August 2012

Deprecated: preg_replace(): Passing null to parameter #3 ($subject) of type array|string is deprecated in /home/speakstr/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1744

The trouble with lists

checklistChecklists, action steps, to dos. They can be useful productivity tools. They also can limit, undermine and sabotage excellence. 

Kerry cleaned well in some areas but missed a lot. I was wary but willing to list some things she overlooked. But the challenge wasn’t the sink, the sideboards and the desk. The challenge was perception and process. If pointing out oversights helped Kerry learn to see dirt  for herself, that’s great. What I didn’t want  was for her cleaning to become about checking off things on a list. Some weeks there are no finger-prints on the side-board, but there are bugs in the light-fixtures. If side-boards are on the list and the light-fixtures aren’t, Kerry can claim to have done a great job, while we’re left looking at insect corpses.

Examples are important for good communication. Just watch out for conversations that get reduced to examples. Kerry and I weren’t able to get past  that. The list intended to illustrate how I wanted her to work became a description of what I expected of her. I wanted the pull of the problem – the dirt – to organize her cleaning. She turned the illustration of the bigger principle into the goal in itself.

That’s the trouble with lists. Or one trouble, anyway.  I could list more list limits, but I won’t. 

Feedback as a big mirror

Sometimes feedback is very matter of fact. I need Angela to correct my typos.

Other times, situations call for feedback as a mirror. If I have a big new idea, it helps me to have my ideas refelcted back to me. Great feedback does that.

Sometimes we’re bigger than anyone can see. That makes it hard for people to reflect back bigness.

Other times we’re bigger than we can see. The best coaches reflect that back. I love it when I share myself and see in someone’s response that I’m bigger than I knew. Now, that’s a gift! 

The importance of making it safe to tell the truth

My reflections today have been about the importance of making it safe to tell the truth. I think a lot of drama is the result of not feeling safe to truth. (Of course Jobs had a lot of drama and didn’t make it safe.) I was thinking about a workplace where the CEO took an order that would mess up the shipping schedule and promised to handle it himself. He then disappeared, so the shipping guy had a crisis on his hands at the end of the day. The shipping guy spoke to the whole management team about it the next day and everyone communicated responsibly about their own roles in delaying the order, but he didn’t want to bring it up to the CEO because the CEO was “too busy.” I brought it up privately and fielded every imaginable excuse before the CEO acknowledged he needed to address the situation. It wasn’t safe to tell the truth – although the CEO did appreciate my honesty in the end.

But truthing isn’t a common corporate cultural trait. I think of the CEO who had a customer drop in because he hadn’t returned his calls. He complained about the customer and how the order was too small to justify all the customization. He asked, “What should I say?” and was taken aback when I suggested the truth. That is what he did, and it went pretty well.

It comes back around to humility, doesn’t it? It’s safe to tell the truth to a humble person. It’s not safe to tell the truth to someone who has an image to protect. And a humble person doesn’t need to hide the truth or from the truth. It all leads back to – say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it.

Say what you mean and be who you are. Of course, that’s motivation enough to clean up your act. I do consider that fact that I won’t let myself lie about what I do before I do something I might not rather fess up to.

(However, I did ask my photographer to touch up my new photo.)

Mistakes of the mind, mistakes of the heart

Blogger Sarah Braley now questions everything author and keynote speaker Jonah Lehrer says, because he was unable to back up a statistic she challenged after hearing him deliver his keynote speech.

I suspect she was more turned off by his lack of concern over accuracy and dismissiveness when challenged than she was by his making a suspect claim. To quote Stephen Covey,

“People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.”

I like to believe Covey is right, because I’ve made some very interesting and illuminating mistakes in my career, and expect I will make many more. I’d like to be forgiven. We all were. And more often than not, we all are – if we don’t compound our mistakes of the mind with mistakes of the heart. 

An impassioned plea for the word police

I posted a fun slideshare tonight about an empassioned plea for the word police. 

Many police badges say “protect and serve.” Word police act like they have badges that say “correct and unnerve.”

My slideshare walks you through some of the considerations and concludes with “protect when it serves.”

It was inspired in part by some of the feedback people offered for their ratings of the phrases posted on the GPS survey. I’ll share that and announce the winner during Wednesday’s How to Give Great Feedback webinar. 

Enjoy the slideshare. 

Networking for Effective Engagement

This webinar is complete. View the replay here: Networking for Effective Engagement. The slides are available below and you can download them here. Stay tuned for future webinars.

