Do Your Questions Really Matter? 4 Types of Questions to Improve Results

Many years ago, I was assigned a business coach as part of my professional development plan. At first I didn’t really think that I needed a coach to help me grow and develop in my career aspirations. Then one day when things were not going particularly well, she asked me, “If you could paint a picture for me of how you are feeling at this moment, how would it look?”

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Your Awareness Can Improve Your Results! 7 Questions for Improving Your Results in the New Year

During the holidays, my youngest children rigged a booby trap in our Christmas tree, so if Santa Claus touched the tree a little bell would sound the alarm. I was really quite amazed at their ingenuity in an attempt to catch the old elf delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. The entire situation made me reflect on the importance of the alarms that are present in our lives. These alarms act as a warning that we are moving or steering off course.

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What Kind of a Listener Are You? (Part 2)

Last week I identified six different types of listeners that you may encounter and what you might do to help improve the listening experience with them. On the other hand, if you discovered that you tend to listen in a certain way, hopefully you can begin to recognize how others may perceive your behavior. Increasing awareness of your listening behavior will allow you to make some changes if you discover that your listening is less than effective.

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What We Can Learn from Our Fathers

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day that is set aside for celebrating and honoring our fathers. Whatever your personal circumstance, there are things that we can learn from our fathers or the father figures in our lives that will help us to not only be better people but also help us to decide who we want to become and how we want to influence others. My father was a good example to me and had many characteristics that I admire. His example taught me a lot about strengthening relationships and influencing others for good. Here are a few examples of things I learned from him that have made a real difference in the way I interact with others.

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Do Your Stories Keep You Stuck?

I recently went to lunch with a friend who works as a therapist. We began talking about how the stories that we often tell become the reason that we become stuck or unable to move forward in obtaining those goals or objectives that we say are important to us. He told me of a woman who met with him that insisted that she needed his help convincing her husband that he was wrong and that she was right. When he asked her in what way she wanted to be right, she responded with something like this: “He is a lazy lout.

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Do Your People Give You What You Want Every Time?

Several years ago I was coaching an executive sales team. During the meeting, someone brought up that the salespeople in the field were struggling. The VP of Sales said something like, “I have been meaning to address that for some time. We really do need to do a better job of training our people.” I was present a couple of months later when one of the directors walked into the room before the meeting began and threw a huge three-ringed binder on the conference table as he exclaimed, “Here it is.”

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Can You Manage Up? Eight Questions for Increasing Your Influence

As I travel around the country speaking and training people to hold potentially difficult conversations, I am frequently asked if the skills and processes which I teach can be used with one’s boss. I forcefully affirm that one can be more effective as a communicator no matter to whom they may be speaking. Many times people respond with something like, “Well, sure it works if they have had the training.”

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Criticism is Not Feedback: Seven Questions for Understanding the Source of Your Frustrations

The summer between the second and third year of law school is the most important for finding a job after graduation. I was fortunate to secure a fantastic internship with a law firm that specialized in disaster litigation in the Western United States. I learned a lot during that summer and really enjoyed my experience. However, my supervising attorney severely lacked the communication skills fitting someone of his position. One of the most demeaning things he did was to refer to me as “Dumb - - - -.” He used this disparaging term any time he addressed me. After enduring...

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How Can You Increase Innovation through Collaboration? 9 Tips for Successful Change

During the last several weeks, I had the opportunity to speak to a wonderful group of leaders at a very large company in the Midwestern United States about how to increase innovation through collaboration. This singular organization is trying to change its culture by involving its individual associates in making a difference to the success of their business by improving any process that directly impacts their customers. Such an endeavor is not only admirable, but absolutely essential to their future viability in the marketplace. Any change of this magnitude is always fraught with challenges because people often meet change with resistance....

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What People Wished Their Leaders Knew

During my years as a consultant, I have often had people say to me, “I wish my leader knew …” to which I would encourage the individual to speak up and raise an issue of real concern so things might improve. When I did this, I often got the following responses: “It won’t make a difference.” “I don’t want to get in trouble.” “It will just make them mad.” Whatever the excuse for not speaking up, I noticed that most people were afraid of the consequences. Perhaps they thought negative things would occur because of the team atmosphere. However, I found that it didn’t...

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Six Questions to Help You See More Clearly and Increase the Power of Your Presence

Years ago during my first job in corporate America, I experienced firsthand the power of presence. There was a woman in my department that everyone referred to as "Crazy Mary." I thought the reference was uncalled for--until I had an experience with her. Once day she called me into her office to review the progress I was making with a project she had assigned to me. She was more than cordial as we discussed my work and review the milestones of the project. I remember thinking as I left her office how kind and considerate she had been. The very next day, she came into my cubicle and demanded I follow her immediately into her office. When I entered her office, she began to yell and belittle me for the very accomplishments that she had complimented me for on the previous day.

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