How to Use Silence with Others

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Silence is something more of us should do.  The more social media that I read, the more I think that humankind has a need to be heard, to always respond.  Despite the need to respond, we don’t always want someone to give us feedback.  Feedback is sometimes the hot button that just makes a person clam up.

The opportunities around silence are immense.  

  • Silence from others, allows us to process what is affecting us.  Immediate feedback only disrupts this process.
  • Silence communicates a respect when you are listening.  It allows others to know you are present with them, not discounting what they are saying.
  • People in pain, don’t need automatic response.  They need presence.
  • Silence keeps us from sometimes saying something we should not say.  It keeps us out of hot water.

Knowing when to be silent and when to respond.

  1. Respond when the person appears ready to accept your response.  Keep your eye contact focused on the other person.  Keep a safe but engaged distance
  2. Silence means you are processing what is being said.  Respond only when you are expected to respond, ask questions, configure your language to reflect what is being said
  3. Responding is not always necessary.   Respond in ways that you would like others to respond to you.  Take time to focus on other’s immediate needs.

Asking permission to respond is a respectful transition.  The other person will let you know when they are ready to receive your response.  Then they will be ready to complete the transition.

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Mentoring is Not About Showcasing Your Superiority 


When you’re charged with the responsibility of teaching or mentoring others, the way you proceed may result in developing or hindering others.

A Story: “I was once a customer in a well known fast food establishment.  The main customer service staff was mentoring a new staff member.  The lines were long and the veteran staff member shouted orders to the new staff member, but showed him little about the task at hand.  At one point he said: ‘Now for a test…let’s see if you can make one of these….’  As the mentor provided a dramatic showcase for waiting customers concerning his superiority, the new employee looked at us with a frustrated desperation of: ‘What have I got myself into?'”

The lesson: I walked away embarrassed.  As a manager myself, it appeared repulsive that the veteran employee would substitute a teaching moment where support is offered, with a selfish demonstration of how good he was.

Making a Good Mentor: The lesson is that good mentoring is about (or any teaching) is delivering assistance with support, not showcasing your superiority.  

  1. As a mentor you are as much a learner, as a teacher.
  2. Superiority is about you, not the development of others.  It means if I have to look better than you, I must feel pretty weak.
  3. Mentoring is not about discouraging others 
  4. Good mentoring should make others feel more confident.
  5. Teaching others is not about testing them, especially in front of customers. That makes your customers doubt your organization’s capacity.

The sad lesson from the story above is that the veteran employee in all his confidence actually made himself and the organization look bad.  

Teaching capacity in others is about being humble, supportive and caring.  

If you don’t care about the people you teach, how can you expect them to take care of the organization?

Leading and the Act of Loyalty

  
The act of leading is more than being the visionary, or acting thoughtfully for others.  It is predicated also on how loyal and unconditionally helpful you are to others.

In many ways people cannot follow you if they can’t trust where you’re coming from.  

Great ideas are best acted on when others in the room know where you stand with them.  Teams stall when they don’t know what to expect from you.

Ways loyalty drives others

  1. When others feel you truly respect them.
  2. When you create a clear vision.
  3. Going out of your way to help.
  4. Taking interest in what people want to do.
  5. Being consistent

Servant Leadership, unconditional positive regard, and thoughtful patience are all specific behaviors that can engage your loyalty to others.  

Each time you consider the little things with others, you amplify your influence, and enlarge your leadership footprint.  

Dealing with Intrusive Problems in Your Life

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Dealing with ongoing problems is a part of life.  Life presents challenges everyday, and in many cases solutions emerge, and we move onto the next challenge.  Without problems or challenges, life could be mundane.

Intrusive problems are difficulties that are chronic in nature, and keep screaming for our attention.  The more intrusive the problem, the more it screams for us to deal with it.  Failure to deal with ongoing problems, can lead to more dramatic impact on relationships, our health, and are a common cause of financial and interpersonal conflicts.

Intrusive problems as thoughts and value conflicts – Conflict is a result of having a wish and a fear.  What we fear, is often a result of conflicts in our lives that have no current resolution.

Why Do You Let Things Rent Space In Your Head? If intrusive thoughts are a function of unresolved problems in our lives, they have a direct relationship to the way we think about our wishes and fears.  They also correspond to the way we violate our principles or values, and how we may be compromising other areas of our lives in pursuit of an unacknowledged expectation. Think of your mind as a big hotel.  A hotel can be expansive, large, or small.  It can have multiple rooms.  If your mind is carrying around all the weight of unresolved emotional business, then obviously you are ‘letting a lot of these things rent space in your head’.  Sometimes, we let the problems mount, and we actually expand the number of rooms in our metaphoric hotel in our minds.  We let more stuff in, that has no value for our progress, and may actually begin to take over our capacities for change, and resolution.

Naming the Conflicts – The best way to eliminate the baggage we carry around is to decide whether you will let these intrusive items continue to inhabit your thoughts, time, and attention.  Too many people spend unnecessary time dealing with things that hold them emotionally hostage.  Failure to deal with conflicts renders you unable to move forward.  Placing names to the things that rent unnecessary space is the first step toward releasing yourself from these conflicts.

Letting Go – Learning to let go of the unnecessary – is the preliminary step toward actual change, and eliminating intrusive thinking.  What do you control?  What is out of your control…and why?  Some questions to ask during the process of letting go:

  1. Why is the emotional baggage important to you?
  2. What would it be like if you let go?
  3. Do you want to be hostage to the intrusive thinking (which is likely not completely real)?
  4. Why can’t you live free of these conflicts?
  5. How is the conflict relate to what you truly believe?

