Category Archives: Communication

The Art Of Influence – The New Direction

Category : Communication , Success

“There are two parts to influence: First, influence is powerful; and second, influence is subtle. You wouldn’t let someone push you off course, but you might let someone nudge you off course and not even realize it”. – Jim Rohn

It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. And what is leadership but the “art of Influence“? We are all leaders at certain points and periods in our lives whether we realize it or not. There will always be people over whom we have an influence to some degree; this is indisputable. But the question arises, what kind of influence do we or will we have? People around us are watching us. Our children are watching us, our colleagues are watching us and our friends and acquaintances are watching us.

What do I mean by watching? I mean this, that everything we do or say will have an impact on other people. People want to know if we are honest and trustworthy. They want to see if we are dependable and loyal. By our very words and especially our actions, we are influencers in our entourage. Do our actions match our words?  The degree to which people will listen to us, take us seriously and even follow us will depend on the degree to which we “walk our talk'”.

“Your actions speak som loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying”.

How does this play out in our everyday lives? We all have different relationship spheres that we circle around in. We have our close relationship circles (family and close friends), we have our larger relationship sphere ( acquaintances, groups, neighbors) and we also have our professional sphere (colleagues, clients etc.) In all of these spheres, we are influencing one another to various degrees, depending on the nature of the relationship.

As the title of the article suggests, influence is an art. The book “Launching a Leadership Revolution”  by authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward break down this Art of Influence or leadership into what the authors call: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger. They state that:

“For leaders growth cannot be optional. The only way to keep pace with increasing responsibilities is through increased ability” (p.94)

Personal Growth

Growth must take place in two phases: personal and influence with others. The Trilateral Leadership Ledger deals with the first step: personal growth because a person can not influence others effectively without first taking care of his own personal growth.  Personal growth in leadership, the authors say, is a function of Character, task, and relationships

Character

Our character really refers to who we are as a person, that is to say, who we are on the inside. How do we measure up in integrity, honesty, patience, self-discipline, and humility?

Task

This subcategory refers to our ability to get a job done. Can people depend on us to hold our end of the line? Qualities to look for here include a sense of responsibility. a work ethic, availability, willingness to invest our time, tenacity and perseverance.

Relationships

This category refers to our ability to build strong bonds with others and get along even in all the ups and downs of life. A leader seeking to grow in this area would want to be: accepting of people, approving of people, appreciating of people, encouraging, seeing the good, seeking win-win solutions, and helping others to achieve their goals.

According to the authors, a leader can measure his overall personal growth by seeing he does in each of these three areas on a scale of 1-10. But, the authors caution, Each category is to be multiplied by the other two. For example, if a leader assesses himself as 8 in one category, 5 in another category, but 0 in the third, then the overall score would be 0, meaning there is still much work to be done. So the Trilateral Leadership Ledger is a measuring tool to evaluate personal growth in the three areas and determine his or her overall effectiveness.

Going From Personal Growth to Influencing

The authors suggest that there are two transitions that need to happen before a person can be an effective influencer in his or her entourage and before people will agree to follow.

Step one

Character (integrity, honesty, self-discipline etc.) needs to be multiplied by courage. What does this mean in practical terms? If someone has integrity and is honest, he or she will choose to live in such a way that they do what is right. They don’t rob, steal or tell lies. They keep away from shady goings-on. Courage steps in when we see something wrong is being done to someone, or in business, for example, and we step in order to right the wrong.

Step two

Our character is multiplied by the trust people have in us. To illustrate, we may be very strong in our character, we do what is right and we don’t fold when things are not being done honestly, but if we are not competent at what we do, then it really doesn’t matter how good our character is. People simply will not follow a leader they do not believe is competent to lead.

Competency

Competency refers to having the skills necessary for a particular job or position. We ask: Does he or she have the skills to do what he or she is doing? Often, people will say they have “x” number of years of experience when really what they have is “x” multiplied by the number of years they have been doing what they say they have experience in. In other words, they may have been doing it for a long time, but have not become a master in it. Experience and mastery are two different things.  Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) points out that it takes thousands of hours to master a skill. He says that 10,000 hours are needed for elite mastery.

Many want to achieve world-class results but are not willing to put in world-class efforts and be in for the long haul. The result usually is that when the going gets tough, most go home. Not many are interested in being excellent at what they do, whatever they do and many settle for “good enough”. This is why there is such a big gap in work ethics, why corners are cut, time and money are wasted and squandered. It is too easy to take the short cut, do the minimum rather than put in the time. As the saying goes:

“When all is said and done, much more is said than actually done”.

So when followers ( employees, students, children, group members) do not see the leaders putting in the time or pursuing excellence in what they do, they are not likely to trust them or buy into the plan.

A Word About Relationships

In any leadership situation, relationship building is key. Nothing good will happen without solid relationships. A leader, whether parent, employer, teacher or other would do well to invest, and I do mean invest, time into building solid relationships. In his book “How to Have Confidence and Power In Dealing With People”, author Les Giblin outlines a triple-A formula for attracting people (and building strong relationships).

