Beware of These 5 Communication Myths

 

Myth #1: Time Heals All Wounds

The truth is, that time usually deepens wounds. If time really healed all wounds, people would not blame their behavior on their childhood and past events as they often do. In fact, time can deceive us into thinking that problems with others have been resolved, but all it takes is to see them again or something to remind us of those previous unresolved issues and we will become upset all over again. In essence, our unresolved past is lying around waiting to strike us in the present.

What to do? Do not rationalize by thinking, “Well, they are not saying or bringing it up, so I will just let it go.” Just because they are not bringing it up does not mean that they have let it go. They may feel awkward or embarrassed or they may not know how to bring it up so they have decided to bury it. The key is to proactively bring up issues and resolve them.

Myth #2: Don’t Rock the Boat

The truth is, if you don’t rock the boat, the boat will probably sink. Faced with an issue or problem that is bothering us, many people rationalize, “I am not going to say anything. It is not that big of a deal. I don’t want to rock the boat.” The problem with this way of thinking is if we don’t say anything, the issue is unlikely to be resolved. Then what was once a small issue may fester and grow into a big problem.

What to do? As stated above, proactively bring up issues as they happen.

Myth #3: Be Diplomatic

The truth is, if we are too diplomatic, the point we are trying to make will not get across and nothing will get resolved. Have you ever had someone claim that they told you something, but you really don’t remember or didn’t understand the message they were trying to send? This happened because the message being conveyed to you was so subtle that you missed the point.

What to do? When we have to communicate an issue, bringing it up in a respectful way is important, but make sure the issue and what you want done is clear and direct.

Myth #4: Sandwich What You Really Want to Say Between Two Compliments

The truth is, the “sandwich method” is so obvious that people immediately identify the strategy and feel manipulated. The sandwich method is when you place what you really want to say between two positive compliments. “I appreciate how hard you work, but blah, blah, blah… and thank you for working with me on this.” This communication trick can permanently damage relationships.

What to do? Tell people the truth. People are smart, but we are lousy actors, so be honest and clear. If you have issues, talk about them and get right to the point. When you have something nice to say, bring it up in a conversation unrelated to the problem so you can get the most benefit out of the conversation.

Myth #5: More Communication Leads to Resolution

The truth is, simply having more communication can lead to wasting time and possibly more misunderstandings. Sometimes it is believed that the more people talk about something, that easier the message will emerge from the sheer volume of information. But how often have you been in a meeting where people “talked about things” and nothing got resolved.

Consider this: if the solution were simply to increase communication, wouldn’t you expect that the increase in e-mail, cell phone use, and video conferencing would have significantly reduced communication problems? In spite of all of these extra tools now accessible to us, it seems that there are more misunderstandings, mistakes, and conflicts than ever before. And people still complain that they don’t receive the feedback they need to do their jobs properly.

In fact, communication technologies can also help people spread misinformation with blazing speed, sometimes leading to devastating results. Communication technology is not inherently bad. However, the way people use it is often ineffective. Increasing the amount of communication through multiple channels is not the answer.

What to do? Instead of just increasing the amount of communication, make sure that people know how to effectively use the different methods to communicate. These methods can make the critical difference in successfully resolving issues as they arise.

Take Action

Pass this tip on to people you care about; your co-workers, your boss, your employees, your family and friends. Use it as a basis to talk to the people around your office, in your organization, and your personal life. Have an upfront conversation about the “myths of communication” and assess what everyone is willing to do differently. This way everyone will benefit from the knowledge and wisdom we all have to contribute.


The Sandcastle Principle

I was jogging back and forth on the hotel’s beach one afternoon in Ixtapa, Mexico, when one of those life insights—an “aha moment”—hit me. Oh, what insights a vacation can bring! As I was running, I noticed some children diligently building an enormous sandcastle with a bit of help from their parents. The children were clearly having great fun. I surmised the whole project had taken hours. Later that day, I returned to the beach to watch the sunset and I realized that the grand sandcastle was gone. No sign of it remained. The tide had washed away all the children’s hard work.

