Tag Archives: communication

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good listening

Good Listening Requires Great Effort

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As a general rule everyone can be a good listener. Good listening is not an instinctive process, rather it is a developed skill that requires great effort.

It is funny, observations of workplaces struggling with communication challenges. The first thing they often do is attempt to have more communication.

Meetings increase in size and number of occurrences. Email lists grow, making sure everyone is copied. Time spent communicating increases but does the effectiveness?

We use the words hearing and listening synonymously. Yet, they really are not the same thing.

Assuming no disabilities, we hear sounds, noises, and people. Hearing is an instinctual process. Good listening is a developed skill.

Good Listening

Many people are lazy listeners. It is probably safe to say that most people are lazy listeners. We listen only to what we want, things that require little effort, or things we find enjoyable.

Everything else, it gets tuned out.

In the workplace, many people have already decided it is not worth the effort. Someone is complaining, someone else is blaming, and the boss, well, he or she is just micromanaging. Tuned out.

Great listening comes from high energy people. It is sparked by interest, sometimes fear, and always takes effort.

Great Effort

Effort to sort the information, qualify it appropriately, comprehend, remove bias, stereotyping, and other filters. When our emotions get activated it can enhance our listening or have us applying filters that mean we absorb the communication different from its intention.

It is not impossible to be a great communicator. It is not impossible to be a great listener.

Are you committed enough to put in the effort? Do you care enough?

More communication isn’t always the answer. In fact, it often makes things worse.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace success

What Do You Know About Workplace Success?

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How would you describe success? Does everyone describe it the same way? Workplace success may be as individual as soda, pop, or cola.

Communicating in your workplace has its share of challenges. We are all experiencing things like too much, too little, and misunderstood communication.

Are the words you use effective?

Choose Wisely

We use words to communicate meaning, yet there are times when we blur those lines.

Someone says, “I need a pencil.” Then someone hands them a pen.

“I’m stopping for coffee.” May be as different as hot and black is to
mocha caffe latte, iced.

Most people wouldn’t dare to think about wearing (only) underwear on the beach. (I know I wouldn’t.) Yet, a bikini seems just fine. There seems to be something visually different, is there?

We use words to convey meaning. When we are thinking about the meaning of workplace success, there is more than one meaning.

Workplace Success

Success, respect, and good, all depend on your individual definition. We attempt to use the words to convey meaning, yet the image in everyone’s mind may differ.

Prepare for the meeting.

Arrive early.

Make sure you do it right.

We think communication is easy. We talk, we write, someone listens, and someone reads.

All our words, phrases, and especially our body language and tone matter.

When you suggest that your team should engage and communicate to create more success what is the meaning?

Success for some people is about a position, a title, or their paycheck. Still there are others that view success as the completion of a task, a reached milestone, or appreciation from the boss.

Sometimes the difference between what you want and what you get is based on the words you chose.

Define success. Do it carefully, descriptively, and with the correct image.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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cubicle neighbor

Addressing Your Cubicle Neighbor

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In the 1980’s cube farms were popular. Like several dozen eggs, all packed neatly into rows and columns people performed their job duties. Imagine you’re in that organization today, perhaps you still are, how will you address your cubicle neighbor?

Cubicle Neighbor

Once wildly popular, many of them have been reconfigured for more open environments. There are now pods in the corners for chatting or business conversations, floor to ceiling glass conference rooms, and pub type tables near vending areas.

If you needed your neighbor across the wall you often stood and captured their attention. How did you address your neighbor? Were you kind and courteous or just more of a shout out with a hurried expectation? If you disapproved of something, what did you do?

Emotional Self-Control

Construction zones are popular on major highways during the summer months. Road rage often develops. Someone scooting past the line of traffic for a better position near the front is annoying. If this is you, don’t look to your right because you may not appreciate the sign language coming from the motorists you are passing.

It seems fine when you don’t know the person. Somebody too close behind you, riding your butt, and some sign language may occur. Near misses at intersections honking horns and more language. Lips moving, you can often read them without hearing the words.

It may seem okay if it is not your family, friends, cubicle neighbor, or boss.

Small Community

I recall a friend who was running late for a meeting with a district manager at a regional office. He was chatting with me on his cell phone while driving. He mentioned a car driving very close behind him.

Eventually the car zoomed past him. He decided to use some sign language indicating his disapproval. A few minutes later as he entered the office parking lot the district manager which he had never met was stepping out of his rental car. It was the person who moments before passed him.

Yes, the sign language was received.

Just because you can’t see what is in the cubicle next to you doesn’t mean you won’t know them. The World, your community, and your cubicle walls may be smaller than you think.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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information flow

Information Flow Means Momentum

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The static organization is stuck. They may appear to just be stalled, yet soon they will be falling behind. Information flow helps keep the organization alive, breathing, and moving, what are you sharing?

