Archive for the ‘crucial conversations’ Category

Crucial Conversations: Don’t Start Them This Way

by Pamela Jett, CSP

phone-1209230_1920Communicating effectively and professionally in a crucial conversation is challenging.  I recently had a discussion with someone very close to me about a very difficult and emotionally charged situation for both of us.  Over the course of a few days we had numerous conversations about the situation, most of which went very smoothly.  However, one of the conversations was especially challenging for me.  I had to struggle to be the master of my emotions and not let my emotions be the master of me. I had to struggle not to get defensive.  I had to work very hard for a positive conversational outcome.  And, I am confident my conversational partner had to do the same.

While analyzing this tough conversation, I wondered “what triggered me?”  “Why was this conversation more difficult emotionally than all the others on the same topic over the past few days?”  I recognized that the first words out of my conversational partner’s mouth triggered defensiveness that I had to work hard to overcome.  These words, on some level, were insulting to me and I struggled from that moment forward.  Even though it was unintentional, my conversational partner provided an example of how NOT to start a crucial conversation.

The trigger words for me were“I know you don’t understand.”    Here is what they produced in me and what they might produce in others if you use them during a crucial conversation:

  • I felt the urge to say “yes I do” in a defensive fashion.
  • I felt the urge to “correct,” to put on my “communication expert” hat and explain that there is a difference between not understanding and not agreeing.
  • I felt insulted – as if all the effort to be a good listener, to be open minded, and empathetic during previous conversations on the subject was not only wasted, but unappreciated.

These responses would have been counter-productive, would have taken the conversation in the wrong direction, and likely would have made my conversational partner feel defensive.

What could have been used instead of “I know you don’t understand?”   Here are some options:

  • You might not agree.
  • I’ m aware we have different thoughts, feelings on this.
  • You may see it differently.
These phrases communicate an understanding that agreeing and understanding are two separate things.  By avoiding using “You don’t understand” you decrease your chances of triggering defensiveness in others.  Making changes such as these can make a big difference during a crucial conversation.

If you could benefit from learning more communication skills like these to be a better leader, team member, and top performer, join us for a webinar on Best Kept Communication Secrets August 18th.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

You might also enjoy:

The #1 Reason Difficult People are Difficult

Stop Undermining Your Credibility with This One Word

Trigger Understanding – Not Defensiveness

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The Biggest Conflict Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

by Pamela Jett, CSP

Yelling cartoon

Has this ever happened to you? You are in the midst of a crucial conversation and the other person becomes very emotional or intense. They might even begin to yell or behave in a hostile fashion. Most people will the get drawn into a discussion of this inappropriate behavior.  The conversation may then continue along the lines of :

  • “Stop yelling at me.”
  • “I’m not yelling!”
  • “Yes, you are!”
  • “Well, you don’t listen!

The conversation, which may originally have been about a crucial business or personal issue, has now morphed into a “conversation about how you are having the conversation.”  This is known as meta-commuication, communication about communication.  And, while it has it’s place, it is a poor choice to meta-communicate right in the middle of conflict and confrontation.

The next time someone engages in an (inappropriate) emotional outburst during conflict, resist the temptation to start talking about how they are communicating and stay focused on the core issue as much as possible. This doesn’t mean to let others bully or to continue to be mean, rude and nasty. However, if you can use other assertive techniques first (like the feel, felt, found technique) instead of calling out their behavior, you stand a greater chance of reaching resolution on the core issue.

Avoid the biggest conflict mistake you perhaps didn’t know you were making. Avoid meta-communication in the midst of conflict and stick to the issue at hand.

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“You Don’t Understand” – Words to Choose and Words to Lose

jettlogo2Have you ever found yourself in a difficult conversation feeling frustrated? Misunderstood? Devalued? These negative emotions can often lead to communication choices that are counterproductive. For example, have you ever said (or, let’s be candid, maybe even yelled) “you don’t understand” during a difficult conversation? Not surprisingly, this can trigger defensiveness and hostility in others.

