If tomorrow you talked only half as much as you would on a normal day, what do you think your day would be like? Our society overemphasizes verbal communication.
There are many ways to give and receive information and to communicate with others. What if you took a walk in silence and observed visually? What if you looked for signs from others, communicated by their body language? What if you discerned how others were feeling by their facial expressions? What if you created something non verbal to express your feelings or ideas to another person?
Try decreasing your reliance on communicating verbally. You may be pleasantly surprised by what other types of communication you can use to inform and understand others.
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1. What “button” of yours has the situation pushed? What is the source of your defensive feeling?
2. Is it a good idea to remove yourself from the situation for a time to center and assess before you respond?
3. If another person is involved, what does your emotional intelligence tell you is the most effective way to respond to them?
4. Is the situation even worth responding to or is it more effective to walk away?
5. What is the source of your defensiveness? What are you protecting yourself from?
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There are many ways people communicate that go beyond basic verbal communication. To be in tune with others, it is crucial to “notice” these other means of communicating. What are they? People communicate in many ways – with facial gestures, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, eye contact or lack of it, posture, touch and allowing or not allowing personal space. How often do you pay attention to another person’s non-verbal communication?
Over the next week, take some time to sharpen your ability to notice both your and others’ non-verbal communication. Try to discern what is being said beyond surface verbal communications. Noticing helps you increase your understanding of yourself and the people you interact with, resulting in better decisions, more effective communication and better managing.
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Sometimes in a rush or the heat of a moment, we can forget that we have choice in how we communicate with others. A big lesson for me has been discerning the difference between response and reaction in my communications. Reaction is defined as an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. Response is a reply or an answer. The difference between the two may be subtle, but can make a huge difference.
The way I’ve come to see this is, when something provokes a reaction in me, it is best that I settle and center before I communicate. A reaction is not under my control when it is an unconsidered or emotional one. Reaction is provoked by an action or feeling. A response, in contrast, is of my own making.
Here’s an example: if someone is upset with me, a natural reaction may be to lash back defensively. However, this could escalate the conversation in ways I do not want, especially in a work situation. My reaction is caused by their heightened emotions, not what I want to do. In contrast, a response is considered and dictated by me. The next time an opportunity presents itself, try responding instead of reacting. I think you’ll see its merits.
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Do you find yourself looking down a lot – at your phone? There have been many changes in our business communication styles. How are you adjusting to them? Do they serve or hinder you as a manager?
You do have choice in how and when you communicate – exercise it. Communications styles do not have to be dictated to you. Choose the style of communication that allows you to be fully present in the moment and to communicate effectively. You may not be able to use your chosen style of communication, every time. However, you may be surprised how often you can, when you exercise your choice.
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1. When you do not have the facts of a situation
2. When your emotions are running high
3. When you have nothing to say
4. When a situation is volatile and you haven’t thought through the risks of speaking up
5. When you are tired and there’s no request that you speak up
6. When the person you would speak to is highly emotional and you see a way to avoid or delay speaking with them until things calm down
7. When someone is making a fool of themselves
8. When you have nothing good to say
9. When what you’d like to say will needlessly cause harm
10. When the person won’t hear you, even if you do speak up
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Self-awareness is a major advantage in managing. Every manager has a style, whether conscious of it, or not. What is your management style? Here are a few questions to get you started in answering this question.
• Do you give higher priority to people or results?
• How important is open communication to you?
• Is equality or authority more important to you?
• Would you say you are calm or high energy?
• How have others described your management style? Do you agree?
You don’t have to fit into pre-determined categories, or fit a mold, in order to know your management style. What’s important is that you that you manage consciously and effectively.
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Do you have something pulling at you, that you don’t want to “face up” to?
Up front, I have to say I am often slow at facing up. I will avoid it for a while. It takes me some time to find an approach that I can pursue confidently.
Is there anything pulling at you now that you’d be better off facing up to? Perhaps it is an uncomfortable situation with a co-worker or team member, a feeling that you are no longer a fit with what you are doing, a problem that needs your attention or something you need to do, but have been avoiding. The ironic thing about facing up is that often it is more uncomfortable avoiding it, than it is facing it. The situation builds up in your mind and can be blown out of proportion. Very quickly, these situations become energy drains.
Facing up asks you first to reach clarity regarding the situation and identify what it is causing your discomfort. Once you have clarity, you can look at your options for handling the situation. Facing up is not the easiest thing to do. However, by doing it, you will find yourself free and able to move in a lighter energy, as you manage.
What can you face up to in the next week?
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1) Put yourself in the other person’s place and consider what it would be like to hear what you plan to say.
2) Identify your goals for the conversation, its purpose and what you want to achieve by having it.
3) Think about the person you will be talking with and craft an approach that fits their personality, without comprising what you want to communicate.
4) Identify where you are most vulnerable in the conversation (e.g. you have fear of having it; you do not have a strong justification for your position).
5) Anticipate the person’s possible reactions to what you have to say and what you will do about them.
6) Visualize yourself having the conversation with a positive outcome or practice having it.
7) Craft the conversation to assure that what you say and what you are asking are clear.
8) During the conversation, ask the person if what you are saying is clear to them and listen to their responses.
9) Develop an effective exit strategy, in case the conversation gets out of hand.
10) Release attachment to a specific outcome and keep yourself in the present moment.
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Recently, I was coaching with a manager who encountered a serious business situation. Her response would have significant affect on her future and the future of her company. She was wise enough to know that a hasty reply to the e-mail she received would not be the best way forward. At the same time, she was concerned and wanted to get the situation under control quickly. She decided she needed to sleep on it and give herself time to determine the best strategy in the situation. She did exactly that. I was impressed with her self-control and acumen in a difficult situation. The next day she responded to the e mail in a very powerful way and knew clearly how she wanted to proceed.
Centering is the focusing of your attention and also the alignment of mind, body and emotion to a specific purpose. When you are in your center, you are at your best. The process of regaining your center when you have lost it, often takes some time. The time you take is well worth it. Centering is good business strategy. When you operate from your center, your decisions, communication and performance have the best chance of succeeding and serving your interests.
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