The next day, I went for another run. Again I saw the same children playing in the sand. They were laughing and seemed to be having just as much fun as the day before. There was no mention that their great sandcastle was gone. No tears of sorrow that all their hard work was washed away. No complaining about how life could treat them this way. No moping around or bellyaching about how great yesterday was. Then it dawned on me how these children could teach us all something — a very important life principle. I call it the Sandcastle Principle.

As adults, we work so hard each day, investing our time, effort, and creativity in many projects and priorities — some of which remain and some of which get washed away. But the truth is that what lingers long after the priorities and goals are or are not achieved are the memories we have of our interactions with others. Hence the Sandcastle Principle.

Think about it. In today’s work world, we are seeing that money and employment can come and go. Fortunes may be lost, businesses may be shuttered, but what will never be lost is our legacy and the impressions we leave with others. I’m sure if you thought about it, you could tell me who your best teacher, boss, or mentor was. I am sure you might even be able to tell me who saw things in you that you did not even see in yourself; or you could name someone who gave you a break when no one else would.

For that reason, I have two questions for you: Who are you building sandcastles with? What memories are you creating and what impressions are you leaving behind?

The Shocking Reality

Unfortunately, if we look at our lives and the way we spend our time, most of us would discover that we spend too much of our time with people who waste our time. These people come in many forms. Some are self-righteous and not open to accepting other points of view. Some are pessimists, some are complainers, and some are bellyachers. Some are the people who love to point out why something can’t be done but don’t offer any solutions of what could be done. Some are the ones who ask us for advice but don’t use it. All are Time Wasters.

It is easy to fall prey to these Time Wasters, especially when we enjoy helping people and want to make a difference. But in the end it is always a frustrating and draining experience.

Oddly enough, we often expend a lot of effort on Time Wasters, even to the detriment of the time we spend with people who really nurture, replenish, and enhance our lives—the Life Enhancers. In fact, we often are willing to make withdrawals from the bank of time that we spend with these Life Enhancers and deposit it in the Time Wasters.

To make matters worse, the Time Wasters may leave us so emotionally exhausted that we have less to give of ourselves—less patience, less guidance, less support, and less happiness – to our Life Enhancers. Our exhaustion and frustration with our Time Wasters may even lead us to be short tempered or rude to our friends and loved ones. It’s a trap most of us have fallen into at one time or another.

What an interesting reward system! We reward our time to those who don’t deserve it and take away our time from the people who are worth it. What a shocking reality!

The Great Switch Multiplier

What if we reversed this tendency and took time from the Time Wasters and invested it in the Life Enhancers?

What if we invested that time by focusing on mentoring, coaching, and advising people who want and will do something with our wisdom, advice, and counsel? Besides feeling more gratified and satisfied, we would probably produce more results. Why? Because as the most effective leaders and managers know, if we invest in the Life Enhancers, they will pay it forward.

What we give to them is multiplied because as they grow, they reach out and invest in the lives of other Life Enhancers. An investment in a Life Enhancer is like dropping a pebble in a pond — the ripple expands ever outward. I call this the Great Switch Multiplier.

I consult with numerous organizations, and everywhere I go, effective employees tell me they wish they had more face time with their boss and members of upper management. What is even more striking is how often leaders allow their time to get swallowed up by the Time Wasters. If they would only refocus their time on the Life Enhancers — those who would appreciate and make use of more guidance, coaching, and mentoring — the impact to the organization would be profound.

The Most Important Investment

In these economic times, when investments in the financial markets seem risky and uncertain, there are some surefire investments we can make. We can invest in the Life Enhancers. These are the people you want to build your sandcastles with.

