Tag Archives: communication

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filtering information

Are You Filtering Information, Should You?

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What is your understanding of information filters? Should we be filtering information? If yes, what or how should we be doing it?

When you shop online, browse eBay, or look for a book on Amazon, do you use filters? The information filter in these cases helps us to narrow our search, be more precise, and find the stuff we really want.

We may find the shoes we like, the good deal on something gently used, or be sure that we are reading what we want to read. The same is true for the podcast listener and video watcher.

Filtering information may make it easier, better, and faster for us to get right to the information we want. Is this a great thing or a limiting factor?

Easy Filters

What if we only listen to what we agree with? Imagine we only read what makes complete sense or suggests a position that favors our perspective. What about when we only watch news or access videos, movies, or documentaries that we are comfortable with and believe to be the truth?

Are these filters helpful? Information gets in our head, it helps steer us in a direction. It likely guides or persuades our buying patterns, the brands we love, and our view of life as it should be.

Challenging Filters

On the other hand, sometimes we need a different filter. We need to remove the unhealthy criticism, the social media aspersion, or the feedback that breaks us down instead of builds us up.

We need to get out of our head, stop reminding ourselves of failures, setbacks, and unlucky situations. A filter can prevent us from reliving past bad experiences that create a harsh negative fantasy of the doom that awaits or lingers.

Filtering Information

The truth is that filters can help make us believe everything is right, good, and provide the confirmation that our ideas are correct, spot on, and the way it should be. These filters are easy, comforting, and inspire confidence.

The other filters, the ones that cause us to question our judgment, assess our position, or force us to think differently are harder to work with. They test our character, integrity, and ethics. We may feel a pinch, some discomfort, and want to look away. Perhaps we can learn something or should we just ignore it all?

As We See It

We probably need some of both kinds of filters, but remember most of us are not seeing the world exactly as we should.

Occasionally every filter needs cleaned or replaced.

Listen more, care more, and learn. It matters for doing your best work.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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stop listening

When To Stop Listening and Other Failures

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Listening is one of the most important parts of communication. It is also the most taken for granted. Do you know when to stop listening?

A few years ago, I was facilitating a session with a group of senior managers and executives about communication. During a subgroup breakout portion, I overheard the CEO say, “It is impossible for us to fail.”

It grabbed my attention and I listened more carefully. At first, I thought perhaps he was mocking a comment from someone else, soon I realized he was completely serious. It told me a lot. A lot about his Company and it provided the only answer I needed about why we were there in the first place.

Generations of Ownership

This business is in its second or third generation of family ownership. In terms of workforce generations this CEO is a traditional. It includes a disruptive workforce resisting a turnover to the next in line in the family tree.

I have often wondered about the long-term positioning for their future.

“Impossible to fail” can probably be translated to, “We have stopped listening.”

A service and technology driven economy have cause many shifts in many sectors. This business was an exception. An exception because there hasn’t been a shift. There hasn’t been a shift for decades. Sure, they’ve installed some technology, but only for metrics and measurements.

Don’t get me wrong, metrics and measurements are critical, but the culture of the organization is still in the 1970’s or 1980’s at best. Who wants to work there? It is an easy answer, very few. Pay scales also tend to match the decade correlation of culture, which makes it even more difficult.

Stop Listening

My presence with this team was really a recognized effort to appease and silence the management team critics. The C-Suite team was hearing the outcry of need, but change was really about everyone else. They weren’t listening.

My impression is that the Company is not doing any better today.

When should you stop listening?

The answer is easy, “Never.”

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Have effective meetings

Do You Have Effective Meetings?

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Are meetings really just a waste of time? Organizations of all types and all sizes often believe that they get work done through meetings. They improve communication, adjust focus, and motivate the team. Do you have effective meetings?

Most likely, the difference between doing good work and doing great work has something to do with what happens between meetings. Are your meetings setting the stage for the proper outcomes?

Belief About Meetings

Often the belief is that meetings are held to improve communication, yet the dynamics of the group often create an environment that doesn’t share, but chooses to withhold information. Yes, it is true.

The other common belief is that more communication will improve miscommunication. This is of course, very unlikely.

Show me an organization with a staff of more than a dozen employees and I’ll show you an organization that likely believes they have some communication challenges. Do meetings really make this better? It may depend on the purpose, but it will always depend the preparation.

Organizers and Planners

In order to make the most of what happens between meetings you should ask some questions before getting started on planning your next meeting:

What is the purpose of this meeting?

What is the desired outcome?

Who should be invited?

What is the best use of everyone’s time?

Where should the meeting be held?

Who will monitor or pursue accountability for recommendations, actions, solutions, to-do’s, measurements, metrics, and goals?

Who has the authority to make the decisions, are they invited and are they attending?

