Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Just Simply ASK, for Breakthrough Communications

Posted in Blog on August 9th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

The idiom ‘herding cats’ brings a visual image, from the award winning commercial, of a cowboy with his trusty lasso stating anyone can heard cattle but herding cats is another thing altogether. The coordination of many different groups or people, within organizations, is as difficult as ‘herding cats’. With the need for quick results we don’t have the time to build consensus, ensure everyone is on the same page and ultimately coordinate different groups and people with different thinking styles. Thus, disagreements or misunderstandings can arise between employees, colleagues and even customers. The individual gets under your skin, causing your emotions to come to the forefront and you react to that situation, not putting your most effective behavior forward.

ask a questionOne of my clients is wrestling with a difficult and demanding customer. I outlined the following process for her to keep things on track while taking the emotion out of the situation. My process is called ASK.

Acknowledge
The first step is to recognize an individual’s feelings and let them know they’ve been heard. By acknowledging the individual’s feelings, experiences and challenges you are going a long way to resolving the disagreement or misunderstanding. This lets them know you not only heard them but you are listening to what they said. Showing empathy can help them avoid focusing on the negative or why things went wrong and move in a positive direction towards achieving the goal. Examples of phrases or questions to Acknowledge include:

  • “I hear what you are saying.”
  • “What I heard you say is…”
  • “Help me better understand what you are feeling.”
  • “This must be hard for you.”
  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “I can tell you are frustrated, let’s work together to resolve this.”

Watch out: The goal in this step is NOT to solve the problem but rather to diffuse the situation and take the emotion out so ‘cooler heads prevail’. This isn’t about admitting wrong doing or placing blame but rather showing empathy and recognizing how the other person is feeling, whether you agree with them or not. This lets the individual know that you appreciate their feelings and you want to work with them to resolve the disagreement or misunderstanding.

Situation Analysis
We pride ourselves in our ability to solve problems and when disagreement occurs, we naturally want to fix it. However, this can leave the other individual questioning whether you truly understand the situation, from their perspective. This leads to a breakdown in communication. In this step, you want to ensure you both share the same understanding about the Situation and uncover the facts. Most people are rock stars gathering the facts but not necessarily understanding the other individual’s point of view. By asking open ended questions, asking for clarity and summarizing what you’ve heard, you will ensure breakthrough communications in this step.

  • “Help me better understand the situation.”
  • “How would you like it to be?”
  • “What are your expectations?”
  • “What have you already tried?”
  • “What worked; what didn’t work?”
  • “What do you think will dramatically improve this situation?”
  • “What is one thing I can do to improve this situation?”
  • “Here’s what I hear you saying, is that correct?”

Watch out: Don’t make assumptions that you know what’s occurred but rather be curious and listen for content or new data points that you may otherwise miss. And don’t forget to keep your emotions in check. Operating at the emotional level can cloud solid decision making, causing you to lose sight of the overarching goal which is to gain agreement on the facts surrounding the situation.

TaKe Action
Now that you’ve acknowledged feelings and gotten a solid grasp of the situation; you are ready to TaKe Action. This is where you discuss the next steps and the necessary actions to resolve the disagreement or misunderstanding. It should be clear who is accountable for what action and when. Examples of phrases or questions to TaKe Action include:

  • “Here’s what I’m committing to do, what are you committing to do?”
  • “What specific steps do you want to take? Here’s the steps I will take.”
  • “As a result of our conversation, I will take the following steps.”
  • “Have I fully addressed your concerns?”
  • “What will you do and when will you do it?”
  • “How would you like to measure success?”

Watch out: Without this third step, you risk thinking there is agreement on the next steps when there isn’t. It’s important to agree on key actions and how you will measure success to reach the desired outcome. This will prevent future misunderstandings.

I promise if you simply ASK, you will avoid the common pitfalls associated with disagreements and misunderstandings. These three steps lead to breakthrough communications, even with the most difficult and demanding people.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Success Breeds Success: Your Top 100 Accomplishments

Posted in Blog on January 9th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

The phrase Success Breeds Success points to the notion that when you are successful it paves the way for further success.  To help my clients here, I challenge them to create a list of their top accomplishments.  They take this challenge on with abandon until they hear my ask; “I want you to create a list of 100 accomplishments from the past year”.  The typical response is; “are you kidding me, 100?”  Or “there is no way I can come up with that many.”  After the initial shock wears off, my clients are excited thinking about all they’ve done even if there’s still a little trepidation mixed in with the prospect of coming up with this magnitude of accomplishments.

