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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Dear Faithful Readers: There comes a time in every life when it’s time to move on and do something new. For me, that time is now. Well, to be completely transparent, that time was a few weeks ago, but I’ve been polishing the new “space” to better serve you, so haven’t felt ready to make the announcement until now.

I have officially moved to a new web site, and hope you will join me there! I am unable to transfer all of you faithful followers, so if you’re still interested in staying in touch — and I hope you are — you’ll have to do the work.

Here’s how: Click this link!

Truly, it’s that simple!

You’ll find the full blog archive there, so if you have a favorite, you’ll still be able to find it. You’ll also find enhanced information on what I’m able to offer and how I can best serve you.

And, most important, there’s a quick opt-in form that you can fill out (name and email only) for a free self-discovery tool and the option of staying in touch. I won’t be blogging as often; in fact, if you want to keep up with my thoughts, insights, teachings, and other content, I recommend opting-in, as I plan to share my best stuff with my inner circle moving forward.

Please note, if you do opt-in, you may also opt-out at any time. I will never spam you, nor will I ever share your information with anyone else. I’m committed to developing a value-added relationship with you, and I believe that can happen only if you grant permission to our relationship.

Thank you for your time, energy, and attention these past couple of years. I appreciate you more than you know.

Again, it’s as simple as clicking this link!

I look forward to connecting with you there. In the meantime, have an intentional day.

Positively!

Laura

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I had the privilege of attending a business summit last week, where 800 business leaders and legislators gathered to discuss a number of issues in our state. Part of the agenda was an opportunity to get to know the candidates for our Congressional seats in the upcoming election. In pairs, these folks were given the opportunity to respond to a series of questions posed by a moderator, and one in particular caught my attention.

The moderator asked: What accomplishment in your public service career are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

What accomplishment are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

As I listened to each of the four candidates who participated, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed in them; although it is politics, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Essentially, here’s what they said: “I’m most proud of XX (fill in the blank with some specific thing), and I really have no regrets. I can’t think of anything in my life I would take back or do over.”

Really?

Pardon my disbelief, but that response left me cold. I can’t think of anyone I’ve met  who has no regrets, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to do something over. This is not to say that the something has to be monumental. It could be as simple as wishing one could take back a hurtful comment made in the heat of an argument, or fueled by hurt or misunderstanding. It could be wishing one took advantage of an opportunity that had been presented, but was missed out of lack of awareness, fear, doubt, insecurity. It could be a desire to do something again because of lessons learned and a desire to do whatever it was better, smarter, smoother, etc…There are often unintended consequences to our actions, and sometimes, we would like to try, again, based on that awareness.

I do understand the concept of saying “I have no regrets because I’m happy with where I am today.” I do. You see, I am very blessed to be where I am today, and looking back over the course of my life, I can see all the connections on the path to getting me here, and understand why the various experiences were necessary. At the same time, there are things I’ve done and said that I’ve deeply regretted and wish I could take back or do over, with more insight, stronger intuition, greater empathy, deeper wisdom. I’ve made apologies and amends and learned to forgive myself, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve goofed up, on numerous occasions, and would like to have done it better the first time.

But, this is how we learn. We try, we stumble, we learn, we try, again…

So, back to the political candidates. I assume some well-meaning communication officer or PR person told them it’s important to focus on the positive and not admit to any potential weakness or failure. I find it disingenuous. It disconnects them from the rest of us mere mortals who goof up on occasion. It leaves me feeling distrustful of them. If they can’t be open about a mis-step at some point in their life — or political career — what else will they not be honest and forthcoming about? And what will be the outcome if it turns out someone finds something in their past that they regret and would like to have done over?

This is like a job interview, isn’t it? When the interviewer asks the candidate what his / her strengths and weaknesses are. The truth is, we all have both and if we attempt to present ourselves as if we don’t, we’ve planted the seeds of distrust and disbelief. It usually doesn’t go well after that.

So, what about you? How would you answer the moderator’s question? What would you do over, and why?

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I facilitated a couple of workshops, discussing communication fundamentals and the dynamics within a particular team, yesterday. I had invited an observer into the second session, as we are considering doing some work together and she wanted to see me in action.

