Recently, I was looking for an opportunity to write something about gratitude. Being stuck in an airport and waiting for a flight that had been cancelled gave me the opportunity to interview people and ask them what they were most grateful for. So, I wandered around the gate area, introduced myself, and told people that I wanted to write an article about the Thanksgiving holiday, and I asked if I could ask them one question: “What are you most grateful for?” Everyone stopped to think and then answered. It was a great way to pass the three hours.
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.
When I ask folks why they refuse to talk about what matters most, the most frequently offered response is, “I don’t know how to do it.” Whatever your response may be, the consequences are always the same, poor results. Such thinking usually results in what I call counterfeit conversation or “fake talk.”
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!”
Earlier in the year I spent two days working with and teaching a number individuals helping them improve their ability to hold difficult conversations. After the session one of the organization’s directors who stopped by to observe said, “This is all well and good, but you know, you can’t teach a pig to sing!”
Recently, a friend who works as a keynote speaker sent me some feedback that he received after speaking at a conference. It went something like this:
This speaker was very rude and offensive to one of his support staff. This guy promotes himself as a leadership and communicator guru and yet he was rude and condescending to others. What a hypocrite! I will be spreading his name around as a fake. NOT sure where you got this guy!
When my second son graduated from high school with honors we were very proud of him. When all the celebration and fanfare were over, I asked him, “If there was one thing that you could do over, what would you do differently?” He responded, “I would have ignored all the blame and criticism from my coaches and just gone out and played my game.”
70% of managers are afraid to talk to their employees. No wonder employees are disengaged or disconnected from their leadership! Employees and their managers are not talking to one another to make vital connections and increase the effectiveness of their work. Here are 10 questions that might help you assess how engaged you are with your people.
A friend of mine recently told me about a conversation he had with his brother, who he was coaching through some difficult times.
His brother had recently been promoted from the field into a corporate setting because of his excellent work. My friend’s brother expressed his frustration at how unimaginative his co-workers were and how they were always making mistakes. The brother went on about how unwilling everyone seemed to be about listening to his ideas or following his advice.
I really wanted to write a piece celebrating Independence Day and the advent of freedom in our country. And yet, I have been frustrated as I have contemplated the many core American values and institutions which seem to be under attack.
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.
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?
Words all by themselves don’t create anything. But the words you choose and how you put them together will influence the thinking, feelings, and actions of others. In short, your language will help to achieve the results you want, improve the quality of your relationships, and create the respect that may be lacking. I was fascinated years ago to learn that the Aramaic phrase “abracadabra,” so frequently used by magicians, means “I create as I speak.” This left me wondering what I was creating.
I first started to notice the results that my words were creating when instructing my two young...
Recently I was discussing with a friend the importance of facts or evidence in conversation. My friend told me the following story about a wayward son. It seems that his son was staying out all hours of the night and coming in early in the morning. The situation was creating some conflict with my friend’s other teenage children.
A number of years ago, I was doing some work in Washington D.C. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to see some of the sights around town, so as soon as my work was over, I did a quick tour in the early evening. I went and listened to an open session of the Senate, attended a concert of the Marine Band on the steps of Congress, walked up the Washington Monument, and finally made my way over to the Vietnam War Memorial.