Foot in Mouth Disease is it Redeemable?

Have you ever been in a situation where your brain and mouth did not connect before blurting out something shocking?  Blame it on the spontaneity of the moment or what I call, foot in mouth disease.  It is the end of the year and we all are working hard and just a little stressed.  How does one come back from an emotional blurt out? Seriously we see politicians do it all the time.

Communication is more than just exchanging information.  Effective communication is a two-way street. It’s not only how you convey a message it’s how it is understood by someone the way you intended.  More than just the words you use, effective communication combines nonverbal communication, such as:

  • Engaged listening
  • Managing stress in the moment
  • The ability to communicate assertively
  • The capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.

Effective communication is a learned skill, it is more effective when it’s spontaneous rather than formulaic. A speech that is read, for example, rarely has the same impact as a speech that’s delivered (or appears to be delivered) spontaneously. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop these skills to become an effective communicator. The more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive your communication skills will become and hopefully protect you from foot in mouth disease.

Here is how to avoid the dreaded foot in mouth disease.

Stress and out-of-control emotion. 

When you’re stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior. Take a moment to calm down before continuing a conversation.
Lack of focus. You can’t communicate effectively when you’re multitasking. If you’re planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, checking text messages, or thinking about something else, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation. You need to stay focused on the moment-to-moment experience.

Inconsistent body language. 

Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said, not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel you’re being dishonest. For example, you can’t say “yes” while shaking your head no.

Negative body language. 

If you disagree with or dislike what’s being said, you may use negative body language to rebuff the other person’s message, such as crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, or tapping your feet. You don’t have to agree, or even like what’s being said, but to communicate effectively without making the other person defensive, it’s important to avoid sending negative signals.

 

Giocando nel passeggino
If we only looked this cute, all the time!

 

How do you redeem yourself? 

One way is to practice staying calm under pressure.

Use stall tactics to give yourself time to think. Such as having a question repeated, or ask for clarification of a statement before responding.

Pause to collect your thoughts. Silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing—pausing can make you seem more in control than rushing your response. It also allows you to gauge others following your initial comment.

Deliver your words clearly. In many cases, how you say something can be as important as what you say. Speak clearly, maintain an even tone, and make eye contact. Keep your body language relaxed and open. Wrap up with a summary and then stop. Summarize your response and then stop talking, even if it leaves a silence in the room. You don’t have to fill the silence by continuing to talk.

You may not be able to take your foot out of your mouth from a previous discussion without clarification later which endangers you for discussion of that same topic; however, it’s your decision to let it stay or redirect.  As my Mom use to say, sometimes it’s best to let the dead dog lie. Which basically means, leave it alone, what’s done is done.

What tactics do you use when you suffer from foot in mouth disease?  Do you naturally use the above tips or is this something you’ve learned over time?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Be a Leader – Increase Your EI

Do you want to be a Leader, a good one? Emotional Intelligence (EI) is essential for success and should be in your development plan.  There are a few who see the word emotion and begin to roll their eyes.  Who wants to add emotions to the professional realm?  Guess what? A leader should. This isn’t gender based. After all, who is more likely to succeed, someone who responds to stress with shouting and impulsive decisions, or one who can calmly and firmly assess the situation and manage the circumstances?
Diagram of emotional intelligence

EI is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you.  It’s not manipulation, it’s understanding and caring. Those with a high skill set of EI know what they’re feeling. They understand what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people, and they apply that understanding to those around them.

How do you develop your EI? Firstly, be emotionally aware. Make an effort to pay attention to your emotions and behaviors, your actions and reactions. Consider how they affect you and those around you. This isn’t easy especially in the middle of a meeting when bad news is delivered. Take a pause and evaluate your reactions in front of others. Govern your responses.

Hold yourself accountable. Being in control of your emotions and moods is a basic responsibility, especially as a leader. When you can regulate your responses, you avoid making knee jerk decisions in the heat of the moment. This becomes easier the more you allow for pauses and in turn you control your state of mind.

Lastly, be confident in yourself and your team. In tough situations if your doubting you and/or your team it shows. Master the inner critic, be decisive while empowering your team in that same manner. Those with strong EI are typically respectful of others. Rather than focusing on your own success, help others develop and shine by respecting their strengths and talents. Remember that to give respect is to get respect.

People with high EI are usually successful in most things they do. Why? Because they have a deep understanding of self and they make others feel good about themselves. Building strong EI will not only impact your leadership skill set, it will add value to your life. Don’t strip emotion away for the sake of an ideal of what is ‘professional’, it’s a balance, after all we’re all human and to be human is to be emotional.

What are you going to do to up your EI over the next week?
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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.