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Showing posts from 2014

The Communication That God Hates

     The book of Proverbs describes six things that are detestable to God.  Right off the bat it lists "haughty eyes" (arrogance) and a lying tongue .  Farther down lying is mentioned again in the list so that it looks like there are seven things.  But actually, it is reiterated that God hates lying.  Verse 19 says, "a false witness who pours out lies..."  Apparently, God abhors lying so much it has to be mentioned twice.      Well, I'm willing to bet that you don't have to be a Christian to detest lying also.  If you've ever been the target of someone's lies or witnessed someone intentionally deceiving someone, you know how hurtful it can be.  I remember when elders used to say if you lie, you steal; if you steal, you kill.  Meaning, one bad action leads to a worse action.  Since I blog about communications, this is one pitfall in our conversations that should not be overlooked.  Is it common sense to say don't lie because it's wrong?  I

Sharing Is Not Just for Social Media

     I recently sent a proposal to a client and awaited her response on a tight deadline.  I didn't impose the deadline; she did.  Her situation was at crisis level, and she needed my help with some staff issues.  She also said she needed me there in a matter of days.  My proposal included a longer-term fix to the acute situation and would require more than a day in the office with her team.  After about a week, I contacted her back by email to follow-up on whether she had approved the proposal.  She replied promptly stating she was still working on getting signatures from other persons in the office.  Another week went by and still no word.  At this point was the time at which she'd requested I be there.  I sent her another email checking on the status of the approval.  She did not respond.  I let two days lapse, and I sent another email.  No response.  Finally two days more, and I placed a phone call.  I got her voicemail and left a message.  Days passed and no response.

Put a Speed Limit on Your Rate of Speech

        Haveyoueverheardsomeonetalksoquicklythatitseemedeverythingtheysaidranalltogetherinonesentence?  Much like that statement, it was hard to listen to what was said.  You could barely follow the path of their conversation because much of what was spoken seemed jumbled and unclear.  For those of us who are fast talkers, having to slow down is as exciting as driving behind someone who's going slow in the fast lane.  We're a a bit annoyed that not everyone can appreciate the speed we do, and we feel that having to put on brakes frequently is like having to drive behind a postal truck.  We're doing a lot of starting and stopping, but we're not necessarily getting anywhere.  Nonetheless, fast talkers must be cognizant that our rate of speech can get in the way of our clarity of speech.  We have to remember that even though the thoughts are coming rapid-fire, we don't have to get them all out in 0-60 seconds.  We have to give the other person an opportunity to

The Written Word

    Great writing isn't just for the profound thinker or creative author.  Great writing has as much to do with competence in writing and being able to express what you want to say in the written word as it does in how you verbalize your thoughts.  It doesn't require that you have an expansive vocabulary or that you have to be prolific in how many ways you can tell the same story.  Oftentimes, it's just knowing how to make subject and verb agree, using appropriate grammar, and spelling correctly.  People who may not know you well will assume your level of intelligence by how you write if that's all they have to go on.  If you write like a fourth-grader, people will assume you're only as smart as a fourth grader.  To be taken seriously, you must present yourself as one who is knowledgeable.  Making simple mistakes like choosing the wrong version of a word (e.g. "your" instead of "you're" or "their" instead of "they're&quo

How to Speak With Authority

     Strong leaders have a commanding presence because of the way they carry themselves.  They exude confidence in the way they walk, talk, stand, and look.  Everything about them says, "I got this."  They make the people around them feel like they can trust their knowledge and their decisions.  Strong leaders are authoritative and earn the respect of the people who report to them.  They've managed to accomplish this by showing themselves to be reliable and wise.  If you've ever had the opportunity to experience this kind of leader in action especially in a crisis, you may remember yourself feeling a little relieved and a bit more relaxed when they took charge.  It was something about the way they spoke that let you know everything was going to be all right.  What did they do?  Let's explore their speech specifically.      1)  The leader who speaks with authority tends to state facts with accuracy and honesty.  They don't do any double-speak to give the appea

Pardon the Interruption

     Ever been in a conversation with someone, and they started talking while you were right in the middle of what you were saying?  It was as if you weren't speaking at all.  Or how about when you're speaking to someone and another person walks up and interjects as if they had been invited into your conversation.  We've all been there.  And some of us are guilty of doing the same to others.  For whatever reason, we feel like it's okay to butt-in where we have not been invited.  We don't recognize the rudeness of our interruption, and we take for granted that the person we're speaking to is okay with it.  Well listen up.  It's not okay.      Like so much in life today, we are impatient in our conversations.  It's almost as if we can't control ourselves.  If a thought is on our minds, we have to immediately express it.  Usually without a lot of forethought which gets a lot of people in trouble.  If we stopped for a moment and actually considered w

Why Monopolizing a Conversation is a Show of Arrogance

     You've likely been in a conversation or at least overheard a conversation where one person talked and talked and talked or continuously interjected their opinion at every breath taken by the other side.  You've probably been in a training class and heard one particular participant constantly have something to say every time the facilitator asked a question or tried to move on with a point in the training.  You found it annoying and no doubt so did the other people around you.  Yet, the individual seems clueless that they are monopolizing the discussion.  Everybody in the room wants to say, "Just shut up already!"      Facilitators like myself have to work harder in these instances to maintain control of the room.  We know that the other participants are looking to us to keep order so that they can get something out of the precious time they're spending in a training class--sometimes classes they've paid for themselves.  Out of politeness, most people--wh

What Leaders Should Do to Speak Enthusiasm (When It's Not Your Thing)