Some things may be lost during this economic downturn, but much of that can be regained. Time, however, is not one of those commodities. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So invest your time wisely. Here are four immediate actions you can take for profound, long-term impact:

  1. Distance yourself from the Time Wasters.
  2. Share this article with your Life Enhancers.
  3. Thank them for all that they have contributed to you and to your organization.
  4. Let them know that this year they will be your priority.

This is how you can multiply your effect and make a difference in the quality of your life and the lives of others. Implement the Sandcastle Principle and reward your time to the people who are worth your time. Then watch the results multiply in the lives of the people around you.


7 Ingredients for Career Success

When it comes to our career success, we are often not honest with ourselves about reality and what needs to be done to take our career to the next level. After all, we are responsible for our own careers — not our boss, not our co-workers, not the human resources department, and not our significant other. If we are responsible, then we are the ones who are going to have to do something about it. Examine the following seven essential ingredients to career success and honestly rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best) to see what area you really need to focus on.

1. Know where you want to go.

If you are not sure where you are going, you may drift in a direction that wastes your time and does not bring you the joy and fulfillment you desire.

2. Know where you are.

You must know where you are in order to plan how to get where you want to be. In your assessment, be honest about what you currently think about yourself, the people around you, and your situation.

3. Let the past go.

Stop dragging your failures around every day. Learn from the lessons of the past that will be helpful and move on. Don’t get stuck in the memories of how you were wronged. Give it up and move on. Life has never been fair and will never be fair. Let go of the past and enjoy your life.

4. Focus on what you can control.

Since you can’t control other people, concentrate on what you can control — yourself and your responses. When confronted with a problem, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is: “What am I willing and going to do about it?” Answering this question will help you focus on what you can do to resolve issues and reach your goals.

5. Be coachable.

Be willing to listen and learn from everyone. For example, when you receive negative feedback, be careful not to shoot the messenger. Resist the temptation to dismiss advice from someone you may not like. Instead, try on the feedback like you would try on a hat and see if it fits. Consider whether there is anything you can take away from the feedback that will be helpful. Often the feedback we get defensive about is the feedback we really need to be listening to.

6. Be committed.

Commitment is about taking action based on what you said you would do, despite how you feel about it at the moment. Be committed to doing whatever you must do to accomplish your goal. What if failing is not an option? If you really want to be committed, tell people you are going to do something and ask them to hold you accountable for doing it.

7. Take action.

Planning is good, but action is the key. This is where the doers separate themselves from the talkers. We’ve all spent time talking about an idea but not acting on it, only to find out later that someone had a similar idea, implemented it, and reaped the rewards. Taking action is essential to accomplishing our goals. Remember, some action is better than no action. If need be, you can change, reverse, or alter your course later. The key is to take at least some action now.

Now that you have rated yourself, pick the lowest score. Share those scores with five people and ask them for their advice. Then choose three specific actions that you will do based on this advice. Ask someone to hold you accountable and then do the things you need to do. For extra motivation (and for accountability reasons) set up a consequence for not following through.

The only person you can control is you. Take full responsibility for your career success. Make things happen and enjoy the ride to the next level of your career. It will take commitment and hard work, but if you are ready, you can climb the ladder of success — however you define it!


Jim Blasingame Radio Interview

Two weeks ago, I published this blog post highlighting four steps one can use to restore broken trust in any relationship. A week later,  Jim Blasingame of The Small Business Advocate invited me on his radio show to discuss broken trust. In the two segments embedded at the bottom of this post you can listen to the show. The first segment includes three steps that can restore trust, and the second reveals what would cause someone to break their trust with you and help you establish an environment where they feel safe to tell the truth. Enjoy! 

Rebuild Broken Trust

The fundamental building block of any relationship — business or personal — is trust. What do you do if someone has broken your trust or you have broken theirs? You can make a significant difference with some simple steps.

If someone has broken your trust, there is usually a fear that the trust will be broken again. Unfortunately, that is often the case unless these four key steps are taken.