Before we jump in, let’s look at the business case for why this is essential to your success as a leader.  I was speaking with one of my clients who told me his manager stated he didn’t have any experience in removing obstacles and getting everyone on the same page.  My client was shocked.  He told me he does this every day and was puzzled how his manager didn’t have a clue this was a strength.  Through our coaching we uncovered while he has great success here, he doesn’t communicate the incremental wins until the project is completed.  The problem lies in the only in-depth conversation with his manager is when he reaches an obstacle he can’t solve at his level, leaving the impression he is not good at removing all obstacles.  In fact, he is very good at removing obstacles and is the go-to for many of his co-workers.  However, there are times where things require a higher level of oversight and his manager is interpreting this as a weakness.

Whatever your situation, I bet you don’t update your manager with all the things you do to make a project successful.  Learning from this situation, my client is letting his manager know, “hey the project is on-time but we ran into a snafu and I had to do these three things to keep it on track”, essentially communicating how he removed the obstacles.  Let’s dive in and create your list of 100 accomplishments.

Step 1

Reserve time on your calendar, initially I suggest reserving 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to create your list of accomplishments.  You will need to schedule additional blocks of time to finish your list.  I prefer reserving time at the end of the day, but any time that works for you is best.  You will find accomplishments pop into your head, so keep this list handy, allowing you to add these new thoughts to your list.  But remember your goal is 100 accomplishments and this takes your commitment to keep at it until you are done!  I challenge my clients to come up with the first 25 in their first sitting.  Then I ask them to set time aside for the next 25 accomplishments.  It typically gets harder at this point which takes us to the next step.

Step 2

If you are having trouble coming up with your 100 accomplishments, break each of these items into smaller accomplishments.  Here’s some guidance.  Let’s look at a real accomplishment from a client; Implemented the change initiative throughout the division.  This is a great accomplishment, I bet this took a lot to implement this change and get everyone on board.  With that in mind, this can be broken down into several discrete accomplishments.  Using this as an example, think about the people that you had to gain buy-in from, the challenges or obstacles that you had to remove and the leadership you showed to bring the team along.  Maybe there was a communication plan you had to develop or training you had to deliver.  The point is, each of these actions, while they led to the larger accomplishment, they are accomplishments in and of themselves.  Don’t sell yourself short of all it takes to do what you do.  You should be a lot closer to that elusive 100 target.

Step 3

What themes stand out for you as you read your 100 accomplishments?  You should see your key areas of strength, e.g. solving problems no one else can solve or bringing disparate people together for problem resolution.  Identify three to four themes.  An example of one of my client’s three themes are the following: Business Improvement, Connects the Dots and Coaching/Mentoring.  These are all areas of strength for her.  Through our coaching, we added a fourth category, Clear and Concise Communications.  This last theme is a development area she is working on.  By tracking this, it helps her remain accountable and enables her to see all the progress she is making as she lists examples of where she is improving.

Success breeds success.  Congratulations, you should be proud of all you have accomplished!  I bet it feels good reviewing this list which fuels further motivation.  Without getting into the scientific side of things, reviewing and reflecting on your list ignites a feel-good response in your brain.  This is a great way to boost your confidence and feel proud of all you do.  Review your list at regular intervals and use this boost as motivation to continue attracting even greater success.

But don’t stop there.  Your manager probably knows you successfully completed that important project but does he or she know what it took to get there?  Share this in your one-on-one’s, end of quarter as well as input into your annual review or whenever you have an opportunity to let others know all you do.  This is how you position yourself for greater leadership success.

I suggest doing this for the prior year but get started on the current year too.  It’s so much easier when you keep this file open, on your desk top or wherever you do your thinking, and add accomplishments as you go.  Good luck and wishing you continued success!

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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How do you differentiate yourself and add value in your job?

Posted in Blog on February 17th, 2015 by Admin Jones – 1 Comment

How do you differentiate yourself and add value in your jobWhat is unique about you? How are you distinct? The answer to these questions will help you zero in on your differentiation. Most people struggle describing and communicating their point of differentiation. However, it’s important to communicate this since it positions you as an expert in a particular area. As a result, you become a valuable resource that people, within your company, call upon. Think of differentiation this way, it’s what you do when you do what you do. What I mean by this statement is it’s not about the actual work you do that differentiates you but rather your style and approach as you do your job. It’s these unique qualities or traits that sets you apart and differentiates you from others with which you work. How you differentiate yourself determines where you add value to your role, on your team, in your department and overall in your organization.

