Steven Gaffney’s Communication Blog

Create Moments of Honesty Every Day

Last week I was invited to appear on Good Day DC to celebrate National Honesty Day. We had a great conversation about honesty and the impact it has on both personal and professional relationships.

Here are just a few of the things that we talked about during the interview:

  • Why the unsaid is often more harmful than the things that are being said
  • The reason the “sandwich method”, often used to deliver criticism, is manipulative and what to do instead
  • Why appreciation is something we need to practice on a much more regular basis

Although National Honesty Day is now behind us, we want to encourage you to create moments of honesty every day. Getting the unsaid said, appreciating each other more and being honest in our communication will lead to more successful relationships and business interactions.

Watch the interview and, once you’ve had a chance to tune in, Tweet your thoughts to me at @Steven_Gaffney with the hashtag #HonestyEveryDay.


National Honesty Day, April 30th

National Honesty Day brings us a healthy reminder to examine your current level of honesty. This holiday challenges people to evaluate just how honest they are.

Lying is not just about making false statements. It also encompasses everything that is conveniently left out, avoided or withheld. In my nearly 20 years’ experience advising top government leaders and Fortune 500 executives on increasing the bottom line through open, honest communication, I have seen the mounting costs of such withholding.

A survey of 1,000 adults reported in James Paterson and Peter Kim’s book, “The Day America told the Truth,” found that 91% of people lied routinely. I like to add that the other 9% probably lied when surveyed.

Open, honest communication is often the antidote to the hidden costly problems that inhibit organizations’ teamwork, collaboration, innovation and growth. This National Honesty Day, try it out. Discover the opportunities honest communication brings in both your professional and personal life.

If you struggle from withholding the truth, there are a few things you can do to change your behavior and in turn change your life. I invite you to take that challenge today, National Honesty Day, in discovering the hidden truths in your life.

Watch this video clip from Fox News for practical advice on how to incorporate more honesty in your relationships, company or work place.

I’d also love to hear from you on Twitter or over on our Facebook page. I want to know how your honesty day went and what you learned from it.


Cure Your Email Headaches!

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Do not hide behind your keyboard to avoid uncomfortable or difficult conversations.

In the spirit of National Honesty Day, let’s be honest. We have all decided to send an email to deal with an uncomfortable or upsetting issue instead of having a direct conversation. Do emails really help resolve issues or confusion more quickly and effectively?

Research shows that 90% of a message’s meaning is conveyed by tone, body language, context and source; not just words. Therefore with email, tensions rise and problems escalate when people hide behind their keyboards to avoid the discomfort of talking directly about issues. This leads to distorted one-way conversations that lack the tone, context and body language that clarify messages in two-way dialogue. Thus, email wars erupt, clutter mailboxes, eat up time and thwart collaboration, morale and productivity.

Email can be a terrific, quick and efficient form of communication, or it can be horrific. It all depends on how it is used. Below are a few tips for how to effectively use email:

Use email for its four main purposes: to communicate information, to receive information, as a form of documentation, and for friendly correspondence.

For example, use email to keep everyone informed of a project’s status, to verify what was discussed in a face-to-face or phone conversation, to ask a quick question, to say hello, and to compliment.

Do not use email to resolve emotional upsets.

In other words, if you are upset with someone or someone is upset with you, do not use email. Call the person or go talk to the person face to face. Given the inherent difficulties with communication via email, it is not a good way to communicate emotions or resolve difficulties.

State the purpose of your email immediately.

By stating the purpose in the subject heading or in the first sentence of your text, you minimize the possibility that the recipient will misinterpret your message or delete it before it is read.

Write email as you would a newspaper article.

The first paragraph should contain the most pertinent information, with details following in subsequent paragraphs. People are busy and need the highlights. They may never finish the email and may miss important information if it is buried in the body of the text. If appropriate, have a quick summary sentence at the end.

If an email volleys more than twice, pick up the phone.

If you email back and forth with someone more than two times about the same issue, it is time to pick up the phone and get clarification. When emails volley back and forth about the same issue, it is often a sign that something else is going on (someone is really upset, doesn’t understand, is being resistant, and so on).

If you don’t want an email published in a newspaper, don’t send it.

You never know what will happen with your email or to whom it will be forwarded once you press send.

This National Honesty Day, choose to use email for the right purposes. If you are upset, confused or have a serious issue to resolve, pick up the phone or walk down the hall and have an honest two-way conversation. Do not use each stroke of the keyboard to brush issues under the rug. Remember, email can be either a terrific or horrific tool. It all depends on how it is used. Be careful!

Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s honest communication tip in honor of National Honesty Day (April 30)!

Did this tip help you? We welcome your feedback at info@stevengaffney.com or 703-241-7796.


The Gift of Appreciation

We probably need to appreciate people more.

That is the sentiment shared in today’s video. Whether it is your personal life or your career / business, appreciation should take center stage.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page and join in on the conversation around appreciation.

 


Effective Communication is Key

In the absence of data, people just make things up.

When leaders say less, the people on their team worry more and as a result, have side conversations. These side conversations can derail the original intent of the message and cause more problems than solutions.

In this video, Steven explores why we are seeing more of these problems arise and how we can utilize effective communication as a strategy in business and in life.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page and join in on the conversation around effective communication.


Getting the Unsaid Said

One of the most important things for us to recognize is that one of the main problems in communication is not what people are saying but rather what they aren’t saying.

How often have you thought to yourself, “If they had just told me, I could have made a better decision!” or “Had they told me what was wrong, I could have fixed it.” What about those moments when you are sitting in a meeting and you think to yourself, “Should I bring up this topic for discussion… or not?”

This video explores the ways in which we stay silent and how you can get the unsaid said.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page and join in on the conversation around speaking your truth.


Can Honesty Get You in Trouble?

We’ve all been in situations where we’ve said something to somebody and they didn’t react well. When we base our own actions on other people’s reactions, it can keep us afraid and less direct than we may need to be.

If you struggle with having direct and honest conversations, today’s video will help. It often only takes just one small tweak to really see an improvement in your communication.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page and join in on the conversation around honest communication.


Creating Honest Communication and Reducing Fear

I have found that it is very important to arm employees with the skills needed to have honest conversations – especially in situations that might be a bit fear-inducing.

In this video, I will share the reason why promoting honest communication is so incredibly valuable for you and your organization.

By implementing this advice, you will begin to see a shift. Instead of relying on guidance from managers, your employees will become much more empowered to handle difficult situations themselves.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page and join in on the conversation around honest communication.