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Listening BlocksListening Blocks Having spent more than 20 years training business people in listening skills, Richard Anstruther and his team of communication experts at HighGain, Inc., have identified five...

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The Importance of Follow-ThroughThe Importance of Follow-Through Whether you’re learning to swing a golf club, baseball bat or tennis racquet, coaches always emphasize the importance of follow-through. It’s not just hitting the ball...

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Cultivating Serenity in the Workplace and BeyondCultivating Serenity in the Workplace and Beyond The serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous says that the key to serenity is accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can, and possessing the wisdom to know the...

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Speak Like a ProSpeak Like a Pro There are numerous books on public speaking, all offering valuable information and different angles on the topic. To speak like a pro, keep these tips in mind: Plan Start...

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Benefits of Laughter at WorkBenefits of Laughter at Work Stronger Connections Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the...

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Oh, the Tales We Tell: Getting Beyond Our Stories at Work

Posted on : 08-10-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Every day, Jerome begins his work by telling himself his favorite story: I’m not valued around here. They’re heaping on the work just to see when I’ll quit. I’m sure to be passed over for promotion.

His co-worker, Alissa, has her own favorite story: This company’s president is a critical and demanding control freak, who shuts me out of every decision but expects me to know everything.

Every day, we tell ourselves enough of these kinds of stories to fill a library: Why my supervisor closed her door today. Why the client rejected my proposal. What my associate meant when he laughed at my question. Why everyone is being so difficult. How I’m such a failure.

And on, and on, and on. And that’s just at work. What about the stories we tell ourselves at home?

We live our lives as if the stories are true. We act and react, often in pain, from our often mistaken understanding of another’s words or actions, our assumptions about why they are saying or doing what they are, and our thoughts about how those people—and we, ourselves—should be different.

Stories Damage Relationships—at Work and at Home

Yet, it is these stories, and the emotions that come from the stories, that are usually the source of the pain and/or discomfort we feel in our relationships, whether at work or at home. We want to blame another, but in reality, it’s usually our thinking that is causing the discomfort, says Byron Katie, author of the best-selling book Loving What Is.

What we need to do to ease the pain and experience more freedom in our lives is learn to get beyond our stories, to get under our beliefs to what’s really living there.

“The result of investigation is often a deeper appreciation of the people in our lives, and a realization that it was not their words or actions that really harmed us, but our uninvestigated thoughts about their words or actions,” Katie says.

In her book, Katie outlines a simple path of inquiry into these horror stories we tell ourselves that revolves around four questions:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react when you think that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

Doing the Investigative Work

First, state your belief about someone and ask yourself if it is true and whether you can know absolutely, without a doubt, that it is true. For example, let’s take Alissa’s belief that her boss is a critical and demanding control freak, who shuts her out of every decision but expects her to know everything.  

Is it true her boss is critical? Demanding? Do others in the office hear constructive, well-intentioned suggestions where she hears criticism? Has she never had the freedom to implement work as she sees fit? Does she know without a shadow of doubt that her boss’s actions are about wanting to control her every sorry action?

The next question for Alissa is: How does she act and react when she thinks these thoughts? Does she find herself angry and resentful? Does she go out of her way to avoid encounters with her boss? Does she respond defensively to any sort of comment? Does her work suffer? Does her body tense up or her stomach ache when she interacts with her boss? Does she enjoy any of her time at work? Talk about lack of peace and harmony!

Imagine that she doesn’t have this story any more. Who would she be?

Perhaps she would be more content at work and enthusiastic about the new learning she’s receiving. Perhaps she would be less concerned about what others thought of her and more intent on contributing in unique ways to the work at hand. Perhaps she would be Western union money transfer next in line for a promotion. Or perhaps she would be working for another company. She’s likely to be calmer and more peaceful.

The Turnaround

The final step in this investigation is for Alissa to turn around the statements she’s been making. Does she express criticism in other areas of her life in ways that are harsh and hard to hear? Does she try to control her spouse, her children, her co-workers? Is she critical and demanding of herself? Our “stories” often point to our own traits that we project onto others so as to disclaim them.

It’s important to note that with inquiries like this, there is no right answer. The goal is not perfection, but truth.

“Who would you be without your story?” Katie says. “You never know until you inquire. There is no story that is you or that leads to you. Every story leads away from you.”

Dial It Up

Posted on : 27-09-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Ask yourself, “Where am I playing right now?” Pause, and take a moment to ask yourself where you are — really. Don’t just say a 10, if it’s not a ten. Look and see. What does it feel like right now? Is it a ten? What are you hearing yourself say when you ask the question? If it’s not a 10, dial it up a notch!

What Works?

Posted on : 27-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Smiling At Myself

Posted on : 26-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Proactivity and Integrity

Posted on : 16-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Following through means taking action and keeping your word. Below are some additional considerations regarding follow-through.

•  When you say you’ll do something, be scrupulous in meeting your commitment, whether to a client, supervisor, customer or direct-report. If you can’t deliver it, don’t promise it.