1. Make sure they feel safe to tell you the truth.

Consider how you might have conditioned someone to break your trust. Did you punish someone for telling the truth in the past by becoming defensive or upset? Did you penalize them in some way? Many people would prefer to lie than to deal with that kind of reaction again. If you have conditioned someone to not tell you the truth, it is possible to recondition them. The best initial step is to apologize for your behavior and for creating an environment where they don’t feel safe to tell you the truth. Apologies go a long way to re-building trust. Then ask, “What can I do in the future to make you feel safe, so I can be assured that you will tell me the truth?” Based on their response, decide on an agreeable plan with specific actions you will perform to establish an environment in which they will feel safe to tell you the truth.

2. Ask the person, “What is going to be different from this point forward so that I know I will be able to trust you?”

If they answer the question by using vague language about unspecific actions, chances are good the trust is going to be broken and the undesired behavior will occur again. Lines such as, “Well, I have learned my lesson” or “I am going to try harder” or “I am going to be more disciplined” or “I won’t do that again” mean it is probably going to happen again. People often have good intentions, but after time has passed and emotions have died down, we tend to revert to our old ways. The past predicts the future, unless we take action to do something specifically different. If you are a manager, it is perfectly appropriate and actually responsible
to ask specifically what is going to be different — how they will achieve their goals. If they can’t come up with any specifics, you can bank on nothing changing.

3. Create a consequence ahead of time for what will happen if trust is broken again and things don’t change.

Let’s consider the previous example. When someone is not achieving their goals, you can say, “In the spirit of honesty, I just want you to know that I am going to start documenting any future failures. I have to hold you accountable, just like I do everyone else, to achieving the established goals.” This may sound harsh, but by taking this step, the person knows you mean business. If things don’t change, it sets in motion (without any surprises) what you are going to do next. Make sure you are ready to implement the consequence. Otherwise, you will be conditioning that person that you don’t mean what you say and that the old behavior is okay.

On the personal front, a friend of mine kept making promises that he was going to make a decision about moving in with his girlfriend. After a while, people around him lost trust that he would ever follow through and make a decision. After making another proclamation, someone suggested that if he did not follow through with his latest deadline, he should dress up like a woman and walk around a department store. When he balked, some people challenged him. They said if he really was going to follow through, he would agree to the consequence. The reason for his resistance was that he knew he probably wouldn’t follow through. After consideration, he realized they were right and things weren’t going to change. He agreed to the consequence, fulfilled the commitment, and they are now happily married.

Sometimes a challenge allows us to see the real issues more clearly. One quick and easy way to gauge how committed someone is to change is to use the $100 test. The $100 test is where you ask the person, “If you do not do what you said, will you be willing to give me $100?” The answer often reveals whether they are serious about changing. You may even want to ask for $1000 and watch their response.

Another way to implement a consequence is to ask the person what they think should be done if they don’t fulfill their promise. I like this strategy, because it gets the other person involved in making sure things change. It also reveals how serious a person really is about changing. You could say, “In the spirit of honesty, I need to know that I can trust that this is really going to change. If you are committed to changing, what will you be willing to do as a consequence if things don’t change?” Then allow the person some time to think and respond. If the person gives an easy consequence, you can push and challenge them about it, but you should understand that they are probably not committed to change. If someone really is going to change, they will have no problem making a major commitment with a severe consequence. Why? Because they know the consequence is not going to happen, because they know they are going to keep their promise.

4. Acknowledge the person if and when things do change.

Appreciation lets the other person know that you are aware of their efforts. It also goes a long way to encouraging someone to build their momentum and continue to change.

HAVE YOU BROKEN TRUST?

If you have broken someone’s trust, flip the advice around. First, sincerely and immediately apologize. Then tell them specifically what you are going to do differently. To give them confidence that you are really going to change, establish a severe consequence that you will self-impose if things do not change.

One piece of advice — if you do change and the person keeps bringing up the past, it is fair to ask of them, “What needs to happen so that you stop bringing up the past?” Often people are unaware of how frequently they bring up the past, and until you point it out, they do not recognize that things really have changed. Make sure you have really changed before you do this. 

