“Remember to say what you mean, but don’t say it meanly.”
—Elizabeth George, American writer of the Inspector Lynley mysteries
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I am currently working with a young manager who is preparing a performance review for a colleague who is falling considerably short of the expectations for the job.
He had begun writing his report, and noticed how harsh it appeared. He felt fearful and anxious, considering the likely impact on this individual, whom he must work with each day.
His request for coaching was related to his need to communicate the poor performance in a way that would support openness, and encourage improved performance. He didn’t want to crush this person’s spirit and have them withdraw.
Where in either your professional or personal life do you need to say what you mean in a far more acceptable way? Consider one of my favorite books, Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, to help you. Two additional resources for your consideration on this subject are Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations.
“It’s better to bite your tongue than to eat your words.”
—Frank Sonnenberg, business expert and author
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An important aspect of the coaching process is to significantly increase the self awareness and mindfulness capacities of our clients. With this in mind, listening and paying attention to our inner voices and words before they are put out into the world seems to be wise counsel.
Consider just how much negativity, judgement, and criticism you hear throughout your days. How much do you find yourself contributing to this in your personal or professional communities?
Where would biting your tongue and taking an “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” approach prevent you from eating your words?
Try using the acronym W.A.I.T.: Why. Am. I. Talking. – as a technique to keep your negative inner voice on mute more often.
“Never close your lips to those to whom you have opened your heart.”
—Charles Dickens, 19th Century English writer & social critic
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The alchemy of relationships, particularly close, caring relationships, is very special. Things like trust, respect, cooperation, and love aren’t so easily captured and kept in good repair.
One way to keep and enhance these heartfelt relationships thriving is to place considerable value and time in open and authentic dialogue, in which each party wishes to forward the relationship and the other individual.
When disagreement and conflict occur it is not the time to withdraw and slip into silence. This form of silence can be a death blow to a previously heart-warming relationship.
What current personal or professional relationship is most in need of open dialogue to keep and expand the open-heart feelings that may be slipping away?
“Dialogue is an exchange in which people think together and discover something new.”
—George Kohlrieser, American Clinical Psychologist
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Perhaps no single skill is more important to professional and personal growth than to be a masterful communicator.
In the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie suggests the following:
- Demonstrate genuine interest in others and their ideas
- Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves
- Show respect for others opinions and beliefs
- Avoid arguments, criticism, and judgment
They say two heads are better than one. What can you do to enhance your skills of dialogue to think far better with others and discover many new things through such interactions?
Consider picking up Carnegie’s book to learn more from this pioneer in the field of personal development.
“He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met.”
—Abraham Lincoln, referring to a lawyer
How would you like to be the one talked about in today’s quote?
In a world in which efficient and effective communication is paramount to keeping up with or staying ahead of the pack, this characteristic won’t do.
One of my clients is an expert in the area of cyber-security. He has an amazing ability to communicate big and important ideas on this complex subject in simple, everyday language we can all understand. As you might guess, he has a line of people at his door, hoping he can help them navigate their cyber-security minefields.
What changes can and will you make in your communication efforts to pack the biggest ideas into the smallest word packages to better realize the levels of achievement and success you desire?
“Raise your words not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers not thunder.”
-Rumi, 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic
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A fundamental conversation I have with each new coaching client involves the qualities and characteristics of effective leaders.
The characteristics describing effective leaders include: visionary, passionate, inspiring, empowering, service-oriented, having integrity, and being approachable. The words these leaders use to speak about their views of a better future are like the rain to a flower. They help people and organizations grow.
Alternatively, we have all seen the “Thundering Taskmaster” types who repress and suppress those around them and often create environments of fear, intimidation, and retribution.
What can you do to be the kind of leader that attracts followers by raising your words rather than your voice?
“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”
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During the very early stages of a new coaching relationship, I often give my clients the assignment to describe their best future self. This exercise forces each individual to look deeply at the qualities and characteristics they wish to develop and expand upon during the course of our relationship and beyond.
We employ a strategy in which they examine past and current role models they admire and respect, knowing that if others could act and achieve such remarkable things, it is possible for them as well.
Upon your passing, what would you like others in your personal and professional worlds to say about you?
What adjustment will you make in the way you live today to guarantee this as your legacy?
“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”
One of my favorite and most recommended books on effective communications is titled “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.
The word “fierce” can be defined as robust, intense, strong, powerful, passionate, eager, and unbridled – all of which point to the impact the conversation can make if held with positive intent and mastery.
The problem on many occasions is that most of us avoid such conversations due to the fear that often accompanies high-stakes situations.
Where is it necessary in either your personal or professional life to summon the courage to have more fierce conversations?
Consider reading and studying Scott’s book to tackle tough challenges, tap into your deep aspirations, and enrich the relationships that matter most in your life.
“Be a voice, not an echo.”
-attributed to Albert Einstein
Image from Flickr by Shawn Harquail
For many years I have been a fan of TED talks. The subtitle for these 15-20 minute presentations is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” In recent years, this format has expanded worldwide through the TEDx format. Most major cities have held numerous conferences where local leaders and influencers give voice to their best ideas.
In a world of social media and sound bites, many of us often find ourselves reposting and retweeting, echoing ideas from others that certainly inform and entertain.
Where and in what ways can you better capture your voice and share your best ideas with others in your professional and personal communities?
If you were asked to give your own TED talk, what topic would you choose?