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Posts tagged ‘Skill’

Walk the Talk

There is nothing more frustrating than a manager who has not aligned their communication messages with their behavior. Team Members are often heard to say “They say one thing, but do another” a common example is a Leader who speaks at staff meetings about the importance of quality while outside of the staff meeting only ever inquires about productivity. It seems that occasionally Leaders forget that all eyes are on them, all of the time.

Down through the ages Leadership was almost always looked at as, “above” the Team. They were the ones who gave the orders and left. Often, the Leaders of the past thought that, due to the respect that came with the title they could have immunity from following their own directions. While this was true for earlier generations, Team Members within the last two working Generations are far past accepting that type of action.

Today’s workers are looking for the Leader that will not only, “walk the talk”, but do that walking side by side and be the Leader in action as well as direction. The only way that can happen is if the Leader realizes that they are not only the Leader of the Team, but that they are PART OF the Team!  To ensure that your employees all receive a consistent message, you need to align your communication messages with your actions.

Until next time, don’t just tell them, lead it and live it!!

Rod

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Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

Leaders with poor people skills often find themselves in the middle of unnecessary conflict. This can be exhausting and stressful for all concerned, and it can destroy even the best of work environments. Many people are confident that they can develop new technical skills and knowledge through training and experience. However, there’s a common belief that “you are who you are” when it comes to people skills – or “soft” skills – and that there’s little or nothing you can do to change these. Fortunately, this is far from true. And a great place to start improving soft skills is by developing the ability to empathize with others.

Empathy is simply recognizing emotions in others, and being able to “put yourself in another person’s shoes” – understanding the other person’s perspective and reality. To be empathetic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Once you see beyond your own world, you’ll realize that there’s so much to discover and appreciate! People who are accused of being egotistical and selfish, have often missed the big picture of who they are in relation to those around them.  If you’ve been called any of these things, then remind yourself that the world is full of other people, and you can’t escape their influence on your life. It’s far better to accept this, and to decide to build relationships and understanding, rather than try to stand alone all of the time.

How to use empathy more effectively:

  1. Step aside from your thoughts long enough to see things from the other person’s point of view. It is important for us to value other people and their opinions. As Leaders we must live diversity if we expect to have a well-rounded life or office. If we honestly stop and think for a few moments about our work life, even though fellow workers might mess up things occasionally, where would we be without them. As much as we might think, we cannot go it alone!
  2. Validate the other person. Once you better understand why others believe what they believe, acknowledge it. Remember: acknowledgement does not always equal agreement. You can accept that people have different opinions from your own, and that they may have good reason to hold those opinions, but it does not mean you have to agree with them. Validation simply means you recognize the different perspective and you let them know it is appreciated.
  3. Open your mind and attitude.Empathy requires an open mind and a welcoming attitude. What are you more concerned with getting your way, showing your “intelligence”, winning, or being right? A true Leader’s focus should be about finding solutions, building relationships, and accepting others? Without an open mind and attitude, you won’t have room for empathy in your life, nor will you value the enormous worth!
  4. Listen with many senses. Listen to the entire message that the other person is trying to communicate and pay attention to them when they are sharing with you.
    • Listen with your ears – try and relate to the content and not form judgments?
    • Listen with your eyes – much can be “heard” when being attentive to their body language?
    • Listen with your instincts – do you sense their might be more to the story that they might be leaving out?
    • Listen with your heart – is the person emotionally attached to the issue and if so, why?
  5. Seek explanation and input from the other person.Where lack of clarity exists, ask the person to explain his or her position. This is probably the simplest, and most direct, way of understanding another person. Often, this is the least used way to develop empathy.  Too many times Leaders feel like they have to be the one with all of the answers. They have to come up with all of the ideas. When in reality, you foster buy-in by allowing the other person or people in the office to participate in solutions. Remember, it’s fine if you ask what the other person wants: you don’t earn any “bonus points” for figuring it out on your own.

When you begin to implement these skills as you interact with people you will see your Leadership influence rise greatly. You will appear much more caring and approachable as you increase your interest in what others think, feel, and experience. The value of being willing and able to see the world from a variety of perspectives is impossible to put a price tag on! The really amazing part about this Leadership tool is anyone can develop it with time and focus!

Say What? Part 1

Nothing irritates me more than someone not listening to what is said or the information given. Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

Given all this listening we are supposed to be doing in a day, you would think we’d be good at it! However, most of us are not. Depending on the study being quoted, we remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation. This is dismal! Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren’t hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25-50%, but what if they’re not?

Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings. All of these are necessary for workplace success!

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating good and lasting impressions with others. The Extended DISC Profile is key to this. Contact Ascend Business Strategies for information on this economical way to turn your workplace around!!

The way to become a better listener is to practice “active listening”. This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent. In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.

You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you’ll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.

To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. To understand the importance of this, ask yourself if you’ve ever been engaged in a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You wonder if your message is getting across, or if it’s even worthwhile continuing to speak. It feels like talking to a brick wall and it’s something you want to avoid.

Acknowledgement can be something as simple as a nod of the head or a simple “uh huh.” You aren’t necessarily agreeing with the person, you are simply indicating that you are listening. Using body language and other signs to acknowledge you are listening also reminds you to pay attention and not let your mind wander.

You should also try to respond to the speaker in a way that will both encourage him or her to continue speaking, so that you can get the information if you need. While nodding and “uh huhing” says you’re interested, an occasional question or comment to recap what has been said communicates that you understand the message as well.

As important as active listening is, read tomorrow’s blog to find out how to become an awesome active listener!

Until then, Listen Up!

Rod