Communication skills are great in theory, but how are they in practice? This Effective Communication Skill Blogshows you how to walk the SpeakStrong talk. I'm Meryl Runion Rose. Join our conversation about Communication Alchemy, and saying what you mean and meaning what you say... without being mean when you say it.
The Communication Alchemist is IN. Are you IN too?
Last week I read in "The M Factor" about a young man who blew an interview by talking too much. He requested a do-over and apologized, explaining that he had wanted this position so much for so long that he got excited and started trying to sell himself too strongly. The CEO gave him a second chance.
Last week I heard author Jill Konrath suggest having a recovery strategy when excitement gets us talking about what we do when it would be more effective to ask what others need. Her advice was similar.
Sometimes I get so excited about my work that I talk too much. I apologize. Tell me more about...
It's great when we get the balance right the first time. When we don't, it's useful to have a fall-back strategy.
Note: this question came from the webinar last week. It's revised from what I suggested at the time.
Meryl, with one of my executives, I find myself completely lost until about 3/4 through the conversation because he will be talking about one subject and then jump to another one. How do I keep up and make sure we're communicating appropriately?
Response - Note the difference in styles. Something like:
You have a remarkable ability to go in many different directions and then tie it all back in to your central point. My mind works more in a straight line that yours does, so sometimes I get lost. Would you be okay if I interrupt you when I stop following you?
I hear a lot of people complain that we've become rude as a society. Some of what seems rude could be a "busyness" world that has gone beyond busy.
I hear a lot of people complain that we've lost our ability to think critically. Some of what seems to be a lack of critical thinking could be the result of a "busyness" world that has gone beyond busy.
The need for speed requires us to be more clear and more engaging in our communication than ever. We can complain about how difficult it is to be heard above the noise. Or we can adjust. We can make it easy for people to give us what we want and we can be as clear as possible. We can do our homework before we open our mouths and use phrases that cut through the fog. That's what the people who are succeeding in this new economy are doing. Think someone is being rude, stupid or dismissive? Maybe they are. Or maybe they need to do business with people who understand their busy-ness world and communicate accordingly.
Meryl, I have a great direct report who spends a lot of time on the internet. We have guidelines about internet use and another director complained to me about how much she is on it. She gets her work done well, and volunteers for projects, so it's not a performance issue. She complains about being bored.
Response - Clearly the real issue is keeping her busy and using her talents, so while you could force her to follow the guidelines and you may need to, I suggest focus on redirecting her interests. Something like:
I can tell we're not using you to potential because you're over guidelines on internet use. Let's brainstorm projects for you until we come up with ideas that will keep you too busy to hang out there long.
It doesn't make sense to me to require you to follow the internet guidelines when you're getting all your work done, but I might have to. How can we resolve this? I have ideas, but I'd like to hear yours first.
We received many wonderful pet peeves last week - but few pet practices. Kudos to the two who posted about ways others communicate that they like.
It didn't surprise me - human nature seems to focus on what we don't want over what we do. That's part of why it takes time to develop really effective communication skills. Translating negatives into positives is an important step in the SpeakSTRONG Method. Please post your favored practices here. If it helps, start by typing, I love it when... or I love the way...
I'll start. I love the way Bob gently tells me when I do things that inconvenience him and asks me to do things differently. Even if it's the hundredth time he's asked me to put something back where I found it, he is graceful in his reminder. I love the way Angela keeps me updated and turn mistakes into learning opportunities. I love the way Evan inspires me to be my best self and how Wendy tells me what she's going to do and then does it. I love it when people joke when we do business together - without compromising effectiveness. I love when people are on my team - including readers - and tell me things they think I should know.
The pet peeves are satisfying to talk about. The pet practices are inspiring and heartening to share. What are yours?
I accepted a request to mentor someone in an association I belong to, but wasn't really comfortable with the term mentoring. Then I remembered what the Army calls the mentoring program I worked with them to develop. They call it:
The Army created a program that recognized the fact that learning goes both ways, even when one person has much more experience than the other. So my mentee and i talked about the wording and agreed to a progressive partnership model for our new relationship.
My clients at the Army are very savvy to abut the importance of word choice.
Whoever said there is no "I" in TEAM did us a great disservice. There should be an I. Team used to be spelled teme, so there there was a "me" in team... once upon a time. A true dream team blends the individual me's with the we.