Trust is the foundation of any great relationship, at work and at home. Without trust, a relationship is like a car on blocks. It isn’t going anywhere… and after a while, it will rust and deteriorate. You can make a difference by taking a few simple steps to put your relationship back on track. You hold the keys.


Getting to the Honest Truth

LEARN HOW TO GET THE UNSAID SAID, The Most Important Communication Strategy To Boost Teamwork, Increase Trust, Build Remarkable Relationships, And Get Things Done!

September 26, 2013-Washington DC Metropolitan Area

This highly engaging and interactive seminar is delivered by Steven Gaffney, and based on his popular selling books, Just Be Honest and Honesty Works. Honesty is still not only the best policy, but it is the easiest and most effective way to communicate when it comes to resolving conflicts and producing results. A key problem within organizations and between individuals is not what people ARE saying, but it’s what they are NOT saying to each other. How much of your organization’s productivity, efficiency, and collaboration is affected due to unspoken communication? How much time and money is costing your organization due to not having honest and open dialogues?

In this session with Steven Gaffney, participants will be challenged to open up and engage in open discussions and exercises as well as applying the Gaffney Guiding Principles for honest communication to help improve relationships, build trust, and make work and life easier.

Possible outcomes and key deliverables for participants are:

  • How to get others to tell the truth
  • How to have an honest breakthrough conversation with anyone
  • How to eliminate fear so that people are honest and open with you
  • How to open lines of communication and convey crystal clear messages
  • How to create an environment where honest communication is a non-negotiable
  • How to prevent misunderstandings by using Notice vs. Imagine technique
  • How to share ideas, information, opportunities, and solutions without hesitation
  • How to receive and give feedback
  • How to reduce defensiveness
  • How to correctly evaluate familiar and unfamiliar situations
  • How to handle others whose negativity undermines initiatives
  • How to manage expectations
  • How to increase accountability and get things done efficiently
  • How to prevent repetitive and unproductive conversations that waste time and money
  • How to build trust with anyone
  • How to recognize and resolve small issues before they become gigantic problems
  • How to avoid being blindsided by eliciting open communication
  • How to prevent close-minded thinking

GETTING TO THE HONEST TRUTH Communication Seminar

Thursday, September 26, 2013
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Best Western
8401 Westpark Drive
McLean VA 22102
$995 per person

 

Click here to sign up!


“In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.” – What if Martin Luther King, Jr. had compared himself to others?

Imagine a world in which Martin Luther King, Jr., had been nothing more than a preacher with a sizable congregation, Bill Gates was nothing more than an effective manager at an IT firm, and Oprah Winfrey just a newscaster at a Baltimore television station. Suppose Warren Buffet was nothing more than a man who managed his money well in order to provide a nice life for his family. We probably wouldn’t know their names, yet by most standards they would still be deemed successful.

Yet I believe that true success is the degree to which we reach our full potential. By that standard, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet could not be called successful if they did not achieve what we all now know they were capable of. If they had been satisfied with comparing themselves favorably with others, they may have not been inspired to achieve what they achieved. Where would our society be without the contributions they have made? What would the landscape of twenty-first-century America look like without them?

Fortunately, they did not suffer what many people suffer from–Comparison Success Obstruction ™ (CSO). People with this affliction compare themselves with others to gauge their own success. Those comparisons can sadly set us up for mediocrity. If Warren Buffet suffered from CSO, he could have taken a look at his neighbor and been satisfied with the idea of building a bigger house, purchasing a nicer car, and sending his children to better schools. Oprah Winfrey could have landed her job as a Baltimore newscaster, compared herself to friends and colleagues, and decided she was doing quite well just where she was.

Many organizations suffer from CSO. They even go so far as to benchmark their achievements against other organizations. Perhaps yours does this too. While benchmarking can produce some good results, it can also chain your organization to the common results of others—restraining you from catapulting beyond the competition and producing breakthrough results.

