Learn these two critical communication skills for Connecting with Others.

 

Daily Quote: ” Sometimes the most unique connection and learning happens when others are encouraged to talk about themselves. Questioning and active listening are the best and most appreciated way to show others you care”. Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

Reflection: Questions can be an effective way for you to show others that you curious about them and want to get to know them better. Effective questioning and active listening promote unique connections, progress and possibilities, and typically lead to two-communications, discoveries, understanding, and solutions.

A powerful question, for example, might be, “What are your goals for this year?” “What are the critical responsibilities for job”? “How do you show gratitude for others support”? and “What do you think our customers need to refer us to other companies”?

When the right questions are asked we can connect with others and have the possibility for problem solving and opportunity finding.

In the following, I will discuss some ways of questioning that lead to connections and  open-up conversations. Also we will examine the other side of the coin where the wrong type of questions shut down conversations and move others away from us.

Let’s review a few types of questions to see which ones work better in developing rapport and connections with others.

  1. Open ended questions. Are used so the other person can explain or provide more information which creates more of a two-way conversation and unique connect. Most open questions start with What? or How? Questions. For example –What are we going to do with our credit card debts? How are we going to pay for the kid’s college tuition?  Another way to open a conversation up is to say – “tell me” more about your ambition to be a doctor…
  2. Closed questions. Are questions that  can be answer with a simple “yes” or “no” and actually close down dialogue between to people. For example, Are you going to the game today?
  3. Exploration questions.   These types of questions generally, start with What? How? Where? or When? They facilitate exploration and provide an opportunity for learning more about the other person who you are interacting with. They provide more opportunity to gather information and lead to more understanding which is the basis of empathy.
  4. Judgmental questions. By contrast, a question that is classified as a “judging” make others defensive and less forth coming. Questions like this are more closed-minded, snarky and critical which lead to withdrawal a very little productive dialogue. They focus on problems rather than solutions and often lead to unproductive outcomes. Judging questions lead to negative energy and stop conversation before it has a chance to really get started. For example, “Are you responsible for this mess?  Or “Why aren’t we selling more in this quarter? By the way most people find Why? very difficult to answer and most of the time “just make shit up” to get the person off their back And so on.

Self-Coaching Challenge. Ask a colleague to make note of the kind and frequency of questions you ask at your next staff meeting. After you get the feedback decide what you are going to do to improve the openness and flow of your questions.

Part I. Leadership Research: # 1 skill for Becoming Extraordinary Leader

High-Resolution Leadership a research study conducted by DDI identifies that “the single most important skill of a good leader may not be what you think. Although it is important to be visionary and a strategic thinker, a new study suggests that it’s more rooted in their daily conversations and interactions with people”.

According to DDI research on leadership, the leader who’s most effective in having successful conversations is most likely to do the best in developing their team and creating a successful business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.”

This conclusion comes from a report called High-Resolution Leadership, which is the result of synthesizing assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 companies in 18 countries. DDI evaluated the data from personality and intelligence tests as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed participants to demonstrate their skills.

 

Self-Coaching Challenge: Learn the Power of Reflection to Increase Self-Awareness

Daily Quote: “This is the key to life: the ability to reflect, the ability to know yourself, the ability to pause for a second before reacting automatically. If you can truly know yourself, you will begin the journey of transformation.” Deepak Chopra

Reflection: If you are open to new ways to improve  your life both at work or home, you might want to try the Self-Coaching technique of “Self-Awareness through Reflection”. Increasing you ability to be more Self-Aware will keep you from living life on “autopilot” or feeling “stuck” by just moving through daily activities and tasks like this is all there is in life. This approach to living is boring and self-deflating to say the least. Self-Awareness and reflection is gaining in popularity because new neuroscience research on the brain’s ability to grow and expand. The Brain is more like a muscle than a fixed structure. The potential for expansion and learning through out life is getting more attention because it is important in helping you shape your thoughts and behavior which impact decisions about career, relationships, and your life.

