Tag Archives: communication

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ultimate meeting question

Ultimate Meeting Question, Have You Asked It?

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Have you asked the ultimate meeting question? Of course this question may take on various forms.

Does this meeting make sense?

Is the length of this meeting appropriate?

Are the right people at this meeting?

One common fallacy of the workplace meeting is that it was created when the belief was that the communication hasn’t been clear.

In other words, we haven’t been communicating well enough so let’s have a meeting.

From my experiences most organizations believe that they have room to improve when it comes to communication effectiveness. They often don’t know exactly how to pursue improvement, but they believe that they would benefit from it.

If you have one dozen people in your organization, you can probably call for a staff meeting without significant disruption. Sure, you may have to pause the operation, but wrangling up a dozen people is different from fifty people or five thousand.

Ultimate Meeting Question

The evolution of meetings is often interesting. They start with good intentions. They always seem to make sense in the beginning, yet, across time things shift.

The original purpose of the meeting may change. People come and go, often excuses for absenteeism develops, and conversations often stray off subject.

The Zoom meeting has experienced exponential growth in the past 12 to 15 months. Has communication improved? Has it declined? Have new meetings been created? Are they both efficient and effective?

Are the meetings you attend stressful? Why, or why not?

Are the meetings you attend mandatory?

What is your ultimate meeting question? Have you asked it? Will you?

-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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voice matters

Voice Matters And It Counts, Use It Wisely

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Do you believe your voice matters? Have you ever thought that your communication is not heard or understood?

You’re certainly not alone.

It often feels best to be reflective of positive communication and positive interactions.

Have a great day.

Beautiful weather we’re having.

Great job in the meeting yesterday.

That is the type of communication most people are grateful for, they appreciate it, and welcome more of it.

Sometimes there are other forms of communication. Harsh, curt, or condescending.

And still, there are other forms, including aggressive, passive aggressive, or sarcasm.

Do all of these communications matter or only some of them?

Voice Matters

Your voice, what you say, what you do, how you act, it all becomes part of the organizational culture.

It is common that many businesses or organizations believe that their culture is only representative of what they want it to be. In other words, what they believe that are working towards is how it actually is.

This is often a root cause for why large-scale change efforts fail. When management believes that the culture, environment, and climate are representative of only what they say, and not what everyone does, it could spell trouble.

It is an easy trap to fall into.

Ask an organization leader how good their customer service is and they’ll probably tell you about a lot of success stories. Are they the best person to ask? Not really, the customers are the best people to ask.

Every organization is made up of both good and bad. While a focus on the good is favorable over a focus on the bad, pretending that the bad doesn’t exist often doesn’t make it go away.

Does your voice matter?

It matters either way.

You have a choice to make a positive and constructive impact or to become part of the problem.

You might think your voice doesn’t matter, yet every time your contributions are heard, that means someone was listening.

What happens next is conditioned by the people.

Good or bad.

Be the good voice.

-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 explanations

Workplace Explanations Guide The Conversation

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Is that the intent, or is it for clarity? When you give workplace explanations what are you truly trying to express?

When the work comes up short and the effort is in question, someone will likely attempt to give an explanation.

The explanation doesn’t contain all of the detail. It’s a nugget, a piece of the story, not the entire version because that would seem unproductive.

Instead, a truncated version is offered. It attempts to direct the listener to a better understanding.

I purchased a rather expensive new laptop recently. It came with one tiny slip of paper in the box. There was no instruction manual or a booklet. Just a website link or two. An explanation of how to seek help if you need it.

There is an assumption though. The assumption is that you already have another method to locate additional information. If you can’t access the web, you’re somewhat stuck.

What if you need a deeper explanation?

Workplace Explanations

A trouble spot with explanations are the assumptions.

It may often be an attempt to guide the feature outcomes. You tell the story as you want it perceived for understanding.

It won’t be finished today; we received the wrong part.

The customer changed her mind so we had to start over.

No one mentioned that they wanted that shade of green.

