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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10 Tips for Defusing Defensiveness

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...

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How Can You Make Your Words Work? 10 Tips to Improve the Clarity of Your Conversations

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...

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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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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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