentation
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin
Truer words have never been quoted. When it comes to making a presentation that will have a lasting impact, consider the following recipe:

1. Grab hold of the listeners' attention right from the start. Begin your presentation with an interesting and RELEVANT story, exercise, graphic or reflective question.
2. Make it easy for the listeners to understand and remember the content. Once you've grabbed listeners' attention, tell them why they want to listen to you. Do this by giving them the major points of your presentation upfront. Consider providing the listeners with a short written summary of the major points and/or verbally sharing the points early in your presentation. Real life examples of the key points will also help aide listeners in remembering them.
3. Involve the listeners. Keep listeners engaged by including short exercises or activities that reinforce the information you are presenting. No matter how interesting you are it will be difficult for listeners to stay focused if they are not actively involved.

Combine ingredients gently and PRESENT. Here's to a successful presentation enjoyed by many!​​

The Powerful Communicator
"Words are the most powerful agents of the mind. Every time we speak we cause the atoms of the body to tremble and change their places." - Charles Fillmore
Today, choose your words wisely.

Are You Speaking My Language?
Imagine you have just landed on a remote island. You are hungry and tired. You happen to notice a group of people walking toward you. You begin to feel relief because you think your need for food and shelter is closer to being met. When you begin to talk to the group you quickly realize you all don't speak the same language. No matter how much effort you put into it you do not understand one another. Your needs are not going to be met.

For some, this is a daily experience in the workplace. But it's not the words (the what) that are not understood; it's the how or the style that's not understood.

What is communication style? It is a unique approach for how a person delivers and processes a message. Let's look at four styles: 
• Style 1: Short to the point. 
• Style 2: Enthusiastic and persuasive. 
• Style 3: Cooperative and easy going. 
• Style 4: Precise, logical methodical.

Sound like anyone you know? In any given day you may be communicating with one or all of these styles. The key to communicating effectively with these styles is to FLEX.

Flexing to a person's communication style is like speaking their language. It's a win-win! Flexing simply means to speak in a way that the other person can understand you and/or possibly carryout your request.

So in the day’s ahead experiment communicating with others using the following tips: 
- Style 1: Short to the point - Be brief, make direct eye contact, speak quickly. 
- Style 2: Enthusiastic and persuasive - Listen to their stories; be lively and energetic. 
- Style 3: Cooperative and easy going - Speak informally and at a relaxed pace; Use a little small talk before you get down to business. 
- Style 4: Precise, logical methodical - Provide organized details; Give them time to think before they respond.

RESOURCE: Personality Style At Work by Kate Ward in Collaboration with HRDQ

Let's Talk About Change
Everyone experiences change. Often times communication can help lessen the pain of the change.

Here are 4 suggestions for communicating through any change:
1. Talk about it. Sharing what you know or feel about the change can help to eliminate fears and doubts (yours and the other person's).
2. Let something good be said! It's easy to spread the negatives associated with the change and to commiserate with others during a time of change. Instead, make every effort to talk about the positives - no matter how minor they seem.
3. Take time to listen. You may be surprised by what you learn by simply listening. Do not assume you know how others are feeling about the change. Ask them, and then LISTEN! Some people may need to vent. A bit of your time and undivided attention is all that is required. 
4. Get rid of the "Us vs. Them" thinking. Remember ALL parties are impacted by the change. Instead of taking sides, talk about each other's needs, hopes and fears associated with the change. Talking in this way may help to establish a connection and produce a more rewarding outcome.

REMEMBER: "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."  - George Bernard Shaw

Becoming A Conversationalist
"If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that others will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments."
-Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Did I Say That?!!!
Have you ever told someone off! Feeling justified in the moment, you tell yourself, “He deserved it!” Or, “I only said what everyone else in the room was thinking.” But as time passes you begin to feel less vindicated and more like a villain. You wish you could take back what you said. Well here are some strategies to consider…

✔ Take a time out. Simply put. When you feel stress levels and tensions rising, call a time out. Set a time to reconvene on the matter at hand.
✔ Apologize. A sincere apology for your role in a misunderstanding goes a long way in re-establishing safety and trust.
✔ Acknowledge. Respectfully recognize that the other person’s needs or point of view are just as important as yours. Example: “The last thing I wanted to do was diminish you or your views.”

