Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘engagement’ Category

How to Stop a Binge-Talker On the Spot

In anxiety, asking questions, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, Binge-Talkers, Binge-talking, body language, boring speaker, brain, breakdown in communication, building rapport, business relationships, Change the Subject, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, engagement, gossiping, human relations, improve communication, interpersonal skills, lack of relatedness, listening, manage stress at work, open-ended questions, People Who Talk Too Much, profesional boundaries, saying no, sharing information, stress and worry, work relationships on October 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm
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Asking the Right Question: Closed-Ended or Open-Ended?

In asking questions, closed-ended questions, communicating, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, delegating, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, How to Win Friends and Influence People, human relations, human relations principles, improve communication, interpersonal skills, interview questions, interviewing skills, managing conflict, negativity at work, negotiating, open-ended questions, person to person dynamics, professional behavior, professional development, sharing information, yes or no on November 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm

As busy professionals we try to save time by asking others quick questions.  Yes or No. In and Out. Move on.  Well, unfortunately, this sometimes backfires and shuts down a healthy conversation or the sharing of very important information, and can create negative reactions from others.

As an example, I have to let my clients tell me what they need, rather than assume.  Here’s a sample:

Wrong way:

Me: “Would you like to learn a better way of communicating?”

You: “No, thanks for asking.”

Right way:

Me: “In what ways would you like to improve your communication?”

You: “Well, I’d like to be able to get people to open up; to get them more engaged.”

Me: “Thank you for sharing.  Can you give me an example of what has happened in the past that makes this important to you?”

This is the difference between asking closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.  So many people fall into the pit of non-responsiveness by asking a question that will yield a yes or no answer, when in fact, by asking an open-ended question it can provoke thinking, participation and engagement.

There are times when a closed-ended question makes sense:

Are you hungry?

Are you ready to talk about your raise? 

Would you like to work from home one day a week?

Do you think we got the business?

The difference is this: when professionals are looking to deepen the context of a conversation, learn more from customers or colleagues; share ideas, motivate others, discover the sources of problems, it’s a good idea to know how to engage through open-ended questioning.

This is especially so when in conflict.  We use this tool to remain calm and composed.

Closed-ended:

You: “Do you want to talk this out?”

Other: “NO!”

Open-ended:

You: “Help me understand how you came to that conclusion.  What did I say that, in your words, seems unfair?”

Other: “You gave Ellen more time to explain her point of view than you gave me.”

You: “Ah,  I wasn’t aware, thank you for telling me. Okay, what did I not give you the opportunity to share?  It’s important to me to hear what you have to say.”

Imagine gently tossing a ball back to the other person, whose turn it is to hit the ball.  Be prepared to give recognition and consideration of the other person’s feelings at the same time.

Closed-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  Did you hear that too?”

Other:  “Yes, but it wasn’t my fault.”

Open-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  What do you imagine happened? I know how much time and effort you put into it.”

Other:  “I’m really disappointed.  I’m not sure what went wrong. I felt embarrassed to ask him directly.”

You:  “I can understand.  Let’s see if we can learn more so we can fix this. We have some options. You can call and ask him why he had this reaction and what we can do to fix the problem, or I can jump on the call with you to support you.  Which would you prefer?”

People love options.  When asking open-ended questions also give them some autonomy, as above.

Yes, this questioning technique slows us down and we have so much to do!  From my experience, the clarity and connection make it worth the effort. Practice asking open-ended questions and see what happens! Then you at least have the tool when you think it will produce the right results.

Happy questioning,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bad Performance Review? So? Grow!

In aggression, arguments, bad review, body language, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career challenges, career coaching, career-related problems, chinese symbol for crisis, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, disagreements, emotional balance, engagement, gossiping, handling tough boss, human relations, interviewing skills, job seeking, lead by example, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, masteries, non-verbal signals, office politics, passive-aggressive, performance review, person to person dynamics, personal development, productivity, professional behavior, professional development, Professional Reputation, promotion, raise, self-image, success, success masteries, transformation on August 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm

There are schools of thought that define the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ as meaning opportunity with danger. Whether this is the literal translation or an invalid assessment, it’s brilliant.  Does a bad performance review feel like a crisis to you?  Do you feel undermined or that your value isn’t being recognized?  Is there an obstacle to a raise/promotion? If you said yes or even maybe, let’s look at your crisis with some objectivity – it’s an opportunity to assess yourself and use the feedback to your advantage. The only real danger is the pain of discovering your own truths.  By deciding that there’s something important for you in the mix, you can increase your skills, reputation, and worth.

I had a recent client (let’s call him Gary) who had just come out of a painfully bad review and was sent to my seminar to develop skills to improve his communication and people skills. Being there was not his choice. His boss kept sending him to one professional development seminar after the other, with the command that he improve his attitude, which was killing his ability to get promoted.  He walked in announcing that my seminar was “bullshit like the others” and I knew I had a hostage.  During a listening skills segment, Gary turned his back to me and I talked to his shoulder blades. His passive-aggressive behavior was very much his downfall; eyes rolled in the audience at his negative body language.

At a break, I asked him to help me understand his reaction.  The picture Gary painted was that despite his incredibly high billings and huge successes, his boss would call him everyday demanding to know what business he was closing.  His eyes bulged as he repeated these daily conversations, in which his response would typically be, “When I close something you’ll be the first to know!”

The route of Gary’s problem was that he perceived his boss’ behavior as a lack of trust in his abilities.  I probed him, “If your boss had dementia, would you be so angry?”  He said, “Of course not.”  I asked, “So, what if I told you that your boss is showing you his disorder – that he is so anxious about revenue that he looks to you to alleviate his fear?  This isn’t about you.”

