5 Ways to Listen Better

Listening is a critical skill.

I don’t think anyone reading this post would deny it.

As I watch the great leaders around me, I notice one thing that they have in common.  They listen.

Rarely are they the first to talk.  They listen, contemplate, and then ask questions.

And then, when they are ready to make a statement, those around them almost lean forward in anticipation of what is about to be said because they know that it will be important.

But why?

Because the leader’s words were built upon a foundation of first listening to others.

So, how do you become a better listener?

The first method of course is to simply close your own mouth, which many of us often find to be a challenge.  I’m the first to admit that I sometimes struggle in this area.  However, when I get it right, it’s amazing what happens.  I find myself listening more intently to those around me and understanding much more than I did before.

The path to improved listening, however, is more of a journey than a sudden magnificent change.  There are many methods, but each of them takes focus, practice, and conscious repetitious effort.

This weekend, I stumbled across a TED video by Julian Treasure that talks about 5 Ways to Listen Better.  So, I thought that I would share with you here to put more tools into your leader’s locker.

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So, what’d you think?  Pretty interesting!

Personally, I found the fifth exercise to be the best.  However, all are great tools to enhance your ability to listen to the environment around you.  And hopefully to not only enhance your ability to listen, but your enjoyment of it as well.

What exercises, tools, or tips have you found to help improve your listening skill?

5 Reasons to Take a Breath Before Responding

I’ve been reminded of a very valuable lesson in my current role.  It seems so easy when you think about it, but in observation, few people seem to practice it.

Every day (for the great majority of us) we communicate with others. 

In communicating, there are a number of elements involved in order to be successful.  For example, you need to listen, use proper tone, and use the right words to clearly convey your message.  While these elements (and others) are all important, I want to focus in on one today:  “taking a breath”.

What am I talking about?  Taking a proverbial breath amounts to nothing more than pausing before you respond to someone.

Why is this important?  Taking a breath will:

  • Ensure you heard the whole message.  If you respond to someone without taking a breath, chances are that your mind was formulating your response while they were talking, which means you may not have heard their full message.
  • Formulate a better response.  By understanding the full message and giving yourself a moment to think, your response will likely be more thoughtful, clear, and pertinent, which in turn will be more readily accepted, which will lead to a better overall conversation.
  • Help you not say stupid things.  Pausing to formulate a better response keeps you from filling the empty space with rambling or stupid comments.  Don’t say dumb things.
  • Demonstrate maturity.  Having a thoughtful response and not saying dumb things helps others see you as a more mature communicator and thinker.  It also demonstrates respect to the person that you are communicating with in showing that you are really giving thought and consideration to your response.
  • Calm you down.  Pausing and taking a real breath will help you physiologically.  Taking a breath introduces oxygen in to your body and brain, which will help you stay calm and improve your thinking processes.

The interesting thing about this ‘proverbial breath’ is that it applies not only to face to face verbal communications, but to just about any form of communications.

Email is a good example.  While it definitely depends on the situation, email is generally not an urgent form of communication.

So, why is it that people feel the need to respond urgently to an email?  This is a topic that we could spend an entire blog series on, but for the purpose of this post we’ll say that you can apply the same “breath” here.   Take the time to think through your response.  It may be that your “pause” lasts several hours and you don’t respond until the next business day.  Be thoughtful and avoid the urge to always reply immediatley. 

Now, if you are worried about the “sun down rule” you can always respond with an acknowledgement of their communication followed by expectation setting.  Example, “Thank you for your email.  I will get back with you on this tomorrow.”

Two bonus points –

If you’ve paused, thought and still don’t know what to say, don’t be afraid to say, “Let me think about that and get back with you.” Or “Let me take that back and look in to it.” Or some variation thereof.  This gives you additional time to formulate a proper, educated response, which is usually appreciated more than an immediate half-formulated, somewhat coherent answer.