What are some strategies you find to be effective in this situation? We’d love to hear from you! Please share them with us on Facebook.

Building a Climate of Dialogue
We use the expression, "everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion" when we want to support freedom of speech. However, there are social limits to this right in certain situations. Too often, discussions become a debate of my idea versus your idea. People advocate for the causes dear to their hearts, hoping to gain support from others. The climate becomes very politicized. By contrast, when a climate of dialogue exists, team members listen to each other, react to and build on each other's ideas, and look for and acknowledge real differences of opinion. Dialogue means "two minds together." The purpose of dialogue is to enlarge ideas, not diminish them. Here are ways you can help to build a climate of dialogue:

- Ask questions to clarify what others are saying.
- Invite others to seek clarification of your ideas.
- Share what's behind your ideas. Reveal your assumptions and goals. Invite others to do so in kind.
- Ask others to give you feedback about your ideas.
- Give constructive feedback about the ideas of others.
- Make suggestions that build on the ideas of others.
- Incorporate the ideas of others into your proposals.
- Find common ground among the ideas expressed in the group.
- Encourage others to give additional ideas from those already expressed.

Reference: PeopleSmart by Mel Siberman and Freda Hansburg

Are You In Control?

Imagine you have an idea or suggestion that you are certain will produce positive results! As you begin to share your epiphany the other person seems unimpressed. You begin to think: "Hmmm, they don't understand me. They just don't get it yet, but they will if I just keep pushing the point." As you press on continuing to push your idea, you feel yourself becoming frustrated, even angry! You are entering the control talk zone.

Simply put, control talk is your attempt to get the other person to change his/her behavior or views to match your behavior or views. You may be asking yourself, "What's wrong with this?" Nothing, if the other person feels positively motivated to change their behavior or view. They feel a willingness to connect with you in the moment and to continue the conversation. But often what happens in control talk is this:

1. You begin repeating yourself to make your point.
2. You tell the other person what they should do or need to do.
3. Your tone of voice begins to change to help you make your point.
4. You may even begin to blame or shame the other person into agreement.

1. He/she is actively or passively resisting you.
2. He/she is looking for a way to mentally or physically escape the conversation.
3. He/she will respond with "ok", or "I get it" just to end the torturous talk.
4. He/she may begin to blame or shame you!

RESULT - You may both feel confused, deflated, defeated, angry or even more frustrated. Neither person is feeling good about the conversation. Today, be on the lookout for control talk. Notice when you or others around you are in this form of communication. In next week's Thursday Thought we will share tips for moving from control talk into healthy dialogue. Stay tuned…

Can you hear me now?

“What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our words are powerful. But what about our personal space? Do you ever think about what your personal space says about you?
Personal space is not just the physical distance you keep between yourself and the person with whom you are speaking (although this is very telling as well). Your personal appearance, how you organize your workspace, the style of décor in your home, even the way you adorn your car, all communicate something about you.

Do you like to stand close when you’re talking with a person? Do you keep family photos in your workspace? What slogans are printed on your bumper stickers? Or are you asking yourself: “What bumper stickers?! Who would mess up a beautiful car with stickers?!”

Today, ask a friend or colleague what your personal space says about you. And then ask yourself, “Does my personal space send the message I intend to send about who I am and what I stand for personally and/or professionally.

Our Thoughts Matter

Our thoughts and feelings influence our communication. Is there someone at work with whom you "clang" instead of "click"? You rarely agree on anything? Take a moment and write down 3 adjectives to describe this person. For example, you might describe this person as: demanding, argumentative and picky. Sound like someone you know?

