LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE

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People are often defined by how they communicate. There are three main communication styles:

1. Aggressive. This type of communication discourages collaboration and conversations, and focuses on placing blame if mistakes are made and taking credit for other’s successes.

2. Passive. This type of communication is reluctant to offer feedback, hates confrontation, and is unable to convey the full picture of a project or situation.

3. Assertive. This communication is objective and conversational. Such communicators think before responding to issues and see the big picture.

When problem-solving in the office, people need to use facts to back up their positions, avoid raising their voices, acknowledge other people’s stances, and learn to compromise. Additionally, understanding when to chime in and when to wait will take time to fully embrace, but can be very helpful once learned.

Written communication is important now that most offices use email, PDAs, and smartphones for daily communications. People in the corporate world are pressed for time and have a short attention span. Clear and concise emails, text messages, and memos are imperative for the busy professional. Levit stresses that proofreading is important, and that even the most basic email should be error free.

Listening is more than simply hearing words. It is important to understand the type and how much information is actually being heard. The best listeners do not interrupt, stay focused, and can read between the lines. However, it is important to understand the filters people face when attempting to take in information through listening. The four basic filters are:

1. Predilection filter. Hearing what is wanted instead of what is being said.

2. Who filter. Focusing on the person speaking rather than message.

3. Facts filter. Obliviousness to emotional or non-verbal cues.

4. Distracting thoughts filter. Allowing personal thoughts or emotions to become distracting.

Further, in-person communication involves nonverbal cues like appropriate eye contact, altering tone, appearing intelligent but not pretentious, and coming across as sincere. It is important to take advantage of quick conversations, such as in the elevator or in the kitchen, and volunteer to deliver formal or informal presentations. Practice makes perfect when developing communication skills in the corporate world.

VUCA to VACINE

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Most organizations build models to understand how things work and to develop better business strategies; however, it is impossible to predict every possible outcome and incorporate them into a model. The world can change instantly, and organizations must be ready to respond. To describe today’s business environment, Hinssen uses the acronym VUCA:
• Volatility: The world is changing faster than ever and when stability occurs, it is short-lived.
• Uncertainty: In a volatile world, uncertainty is the norm.
• Complexity: Business is more complex than ever before, and even small changes can have a major effect.
• Ambiguity: Many things that occur in the business environment can be interpreted in multiple ways.
In light of these factors, business strategies must become more fluid. This is essential if companies are going to respond more rapidly to situations and be more agile than ever before. The “antidote” to VUCA is another acronym—
VACINE:
• Velocity: Companies must move swiftly.
• Agility: Companies must be able to transform in response to changes in the market.
• Creativity: Organizations that do not cultivate creativity will fail.
• Innovation: Solving problems in new ways is the key to differentiation.
• Network: As markets become networks of information, companies must become networks of innovation.
• Experimentation: In order to succeed, companies must be willing to try new and different approaches to the ways they have done business in the past.

TRUST AND CREDIBILITY

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When communicating with people who are angry or worried, four factors govern the perception of trust and credibility:

  1. Caring and empathy
  2. Openness and honesty
  3. Dedication and commitment
  4. Expertise and competence

Under normal circumstances, people assume anyone they meet has these qualities, or they are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. When they are angry or worried, however, they examine everything the speaker does and assign a negative meaning to it. For example, if the speaker is sweating, under ordinary circumstances the audience would assume he is nervous. If the speaker is addressing a worried audience, they are likely to assume he is sweating because he is lying or does not want to be there.

Greenberger gives each of the four trust factors a numerical value, and together the four add up to a “CODE” score that adds up to 100. When dealing with someone who is angry or suspicious, speakers want to come as close to that perfect score as possible. Anything lower can mean an audience will not trust them and, therefore, will not accept their messages. Speakers can work toward maximizing their CODE scores in a variety of ways.

Caring and empathy is by far the biggest factor in the CODE score, worth up to 50 points. The audience decides within 30 seconds if the speaker is caring, and the best way to prove understanding and empathy is for the speaker to relate a personal story. When firing a worker, for example, bosses might show empathy by relating the story of being let go early in their careers and how they bounced back and found a job that suited them better. Not everyone has such a personal story to tell, so it helps to be prepared by gleaning pertinent anecdotes from friends and relatives.