  • Accept
  • Approve
  • Appreciate

Acceptance

It is a universal human desire to want to feel accepted, much like the oxygen we need to breathe. And we strongly desire to be accepted just the way we are without the bells and whistles. We all want to be able to just be ourselves without having to wear a mask or put on a show just so others will like us. The author writes:

Strangely enough, the people who accept people, and like them just as they are, have the most influence in changing the other person’s behavior for the better (p. 66)

To accept others as they are, also means that we need to get rid of our expectations of how we think they should be, our prejudices, our filters and anything else that gets in the way of taking them as they are.

Approval

The author says that approval goes a step beyond acceptance; it has a more positive connotation. When we approve, we are actually trying to find something that we like about a person. People are not looking for flattery, but they are looking to be noticed for something about themselves. Showing approval means finding something about a person that merits highlighting in order to encourage them. Of course, approval doesn’t mean that we approve of everything the person does, but that we accept them as a person.

Appreciation

The word “appreciate” means to raise something or someone in value, so that is exactly what someone who wishes to be an influencer should strive to do. Find ways that will show them that you value them as a person and the work that they do. People want to know that they count. What are some ways we can do this, as examples?

  • Don’t keep people waiting; respect their time and yours
  • Thank people
  • Communicate with people directly, not through emails, and voicemails or texts
  • Acknowledge their presence and introduce them, if necessary
  • Treat all people as special

It really doesn’t matter where we are or what the context is. Everyone deserves to be treated this way. The waitress at the corner café deserves to be appreciated as our most valued customer. The lady at the checkout counter deserves as much appreciation as our employer. And of, course we don’t do this for what we can gain- it’s not about ” I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”. An effective influencer is someone who serves others not for what they can do for him or give him or for what he will gain, he serves, lifts others up as a matter of being human. Our gestures will give them confidence.

A Word about Influence

As we have seen, we cannot just call ourselves an influencer and be one just like that. Becoming someone of influence is a process of self-examination and growth. We can not expect to have a positive influence on others if we have not learned to manage ourselves or, at least are in the process of doing so. First of all, if we have character weakness, if our actions are not in line with the values we say we hold on to, people will see right through the veneer. They will call us out or at least they will ignore us. Influence, like charity. begins at home (in our heart and mind).

Influence is also not a “do what I tell you to do” scenario. If we are not out in the field and down in the trenches, walking our talk, then we can hardly expect others to believe us or believe in us, can we? The people we are hoping to lead or influence expect that we are competent to do so, or, at the very least. doing our best to become competent. No one is going to be willing to work with or cooperate with someone who is just an orchestrator from the podium. People follow people who are fully engaged, present and willing to learn. In short, they expect leaders to be real and authentic.

Being well known or having a lot of contacts / or a big following is not necessarily an indication that a person is an effective leader. it takes more than fame and a huge following to be an influencer. Some very good influencers work with very small groups of people ( a family, for example, or a small group of friends). Just because a person’s name is well-known in social or business circles, does not make them an effective influencer. We need to be careful who we listen to and who we follow; they may be leading us away from who we are.

The Takeaway

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  So many people in the world today want to give themselves a title without merit. Many are quick to call themselves this or that and often it is empty in terms of content. Becoming an influencer or a leader is just that – becoming. It is a process; it is a journey. People choose to follow us; it is not a popularity game. I hope that this post has been helpful to you in your journey wherever you are on that journey.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

The 10 Soft SKills of Leadership

Why Speed of Trust Matters for Business

How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking

Take a Risk – Be Courageous

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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The 10 Soft Skills of Leadership

Category : Communication , Success

photo credit: Rawpixel unsplash

Everyone is a leader in some fashion in their life. People are first and foremost leaders of themselves. Parents are leaders, students can be leaders, some are leaders in community organizations and some in business. Leaders are everywhere. Leadership is really the art of influence and we all have influence over others in one way or another.

Leadership also requires skill development to be effective, particularly soft skills. The Center for Creative Leadership lists the  10 Soft Skills necessary for good leadership.

Self Awareness

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”– Marcus Aurelius

Before a leader can be aware of others, she first needs to hone her own self-awareness. This means getting an accurate picture of all (to best of her ability) strengths and weakness). It is certainly not an easy task to look at oneself objectively, but it is very important for the leader in any organization or group, big or small. Awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses requires a big dose of humility and willingness to learn.

Learning Agility

“Learning agility is the willingness and ability to learn, de-learn, and relearn. Limitations on learning are barriers invented by humans.”
Pearl Zhu, Digital Capability: Building Lego Like Capability Into Business Competency

Learning agility is really the qualities of being flexible and open-minded. We certainly do not know everything, nor should we try to or pretend to. There is a wealth of information and experience around us, and tapping into other people’s experience can catapult our knowledge in ways that learning from our own experience could never do. We will never live long enough to learn from all of our mistakes and teachable moments, so why not borrow the wisdom from the experience of others.

The best way to gather knowledge from the experience of others, past and present is through reading books, listening to those with more experience and associating with people with the experience and knowledge we seek.

Emotional Intelligence

75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including the inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.  -Center for Creative Leadership

Emotional intelligence refers to our ability to have control over our emotional responses. In the heat of frustration or anger, it can mean taking a step back and evaluating the situation rather than react automatically. Our natural human impulse is the fight or flight response. When things don’t go as planned or when there is a sudden crisis, we tend to panic. But we all know that panic is not a good problem resolving strategy. So, what to do?