What is the budget?

How will priorities be set?

Is this a recurring meeting? Is it a task force, committee, or project management gathering?

Meeting Participants

And for the attendees:

How will you prepare?

What solutions have you thought of?

Have you met or exceeded the objectives?

What is the most constructive recommendation you can bring forward at this time?

Are you committed to outcomes and keeping the meeting productive?

Have Effective Meetings

Most important of all is when a meeting lacks focus on measuring effectiveness; chances are substantially higher that participants have labeled them a waste of time. Mind-set is critical and recurring meetings become part of the culture.

If you’re working for what happens between the meetings, keep them brisk, effective, and performance measurable.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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listening improves customer service

How Listening Improves Customer Service

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Many organizations who actually take the time to self-reflect suggest that one area they could improve is in their communication. Listening is one of the most fundamental and easily improved skills. Have you considered how listening improves customer service?

As a business consultant and organization development professional, I hear it all the time. I hear it mostly because I am listening, listening carefully and watch the non-verbal cues. Many businesses believe they are too good to change.

Their focus is either on the CEO’s area of expertise, often a technical skill, or on getting more sales. Neither of these are a problem, until; their focus becomes their blind spot.

Blind Spots

I’ve heard CEO’s of small businesses ($15k – $65k annual revenue) repeatedly suggest that they are too big to fail. Some of them flat out say it. Others are saying it when you listen through the words.

If you’re following along closely, you might wonder why I’m even in the room? Think about that for a moment. Honestly, I’m typically there because someone on the team has suggested to bring me in and the top brass tolerates it because they hope it will silence the team.

Now, I’m not bashing my clients, not at all. I’m honestly trying to help. However, too big to fail sometimes equates to too big to listen. This is most likely why the second string in the C Suite has recommended we work together. The first string tolerates it, again hoping to calm the restless.

Besides, they would never want to be accused of not supporting the team. The team needs this, but perhaps they do not, at least that may be the thought.

Customer Service Connection

The customer service connection should be starting to become clear. We’re in a service oriented economy. That isn’t really new, it has been shifting for decades, and many believe that it is accelerating.

In a service economy, the most valuable core principles should be closely aligned with [customer] service. This is important internally and externally. It is important for sales, brand promise, and understanding lifetime value.

Where are most organizations focused? They are focused on the external, closing the sale, increasing profit, and forging new relationships. Certainly, of course they are, as they should be. However, their focus on external push often eliminates listening to the service requirements.

Listening Improves Customer Service

How does this happen? Too big to fail, equates to too big to listen, which makes their actions and behaviors consistent with too big to care.

Caring is one of the most violated principles in a service economy. They may care, but sometimes they care incorrectly. Caring about closing the sale is sometimes not the same as caring enough to listen.

Listening, that is where it all starts. Not hearing, but listening.

In case you’re wondering, there is a difference.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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in a vacuum appreciative strategies

Does Your Best Work Happen In a Vacuum?

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How do you create your best work, alone or with help? Certainly, sometimes a lack of interruptions equates to more productivity, but for most, the real work comes about from collectively working with others. Would you create more success or less by working in a vacuum?

Less Interference and More Productivity

Doing it all is a large task, and one that probably will lack efficiency, insight, and will only fulfill the needs of the few. Employees sometimes argue that they could accomplish more with fewer meetings, fewer interruptions of their work, and by cutting back on their reporting requirements.

Different but somehow similar, employees might wish their inbound email would decrease. They may wish the questions from others wouldn’t be so silly, and even that their phone would stop ringing.

Still there is more, there are the employees who just want to sell, the ones who only want to design, and the ones who just want to count the money.

Certainly, capitalizing on the true talents and interests of each employee is valuable. Depending on the job, time set aside to concentrate and think about what you are doing might help to create some great work. Getting away from unproductive meetings and compiling unread reports may help too.

In a Vacuum

Chances are great though that your best work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It doesn’t happen without help, influence, and the trial and error that involves others. It doesn’t happen without good communication, or with no communication at all.

Your best work may come from combining the insights from others, even when you disagree, even when you believe there is a different path, and especially when you’ve hit a few stumbling blocks.

One person may be great at marketing and another great at sales. There are also those who are great at design and some that are exceptional at the build. Still some will be the best with money management and others thrive with keeping everyone accountable to the plan.

Best Work

The ones who figure this out early and understand that they need more input, more thoughts, and more capabilities will usually achieve more.

The best way to move a heavy object is with leverage. It works for big success too.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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website changed

The Website Changed, I’m Lost

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Boredom makes most people feel unhappy. It may also inspire them to find something to do, something that takes up time and changes the outcome. In a technology driven world, most of us are logging on. What feeling do you have when you notice the website changed?

