Coaching Tip: Help for Time-Starved Communicators

Coaching Tip:  Help for Time-Starved Communicators

Even though we live in an age with more communication tools than ever (Facebook, email, Twitter, texting), we are not necessarily more connected with the people around us.  Many of us yearn to be more connected with our loved ones and friends.  In addition, we long for more effective and efficient communication in the workplace.  The amount of busyness in a person’s life can hinder their ability to communicate effectively.  Here are some tips to help, if you are a time-starved communicator.

Consider the important people in your life, and what form of communication works best for them.  Then think about how often you would ideally communicate with them.  Does your boss like a or weekly status report over email?  Does your mother like a phone call once a week for thirty minutes?  Do your kids each crave ten minutes of your undivided attention at bedtime?

Once you’ve identified these things, look at what needs to change in your life to make room for your communications.

Ultimately, communicating effectively saves you time.  Be intentional, and make your communications work for you, not against you.

Reminder: Behaviors drive results. Overall what are the results you want?

To your success and happiness
Corinne McElroy
Leadership Coach
www.edgeofchange.com

The Impact of Assumptions on Leadership

The Impact of Assumptions on Leadership

We all make assumptions. We naturally fill in gaps in what we think and perceive so that we can make sense out of our world and our experiences.

Sometimes the assumptions we make are accurate; sometimes they are inaccurate. Sometimes assumptions are productive; sometimes they are counter-productive. Sometimes assumptions build community; sometimes they destroy. Sometimes they save us time; sometimes they waste time. The assumptions you make can build bridges or destroy them. They can make peace or start a war.

Picture someone whom you know pretty well. What is one assumption you make about that person? Where does your assumption come from? Why do you have that assumption? How does that assumption influence your behavior toward this person? Have you ever asked the person to confirm or refute your assumption? What would happen if you shared your assumption with this person?

As a leader, you have an obligation to notice you are making assumptions and then to check them out, particularly when you make an assumption that is negative in nature. Negative assumptions are particularly risky to hold on to. They create resistance and resentment. They fuel blame and anger. They get in the way of productivity and positivity.

The first step is to notice the presence of an assumption. Once you notice that you are making an assumption, consider communicating it. The purpose of communicating it is to have it confirmed or denied. This creates open communication, honesty, and an opportunity to clear the air or rectify a misunderstanding.

There are different ways to communicate an assumption. One way, perhaps the simplest, is to say it directly – tell the other person that you are carrying an assumption, and that you want to share it with him or her to determine if it is accurate or not. It may sound risky – and sometimes it is – and an unspoken negative assumption is much more dangerous than one that is spoken. When an assumption is brought out, an opportunity for healing, growth, productivity, and relationship-building is created.

If you are carrying a positive assumption, you have more latitude to decide if you want it to be unspoken, even unspoken positive assumptions can sometimes get in the way.

Whenever you make assumptions, you have an impact on your experience and the experience of others. Generally, it is best to notice your assumptions and communicate them to others.

To your success and happiness,
Corinne McElroy CPCC, ORSC
Edge Of Change

 

Why is effective communication so powerful?

The answer to that question can be found in a quote by Kim Krizan from the movie “Waking Life,”

“Language comes from our desire to move beyond our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. Words by themselves are lifeless, they’re inert. They’re nothing more than symbols. So much of our experience is intangible; so much of what we perceive cannot be adequately expressed. And because of that, when we communicate with one another, and we feel we’ve connected, that we’re understood— it’s almost like having a spiritual communion with that person.”

What we all want from one another is to connect. When we connect, we feel a special affinity toward the person who we believe really understands us.

Communication is how your message is delivered and how it is received. It is two-way, involving both the sender, and the receiver.

Effective communication involves more than words, it includes your body language, what “voice” you use, and the art of listening.

To your success and happiness,
Corinne McElroy

What are YOU expecting?

The other day I was telling someone a story about something that had happen to me years ago. As I was getting to the part where I was the victim I realized “wow I’m still telling that story as if I WAS the victim”

If you have not heard of “reframing” or “cognitive restructuring” I would look into it. There is a lot of good work being done with it.

Then I thought, because of those “stories” I am already expecting something.  In almost every situation I find I have some sort of expectation. Meaning that I still look through those “rose colored glasses” or whatever color glasses my stories happen to tint them.  And, because of that, I am expecting some sort of something, good bad or indifferent.

Corinne calls those glasses BS. (our Belief System through which we filter everything.)