Pause. Taking a deep breath and pausing, even for a few seconds can help us to think clearly and not lose our head over the situation and to not make rash decisions that we might regret later. Steven Covey said: “Between stimulus and response there is a choice”.

Ask. What would be the right and most beneficial response right now to this situation? For, example, if we are considering criticizing or reprimanding someone, we can ask ourselves if it is worth it to do so or whether there is another option. How will we feel down the road (days, weeks or months) as a result of our response today? Is it worth it to speak or let it go?

Resiliency

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

― Margaret Thatcher

Resiliency refers to our ability to bounce back from a setback or a failure and carry on and considered essential to achieving success in any area of life. It is our ability to live life and not have life live us. It is the ability to see the setbacks and the gut shots of life as teachable moments and events. Here are some of the characteristics ( and mindsets) of resilient people:

Resilient people choose to focus their time an energy on what the have control over rather than on what they have no control over. They focus on areas where they can have the most impact.

Resilient people view difficulties as challenges and failures as lessons. Like Thomas Edison, they get back up each time and learn the lesson.

Resilient people are committed to their lives and the relationships in their lives. They are committed to their dreams and goals which are usually not separate from the important people in their lives.

Building Relationships at All Levels

“Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”–Ben Stein

This skill is a very important skill to have in the world of leadership, in organizations and anywhere people are involved. It is the ability to find common ground with a whole variety of people, personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs. It is the ability to break down walls and build up bridges where there were previously chasms.

Building leadership relationships involves connecting with people where they are and not where we may want them to be. It is about being a good conversationalist and being truly interested in the person directly in front of us with no other agenda but to relate with them. Connecting involves listening far more than speaking and hearing their stories. A skilled leader will put others first, listen to their story and “seek first to understand” (Steven Covey).

Political Savvy

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” Zig Ziglar

Political savvy is not so much about politicking and discussing the politics of an organization as it is about building relationships – connecting meaningfully. It is the skill of being able to meet people, find common interests, and connect people with other people. Political savviness also includes the ability to “read a room” – read the situation, understand the undertones of the atmosphere, “read people ” and read between the lines of what is said and done. It is a skill that requires acute observation abilities and a thorough understanding of people.

Having political savviness is also the skill of knowing when to speak and when to listen. It is the leader’s ability to communicate truth with grace without compromising integrity. This skill allows the leader to be aggressive in love and humble when dishing out the truth while allowing people to make mistakes and providing them a safe environment to learn and grow. Ultimately, it is the skill of being able to find the “sweet spot” in dealing with people.

Motivating and Enjoying Others

“Dreaming about something is not enough, you have to be able to share that dream and get others to work with you to achieve it” – Claudio Lucero Leader of the first South American team to reach the summit of Mount Everest

Effective leaders are skilled at identifying what people want and helping them get it. They are in tune with the needs of others and ask questions to discover a person’s “why” because until we discover what motivates, what drives a person, it is impossible to externally motivate them. Leaders are not cheerleaders in the “Hip! Hip! Hooray” sense, but they do cheer people on in helping them reach their goals and dreams.

Motivating should never be about pulling teeth but about coming alongside a person and joining with them in their quest. Generally, there are two things that will motivate people:

  1. Pursuing something they would absolutely love to do, be or have.
  2. Trying to get out of circumstances that they absolutely hate being in.

So motivation is all about helping a person change what needs to be changed in order to do, be or have what it is they are chasing. Of course, a leader needs to be worthy of following. Why would someone follow someone who is unable to lead? A leader needs to be both competent (in his field) and have the character (integrity and courage) to lead. It is all about trust. Does the person or do the people you are leading trust you to lead or are you just out for a walk (which is what a leader without followers is)?

Building and Leading Effective Teams

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

Healthy and productive teams no matter what the size and what the context are built on the solid foundation of trust. The team members also need to know why they are there, where they are going, how they are going to get there as well as be able to measure their progress. Any sports team knows what the name of the game is. The members know the rules, they know the play and they know the scoreboard. So gaining the team members trust is important and is earned when the leader is competent and exhibits integrity and courage in addition to having a vision for the team.

When the team members “buy into” the vision and understand the game, the play and how to score, the leader can build a solid team with everyone working to the same goal. Ziya Boyacigiller, an entrepreneur in the United Staes and Turkey highlighted that it is important to “get others to believe so strongly in the vision that they are transformed into followers who are not afraid to follow”.

Creating A Culture of Trust and Respect

You can not follow someone who isn’t credible, who doesn’t truly believe in what they’re doing – Gayle Hamilton, chief of staff for the vice president, Pacific, Gas, and Electric

A culture of trust and respect in a family, a small or large group or organization needs to first have a leader who, by his actions, and competency, reflects these qualities. According to the most often chosen qualities in the “Characteristics of Admired Leaders”, three stand out: honest, competent, and inspiring (p.16 Credibility by James M.Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner)  No organization will follow someone whom they can not trust, whom they do not respect or whom they do not believe is competent to get them anywhere.  To create this kind of culture, there must be a direction, a vision, and a strategy. Everyone must be traveling along the same current.

It is the leader’s job to set the pace, to map out the territory, to make the tracks everyone else is going to follow. It doesn’t much matter if it hasn’t been done before (new territory); what matters is that the leader is willing to put himself on the line and lead the way (sometimes from in front and sometimes from behind). The members of the organization need to know that the leader has their back, that he supports them and will stand by them.