None of this had ever occurred to Gary.  He had never attempted to understand his manager, and that was the mistake.  When we take things personally we tend to act out in truly destructive ways.  So rarely is anyone else’s behavior about us.  I concluded, “You have been giving your boss a real reason to be concerned about your abilities because you haven’t thought about his issues.” I suggested that he discuss with his boss the best way he can communicate up-to-the minute progress with him. He said, “Well, sounds a bit time consuming, but I can do that.”

We have more control in how things play out at work than we think. However, it entails a sophisticated development of certain skills and the openness to take a hard look at ourselves. First analyze the performance review by its parts. List each area marked for improvement and note the category.  The six categories below are what I call Success Masteries:

  1. Total Communication (Oral, Written, Listening)
    • Are you effective in the oral skills your job requires:  negotiating, persuading, disseminating information clearly, etc.?
    • Are your tendencies to approach communications with optimism or pessimism?
    • Do you take the time to research things for accuracy, such as grammar, facts, etc…
    • When others speak, do you check for clarity or assume to know what you’ve heard?
    • Are you an attentive and even pro-active listener?
  1. Person-to-Person Dynamics
    • Do you have positive, open interactions with managers, direct reports, co-workers and customers?
    • Do you spread good-will or does insecurity cause you to be territorial, aggressive, hostile, manipulative, intimidating?
    • Do you genuinely respect others feelings and perceptions?
  1. Ability To Lead By Example 
    • Do you see and cultivate the potential in others?
    • Do you encourage a supportive, productive environment or do you reject others’ ideas and play one-upsmanship?
    • Do you manage others’ expectations of you?
  1. Emotional Balance 
    • Do you have extreme reactions and inappropriate outbursts?
    • Do you gossip, complain and/or sulk?
    • Do you send out emails with all caps to denounce yelling?
  1. Active Engagement 
    • Are you contributing to an exchange of knowledge, hard-work and creativity or do you insulate yourself to protect your turf?
    • Are you a team-player?
  1. Productivity 
    • Are you delivering what is expected of you against your goals, workload, and responsibilities?
    • Do you dump your work on others?
    • Do you seek too much direction or are you self-directed?
    • Are you open or closed-minded to learning new ways of generating work?

Watch what happens when you decide to review your strengths and limitations against these Success Masteries in combination with the developmental areas documented by your manager.  There’s nothing quite as powerful as accepting how others perceive you and actively making the changes that you and your manager deem important.  If you apply what you learn using this method, you will shift yourself away from the current negativity and powerfully propel yourself onward.

Enthusiastically,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Fish Rots from the Head Down

In ages in the workforce, avoiding arguments, baby boomers, bad boss, career challenges, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, executives, generation x, generations, generations at work, GenXers, leadership, managing, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, Millenials, people skills, personal development, personal growth, professional behavior, stinkin' thinkin', team-player, work-related problems on May 8, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Phrase of the day: Employee Engagement.  My metaphor: The Fish Rots from the Head Down. If you, a Baby Boomer (1946-1964), at the senior leader to C-level, have stinkin’ thinkin’, the rest of your organization will rot from under you.

Many high-level Baby Boomers think of the younger set of GenXers (born late 70s – early 80s) and Millenials (1982-2000) like this: “These entitled, spoiled kids who graduated with honors think they’re going to be VP right out of the gate!” I had to work my way up the ladder and prove myself, and they have to bite the bullet and do the same.”

Research now tells us of many reasons employees leave their companies.  Some of these include:  a lack of belief in senior leadership, lack of enthusiasm or clarity about the company’s mission and poor communication with direct managers. So leaders cannot risk leading with the mindset of ‘pain leads to gain.’

In fact, GenXers and Millenials don’t appreciate the sentiment. Whether empowered from early on by us, their Baby Boomer parents, or that there is significance to being born at the start of the Age of Aquarius, they are impatient to get to the top, to make a stamp on the world. Why? Because they grew up watching a young generation of talented grads become techie multimillionaires and they have been preparing to make their mark too. We Baby Boomers didn’t have those types of super-hero young, role models. Our role models were ‘The Establishment’. We’d never seen anything like what’s happening in the last two decades. We were ambitious, but we believed we had to work our way up in a linear, long-road haul to the top, as our Veteran parents and bosses (pre-1945) did.

My not-so-humble opinion on the matter: Stop rotting. If you haven’t moved beyond the 1980s work ethic and are holding young employees to these old standards, you are creating dysfunction in your company.

As challenging as this may be, it’s about becoming flexible. Here’s how to stop your head from spoiling the rest of the company:

  1. Encourage employees to spend a small percentage of their time – on your watch – creating projects they feel passionate about. Give them ownership of something meaningful to them, as long as it is in line with your company’s mission. Hey, it could open up possibilities for your business you had never anticipated!
  2. Don’t embarrass young employees for trying to bring new ideas to you. You’ll make them feel important if they feel heard.  This can encourage commitment and loyalty.
  3. Set boundaries, just make sure they are fair to all. Never play favorites.
  4. Keep cultivating your own skills. And although we can never evolve certain parts of the brain, parts that want what’s comfortable, we can build new neural pathways that can open-up our thinking and beliefs to embrace the NOW.
  5. Do what you can to learn about GenXers and Millenials. Understand their socioeconomic, psychological and cultural experiences. Become interested and make their life experiences matter to you.
  6. Be compassionate towards yourself. Everyone talks about managing others through change, but who manages you through this change (at this third quadrant of your career)? Fortunately, or unfortunately, you have to do it. (You can always hire a coach.:))

With Empathy,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.