I do not mean to, sometimes it just happens if I’m not being open to the moment being new (if that makes sense). Then I realized I’m not just expecting something because of my BS, I’m accepting it as well.

Since then I’ve been looking at “What am I expecting? What am I accepting?” and “Is this the story I want to tell?” So, knowing I can’t get more then I will accept. I’m working on not expecting anything and accepting only what is best for me.

Whew! Epiphanies come when you least expect them. I’ll accept that.

What were you expecting?

Well, whatever it was I hope you will accept a gift from us here at Edge Of Change.  It is Corinne’s birthday this month and in Hobbit tradition she wanted to give everyone a birthday present. Not that I’m calling her a Hobbit just that she really liked those stories.

Mike McElroy

Click here to get Corinne’s gift to you (no strings attached)

Letting Go Of The Expert

When I first encountered this concept of letting go of the expert, I thought: That is crazy, I’ve educated myself and worked hard to become an expert, why would I let it go?!

Perhaps the most understandable way to start this discussion is to discover what is an expert. Webster’s defines an expert as: A person with a high degree of knowledge or skill in a particular area. Some synonyms: master, proficient, and whiz. The suggestion is that you have arrived, and your work is done. OK, that sounds pretty good, so why do I want to let go of that?

Let’s also look at the reverse of expert as in a learner and a discoverer. Learner: again Webster’s definitions: To gain knowledge or mastery of by study. Discoverer: to obtain knowledge or awareness of something not known before, as through observation, study listening.

So why let go? Because letting go could lighten your workload, reduce your stress and responsibilities and open the door to incredible discoveries and personal and professional growth for yourself and your team.  Are you interested?

Here are some ideas that have been shared with me. After all, I am not the expert. I, too, am in the learning process. Review the concepts and choose what works for you. There is no right answer only exploration into possibility.

Consider these options:
When we present ourselves in the world as an expert, whether it be at home: as a parent or spouse, or at work: as a manager, we are opening a communication channel, one that most often is one way. It is up to us the expert: to distribute the information in a way it can be heard and understood, weigh the consequences, to make the decisions, get cooperation or accomplish the tasks ourselves, set a timeline, determine what is success and take the credit for success and or the failure. Whew! Granted, we are basing our efforts on time-tested expertise, this is a good thing, and there are times that this is the best method, as well as the best use of our time, energy and resources. There is little room for growth for the expert or the team in this situation as the task is to disseminate expertise in an effort to create the outcome upon which we have decided.

When we present ourselves as a learner or discoverer we also open the channel for communication, and in this instance, the communication is more likely to be two-way. We listen, ask questions and receive input from various sources. We have the chance to make changes based upon the input we have encountered. We may discover a better method or process through this discovery. We will probably get a more thorough buy-in by our team if they have some input to the process and outcome. We are not necessarily alone in determining what is considered success, neither are we totally responsible for the tasks at hand or the outcome. The result can be a workload spread over several more willing members, less stress, and an excellent opportunity for both personal and professional growth. As a learner we can add to our pool of knowledge, and potentially grow through the experience of collaboration.

True, you no longer have total control of what the actual outcome may look like, and it could possibly be even better than you could imagine. And the trade off may be worth it: If you gain time to work on other projects, what if your team is more motivated with their role of contribution and accomplishes more, if the atmosphere in the office improves with their added input, almost anything is possible. Your team is also given the opportunity for personal and professional growth so they can potentially contribute even more in the future.

Here is a simple example of how I learned to let go of being the expert and the effect on my quality of life.

I dislike doing dishes; as a matter of fact other than eating brussel sprouts it is my least favorite task in life. My husband promised that if I did the cooking, which I love, he would do the dishes. Wow! He continued to explain that his Mom taught him how to do dishes and that she always said he was terrific at it! Double WOW! So the bargain was made. I cooked and he did the dishes.

What I immediately discovered is that if I stand at my place of expert and review his work, he doesn’t do it the way I would do it myself. I began to approach Michael on this subject of his expertise. Then I stopped myself and thought: If I get to be the expert here, I also get to do the dishes. If I become the discoverer and encourager, I get to have half an hour of quiet time for myself after the dinner hour.

The next time I visited with my Mother-in- Law, I mentioned what a great dishwasher Michael is and thanked her for teaching him so well. She winked at me and I realized she had always had that half hour of quiet time. We chatted and smiled while Michael did the dishes.

Coaching Challenge:

Look at your world and ask yourself if there are times when being the expert is holding you or your team back? Pick a situation and become the discoverer and learner and smile!