Most of us like and enjoy progress. Many of us hate relearning something that we see no value in, is a website change a customer service story. You bet, because all of the users of the site are customers.

Website Changed

Passwords are necessary to hold back the hackers. Even people who leave their Facebook page open on their phone may be surprised to find some silly post one of their otherwise bored teenagers decided to playfully do on their behalf.

I’m not sure if this applies to everyone, but for some reason I have a visual connection with remembering my password. Change my log in screen and I can’t remember the password.

Passwords are annoying and represent one of the pains we are currently dealing with as a user. There must be a better way.

Websites are a touch point with your customer. They are supposed to be easy to use, intuitive, and friendly. Are they?

Perhaps we can suggest that some of them are, or even that many of them are—until they change. Then we might become lost.

Standards of Communication

There is an attempt at standards. Green buttons should be for go, buttons labeled “next” should move us forward, and “submit” should indicate that we are sending the information. Most work in this manner but not all.

The websites that we use, the standards that we become accustom to, and the buttons that we click are a form of communication. Communication is the foundation for building an exceptional customer experience.

Knowing how to fix the website, how to make it better when you are bored, or when you believe that it is getting stale may involve technical skills, but to keep customers happy it is more about communication.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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ask more questions

Leadership Habit 44: Ask More Questions

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Communication is critical. Nearly everyone expresses the importance of communication but have you thought about your communication habits? Should you ask more questions?

It’s not uncommon, people communicate to be heard. Sometimes asking questions can be more valuable than telling. When you truly understand the value in communication you might discover that it is more important to listen.

Asking questions creates an environment for listening. Will more questions improve communication?

Ask More Questions

More questions help to improve communication in many ways. Here are a dozen of many:

  1. Drive purpose. Besides income, people connect with their job based on purpose.
  2. Clarify assumptions. Confusion often exists between design and the final outcome.
  3. Allow for new directions. Shift thinking or pivot to new areas of focus.
  4. Prompt more questions. More questions might be the best way to get things right, the first time.
  5. Set vision. What will it look like? Everyone will get a better picture when their questions are answered.
  6. Invite creativity. There might be more than one way or one possibility.
  7. Restore hope. Doubts set limits and hold things back. Questioning the possibilities sometimes restores hope.
  8. Create flexibility. Rules and guidelines are very important, so is a reasonable amount of flexibility.
  9. Confirm actions. Getting things right will lead to more future success.
  10. Set examples. Wondering what happens next. Ask and you’ll know.
  11. Change attitudes. Understand what makes the effort worthwhile.
  12. Drive better habits. What you question might be your focus. Focus on better habits.

Have you ever considered how questions can become the game changer? Instead of demands, rules, and policies, questions might the best way to send your message.

Communication is Critical

If you believe communication is critical then having a habit of asking more questions just might make things easier.

You really have nothing to lose, only more to gain.

Are you asking enough questions?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service culture appreciative strategies

When Communication Drives Customer Service Culture

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Ask an organization about their customer service and they’ll often tell you a lot. It’s not uncommon that they believe they are doing great, or at least doing okay. Does internal communication drive customer service culture?

Occasionally when I’m working with a client I might ask how they measure customer service. It is not uncommon to get responses such as:

“No worries, if we screw something up our customers let us know.”

“We send out a survey every month, responses are typically very favorable.”

“We get a lot of feedback, most of it is positive.”

Some customers never complain, some will never fill out a satisfaction survey, and some will elect not to tell you of a shortcoming. However, they might tell a dozen of their friends.

Internal Communication

Customer service is driven, at least in part, by the internal communication. Communication and the culture of the organization set the tone for the customer experience.

Here are three common communication and cultural pitfalls:

  • Sales performance. The logic here is that sales performance is okay. If it were really bad or slowing we might have to dig deeper to understand if we have a customer service problem. Since most of the feedback offered by customers is good and our sales are stable or growing we’re doing okay. Just keep doing what we’re doing.
  • Customer education. Sometimes the belief is that the customer is not very smart. They wouldn’t be having problems if they only knew how to use the product or its associated tools. Certainly sometimes educating the customer is important, but assuming that the customer will figure it out is a dangerous proposition. Inappropriately stereotyping ignorance might be the fastest way to lose market share.
  • Accepted quality. Striving for exceptional quality requires constant effort. It might also require rework and do over’s. Forcing your customers to make your (inferior) quality their quality is never a good idea. Customers might accept a lot of levels of quality, but when your quality doesn’t measure up, they might go somewhere else.

Customer Service Culture

What do you hear in your organization? What is the internal communication?

“Sales are okay. We’re doing okay.”

“The customer is an idiot.”

“Looks good enough, ship it and we’ll see what happens.”