Basically, Self Awareness and Reflection is the ability to process and gain understanding of what your experiences teach you about who you are and how to live a more fulfilling life. Self-awareness is important because it provides the opportunity to assess your strengths, recognize what is working for you and learn how others perceive and measure your competencies and capabilities. Learning how others react and perceive you helps to uncover “blindspots” which many times are the barriers for living a more productive and optimum life. A simple illustration of this is to overrate yourself as strong leader and get a false sense of pride out of it, only to be devastated when you receive feedback from your team that this not how they experience  and perceive you.

So in essence self-awareness is the capacity to reason about experiences and to use information about your effect on others to enhance one’s thoughts, plans, and life experience. Its chief components include recognizing personally relevant information about yourself from reflection and others, and using that information to create  a plan for personal changes and self-development.

If this doesn’t sound important, I will remind you of the fact that tens of thousands of individuals derail themselves by not acknowledging personal and professional behaviors and decisions that are not aligned with reality. They make wrong decisions about what jobs to take, what work environments to enter, who to work with, and by overrating their abilities and underrating their deficiencies lose touch with reality and become “stuck” and depressed about their lives. The good news is like so many personality and brain functions,you can develop new ways to think and behave that are more aligned with your goals to live a more meaningful and constructive life.

Your main tool for accomplishing these changes is to become more aware by using reflection and introspection. The key is to evaluate were you are now and where you would like to go in the future. Then reflect on the gaps between now and future and determine what needs to be changed.  For these changes to happen, self awareness and reflection plans must be clear, concrete and time-bound. This reflection process is a deliberate, time-consuming process that requires you to study yourself and others feedback to you so that you can assess yourself accurately.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Here is a methodology that I have used to coach executives and managers develop their self-awareness.

  1. Block off 30 minutes at the end of the day for reflection time.
  2. Select an one area of your personality that is not working for you or you would like to improve. Commit to reviewing and getting feedback on this area, such as your ability to listen to others or how you react to pressure or stress at home or work.
  3. Spend the designated time introspecting on the personality area you selected. As you reflect, think of real life examples where listening has been important for making decisions. Then, identify who was there and how you behaved in listen to their opinions or advice. Make the example as concrete and vivid as you can. Then, ask yourself some critical questions: In what way did you listen or not listen to others? Did you interrupt other people when they were talking? How long does it take you to criticize or reject ideas presented by others? When you are supposed to be listening are you really taking time to understand what the other person is saying or are building a rebuttal argument? to rebut you new information and what type of information is it easy or hard for you to learn? Are you a visual learner or auditory? Could you restate what the other person was trying to communicate to you to their satisfaction? Do you listen better in groups or individually? How did this interaction workout? What would you do differently to improve the outcome of the interaction?
  4. Reflect and Record your reflective observations in a journal. When capturing you reflections be sure to write down your thoughts and evaluate whether your behavior is following the 3-1 positivity ratio we have talked about in past posts. Having  a Self-Coaching journal will be useful to see how this negativity and lack positivity reflection keep you “stuck”.
  5. Develop a specific action plan to change your thinking so you can your behavior for the better.
  6. Then identify other areas of your thinking and behavior or habits you would like to change.

When doing more reflection I have one cautionary point –most of us are not very good at evaluating ourselves and consequently fail to be accurate in their assessment; they engage in self-deception. You can combat this tendency by thinking of multiple examples, rather than just one situation to review for each personality characteristic you study. You can also check the validity of your observations by asking trusted others for their thoughts and feedback about your level of competency on the characteristic you are trying to improve.

Growth Mindset: Research and Reflections on the Power of Grit

” Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the week, not just for the month,but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Angela Lee Duckworth

” No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck

What is grit and the effects of it on short-term motivation and the development of a “Growth Mindset”? It means having the ability to separate short-term losses or failure by taking the time to stop what you are doing, reflect on the lesson you learned and experiment with new approaches that might work better to reach the long-term goal. The method used by effective leaders is to stop, reflect on what is working or not, think about a different strategy or tactic to try next, set a new goal, and go for it. If that Plan B doesn’t work be flexible enough to try something else, always committed to the big picture.  This is grit. It’s the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