•  In job interviews and networking, rapid follow-up can mean the difference between landing the job and/or client. Hiring decisions are often made very quickly after interviews. And getting in contact with people soon after meeting them means they will remember you, increasing the likelihood they will eventually buy from you.

•  Be sure to send a thank you note after you close a sale or receive any courtesy. This will make you stand out from the others, inviting an ongoing relationship to develop, or continue to develop. Also, a short thank-you note gives you a great excuse to add anything you forgot to say in a meeting or interview, or to highlight details you only glossed over.

•  All top salespeople are masters at follow-through. Lack of follow-through is the primary element missing when sales are not keeping pace with leads generated. You may have hundreds of leads with a great deal of potential. But unless you follow through and actively market/sell to these leads, they will not turn into sales.

•  Following through after sales have been made also makes good financial sense. Getting business from new customers costs significantly more than securing additional business from existing customers.

When it comes to follow-through, something is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. The best is to follow-up as frequently and best as you can, a practice that can even affect productivity positively.

Organizing and Delegating

Posted on : 15-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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A good organizational system will support follow-through more than almost anything. If you are among the organizationally challenged, do one of two things:

1. Make a commitment, buy an organization book or two, reserve a weekend or a week, and just do it. Get organized once and for all. You’re not likely to follow through well, if at all, when the disorganization gremlin has hold of you. Getting organized is one of the biggest keys to success; not doing so is an extremely common and most unfortunate form of self-sabotage.

2. Hire someone to organize you and keep you that way. The investment will pay for itself when you begin following through more consistently.

Delegating should also be part of an organizational system. “Getting things done through others is a fundamental leadership skill,” according to Bossidy and Charan. “Indeed, if you can’t do it, you’re not leading.” Delegating is an efficient way to ensure that the greatest number of tasks, including follow-up tasks, get done in the shortest amount of time. In other words, if you want to be successful, don’t be afraid to dole out the workload to others. The key is to always think in terms of the big picture instead of focusing only on whatever task is in front of your face at the moment.

It’s Not Just What, But How

Posted on : 14-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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When we think of follow-through, we tend to think of taking action. But a large part of follow-through is about first figuring out how things will be done. Once you define your goals, set aside some time to decide just how you will reach them. What steps will be needed to accomplish Moneygram money order them? Who will do which steps and when? What is the desired timeline? If a strategy does not address the hows, it is almost certainly doomed to failure.

Take meetings, for instance. A plan for follow-through should be detailed at the end of every meeting. “Never finish a meeting without clarifying what the follow through will be, who will do it, what resources they will use, and how and when the next review will take place and with whom,” Bossidy and Charan suggest.

The Importance of Follow-Through

Posted on : 13-08-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Whether you’re learning to swing a golf club, baseball bat or tennis racquet, coaches always emphasize the importance of follow-through. It’s not just hitting the ball that matters, it’s how you continue your swing once contact is made.

The same thing applies in job interviews, networking, sales and almost any work situation: without purposeful follow-through on your actions and interactions with others, you won’t really be able to reach your professional potential.

“Failure to meet deadlines, honor commitments, monitor staff, return calls and keep track of long-term projects is the most underrated cause of chaos and failure in business life,” writes Stephanie Winston in Organized for Success.

So often we feel we’ve completed a task because the action of it is “done,” but we underemphasize how powerful it is to continue developing, tracking and monitoring operations and relationships even after they’ve been set in place. As Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan note in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, “Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously. Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable.”

Honing Your Listening Skills

Posted on : 17-07-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Below are a few suggestions for honing your listening skills. Enjoy them!

1. Experiment with Levels 1, 2 and 3 listening, one at a time, to fully understand the dynamics at each level. Try this in everyday conversation, or practice with someone. Take turns telling a story and listening. The results may surprise you!

2. Spend some time noticing how often you fall into tuning out, detaching, rehearsing, judging or controlling. What can you do to keep from falling into these common traps?

3. In your everyday conversations, or in an intentional practice session with a partner, explore each listening block, one at a time. Notice how you feel and the impact on the person with whom you are communicating.

 

The first step to developing artful listening is to choose to truly listen. As you continue to develop your listening skills, your communications and your relationships are likely to become increasingly satisfying and rich!

Listening Blocks

Posted on : 16-07-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized

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Having spent more than 20 years training business people in listening skills, Richard Anstruther and his team of communication experts at HighGain, Inc., have identified five main listening blocks:

• Tune Out—Listeners are not paying attention to the speaker due to disinterest in the speaker or subject, thinking about other things or multitasking.

• Detach—Listeners are emotionally detached from the speaker, concerned with content only, not the feelings behind it. They may be only half listening, not really interacting, and miss the message’s underlying meaning.

• Rehearse—Listeners are concentrating on what to say or do next, rather than focusing on the speaker’s message.

• Judge—Listeners have a different opinion that causes them to block out new ideas and information or lose track of the conversation. They analyze and interpret the speaker’s delivery or message, missing the point. They criticize, give advice and make assumptions.

• Control—Listeners don’t allow the speaker to talk at his or her own pace. They constantly interrupt with comments or questions, and don’t allow the speaker to finish a point.

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