The story may omit certain details. Details of the evolution of the project, a passage of blame, or request for empathy.

More information is sometimes required, yet it may be left out of the discussion.

In some cases, it is an intentional steering or shaping of the project and its outcomes.

It may be perceived as a time saver. You don’t need to know the details; you just need to know that it is so. Taken to the extreme it may represent a do as I say, not as I do.

People tell stories. Their story may leave out some details. Those details shape the impressions of the listeners and ultimately the outcome of future endeavors.

When in doubt ask more questions. The explanation is nearly always only a part of the complete story.

-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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accepting feedback

Accepting Feedback Faces Growing Challenges

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Are you good at accepting feedback? Which side of feedback are you most comfortable with, giving or receiving?

When I ask about the feedback exchange in workshops it is usually a mixed response. Some of it is conditioned by the culture of any given organization, but much of it is conditioned by past experiences.

Past experiences drive perceptions of future information. Criticism and ridicule are destructive. Even when someone tries to dress it up with the use of the word, constructive.

Are the challenges with feedback growing?

Leaders and Feedback

In the workplace leadership and culture is driven by the people. Not just one person or two, but everyone. Even customers and vendors may play a role in how organizational culture takes shape.

Some leaders struggle with being liked, or not. They take being liked as the foundation for everything and if they are disliked it is hard to deal with.

Leadership and relationships go hand-in-hand, yet being liked may not be the most important aspect. Being respected is probably much more meaningful.

Formal authority or your ranking position may give your authority but when it comes to respect it is all about your behavior.

Feedback drives everyone, including those in leadership roles.

Accepting Feedback

Accepting feedback is especially challenging these days. There seems to be an abundance of criticism and disrespect. If you have a different idea you may face being cancelled. If you have an older idea, belief, or value, you’re first threatened, then cancelled.

It is important to differentiate feedback from useless criticism.

Feedback should be a tool for learning. Sometimes it is a tool for learning more about the giver rather than the receiver. It seems intended for the receiver but it may also reveal other underlying issues or problems of the giver.

Not everyone has to like you. Not everyone will.

The emphasis on being liked is rooted deep in social media. It is the more is better concept.

Technology algorithms reinforce this.

Feedback may not always be accurate. It may not always spark change.

Be careful about what you allow to sink in.

-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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work promises

Work Promises, Are You Keeping Them?

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Are you in the habit of handing out work promises? Promising to do this, or do that? Are some of the promise’s expectations?

Work promises are always happening.

I’ll get this done before the next meeting.

This won’t take long, I’ll do it before Noon.

I’ll call the customer.

Promises are an offer to contribute. They set an expectation and are often evidence of teamwork and commitment.

Sometimes promises start the meeting. They illustrate the agenda, set the expectations, and confirm a timeline.

Sometimes promises end the meeting. They confirm the to-do list, establish the next meeting date, and congratulate positive outcomes.

When expectations are set, people are counting on you. A promise is intended to quell worry, provide a solution, and most of all, be reliable.

What work promises are you giving?

Work Promises

Does your workplace have trust? Do you trust someone that they will get the project finished on time and with good quality? Have you ever been let down?

Workplace trust, or lack of it, is a leading cause of dysfunctional teams.

Employees often underestimate the commitment or expectation of a promise made. There is sometimes a good intention, the offer of help, and a gesture of kindness. If unfulfilled other promises and commitments get trampled and are broken.

In examples of poor leadership, the leader goes only to people he or she can trust. Meanwhile the best performers get stuck with doing more while poorer performers are allowed to go unchecked.

Managers and supervisors who are unable or unwilling to address problem performers cause more dysfunction.

Promises are sometimes made and other times they are assumed.

Either way a promise is both a commitment and an obligation.

Teams that are both functional and reliable will have stronger results.

I promise.

-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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stressed out talk

Stressed Out Talk Is Different From Normal Talk

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A short fuse. That is a common descriptor for when our patience, energy, or control is right on the edge of a snap. Is your stressed-out talk different from when things are more calm or mild?