Communication

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

Nothing significant happens without effective communication. Leadership is founded on communication. But how we communicate is far more important than what we say.  It is a skill that requires being other-centered. Here are key elements of quality communication

  1. Pause 

Pausing before responding gives you time to reflect on what was said and gives the added benefit of showing the other person that you are considering their words.

2. Be Trustworthy and Honest 

Trust and honesty are two qualities that are increasingly difficult to find today. If we are consistently known as someone whose word and actions can be trusted, it is far easier to have fruitful communication with others.

3. Take the Time to Communicate

It has been said that communication is an art and that seems to be very true. It is not to be rushed and will bring about better results when we invest the time to communicate in a meaningful way. Leadership focuses on building up relationships through communication.

4. Tailor Ideas to Others

To communicate effectively, leaders need to have a good understanding of what the other person understands. having this foundation helps them to eliminate misunderstandings and prevents them from arriving at false conclusions. A good leader gets on “the other side of the table”, so to speak and converses from the same perspective.

5. Be Present

Leadership requires that we focus on what people are saying to us. We are there 100 percent with them, not distracted by our thoughts of what we want to say (respond) or what we could be doing instead. Being present lets the other person know that what they have to say matters.

6. Be Attentive to Non-Verbal Language

Understanding body language cues (facial expressions, gestures, and body movements) help us to better perceive the message of the other person and give them a better understanding of what we are saying. It is an ally in effective communication.

7. Seek First to Understand

Steven Covey coined this phrase as a step to facilitate communication. This important step helps us to see the other’s point of view – how they understand things. so that we can understand the situation more clearly.

The Takeaway

Like anything important, leadership requires good information, learning and practice. These soft skills are skills that can take relationships from rocky to rocking.  They reflect who we are, how we think about ourselves and others. they are all a crucial foundation for relationship building and transformation.

Related Posts

How to Deal With Difficult People

Why Speed of Trust Matters For Business

Success:- When the Tough Get Going

10 Important Tips to Improve Communication

Why Boundaries Matter and How to Set Them

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Diana Lynne

 

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How to Deal With Difficult People

The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.”
Eileen Anglin

We have all met them and probably, at certain times, are one of them. Who are they? “They” are all those “difficult” or “irritating” and “annoying” people that we deal with on a day to day basis. Some of them we have to work with, others we have to live with. Some of them wait for us to come into the grocery store, the doctor’s office or anywhere where we need to be around people just so that they can annoy us (we think). Some of these people drive ahead of us at a snail’s pace on the highway or cut in front of us from the left at a red light (yeah, that has actually happened to me).

We may actually start to believe that their whole point in life is to make our life miserable and frustrating. Perhaps we go to work each day and have to interact with a co-worker who is a bully, or a complainer. Maybe we have to deal with negative and rude clients all day who will complain no matter how nice we are to them. Or what about that colleague who “knows everything” and will not listen to anyone if they dare to question anything? Maybe it is someone we live with who is combative or passive aggressive. So what do we do?

Look In the Mirror First

Rule #1 for dealing with difficult people is to not be one yourself. We can’t go around calling everyone a black kettle if we are also a black kettle. So first things first, let’s examine our own motives and attitudes.  How can we expect others to “behave” if we can’t control our own behavior and attitudes? As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are”.  We are there with all our baggage, good, bad and ugly.

We can’t deny that we are all difficult people from time to time. Sometimes we are prima donnas, wanting to have things our way. Sometimes we are tyrants, bossing everyone around. At other times we may be having pity parties and lamenting our misfortune and blaming everyone else. Somedays we are more difficult than on other days. Under the right circumstances, we all have the potential to be a difficult person. So first and foremost, we need to get some control over the difficult person inside ourselves.

Understand What Is Happening

Everyone is difficult at times and sometimes we are all more irritated by others than at other times. It is not always that others are annoying. Sometimes it has to do with what is going on in our own lives. Sometimes we project onto others what we are going through and believe that their whole purpose is to make things difficult for us. Also, we need to remember that opposition is normal and healthy, and some opposition is exactly what we need to correct our own errors. An opposition may simply serve as a mirror to our own attitudes and behavior.

The more we stand for something, the more we pursue goals and aspire to higher things, the more opposition we will have. If we stand for nothing and do nothing, we won’t have too much opposition. The “haters” come out when there is something to oppose. Where there is a confrontation, there will be opposition. Those who “tow the line”, follow all the rules, say nothing and do less won’t find themselves too often in a situation of being opposed. The “haters” will come in different categories. Some will be critics and some will be tyrants. Some will be micromanagers and others will be chronic victims.

We can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t even try. Trying to please everyone just to “be nice” or buy “peace” is a fast route to unhappiness. Sometimes we must confront behavior and attitudes in a firm but loving way, but not everyone will be receptive. We need to accept that some people are not going to change unless they want to change. We don’t have to take any responsibility for other people and it is not our responsibility to make them happy – that is their job!

Steps We Can Take for a Peace Treaty

Focus on what the problem is rather than what emotions are saying. Don’t overact or dramatize. Conflict disappears when one person chooses not to participate anymore. Escalating the issue, the discussion or whatever the situation becomes just a battle of the wills and emotions. It becomes a power game more than anything else. If we are in a situation where we are being dragged down by emotional arguments, we do not have to get in and “wrestle with the pigs”, so to speak. They will always be better at us in dragging us into the mud. Remember that a typical reaction of a “difficult” person is that they tend to overreact.