Direction of Momentum

We have some choices about what we share. Here are a few of many possibilities:

Intelligence research on the competition

New age marketing and the video bait click

The shipping record that was broken last month

The newest large customer and what they’re about

What was learned at the recent conference

The blog that provided an inspirational message

Recent resumes and who is interested

Why this year will be better that last year

Identification of commonalities in our teams

Insights for new methods or for refreshing old

Every day what is shared happens by choice. It is culture driven, sometimes conscious, sometimes not so much.

When you are building an organization, information flow means something might be happening. Will it be productive conversation or something that slows things down?

Momentum can build both ways. Information keeps organizations from becoming stalled or stopped. Do you have good information flow?

Information Flow

Considering what you choose to communicate each day, which direction are things most likely headed? Reliving past bad experiences doesn’t have much value. A lesson learned is good, tragedy emotionally repeated, not so good.

Communicate organizational values, beliefs, and stretch goals. Communicate inspiring stories, winning moments, and positive insights. Replace stories of doom and gloom with something new and refreshing.

Static and stuck is a choice, it’s not an inheritance, irrevocable trust, or voodoo spell.

What you say next will determine where you are going.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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facts matter

Have You Wondered if the Facts Matter?

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Nearly every moment of every day is a chance to tell a story. The story of the big fish, the trophy you won, or the co-worker who consistently turns out bad work. Do the facts matter or is the drama more valuable?

Workplace Stories

Stories often get embellished. Worse yet, they grow in drama bit-by-bit nearly each time they are told. The basis of the story may be founded in evidence and truth, but the way it is told magnifies the sweet spots.

Around the workplace people often find themselves living for the drama or wishing it didn’t exist. The culture certainly plays a role. When we inquire and investigate it is a chance for someone to tell their story.

Culture often decides what we will spend more time to investigate, understand and adopt, or what it will choose to ignore. The investigative process itself may be a cultural attribute. If the focus on work to be completed feels more important, less opportunity exists for stories.

Facts Matter

The story often told, and the story we hear, is a story riddled with opinions. The emphasis becomes about the wrong doing, the unfair act, and the less than truthful analysis of others.

Opinions are what we often share.

She never shows up on time and doesn’t care

He never does his part and is highly overpaid.

Opinions embellish the story. They shift the facts ever so slightly, or in some cases alter the truth in the message.

Listening requires energy. Hearing the message is not the same as listening to the message. We hear a voice talking, but listening takes things to higher level.

Down on energy from the work at hand we only listen when there is great interest. If we aren’t careful, we’ll process opinions as facts.

Now you are reminded, facts matter.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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language matters

Language Matters Because It Builds Culture

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What is the language of your workplace? Is there optimism, excitement, and energy? Language matters because it sets the tone and shapes the environment for everything that happens next.

“Good Morning,” is different from, “Ugh, here we go again.”

“I’m ready, let’s go,” is different from, “I’m not awake yet.”

We never know exactly what each day will bring. Yet we have a choice to decide what we will bring to each day.

What are your contributions to culture?

Building Culture

Every workplace has a culture. Every organization, business, and group effort have language behind their energy.

What is the language of your workplace? It is energizing or creating fear? Does it inspire confidence or get hung up on doom and gloom?

We are people, people with personalities, emotions, and feelings. We leap forward with inspiration or make a choice about fighting or retreating during fear.

Today you will make a choice about what you see. You’ll look for the opportunity, or describe a problem that cannot be solved.

You will believe that what is unfolding is happening for you, or to you.

Most of that belief will develop from your language. Tell yourself either you can, or you can’t. You will be correct.

Language Matters

Belief is powerful. Our belief systems are often created from the language that surrounds us.

Your team and your organizational culture are built by this belief.

Suggest that there is nothing good about this day. Chances are you’ll have a hard time finding something. It is a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Think carefully about what you’ll say today. It will guide what happens next.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Intentional listening

Why Intentional Listening is Different

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Listening is not instinctive. Hearing on the other hand happens without effort. We hear sounds, voices, and music. Intentional listening is probably not as easy as you think. It requires something more than just showing up.

Things People Do

Many workplace professionals feel stressed. They grow weary and tired of the everyday grind. Work isn’t always easy, but when we understand more about how to help ourselves things can (and do) get better.

Communication is a funny thing. People and teams often believe that when miscommunication occurs it means that it is time for more communication.

What do people do?

Often, they start with providing more communication. More meetings, more phone calls, and more email. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t improve the problem, it adds to it. Effective communication makes more sense.

Intentional listening is effective. What are your listening habits?