Everyone has a guideline that they operate from. It’s a way that they conduct themselves or their business. It is tempered somewhat, not exactly what may be brewing on the inside, but a more controlled and socially responsible version.

When people get tired, pushed, or otherwise stressed out, sometimes the Kraken comes out.

He blew up.

She lost it!

He totally freaked out!

While fuse length varies and is conditioned by many factors, nobody wants this to happen.

Is there something in-between the blow-up and the totally in-control you?

Stressed Out Talk

Authenticity matters but for everyone looking to lead there is a fine line or a balancing act for what you deliver.

When you set out to deliver your best you are probably being very tactical in your approach.

You may be conscious that you need to be kind, be patient, and have empathy. You might also be thinking about how to be more respectful, more generous, or mindful of navigating the rough spots.

It works for many, most of the time.

Yet there are occasions when the time feels short, something is overdue, or expectations have been thrown out the window.

That’s when our somewhat rigid structure of self-management begins to break down and slip out.

It’s not viewed as the normal you.

Interactions and behaviors are always about conscious choice.

An apology for a slip-up is a good idea. Behavior tempered, even when the fuse is short is much better.

Make conscious choices and have self-awareness. As a leader, you’ll contribute better with the proper intentions. It’s always better than needing to make an apology.

-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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Drama habit

Drama Habit, Do You Create More Of It?

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Do you have a drama habit? What about members of the team, do they seem to thrive on it? Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that people like to have more of what makes them feel comfortable.

Did you grow up eating breakfast or skipping it? What about lunch, have you made a habit out of skipping lunch or do you always eat?

The same questions might apply for morning beverages, after hour beverages, or even when you brush your teeth.

Workplace Drama

Many workplaces are full drama.

Drama about how to get the next customer or close the next sale may not be a bad form of drama.

Drama about what Susan is wearing or whether Jack will use micro-aggressions with the boss today may not be healthy.

Certainly, it may go deeper than that. The drama may be about workplace romances and who does what during their off-work time. It may even dip into discriminatory patterns with racial undertones, gender issues, age, and many other areas.

Can you stop it? Should you?

Drama Habit

It is a truism that many people do what they do because they are seeking comfort. Consciously or subconsciously, this is often the case.

People reposition in their chairs, follow a specific daily routine, and seek comfort in repetitive social patterns.

In 2020, you probably started to have a meeting or two either via Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft teams. In other cases perhaps you were still meeting in the conference room, only everyone was wearing a mask. Was this different? Was it comfortable?

Workplace drama can come and go. When a drama topic starts to slow down and interest is less, surprisingly, or not so much, new drama will take its place.

If you have witnessed this you may be wondering what can you do? Is there anything you can do? Is drama here to stay?

Plan for Change

A plan by workplace leaders to be a catalyst for shifting the drama may be the best approach. If drama is here to stay, shifting it to more constructive approaches may be your answer.

In short, if all of the talk, the focus, and the chatter are about production, services, and helping the customer there is much less room for negative, degrading, and disrespectful drama.

Communication is everyone’s responsibility. Consider what your communication consists of and how to regain focus on what matters the most.

Are you part of the problem? Creating drama about the people who are the most dramatic may mean you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

It probably isn’t about the flip-flops Susan is wearing or whether Jack is bashing the boss behind her back.

Change the discussion and leave less room for all the stuff that doesn’t really 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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compelling leaders

Compelling Leaders Are Better Communicators

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What creates leaders? What creates followers? Do compelling leaders create better followers?

What does it mean to be a leader?

What is leadership?

Two questions that I often ask when helping teams build foundational skills for leadership.

We don’t always stop to think about it and people attempt to connect the dots of leadership with the concept of formal authority. The formal authority suggests that you’ve moved to the position of supervisor, manager, or director.

Formal authority matters. Yet, leadership is about so much more.

Formal authority is often granted to people with the highest credential, the person or persons who have been around the longest, or the ones that demonstrate great depth in technical skills.

Leadership is expected to ensue.

Does it?