Here are a few thoughts about what to say instead. First, check yourself. Are you sure they don’t understand? Might some of your frustration stem from them not agreeing? Sometimes, we accuse people of not understanding or not listening to us when the truth is that they likely understand, but don’t agree.

Next, choose to communicate in a way that accurately expresses what you are feeling in a non-accusatory way such as:

  • “I’m not feeling heard.”
  • “I’m not feeling valued.”
  • “I’m feeling frustrated.”

Or

  • “We see this differently.”
  • “We have different perspectives at play here.”

While none of these options will work in every single difficult conversation, they are alternatives to the accusatory “you don’t understand” and can often move a conversation forward in a less hostile, more productive way.

For more of the words to choose and the words to lose, read Pamela’s book “Communicate to Keep ‘Em” available here.

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Looking for a Speaker in 2015?

 

Get a head start on booking speakers for your 2015 conferences and events.  It’s not to early to starting thinking about how to give leaders and team members alike the communication tools they need to be better leaders, enhance employee engagement, deal with difficult people, and drive results.  Pamela Jett specializes in:

  • Keynotes that are energetic, humorous, and loaded with content that get your meeting off to a positive start and generate tons of “hallway conversations.”
  • Breakout sessions that are interactive and loaded with practical tools to solve real world problems.
  • Training sessions that are tailored to meet your specific needs and challenges.

Here is what a few satisfied clients have to say.

“Your speaker evaluations were off the wall! According to 3,000 attendees, your marks were excellent – probably the best speaker evaluations we have ever had!
–Susan Forrester, Central CA Women’s Conf.

“Our off-site was the very best ever! Your presentation was a large part of the success. You made an effort to understand our group’s unique needs and you tailored a session that was just what I was looking for!”     –Phil Marquis, Ameriprise Financial

“Pamela was absolutely wonderful and well received by all! She started the conference on such a positive note – and a sure way to guarantee its success. As I anticipated, her educational session was standing room only. Speaking personally, the information I took away from both her presentations was worth its weight in gold! And more importantly, her advice and suggestions are realistic.”     –Linda Berkerian, NAACO

To book Pamela or to get more information, contact Aimee at 866.726.5388.

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Say it With Backbone, Not Bite – Webinar

Say it With Backbone… Not Bite: Assertiveness Skills for Success – Webinar

When:

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm PST; 1:00 pm MTN; 2:00 pm CST; 3:00 pm EST

Register Here

Call 866.726.5388 for groups of 2 or more!

Are you secretly afraid that you come on too strong or are perceived as a doormat? Would you like to be seen as confident, trustworthy, and professional? Assertive communication is the hallmark of a true professional. In this powerful, skill building program you will learn to communicate assertively in a variety of challenging situations so you can be a positive role model to those you work with and for. Assertive communication is the key. And, assertive communication is a choice—one every professional can master.

Learn what assertiveness is and what it is not.

  •  Discover the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication.
  •  Learn why assertiveness is the best choice in most professional situations.
  •  Avoid the pitfalls and perils of passive-aggressiveness (and what to say when others are passive-aggressive to you!)
  •  Learn that assertiveness requires confidence and competence – and how to enhance both.
  •  How to avoid “stockpiling” or “ignoring issues in hopes that they will go away.”

Master assertive “language patterns” that can enhance your success in a variety of challenging situations.

  •  Discover how to say “no” and not feel guilty while still coming across as a team player.
  •  Learn to pitch your solutions to your leader in a way that garners support using the “Three S Formula.”
  •  Master the art of assertive communication to take control over your time, tasks, and your day.
  •  Six simple secrets for assertive conversations with anyone.

Assertive communication tools to confidently handle conflict and confrontation.

  •  Learn your primary conflict style and how to stay assertive within that style.
  •  Discover the worst things to say during conflict (they will surprise you) and what to say instead.
  •  Smart responses to the aggressiveness of others.
  •  Tools to help you stay assertive, to say it with backbone… not bite, even when others are spiraling out of control.