The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is to make sure that you strip it of the emotions and deal with the facts – Howard Baker

Pause, listen and relax. Sounds hard to do, doesn’t it? Yet by doing these three things we are giving ourselves space and time to reflect on what is going on. Kevin Cashman wrote a book called The Pause Principle, in which he calls the Pause one of the most powerful tools in the human world. He said:

Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our  challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context”.

Practice empathy. Where pausing helps us to understand the situation, empathy helps us to understand the person in front of us and put them in the proper perspective. Steven Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, gave, as one of the 7 habits: ” seek first to understand and then seek to be understood”. Most (but not all) people problems are the result of a lack of empathy. People want to know how much we care before they will open up.

Seeking to understand starts by striving to understand where the other person is coming from. What are his needs and desires? What makes him tick? Try to see things through his eyes.  See him as important, just as you want to be seen.  David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. says in The Magic of Thinking Big:

When you meet another person, make it a policy to think ” we are just two important people sitting down to discuss something of mutual interest and benefit”.

Be opened-minded and think creatively. The ability to do this is really why pausing is so helpful. When we pause ie: stop talking (or yelling, if that is the case), we can have time to think about possible solutions that would benefit both. It is also an opportunity to open our ideas to other ways of thinking or seeing things. Being open-minded can be beneficial in pointing us back to our share in the responsibility in conflict.

Find some common ground. This point goes along with the point above: being open-minded and creative. Are there any points that we can agree on? Certainly, there must be areas where we can find some commonality. All relationships, difficult or not, are a “give and take”. What can we give to the relationship? What can we offer them? Maybe it might be that we simply agree on a time to sit down and discuss the problems at a mutually convenient time. Maybe it means taking the first step to apologize for our part in any conflict.  There is surely some area we can agree on.

An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything – Lynn Johnston

Address problems straight up. We need to be courageous and confront any problems while they are still small.  It is easier to uproot an oak tree while it is still a sapling than it is to chainsaw down a 200-year-old oak tree. Confront the problem and not the person. Many people ( I have been one of them) resort to other ways of dealing with problems. Sometimes they let them fester and blister by pretending they don’t exist. Other people take a passive-aggressive approach to relational problems; they triangulate to discuss (gossip) people behind their backs.

What Are Some Difficult Behaviors?

  • Dishonesty, lying or having weak character /lack of courage and integrity
  • Being hard headed, combative and objectional
  • Being passive-aggressive, triangulation and gossiping
  • Complaining, generally negative attitude
  • A poser, a fake, an impostor – we don’t even know who they really are
  • Self-centeredness, arrogance, puffed up
  • Being hurtful, mean-spirited
  • Being unpredictable and unreliable
  • Bully, prone to temper tantrums (yes, adults have them too), silent treatment

Be Careful! Not All Difficult People Are Reasonable

Even when our heart is in the right place and we want to do what is right to resolve conflicts and smooth relations with ‘difficult” people, we need to be aware that not everyone thinks reasonably. Not everyone has a desire to get along or is even able to function reasonably. Consider the following:

  • 1% of the general population are psychopaths
    Says Dr. Robert Hare, Criminal psychology researcher, Creator of the PCL-R
  • 4% of Americans are sociopaths
    According to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout in her book, “The Sociopath Next Door,”  one out of every 25 people in America is a sociopath. She defines sociopath as a person with no conscience.
  • 5-15% of Americans are Almost psychopaths
    Dr. Ronald Schouten, Associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says in his book”Almost a Psychopath

These are the people that, no matter how hard you try or how you bend over backward to work things out and see if you can work together, simply will not change at all. In fact, if you confront them or “catch” them red-handed, they will double down, even more, to come against you. In addition to these categories, we can also add all those people who have serious issues going on such as addictions, alcoholism dependancy, anger issues and much more. We can not always assume that good communication skills will work on everyone.

Don’t Engage in Written Battles

Whatever the conflict, problem, it is inadvisable to battle it out through written media such as texting, email or even via voicemail. In addition to having everything that you have written on permanent record for consultation, it is virtually impossible to read and interpret the tone in which the messages were written. Written messages are a breeding ground for misunderstandings and escalation of emotions behind the screen as well as potential grounds for legal accusations. Don’t write poisonous emails or texts; they will never be interpreted exactly as you intended and probably will do more harm than good.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen – Winston Churchhill

Have the Courage to Confront

Whether in business or personal relationships, confrontation is necessary and often helpful, if done in the right way with a spirit of unity. Confrontation addresses the problem and not the person. It may mean confronting attitudes, behaviors or situations, but any negative situation must be dealt with fairly, and rapidly so that it does not get out of hand. Small problems are easier to deal with than larger ones, but small problems can become larger or more destructive if they are ignored or avoided. Poison is poison no matter what the amount. a small bit of arsenic will affect and poison the whole cake.

People are watching us. whether we are a parent, a teacher, a pastor or a manager, people watch what we do. They know when fair is fair and right is right. When we fail to call a spade a spade and avoid confronting poisonous behavior or attitudes everyone loses. They lose respect for us and experience loss in whatever organization they are in.