Comparing ourselves to the competition begs the question — so what? So what if you can move widgets faster than Widget Movers Express? So what if you are the leader in a certain technology? So what if you are the highest in retention? Are those reasons to be content? So what?

Maybe your organization has untold “Martin Luther King, Jr.,” potential. Maybe there is a life-changing discovery or invention lurking within your organization — within the minds of your employees. Maybe it is within you! But this is unlikely to happen as long as you or others around you suffer from CSO.

I once heard an interview with John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who won seven straight NCAA titles and nine titles in eleven years. The interviewer asked Wooden for his keys to success, and Wooden said that after each game – regardless of the score — he asked his players, did you play your best? Think about this. In professional sports, team dynasties result from an effective coach and a few outstanding players who are with the team year after year. But the make-up of teams in college basketball is constantly changing as new students join the team and others move on to graduate. But the changing roster didn’t hinder Coach Wooden. He built a dynasty in part by asking the ever-changing faces on his team, did you play your best?

Imagine if we were asked that on a daily basis. What would your answer be? Is it time to step it up, push ourselves, regardless of what others say? I think so. Not because we have to, not because there is something wrong, but because we can. After all, isn’t that what true success is all about?

That is why I believe we need to drop the judgments and comparisons with others. We need to stop looking behind us to see who is chasing us. Instead we need to run fast regardless of the others in the race and push ourselves to see what is possible. This is what striving for true success is all about.

Are you playing your best, or are you settling for what you think you can get rather than going for what you truly want? What are you willing to do about it? After all, the only person you can control is yourself. You cannot necessarily control what others do, but you are fully responsible for the way you respond and the actions you take to achieve the results you really want. Attaining perfection may be hard, but making progress is easy.

WARNING: If you choose to stop suffering from CSO and strive for what you can become, brace yourself and make sure you enjoy the ride, because there is an ironic twist that will come your way. The twist is that successful people often don’t think of themselves as particularly successful. If fact, the more successful they are, the more they recognize the gap between where they are and what they can become.

A while back, I saw a documentary about the incredible life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the many things that shocked me was that he was plagued by the thought that he had not yet done enough. Imagine that. As successful and accomplished as he was, he was not satisfied—not even close.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was chasing down a dream. He knew that there was always more to do. There was always more that he could expect of himself. He had a vision for the future, and that vision was not limited by comparisons or others’ expectations. True success is not about how we compare with others, but how we compare with what we truly can become.

Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet aren’t playing small either. They each have their own vision for the future, a vision that I would argue continues to expand as they achieve more and more. Who can they become? How about you? What dreams can you accomplish?

While others are fixated on comparing themselves with others or preoccupied with looking over their shoulders to make sure no one will overtake them, keep challenging yourself and those around you with what you can become.

Maybe there is “Martin Luther King, Jr.,-Bill Gates-Warren Buffet-Oprah Winfrey” potential in you and the people around you just waiting to be awakened and inspired. Think of the difference that that could make. It can begin now. It’s up to you.

MLK

Here is a 6-Step Formula to Start You on Your Journey:

1. Recognize you may be suffering from CSO, and do something about it. Throw away the comparisons. They limit your potential.

2. Create a vision for the future that is not a reaction to the past or a comparison with others in the present. Spend some time reflecting on what you believe you can become. Dream. Brainstorm. Use what if? What if we had nothing stopping us? What if we could really accomplish our ideal product or service? What if we had the perfect economy?

3. Avoid dream crushers, vision smashers, and naysayers. Don’t be hampered by low expectations – your own or anyone else’s. Instead, search for people who dream big and believe in themselves and in you.

4. Execute the next step. No matter how big the vision, no matter how daunting the task, ask yourself, “What is the next step?” Then do it.

5. At the end of each day, reflect and ask yourself, “Did I play my best? What can I do better tomorrow?” This attitude is the key to long-term success.

