"Please, just take it all!" Caroline implored. I walked away from her yard sale with hundreds of dollars’ worth of fine items, and she wouldn't take a dime. But it wasn't just me. It was an extravaganza for the entire neighborhood. Caroline and Wally were lightening their load for a move. Their driveway and yard and garage contained box after box of unsorted tawdry trash mixed with thrilling treasure. They took great pleasure in essentially giving it all away to come who may.
"How does it feel to watch us all walk away with your stuff?" I asked.
"Like barnacles off a ship," Caroline replied.
They got the job done. Caroline and Wally's decluttering plan was a good plan for them.
If you’re really good at “admining”, you’re a Guerrilla Admin. What does that mean?
Just as Guerrilla Marketing uses unconventional methods to promote a product, the Guerrilla Admin uses unconventional methods to be resourceful on behalf of the organization, the person he (she) supports and the mission. (And himself, of course.)
Is your exec or manager a brilliant shining star? Do you ever feel small or invisible next to him or her? What if you sometimes seem smaller than you are, because actually you’re bigger than people can see?
On a recent hike to catch the last fall leaves, my friend and I chatted about a celebrity entrepreneur who sold his company and lived and taught personal development in our area. You’d know him if I named him. But this article isn’t really about him – it’s about you and your boss. So I’ll call our celebrity friend “Rich,” which fits (but not as well as it once did).
I set my computer to open to the desktop when it wakes. Clicking the locked button only took a moment, but it was an unnecessary step that I took several times a day. This is what Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers calls a two-second improvement. You probably need your computer password protected, so that’s likely not an improvement you would make. But I suspect there are a thousand things like that that you could do that would eliminate unnecessary steps in your work.
Is telling the boss they're wrong a career-limiting or career-enhancing move?
While all bosses are different, most managers want to hear about it when they’re about to make a mistake.
How you tell them will make the difference between your words being taken as welcome information or insubordination.
It was rush hour, but I made great time driving from Bellingham to Seattle anyway. I was ready, oh so ready, to sink into sleep. My hotel was visible from the exit ramp. I allowed myself to feel my weariness and anticipated surrendering to my fatigue after what had been a very long day. My hotel was a short block away.
But it took me 45 minutes, literally, to get there. By then, I was beyond sleepy. I was exhausted in Seattle.
I’m sure, like me, you know from experience that too many cars in too small a space lead to gridlock. And, according to Personal Kanban author Jim Benson, the same is true of too many tasks crammed in to too little time.
Linda’s home looked like you would expect during a DIY (do-it-yourself) kitchen remodel. The contents of her kitchen were strewn asunder. But the cabinet stain showed great promise. I OOOHED and I AWWWWED with sincere admiration.
However, Linda’s earnest sharing of her cabinet WIP (work-in-progress) did not extend to my husband. She wanted him to wait to see it until it was showroom-ready.
I get it. I love to share my unfinished work with some people, and I prefer to wait for completion with others. I’m sure you can relate. Some people see the beauty in a process where others just see chaos. Inviting the wrong person into your process can feel like a bucket of cold water.
If you’re an administrative assistant, you know it’s your job to provide support, make your boss look good, and help him or her meet objectives. If you’re an administrative assistant, you also know your manager sets the direction and your role is to help him or her succeed. If you place your own agenda over your manager’s agenda, you won’t keep your job long.
That doesn’t mean you should remain passively silent while others tell you what to do and how to do it. Ideally, your relationship with your manager is a collaborative one, organized around your manager’s and your organization’s directives. It’s a relationship where you take charge of your role without taking over, you take the initiative without taking control, and when you need help, support, or resources to effectively implement your job, you initiate the important conversations that ensure your success and the success of your partnership with your managers.
Yay me! I set my computer to bypass the welcome screen open to the desktop when it wakes. Sure, clicking the picture of the cute kitten on the locked button to get to my desktop only took a moment, but it was an unnecessary step that I performed several times a day. Those moments add up.
That change is what Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers calls a two-second improvement. He advocates making an improvement each day that saves you two seconds. Saving two seconds doesn’t sound like much, but the time savings adds up. You probably need your computer to be password protected, so my improvement isn’t one you’re likely to copy. But there are a thousand things like that that you can do that will eliminate unnecessary steps in your work.
