Are You Engaging in “Fake Focus?"
Although many people have had business communications training, some still approach difficult conversations with a degree of fear and trepidation. In fact, ever since Donald Trump won the presidency, I have had a number of people call and email seeking advice and asking for suggestions about how to talk about politics. Many of these folks have done damage to their current relationships in the way that they have broached sensitive topics.
I had just finished speaking at an event and a number of people came up to the stage to talk and to ask questions that they didn’t want to ask in front of the entire group. After a few moments I was approached by a woman who began rapidly asking me a number of questions. Before I could finish answering one question, she would hit me with another question.
I had a previous boss who would go off like a volcano anytime the results that we produced did not meet his expectations. He was so volatile in his reaction to bad news that other members of our law firm urged him to get some professional help in order to keep the rest of the staff from quitting. When he was caught off guard, nothing seemed to stem the tide of his anger. When this situation occurs it is never easy. Most of the time we would rather jump off a cliff than face the prospect of giving bad news to a superior. Nevertheless, there are a number of steps that you can take to improve the, “Bad news, Boss,” scenario. Hopefully you will find these useful in addressing a negative situation.
A few weeks ago I was taking my son to school in the midst of a snow storm. As I pulled into the student drop-off at the high school, I noticed a woman who was getting into her car as I was waiting to move forward. I was about up to her car when she got in, and started to back out. As there wasn't really room for her to pull out, so I pulled forward past her. Her rear lights went on and she started to back out just as I passed her.
With recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, among other places around the country, and with the election of Donald Trump, people’s positions and opinions have become more and more polarized. Civil discourse and meaningful dialogue have been replaced by rancor, accusation, disrespectful language, and wild speculation unbefitting a civil and democratic society.
Recently one of my trainees went through her annual performance review. She received an unsatisfactory rating in one area because her manager told her that she was too argumentative. When she asked what that meant, she was told that she asked too many questions.
One of the greatest challenges of running the river in Grand Canyon is learning how to navigate the rapids. There is an average of one rapid every half mile from Lee’s Ferry, Arizona to Pierce Ferry on Lake Mead, Nevada, a distance of over 283 miles. In order to run these rapids successfully,
As the year comes to an end, I have become increasingly disturbed at some of the behavior that we have witnessed this year. How can we justify a person driving their car into a group of innocent bystanders? Or a group of young boys lighting a handicapped boy on fire because he was different? Or when was it ever appropriate to burn and destroy the property of others as a way of expressing disagreement? Can we judge others based solely on opinion in the absence of concrete evidence?
When I was in my first job in corporate America, I had a one-of-a-kind manager. The first thing he did when meeting with me was to ask me what I wanted to become and what my vision of my future career looked like. I really hadn’t given it much thought, and so I candidly told him so. Always abounding in patience, he began by asking me a series of well-thought out questions that made me think.
This past week I was shocked to read about two passengers on a flight who evidently started a fight over their different political views. The pilot went on a rant over the plane’s intercom taking the fighting passengers to task to defuse the situation. With all the divisiveness that seems to be going on right now, each of us ought to put a particular emphasis during the upcoming holiday to go out of our way to make life more rewarding for one another.
I recently had a team ask me if emotional displays were appropriate in the workplace. When I asked them what they meant, they shared with me that one member of their team would sometimes cry when discussing topics that were relevant to his or her work. I took the time to explore the situation with the person. I concluded that his or her behavior resulted because some team members didn’t see the issue in the same way or feel as passionately as they did about the situation that was being discussed. When we consider the appropriateness of emotional displays, the expression of emotion could be placed along a continuum from aggressive or “hot” to passive or “cold.” Obviously when someone begins to shout, demean, or use derogatory terms, the person who is confronted by such behavior will usually respond in two ways: they will respond in kind and meet “hot” emotion with “hot” emotion, or they will completely shut down.
One day this week when I was working at home the upstairs phone began to ring. Since I was busy, I ignored the call, figuring the answering machine would pick it up. During the next hour, the phone rang at least three more times.
Years ago I started to notice that the way I spoke to my children did not produce the desired results. I remember one day when my oldest brought home a B- in math, and I said something like, “You got a B- in math? What happened?” Immediately my spouse responded with, “Some kind of a communication expert you are!”
A number of years ago, one of my sons tried out for the junior high basketball team. Unfortunately, he did not make the team. He returned home being even more deflated because he was offered a position as the team manager, a position he turned down. Rather than sulk and engage in self-pity, he went to work. He devised a plan to improve his skills, so that he could make the team as a sophomore.