As you think about the words you've selected to describe this person, what images come to mind? You're probably not feeling too encouraged to talk with the person, let alone work on a project or complete a task with them. Here's why…Our thoughts (remember the adjectives you used) influence our feelings. Our feelings influence our verbal and non-verbal communication.

Hold on! There is help. By RE-FRAMING your thoughts you can change your feelings. Test out these re-framing examples below:
1. Instead of demanding, see them as having high standards.
2. In place of argumentative, see them as strongly committed.
3. Finally, substitute picky for selective.

By simply re-framing your thoughts you may positively influence the communication to be a more productive conversation.


"Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood." - Jr. Teague

As we continue to explore ways in which we can improve the quality of our communication, let's look at how words and phrases can be confusing. Here's a simple example:
Let me run this by you. When you leave here, could you run to the supermarket to pick up some snacks for tonight's meeting. I would go but I'm afraid I will run out of gas before I'd make it to the market. Remember: Some of the things we say may be confusing to others. The interpretation of what we're saying maybe different than what we intended to communicate.

Remember to Celebrate -

​“Taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate both individual and group accomplishments helps build group cohesion and increase individual satisfaction.” – Ike Lasater

THE LAW OF ATTRACTION - Through Our Communication

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." - Proverbs 18:21

Today, let something good be said!
What are you saying about the project you are working on? Are you talking about the possibilities; the successes - small or large?
What about your co-workers? What are you saying about them? Are you speaking about the value they bring to the team?
And most importantly, what are you saying about yourself? Are you speaking in positive terms about your accomplishments?

Do you positively affirm your actions and abilities?

Choosing the Best Channel 

Technology has given us more ways to communicate our message; which in turn has given us more ways to be misunderstood. To do our best to ensure that our message is interpreted in the way that we intended we must choose the best channel by which to send it. The next time you are tempted to send a quick e-mail or use any other channel, consider the following:

- How important is the message?
- What is it that I want the receiver to know?
- What do I want the receiver to feel?
- What do I want or expect them to do as a result of my message?
- How much time do I have to deliver the message?
- How important is it that they respond?
- How likely is it that my words may be misinterpreted if I don't use the right tone and non-verbal signals?

Choose carefully: The success of your message can be influenced by the channel you select.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
A key to experiencing successful communication is to think success is possible. Many successful people make visualization a regular practice. These people imagine themselves overcoming great challenges. They set a picture in their mind's eye of that which they wish to accomplish. They see themselves successfully completing the task or conquering the adventure.

So, how can the practice of visualization work when it comes to communication? Here's how:
Let's say you are preparing for a presentation or a one-on-one conversation. No matter the situation, let your imagination work for you.Create a picture in your mind of what you will say and how you will say it - (remember TONE). Imagine yourself as prepared and confident. Next, imagine the audience or individual's response. See them as engaged in the experience, responding positively to your message. Your visualization may include the listener's response to your message and questions or feedback they may have for you. Visualize yourself as an attentive listener, responding in a way that keeps the conversation on the right track.

Do this exercise a few times. As a result, you may adjust the content of your message. That's okay! It is all a part of the visualization process. There are many approaches to visualization. Experiment to find what works best for you. Your goal is to have a successful communication experience. Whatever approach you take, picture success and success is sure to follow.

Watch Your Tone
We may remember hearing as a child, "WATCH YOUR TONE!"  We instinctively knew that phrase meant: "Turn down the volume and lose the attitude." The adults in our lives were reminding us to show them respect.

How does this apply in the workplace? Our daily communication with our co-workers, supervisors, mangers, customers or employees may at times be difficult. For example, talking with an employee about her poor performance; dealing with an irate customer who refuses to listen to reason; or telling co-worker that he is not carrying his weight on a project, can challenge the most confident communicator. The stress associated with these types of conversations is enough to cause us to lose our cool. Yet, we are still expected to deliver our message with respect. 
It is in these high stress conversations that TONE REALLY MATTERS. Our words are important, but the most clear wording can be lost if our tone is not considered. It is our tone that has the greatest influence in how our message is received and interpreted. So goes the old adage: “It's not what we say but how we say it."