I am blessed with a devoted and competent sister in Cincinnati, where my parents live. For years, she sandwiched caring for their needs between being a mother to her five kids and a wife. When mom recently had a medical crisis, that role suddenly became undoable. I flew in to help them transition into assisted-living.
Since I live a thousand miles away, I can’t do everything for them in the way my sister did. Instead, during my visit, I did a lot, but I mainly got a lot done.
I have to think that people who downplay the importance of synergy haven’t experienced its magic. I hope that’s not you.
Synergy says everyone is smarter than any one. It makes sense. You know things I don’t. I know things you don’t. Together we cover more bases. Likewise, you know things your exec doesn’t. Your exec knows things you don’t. You have different perceptions, skills and focal points. That can be a recipe for synergy.
In The Marshmallow Challenge, Ted Wujek explains that CEOs did much better on the exercise when their admins were on their teams. He suggests the characteristic admin focus on process augments the CEO planning bias. The combined styles create synergy.
I love to hear feedback after I speak. This recent comment really struck me:
"During your talk, I turned to the gal sitting next to me and told her: 'Meryl just said the opposite of what the speaker before her said.'"
"Thanks for noticing!" I replied smiling. "From the moment I heard the title of the keynote that I would follow, I expected we would say different things.” The keynote I followed was called “Cultivating a Leadership Persona.”
“I've spent most of my adult years working to drop persona and be the real deal," I explained. My new friends nodded approvingly and knowingly.
It used to bother me that my perspective often is very different from others'. It doesn't bother me anymore. I’ve become more at home with myself. I see things differently without needing to discredit how others view then. The speaker before me made some important points and offered useful tools. I offered some alterative views.
A recent Stanford study pinpointed communication tendencies that are common among CEOs who are later proven to be liars. Here’s what it said:
“For one, they seldom referred to themselves or their firms in the first person; “I” and “we” were replaced by terms like “the team” and “the company.” Deceitful executives passed up humdrum adjectives like “solid” and “respectable” in favor of gushing words like “fantastic,” and (not surprisingly) they seldom mentioned shareholder value.
They also tended buttress their points with references to general knowledge with phrases like “you know” and to make short statements with little hesitation, presumably because they had carefully scripted the untruths in advance and had no interest in lingering on them.”
The report also noted the tendency to swear as a tip off.
The study lead to the question that a woman’s magazine editor asked me: "How do you get to the truth when bosses lie?"
When you embark on an important conversation, do you know how you feel? Most people don't. When I ask what they feel, most people will share an opinion. There's power in the language of feelings. Find the words to describe how you feel, and you are far more likely to make a powerful point.Learn how to use your communication words in:How to Use PowerPhrases
According to Relationship Expert John Gray, emotions exist in layers, from
more guarded to more vulnerable. Emotions go from:
If you’re ever unsure about what you feel, use this like a map to take you through all possible levels. Gray calls it a love letter technique. That name implies that you only use it in love relationships — but it’s useful any time you’re not sure what you feel. The process has helped me through many emotional challenges.
Here are some sentence stems to help you work your way through your emotions.
Everyone knows honesty is the best policy - and yet there are so many ways we have been taught and encouraged to be dishonest. Character-based Communicators embrace honesty because it's right, freeing and effective.
Eloquence is the second quality at the hEart of Character-based Communication. It's not enough to be right or know what you're talking about. You also need to speak with grace, skill and polish.
There is something wonderful about having people in your life who are true to their word. There is something even more wonderful about BEING one of those people.
"I'll get back to you on that." How often do you hear that, and know they never will? Responsiveness keeps the flow going and allows relationships to deepen and sweeten and develop quickly. Find out why responsiveness is a key quality of Character-based Communicators.
Many people have the goal of becoming effective communicators. Character-based Communicators want more. Character-based Communicator are transformational communicators. And the growth never ends.
There is power at the HEART of your business communication. And yet many of us deliberately leave the HEART out. HEART stands for Honesty, Eloquence, Accountability, Responsiveness and Transformation. These are the qualities of Character-based Communicators.
I loved working with “Amy”, but in recent months she had gone from being actively involved to dialing it in. I got the sense that she was checking off a to-do list to meet minimum requirements and wasn’t engaged anymore. Her personal life had gotten chaotic, and she had checked out on me.
Speaker Linda Larson is one of the most compelling speakers I know. I have heard her speak a dozen times, and I've listened to her audio many times over with complete interest each time.