     Countless surveys have been done that show teams want leaders who inspire them.  They appreciate working with a manager who motivates them with their own enthusiasm and zest for life.  This is not a skill that's learned very easily if at all.  It's actually a personality trait that a lot of people have naturally, and to act counter to it would be a strain for them.  They love life and have a penchant for seeing experiences in a positive way even if things aren't going well.  Not everyone can do this and come across sincere.  Some people have to work at it.  On the contrary, as much as the optimistic person does not have to work hard at being excited about life, the pessimist does not have to work hard at seeing the hardships of life--and living in them.      Pessimists see optimists sometimes as phonies.  They don't believe anyone can be that enthusiastic all the time and be sincere.  They believe they're hiding their pain.  Pessimists try to search below the

3 Ways to Sound Empathetic When You're Not Sure How

                Empathy is a little practiced emotion in today's communications.  Many people I've talked to admit that they tend to forget to be empathetic when they should be.  They also get confused about when they should be empathetic and when they should be sympathetic.  In fact, they hardly know the difference between the two and aren't quite sure how to show either.  So let's start there.  Let's distinguish between the two.  Empathy is the ability to be able to understand what other people are going through because you've experienced the same thing or something similar.  Sympathy is feeling compassion for someone else when something unfortunate happens to them.  Therefore, empathy is about, "Hey, I know what you're going through" and sympathy is "I may not fully know what you're going through, but I'm sorry it's happening to you."  Our focus today is to know how and when to be empathetic.  To avoid the awkwardness

10 More Rules of Engagement in Conflict

Hopefully you've had an opportunity to read the first ten Rules of Engagement in conflict on this blog.  They are explained in depth.  But here are ten more to round out the list.  They are as valuable as the others and are sure to squelch any disagreement that could escalate into a full-on war of words.  Try these: 11.   Avoid sarcasm.   It is condescending and sure to annoy the other party.  Just be straight in your answers and leave the judgment out of it. 1 2.    Look the person in the eye.   Show interest, not disdain.   Eye contact means you're paying attention to what they're saying and actually considering their perspective. 13.   Watch your body language.   No big threatening gestures or pounding on tables.   No slamming doors or throwing items. 1 4.   No interrupting the other person while they’re speaking.   We get so caught up in trying to assert our point, that we don't realize we're denying the other person the opportunity to express theirs

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #10

     Rule of Engagement in Conflict #10 calls for all of us to stop the tit-for-tat interactions that are common in disagreements--especially in marriages.  If someone says something to you about yourself that you don't like, the most common response is to point out to that individual that they do similar things.  Instead of stopping to digest what has just been said, our natural response is to get defensive if we have not trained ourselves to be accepting of other people's opinions of us.  We say, "Yeah, but you..." and the other person fires back with the same.  Next thing we know, nothing's getting resolved, and no one is holding themselves accountable for their behavior.  It is easy to point a finger at someone else without considering the legitimacy of what the other person is saying.      Let's face it--it's hard to hear less than glowing remarks about our actions.  We'd like to think we do almost everything right, and somehow it's the ot

10 Signs That You Lack People Skills

I am often amazed by how many people work in jobs or serve in some capacity where their priority is supposed to be the needs of other people, and it is clear they are not people-focused.  They are in customer service, at the check out counter, in supervisory positions, in ministry, healthcare, and other places that require they help those around them.  They fail miserably and have that perplexed look like they don't understand what went wrong when people complain.  If this is you, well, let me help you out.  Below are ten signs that you might lack people skills: You think of your needs first before anyone else's.  Those who are people-focused will put other's needs ahead of their own when appropriate.  I'm not suggesting people should deny themselves in order to please others, but if an opportunity presents where a more immediate need arises, the one who has people skills will try to find a way to help the other person first.  Those who practice this skill best wil

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #9

     The one thing I can say with certainty about humanity is that we love to judge one another.  We have no qualms about looking at what other people do and then voicing our opinion about it.  Our opinions are largely derogatory unfortunately.  Gossip abounds and is viewed negatively by almost everyone, but it's like a sickness without a cure.  We are compulsive with it.  It is a habit that is hard to break because the lines are blurred between speaking about the things that people do that aren't right, and complaining about what people do that we don't like.            In a disagreement, telling people that they are the problem will and does escalate an already volatile situation.  Any statement where one person is passing judgment on another will surely spark ire in the accused party.  Therefore, rule #9 in the Rules of Engagement in Conflict is to take judgment out of the conversation.   Statements like, “the problem with you is” or “if you hadn’t…” or “it went wr

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #8

       When I've had to train in difficult environments, I've heard participants denigrate their superiors and the culture of the organization.  There's usually a lot of animosity that's piled up over the course of years, and employees don't mind expressing their dissent.  In fact, dissent and disparagement are the course of conversation for the day--until I have to shut it down.  I've found that some people just like to complain.  They stay in problem mode.  They say things like, "That'll never work.  They don't listen to us.  They don't do what we ask.  We don't trust anything they say."  And on and on it goes.  They contribute only to the negative aspects of the feedback and rarely to anything that yields solutions.  If solutions are proposed, they dismiss them with more derogatory talk.  I've come to learn over the years in dealing with conflict that disagreements devolve into endless bickering because one or both parties d

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #7

        "You're always late."      "You never have anything nice to say about anybody."      "Are you ever organized?"      These statements are absolutes.  Statements like these ought to ALWAYS be avoided in conflict situations.  The previous statement was one of the few appropriate times you could use words like "always" and "never".  The appropriate times are very few.  Therefore, they should be avoided as often as possible.  Here's why:  most of us are rarely always doing anything or never doing something.  To make such a claim is likely false, and people hate to be lied to or lied on.  To make a blanket statement about someone's behavior--especially if that statement is largely negative--is to create conflict or add to it.  Think about it:  you rarely do anything all the time.  There are few things we never do, but they aren't usually perceived as a criticism.  For instance:  "I never rob old people.&q