There are many techniques for helping to create a more positive tone. For instance, customer service representatives are often encouraged to smile before answering a call. Keeping a mirror on the desk to check facial expression and posture before answering a call is another tried and true technique. Deep breathing before speaking or counting to 10 also helps. And if all else fails, taking a walk around the block or office to change perspectives can really do the trick. There are a variety of successful techniques from which to choose. It may be helpful to think of tone as: Taking - On - New - Energy!

Becoming A Conversationalist
"If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that others will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments."
     - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Shared Understanding
He said, “I have a few ideas I’d like to run by you. Please give me a call when you have a minute.” She said, “Sounds good, will do!” But by the end of the work day he had not heard from her, so he confronted her saying, “You said you would call me today!” She said, “No, I didn’t!” They got into a dispute. It was not a disagreement, it was a misunderstanding.

​​     “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard

Tips to Get to Shared Understanding:
     - Be specific: Please call me by 3:00 today.
     - WIIFT (What's in it for them): Tell the person why what you're saying is important to them. "I have 2    

        ideas that may help you close your deal with your new client."
     - Confirm: "Is this of interest to you? Will you be able to call me by 3:00 today?"

People Need to Vent
There are times when we need to get things off our chest. We are searching for a shoulder to lean on, but instead we may get questions, suggestions or solutions. Although these are meant to be helpful, they are not what we need in the moment. We just want to vent! In fact, suggestions or solutions offered in that moment may cause us to become even more confused. Ugh! Today, give someone the opportunity to vent. Healthy venting may be just the solution they are looking for.

The "Big 3"
When preparing for an important conversation ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What is it that I want the other person to know?
  2. What is it that I want other person to feel?
  3. What is it that I want the other person to do?

By simply asking yourself these 3 questions, you can influence the conversation in a more positive and productive way.

Don’t Hit the “Send” Button Yet …

You have a right to your opinion! 
We use the expression, "everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion" when we want to support freedom of speech.  However, there are social limits to this right in certain situations.  Too often (especially in the workplace), discussions become a debate of my idea versus your idea.  People advocate for the causes dear to their hearts, hoping to gain support from others.  The climate becomes very politicized.  By contrast, when a climate of dialogue exists, team members listen to each other, react to and build on each other's ideas, and look for and acknowledge real differences of opinion.  Dialogue means "two minds together."  The purpose of dialogue is to enlarge ideas, not diminish them.  Here are ways you can help to build a climate of dialogue on your teams:

  • Ask questions to clarify what others are saying.
  • Invite others to seek clarification of your ideas.
  • Share what's behind your ideas.  Reveal your assumptions and goals.  Invite others to do so in kind.
  • Ask others to give you feedback about your ideas.
  • Give constructive feedback about the ideas of others.
  • Make suggestions that build on the ideas of others.
  • Incorporate the ideas of others into your proposals.
  • Find common ground among the ideas expressed in the group.
  • Encourage others to give additional ideas from those already expressed.

Reference: PeopleSmart by Mel Siberman and Freda Hansburg

What Type of Request Is That?

Take Time to Listen
The next time you're engaged in a conversation, make every effort to listen attentively to what the other person is saying. Listen with your eyes, as well as your ears. Observe the speaker's body language. Tune into their emotion. Hold off expressing your idea or opinion until the speaker has completely finished sharing his or her message. - Alvina Peat

Remember to Celebrate!
Tell Me How You Really Feel

Watch Out for Assumptions

Stay Connected

Thursday's Thought: A Communication Tip

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Look for an interesting tip or technique from us each week, gathered from a variety of resources. We look forward to sharing those tips that inspire us. We hope they motivate you as well.

Williamspeat Associates: Improving your communication skills one week at a time.