If your communication is heated or emotionally charged, don’t respond until you’ve calmed down.  If you’re face to face, try to separate from the situation as politely as possible.  If you’re on email, don’t respond.  This is a really good time to “sleep on it” or talk with someone first to gain perspective.  Nothing good comes from emotionally charged responses that perpetuate a situation.

Granted, there are exceptions to all of the above concepts, but as rules of thumb, they’re pretty solid.

Learning to take a breath before responding will definitely help you as a leader and will improve people’s perception of you as a leader.

What stories or examples do you have of “taking a breath” or “not taking a breath”?

7 Tips for Interacting with Employees on Social Media

Here’s a leadership challenge.

What do you do when an employee sends you a “friend request” on Facebook?  What about on LinkedIn?  Or if they follow you on Twitter?

This is today’s reality and it can be very troubling for a leader.  You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, but where is the line between public and private life?

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Social Media and You (the Leader) we covered some tips on (1) the general landscape and (2) navigating the minefield.  In Part 3, we are going to look at interaction with employees on social media.

By this point, you should know that HOW you engage on social media is really up to you, but that you should have a plan.  Also up to you is how you interact with your employees on social media, but this is one of those places that you really have to weigh the pros and cons.

Unfortunately, as I researched this topic, I found just about as much evidence ‘for’ as I did ‘against’, which wasn’t very helpful.  I did find one private practice legal website that I liked though.  While they took a fairly neutral stance, they certainly provided a little more ‘meat’ than other articles I read.  For your benefit, I am providing the pros and cons that they listed on their website below.

  • Pro: Friending employees can help you discover common interests with your staff and can build camaraderie between people in your workforce.
  • Con: Access to your employees’ Facebook (or other) pages may reveal their personal problems or issues and can introduce “drama” into your work environment.
  • Pro: Allowing your employees access to your Facebook (or other) pages may show your more personable side, which can make you more “approachable” to employees.
  • Con: Connecting through social media may make managers too “approachable” and can blur the line between supervisor and subordinate.
  • Pro: Friending employees may provide insight on how best to motivate employees, which can lead to new, more effective ways of relating to your employees.
  • Con: Reviewing an employee’s Facebook (or other) page may result in discovering an employee’s religious affiliation or health problems, which can be pointed to if claims of discrimination are ever raised by the employee.
  • Pro: Friending your employees may uncover their hidden talents and hobbies which could be useful to your business.
  • Con: To avoid “playing favorites,” if you accept a friend request from one employee, you probably need to accept friend requests from all your employees.

So what do you do?  Here are 7 tips for interacting with employees on social media:

  • KNOW THE RULES.  Know if your company has a policy against being “friends” with subordinates on social media sites.  If they do, then don’t do it.
  • SET BOUNDARIES.  YOU have to make a decision on whether or not you will be friends with employees on social media sites (also bosses, co-workers, colleagues, etc.).  It’s up to you.  But you need to make a decision and set those fence posts.
  • STICK TO YOUR GUNS.  Once you’ve made that decision, apply it consistently.  Don’t treat employees differently (there is a huge opportunity for misperception there).  Treat them all the same.
  • PLAN FOR THE CONVERSATION.  Social media is incredibly personal to some people and they WILL get their feelings hurt if you choose not to “accept” them.  Be prepared to have the conversation with them (usually following the friend request denial) that you have a personal policy of not interacting with employees on social media sites.  This may sting a little at first, but will be better in the long run because it will remove speculation and diminish curiosity as to why.
  • CORRECT THE MISTAKE.  If you start out accepting employees, but figure out that you don’t want to do that anymore, then make the change.  Just know that this too may sting for a little bit, as people associate “unfriending” with not being personally accepted.  Ripping the band-aid of may be the best in this situation.  Just make sure that you communicate it appropriately.
  • DON’T INVITE.  Do not ‘invite’ or ‘friend’ your employees.  Again – social media is very personal.  A boss initiating the invite may make the employee feel like they have to accept and you may be invading their personal space.  This includes asking your employees to “recommend” you on LinkedIn.  Don’t invite or ask.
  • BE NICE, NOT NAUGHTY.  If you decide to be friends with employees on social media sites, take a ‘neutral to nice’ approach to the content you post.   Don’t be negative (in any sense of that word).  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or HR to see.  You may think that this doesn’t allow “you to be you”.  But if you want to be “you” without censorship, then don’t invite your employees to the party.