To show openness and honesty — 15 to 20 points on the CODE score — speakers should tell the truth, admitting what happened and why. If the company is still trying to figure out why something such as a leak occurred, the speaker needs to admit that and promise to let the community know the details as soon as possible. The speaker should outline what steps the company will take to prevent future mishaps as well.

Speakers can prove their dedication and commitment to helping the audience — worth 15 to 20 points — by showing that they want to be at the meeting and are willing to answer questions. Instead of setting a time limit on questions, the speaker should let the audience decide how long questions will go on and stay after the meeting to talk to anyone who wants to ask a question in private.

Expertise and competence — also worth 15 to 20 points — is the easiest area to gain points in. The audience is likely to accept that a company executive knows the subject. However, the executive can quickly lose points by using a lot of jargon or saying “I don’t know” too often.

A FORMULA FOR RESPONDING

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When dealing with a hostile audience, business people are likely to face questions that challenge their credibility as well as those that question facts. The underlying message of a credibility question asks “Why should we trust you?” or otherwise indicates that the speaker’s CODE score is wavering. Greenberger’s formula for answering such questions is the “CAN Response.” The speaker must be caring, answer the question, and discuss the next steps, in that order:

*Caring. The speaker must establish empathy to be seen as trustworthy. A personal story is the best way to break through to people.

*Answer. This is where the speaker gets the message across. The message should be short, simple, and positive. In the case of a factory leak, for example, the message might be as simple as, “Everything is safe.” After giving that message, the speaker should provide two supporting facts. It is best if one of the facts is from an independent, third party. After the facts, the speaker should repeat the message.

*Next steps. The speaker should explain what is going to be done to rectify the situation. It helps to provide the audience with a source for more information, such as by handing out business cards or offering to answer questions to establish that the executive is dedicated to fixing the situation.

An executive can acquire and improve all the skills needed to communicate in tough situations through preparation and practice. In today’s environment, with the 24-hour news cycle and Internet access allowing any story to go global in an instant, executives must always be prepared.

HOW TO BUILD SELF-CONFIDENCE

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SELF-CONFIDENCE TOOLS AND STRATEGIES

Success in the workplace is tied to self-confidence, which is a key competency in the self-awareness cluster of Emotional Intelligence. According to the author, “a confident leader exudes a strong self-presentation and expresses him or herself in an assured, impressive, and unhesitant manner.”

Henry Fisker, the CEO of the luxury car company Fisker Coachbuild LLC and one of the leading automotive designers, is a Star Performer full of confidence. He is profiled in detail, and shares his 10 Secrets & Current Practices that make him a successful, top performer:

1. Take Private Time. Fisker takes one hour and a half each day at lunchtime to exercise and contemplate problems. He explores different angles and solutions until he gets a “feeling” and decides the best course of action.

2. Get Third Opinions. He believes it is valuable to solicit and get others’ viewpoints even if he is confident in what he thinks.

3. Evaluate Capacities. Fisker makes it a regular practice to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his team. He then understands individual capacities and when he needs to make a decision he is able to delegate tasks based on strengths.

4. Shoot From The Hip. Fisker believes that employees do not like to be over-managed, and want to feel motivated. He therefore prefers the perception of quick and firm decisions like ‘shooting from the hip.’ His decision making process is in fact more calculated and he relies on the first three secrets to base his decisions and empower his team.

5. Go With That Gut Feeling. Fisker advocates this visceral approach as it allows for quick decision-making and is more accurate than logical thinking. All experiences have an emotional component.

6. Take Initiative. Taking initiative defines a Star Performance based in confidence. After the ‘gut feeling,’ Fisker evaluates the risks associated with it and if deemed appropriate takes action.

7. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Leaders should be cognizant of their weaknesses. He defines weaknesses as “things you could do, but don’t like to do.” Preferring to lead with his strengths and excel, he delegates to others things he likes to do the least. This keeps him “energized, creative, and competent.”

8. Take Responsibility For Your Mistakes. Fisker promotes leaders being honest with themselves and admitting to their mistakes in order to learn and grow. Being responsible for one’s actions leads to clarity and less problems down the road.

9. Reinforce People. Fisker is adept at motivating his team members. He asks questions to stay abreast of what they think and do. By engaging them, he is able to recognize and support their hard work.

