Archives For Communication

Oscar Time!

February 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

It’s Oscar time! Get out the tuxedos and gowns! Roll out the red carpet! The envelope, please. And the winner is . . . 

Oscar Time! Performance Reviews

So far in our series we’ve been discussing the basics of how to be successful in your first year as a manager. We’ve talked about setting clear objectives, what comprises SMA2RT goals, how to conduct one-on-ones, and now we come to the very useful management tool of the performance review.

As the year wraps to a close – your manager or HR will probably ask you to write a written summary for each employee’s annual performance.

Do I hear groaning?

Maybe you’re thinking of how stressful some your own performance reviews have been. But let me offer a suggestion to lesson the pain. If you look at performance reviews in a certain way you can make them very useful and effective in your leadership toolbox. 

Think of performance reviews as your own Annual Oscar Awards Ceremony! It’s your chance to highlight the achievements of your team members and focus on[……]

Continue reading…

wacky |ˈwakē| (also whacky)

funny or amusing in a slightly odd or peculiar way

eccentric, unconventional, uncommon, abnormal, irregular, aberrant, anomalous, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre, outlandish, freakish, extraordinary; idiosyncratic, quirky, nonconformist, outré; way out, offbeat, freaky, oddball, kooky.

 Brain Ruts

Why do we get stuck in our ways of thinking, such that new possibilities keep eluding us?   Brain RUTs!  It’s as if the wagon wheels on our thinking trails just keep carving deeper and deeper ruts.

how to get unstuck in your thinking

 Try this to see how deep our “thinking ruts” are.

Ask people to give you a color, a type of furniture and a flower.  Did you hear a lot of red or blue, chair or table and rose or daisy?

Established patterns in our brains can be a good thing.  It helps us tie our shoes without thinking. It helps us attend to the whole and not have to painstakingly think about the parts.  It is why we can see the forest, and not just the trees. These patterns help us.  But sometimes these thinking patterns can get us stuck.  They can hinder us from finding that break-through idea.

Get out of the Rut:  Be Wacky!

Being WACKY can help us break out of our repetitive ways of thinking. Teams begin to see what was hiding behind their mental blinders when they take diverse, creative, and even silly perspectives. These out-of-the-ordinary perspectives can then be used to generate new paths of action.


Continue reading…

We all know what a financial bank account is.  We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to.  An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship…If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve.  Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to.  I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it

Stephen R. Covey on The Emotional Bank Account

How do we build Trust?  The Trust Bank Account

By looking at the different facets of Trust we get an idea of how we can build Trust – as Stephen R. Covey (the senior) would put it – How do we make deposits?

Trust-full relationships - How do you build trust?

Sincerewe both mean what we say; There are no hidden agendas between us

If we notice hidden agendas or question another’s[……]

Continue reading…


Speed of Trust“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world — one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.  On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life.  That one thing is trust.” — Stephen M.R. Covey

 What is Trust?

Trust is the critical element of a relationship.  As Stephen M. R. Covey (the junior) puts it… Lack of trust destroys; Presence of trust creates.  My favorite definition of Trust is ‘firm reliance’.  As leaders we must ask ourselves – how would I describe the bond between the people I work with and myself?  Is it Full of Trust?  When I work with others – do we seem to give each other the benefit of the doubt – or is there constant doubt and questioning.  Would people say you are credible or question the accuracy of your statements?  Do others know we mean what we say, or do others always check for a hidden agenda?  When we hit a roadblock in a project, does the team seamlessly adjust to overcome, or does the roadblock stop the team in its track – needing crystal clarity to proceed.

iStock_hands joined Medium

At work, we want relationships where we can firmly rely on each other, so that even when the inevitable problems and issues arise, we can continue to adapt and move forward.


Continue reading…

Recently I was asked to give a talk on body language. People wanted to know: What does it mean if I cross my arms? Should I be leaning forward or leaning backward when giving feedback? Is it okay to talk with my hands? What about eye contact? Should I…? Shouldn’t I…?

Well… the answer is… IT DEPENDS!