Taking Charge – Being torn over something, doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.  Exercising courage to free yourself of unnecessary emotional baggage, and the associated thoughts is a process.  You have to decide if you are the author of your life – living out other people’s scripts, or you deserve better.

Getting Through the Bad By Finding the Good

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Working through the problem requires you to first find what is working

Learning to find the good is often the last thing you look for.  The overarching magnitude of the problem will often squelch out things that are happening well.

3 Ways to find the good through the bad

  1. Reflect on times when the bad isn’t happening.  What does that look like, and what is happening in/or/around you?
  2. Who is a resource that can help you?
  3. What is the bad teaching you about what you really want?

Find your good 

The good isn’t just going to walk up to you and tap you on the shoulder.  It requires discovery on your part.  Thinking critically about what you have is the best way to see yourself through the difficulties.

Ways to discover the good 

  1. Reverse engineer- How is this working well for others?
  2. Take stock – How am I doing well here?
  3. What was working before?
  4. What are my preferred results?
  5. How did I get there before?
  6. What assistance do I need?

There is a good on the other side of the bad.  It just requires some effort to begin identifying it, and maintain the confidence that the good is out there.  Take some time and do some inventory of the good that might be around the corner from the bad.

Preventing What Matters from Drifting Away

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It is very easy to get caught up in activities that gradually erode and pull you away from what really matters. The more successful and effective you are, the higher the risk of being pulled away from what really defines importance for you.

Over the years, there is a lot of literature that talks about defining what matters in your life. If you can move activities and intentions toward what matters, then results you desire should follow. The act of defining what matters is not as easy as it sounds. The busier you are, the more important roles you play in others’ lives, and the more skilled you are, the higher likelihood you will actually be pulled from what matters. Defining what matters becomes blurry because of the massive demands you face because of success and talent.

How do you keep what matters from drifting away?

1. Being involved in more, is going to lead to more drift. Depending on the important roles you provide, you might be in too may roles.

2. Define what roles, experiences, and priorities that are most important. Instead of defining this along the generic roles of “family”, “my work”, “my children”, get more specific. Think intuitively about your experiences through the week. What brought joy, what didn’t? What are you really wanting to do more of, that isn’t happening. This is where you start your working definitions.

3. Look at what provides value. What is not providing much value? How is your resources spent, is there some things that are cutting away your priorities, and interests?

4. Graph it. Define where you are spending your time, and do an activity analysis for a month. Record your moods, at different points. An easy way would be to use your calendar. Place notes about your experience after each activity is done. This “mini-journal” will help you define what is important, and where you are drifting away.

Take your time with the process. Remember you didn’t get this way overnight. Understanding drift from what matters may take some time.

5 Ways Being An ‘Expert’ Can Cause Failure

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Being an “expert” implies that one has reached a certain level of competency. Having reached a stature of ‘expertise’ requires a good dose of humility to prevent failure in social and business endeavors. Being an authority at what you do can be hollow without the corresponding character that is needed to make it successful.

A Title, But Not Always Reality
Titles are easy to come by, but knowledge + character is a much harder combination to acquire. There are sure paths to failure for experts that avoid acknowledging their weak spots…still more ways to fail when our confidence squelches out important messages that we receive from those that seek our assistance.

5 Paths To Failure As An Expert
1. We stop listening to those we are supposed to help.
When we focus only on knowing we will lose our credibility to help. We need to work hard to continuously understand, and understand needs, rather than jump to predetermined conclusions.

2. Our Agendas are Stronger than Meeting A Need.
Humility is absent, and we fail to understand the client’s need clearly and adequately. We can’t move past our own autobiography.

3. Being an Expert Can Lead to Missing Out on Other’s Ideas
Chances are, the more we espouse our own expertise, we have the potential to miss out on important lessons our clients teach us.

4. Having ‘Expertise’ Is A Privilege and Part of the Journey, Not A Final Destination.
Having expertise is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing development and constant learning. If we feel we have “arrived”, we really haven’t.

5. Without Character, Our Expertise, Has Less Meaning.
Arrogance and having disregard for others creates the perception you really don’t know what you’re doing. Talking a good story, without the personal character that goes with it, will eventually degrade your effectiveness.

Evaluate
Think about whether your expertise is going in the right direction, or is set for potential failure. Being good at what you do is only half the requirement. Being mindful that you don’t know everything is an important attribute to building competency and confidence with others around you.

Expectations and the Art of Transparency

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One of the challenges of communicating is managing expectations. Expectations can be “managed” per se, if the message communicated is clear and is free of residual meanings.

The idea of Transparency clarifies what one can expect. The alternative usually results in:

1. Co-dependent communication where we are simply saying what we think others want to hear.
2. Manipulation. We are saying something in purpose that is not really real.
3. Excuse making. We have to justify our positions rather than own them.

How many of us have been in any of these positions?

Making our communication explicit communicates a level of respect for others, even if it is not the kind of message we would prefer to present, or what others would want to hear. Being transparent, means that we are willing to take the appropriate risk to communicate true meanings, specific opinions, and bare bones knowledge, that leaves no questions, and leads not to misconstrued messages, which lead to unmet expectations.

Ways of being transparent
We exercise transparency, when we say what we mean. We help others with hard truths. It may not be immediately comfortable, but it communicates an understanding and reality to others, that suggests that you respect the other person despite the message itself. It also saves you a lot of further defensiveness and justification later, when others “find out” what the factual reality really is.