6. Build your support network. Share this article with others. Pass it to others who have remarkable potential. The fewer people who suffer from CSO, the easier it is for you and others to accomplish breakthrough results.

 


“Achieving Full Capacity” – Assests Required to Create an Honest Communication Success Culture

Organizations these days face limited resources and numerous external challenges, yet the demand to achieve full capacity remains constant. More than twenty years in business with employees tells me the key to achieving full capacity is to build and continuously nurture an Honest Communication Success Culture (HCSC) because such a culture makes all the difference to innovation, efficiency, and teamwork as well as the bottom line.

An Honest Communication Success Culture (HCSC) is the key differentiator between organizations that are successful and dominant in the market and those that are not. It is also the primary differentiator between organizations with employees who are fully engaged and those who are not. Considering that a recent Gallup poll revealed that 70 percent of employees are not engaged or inspired in the workplace, I would assert that it is time to consider the role of culture in facilitating engagement in order to win in the marketplace.

WHAT IS AN HONEST COMMUNICATION SUCCESS CULTURE?
An Honest Communication Success Culture has two primary characteristics—proactive sharing and taking responsibility—as illustrated in the grid below. These concepts seem simple, but their application may be a bit more complex than meets the eye. Let’s take a quick look at what proactive sharing and taking responsibility really are.

Proactive Sharing

In an organization with a strong HCSC, people openly and honestly share their thoughts and opinions because they understand the biggest problem in an organization isn’t what people do say, it’s what they don’t say. Proactive sharing is sharing without being asked, and it involves three levels of communication that we call the three I’s:

Level 1: Information. This is the first and most basic level of sharing. Information is critical for people to make informed decisions, and one
of the biggest problems in the workplace is uninformed decisions. Although any sharing is helpful, simply sharing information—or doing a data dump—isn’t enough. Some employees do share information but never draw conclusions or alert others to problems that are brewing.

Level 2: Issues. You can also refer to issues as problems or challenges that must be shared to insure the health of the organization. Problems that are ignored or hidden grow and become more complicated and expensive to fix as time passes.

Level 3: Ideas. Ideas directly impact innovation. You can’t move forward on an idea you don’t know about, and you can’t develop a rough idea into a solution that will positively impact your bottom line if you’ve never heard about it.

In organizations with the strongest HCSC, people proactively share at all three levels: Information, Issues, and Ideas. All are necessary. It’s easy to see why organizations that promote proactive sharing—up, down, and across the organization—are more effective and efficient and able to dramatically increase revenue and profits.

Taking Responsibility

Sharing is destructive rather than constructive if people don’t take responsibility. When people share but play the blame game, others will get defensive, hunker down, and blame back. This behavior can actually stall organizational growth. If left unattended, destructive sharing becomes entrenched in the culture and can lead to a downward spiral for the organization. By encouraging everyone to take responsibility rather than to shift it, organizations find solutions rather than fault and create an environment that encourages people to take initiative, think out of the box, and excel with velocity.

ACHIEVING FULL CAPACITY

Because organizations consist of people, and people make up culture, understanding whether your employees are enhancing your organization’s HCSC or undermining it is crucial. The grid below identifies the four key modalities that employees operate with (usually without even knowing it) and demonstrates each modality’s level of proactive sharing and taking responsibility. All employees fall into one of the four categories — Pointers, Apologists, Hiders, and Assets — and, as the grid reveals, each impacts your HCSC. These categories are not personality types; they are modes or perspectives that anyone can fall into.

The reason to identify these roles is not to place blame, but rather to create awareness and develop a plan to move people into the Asset category. Helping employees become fully engaged benefits your organization and everyone in it. As you look at these perspectives, remember
to assume your employees have good intentions. Many people want to do their best for you, but their past experiences can lead to wrong conclusions and actions in the present. Understanding these modalities will enable you to improve your culture, engage your employees, and get your organization to operate as close to full capacity as possible. Let’s take a look at each one.