If you don't bring your "I" (eye) to your team, the team misses out. Sometimes I have to shake my team members (including myself) to get us to show up in our own greatness. Don't defer. Yes, listen and seek to understand before you try to improve on something, but if you have an idea, share it. If your idea is "dumb" - meaning you don't understand, even if you "should" understand, clarify. If something isn't clear to you, chances are it isn't to others either.
And don't try to be good. Yes, be graceful when you differ, but don't fill an imagined role of the "perfect team member". Every team member shapes the team. You get a Michael Jordon on a team and the whole dynamic shifts. Even the less celebrated members shape the team.
Show up. Be a TeMe member. There is no "I" in team, but there used to be a "me", and there still should be. If I could wave my wand and create a new term for team, it would be "WeMe".
Tomorrow's Collabra Cadabra webinar will talk about how to get people to show up and care on your teams. How to have partnerships where everyone is a part, not apart. Join us.
Have you seen this short video? It illustrates how we all can be at times - missing options that are right in front of us. There are times when I want to shake people to wake up and be their empowered selves. They seem to be playing small when they're amazing people whose voices should be heard. The video is good for a laugh - and feels tragic when it plays out in real life. Broken escalators turn into stairs. Simple, isn't it? Well, yes, and much of what I teach is obvious once it's pointed out.
We all have We all have our limits - some are real and others imaginary.
Some of my communication pet peeves are: when I have to ask a question three times to get an answer. When people turn every conversation into how great they are or how unfair life is. And sarcasm. Sarcasm is high on the list. We all need to be tease-able, but I don't see any place for cutting remarks. Sarcasm is a barrier to effective communication.
What are your communication pet peeves?
What are your communication pet PRACTICES?
Some of my communication pet practices (or best practices) are when people don't lose sight of the big picture when they point out errors. I love it when people show up sincerely - honestly - passionately - even if they disagree with me. I love it when people leave their phone numbers and times to reach them.
What are your communication pet practices?
I invite you to share your peeves and practices.
We will discuss them at Thursday's Communication Agreement webinar, so I'd love to get them in advance. But I have other plans for them. If I get more than ten peeves and ten practices, I'll set them up for a vote. The people whose submissions win will get free subscriptions to my Say What You Mean eCourse.
How to share your peeves and practices
You can submit your peeves and preferences by posting them here or emailing me at MerylRunion(at)SpeakSTRONG.com. If you are attending the February 3rd webinar, you can submit your peeves and practices on the webinar site by clicking the link you received when you registered.
Too many managers figure the deadline to be ten minutes before a project is due, forgetting that it takes time for admins and office pro's to put final touches on them. Get managers used to the phrase "administrative deadline". By using that term for setting deadlines for your role in project management, the concept will become more concrete in your mind. For example, use phrases like,
If the drop-dead deadline for this is (date) the administrative deadline needs to be (date).
Use the term administrative deadlines until you hear others use it, too. That's your signal that your part in the success of projects is acknowledged and understood.
The world is full of short-cuts and cheap triumphs. I can exploit your weakness. You can pull rank. I can distract from the real issue. You can put me in a category and dismiss me. I can create a laundry list of your limits and get sympathy for the cross I bear dealing with you. You can blame all the barriers to effective communication between us on me.
Or we both can step back and say - is this what we want? What price do we pay for our cheap victories? We can stop going cheap and start going deep. Going deep takes more time than going cheap. It's also a very powerful thing to do. Effective communication skill requires the ability to go deep. To cut to the core of every conversation and find the opportunity to do more than score a few points that will keep an unhealthy dynamic going. Are you looking for ways to improve communication skills? Stop going cheap, wake up and go deep. Next week's free webinar will give some great tools.
I bought Diane Sieg's book "Stop Living Life Like an Emergency" a couple years back before I spoke to the Emergency Nurse's Association. I loved the book, but today I glanced at the title and the importance of it struck me.
After the Arizona shootings, I had a number of people tell me I needed to act fast to get myself on the radio and TV to talk about my political communication book, "How to Restore Sanity to Our Political Conversations". I did send out a press release, but my first three interviews convinced me: my real audience will still be there next month and the month after that. The people who will influence change aren't the ones who are part of the 24-hour news cycle where the theme changes overnight. And interestingly, my favorite interviews have been the ones that were scheduled farther out, like the one I did on NPR Honolulu last night.
No, they didn't fly me out to give the interview.
Living on high alert all the time isn't just exhausting, it's not efficient. So thanks to Diane Sieg for a great book that sends an important message even if you don't get past the title. To get that much just from a title is what I call effective communication.