6 Tips on Improving Results

I recently had a manager explain to me that he had a department with over 200 employees and that his biggest challenge was a lack of productivity.  When I asked him what he meant by that he stated, “I just don’t understand why people can’t do what I ask them to do!” When people fail to meet our expectations or perform poorly, they may offer any number of reasons, excuses, or stories in explanation for their lack of results. These explanations should signal that “fake talk” has occurred and may be occurring again. From our research, we have identified a number...

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Without Vision A People Perish

When I was a boy growing up in Redlands, California, my father would often take me with him to view cultural events on summer evenings at the Redlands Bowl.  This outdoor venue was a wonderful place to view opera, plays, band concerts, and numerous famous singers. One evening as we sat waiting for the performance to begin, my dad leaned over and asked me, “What do you think that means?” At the top of the proscenium were these words, “Without Vision A People Perish.”  Being only about 10 years old at the time, I contemplated the wisdom of...

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R . E . S . P . E . C . T

How Respect and the Quality of the Relationship Impact Results By John R. Stoker People often talk about improving their results through conversations, but what they don’t talk about is the connection between respect and relationships. And yet, the results we receive are directly affected by the respect between two people and the quality of the relationship. I recently spoke at a leadership conference of general managers for a national transportation company.  One of them told me this story which I will relate from his perspective. One Saturday after reading your book, I went to a shop to have my windshield replaced. I arrived...

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Are You Using the Magic Words?

Recently a vice president of human resources shared with me that he had been approached by another senior executive who was having trouble with a particular employee. When he asked her what the problem was, the other executive informed him that her employee was just not doing the work that was required. In response to her query he asked her, “Are you using the magic words?” Somewhat puzzled she answered, “I guess not because nothing has changed.” Then she asked, “If you don’t mind sharing, what are the magic words?”

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Cues for Connecting with People from Different Generations

Recently a college professor friend of mine told me that one of his younger students would not confront him directly about the struggles that he was having with his class. However, the student did send my friend a private Twitter message that he was needing his help. He replied to the student’s tweet with a tweet of his own inviting the student to come to see him the next day at a specific time during his office hours. Only then did the student

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How to Achieve Recognition Through Results

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.

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Do You Lose Friends and Alienate Others? 12 Suggestions for Talking about Political Topics

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.

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Are We Becoming Past Feeling? Eight Ways to Bring More Light to Your Holiday Season

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?

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How to Know if You are a Fake Talker (Part 3)

Earlier in the year, I identified 14 fake talk tactics (Part 1; Part 2) that people often employ that don’t improve the quality of our conversations. These were helpful in identifying a fake talker. Because some of you have repeatedly asked me for other examples, I have identified another set of behaviors that keep us from talking about what matters most.

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What Should We Remember on Memorial Day? Seven Values To Remember

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.

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What Voices Are You Listening To? Steps toward Achieving a Productive Life

Recently in my community, a respected professional took his life. His wife and children were heart-broken at the passing of their father. This event caused me to ask myself, “What voices am I listening to?” Chris Argyris and his colleague Donald Schon introduced the notion that all of us have an internal voice that is constantly editorializing, analyzing, criticizing, and judging what others say and do. These mental exercises lead us to what they called our “undiscussables”, things we think and feel but don’t share.

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