10. Be Willing To Make Decisions That Are Exceptions To The Rule. Being successful at times means not following the rules and procedures. Fisker asserts that a leader needs to weigh the consequences of a decision, decide if it is worth the risk, and then act on it.

To emphasize, Nadler offers ten proven strategies to try and further improve self-confidence:

* Being On Your Case Vs. Being On Your Side. Many leaders have defective evaluation systems, are overcritical of their own performance, and rarely satisfied with their own success. “Being On Your Own Case” leads to erosion in self-confidence, unhappiness, and unintentional treatment of others in the same way. A faulty evaluation system can be changed by reframing it to “Being On Your Side” and will result in improved confidence and greater awareness of how an individual evaluate their self and others.

* Reflections on Thinking. It is common to have an internal dialogue. According to the author, the issue is the type of internal questions that are asked. Negative questions such as “Why didn’t I say something smart at the meeting?” produce negative answers, which heavily erode confidence. Paying more attention to the internal questions will help to take control of negative self-talk.

* Busting Perfection: Creating Realistic Expectations. Perfectionism is a form of self-evaluation that stunts performance and sets leaders up for failure and frustration. There is a ‘perfection loop’ where unrealistic expectations are set without critical thinking that creates an unconscious pattern of failure. One must become aware of the unproductive pattern, understand the steps that cause it, and know how to break the cycle. The goal is to set realistic and attainable expectations.

* Success Rules: Who Is Running You? Many leaders are living by rules for being successful that are outdated, rigid, and over-generalized. This unconscious behavior can be re-programmed to enhance self-confidence otherwise there will be feelings of dissatisfaction and failure. Writing down and becoming aware of the rules that drive performance is an important first step.

* Success Log. Nadler advocates writing a success log chronologically with age brackets. The goal is to get a clear picture of many successes in life which are sometimes forgotten or minimized. Reviewing the list builds confidence.

* Current Success Log. The next strategy is to keep a current log of daily or weekly achievements and successes, and after a few months to analyze it to define personal strengths.

* The Five Pivotal People In Your Life. Another useful tool to build confidence comes from Dr. Phil McGraw. He believes that each of us have five pivotal people who represent a positive force, and contribute to a sense of self-confidence and worth. It is useful to write these people down, and reflect on their influence.

* Visualization. Regularly visualizing and mastering the most challenging situations as leaders will improve confidence. This practice creates neural pathways that make the actual performance more natural.

* Decisiveness. Strong leaders act as consensus builders. It is better for leaders to delay sharing their opinions early in the decision-making process and take the role of facilitator with the group. Their views can come out at the end of the process, bringing all the information together, resulting in a better decision. Decisiveness then requires a timetable and action.

* Thin-Slicing. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, coined the term ‘thin-slicing’. He defines it as “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on narrow slices of experience.” Very successful executives are adept at utilizing intuition when reaching decisions, and it is a skill, argues Gladwell that can be cultivated by others.

TEAMWORK AND COLLABORATION TOOLS AND STRATEGIES

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According to Nadler, the main reason that executives fail in their leadership role is due to their inability to properly build and lead a team. To illustrate this point,  sharing 10 Secrets & Current Practices:

1. Start the Day with “An Attitude of Gratitude.” Jones suggests making a mental list of everything that an individual is grateful for and doing this in the morning. Then, arrive at work feeling uplifted.

2. Focused Greeting of People. Jones always greets people by making them feel she is glad to see them and views them as important.

3. Communication. Everyone on her teams is aware of goals and has accurate and up-to-date information at all times. This creates an atmosphere of ownership and common vision.

4. Red Flag Meetings. All team members attend these short meetings daily. Red flags are identified and resources are quickly allocated to address the concerns.

5. Revenue Gap Meetings. These meetings are meant to identify the current revenue for each customer, the individual customer forecast for that month, and any specific actions needed to close the ‘gap’.

6. BAT Team Meetings (Business Acquisition Teams). Each team of four or five members from different departments is assigned a major strategic account and charged with creating a comprehensive profile and specific actions. The intent is give team members who usually do not deal with sales a sense of ownership and a beneficial learning experience.

7. Team Meetings. These meetings are mandatory for all team members and are held twice monthly to foster collaboration and new learning experiences outside the realm of daily work demands.

