Posts Tagged ‘effective communication’

Leaders Unleash the Power of “Yes”

11107790 - voting concept: set of green yes signs isolated on white backgroundAs a leader, have you unleashed the power of yes with your team?  In particular, are you offering unequivocal “yeses” as often as possible? Every leader or manager knows that saying “yes” to an idea, proposal, or request can positively impact morale, engagement, and performance. The power of a “yes” is that it encourages more problem-solving, initiative, and proactivity in a team and among team members.  Unfortunately, many leaders are sabotaging or minimizing the impact of a “yes” by using phrases such as:

  • “Yes, this is good and we should also…” 
  • Yes, I like it.  But, could you also…”
  • “Yes and I would suggest that we…”
  • Yes, but first…”

While these forms of “yes” are still positive (and have their place in the language of leadership), they are also a form of yes with diluted or diminished impact.  When a leader adds a term or condition to their “yes” they are saying to the team or team member that the proposal or idea isn’t good enough to be implemented as it is. Or, at least not good enough yet.  Or, that it could be much better. This “qualified yes” can be disheartening and can decrease motivation and commitment.

Of course, there are times when the “qualified yes” is the smart choice.  As long as it is a choice and not a habit. If you constantly, habitually, or unintentionally qualify all of your positive responses, you may be missing out on the power of the “unequivocal yes.”

When I conduct programs for organizations and associations on leadership and communication, I often ask attendees what behaviors do their leaders engage in (or fail to engage in) that enhance employee engagement or decrease employee engagement. One of the consistent “engaging behaviors” is the “unequivocal yes.”  A “yes” with no conditions, no added value, no tweaks or adjustments.  A “yes” that says to the employee or team “I trust you.” These “yeses” sound like:

  • “Yes, go for it!”
  • “I like it.  Make it happen.”
  • “Great idea. Let’s do it.”

Think about it. Wouldn’t you feel great if your leader simply said “yes” to your next idea, proposal, or initiative? As a leader, ask yourself if you are using this simple engagement technique as often as you could.  Or, out of habit, do you qualify most, if not all, of your “yeses?” I encourage you to look for an immediate opportunity to give a “yes” without condition or constraint.  Unleash the power of the “unequivocal yes!”

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.

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“I Hate Brussel Sprouts” and Other Poor Choices Even Good Leaders Make

thumbs downIf you are a regular reader of this blog, my social media posts, or have heard me as a keynote speaker, you know I believe the following to be fundamental truths regarding communication and leadership:

  • Words matter. The words you choose to use and the words you choose to lose as a leader and professional can make all the difference in terms of your success as well as the success of your team.
  • High caliber leaders use communication that is positive as opposed to negative. They strive not only to communicate in the positive, but they strive to be positive and to set a positive example.
  • High-hanging fruit matters.  Successful leaders are willing to do the things that others may not be willing to do. They are willing to pay attention to things others might deem either too difficult or too much of stretch. They are willing to reach for the high-hanging fruit.

With these concepts in mind, I’ve been noticing how often even good leaders and stellar professionals may inadvertently be coming across as negative or setting a negative tone.

  • I hate brussel sprouts.
  • I hate it when meetings start late.
  • I hate filing expense reports.
  • I hate conducting performance appraisals.
  • I hate conference calls on speaker phone (I’m guilty of saying this one).
  • I hate it when people act like deadlines don’t matter.

What do each of these statements have in common?  It’s obvious. It’s the “I hate.”  Hate is a VERY strong word and many leaders use it far too cavalierly, far too frequently, and, often inaccurately or unnecessarily. Do you really HATE a food item?  Or, would it be more accurate to say “I don’t like the taste?” Do you really HATE when meetings start late or is it more accurate to say, “I feel disrespected” or, “I feel annoyed when meetings start late?” I believe the word hate ought to be used sparingly and only for those things worthy of one of our strongest negative emotions.

Ask yourself, do I ever casually use the phrase “I hate?” If so, you might be sending a far more negative message than you intend. You may be sending a signal to others that it is ok to be negative. You might be sabotaging your success as a leader.

Take a moment and reach for some high-hanging fruit as a leader. Make a conscious effort to minimize your use of the phrase “I hate.”  Our world is full of far too much of it already.

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.

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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.

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The #1 Reason Difficult People are Difficult

Stop Undermining Your Credibility with This One Word

Trigger Understanding – Not Defensiveness

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Are You Driving Your Leader Crazy?

 

stressed leaderIn my work with C-Suite level executives and other leaders I often have candid conversations about what they appreciate in their employees and what drives them a bit crazy about their employees. Here is a quick look at a few of the “crazy makers.”

