Communication – Listen First

I saw this quote (picture below) and have been thinking about it all week.  Communication the all time hot topic for development in most jobs.  How to improve it, to excel at it and how to drive others with your leadership of it.

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I asked myself this week, do I listen to reply or do I listen to understand?  In many cases I’m needed to reply, direct, mentor or give advice; however, I feel that one needs to understand before moving to a response.  The key is the mindset to ensure you understand first.

There are times where I’ve ask a question to my leadership team and the answer I get is a “non” answer to my question.  Which I quickly translate to “I don’t know” but for some reason there is a fear, for not knowing something, it’s what I call the autonomic reply.  I dislike this autonomic reply, I’d rather deal with the uncomfortable silence for redirected questions if necessary, than get the “non” answer.  This is a communication problem i.e, poor listening skills.

Let’s be fair, not everyone is a great communicator (topic for another blog) or it wouldn’t be a hot topic come goal setting time, however, as a listener it’s up to us to understand.  How does one become a good listener?  Glad you asked – Here are steps to get you on your way.  Think CAR.

1.  Classification
It’s important to know, as the listener, if you are to respond. As you’re listening, decide if there is a call to action expected of you. Sometimes the role of listening is just that, to listen and empathize. Classify and know your role. If in doubt ask, but at the end, if the discussion has already started, when you understand more. If you ask up front you look like a tool.

2.  Attention!
In the military, soldiers don’t doodle around multi-tasking when their superior commands attention, they do it. No multi-tasking. So take this step and ensure your attention is directed correctly.  Don’t do the mental wonder, stay in the present and focus.

3.  Repeat
The act of understanding, is easier said than done sometimes. When you’re having a hard time understanding something, ask clarifying questions. Repeat what you’ve heard. It’s not meant to be frustrating to the person talking, however, if the intent is for understanding and reply, you need to know what’s being asked or communicated. Now is not the time for assumptions. Remember the saying, assumptions make an ass out of you and me when wrong.

I hope this helps you on your listening skills.  Which step will you apply in the next week, do you already use these steps?  Do you have another to add? I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.

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Top 10 Ways to be a Good Leader/Manager

As a leader and manager for over the last 10 years these are my top 10 ways for being a good one.

  1. Get your hands dirty.
    • Know what your people are doing and what their grind is like.  You can’t empathize if you have no idea, and they know it.
  2. Listen.
    • Don’t lead all the meetings, spice it up and have others lead.  All meetings shouldn’t be updates and lectures (boring!!).Leadership
  3. Ask questions and go back to #2.
    • Gain insight and knowledge by seeking out the hard questions/answers.  Don’t seek to answer them straight away, no one likes the spin zone in which the question never gets fully addressed (people are not stupid).
  4. Empower your team.
    • Let your team drive their work and decisions, while supporting them, win or fail.  No one likes a boss over the shoulder every step of the way, but they do appreciate the one who is a phone call away.
  5. Be fearless.
    • Don’t let every little dip in a relationship with clients dictate your mood to our team.  It will all work out and showing a positive spirit in the face of adversity will drive morale higher versus killing it.
  6. Keep your people at the top of your priorities.
    • Should be self-evident.  People make the world go round. If the wrong person isn’t right for the job perform them out, they affect the people who are right for the job.
  7. Develop something from scratch.
    • It gives a sense of pride and accomplishment, leaders need it too!
  8. Allow personal goals for your people.
    • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Goals shouldn’t all just be corporate ones, refer back to #6.
  9. Make mistakes and don’t hide from them.
    • Mistakes happen, hopefully not costly ones that can’t be remedied.  Don’t sweep it under the rug, play in it and learn from it and share what you or the team as learned.  Refer back to #5 and #4.
  10. Break the rules.
    • If it adds value to a person or a project and is strategically sound, break the rule.  Refer back to #6 and if someone is pulling in more hours than usual and adding value, give them the day off outside of the vacation schedule to recharge and let them know you care and appreciate them.

Any additional ways for leaders/managers to be good? Please let me know in the Comments below.  It’s good to stay at the top of your skill set as a leader/manager.

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Manage Your Mindset for an Instant Attitude Swap

In your professional and personal life you are faced with the up’s and down’s of being human and how your attitude plays into how you perform and feel. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced in this life game, I believe it’s all in your mindset and if you manage it, even the most negative situations don’t have to impact your stress levels to the extreme, and your heart/mind health will thank you. We’re human, we are fallible and we are complex. Below is my top advice for climbing that career ladder – or that personal ladder.

