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Showing posts from 2016

The Language of Inclusion

     Greta took a 360-degree survey at the suggestion of her boss.  In an effort to get her to see herself through the eyes of others, she needed to know how she was performing as a leader.  The survey would allow her to compare how she saw herself to how her boss, peers, direct reports, and "others" saw her.  Greta rated herself as open and inclusive.  She felt like she invited people's input and was sociable and encouraged dialogue.  But when she looked at the feedback from her raters, she was shocked by what she saw.      Her direct reports saw her as anything but inclusive.  They rated her low in areas like "being open to input, showing diplomacy" and "creating a positive environment".  Greta thought she was doing a great job in making her team feel like she valued them and their opinions.  She had no idea other people didn't see her the same way.  She wanted to talk to her team and find out why this was the first indication she was re

Taking the Sting Out of Emails

     One of the biggest challenges with writing emails is getting to the point without offending someone.  I dare to guess that millions of times a day somebody is misinterpreting the tone of an email and taking what is "said" personally.  We all know that emails lack inflection and visual acuity so it is easy for someone to perceive what was intended in the wrong way.  Without the benefit of hearing a person's voice inflection and seeing their facial expressions, words can often come across harsh and insensitive when written in haste or without much context to support the message.  This is probably one of the most widely known pitfalls about emails but the least considered when a person receives an email they don't like.  We don't often say, "Maybe the sender didn't mean it this way so I shouldn't take it personal."  We're more likely to take the message at face value and balk at its tone.      There are three things to remember about em

What I Said, What You Heard

     Let's face it.  Sometimes we don't do a very good job of being clear in our communications.  What we want to say is certainly clear in our minds, but somehow, on its way out of our mouths, things get muddled.  Unfortunately, this is a natural occurrence, and all sorts of important information gets lost in the exchange.  You say one thing; they hear another.  You meant one thing; they perceive another.  In the workplace where communication is essential, unclear information can cause all kinds of losses to the organization.  Everything from people doing the wrong things at the wrong times with the wrong people to customers' needs being misunderstood, and the ball gets dropped.         So how do we clear up the confusion?  There are myriad ways based on where the holes are.  But I'll offer you up three.      1)  After having a conversation about something that is vital, follow it up in writing.  That way, when you go back and read what you've written (and yo

2016 Administrative Professionals Conference--See my presentation!

Join me as I present "Zero Visibility:  How Blind Spots Impact Our Success" at the Administrative Professionals Conference, April 28th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

When Social Media Isn't So Social

     We know that social media is a great way for us to be--well- -social .  When done right, these various outlets are a way to build relationships, share information with friends and family across the miles, engage in meaningful discussions about current events and pop culture, share in common interests with "friends" and acquaintances, make announcements, and maybe even do a little business.  But a huge challenge in these social interchanges is actually remaining social and civil in the midst of all this sharing.  What starts off as a way to connect with people we know, and maybe even forge new relationships with people we don't know, can easily lead to a disconnect that may never be repaired.  How does that happen?      Every post defines an individual's beliefs, interests, views, prejudices, and beefs.  Even without intent to be controversial, you can be thrust into the mire of angry disagreement because you have little control over how other people perceive

Leadership Lesson for Cam Newton: Communicating Under Stress

    So Cam Newton had a bad day Sunday.  It happens.  But his bad day has turned into a bad week because of his actions at a press conference following his loss in Super Bowl 50.  It's been controversial, to say the least, since there are people who empathize with the MVP's behavior after a tough and painful defeat and others who think he behaved badly after walking off in the middle of a press conference .  Regardless of what side you're on, there are lessons to be learned in communicating when under duress.  Cam can learn them and so can the rest of us.  If I had to coach him in how to handle those difficult moments, I'd recommend the following:      1)  Slow down.  Take a deep breath and then express your emotions honestly.  No doubt about it, Cam came into the Super Bowl feeling confident he and the Panthers would go home with the trophy.  He was absolutely right in thinking that way.  After all, how can you go into a high stakes game like the Super Bowl anticip

Self Talk: The Ties That Bind

                                Generally, we use the term “the ties that bind” to indicate all the special ways we connect with those we love.  Ties are the conditions, actions, and emotions that draw us to them and keep them part of our lives.  Those ties may be kinship, marriage, trust, friendship, support, history.  They get stretched and twisted and ragged, but they don’t often break.  Our bonds are generally strong.            But there’s another side of this term that’s not as appealing, yet it is the reality of life.  It’s when certain ties bind us to the negatives and shortfalls that are sure to come.  We get connected to behaviors that keep us marking time, and we are unable to release ourselves from them.  We are mentally handcuffed.  Mental handcuffs are limited thoughts that box us in to the status quo whether good or bad, and we’re unable to grow anymore or change.  For example, if I want to start my own business, the mental handcuffs only permit me t