  • Not getting to the point fast enough. While most leaders genuinely want to listen to their employees and sincerely care about their employee’s opinions and ideas, they are also typically pressed for time and need employees to make it quick. You might be driving your boss crazy if you are not focused, if you beat around the bush, or give too much irrelevant (from the boss’s perspective) detail. Get to the point. Be direct and focused on sharing key points. That will get you heard.
  • Not having “enterprise” perspective. Perspective matters. Do you view things simply through the lens of your own experience? Do you tend to view things solely through the lens of your current position or job description? If so, you might be driving your boss crazy due to lack of “enterprise” perspective. While good leaders understand that you might not have access to all the information and details they have and that you might not have the same “enterprise” level perspective they do, leaders are looking for people who can see beyond their own job titles or experiences. They value employees who think and communicate about things that make a difference to the big picture – enterprise level thinking. If you can tie your contributions to big picture goals or enterprise level thinking, you will gain more attention, authority, and respect.
  • Not having confidence. Hesitation when you speak (including “ums” and “ahs”), hedges such as “kind of” and “sort of,” and/or constantly asking for permission or approval instead of taking initiative can give the impression that you are not confident. You might be driving your boss crazy if you use a weak or approval seeking communication style. Great leaders are always looking for those they can groom or those who are ready to take the next step. Don’t sabotage your success simply by not communicating in a confident manner. Purge your communication of weak or wishy-washy language and be seen as someone with tremendous potential.

Avoiding these “crazy makers” can lead to greater success at work and a leader who views you as a confident, business savvy, and effective communicator.

For more powerful communication resources, visit Pamela’s success store.

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.

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Boost Leadership and Communication Skills with the Power of Perspective

Stop Undermining Your Credibility with This One Word

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Ditch the Don’t

emailing womanGreat leaders and communicators know how important it is to communicate in the positive as opposed to the negative.  One powerful way to check yourself and determine if you are actively communicating in the positive is to monitor your use of the word “don’t” or the phrase “do not” in your email or other writing. Select a handful of recent emails, preferably those with extensive text and run a search for “don’t” and “do not.” Check to see if you could have communicated in the positive as opposed to the negative.

For example, perhaps you wrote “don’t forget” when you could have easily written “please remember.”  Or, perhaps you wrote “don’t be late to the meeting” and could have communicated more positively by writing “be on time to the meeting.”

This habit of writing and communicating in the positive can easily be cultivated by starting with your e-writing at work.  For more tips to improve your e-writing at work watch the on demand webinar “E-Writing @ Work” which is part of the Administrative Assistant Advantage webinar series.

If you or your colleagues could benefit from learning more tips to communicate with emotional intelligence, please tune into our live webinar May 19, 2016. You will learn what “EQ” is, why it matters, and how to leverage it to decrease conflict, eliminate stress, improve relationships and your leadership skills. Register here. 

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.

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“I Don’t Care” vs. “I Don’t Mind”

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The #1 Reason Difficult People are Difficult

yelling womanRegardless of your position or title, no matter how fabulous your organizational culture is, and no matter how happy you are at work, it is highly likely that on occasion you will deal with a difficult person.  Perhaps it’s the irate customer who explodes over a mistake, the colleague who is chronically negative, or the employee who complains or lacks follow through. Difficult people are everywhere. And while we can’t make difficult people disappear (drat!) or whip out the duct tape to silence them, it can be very helpful to have a basic understanding of why they are difficult.

The #1 reason difficult people are difficult is that it is working for them.

Their previous experience has taught them that their difficult behavior gets them what they want. Or, they believe it will get them what they want.  While we cannot make a difficult person not be difficult, we can train them that their difficult behavior is not going to be rewarded by us.

For example, consider the exploder.  The exploder yells and pitches a fit in hope that they will get one or more of the following “rewards,” just to name a few:

  • Others cave in and give them what they want.
  • Other are intimidated and won’t engage.
  • Others are upset and the difficult person then has power or control.
  • Others have hurt feelings and the difficult person then has leverage.

If you decide to stop rewarding the difficult person by calmly standing your ground, not caving in or becoming overly emotional, the difficult person will learn that while their difficult behavior might work with others, it does not work with you.  By using this approach, you will be doing as Eleanor Roosevelt suggests and “training other people how to treat you.”

The next time you are dealing with a difficult person, ask yourself, “What reward are they looking for and how can I assertively deny them that reward?”

Remember, you cannot make a difficult person not be difficult. You can train them to recognize their difficult behavior does not work with you.

For more tools to handle difficult people, check out these “on-demand” webinars.

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.

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Conflict, Communication, and Your Emotional Vocabulary

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Communication Skill: Unleash the Power of “Yet”

mindsetOne of my favorite books in recent years is Carol Dweck’s Mindset.  This Stanford psychologist discusses the difference between a “fixed” and a “growth” mindset.  As leaders, we are well served to have and communicate with a “growth” mindset. This is easier said than done.  Often “fixed” mindset language sneaks into our communication.

For example, we might say during a discussion with our team:

  • We don’t have a solution.
  • We don’t know how to make this process easier.
  • We don’t have the resources.

We might think these are statements of facts. And, they are.  They are also “fixed” mindset statements. We may, inadvertently, be displaying a “fixed” mindset to our team when we really want to display a “growth” mindset.  Imagine the difference the word “yet” could make.

  • We don’t have a solution… yet.
  • We don’t know how to make this process easier… yet.
  • We don’t have the resources…yet.

Adding the word “yet” easily takes a statement from a “fixed” mindset form of communication to a “growth” mindset form of communication. A form of communication that says solutions are possible, answers are out there, and resources can be found. What a HUGE difference this small word can make.

Where can you add the word “yet”?

For more valuable tips on leadership communication, register for one of these webinars.

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:

Stop “Command and Control” Language During Conflict

Communicating Praise that Makes an Impact

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

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