Two more things.

  1.  Watch out for the PROMOTION.  When you promote and the people that you used to call “peer” are now your “subordinates” your relationship changes.  This includes how you engage with each other from a social standpoint, which includes social media sites.  This means one of two things. First, if your policy is not to be “friends” with employees on Facebook, then you may need to ‘unfriend’ your former peers, which is a tough one.  OR, it means that you may need to modify how you use that social site.  Not doing either could be a recipe for disaster (see bullets 4, 5, and 7 above).
  2. You don’t have to have a one size fits all approach to social media sites.  You may NOT want them to be your friends on Facebook, but LinkedIn may be OKAY because it is a professional networking site.  Know how to use the sites, know your purpose, and engage accordingly.

I’m sure this has spawned lots of questions for you.  But this was a great starting place.  Ultimately, the decision is yours.  Just make sure you are making an educated and informed decision.  If you are still unsure, you can always seek advice from your company’s legal counsel.  They should be able to provide you with additional insight and perspective.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Should a boss be friends with their employees on social media sites?  Why or why not?

5 Suggestions for Avoiding Social Media Blunders

Social Media.  Personally, I’m a big fan and huge user!  Wrong or right, it is shaping how we communicate as a society.  More importantly for us, it’s shaping how we communicate as leaders.  Being leaders means that people watch our actions closely and social media now gives those watchers a magnifying glass.

As Part 2 in our series Social Media and You (the Leader), I wanted to get a little more personal and talk about how to avoid some of the missteps.

For myself, I’m engaged on lots of different platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.).  You may be different, but chances are, you’ve ventured out and tried at least one platform (most likely Facebook or MySpace).  I’m generally pretty open in my use of social media, but am extremely cognizant of whom I’m engaging with and how.  I also know how to use the features and tools on the sites that I participate on.  AND, I am very mindful of the content I post.

Leaders be ready!  How you engage is really up to you, but navigating the social media minefield requires a little bit of thought and discipline.

Here are 5 practical tips to help you out:

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.  Think of social media platforms like a car.  Every car is different (so are social media platforms).  Every car has different features (so do social media platforms).  You have to learn the ‘rules of the road’ to drive successfully (the same is true for social media platforms).  You can crash in a car and can cause injury or damage (as you can on social media platforms).  A car can provide great freedom, efficiency, and opportunity in one’s life (as can social media platforms).   The key is to learn how to use your “car” effectively.  Doing so will improve the chance that you don’t make inadvertent mistakes (like posting things to the wrong audience).  Learn how to set the privacy and security features.  Learn what other’s see when you post.  Learn how to use filters and groups.  Learn how to retract posts.  Learn how to use the features of the platforms correctly.  When you learned to drive, you probably had someone instruct you.  Social media platforms all have tutorials – use them wisely.
  • DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE for using social media.  Know why you are there.  Are you using it for professional purposes (e.g., job hunting, networking, relationship management, etc.)?  Are you using it for sharing your latest personal thoughts and ideas?  Are you using it to promote your business?  Keep in touch with friends and family?  Whatever your desire, be disciplined in your use and be cautious in mixing purposes.  Sharing the wrong content with the wrong people can have disastrous consequences.  For example, posting a rant about how bad [insert your rival college football team here] did this last year on Linkedin, probably won’t help you get that new job (especially if the recruiter went to school there). Define how you want to engage and why and then stick with it!
  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  Hopefully, from the previous point, you’ve defined the people that you want to engage with.  Once you’ve defined how you want to use a social media site, only invite and accept invites, friend requests, or whatever else from those that fit that definition.  If you want Facebook to be a place for you to share info with family and real friends, then do that.  If you want LinkedIn to just be business contacts, then do that.  But be prepared to “ignore” or “reject” some friend requests from people that don’t fit “the profile”.  We’ll tackle this in the next post.
  • KEEP IT CLEAN.  Treat anything that you want to put in to Facebook or any other social media site like it is PUBLIC information!  Don’t ever think otherwise.  Even with the strictest of privacy settings in place, don’t ever think that you’re only sharing information with your “best buddies”.  Others that have access to your info can share, retweet, repost, link to, copy, or “screen shot” your information and may unintentionally (or intentionally) share information that you don’t want shared with others.  This is one of the most frequent landmines that I see on a regular basis.  Rule of thumb:  Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, pastor, or boss to read.
  • QUARREL NOT!   For all the reasons listed in the last point, Facebook or other sites are not the place to “air your dirty laundry” or someone else’s.  Just like in any other form of communication, there are right and wrong ways to do things.  Personally, I’m a believer that if you and I have an “issue” then I am going to come and talk to you about it.  Not email it, voice mail it, text it, or heaven forbid – post it on Twitter.  Plus, it makes you look like a jerk.  If someone goads you, then let it go or take care of it “offline”.  Don’t fall in to the trap of public self-destruction.