Say it With Backbone… Not Bite: Assertiveness Skills for Success – Webinar

When:

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm PST; 1:00 pm MTN; 2:00 pm CST; 3:00 pm EST

Register Here

Call 866.726.5388 for groups of 2 or more!

About Pamela:
As an internationally recognized communication skills expert, speaker and author, Pamela Jett works with professionals to better understand that “Words Matter” when we are looking to achieve results, make an impact and improve effectiveness. Pamela is a true innovator who takes people beyond basic theory and strategy to an unparalleled level of application.

Additional Inclusive Webinar Materials

  •  Participant note-taking guide for use during the event and for reference post event.
  •  Access to regular communication tools and techniques via Pamela’s Words Matter blog.
  •  The complete audio recording of the event.

Who Should Attend

  •  Leaders, Managers, and Supervisors
  •  Project Managers
  •  Team Leads
  •  Administrative Assistants
  •  Support Staff
  •  Anyone who works in a team environment

FAST – Get right down to business with no time wasted.

This is a content-rich experience without fluff or filler.

CONVENIENT – Learn right at your desk.

No expensive travel, no time out of the office, and no time wasted. Can’t make the live webinar? Watch the recording when the time is right for you.

APPLICABLE IMMEDIATELY – This experience will provide time and money saving tools to use immediately.

AFFORDABLE – Priced at just $79, this is a fraction of the cost of other high-priced events or seminars. Plus, there is no additional travel expense. Ideal for multiple listeners too!

What’s Next?

Nov. 20: Grammar for Grownups

 

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Leader’s Toolkit for Difficult and Disciplinary Conversations – Webinar

Leaders of every level, from first time supervisors to senior executives, agree that one of their most difficult responsibilities is having disciplinary or difficult conversations. In fact, many leaders often ignore problems and hope that they will go away (and, of course, they rarely do.) Having language patterns and tools to specifically handle these tough conversations is what every leader needs and what this program provides. Loaded with practical communication tools for senior level executives to first-time supervisors and even parents, this webinar will give you practical tools you can put to work immediately and relieve some of the stress associated with disciplinary conversations.

REGISTER HERE

CALL 866.726.5388 FOR GROUP RATE (2 or more)

Get the leadership mindset to make disciplinary conversations easier

  • Learn to differentiate between “can’t do” and “won’t do” issues.
  • Discover why people don’t do what they are supposed to do and how to ignite positive behavior change.
  • Master the art of staying calm during difficult conversations.

Master communication tactics and language patterns to prepare for tough conversations

  • Discover the 4-step process to request behavior change.
  • Learn how to use the “BCA technique” as a template for almost any difficult conversation.
  • Find out why you ought to stop feeding carrots to stick people.

Learn how to manage tense conversations with difficult people

  • Discover what to say/do when tears flow.
  • Learn what never to say during a disciplinary conversation – hint… it’s not what you think.
  • Discover the power of silence.
  • Learn how to keep records and notes so that you can hold people accountable.
  • Master the art of open ended questions to gain cooperation.

When: Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm PST; 1:00 pm MTN; 2:00 pm CST; 3:00 pm EST

REGISTER HERE

CALL 866.726.5388 FOR GROUP RATE (2 or more)

Additional Inclusive Webinar Materials

Participant note-taking guide for use during the event and for reference post event.
Access to regular communication tools and techniques via Pamela’s Words Matter blog.
The complete audio recording of the event.

Who Should Attend

Leaders, Managers, and Supervisors
Project Managers
Team Leads

FAST – Get right down to business with no time wasted.

This is a content-rich experience without fluff or filler.

CONVENIENT – Learn right at your desk.

No expensive travel, no time out of the office, and no time wasted. Can’t make the live webinar? Watch the recording when the time is right for you.

APPLICABLE IMMEDIATELY

This experience will provide time and money saving tools to use immediately.

