He's talented, dedicated, smart, charming and skilled. He is a man of conviction. There is much to admire. But he has a near-fatal flaw. He likes to be the one with all the answers. He has an opinion on just about everything, which he will share whether you indicate interest or not.
For a few of my friends, this flaw is a deal-breaker. They like him—they like his work—but they stopped using his services because he hard-sells his ideas.
When one more friend told me she wasn't going back to him, and why, I had to say something. I consider him a friend, and friends don't let friends sabotage themselves without input.
So I raised the issue with him, told him why some people I know stopped coming to him, and told him how I sometimes don't share my thoughts with him because I don't want to be lectured.
To his credit, he heard me. He did ask if it would be better to be wimpy. I replied,
There are alternatives.
The same black-and-white thinking that fuels the intensity of his opinions limits his idea of options. Many people think that way: "If you're not overbearing, you're wimpy."
It takes a while to strike any kind of balance between the opposites of life. I find it helps a lot to know you have more communication choices than being passive or being aggressive. While you attempt to strike the balance, I suggest you let yourself err in the direction that is the opposite of your normal imbalance. If you've been hard-selling your ideas, balance will probably seem wimpy, even if it's perfect.
Last summer I gave an associate a stack of items for a project we were planning, and then our focus changed. In a recent conversation, I realized my materials were cluttering her office. I loved her response to my apology. She said:
It's a minor thing.
Those words sound more honest than "it's nothing," yet they also are forgiving.
My Synergy Session with Ed was a Bronco Sandwich today. Last night the Broncos were behind 0-24 at half-time. The final score was 35-24. That's exciting for Bronco fans, and Ed is a Bronco fan. I knew it would be a source of pleasure for him, and I like tapping into people's joys. So I opened by saying,
How about them Broncos?
Ed appreciated the mention. It was a nice opening to our time together.
I raised the Broncos again at the end. It was a nice ending to our time together.
Where's you heart? Where's the heart of people you engage with? What can you say to give them the opportunity to talk about what's in their hearts?
Of course, if you talk to a Charger's fan today, a Charger Sandwich will have a very different tone than my Bronco Sandwich did. It still might be a good on-ramp for a shared discussion. Caution - this might be tricky if you're a Broncos' fan yourself.
It starts with passive or aggressive communication. Often the next stage is to swing to the opposite polarity - the passive communicator gets heavy-handed and the aggressive communicator goes soft. Eventually we develop balance - which is assertiveness - yet can look like passiveness or aggression at times.
Don was rightfully upset that his bank told another interested buyer that he had already inquired about a specific property. That prompted the other buyer to put in their offer immediately and helped the other buyer win the contract.
The damage is done. Don wondered if he should just let it go, or write a scathing and threatening letter to the bank president. His initial considerations had no middle ground.
Don isn't mean-spirited, so when the choices are so extreme, he is likely to say nothing - and let it eat away at him.
The fact is, Don was wronged, and leadership at the bank needs to know about it. One option moving forward is to go to the president and say:
Someone at this bank was indiscreet and I was injured. I don't see any way to make it right now. However, I do want to let you know what happened so you can make it right moving forward.
My friend Sherry sent me pictures of fall in her town in Oregon. Pretty nice, huh! I told her:
I gasped when I opened them.
It was true. I'm not there with her physically, but I shared in the awe of her experience. I wanted her to know the gift of the pictures moved me, and sharing my response to them rather than my assessment of them ("they were beautiful") was my gift back to her.
My assistant Angela tells me she gets Goose Bumps sometimes when I say something that moves her. I love that much more than hearing an opinion, no matter how positive.
If you don't actually gasp or get Goose Bumps, don't fake it. But do share more than just your thoughts about things. Share your experience.
Blogger Sarah Braley now questions everything author and keynote speaker Jonah Lehrer says, because he was unable to back up a statistic she challenged after hearing him deliver his keynote speech.
I suspect she was more turned off by his lack of concern over accuracy and dismissiveness when challenged than she was by his making a suspect claim. To quote Stephen Covey,
"People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake."
I like to believe Covey is right, because I've made some very interesting and illuminating mistakes in my career, and expect I will make many more. I'd like to be forgiven. We all were. And more often than not, we all are - if we don't compound our mistakes of the mind with mistakes of the heart.
I posted a fun slideshare tonight about an empassioned plea for the word police.
Many police badges say "protect and serve." Word police act like they have badges that say "correct and unnerve."
My slideshare walks you through some of the considerations and concludes with "protect when it serves."
It was inspired in part by some of the feedback people offered for their ratings of the phrases posted on the GPS survey. I'll share that and announce the winner during Wednesday's How to Give Great Feedback webinar.
One of the success tools that Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers uses is requiring every employee to make a "2-second improvement" each day. That's an improvement that saves 2 seconds in something they do. It's not about improving the end result, it's about improving how they get to the end result.
That requirement isn't just some nice idea that everyone ignores. Each employee is expected to—and does—develop a small process improvement each day. Some are shared in the morning meeting and others are reported in the "morning improvement walk" where the manager asks a version of this question.
What improvement did you make in how you work today?
Why not ask that question of yourself, and of people you work with each day? Not only will it get everyone thinking in terms of improvements, but you'll learn some best practices that way.
My simple improvement today was to download the app for my screen sharing protocol. It saves at least two seconds when I want to share my screen with someone. Actually, I have more, but I'll keep it simple and share just one.
I stopped by Eve's Revolution tonight. She mentioned that she found that staying open during the Waldo Canyon Fire had a comforting effect on a lot of her customers. I believe it. For me, visiting was a part of stepping back into life after the fire.
Her shop had a slight slowdown in business, but she wasn't evacuated or shut down. That doesn't mean she wasn't affected by the fire.
I don't ask anyone:
- Were you affected by the fire?
How were you affected by the fire?
Eve summarized the experience in a word that struck me as the best one possible. She said:
Indeed it is.
If you haven't seen the time-lapse of the fire, I recommend that you watch. It really is humbling. And awe-inspiring.