Communicating through body language is less about specific gestures and more about what the entire stance communicates. This applies to both Receiving and Sending information through body language. Here’s what I mean.

Receiving Information through Body Stance

stress-women-istock_000003830772small-300x198Receiving information through body stance is intuitive. In my talk I show this picture. Everyone instinctively knows this woman is stressed. We don’t need a degree in Body Language Interpretation to understand what is going on internally. However, the part of understanding body stance where leaders often need development is the emotional intelligence connection, i.e., is my empathetic sensor working such that I slow down, interpret what I’m seeing and adjust my conversational approach? When she’s in this stressed-out body stance, saying to her, “What’s going on with project X? Why is it behind schedule and over cost?” is not a very effective way to start the conversation. I know this is blatantly obvious, wrong behavior, but I’ve seen leaders do this many times; not observe the audience, fail to adjust the approach and then act shocked when the message is poorly received!

So the first lesson of interpreting body stance is: Remember – what’s happening on the inside is creating what is happening on the outside. So use what you perceive on the outside as clues to what’s happening inside and SLOW DOWN – ADJUST YOUR APPROACH!

Sending Information through Body Stance

To quote Niels Bohr:  “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.”


Continue reading…

Think (FIRST about INTENT) Before You Speak

Think before you speak.  Have you ever been told that?  It’s wise advice.  When I coach people about being more effective in their communication, I remind them to FIRST figure out what you are trying to accomplish through a conversation.  By establishing the INTENT of the conversation, the right words will form in your brain.  And if the right words form in your brain, it is more likely that the right words will come out of your mouth and the wrong words will not.  Simply put – Your communication mantra should be:  1st Mind (Intent), 2nd Body (Stance), 3rd Mouth (Words)

Businessman With Duct Tape On His MouthExample – Randy, please shut up and listen:  A manager I was coaching a couple of years back, asked me to follow him around for a day to see if I could figure out why people didn’t want to work with him – (that’s the polite way of saying… they thought he was a jerk).  So Randy and I went off to his first meeting.  I asked Randy:

CNM:  “So who called this meeting?”

RANDY:  “The director we are meeting with”

CNM:  “And what is the topic (INTENT) of this meeting?”

RANDY:  “I have no idea”

CNM – to myself:  “OK then, this is going to be good!”

Do you know what Randy did?  He sat down in the director’s office and started talking!  And TALKED… And TALKED… and TALKED…  For 20 minutes, he hijacked the conversation and did not let the director get a word in.  Finally, in frustration, the director said, “Randy! I asked you here today to discuss…”

CNM – to myself:  “Oh, thank goodness she finally stopped him!”


Continue reading…

Think… 5 to 1

clipart-thumbsup-kids3-150x150Sometimes I think I missed the really good stuff in graduate school. I received my degree in Industrial / Organizational Psychology before the Positive Psychology trend – or shall I say, sharp right turn – really took off. When I went to school, psychologists spent most of their time studying people who weren’t functioning well and then tried to apply the learning to the rest of us. The sharp turn happened when the simple idea was proposed that there is also a lot to be learned from studying successful, well-adjusted people. [Such a simple, yet profound idea]

A quote from on Positive Psychology

Unlike traditional psychology that focuses on deficits, disease, and dysfunction, positive psychology highlights human strengths and potential, and celebrates what is best in life. It emphasizes goals, well-being, satisfaction, happiness, interpersonal skills, perseverance, talent, wisdom, and personal responsibility. Positive psychology is concerned with understanding what makes life worth living, with helping people become more self-organizing and self-directed, and with recognizing that people and experiences are embedded in a social context.

Some GOOD STUFF on Feedback from Positive Psychology Research

When I teach Leader-Managers how to give effective feedback, I often ask them the question, “What ratio between Appreciative / Thank You Feedback TO Constructive / Something Needs to Change Feedback creates the most productive work environment possible?” Most of my Leader-Managers guess 2:1. I then ask, “So what actually happens in your work environment?” They answer, “It’s 1:1 if we’re lucky”. [Of course you know the real answer, because you’re reading this blog.


Continue reading…