 AFFORDABLE –

Priced at just $79, this is a fraction of the cost of other high-priced events or seminars. Plus, there is no additional travel expense. Ideal for multiple listeners too!

REGISTER HERE

CALL 866.726.5388 FOR GROUP RATE (2 or more)

What’s Next?

October 16: What Not to Say: A Guide for Keeping Your Foot Out of Your Mouth

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New Webinar – Crucial Conversations: Tools for HR Pros – Aug 27th

Human resource professionals are often tasked with having crucial or difficult conversations. These are the kinds of conversations when the stakes are high and emotions run deep. Wouldn’t it be great if you had tools to make those conversations easier? In this fast-paced,skill-building webinar you will discover communication skills to make every conversation easier, less stressful, and more productive – even with difficult people!

When?  Wednesday August 27th, noon PT (Remember, you get a full recording if this time doesn’t work for you.)

Register now here!

For Groups of two or more, register now here!

Get off to the right start – every time

  • Leverage the secret the most productive HR pros use – scripting.
  • Beyond the basics – savvy techniques for starting a conversation off on the right track.
  • Build rapport and minimize defensiveness with powerful personality insights

Language patterns and scripts for success

  • Discover the words to choose and the words to lose to increase cooperation and understanding
  • Powerful templates for disciplinary and other crucial conversations – stop winging it.
  • Increase buy-in and commitment with one simple technique

What to do when emotions run high – yours and theirs

  • Master simple strategies to stay calm, cool, and collected during to toughest conversations.
  • What to say and do with those who cry, blame, and other negative behaviors
  • Discover how to “stop feeding carrots” to stick people and minimize other self sabotaging behaviors for crucial conversation success.

Whether you have these crucial conversations yourself or need to coach managers and supervisors how to have their own conversations with employees, this program is loaded with tools to make it easier.

Register now here!

For Groups of two or more, register now here!

Additional Inclusive Webinar Materials

  • Participant note-taking guide for use during the event and for reference post event.
  • Access to regular communication tools and techniques via Pamela’s Words Matter blog.
  • The complete audio recording of the event.

Who Should Attend

  • Leaders, Managers, and Supervisors
  • Project Managers
  • Team Leads
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Support Staff
  • Anyone who works in a team environment

FAST – Get right down to business with no time wasted.

This is a content-rich experience without fluff or filler.

CONVENIENT – Learn right at your desk.

No expensive travel, no time out of the office, and no time wasted. Can’t make the live webinar? Watch to the recording when the time is right for you.

APPLICABLE IMMEDIATELY –

This experience will provide time and money saving tools to use immediately.

 

AFFORDABLE –

Priced at just $79, this is a fraction of the cost of other high-priced events or seminars. Plus, there is no additional travel expense. Ideal for multiple listeners too!

Bookmark and Share

3 Simple Skills to Improve Your Communication (part 3)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

It’s no secret, communication is the #1 skills set professionals at every level ought to be polishing.  Research reveals that 80% of problems in most workplaces are caused by poor communication.  Whether you are a support staff person, a mid-level manager, or a C-suite level leader, better communication skills will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference.

So, how can we begin to communicate more effectively starting today?  By following a few simple rules.  In previous posts I shared that rule #1 is to communicate in the positive and rule #2 is practice future focused communication.  Here is rule #3.

Communicate with an “Effective” Focus.  Almost every person I know, myself included, likes to be right.  We like to get in the last word.  We like to win.  We are tempted to say “I told you so.” We don’t like to admit when we are wrong. And we often struggle to apologize.  Many of us dig in our heels.  We become stubborn.  We might be a “my way or the highway” type of leader.  We even become difficult to work with and for.  This approach to communication can have severe consequences:

    • Conflict can escalate or turn destructive.
    • Minor issues can cause major relationship damage.
    • Even inconsequential things become a battle.
    • Relationships can suffer, teamwork suffers, and turnover increases.