What is the talk?

Communication drives culture.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Meeting Management: How Long Should Meetings Last?

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Make no mistake about it. Meetings can be both valuable and important. The question many people ask about meeting management is, “How long should the meeting last?”

Meeting Management Appreciative Strategies

Just to be clear, there are many different types of meetings. There are status meetings and update meetings. There are the meetings known as staff meetings, manager meetings, sales meetings, and roll out meetings. Let’s not forget about the idea of brainstorming meetings, project meetings, and the meeting about the meeting.

Communication and Attention Span

Meetings are typically about communication. In fact, I can’t think of a meeting scenario that isn’t involving the need for effective communication. So we might ask ourselves, “How long can we hold the participants attention?”

Interest in the topic will have a lot to do with the attention span. People binge watch a television series on NetFlix for hours and hours, they are captivated by the unfolding plot, episode after episode.

Certainly this might be quite different from a workplace meeting even though you might argue that there is often drama in both.

Conferences, training sessions, and other forms of educational endeavors might continue on for hours, some of this goes back to participant attention and desired outcomes.

Brain Power

Should we consider brain power or cognitive factors?  I think this is where the real answer to the question exists. If meeting participants are expected to brainstorm, make good decisions, or come up with solutions for problems then it only makes sense that you want the best from them.

Have you read the book, Willpower? If the concept of the psychology behind willpower interests you at all, this is a great read. I especially enjoyed the chapter, Decision Fatigue.

My synopsis of this chapter is that there are several key factors associated with the ability to make good choices. We might consider things like nutrition, stress, and the amount of choices involved.

People often associate physical activity with the need for fuel (food), but mental activity requires a great deal of energy (fuel) too. This might be justification for having food or snacks at your meeting!

Meeting Management

So what is the answer?  How long should meetings last?

The obvious answer might be that it depends. Another answer might be, as long as productivity for the desired outcome continues. Yet another answer might be until the desire outcome is achieved. If the meeting begins to become unproductive and the outcome hasn’t been achieved you might need to reconvene at another time.

Are you looking for the answer to the weekly or monthly sales meeting, staff meeting, or other routine information sharing and gathering sessions?

Most experts would probably advise creating and committing to an agenda of less than 60 minutes.

Do you have an opinion about meeting management and length? What is your experience?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Start Listening For Facts, It Might Change Your Career

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People talk, and sometimes people listen. Have you ever truly considered what you are hearing? Are you listening for facts?

Listening for facts

One of the biggest struggle spots with our communication, or perhaps miscommunication comes from our listening skills. Of course this is not a surprise but have you ever stopped to consider how you are speaking or what you are hearing?

Listening is not the same as hearing. We hear sounds, noises, and even voices. Hearing is instinctual, it comes naturally. Listening is a developed skill.

Speaking With Opinions

Many people speak with opinions. They offer their beliefs, values, or understandings as being factual even though they might be nothing more than their opinion.

  1. We went to the movies last night and saw the best movie ever!
  2. Try the peanut butter pie at Frank’s Restaurant on the corner of 4th and Elm. They have the best peanut butter pie.
  3. Sally is such a morning person.
  4. I’ve known Jack for years. He is a really nice guy.
  5. Please email me the report when you are finished. I need it sooner rather than later.

While we are navigating our life or our workplace, we often accept what we hear as being completely factual. In addition, misunderstandings often happen when our message is not clear.

Listening For Facts

Let’s consider the statements just presented, only this time, let’s look for them to be more factual.

  1. We saw a great movie last night. I thought it was the better than most because in the end the underdog came out on top.
  2. I’ve had peanut butter pie at many restaurants, the one I like the best is at Frank’s Restaurant on the corner of 4th and Elm.
  3. Sally always gets to work in the morning before I do.
  4. Whenever I see Jack he smiles and shakes my hand.
  5. When you finish with the report please email it to me. I need it before my 9:00 AM meeting tomorrow.

Clearer, more precise, perhaps a little longer sometimes, but speaking with facts helps everyone develop a better understanding. One problem is that many of us not only speak with our opinions, but we try to make it very compelling so the listener is accepting it as being factual.

Career Changer

There is great value in understanding more about facts and opinions, especially when buying or selling. When you are selling, you’ll want to be very compelling. Even when it is just your ideas being sold to your boss or the board of directors.

Listen to yourself, be aware of the messages you are sending. We might have strong feelings about many things in life, but if we want accuracy we should be more careful about how we communicate.

Consequences for not understanding the difference between a fact and an opinion can be big. Miscommunication and misunderstandings are costly for businesses and perhaps costly for your career.

When we are hurried or trying to do two things at once, we often don’t listen well. That is a fact.

Take the time, or make the time. Start listening for facts.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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