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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7 Ways to Improve Your Capacity for Compassion

I attended a leadership conference a few weeks ago at which I had been asked to speak.  In one of the sessions, I was surprised when a senior executive stood before a group of newly promoted leaders and said, “I want to remind you of the importance of really loving the people who work for you!”  I have long believed that leaders who truly care for their people become the leaders who are able to help others to create extraordinary results.  I just had never heard anyone express this sentiment so directly or openly. Caring for others really does have an...

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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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8 Strategies for Creating Rapport

Years ago, I was doing research on how we can more easily establish rapport with others.  While I was working on developing my ideas, I took an airplane flight one day and had an interaction with the woman who sat next to me that served as a real lesson in relationship building. On the flight, I was passing the time by drawing and writing in my journal. The woman sitting next to me asked me what I was doing.  I told her I was working on understanding how people develop rapport with others.  The hour-long flight passed quickly as we...

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What is Your "Come From?" 5 Tips for Increasing Positivity

With the beginning of a new year, I wanted to talk about the importance of positive thinking. There is so much negativity these days, from the shrill of the media, to unhappy coworkers, to angry bosses, or simply whining and complaining children. It can really be a challenge to stay positive. To make things even more challenging, neuroscientists suggest that we have approximately 80,000 thoughts a day, three-fourths of which are negative. We know negative thoughts fuel our negative feelings and show up as negative words and actions. All the negative thinking, feeling, saying, and doing, translates into negative results. The...

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Tips for Handling Challenging Conversations during the Holidays

Everyone is challenged at some time or another during the holiday season with spending time with family members or friends who seemingly lack any sense of decorum or civility. That’s why you really only see them once a year or try to avoid them whenever possible the rest of the year. There are a number of typical scenarios that may occur. In each situation there is a principle that when applied will help you to improve your ability to manage a potentially frustrating situation.

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Just an Orange for Christmas

This time of year much of the emphasis seems to be on the importance of giving--f being more charitable to those less fortunate than us. Or, in a commercial sense, all the shopping is about answering the question, “What gift should I give this year?” But what about receiving? No child would leave a wrapped gift under the tree unopened, and yet many of the gifts that are so freely offered often go unnoticed and unappreciated. When this happens, those gifts go “unreceived.” In essence, a gift “unreceived” is a gift not given. An experience I had long ago made me contemplate the gifts that are given that may go unreceived...

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Is Your Gratitude Inadvertent or Deliberate?

A contemporary philosopher once said that one of our greatest weaknesses as a people would be ingratitude.  In the week in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to contemplate all that we have been given.  All of us have had successes, failures, defeats, and victories, all of which afford us the opportunity to learn, grown, and improve our life’s experience. As we reflect on these gifts and experiences, I’d like to focus on different ways we experience gratitude: inadvertent gratitude and deliberate gratitude.  Inadvertent gratitude comes to us as a reaction to experiences that cause us to stop and think...

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Dad Blew It

Last night I had an opportunity to shoot video segments for a book trailer in preparation for the launch of my new book, Overcoming Fake Talk. After the shoot was over and everyone had left, I had the chance to sit and visit with the producer and creator of our video segment, a very talented man I became friends with years ago when we were both river guides on the Colorado River. I had not seen my friend for 35 years until the evening of the videotaping, so obviously we had some catching up to do. Our talk eventually turned...

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How Do I Create Engagement When Someone Won't Engage?

Sometimes you must admit to yourself that no matter what you say or do, no matter what feeling you convey, you can’t make another person engage in conversation. You can lay out the welcome mat and invite them in, but that doesn’t mean they will accept your invitation. And why not? They are uncomfortable, perhaps even afraid. But their reticence says more about them than it does about you. That’s why it is important to never give up on those who are slow to engage or who won’t engage at all. Whatever holds them back is a reflection of perhaps...

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