The Takeaway

Human relations and communications are probably the most difficult endeavors in our lives. In fact, all of life is about relationships and communication, unless you happen to be a hermit. Communication has been called art and I truly believe it is that. Human beings are primarily emotional and sensitive, subject to all kinds of perceptions and perceived offenses. Trying to weave our way through and among different personalities, emotional baggage, opinions, and ways of being can sometimes feel like walking through an emotional minefield.

Nevertheless, understanding how humans are is half the battle. With good information and a heart to relate, we can certainly begin to improve relations with those “difficult” people. It is also good to remind ourselves that we are sometimes one of these difficult people.

Have a great day!

Have you enjoyed this post? Please leave a comment below.

Related Posts

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5 Surprising Things that Cause Conflict

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7 Effective Ways to Resolve Conflict

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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Why Speed of Trust Matters For Business

Category : Communication , Success

One of the fastest ways to restore trust is to make and keep committments-even very small committments-to ourselves and to others – Steven M.R.Covey

Trust is something we all want to have in others and hope that others have in us. We want people to trust us, to trust our word and to trust our actions. Our whole reputation with others (and with ourselves) hinges on whether or not we are trustworthy and whether people see as someone they can trust.

Trust is also a rare commodity in today’s world of “me first”.  Priorities get skewed and such things as accountability and commitment fall way below on the scale of what is important “now”.  People say one thing while not really meaning what they say or have no plans to stick by what they say. They make empty promises in order to purchase peace and avoid confrontation or having to resolve issues.  These kinds of attitudes erode confidence and relationships, both personally and professionally.

Steven Covey’s book The Speed of Trust has as its subtitle: The One Thing that Changes Everything. Right away, we can see how crucial this quality of trust is. Without trust, there is no foundation and nothing of any significance can happen. Without trust, there is backbiting, fear, mistrust, abuse and much more.  No business or personal relationship can flourish without it.

What Are the Enemies of Trust?

Never interrupt ypur enemy when he is making  mistake – Napoleaon Bonoparte

The Harvard Business Review article entitled Enemies of Trust (February 2003) listed the following “enemies” to trust. They are in a business context, but could just as easily be applicable to other environments as well.

Inconsistent Message

Expectations are built up and then changes in plans are made. The initial message may anticipation and excitement and then the canceling or the project or plans creates mistrust. Participants have less belief in the person or organization.

Inconsistent Standards

In an organization, some people are held to looser standards than others. Some are permitted to “bend” the rules where others are expected to toe the line. This situation breeds an environment of bitterness and jealousy. People resent this favoritism. When the standards are not clear or inconsistent, no one knows where they stand.

Tolerating Misplaced Benevolence

This weakness is a failure to confront negative behaviors and attitudes within an organization such as stealing, “cutting corners, cheating, and abusive behavior. Also, laziness and incompetence are not dealt with which leads to resentment in employees who do work hard and are professional in what they do. This tolerance of negative behavior fails to hold people accountable for their actions and lack of commitment to the organization.

False Feedback

Giving false feedback on employee performance not only is dishonest to the employee in question regarding his performance, but it also undermines the value of the other employees who may be performing well. They see that performance does not matter at the end of the day. Failing to give accurate feedback is simply failing to have the courage, to be honest.

Failure to Trust Others

This situation is the classic weakness of the micromanager who believes that if he or she doesn’t do it, it won’t get done or it won’t be done right. There is too much managing and not enough delegating and freeing people up to grow. The micromanager does not trust others to do a good job and this, of course, will not give people the space to grow professionally and personally.

Elephants in the Parlour

This is the well-worn avoidance routine. Everyone knows the situation exists; it is there but no one will discuss it. The tendency is to pretend that a difficult or painful problem will just disappear if it is ignored.  This situation leaves everyone walking on eggshells, so to speak because no one wants to be the one to bring up the subject out of fear of what people will say.

Rumors in a Vacuum

When specific and important information is not given regarding such things as changes to happen, new projects or directions, rumors begin to circulate. Everyone wants to know what is happening and everyone knows someone who has “inside information”.  Like the classic telephone game, tidbits of information get twisted and distorted. Rumors fly around without any solid evidence as to what is true.

Core Values

Author Gus Lee, in his book Courage (2006), talks about core values (low core values, middle core values, and high core values) as being foundational for our actions, decisions, and relationships.

Low core values are common habits, things we do without too much reflection (favoritism, gossip, control, cliques etc.)

Middle core values are considered “best business” practices ( ethics, teamwork, customer service, education, respect etc.)

High core values go above and beyond the other two. these are: courage, integrity, and character

It is these high core values or rather the absence of them that is responsible for the Enemies of trust listed above.  If they are present, there will be no avoidance of issues; transparency and clarity will be the rule. There will be standards set and standards respected. With these three values, performance will be valued and incompetency and negative behaviors will not be tolerated. Everyone will know exactly where they stand.

In his book, Gus Lee illustrates that there are good practices such as good ethics, honesty, and morals. He places these qualities on one side of a river (p. 118) called FEAR. On the other side of the river, Fear, are the noble qualities of courage, integrity, and character. It is these latter qualities which bring an organization from good to great. These qualities are the framework for establishing a Trust environment.

What Is in the River of Fear and on the Banks?

The river of Fear is a river filled with feelings and emotions. It is filled with rumors and speculation. It is filled with past failures and fear of what will happen. The river of Fear immobilizes, paralyzes people within organizations and problems grow and fester.