In the next post, we’ll talk a little about how employees and co-workers play in to your social media use.

What tips do you have for avoiding social media blunders?

Enjoy!

~J

Social Media and You (the Leader): Part 1

Have you received a “friend request” from an employee on Facebook?  Is a colleague “following you” on Twitter?  Has a client or vendor invited you to “Join Them” on Linkedin?  These are the realities of today’s social media age and they aren’t going away any time soon.  Being a leader today is much more highly visible than ever before.

I’d like to explore this topic over a few posts and get your feedback on the social media age and how it impacts you as a leader.  So, let’s get started.

About a decade and a half ago, we were talking about the rise of 24 hour multi-media.  Images of newsworthy (and some not-so-newsworthy) events were plastered continuously all over television and the evolving web.  However, we as the common bystander were just that.  Mere voyeurs to a world that was happening around us.  And for many, there was comfort in that anonymity.

Enter social media and mobile technology.

Social media (especially that enabled by mobile technology) has taken 24 hour multi-media to a whole new and very personal height.  At any second in the day, I can catch up on what the guy that sat 4 seats behind me in my high school algebra class (20-ish years ago) had for lunch today and what he thought about it.  I can also check on where my sister last “checked in”, what my children saying about me, and that my college roommate still likes New Kids on the Block.  Depending upon how I’ve used or opened myself up in social media, I may also know what my employees, co-workers, and boss are doing and think.

That’s an awful lot of information.  And some quite personal information.  AND in many cases….TMI.

The great majority of those over the age of 13 today are involved in or have used some type of social media.  Facebook (founded in 2004) boasts over 750M users worldwide, Twitter has over 200M members, and Linkedin has over 100M members.  And that’s just the big three.  Add in Digg, Foursquare, My Space, etc. and the numbers and frequency of use becomes staggering.  AND THEN you add in the new Google+ platform and the competitive social landscape really heats up dramatically.  All of the metrics I’ve seen only show continued rapid growth for social media usage.

So why the long set up?

It’s to underscore the importance that social media is playing in our world today.  The same world that we have to be leaders in.  Our environment is changing and we need to adapt to it.

It begs the question, “How do we as leaders use social media in our personal and business lives?

I tried to do some research on this topic, but found that there were many many differing opinions.  And quite honestly, it really depends on you, what you want to accomplish, and how disciplined you are.  So, I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers when it comes to “should you or shouldn’t you” use social media.

