Why Don’t Others Listen to You?

Nine Tips for Improving Others Willingness to Listen to You I had been on the road all week and I was eager to hang out with my family on Saturday morning. I came downstairs to find them watching cartoons. In a somewhat animated and enthusiastic voice I exclaimed, “Hey, let’s go outside and hit the ball around! What do you say?” My young son looked up at me and said, “Please Dad, don’t yell at us.” Realizing in that moment that my children had been socialized by their mother who is much more reserved than myself, I quietly whispered almost inaudibly, “Would...

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Eight Suggestions for Improving Your Listening Skills

Late one evening after all the children had gone to bed, I was sitting in the kitchen eating a wonderful piece of chocolate cake and thumbing through the latest L.L. Bean catalogue. My wife approached and asked if I had a moment to listen to her. “Sure, go ahead!” I responded. I continued to eat, look at the catalogue, and listen to her concerns. Suddenly she launched, “You’re not even listening to me!” “Sure I am!” I responded. “Prove it!” she retorted. I repeated back to her everything she had said for at least five minutes. Not a good idea! In frustration and exasperation,...

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10 Tips on Improving the Vitality and Quality of Your Relationships

A number of years ago at the conclusion of a two-day REAL Conversation class, two elderly gentlemen waited for me after class. After everyone left, they approached me and thanked me for the session. I asked them what had been most memorable and helpful for them. One of them perked up and said, “Before this class, neither one of us had spoken to one another for the last 21 years!” When I asked how that had happened, the other man said, “Funny thing is, we can’t remember now what we did that made each other so angry!” Can you imagine working...

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Can You Talk About What Matters Most?

Jim has been a member of a product development team for the last year. He got along well with everyone except for the team’s leader, Mary. For some reason, Mary has the tendency to cut Jim off during their team discussions, finish his sentences, and play devil’s advocate. In fact, Mary has frequently said, “No offense Jim, but I just have to play devil’s advocate here!” Then off Mary goes berating Jim’s idea with little, if any, evidence to support her opposing view. Unfortunately, no one has come to Jim’s aid probably because no one wants to end up on...

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Do They Really Want the Truth?

Many organizations and leaders highly espouse transparency and openness in an attempt to improve their organization’s effectiveness.  Even though this may be part of what an organization portends to support, the question still persists, “Do they really want to know the truth or do they just want to hear what they want to hear?”  Unfortunately, a consultant friend of mine had a poor experience with a leader who said he wanted the truth, but really didn’t. Jill had been hired as an outside consultant to help improve an organization’s systems and processes.  One day during a training class, a senior leader...

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7 Tips for Improving the Quality of Your Feedback

People often ask me for advice on how to give "negative feedback"--which is apparently something that no one enjoys either giving or receiving. Constructive feedback, on the other hand, which is feedback that helps people grow and improve, is on everyone’s most wanted list. So what’s the difference between negative feedback and constructive feedback? The challenge you face when you give someone this helpful feedback is to speak in a way that allows people to hear and understand your message without causing them to become defensive, resistant, or emotional. Some people advocate a "rip off the Band-Aid" approach to providing feedback. This approach can be traumatic--it hurts the receiver and causes more...

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7 Tips on How to Avoid Being Misinterpreted

A friend of mine is launching a book this fall. Because she writes a weekly blog, she asked her PR Director if he could provide her with any email addresses from the team who might like to receive her weekly article.  A week or so later, the PR Director responded that it was against their company’s policy to provide any email addresses of their bloggers because of privacy concerns.  She was a little puzzled by his response given that she just wanted to make sure that the members of the PR firm were getting her post. My author friend decided to...

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5 Tips for Navigating “Whitewater” Conversations

In college I had the opportunity to work as a river guide running the rapids in the Grand Canyon. Later on I discovered that navigating challenging rapids was akin to the terror often experienced in holding challenging conversations. Unfortunately, when it comes to talking about potentially difficult topics, we usually engage in what we call “fake talk” whether intentionally or unintentionally. Fake talk is any conversation where we think we have handled a potentially difficult topic only to find out later, when we didn’t get results, that our conversation was ineffective. Whether running a serious rapid or holding a difficult conversation,...

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Why Don't People Take Initiative?

This is a question I have contemplated for a long time. Recently my exploration became more focused because of a challenge that occurred in our office. As I was getting on a plane to fly east, a client I was traveling to visit, informed me that the training materials we had shipped two weeks earlier had never arrived. I immediately emailed my assistant to alert her and asked her to reach out to the client to remedy the situation. When I arrived in New York, I was picked up by a car service. En route to Connecticut, I texted my assistant to...

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Is Your Workplace a Jerk Place?

All of us at one time or another have had the opportunity to work with or for someone that we would label as a jerk, idiot, or moron.  And we have all probably been a jerk at some point to those with whom we associate. Do you know people that display the characteristics listed below? Are you guilty of any of these behaviors yourself? If so, what do you think is the payoff for behaving in such a manner?  After all, we behave the way we do if we perceive that there is something we can get for doing so.  I...

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Do You Bail Your People Out? Rescue Management Diminishes Employee Accountability

I recently had a VP tell me that she had assigned one of her directors the task of doing a comparability study of their company’s compensation and benefits vis-à-vis other companies in their industry.  After the director had completed the study, the VP grilled the director on his findings.  The director had a difficult time answering the questions that she asked and came across as lacking in confidence. The VP was then faced with a dilemma: should she make the presentation to the Board of Trustees herself or should she run the risk of allowing the director to make the...

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