On one side of the river, it is safe. Gus Lee illustrates that on this side we can be “good people” – we don’t do what is wrong, we are honest, we don’t cheat or steal. We follow the rules, but we will not take a stand on anything or risk our reputation.

On the other side of the river, courage boldly stands for values and does not play favorites. Courage is not afraid to confront whenever necessary and courage will stop what is wrong in himself and in others. Integrity will act for what is right in spite of the risks (what others will say or do) and discerns right from wrong. Character will sustain integrity and courage even in the face of opposition.

All three of these: Courage, integrity, and character have crossed over their feelings and fears. They have not listened to rumors and got straight to the issues to correct them. The three of them can be wrapped up into one: character.

The Solution is Character

In each case of the Enemies of Trust, the missing element of the puzzle is the character (integrity + courage). Each situational case highlights a weakness in character resulting in the failure to establish clear standards and carry through with them.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are – Coach John Wooden

The first thing for any leader is to inspire trust – Doug Conant CEO Campbell soup Company

So why does character matter? Stephen Covey wrote in The Speed of Trust,

Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes integrity, your motive, your intent with people. competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. Both are vital”.

Crucial Behaviors to Establish Trust

Courage

Courage…. willingly sacrificing personal gains to advance one’s highest principals – Orrin Woodward (Resolved)

Exhibiting courage means doing things or making decisions, even when it is uncomfortable to do so and even when the stakes and emotions are high. It means having the courage to speak up, to say the right thing or having the courage to bite your tongue and listen. Courage can mean standing firm and not taking offense when it is easy to do so. It can also mean having the courage to expose our vulnerability and the courage to pick up and try again. It can mean apologizing and forgiving.

Having courage means to be human and authentic willing to take the risks and do what is right.

Communication

Communication leads to commnity, that is to understanding, intamacy and mutual valuing – Rollo May

Learn to communicate with honor for everyone regardless and to value each one no matter how you may feel. Even if they are opposed to you on every account, even if they are polar opposites, be ethical. supportive and encouraging (Gus Lee).

Be clear and consistent with all communication. Make sure that everyone is on board in terms of understanding. There is no place for passive-aggressive communication patterns such as the silent treatment, gossiping and spreading of rumors. Communication should keep all the lines open and be transparent.

Crucial conversations are necessary and should not be avoided. We can’t leave the elephant standing in the room. When problems are not addressed in a clear and forthright manner, misunderstandings happen and the problems are allowed to continue.

A Have-Your-Back Attitude

Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect – Mona sutphen

An adversarial environment benefits no one. In any organization, everyone is on the same team and should be willing to stand up for each other and support them. If there are problems, disagreements or negative attitudes, these need to go from the bottom to the top of the organization quickly so that they can be dealt with at an organizational level.

There is no room for individual ego games, only team spirit. Individual egos get in the way of progress and community. Everyone wins when everyone is playing on the same team. Support and encouragement rather than backbiting and gossip will build a healthy environment.

Competence

One of the greatest difficulties as you rise up through an organization is that your prior competencies are exploded and broken by the new territory you’ve been promoted into: human identity – David Whyte

People will only trust and follow someone who does what they say they will do and has a proven track record of results. They will not trust or follow someone who says “do this”, but doesn’t do or hasn’t done it himself. They are not interested in lip service. When a leader of an organization at any level inspires people with confidence, it is because his results convey that he is able to get a job done.

An incompetent individual will, more than likely, ask others to do what he can not do and expect them to produce results. Not only does this incompetence not inspire trust, but it is also dishonest. Incompetency reveals character weaknesses such as avoidance, lack of clarity, lack of vision and lack of integrity.

The Three Acts of Courageous Leadership

In his book, Courage (2006), Gus Lee lists three acts of courageous leadership, all of which are crucial to building trust in an organization (pages 125-143)

  1. Honoring and Respecting All Persons

He calls it UPR or unconditional positive respect. What does it look like?

  • Being wholly and positively present with the other person
  • Correct and respectful body language
  • Careful, respectful. thoughtful listening
  1. Encouraging and Supporting Others
  • Be relational and approving
  • Reinforce the positive
  • Affirm others
  • Be there in good and bad times
  1. Challenging Wrongs
  • Stops wrongs in oneself and challenge wrongs in others
  • Discern right from wrong
  • Act for what is right regardless of risk
  • Follow through so that wrongs are not repeated

The Takeaway

Trust is very complex, as we have seen. It is at the core of many organizational problems highlighted by its absence. It is not just a matter of people trusting this person and not trusting the other one. There are components of trust and it has to be earned. Without solid character (integrity and courage), without a genuine desire to see people grow and inspire them, there can be no trust in the organization. The result will be all the negative behaviors and attitudes that bring about internal conflicts, absenteeism, and people leaving.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Please leave a comment below.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

5 Surprising Things that Cause Conflict

Why Boundaries Matter and How to Set Them

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Why Attitude Reall Is Everything

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

10 Important Tips to Improve Communication

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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5 Surprising Things That Cause Conflict

 

photo credit Jean Wimmerlin @jwimmerli

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind  –  Mahatma Gandhi

We don’t want conflict and we usually hate the idea of arguments especially with those closest to us. Fighting makes us cringe at the thought and often (for a good many) brings back sad or traumatic memories of our years growing up as we remember conflicts in our homes and elsewhere. We vowed to ourselves that we would never be like that. For many, intense fighting between parents has left serious scars that they are terrified of opening up again and confronting.