But, here’s four things to consider:

  1. Social media is a tool.  In fact, it can be a very powerful tool.  Powerful good and powerful bad.  You can use it to communicate, network, share, and interact with just about anyone you choose only at the risk of exposing your thoughts to others.  I have friends who are very savvy that use it to drive their businesses by creating a following.  I have friends that use it merely as a social platform for friends and family.  I also have friends that (in my opinion) make idiots of  themselves in a “public place” (which leads to the next point).
  2. Social media is public.  Regardless of how private you set your privacy settings, posting things to your “wall” can (and may) become public information.  I cringe when I see people trash others on Facebook or use Twitter to carry out a barrage of insults on someone who has done them wrong.  Folks, they call it “re-tweeting” for a reason and your private tirade can become a public spectacle in about 3 seconds anymore.  Further, the word “public” means just that.  It could include your boss, co-workers, employees, a job recruiter, client, and so on even if you aren’t “friends” with them on that social platform.
  3. Social media is in writing.  And photos.  And videos.  These are all mediums that can be copied, reproduced, and shared quickly.  If you don’t want other people to know, then don’t write about it.  If you’re concerned that people will judge you for attending that party last Saturday night, then don’t post a picture of yourself dancing on a table top while holding a bottle of your favorite adult beverage.  Writing, posting, and uploading content in some cases can create a permanent record, so be mindful of what you’re putting in that permanent record.
  4. Social media is immediate.  This one kills me.  On some platforms, the second you hit send it’s out there.  The second you tweet it, post it, or digg it – others will know.  Don’t expect it to be any different.  And since a large portion of people access social media through mobile phones (that they carry with them 24/7), the chances that they will see your information sooner, rather than later, is very likely.
We’ll jump in to some tips for navigating the social media mindfield and how employees play in to that mix in coming posts.
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So, what’s your stance?  How do you use social media today?  Leave a comment and share!
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Enjoy!
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~Jason

Inspire With Why

People don’t buy what you do.  They buy why you do it.

In my down time, I really enjoy listening to people that inspire me with intriguing ideas.  TED.com is one of those places where I can always seem to find great inspiring content.

The other night, I came across a presentation by Simon Sinek (author, educator) titled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  I found his comments to not only be logical and profound, but applicable to inspiring any audience (e.g., direct reports, team members, customers, etc.).

Sinek believes that if you explain and share why you do something, there is greater loyalty, buy-in, and inspiration as compared to simply communicating what you do.

My favorite statement in the presentation was, “There are leaders and there are those that lead.  Leaders hold a position of power and authority, but those that lead inspire us……we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to.”

The video is 18 minutes long.  I encourage you to listen to the entire presentation as he does a great job communicating his message.  I believe it will change the way that you think about communicating as a leader.

It did for me.

Learning the Power of Language

Do you want to be a good leader? Then learn to be an effective communicator.

We could fill up many blogs full of posts about how important good communication skills are to being a good leader. And while we may explore some of the other areas of communication in later posts, I’d like to focus our attention on learning the power of language.

So what does this all mean? Why is language important? How does this apply to leadership?

“Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.” – Angela Carter

Language is a systemic means of communication by the use of sounds and symbols. It’s the primary vessel of engaging, leading, and interacting with others.

So how do you become a more effective communicator? Here are three tips:

  • Master your primary language.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Learn to say ‘hello’ in multiple languages.

Master Your Primary Language

You may be thinking to yourself, “What are you talking about? I speak English just fine. What do I need to learn?”

There is plenty to learn. Rare are those that are true masters of their language. To master your own primary language means to have a command and understanding of the language well beyond the basics. You need not only understand the meaning of the words, but how and when to use and apply them appropriately.

This is especially true in the work place. In more casual settings (with friends and family), people tend to overlook and forgive poor grammar, spelling, word use, and lack of formality. In the work place, people tend to be less forgiving. Especially in today’s society where documents (including email, texts, and IMs) are legally discoverable, every word used means something, and people tend to be less forgiving if you speak or write incorrectly.

In the last few years, my personal observation has been that devolution of my primary language (English) in the work place has occurred. What is causing this? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Too much reliance on spell check, which leads to misspellings or improper word use.
  • Bleeding over of casual language (e.g., text/IM language) in to formal business communication.
  • Improper word usage, because people are just trying to sound smart.