It’s essential to give this some thought and ensure you are positioning yourself in situations where you can add the greatest value. Maybe you’re really good at solving complex problems. Or adept at bringing disparate people together. Or maybe it’s the ability to see patterns emerge where others may not. Whatever it is, think about what you do that differentiates you. Try this fill in the blank exercise:

I differentiate myself when I ____________.

This shouldn’t be overly complicated, keep it simple. What is one way you differentiate yourself today? Focus on the things you already do and do with ease. Now share this with people on your team or in your department and get feedback. Ask if this is what they would say about you. Once you’ve gotten feedback and validation, it’s important to leverage this in all of your interactions. Armed with this statement you can let people know how you can best help them and when they can leverage your unique approach. This simple statement will help position your point of differentiation and set you apart from your colleagues in the areas where you add the greatest value to your organization. How do you differentiate yourself and add value in your job?

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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One, Two, Cha – Cha – Cha; Three, Four, Cha – Cha – Cha

Posted in Blog on October 2nd, 2014 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

Communicating to Gain Buy-In

Now that I’ve got your attention, this isn’t a dance lesson but rather a lesson on how to communicate more effectively to gain buy-in. If you’re wondering what the tie in is with communication and the famous Cuban ballroom dance it brings to mind a client I was coaching who was constantly frustrated when people didn’t process at the same rate he spoke. He was ultimately talking at them, not to them so when he communicated their eyes glazed over and he got frustrated when they couldn’t keep up. In our coaching sessions we discussed how to modify his communication style by adjusting the manner in which he delivered information to be more effective.

cha cha chaThrough our discussions he discovered he was throwing a lot of information at people and needed to give them a moment to process, we called this his Cha – Cha – Cha moment. He literally focused on these three words which made him smile and enabled him to pause and ensure he was truly engaging them.

Think about the types of conversations you have on a day-to-day basis and how a Cha – Cha – Cha moment could add value. Whether in one-to-one, one-to-few (meetings, conference or web based calls or a gathering where everyone is effectively sitting around a table, in person or virtually) or one-to-many (presentations or conveying information to a large group of people), it’s imperative to ensure you’re communicating effectively in each of these interactions and don’t miss the important cues that will enable you to gain buy-in for your idea or initiative. To do this, consider these four strategies to be a more effective communicator:

1. Ask questions. Slow down and give people a chance to digest and process the information you are delivering. Clarify and ask, are you with me or what additional information do you need? Your ability to engage more with your audience, in a two-way dialogue, will ensure you don’t lose them from the onset.

2. Read your audience. Be aware of body language and facial expressions such as folded arms, a far-away gaze or even a scowl. Imagine instead smiling faces, direct eye contact and heads nodding. Research shows that when communicating, non-verbal represents 55% of how a message is received. If you aren’t listening to body language then you are missing a key piece of communication. Non-verbal cues can speak louder and provide you with insight into how your audience is connecting with your message.

If your interactions are primarily virtual there’s also a big aha moment. While 45% of how a message is received is through our verbal communication, a whopping 38% of this is communicated through the tone of your voice and your accompanying voice inflection. Ultimately it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes the greatest impact!

3. Be an active listener. Focusing solely on your agenda and the points you want to get across can be a real turn-off, people feel like you are talking at them. Why do they feel like this? This happens for a variety of reasons; they are probably not invested like you are in the subject matter or you’ve simply not given them a reason to be a believer like you are. If you want converts you have to listen and look for ways to engage your audience.

Before any critical communication, think about the topic from your audience’s point of view. What’s in it for them? How will they benefit? And what’s the real take-away for them? We typically want to share everything we know when in reality we should simply stop talking and listen more. In group discussions, don’t immediately jump in without taking a Cha – Cha – Cha moment. Sometimes we jump in without fully understanding the nature or the context of a comment. Instead, stop and think before responding. This will ensure people don’t feel like you are talking at them but rather truly listening to them and their concerns.

4. Practice, practice, practice so this comes naturally! And find someone you trust who can give you feedback or signal you when you get off course.

Incorporating these four simple strategies will help you engage with your audience and gain buy-in more quickly. So create your Cha – Cha – Cha moments and communicate more effectively.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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