Linda uses foreshadowing to create anticipation. She arouses questions in your mind and keeps you hanging on to the edge of your chair wondering how things are going to turn out.
Her use of foreshadowing may be natural - she does the same thing in her one-on-one interactions. She once left me a voicemail that said, "I wish you were there, because I just made a huge decision that I need to tell you about." It took us days to get a hold of each other. Every time my phone rang I hoped it was her so I could find out what her "huge decision" was.
Linda's audiences can't get enough of her. She can hold their interest for hours on end. The way she creates a sense of anticipation is a part of her success.
I felt a Linda Larsen-like anticipation recently when reading an email from an internet marketer who wanted my business. Terry stirred my curiosity by telling me about a web site he thought I could use as a marketing model. Terry's email said,
Okay, now I want to point you to a web site from someone you may already know about. This guy is a content web visitor driving fool. I want you to notice some very specific points on his web site.
1.) What people are saying (builds credibility).
2.) Speaking (one of his core income producing products - looks like you are a speaker as well.
3.) Audio and Video - notice the word "powerful" and then notice what he has done for many different "highly" targeted audiences.
Oh, I forgot to give you his web site, sorry about that...
4.) Now for the *really* big deal. This is what makes this guy so much money...
The email went on for a few more paragraphs before he told me who he was referring to. Terry had me hooked.
So, today I practiced foreshadowing with my husband. I start my days by watching Sex and the City reruns while I exercise. I've been following this routine long enough that I've seen almost every episode several times. This morning was an exception and when I finished my routine, I went up to my husband and said,
"Today was a very special day."
"Why?" he asked.
"I went downstairs to exercise to Sex and the City, and after all this time I didn't think it would happen, but it did."
"I've been watching all reruns and that's what I thought I was going to get today."
Bob said, "You saw an episode you hadn't seen before."
Bob played along with me, and it was a simple way for me to practice a technique that has been shown to work so well.
Next time I'll use foreshadowing for a topic that has better payoff to him...
This technique does have its limits. If you're in a bottom line time-limited conversation, you won't want to prolong the communication process. If your listener does not seem to enjoy the process, the technique will be counterproductive. When foreshadowing goes beyond playfulness, it can be very irritating. But properly used, foreshadowing adds interest.
Speaking of interest, are you wondering what Linda's big decision was? Are you wondering who Terry was referring to? Are you wondering whether Terry got my business or not?
Linda decided to make a change in her client base. Terry was referring to Brian Tracy. And yes, Terry is my internet marketer and a great asset to my team.
Foreshadowing worked for him, and will work for you as well.
The problem with right and wrong
Is they're used where they don't belong.
The problem with wrong and right
Is they paint the world black and white.
A black and white eye won't see
How a seed can become a tree.
A black and white heart will doubt
The potential contained in a sprout.
Black and white never leave room
To envision bare trees in full bloom.
Yet right and wrong do find their place,
Blended with wisdom and grace.
The collaborative creative process is like growing trees from seeds. I toss some seeds to my partner who sees their potential. She tends the seeds and sends back seedlings that look very different from my seeds.
Does that make my seeds wrong?
I grow and develop her seedlings into a tree.
Does that make her seedlings wrong?
She prunes my tree.
Does that make my tree wrong?
The problem with right and wrong is they're used where they don't belong. I have creative writing partners. If we send each other's offering back full of changes, it could mean our original was way off the mark, poorly written and uninspired. There are some editing/pruning absolutes. The period goes outside the parenthesis when the parenthesis is inside a sentence. Anything else is just plain wrong.
But in a collaborative creative process, revisions are often m
ore evolutionary than corrective. Lots of changes can mean that the exchange took the vision to the next level of clarity, sincerity and effectiveness. It's a process. Revision does not negate the original any more than a tree negates the seed it came from.
In your collaborative creative processes, look for the tree in the seed. Envision the bare tree in full bloom before you lower the boom of right-and-wrong. In the collaborative creative process, right-and-wrong find their place by embracing grace. That embrace is the ultimate collaboration.
There is a hot debate about the difference between management and leadership. Much of the conversation is more misleading than illuminating. This article sets the record straight and helps you integrate the two functions.
when you develop leaders, you sometimes need to give a shove. But if you're smart, you'll inspire them to want to take the leap on their own.
The 4 C's of Management Communication was published by The American Management Association. It guides you through the steps of creating a vision people can believe in.