Free Webinar: Networking Tips for Effective Engagement

Diane Windingland

Diane Windingland with Meryl Runion

(Diane Windingland is the Coauthor of Perfect Phrases for IceBreakers)

Improving your people skills doesn’t have to be boring. This interactive presentation will help you learn to become better connected by first showing you what to avoid.

Using reverse psychology, Diane Windingland will reveal some of the worst networking techniques before wrapping up with practical ways you can effectively engage people and build business relationships.

Target Audiences:  Professionals  Business Owners

Top Takeaways:

 How to navigate a networking event (especially what “not to do”)

 Effective body language  Remembering names

 How to craft a “bumper-sticker” version of an elevator speech

 How to start a conversation

 How to exit a conversation

 The importance of follow up

Webinar slides are here

Webinar handouts are here

icebreaker thumbDiane is my coauthor for Perfect Phrases for Icebreakers.
She met me through her own networking efforts. She knows her stuff.

Less emotion, more heart among the bereaved

tender2We put a lid on our emotion when Mike died. We tentatively shared emotion when Emily died. We shared heart when Warren died.

I used to hide emotions. Part of the reason was I had so many emotions jumbled together that any attempt to express them came out so rough and raw that no one knew how to respond. I choked on my words, and that was awkward for myself and others. If I started to talk about emotions, I was afraid I’d not be able to stop.

I don’t feel the need to hide emotion much anymore. So why wasn’t I sharing emotion at Warren’s funeral?

It took a while, and then it dawned on me. We were sharing heart. And I could tell that the words that flowed from my heart were helpful and healing.

How did I/does someone go from choking on emotions to gracefully sharing heart at times of great sadness and loss? For me, it was years of finding places where I could say what I thought, felt and wanted, however rough and raw.That opened blocked communication channels.

I returned from the family funeral in awe, not pain. We get to the awe from experiencing the pain. Doubtless will make that journey again in our future. The words are smoother now, and the trip from pain to awe is smoother, too. That gives heart.

Vote for your favorite GPS phrase

vote for a phraseNominations aren’t closed yet, but voting has begun. To add a phrase for a GPS system for sensitive people, post a comment to my blog at here.


Vote at:  Vote now, early and often. 😉  Which phrase do you think is the cleverest, most interesting, most creative, most insightful or all around the best for whatever reason you can think of? the winner gets $100 worth of SpeakStrong products. I’ll announce the winner at my 

August 08, 2012 Free Feed-Forward Webinar

What can a GPS for sensitive people teach us about feedback? Quite a bit, actually. We got some great input from my request for phrases for a GPS designed to avoid stepping on people’s self-esteem issues and help them move forward. And while actually creating a GPS like that might be pandering, the phrases offered give insight into qualities of effective feedback that can help us give awesome feedback ourselves.

Have a chuckle and vote for your favorites at: 

Use any criteria you like. If you will, share what you liked in particular about the phrases you chose. The winner gets $100 in SpeakStrong products. So vote early and often. You also can still contribute ideas on my blog at: . You have until Monday evening, August 15th to submit your phrases.

Late entries can still win, but the sooner you get yours in, the sooner I’ll add them to the list and the greater your chances. I’ll announce the winning phrase at my How to Give Awesome, Effective Feedback Webinar Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 15th: How to Give Awesome, Effective Feedback Webinar

11:00 am MDT – check your time zone. That’s mountain daylight. This is a slide preview. Or you can go straight to the registration page. 

Find out how to give feedback people can hear. Plus, how you can flip feedback into feed-forward to use the power of pull communication over the pressure of push. We’ll expand on lessons from a GPS for sensitive people into a very practical and useful set of tips and techniques to be able to give feedback people can hear.

  • Learn six phrases to help you shift feedback into feed-forward
  • The top five qualities of effective feedback
  • How to flip feedback into feed-forward and leverage the power of pull communication over the pressure of push
  • When to coach and when to let people find their own way
  • How to shift the focus from right and wrong to opportunities and possibilities

and much more.

Register now. 

The Beyond-Busy Webinar is posted

Click below to view the slides and/or the replay. Here’s one comment: “It was a great use of my time” Webinar participant 

Grieving openly

I”m headed out of town for a family funeral. It was a sudden death, which left family members reeling. This is the same family that couldn’t talk about my late husband or other family members who passed without choking up. So they avoided talking about them at all.

But that was a long time ago. The conversation now is open, sincere and heartfelt. Feelings are named and shared. There’s no pressure to hold it together or put on a happy face. It’s a beautiful things to be able to grieve openly. 

For some of the family, it’s happening because hearts have come out of hiding. For others – particularly the younger ones – hearts never felt a need to hide in the first place. Such grace.