Now, it may be appropriate at times to use more casual language at work (e.g., on the company IM system or in a more trendy work environment). However, the key is knowing when to use the proper level of formality in a given situation (e.g., contracts – more formal; IM – less formal).

Why is this important to us as leaders? Using the right words properly (written or oral) conveys confidence, poise and intelligence. This doesn’t mean that you need to spout off 5 and 6 syllable words in every sentence. Good leaders know their audience and speak so that their audience can understand them and relate to them. Good communication skills allow leaders to communicate their thoughts effectively, efficiently, and in a way that inspires confidence and trust.

How can you improve your mastery of your primary language? Here’s a few ideas:

  • Identify those areas that you may be challenged (e.g., written communication, verbal communication) and work to refine and improve those areas.
  • Have people proof your communications (e.g., documents, emails, etc.). Learn from what they say.
  • Expand your vocabulary. This doesn’t mean you have to use all the big words you know, just know more words and how to use them.
  • Try not to rely on spell/grammar check. Try to spell correctly the first time. But use spell check before you send written communications.
  • When you speak in front of others (whether one on one or in front of a group) seek feedback afterwards to ensure you were clear.
  • Practice extemporaneous or impromptu speaking. This helps your brain and mouth work better together and faster.
  • Practice being succinct in your speech. Ask someone to ask you questions and have them tell you if you provided enough or not enough information.
  • Learn to speak without verbal pauses (um, uh, like, ah)
  • Read. A lot. The more you consume, the more you know, the easier it is to speak.

You can find many more methods online if you search. The key is to work to improve the way in which you master your primary language to become a more effective communicator.

Learn a Foreign Language

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” -Nelson Mandela

I am a firm believer that speaking in another’s native tongue opens many doors that may otherwise be shut.

Recently, a friend and colleague of mine accepted a senior job in a state government agency. The first piece of advice that I gave him (and the one I hope he follows the most) was to learn Spanish. He serves a population that is highly Hispanic. While I am sure he will be successful, he will be even more successful if he can speak to his constituents in their native tongue. It will endear him to them. It will open many doors.

When I talk to people about other languages, I hear a variety of reasons as to why they don’t know another language ranging from “I’ve forgotten what I learned in high school” to “I just don’t have time to learn.” The fact is, in our multi-cultural, rapidly shrinking world the likelihood of you encountering others that primarily speak another language is very high. And your ability to communicate with them may be critical to your success. You are never too old, too young or too busy to learn another language.

The beauty of learning another language is that you are often not just learning the technical language itself, but you are learning about the cultures that utilize that language, which broadens your perspective and understanding of others.

As a businessperson, speaking, reading, and writing another language (or two, or three) may open many doors of opportunity. Perhaps more trips abroad, an expat assignment, a promotional opportunity or a new job altogether. Often times it is the extras (like language skill) that make the difference between the person that gets the job and the one who doesn’t. I’ve never been in an interview setting or personnel review where language was considered a negative quality.

Working for a multi-national company, I know that I have personally had many opportunities to use my language skills in the work place, both locally and in other countries.

As a leader, the ability to communicate in another language only broadens the dimensions of your leadership skill.

There are many sources to learn from. As an example:

  • Find a friend at work and ask them to teach you
  • Take a college class or local community class
  • Check to see if your workplace offers courses
  • Self-paced courses like Rosetta Stone
  • Podcasts (typically free on iTunes or similar providers)

Then once you learn, practice. Find someone to talk to at work or in the community. Stay brushed up and continue to deepen your knowledge of the language.

Learn to Say ‘Hello’ in Multiple Languages

Hello. Such a simple word, but spoken differently around the globe. This is one of my favorite tips because I find it personally useful and gratifying.

In my travels, I have found that people often appreciate it when you make an attempt to speak in their native language; even if it’s only ‘hello’.

When I used to travel more globally with my company, I made it a point to memorize the words for hello, goodbye, yes, no, and thank you. This was enough to get me by whether in the Czech Republic, Brazil, Germany or China. Similar to ‘learning a foreign language’, it often endeared me to people rather quickly because I was making an attempt.