Afterwards, as I always do, I asked for some feedback. Her response? She noticed a drop in my energy level at a couple of points during the two-hours she observed. It was true; my energy level did drop and I was acutely aware of it. In “Strengths” terms, one of my dominant strengths had not served me well and I ended up in the “basement,” because it wasn’t on my radar, which would have allowed me to think ahead to how I would adapt when the moment hit.

The basement is where we go when our strengths are not used to full, positive potential, or when they are overused. In my case, it was Empathy, which my #8, so lots of influence on me at that level. I tend to really pick up on and identify with the tone and emotion in the room, and yesterday, there were a couple of people who seriously checked out for a portion of the session; in a small group, it’s painfully obvious to everyone around. I allowed myself to get sucked in…Not what I consider a top-notch performance for myself.

So, after receiving the feedback, I thought it through during my hour-plus drive home. Then, I spent some time discussing it with a Gallup Strengths Coach today. We talked through why it happens, how I can be more prepared for it, and what steps I can put in place to guard against allowing myself to end up in the basement, again.

It always comes full circle for me: Self-Awareness allows us the opportunity to think and act with intention, which makes it more likely we will achieve our desired outcomes.

I am thankful for the awareness and the choices I now have as a result.

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Over the course of my life, I’ve not been known as the most diplomatic person, so perhaps you’ll forgive my choice of words.

This blog was posted today from a “builder” I have been following, and whom I respect immensely. In this post, Chet Scott points out that high performers self-identify and emerge from the pack. As a manager or leader, you don’t have to search for them…they will demonstrate who they are in a number of ways, and as a manager/leader, you get what you deserve. Here are a few things to watch for:

High performers seek feedback. They want to know how they are doing and will ask for feedback from people they respect, frequently. If you don’t respond with honest, candid feedback — both positive and constructive — they will know you’re feeding them a line, and over time their respect for you will deteriorate.

High performers seek challenge. They are not satisfied with, nor willing to accept, mediocrity. These are the people who will ask for more responsibility, look for projects and opportunities to continually learn, grow, and stretch themselves. They are hungry and if you don’t feed them, they will find someone who will.

High performers seek other high performers. They don’t want to be the smartest people in the room; they actively seek out people who are ahead of them in whatever it is they seek to learn or achieve, so they can learn from those who have gone before them.

High performers don’t get hung up in the HOW. These folks are internally driven, motivated to achieve. They are inspired by WHY, and if you can connect them to the Why of what needs to be done, they will find the way — the How — to make it happen, and they will attract those resources to them.

The question now is: What kind of a team do you deserve? As Chet says, do you need to kick your own a_ _, and demonstrate what you’re capable of, so you can attract high performers? If not, you will attract who you are and they will perform at, or lower than, your level.

So do the hard work, scrutinize who you are and what you have to offer before you evaluate the performance of your team. If you seek change in your team or organization, you need to start with you.

If you don’t have a “builder” or coach to help you through this process, I strongly encourage you to find one. Speaking from experience, you won’t get there on your own.

___________________

If you’re curious about my self-identified lack of diplomacy, here’s a little insight…

Over the course of my life, I’ve not been known as the most diplomatic person. You may find this ironic, considering my chosen career — Corporate Communication — for the past 20+ years, but it’s true. In fact, I went through a Harrison Assessment a number of years ago, and my “diplomacy” score was very low, which was brought to my attention by the VP of Marketing, with whom I worked frequently. He considered it a potential disaster waiting to happen, given my job.

Here’s how I explained it to him. The Harrison Assessment offers statements like “I enjoy diplomacy in my work.” As you go through the assessment, you note whether the statement is like you or not like you. As a professional communicator, word choice is extremely important; words matter, so choose them carefully. I think of “enjoy” in terms of pleasure, satisfaction, etc…So, while I understand and appreciate the need for diplomacy, and am perfectly capable of discerning when I need to practice it, I don’t “enjoy” it.

That’s it…

 

 

 

 

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Over the course of my career — 24 years — as a professional communicator — I was frequently responsible for community relations. What that amounted to was interacting with various members, and organizations, within the communities where my employer did business. This could be participation in Chamber of Commerce activities, fundraisers put on by local/regional non-profits, Rotary, and other similar activities.