It's not enough to be competent. You need to be able to communicate your competence.
We used to say a leader is someone others choose to follow. But leadership is changing. it's not about gathering followers. It's about empowering others to become dynamic leaders themselves. This article goes into more depth about what it means to be a Dynamic Leader.
Victim language is the antithesis of leadership language. When you want to empower someone who talks like a victim, you need to tread lightly. Misguided efforts can entrench someone in their victimhood all the more. Find out how to empower leadership language.
Today is the first day in the second trimester of my Lean2Life Quest/experiment. December 24th 2012, Christmas Eve Day, was the first day of my year-long mission to restructure and redesign my life from the inside out. My goals were vague. My plan was to let a plan unfold. An important guiding principle was to stop starting and start finishing.
I knew I aspired to create space for grace, ease and flow in my life. I knew I aspired to be able to enjoy my weekends and evenings with the sense of completion. I knew I wanted to tend to neglected areas of my world, solve ongoing problems, and build strong foundations for future endeavors. I was struck by the dream theme Marion Woodmen shares: "Your hymns will never make it to heaven until you clean up the mess in your basement." If she/you/I want to aim high, we need strong, stable foundations.
It's hard to believe I'm a third through the process already. There is so much left to do that it's easy to overlook what I've achieved so far. So I'm making a list.
On Christmas Even 2012, I pulled the plug and set out on a mission to lean my world to life; to clean up my messes and set my systems straight and create flow in my life.
It started as a commitment for a week and expanded into two. I realized it was a very big job, and I decided to give it a year.
That year isn't over yet, but I am giving an update at MWCC lean conference this week. This is the PowerPoint. Enjoy!
I LOVE metaphors - and so do my audiences. In my seminars, I use a giraffe and a lizard as metaphors for two different levels of thought that influence communication. I use a giraffe to represent rising above the mud of the moment, and speaking from an elevated perspective. I use a lizard to represent the reptilian, reactive self, that leads you to speak from a narrow perspective. They are useful reminders of the competing forces inside of us all that influence the way we choose our words and communicate
I call the giraffe Pippi and the lizard Izzie.
It's the ones you don't see coming that get you. The steamrollers are straightforward. But the passive-aggressive communicators are another story. This article tells you how to stop passive-aggressive behavior in the workplace.
On March 20, 1775, The Second Virginia Convention convened to consider the tyranny and oppression of the British Monarchy. Many wanted to go along to get along. Patrick Henry did not.
What's the difference between a reaction and a response? About 23 seconds. And a plethora of options. Conflict resolution techniques can help you defuse a potentially explosive situation, and give you time to tap into your effective communication skills. This article gives you eleven possible responses to a difficult situation and recommends reasonableness.
Too often we don't want to rock the boat. But some boats NEED to be rocked. This article tells my personal story of not being able to master crucial conversations when the stakes were high. It was the impetus to find my voice. I tell it to inspire you to find yours.
Once you discover what has significance, take what seems trite and find what it points to that is significant. This article helps you find the gold in what might seem useless at first.
Once you know what your essential message is and you've transformed it into it's highest expression, make sure you are willing to back your words up with action. Mean what you say. It protects the power of your words.
You can only prepare so long. Then it's time to show up and speak up. This article tells you how to narrate and relate - in a way that incorporates the HEART of your message.
We certainly do want to acknowledge our communication maturity and successes. And if we find that we have become effective communicators we may decide we've arrived. The SpeakSTRONG Method encourages you to continue to develop. New levels of synergy, dynamism and relating await you. This article tells you more.
Take the pledge to say what you mean and mean what you say, without being mean when you say it.
Before you have that important conversation, invite others to join you in the pledge.
Communication agreements are an important aspect of The SpeakSTRONG Method. They set standards that keep everyone operating with the same understandings.
You can download printable posters to affirm you personal and shared pledges.
The Personal SpeakSTRONG Pledge is here.
The Joint SpeakSTRONG Pledge is here.
My SpeakSTRONG book provides more information on how to establish communication agreements. This simple pledge can jump start effective communication by giving you a simple guide. Print it out and post it, or order a poster from the SpeakSTRONG store.
Sarcasm is cheap and golden. One definition of sarcasm is the tearing of flesh. Another is, an ironic remark, intended to wound. Whatever definition you use, use sarcasm to tell you what conversations you need to have.