8. Continual Process Review. Processes across the company and within departments are documented and subject to continual review and refinement. Teams of employees dealing with a particular process are established when a problem is identified and adjustments are needed.

9. Valuing Staff. Jones believes “in the value of each individual on the team.” She makes it a habit to check in with each member of the team on a regular basis to reinforce the fact that she cares and values each member’s efforts.

10. Humor. Humor relieves stress and creates group cohesiveness.

Building teams takes a dedicated leader along with discipline, planning, and practice.

COMMUNICATION AND EMPATHY TOOLS AND STRATEGIES

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Communication and empathy are the basis of all social and relationship skills, and a core competency of emotional intelligence. Nadler states that the communication competency includes listening with an open mind, sending convincing and clear messages, and cultivating an empathetic give-and-take. The empathy competency includes understanding other people and being actively interested in other people’s concerns, thoughts, and feelings.

prism-philosophy-1John Davies 11 Secrets & Current Practices are shared:

1. Touch The Heart. Davies believes the key to effective communication is to arouse emotions in people. Emotions are more important than logic.

2. Understand What People Want. He places client’s needs and their vision of success above his own capabilities and asks pertinent questions to be sure there is a good fit and his services can add bone fide value for a client.

3. Find Your Passion. A person who is passionate communicates in a convincing, persuasive, and genuine manner. Davies defines passion as “being your best without any compromise or change.”

4. Find Your Uniqueness. Giving voice to people’s strengths and unique abilities increases self- expression and enhances communication.

5. Read People. Engaging an audience involves being able to read non-verbal communication and discern what listeners are feeling and thinking. The ability to read people and their cues allows leaders to connect with their employees.

6. Acknowledge/Do Not Offend. Davies is cognizant that people need to know that they are being heard and their ideas are being taken into account. When conducting meetings, he never offends or threatens people and creates a safe environment to discuss ideas. Communication cannot be fostered in a divergent environment.

7. Summarize And Integrate. An effective communication strategy to is summarize what someone is saying and feed it back to him or her. After that is accomplished, it is possible to integrate new strategies and information to move forward.

8. Be Prepared. A “Star Communicator” in Davies’ opinion is always prepared. This includes reviewing client goals, researching pertinent information, prepping staff for what they need to know, and preparing for rebuttals.

9. Training And Personal Growth. Offsite retreats with staff several times a year allows staff “practice time” without the stresses of the work environment. Leadership, teamwork, communication, and project management are some of the skills that are fostered.

10. Quality In All. Davies mentors his staff to ensure that all products are of the highest quality. His expectation for his people is that they are accountable, proactive, and responsible for delivering superb work to clients.

11. Finding The “Needle In The Haystack.” The “Needle In the Haystack” is a means to be successful by uncovering what is often overlooked. Davies uses such practices as change strategies, psychology, crisis communication, and influence and persuasion theories.

Leaders need the ability to be highly effective communicators to get their point across and drive team behavior. Coupled with that, leaders need to know how to be empathetic.

Trainers’ Fun and Games

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Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 7.10.56 pmGames are effective tools for both cultivating audience engagement and establishing a fun atmosphere. Icebreakers are often the best to start with, since they are particularly effective at warming up groups. Examples of icebreakers include:

• Basics. Participants share their names, organizations or departments, experience related to the topic, what they would like to learn, or what they like to do for fun.

• Snowball fight. Participants write down little-known facts about themselves, crumple the paper up into balls, and throw them around the room. Eventually the papers are collected and everyone must guess which fact belongs to which participant.

• Demographics. With large groups that may not have enough time for individual introductions, trainers can ask people to stand when they call out a group or characteristic relevant to them. Trainers can weave other types of games and activities throughout their presentations. For example, intermission energizers, which may include standing up and stretching, can keep audiences refreshed and focused. Meanwhile, debriefing exercises enable participants to reflect on both what they understand and what they struggle with. To end sessions on a positive note, trainers can use end of the day closures—for example, participants can create their own “Ah-ha” lists or the most important points that they learned that day.

LEVELS OF CONFLICT

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Understanding the levels of conflict is also important. If the conflict has grown from a minor disagreement to a fight, the tools that work for minor disagreements will not work anymore.