So why is this important? If you are able to endear yourself to people, you’ll find that barriers are lowered and people are more likely to communicate with you. From a leadership (and business) perspective, this allows you to lead more effectively.

There are tons of great translation resources and applications today (even on your smart phone) that can help you learn these words. However, I usually keep a website saved in my favorites like Freelang.net that give me the full list of ‘hellos’.

One suggestion that I will make is to really try to learn the proper intonation of the word. This really helps with credibility. If you do it right, you may get back a “Ohhh…that sounds really good” from the person you are talking to, which then leads to a much more friendly conversation afterwards.

One of my favorite uses of the ‘multi-language hello’ is at our annual shareholders meeting. Associates from all over the globe come to this event and you can recognize them easily because they are usually all dressed in team shirts and have their country flags with them. I am quick to yell out a “Hola! Bienvenidos!” or “Ohayho Gozaimasu!” or “Bom Dia!” or “Nǐ Hăo!” as they walk by and immediately I get the same in return along with a big smile, hand shake, high five, or sometimes even a hug.

It takes relatively no time at all to learn a few ‘hellos’ and you’ll have them in your locker for when they are needed (and make many friends along the way).

As you can see, there is power in language. So, what can you do to become a more effective communicator?

Enjoy!

~Jason

47 Minutes Well Spent: Part Deux

Following on to the original post 47 Minutes Well Spent, I wanted to accomplish two things.

First, provide you with the lessons from the handout that were shared with us during this leadership session.

Second, use the words “Part Deux” in a blog post.

Now that I have satisifed both, I hope that you find the below information helpful.  There are great nuggets of information in here on how to improve your communication skills.  The bullet pointed list is by no means all inclusive, but is good information to absorb and share.

What communication practices do you find work well for you?

Enjoy!

~Jason

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General Comments on Good Communication

  • What do I know and Who needs to know it?  (especially when in crisis)
  • Be proactive, brief, honest with information.
  • Think before you speak – know your impact
  • Translate the technical to the appropriate level when you are communicating.
  • Best information comes directly from the top of your team, division, organization – don’t let it be filtered.
  • Bad news does not improve with age!
  • If you think you are being micromanaged – it might be because you aren’t communicating – Avoid micro-management by informing your boss what you are up to.  Beat them to it and they will know you are taking care of business.
  • The Sundown Rule should apply when someone asks you for support – respond by the end of the day – even if it’s “I’m on it.”  Acknowledge the request.
  • Talk to your team about integrity and be sure you don’t assume they know what it is.

Email Communications

  • Tell them what they need to know, not what you know. (brief, concise)
  • Write it so it can be read quickly on a Blackberry.    (spaces between bullets, and just a few brief bullet points)
  • Write it, shorten it, and then shorten it again – then think about it one more time before you send it.
  • Make it easy for your boss to forward it to his/her boss without having to translate or rewrite it (just pass it on – giving the information/initiative and the organization speed) – and giving you credit
  • Write only what you would be proud to share in a court of law or in the Wall Street Journal (otherwise, pick up the phone instead)
  • CC your boss if sending an e-mail to his/her boss (confidential N/A).
  • If your boss’s boss e-mails you directly, when replying…include your boss.
  • If your boss is Cc’d on action/customer issues, include them on reply.
  • When writing e-mails,  don’t “think out loud”…get to the point
  • If you need action from someone, assign ownership (no us, we, they)
  • Although 100% of e-mails make it, respond with “will do” or “got it” (imagine that you are in the same room asking someone a question)
  • Close the loop/ follow-up.  If you’re working on it, let them know.  Don’t leave them hanging.

Be a Great Listener!

  • The #1 technique of communication is listening.
  • What your hear and how you respond is more important than what you come up with yourself, and means a lot more to your associates.
  • The #1 threat to good communication and good leadership is Ego.  Ego stops listening.  Ego stops respecting.

Again, not all inclusive, but great bullet points on communication.

Enjoy!

~Jason

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