Honesty Grid- final 8.26.13

To get the rest of this article on how to identify the four categories – Pointers, Apologists, Hiders, and Assets – and learn how to convert all of your employees into Assets, send an email request to breyana@stevengaffney.com or call 703-241-7796. Feel free to circulate as well!


Beware of the 5 Communication Myths!

When it comes to dealing with problems or issues with others, we are likely to believe one or more myths of communication–ideas that are touted as solutions, but can actually result in more problems.

Myth #1: Time heals all wounds.

The truth is, that time usually deepens wounds. If time really healed all wounds, people would not blame their behavior on their childhood and past events as they often do. In fact, time can deceive us into thinking that problems with others have been resolved, but all it takes is to see them again or something to remind us of those previous unresolved issues and we will become upset all over again. In essence, our unresolved past is lying around waiting to strike us in the present.

What to do? Do not rationalize by thinking, “Well, they are not saying or bringing it up, so I will just let it go.” Just because they are not bringing it up does not mean that they have let it go. They may feel awkward or embarrassed or they may not know how to bring it up so they have decided to bury it. The key is to proactively bring up issues and resolve them.

Myth #2: Don’t rock the boat.

The truth is, if you don’t rock the boat, the boat will probably sink. Faced with an issue or problem that is bothering us, many people rationalize, “I am not going to say anything. It is not that big of a deal. I don’t want to rock the boat.” The problem with this way of thinking is if we don’t say anything, the issue is unlikely to be resolved. Then what was once a small issue may fester and grow into a big problem.

What to do? As stated above, proactively bring up issues as they happen.

Myth #3: Be diplomatic.

The truth is, if we are too diplomatic, the point we are trying to make will not get across and nothing will get resolved. Have you ever had someone claim that they told you something, but you really don’t remember or didn’t understand the message they were trying to send? This happened because the message being conveyed to you was so subtle that you missed the point.

What to do? When we have to communicate an issue, bringing it up in a respectful way is important, but make sure the issue and what you want done is clear and direct.

Myth #4: Sandwich what you really want to say between two compliments.

The truth is, the “sandwich method” is so obvious that people immediately identify the strategy and feel manipulated. The sandwich method is when you place what you really want to say between two positive compliments. “I appreciate how hard you work, but blah, blah, blah… and thank you for working with me on this.” This communication trick can permanently damage relationships.

What to do? Tell people the truth. People are smart, but we are lousy actors, so be honest and clear. If you have issues, talk about them and get right to the point. When you have something nice to say, bring it up in a conversation unrelated to the problem so you can get the most benefit out of the conversation.

Myth #5: More communication leads to resolution.

The truth is, simply having more communication can lead to wasting time and possibly more misunderstandings. Sometimes it is believed that the more people talk about something, that easier the message will emerge from the sheer volume of information. But how often have you been in a meeting where people “talked about things” and nothing got resolved.

Consider this: if the solution were simply to increase communication, wouldn’t you expect that the increase in e-mail, cell phone use, and video conferencing would have significantly reduced communication problems? In spite of all of these extra tools now accessible to us, it seems that there are more misunderstandings, mistakes, and conflicts than ever before. And people still complain that they don’t receive the feedback they need to do their jobs properly.

In fact, communication technologies can also help people spread misinformation with blazing speed, sometimes leading to devastating results. Communication technology is not inherently bad. However, the way people use it is often ineffective. Increasing the amount of communication through multiple channels is not the answer.

What to do? Instead of just increasing the amount of communication, make sure that people know how to effectively use the different methods to communicate. These methods can make the critical difference in successfully resolving issues as they arise.

Take Action


Pass this tip on to people you care about; your co-workers, your boss, your employees, your family and friends. Use it as a basis to talk to the people around your office, in your organization, and your personal life. Have an upfront conversation about the “myths of communication” and assess what everyone is willing to do differently. This way everyone will benefit from the knowledge and wisdom we all have to contribute.