One thing that always stood out to me was this: People attending these so-called networking style events often stay in their little clusters of friends and colleagues…the same people they see all day at work!

I understand it from an emotional level. A lot of people don’t like having to strike up a conversation with someone they don’t know, or barely know. It leaves one feeling somewhat vulnerable and exposed. It requires us to step out of our Comfort Zones and take a risk. I speak from experience here; I would prefer to be on stage speaking to a full ballroom rather than have to walk into it during networking time only to be faced with countless tight clusters of people already engaged in conversation and have to try to break into one of the conversations uninvited.

But this defeats the whole purpose! If I make the effort to attend an event in my community, I am there to mix and mingle and get to know people outside my company. It’s an opportunity for a group of employees from one company to spread throughout the other attendees and function as Chief Marketing Officers for your organization; telling stories about what you stand for, what you offer, how you serve your clients, how you grow and empower your employees. It’s a chance for them to make important connections with people who may become a critical resource, a new employee, a new client at some point in the future.

And, yet, we allow fear and discomfort to hold us hostage and stay — safe — in our little clusters of office mates!

I was blessed to have a co-worker (still a valued friend and mentor) who pointed out the importance of doing “missionary” work. When attending any external function with any colleague (one or many), he encouraged the others to go off on their own and meet new people…and would simply walk away from you and model the behavior if you didn’t get started on your own. It was simple and brilliant! A practice I carried forward in my various roles with employers after that point. I admit, however, it didn’t make me popular among my co-workers; they appeared to resent my insistence they step out of their comfort zone and interact with strangers…but it’s important for the business.

How do you think about “missionary” work and what can you do differently the next time you’re in a networking kind of situation?

How might it serve you in your future endeavors?

How might it impact your business?

Come back and tell me your stories — I want to hear them!

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Folks, I was honored to be invited to share the radio waves with my friend, colleague, and business partner, Tracy Worley, on her Gracebreak Blog Talk Radio on Monday.

We shared a half hour (a very fast half hour, from my perspective) talking about finding meaning in your life, discovering your purpose, knowing what motivates you, and how to recognize and reward your team. I’m confident there’s some nugget of wisdom in here that will help you, if you will take the time to listen. And I say this because I have been blessed to have been mentored, coached, and taught by some amazing minds — John Maxwell, Paul Martinelli, Christian Simpson, Mac Bledsoe, and others — throughout my life, and I do my best to be a river (picking up and sharing wisdom along my journey) rather than a reservoir (holding in all I’ve gathered for only my own use).

Here’s the link. Be sure to share it with anyone you think might get some value out of it. And be sure to come back and tell me what you think! And in the meantime, have an intentional day.

Thanks for taking the time to listen.

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I’ve been involved in a couple of different situations of late that have brought the principles outlined in the Drama lesson of the Empowerment Mentoring program front and center for me. Follow along, and spend a few minutes reflecting on these thoughts to see if you may be creating some unnecessary drama in your life.

The key principle that is most active around me, recently, is this: Assuming malicious intent from others OR acting with malicious intent. Specifically, assigning motives to others, in the belief that one knows what someone else is trying to accomplish in a given situation, without the benefit of having a conversation with the person to discover what is actually going on.

Have you participated in a relationship in which you made certain assumptions about another person’s motives, that later turned out to be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation? First, it’s human nature to make up stories about what’s going on around us, because we like to have closure and we have a strong need for things to make sense. So, we pull in bits and pieces of information, snatches of conversation, and we make up stories that make sense to us, based on our values, beliefs, and life experiences. This doesn’t mean that the stories we come up with are based in reality, only that they make sense to us. The problem here is the stories we concoct are often far from the truth…simply because we are missing key facts.

The other consideration is that Intent does NOT equal Impact! It’s important to consider that there are times when we speak or act  that what we intend to happen is not the outcome we get. What that means is, we are sometimes the author of some of the drama in our lives, because we are not fully self-aware or as intentional as we might be. And we also tend to make assumptions about the intent and behaviors of others in our lives.

If you’re experiencing drama in your life, I encourage you to spend some time in reflection and come to an understanding of the role you are playing in the situation.

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