Training Session with Anubha with Manufacturing teamShearouse outlines five levels of conflict, adapted from Speed Leas’s Moving Your Church Through Conflict:

1. Problems to solve. A problem is discussed, and a solution is decided.

2. Disagreement. People take sides and actions based on assumptions.

3. Contest. People argue about who is right and who is wrong–each party fighting to be right.

4. Fight. Both parties become defensive–it is about winning and losing now.

5. Intractable situation. There is no solution, no winning or losing–only separation.

Strategies for resolving conflict differ depending on the level. For level one, problems to solve, clear communication and a collaborative approach are essential. To resolve conflict at this level, managers should clearly state the issue or problem to solve, listen to all sides carefully, and identify each side’s interests. Agreeing on shared goals can also help, as well as making sure all voices are heard and there is an atmosphere of trust.

Level two, disagreement, calls for more structure. Establishing ground rules for a conversation can be an important starting point, such as “we will listen to each other’s points, no matter what.” After the ground rules have been established, a manager should establish a common goal or objective.

At level three, contest, the fear and distrust levels are higher. Therefore, the process needs to be even more structured–ground rules, roles for who is gathering information and presenting it, who is leading the meeting, etc.

At level four, fight, it is often no longer clear what the disagreement is even about. It is no longer about a specific issue, but is instead about a damaged relationship. External help (a mediator or facilitator) is often necessary at this stage.

If the conflict reaches level five, intractable situation, an outside party needs to not just mediate, but also make the decisions.

HOW WE RESPOND

Conflicts are also affected by the way people approach them. Everyone approaches conflict differently. However, often people only use the same one or two approaches every time they face conflict. The five most common approaches include:

1. Avoiding. When avoiding conflict, people usually back away from conflict, even if nothing has been settled. When dealing with an avoider, a manager should strive to create a safe place for people to talk, and give people time to think and consider before the discussion.

2. Accommodating. This usually means putting a relationship before personal wants and needs in a conflict. A manager needs to assure accommodators that the relationship is not in jeopardy.

3. Directing. “Directors” are more focused primarily on personal goals, and more concerned about “getting it done” than what others want or need. A manager should help directors realize that it is in their best interest to collaborate with others to solve conflict.

4. Compromising. Compromising means that everyone accepts a little less to get the job done. Managers can encourage compromisers to slow down before rushing to reach a solution.

5. Collaborating. In a collaboration, people make sure that both sides are heard and understood. Collaborators need deadlines for decision-making to avoid endless negotiations.

Good managers understand both their own approaches to conflict, and their employees’ approaches. There is no “right” way to approach conflict, as different situations call for different approaches. For instance, sometimes it is appropriate to avoid conflict if the situation just does not warrant discussion or collaboration. But sometimes, managers avoid conflict when the situation really needs to be addressed and sorted out thoroughly. The key is to know when a certain approach is appropriate, and when it does more harm than good.

Shearouse stresses that understanding style differences in approaching conflict can help everyone involved to respond to personality differences more effectively.

SOURCE OF CONFLICT

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WHAT WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT MATTERS: SOURCES OF CONFLICT

It is important to think about the source when thinking about the solution. The main sources of conflict include the following:

IMG_6954* Information conflicts. These involve facts or numbers–the easiest conflicts to address. Managers can start by agreeing on the source of data and how to get it.

* Conflicts of interest and expectations. These involve underlying needs, concerns, and desires. It is important to identify the interests of each party first in a conflict. When the discussion is about interests, rather than positions, solutions will emerge more easily.

* Structural conflicts. These involve limited resources, or structures beyond the control of those involved in the conflict. For instance, if five people are vying for a promotion, and there is only one open position, this can cause a structural conflict. When faced with structural conflicts, it is important to bring the issue to the appropriate decision-maker, make sure decision processes are transparent, and look for ways to turn the decision-making over to those who will be affected by the decision.

* Conflicts in values. These involve people’s principles. It is better to work around these differences than to try to establish who is right and who is wrong. Focusing on goals that supersede the value differences (goal of the company, department, etc.) can lead to solutions.

* Relationship conflicts. These conflicts can affect all the other conflicts. These are about two people’s history, and frequently involve communication, stereotypes, and trust. Trust is extremely important to avoid and fix these conflicts. With it, employees can get through anything. Without it, employees cannot do anything. Trust is built up slowly, and needs to be worked on to be maintained. Managers need to feel like they can count on their employees, and employees need to feel like they can count on their managers.