When Jodi said the headphones cost a fortune, Mike was confused. The price tag was $350 – expensive, but a fortune? Jodi speaks in superlatives, and superlatives don’t compute in Mike’s literal brain.
Rory went off on two tangents before returning to his original point. As a systematic communicator, Carlos missed Rory’s conversational detour and was so lost he missed Rory’s point.
What’s going on? What we see here is a failure to communicate due to seemingly incompatible communication styles.
Gen x vs. baby boomers means war in some offices. Age presents one of the greatest barriers to effective communication in the workplace. It also presents one of the greatest opportunities. I facilitate all day intergenerational communication training that involves different generations interviewing each other. Some of the revelations might surprise you.
During a conversation on writing copy and self-promotional materials, a friend mentioned loving a political pundit who is well-known for her caustic denigration of anyone who disagrees with her positions. He told me, “She really says what she means.” I differ. My response to him was, “I don’t believe she says what she means. I believe she says what she thinks will serve her and her handlers.
I’m all for emphasizing the sizzle on the steak, but when it starts to become smoke that obscures rather than clarifies, I don’t endorse it or want to practice it myself.”
PowerPhrases are about clarity. I endorse putting your best foot forward, not putting a false front forward.
I watched The Smartest Guys in the Room about the Enron debacle. The documentary illustrates how so many can buy into smoke and mirrors and stop asking questions. Colin Whitehead, a former Enron trader said, “I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want answers.” Former Enron VP Sharon Watson said, “I couldn’t believe so many people were going along.” They went along because, like Rod Stewart in his hit song, they were looking for a “Reason to Believe.”
I advocate persuasion based on clarity. Political wordsmith Frank Luntz author of the book Words That Work is good at what he does but has a different definition of what it means for words to work than I do. Some define words that work as whatever gets people to do what you want, even when your words mislead. Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling found words that worked when he encouraged employees to keep their Enron stock while he was dumping his. Skilling’s words do not qualify as PowerPhrases.
Go ahead and point out how the steak sizzles. But stop short of smoke and mirrors. The truth has more lasting value, and you get to keep your soul when you tell it.
Experts are more credible when they collaborate with their clients and customers. The fact that they know a lot about their field does not mean they don't need to listen. True experts strike a balance between teaching and listening.
Relationship marketing, networking and personal contact are the way to go in the era of social media. Some people are naturals for the new culture. Others try to apply old communication tactics in the new environment. It's time to take a look at fake authenticity.
This is a learning session that Mike Rother and I premiered at a GBMP conference in Springfield. It's designed to get leaders and managers into the mindset of what they need to do to develop and guide continuous improvement. This session is interactive and was a big hit.
Seek First to Understand
Seek first to understand and then to be understood. Stephen Covey popularized this phrase, and for good reason. Understanding is the foundation of effective communication. Reflective listening (or active listening) is a powerful tool to create understanding.
You know the importance of performance management in business. Your employee isn’t meeting standards and it’s up to you to fix the problem. But do you really know what the problem is? This article walks you through the steps of an essential managerial exercise for diagnosing employee performance problems.
The Dark Side of Performance Review Phrases
When you search the net for ready to use phrases for employee performance reviews, you'll find posts of a free list of employee review phrases that will make you laugh – until you realize how vicious these phrases are – and that they come from ACTUAL performance reviews in a large US corporation.
Here are some sample performance review phrases from the "Dark Side of Performance Review Phrases".
Great examples of what not to say in a performance review
This is a list of actual performance review phrases that may make you laugh.
Warning: In the world of dos and don’ts of performance reviews, these are high on the don’ts list. This tells you how NOT to write a performance review.
I have yet to talk to an audience about discussing the hygiene issue without people clearly relating. Recently I was interviewed by Forbes magazine about how to talk about it. It's a tough, but important topic. Here are some tips for you.
People dread performance reviews mainly because they expect too much from them. Performance reviews are intended to be a summary of a year or six months of attentive performance management. Find out how a Totally Integrated Performance System can make performance management seamless.
Email is for convenience. Your reader should be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. These do's and don't's will add effectiveness to your emails. They guide you to write a business email that works.
Your subject line can make the difference between getting your email read and having it deleted unnoticed. This article gives you do's, don't's, PowerPhrases and Poison Phrases for email subject lines. Learn how to write the best email subject lines to get great results.
Most people have lost control of their emails. That means your message can easily get lost. These tips show you how to write a business email that will get results.