Not always.

Are They Communicators?

There are terms often thrown around to indicate people who are compelling.

You can consider phrases like, “street smarts,” or “used car salesman.” Both of these are often quickly identified with someone who can navigate people situations with clever grace.

They create buy-in or can sell beach front property in South Dakota.

They are well skilled in persuasive communication. Most of their skill is developed informally, not through conventional education but through trial and error. They’re observers and they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

It is not so much natural as it is a learned skill.

They’ve developed communication skills that allow them to be convincing and compelling.

Compelling Leaders

Every once-in-a-while we encounter a compelling leader.

The compelling leader has a large tool box. He or she can stand toe-to-toe with the formal leaders, and can also create a strong following.

People rarely follow because they are told to do so. People follow because they are compelled to do so.

There is a phrase, a meme of sorts, “Great leaders don’t develop a belief in the leader, they develop a belief in the follower.”

The best news for any leader, formal or otherwise, is that the act of creating a compelling message is a learned skill. Being a great leader is an option. It’s not an appointed position.

Compelling leaders are great learners.

And great communicators.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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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factual conversations

Factual Conversations, Opinions, and Leadership

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Do you have factual conversations? What about in the staff meeting, are facts being presented or more of just opinions?

Effective communication is a highly sought-after skill. One great thing about communication is that even just one person on the team learning to be more effective can help team performance.

Have you considered how you verbally communicate? What about your written word in things like email or text messaging?

Workplace Conversation

Imagine at the start of the staff meeting someone is late. Let’s assume that someone is named Susan.

Suddenly a meeting member blurts out, “Let’s just get started, Susan is always late.”

Always?

Nobody wonders whether is Susan is always late, or just late once in a while. Is always a fact or an opinion?

Multiply this concept to the daily narrative floating around your workplace. How much of the communication is factual?

There is an argument to factual communication. The argument is that it is often not as compelling.

Buy our new product, we recently sold 3 to the first customer.

As compared to:

Buy our new product, it’s selling fast.

Opinions are often disguised as facts when they are delivered in a compelling and impact-oriented manner. In addition, when you prey on the recipient’s emotions it often calls people to action.

Fear is a big seller.

Start using this product today. Act now before we’re sold out.

The fear of course, is that if you don’t buy now, there won’t be any left to purchase.

Factual Conversations

Leading in your workplace environment is always about communication. You are often selling. Whether it is selling your ideas, creating buy-in for a change effort, or selling motivation and inspiration.

One of the biggest underlying challenges of leadership is navigating balance. With everything there is a magical balance.

Are you having factual conversations? What is providing the most impact?

The most impact often exists somewhere in the middle. The exact facts matter and often spark action when communicated in a compelling manner.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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 intentions

Workplace Intentions Forge Stronger Connections

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What are your workplace intentions? Are you striving to do good work, have effective communication, and foster stronger workplace relationships?

There is almost always some difference between what is said and what is heard.

It may be because we haven’t planned our words wisely, our emotions jumped in the way, or the receiver of the communication misunderstood.

Chances are good that both parties have some responsibility.

It’s true for working with peers, direct reports, and your boss. It is also true when communicating with the customer.

Much of what we hear is based on our expectations. You can recognize a difference in the flow and understanding when someone says, “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Workplace Intentions

Those differences between what one party says and the other party hears are enough to breakdown trust, sour the relationship, and cost the organization money.

An angry customer who feels insulted may leave forever. Their emotion of anger and insult is likely the result of their expectations not being met. Their expectations are often driven by their past experiences or clever advertising, marketing, or sales presentations.

What was the intent?

With co-workers, friends, or customers, your intent compared with their expectations will either forge stronger connections or tear them down.

It may be a good idea to express where you are coming from.

When everyone understands your intentions there is more empathy for communication that feels like a pinch.

Consider the value of recognizing when a salesperson is selling, the boss needs you to shift directions, or your co-worker is giving you some advice. It’s an opportunity to adjust your expectations.

Stronger connections are 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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