According to Dr. Duckwork “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007. p. 1087-1088) ” Can a leopard change its spots? Can a human change their personality and become gritty” ? Generally personality research has found that personality characteristics are stable over time. ( University of California: Nave, Sherman, Funder, Hampson, and Goldberg, 2010).  But it is important to understand that our behaviors can be influenced by the environment and habits can change over time. We may not be able to change our genetics but we do have the capacity to change our brain and behaviors.  We do have free will and our brain is malleable.  In similar vein, someone may have a genetic predisposition to develop heart disease, but if that person makes the choice and effort to eat healthy, be physically active, and not smoke then the manifestation of heart disease is less likely. For most people becoming more gritty requires a plan, effective effort and practice, feedback, and small-success over a long period of time.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Do you want more grit? Start here:

1) Write out your plan for changing a specific behavior or habit – establish your baseline, set a goal, define a clear goal and set-up an action of activities for reaching the goal.

2) Eliminate obstacles or interferences for change – What are your barriers? Is it no exercise routine, too much watching sports on TV, internet meandering, poor eating and snacking routines? 

3) Keep a Personal Change Journal – Writing down your successes and failures has been shown by research as a powerful tactic for supporting motivation, monitoring your feelings and emotions. Work on solutions.

4) Share the plan – Share your plan with someone who is supportive yet can offer feedback on your progress

5)    Keep track of your successes – Remember the days when you would receive a gold star for exceptional performance in grade school? Give yourself a gold star for every success you have during the day.

6) Never. Never. Never… give up. Success is a marathon…ultramarathon, not a sprint. There will be peaks and valleys. Expect failure, but don’t accept it. Learn from it and keep moving forward. You must remain passionate about your goals.

7) All of this hard work and effort will payoff if you keep at it. Personal change is difficult and takes time. You need to overcome obstacles and embrace them.

References Duckworth, A., Peterson, C., Matthews, M., and Kelly, D.  (2007).  Grit: Perserverance and passion    for long term-goals.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; (92), 1087-1101. Nave, C., Sherman, R., Funder, D., Hampson, S., and Goldberg, L. (2010). On the contextual independence of personality: Teachers’ assessments predict directly observed behavior after four decades.  Social Psychology and Personality Science; (1), 327 – 334.

Listening with Half An Ear–Message is…

Daily Quote: “Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” Carl Rogers

Reflection: Ever zone out during a conversation or check your email while you’re talking to someone on the phone? You may think you’re being clever, but the other person can almost always tell and it sends a message that they’re irrelevant and what they have to say is unimportant.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Giving someone your full attention by listening is the best way to connect. This is what I call being “Being fully present”. It says ‘I really care about you and what you need. You are my top priority right now. So your challenge is to practice more effective listening at home this weekend with your partner or your kids and capture in your Learning and Growth Journal what you learned and how can you make the practice of listening a key cornerstone of who you are and how you want to be perceived.  Want to learn more about active listening or checkout this post  https://wordpress.com/post/5659051/1107

Learning… By MW Hardwick

Learning … by MW Hardwick 

I now see the world with new eyes.

I see the benefits of trying new ways,

To learn—I observe, experience, reflect and listen

I see a model to follow and read about a new way

and I now know I can learn anything.

No matter how difficult or time consuming

learning comes through effort and practice

I keep an open mind and change comes naturally

if I stay focuses the payoff is great…

if I persevere I can win..

If I am praised I can stagnate and lose

What will you choose? What will you choose?

 

Want to Deliver Memorable Presentations: Pay Attention to Audience Needs and Learn to be Spontaneous and Flexible

Daily Quote:  “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much..if the presenter sends a message that the receiver does not see as relevant to their needs and doesn’t understand the point of the speech – then who needs to change?”
Robert Greenleaf

 

In this utube, we hear and see one of Hollywood’s great story tellers talk about how to be more spontaneous and flexible, so as to connect with the audience. Many time presenters to not pay attention to audience feedback during a presentation and miss the opportunity for changing the direction or the emphasis of some content over the canned speech. Picking up on questions and body language provides clues of what to emphasize to match audience needs.

The perceived effectiveness of your presentation is many times dependent on your ability to pay attention to what is going right in front of you.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Add to your presentation skills by learning to be more spontaneous and authentic take an Improvisation Seminar or Acting class. Remember the key to being a great presenter is to be awake to the audience needs. So instead of finding excuses to not becoming a better presenter learn to use and say the first Rule of Growing and Improv–is to ‘just say YES …