#1 Be Resilient
Recently I was traveling to Europe for business and my luggage did not arrive with me that evening. I did have a minor breakdown moment but in the end, I had toiletries from the airline (Lufthansa You Rock!). In that pack was a t-shirt and laundry detergent. So pulling myself together, I washed my travel clothes and made do with what I hadAttitude-Dashboard for my training meeting the next morning. Of course my clients and colleagues were sympathetic of my situation, we charged onward with tasks at hand and at the end of the day my clothes (suits & dresses) came for our reception dinner. Granted at the reception a waitress stumbled with her tray and the drinks came crashing down and on me, you know what? It’s all alright, pity we lost the champagne but I was happy to be in my dress and not my traveling yoga pants – it’s all perspective!! I helped clean up the mess and we went about our dinner. Stuff happens; the good, the bad and the ugly – rise above.

#2 Prioritization
There is a great quote I saw recently, not sure who it’s from, but it sums up nicely when you’ve been procrastinating. “There are 7 days in a week and someday isn’t one of them.” Take this to heart when you keep putting off something you really need to do, whether it is for yourself or someone else. If it’s on your ‘To Do’ list get going and get it done. I’m always happier when I’ve completed that dreaded task, such as recently cleaning out my closet. If I didn’t wear it in a year or it’s too small, the days of ‘one day I could wear it again’ where thrown out the window and I tell you what, my closet is amazingly organized now and I am happy. It only took me about 2 hours to complete regardless of being on my list for 3 months. I could have been happy so much earlier. Hindsight, don’t let it rule you, learn from it.

#3 Admit Mistakes
I never understood why people have a hard time with this. Is it our egos? For me, I would much rather get it out there first that I had a mistake, versus someone coming along and calling me out on something. It’s basically my way of addressing old news and moving onto a corrective action or just plain moving on. I feel bad for celebrity types, because if you don’t have a sense of humor you can easily see where those past mistakes take hold and can bury a person. I’m not saying wear a scarlet letter for life for longer on something that went wrong, but acknowledge and keep going. If mistakes are trends, then have a sit down and assess with actions. Admission is a freeing experience because when you do, the worry and fear fades.

#4 Be Decisive
Sometimes making a choice is hard. However, sometimes we make that choice hard by just belaboring the decision making process. I was reading an article where a person said they make choices in one minute because they don’t want to sit around and deal with it again. If you have all the facts and opinions you need, I say why not? Commit and move on (see #2 above). A pet peeve of mine, what my husband coined, is when someone can’t land the plane. You’re cleared for landing you know what you want to do and need to do, although for some reason or another you just keep on circling the landing path. GET ON WITH IT. Yep, it strikes a nerve with me every time. If it’s in your power to decide, do everyone a favor and decide the course of action. Time is of the essence, inability to make choices will hurt you in the long run.

#5 You’re GREAT
Stop criticizing yourself. Flip the switch and think about what you are great at, and what makes you awesome in this world. As individuals we add to the whole our talents, experiences, beliefs and values. Once you get down on yourself, it’s hard to climb out of that hole. If the people around you are digging that hole for you, you need to find some new peeps because they don’t value you. Everyone is hard on themselves, but when I’m there I stop and affirm the opposite to myself. For example, I’ve was really disappointed about an opportunity that was promised to me and then abruptly it changed.  Their loss, because I’m great and could have really made that situation great.  Also  mistakes happen and it could come back again (see #3 & #1 above).  The end result; you are enough and you are ever evolving — appreciate where you are and who you’ve become.

Do you have any tools or tips to manage your mindset that I haven’t mentioned above?  What helps you flip the switch on your attitude?  Please comment and share below.  I’m looking forward to the extra tools and tips!  If you liked this post, let me know and I’ll continue more posts/blogs like this one.

Career Advice That Turns to Life Advice by Mike Rowe

I was making my tour through the internet and came across this brilliant response from Mike Rowe from a fan asking him about career advice to find his ‘dream job’.  It’s a brilliant response from Mike that’s poignant and applies to more than career advice.

Check it out via the link below.  I’m a big fan of Mike’s (and Freddie, his new puppy) for more than this article, but it certainly adds to my admiration.

Career Advice by Mike Rowe

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So what was your take away from Mike?  For me it is that happiness is an inside job.  Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life.

As always, love to hear from you; comment, like and share – that’s the purpose of putting out there 🙂  I’m a sharer!