One simple way to alleviate these consequences is to focus on effectiveness instead of being right.  A focus on effectiveness means that sometimes we sacrifice our need to be right in order to achieve a greater good or higher objective.  One simple way to do this is to replace the phrase “I disagree” with “I see it differently.”  “I disagree” sets up an “I’m right – you’re wrong” dichotomy.  “I see it differently” doesn’t create that dichotomy and is less defense or confrontation producing.

Communication is a vital tool for our success.  And, by following these simple rules for better communication, you can be a better communicator today!

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3 Simple Skills to Improve Your Communication (part 2)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

It’s no secret, communication is the #1 skills set professionals at every level ought to be polishing.  Research reveals that 80% of problems in most workplaces are caused by poor communication.  Whether you are a support staff person, a mid-level manager, or a C-suite level leader, better communication skills will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference.

So, how can we begin to communicate more effectively starting today?  By following a few simple rules.  In a previous post I shared that rule #1 is to communicate in the positive.  Rule #2 is:

Communicate with a Future Focus.  How many times have you sat in a meeting where past mistakes or issues seem to dominate the conversation?  How many countless hours have been spent talking about the way things used to be done?  How much time do you spend in your relationships, both personal and professional, bringing up the past?  Chances are, the answer is too often, too many, too much!  When too much time is spent focusing on the past several things happen:

    • We don’t make much forward progress.
    • We can experience frustration because we can’t change the past and hopelessness can set in.
    • We might feel constantly “punished” when others refuse to let by gones be by gones and this can damage relationships.
    • We aren’t given the chance to learn, grow and evolve which can lead to disengagement.

Great communicators know that while it is important to acknowledge and learn from the past, including past mistakes, in order to foster an environment where productivity, creativity, and innovation thrive, a future focus is best.  And, a future focus also helps foster better, more positive relationships – a plus in any environment.  One simple technique you can experiment with today is to add the phrase “next time” to your conversations, especially those conversations that revolve around errors.  For example, if a problem occurs you can say “That is a problem.  What can we do next time to make sure it doesn’t happen?”  This small change can keep things moving forward and not stuck in the past.

Continue reading Pamela’s blog for rule #3.

 

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How NOT to Start a Crucial Conversation

by Pamela Jett, CSP

I recently had a discussion with someone very close to me about a very difficult and emotionally charged situation for both of us.  Over the course of a few days we had numerous conversations about the situation, most of which went very smoothly.  However, one of the conversations was especially challenging for me.  I had to struggle not to get defensive.  I had to struggle to be the master of my emotions and not let my emotions be the master of me.  I had to work very hard for a positive conversational outcome.  And, I am confident my conversational partner had to do the same.

As I look back over this tough conversation, I wondered “what triggered me?”  “Why was this conversation more difficult emotionally than all the others on the same topic over the past few days?”  What I realized is that the first words out of my conversational partner’s mouth triggered defensiveness that I had to work hard to overcome.  These words, on some level, were insulting to me and I struggled from that moment forward.  While unintentional, my conversational partner provided an example of how NOT to start a crucial conversation.

“I know you don’t understand”  were the trigger words for me.  Here is what they produced in me and what they might produce in others if you use them during a crucial conversation:

  • I felt the urge to say “yes I do” in a defensive fashion.
  • I felt insulted – as if all the effort to be a good listener, to be open minded, and empathetic during previous conversations on the subject was not only wasted, but unappreciated.
  • I felt the urge to “correct”, to put on my “communication expert” hat and explain that there is a difference between not understanding and not agreeing.

All of these responses would have been counter-productive, would have taken the conversation in the wrong direction, and likely would have made my conversational partner feel defensive.

So what could have been used instead of “I know you don’t understand?”   Here are some options:

  • You may see it differently.
  • You might not agree.
  • I’ m aware we have different thoughts, feelings on this.
Each of these options demonstrates an understanding that agreeing and understanding are two separate things.  And by avoiding “You don’t understand” you are less likely to trigger defensiveness in others.  Making this small change can make a big difference during a crucial conversation.
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