Effective Listening Skills

There are always two sides in communication. Apart from being able to communicate your message, you should also be able to listen… The following slides pack some helpful tips that you might enjoy.

Don’t stay in Pity City

The next video is Jim Clemmer talking about a model he widely uses with many audiences around our choices to respond on, or below, “the line”. Are we a Navigator, Survivor or Victim? He illustrates his model with a story about “Pity City” (pessimism)…

A ‘Pity City’ resident was quoted saying:
Gravity is a myth, the world just sucks!

Are you a Lizard?

Check out “Do you and your lizard live in a van down by the river?” at Cubicle Nation. It’s a great blog about the Lizard Fear of people.

Lizard Fear
Martha says in Steering by Starlight:

The entire purpose of your reptile brain is to continually broadcast survival fears- alarm reactions that keep animals alive in the wild. These fears fall into two different categories: lack, and attack. On one hand, our reptile brains are convinced that we lack everything we need: we don’t have enough time, money, everything. On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. A predator– human or animal–is poised to snatch us! That makes sense if we’re hiding in a cave somewhere, but when we’re home in bed, our imaginations can fixate on catastrophes that are so vague and hard to ward off that they fill us with anxiety that has no clear action implication.

“Successful people have all the luck – I just get bad breaks.”
“Lizard Fear” Example

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Feedback Sandwich

Feedback is a central component of the manager-employee relationship. Yet managers often only provide corrective (or negative) feedback. This will (sometimes) result in the employee being defensive, and generate a negative rapport with this person. The “feedback sandwich” model is a way to package negative feedback.

You really did an excellent job on ‘Project X’; everybody was very impressed! In the future, it would be better to avoid doing ‘action Y’. It’s great that you put so much thought into this and a lot of people are going to benefit from it!

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Management Styles

Heroic versus Engaging
During my college of “Information Strategy” I was exposed to the difference in management styles. In short you have the “heroic” managers that are based on themselves, where you have “engaging” managers who are based upon collaboration. Let’s go through the both styles to see the differences.

Heroic Management
based on self
Engaging Management
based on collaboration
Managers are important people, seperate from those who develop products & deliver services. Managers are important to the extent that they enable other people do the important work of developing products & delivering services.
The higher “up” these managers go, the more important they become. At the “top”, the chief executive is the corportation. An organization is an interacting network, not a vertical hierarchy. Effective leaders work throughout; they do not sit on top.
Down the hierarchy comes the strategy (clear, deliberate & bold) emanating from the chief who makes the dramatic moves. Everyone else “implements”. Out of the network emerge strategies, as engaged people solve little problems that evolve into big initiatives.
Implementation is the problem because, while the chief embraces change, most others resist it. That is why outsiders must be favored over insiders. Implementation is the problem because it cannot be seperated from formulation. That is why committed insiders are necessary to come up with the key changes.
To manage is to make decisions and allocate resources (including HR). Managing thus means analyzing, often calculating, based on facts from reports. To manage is to bring out the positive energy that exists naturally within people. Managing thus means inspiring and engaging, based on judgment that is rooted in context.
Rewards for increasing performance go to the leaders. What matters is what’s measured (shareholder value?). Rewards for making the organization a better place go to everyone. Human values (many of which cannot be measured) matter.
Leadershhip is thrust upon those who thrust their will upon others. Leadership is a sacred trust earned through the respect of others.

(Note: Some see a relation to “Servant-Leadership“)

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The man with the plan; the communication plan!

There is always communication!
When it comes down to change, it’s all about communication. Yet how often does one practice this in a decent manner? The first step is to realize that there is -always- communication! Let us say that we’re managing a restructure… Would you tend to hold communication off until you know everything? If so, did you think that people won’t talk amongst themselves? The ‘gossip’ is also communication, and it’s even communication that you cannot control! It happens because people do not like uncertainty and they will fill in the blanks with their own stories. Even though you want people to be creative, I don’t think this is the best situation to let them fantasize.
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Challenge the Known & Embrace the Unknown

Today I’ll be preaching from the book of “Kawasaki“. It envolves a parabel which I also encountered in the book of “Reynolds“…

Let me tell you a short story about ice. In the late 1800s there was a thriving ice industry in the Northeast. Companies would cut blocks of ice from frozen lakes and ponds and sell them around the world. The largest single shipment was 200 tons that was shipped to India. 100 tons got there unmelted, but this was enough to make a profit.

These ice harvesters, however, were put out of business by companies that invented mechanical ice makers. It was no longer necessary to cut and ship ice because companies could make it in any city during any season.

These ice makers, however, were put out of business by refrigerator companies. If it was convenient to make ice at a manufacturing plant, imagine how much better it was to make ice and create cold storage in everyone’s home.

You would think that the ice harvesters would see the advantages of ice making and adopt this technology. However, all they could think about was the known: better saws, better storage, better transportation.

Then you would think that the ice makers would see the advantages of refrigerators and adopt this technology. The truth is that the ice harvesters couldn’t embrace the unknown and jump their curve to the next curve.

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What Makes Messages Stick?

The last chapter that I’ve read before going to bed was about making your messages stick. Garr’s Presentation Zen talks about six key principles which compress nicely into the acronym SUCCESs:
simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories.
He uses two quotes to illustrate the need to use this acronym as you baseline when trying to bring forward a certain message. Check out the following two statements, and think of that both are trying to give you the same message.
Your CEO might say:

“Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.”

JFK said:

“…put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.”

The first one nags you to sleep where the second one visualizes it for you.

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Catchers & Throwers

Megan Casey said the following on SquidBlog:

You can break most online interactions into two groups:
Catchers and Throwers.

Catching is what you do when you collect friends of friends on Facebook, when you follow Twitterers, when you subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs you like. Catching can be a great way to organize your favorite bits of the web.

Throwing is harder. Lots harder. It’s what you do when you post on your blog, and keep doing it a few times every week. It’s starting a petition on Care2.com and getting people to sign it. It’s what you do when you make lenses about the things, ideas and people that excite you.

One should find the perfect balance between throwing and catching. The trick is to do it judiciously and respectfully. When you like someone’s blog and subscribe to it, drop the person a note and say thanks. When you disagree with a post, don’t bash the blogger, just… disagree.

Throw a lot. Just respect your catchers.

Seth Godin