Discover how to communicate clearly and build lasting relationships.

loss

What is My Role?

Recently, I have been very aware of the impact of loss on family members, clients and friends who have lost loved ones or learned of a terminal illness.  While I knew this was an inevitable part of life, I struggled to understand my role in these situations.  In some cases, it was to provide comfort in a very personal way.  In others, it was to offer a prayer that comfort would be provided by someone else.

 

Five Stages of Grief

Have you wondered how to help a friend or colleague who has suffered a loss and is dealing with profound sadness, confusion and fear of what lies ahead? You may be familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

They point out that not everyone goes through all five stages and may not experience them in this order, but it can be useful to have some idea of what to expect.  The website grief.com has good suggestions for what to say and do.

 

It’s Not About Me

One thing I have learned is that focusing on the other person rather than myself helps us both.  I invite you to keep that in mind when someone you know is grieving.

what you need

In a recent team building session, the participants said they really enjoyed learning more about their colleagues and appreciated understanding themselves better.  They also valued the opportunity to practice what I call the recipe for success – asking for what you need.

Accept Responsibility for Getting What You Need

Whether coaching an executive or working with a team, my message is the same:  learn what you need and ask for it.  It can be really hard for high achievers to admit that they need something from someone else, but no one succeeds in a vacuum and we can’t expect others to read our minds.

Specifics Help You Tell Others What You Need

Most people are willing to help their colleagues, and being specific makes that easier.  If you need more time to reflect on a complex issue and you are being pressured to make a decision quickly, you could explain, “I can give you an answer now or I can give you a better answer at noon tomorrow.”

Know What Contributes to Your Success

You may be a very team-oriented person who also needs to have your individual efforts recognized.  Your colleagues are probably not aware of this need because your usual behavior doesn’t give them a clue.  This makes it especially important for you to let your boss and key colleagues know that you are a lot more productive when you are able to measure and receive feedback on your performance.

Now that you have the recipe for success – whip up something good!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong

How many times a day do we think or say, “That is so stupid!”? The statement infers that we are smarter than someone else, that we are right and they are wrong.  That attitude makes it impossible to find common ground in conflict resolution.

 

Where is that Getting Us?

This issue came up with two of my clients recently so I challenged them to come up with a non-judgmental word to substitute for “stupid.”  It wasn’t easy letting go of that powerful feeling of being right, but they were each frustrated enough with the lack of progress in resolving their differences with colleagues that they agreed to work on it.

 

This is Smart!

The exercise enabled my clients to see things from the other person’s perspective, and that helped them move forward.  How about you?  Are you ready to try a new approach to achieving your objectives?  If so, I invite you to consider an issue from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.  That’s not stupid; it’s smart!

What do you consider the most effective way of communicating?  Like most of my executive coaching clients, you are probably buried by email since it is often our primary method of conveying information.

Building Relationships

Many of my clients have been telling me recently that their colleagues want them to reach out for face-to-face communication more often.  Building relationships is much easier when we go to someone’s office or connect via video call.  Reading body language and facial expressions helps us understand what isn’t being said better than emoticons ever will.

Value of Small Talk

While texting, instant messaging and other forms of communicating via technology are useful, even a phone call can go a long way toward creating a personal connection.  I know it sounds old school, but Facebook can’t take the place of hearing someone’s voice.  The tone of the typical “I’m fine” answer to “How are you?” can tell a lot about whether we need to accept that at face value or ask, “How are you really?”

Impact on Leadership

One thing I often hear when conducting 360 feedback interviews is that people appreciate a leader who cares about them.  They want someone to ask them questions and then really listen to the answers.  They want the kind of relationship that doesn’t exist only in cyberspace.

I encourage you to ask your colleagues how you could be a more effective communicator.  If they want to see more of you, that’s a good thing!

 

When I solicit feedback from my clients’ colleagues, I often hear, “she needs to be more effective at building relationships across the organization.” What does that mean? It may mean that my client hasn’t established credibility in her role. It might mean that she hasn’t delivered on her commitments. It could also mean that she is a completely different person with the CEO than with her peers. In any case, skill in building effective relationships is a core competency for leaders.

Building effective work relationships requires the following:

• Respect – we earn respect by inviting different perspectives and by sharing our expertise in a constructive way

• Trust – we earn trust by following through on deliverables and giving credit to others where it is due

• Consistency – we demonstrate consistency when we value people at all levels

• Communication – we communicate effectively by actively listening before we speak

Think about the people with whom you most enjoy working. What makes those relationships productive? Do you respect and trust one another? Can you disagree in a healthy way? Do you treat people consistently and give credit appropriately? Do you strive to listen and understand before stating your opinion? I encourage you to consider how you can transfer those behaviors to relationships you would like to improve.

To assess or enhance your ability in building effective relationships, contact me at: cheryl@csbryan.com

I suppose there are some people who enjoy conflict, but most of us prefer to avoid it. In several client meetings recently, we discussed reasons for avoiding difficult situations such as telling a subordinate that their performance is unacceptable or standing up to a bullying boss. People typically put off those conversations because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or because they are afraid of possible repercussions.

Consider Cost vs. Benefit

I asked my clients to evaluate the cost of avoiding the conversation versus the benefit of having it. Being honest with a subordinate who isn’t performing up to expectations means we are supporting the rest of the team in meeting deliverable commitments. What is the cost to our credibility and our health when we allow our boss to treat us unfairly?

We then explored what might happen if we chose to reframe conflict as an opportunity for collaboration:
• Disagreements could be addressed in a timely manner
• Colleagues could know their strengths and areas for development
• We could establish healthy boundaries for how we expect to be treated

How to Reframe Conflict

Reframing conflict isn’t easy. It requires:
• Understanding what makes us uncomfortable
• Considering the cost and benefit of each possible reaction
• Choosing how we will respond

I invite you to think about a recent conflict you experienced and how the outcome might have changed if you had approached it with a different mindset.