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?
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.
This summer my son, Matthew, and some of his mountain-biking friends decided to ride their bikes down a fairly steep hill. Matt, on a dare, decided to go first. As he sped down the hill, he hit a small dirt mound that catapulted him 10 feet in the air. He came over the handlebars and landed on his shoulder, severing his clavicle from the growth plate on his right shoulder. When I finally arrived on the scene, I knew something was terribly wrong when we removed his t-shirt and could see his clavicle sticking up under the skin.
I really believe that what begins well ends well. It is important to begin a conversation in such a way that allows the other person to hear and think about your message.
Recently, I sat and observed a senior leader begin his conversation with two directors by stating, “As you are probably already thinking….” One director looked at the other and then at their leader and said courageously,
It is not uncommon as we interact with others for individuals to become emotional or defensive in the moment. When this occurs you must remember that their reaction says more about them than it does about you. Why? Because their feelings or reaction were created by them. An individual’s emotional response originates in the negative interpretation or judgment that they are assigning to whatever you are either saying or doing.
For example, have you ever become frustrated with someone who has promised to provide you something that you need by a certain deadline and they frequently fail to deliver? It is...
Jane was sitting in an online meeting where current deadlines were being discussed among team members. At the close of the meeting, Jane’s manager asked if anyone had any other concerns that needed to be addressed. Jane broke the team’s silence by stating that the IT group had committed to solve a software problem for one of her clients by July 1st.
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...
A good friend of mine recently sent me a link to an interesting article. It seems a summer intern was not particularly happy with the strictness of the company’s dress code. This person decided to let the issue go until it was discovered that another company member was allowed to wear cloth shoes and sometimes running shoes.
We are all familiar with the Hans Christian Anderson story of the emperor who thought that he was arrayed in magnificent attire when in reality he was naked. And yet, no one would tell him what was obvious to everyone.
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.
I once worked with a company during a change initiative when a company’s business was not going particularly well. The CEO called a meeting of his upper management to discuss how things weren’t going particularly well. A huge process change was three months behind schedule and already $20 million over budget. He began by opening the meeting with, “I want to know who is responsible for the mess we are in, so we can fix this.”
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.
In one of the first cultural change projects that I worked on, I was tasked with teaching company members process improvement and critical thinking skills. The organization was committed to involving everyone in improving their processes and making a difference in the way they served customers with increased efficiency.
When I first started working in the field of organizational development, my mentors told me three things that I always needed to remember about change: people don’t like it; people don’t understand it; and people won’t like you for trying to implement it. For the most part, I believe that is the case. Why?