Intentional Listening

Why is listening such a valued part of communication? We can start with the idea that it is the other side of speaking. Consider that theoretically, there is only one speaker at a time, while the number of people listening can be quite expansive. A positive ratio.

At least two important barriers exist for listening. One is, do we have the proper skill? The other is, are we willing to put in the effort?

Skill is important. Carefully decoding and interpreting messages faces numerous challenges. As people, we struggle with bias, stereotypes, filters, and so much more. The more we understand barriers the better we can become.

Effort is often where the magic happens. Although there isn’t really anything magical about it, raw effort and intention may be the key. It requires energy. The question is are you willing to put in the effort?

Hanging out at the meeting may feel like you are doing your part. Listening and contributing must be intentional.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace action

Workplace Action Is About Questions

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How are things going? How is business, are you busy? At any venue where there is business networking, you may hear these questions. Is your workplace action about questions?

People expect to hear that you are busy. Of course, the often-unspoken question is, “Busy at doing what?”

Questions Drive Action

Whether you are considering individual contributions each day or if you are at the helm of a multimillion-dollar organization, being busy really isn’t the point. While it may represent a polite way to start a conversation, being successful is much more important.

Busy can be an excuse. We hear it when we ask for volunteers, when there are deadlines, or when there is grunge work to be done.

A better question may be, “How is your prioritization going?”

You can sit in a rocking chair and be rocking, you are busy rocking, but you aren’t going anywhere. Doing the most productive things may have more relevance.

Shaping Workplace Action

Communication shapes the mindset of the team. If the question seems to center around being busy then demonstrating busy becomes most important.

You can be busy typing an email, busy walking to visit someone in a different department, or just busy looking busy.

The EHS specialist, the Sales Manager, and the Controller typically aren’t so reactive to busy. They are reactive to a different set of data. The question may be, “How are the numbers?”

Of course, the focus then becomes about the numbers, not busy. “Can you do lunch today?” may be met with, “Not today, I’m crunching the numbers.”

Communication is driving the culture of the organization. From buzzwords to bulletin boards, what is communicated becomes the focus.

Be careful what questions you ask.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace language

Workplace Language Changes the Priorities

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What is the talk around your office? What is the talk on the sales floor, the production floor, or in engineering? Workplace language has a significant impact on the priorities.

Have you considered the talk in your work area? Do themes exist?

That won’t fly, it’s not in the budget.

I don’t have time for another meeting. 

We’ll never make goal with this marketing plan. 

What we talk about conditions priorities. What we hear and repeat brings it to life.

Different Language

When we suggest that there isn’t enough time, it isn’t in the budget, or it is failure waiting to happen, we may really be suggesting that what lies ahead is not important enough.

Perhaps it didn’t make the budget because no one recognized the value. The meeting seems like a waste because participants don’t see the value. Individual or department goals and a connection to the marketing plan has not been established.

We can certainly suggest this language is built from excuses, laziness, or a way to shift blame. Perhaps some of all of that has truth. The real challenge though is to engage teams so the language is different.

Best Workplace Language

When people see the connection to what is in the budget and why, it may create more alignment. If the meeting is necessary, is it effective? Have the meetings been effective in the past?

Have goals been directly aligned with the sales and marketing plan? Is there a commitment to the brand promise?

Organizations that talk success, attain more success. It brings the everyday workload to life.

What are your employee teams talking about?

Workplace language changes the priorities.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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louder

In The Workplace Does Louder Make It Better?

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Turn up the volume! That may be what we want when we listen to a song we love. In our workplaces, or in society, does louder make it better?

You must wonder, “Why do people get louder?” We notice it with the cell phone talker, in the drive through lane, or whenever verbal information seems just a little unclear.

Getting Louder

Angry people do it, someone with a point that they believe was not heard.

Distance makes people do it, down the hall is different from in the cubicle area built for two.

Impatience can cause people to do it, and they’ll likely get faster too.

We can even do it when we type. “PLEASE come to my office NOW.”

When there is confusion, our assumption is that volume will make a difference. Then we do what comes naturally. We turn it up.

It seems that it is easier to gain attention when we get louder. The question is, “Does louder make it better?”

Certainly, in some cases, it does make it better. When we turn up the television or our car radio, it may allow us to hear more clearly. The pitch, tone, or the speed of delivery doesn’t change, just the volume.

Interpersonal communication may be different.

Is Louder Better?

In our personal verbal communication typically, volume isn’t the only adjustment. Angry means we’ll talk faster. May we use different words to convey meaning. Does this improve the communication?

The lesson with louder is that it doesn’t mean you’ll always be heard. It certainly doesn’t mean that what you’re trying to communicate is more valuable or clearer. It may create attention, but noise doesn’t imply clarity.

Being heard often comes with more clarity not volume.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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