Conflicts, heated discussions or ‘intense fellowships”- it does matter what we call them, conflict is conflict. We can’t live with people and we can’t live without them. People are the joy of our existence and sometimes the bane of our existence (we might think). None of us wakes up each morning thinking “Now how can I be disagreeable today”? “What can I do that will cause some conflict“? Of course not! But often we end up there anyway. So why is it that we end up in these situations. How do we go from being reasonably nice people to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde overnight?

The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself –Garth Brooks

It’s Easier to Blame

Well, for one thing, it is very easy to blame others for our circumstances. How much easier is it to look outside ourselves for the source of the problem rather than face the demons within? We go on our own little “witch hunts” in an effort to paint the other person or people in a negative light. The more we try to convince them that they are wrong and we are right, the more heated the discussions become. We become defensive and protective of ourselves and our need to be right and completely ignore the fact that it “takes two to tango”.

It really is (we think) all about what the other person does or does not do and certainly not ourselves. The things they do, the things they say get on our nerves. “Why can’t they just get it”? we wonder. “Why are they always doing or saying annoying or stupid things”? When we are in close proximity to the “offending party”, such as our spouse or our children, the thermometer can shoot up higher and more frequently.

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.

Jonathan Kozel

So, What Causes Conflict?

(1) We talk too much about ourselves, which also means we don’t listen. We are self-centered creatures. We want the attention to be on us (our problems, our accomplishments our ideas). We are so busy playing out our own life dramas and telling people about them that we sometimes don’t actually take the time to listen or be interested in what the other person has going on in their life.

Most of the time we just want an attentive audience. If we are busy talking about ourselves all the time, how can we possibly hear other people properly or even understand them? They just end up feeling that we don’t care and we can’t be trusted. Talking too much about ourselves turns people off and makes them want to find the nearest door to escape through. No one wants to spend an excessive amount of time around someone who is only focused on hearing his own voice.

(2) We overcorrect and criticize. Sometimes we spend more time telling others about their faults than we do working on ourselves. We judge others and, in doing so, it’s as if we have placed ourselves on a pedestal like we are in some way superior to them. It is easy to find fault in others, especially family members (parents?). But when we call out their shortcomings and criticize them, we are not helping them or thinking of their interest. What we really want is for them to see how right we are. It’s an ego thing.

No one is going be happy when someone corrects or criticizes them. They will just get defensive and counter-attack, rebel or simply ignore you.

(3) We rank people. In our minds and often in our speech and body language, we send a message that some people are inferior to us in some way. We look down on them. We may put them in a category of being uneducated, lazy, or just less intelligent. We judge them by their lifestyle, by their habits, by their appearance and by the way they act. Sometimes just by looking at someone we immediately decide if that person is worth our time or not, if they are worth our friendship or not.

And, make no mistake, people sense our judging, our disdain, and our ranking. They see it in our eyes and facial expressions and other body languages.

(4) We are secretly jealous. Jealousy is not called the “green-eyed monster” for nothing. When we harbor jealous feelings, automatically we can not, at the same time, harbor benevolent feelings toward people we are jealous of. It is a heart problem. We don’t want them to succeed, to have fun, to be happy and our feelings of jealousy will come out through our words and actions towards them. Sometimes they have what we want or what we think should belong to us. Jealousy will absolutely sabotage our relationships and cause conflict. We want the other person to be fully aware of how they have caused our jealousy “pity party”.

(5) We are not teachable. We resist admitting to our errors and learning from them. We resist feedback from others. In a sense, we maintain that we are right and all others are wrong. We reject help from others (even when we may clearly need it) and prefer to do things our own way. We may also imagine that others are “stupid” and don’t know what they are doing and are incompetent. We rely solely on our own understanding and reject any new information or feedback that could be helpful. Our pride prevents us from learning and growing.

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude

William James

Some Preventative Medicine

(1) Show grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Allow them space to be themselves and to be human. They don’t have to measure up to our expectations. It’s ok for them (and us) to make mistakes. If we want others to be understanding toward us, we need to be understanding toward them, Give them space to learn and to grow.

(2) Encourage. Accept, approve and appreciate, as Les Giblin explains in his book “How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People“. We attract more bees with nectar than with vinegar. Be a good-finder and highlight the good things about others.

(3) Be a safe person. Be the kind of person that others feel comfortable going to (like an old slipper kind of person) without fear that you will put them down or blow your stack. Can they trust that you have not other agenda other than wishing to be authentic with you? When we are authentic and trustworthy, others can feel safe to be themselves too.

The Takeaway

We are only as big as we make others feel and as small as we treat others. Conflict is simply the result of what we think about others and how we treat them as a result. There is no room for blaming or shaming because the root of the problem lies within our selves – our mind and our heart. Prevention and maintenance also reside there. If we focus on doing regular checkups with our own attitudes, we don’t have to worry too much about what others are doing.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

The Fight of Our Life

Five Ways to Survive the Inlaws

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

How to Get People to Cooperate

The Power of Our Words

Has this post been helpful to you? Please leave a comment.

Click and share below.

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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