Taking Your Stage Blog  
  Helping you improve the communication skills of the leaders and teams in your organization.  

2 items categorized "Clarity"


How Not to Become a LinkedIn Viral Rejection Source

IStock_000010294012_webOrson Rega Card said "Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken."  Wise advice indeed.

You have probably heard the story by now - a person in Cleveland rudely replied to a LinkedIn connection request...and her rejection request went viral.  I saw it on several news sites this morning.  Everyone knows what she said.  I am not going to use her name here because I am sure she has been beaten up enough and that's not the point.

She has apologized and included the following statement: "Creating and updating the _______________ has been my hobby for more than ten years. It started as a labor of love for the marketing industry, but somehow it also became a labor, and I vented my frustrations on the very people I set out to help."

It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and criticize her, but when I hear that statement, I realize this could easily be you or me.  I have certainly felt frustration at what once used to be a pleasure.  And all it takes is one person to post a poor communication from us and there you go...  Years of goodwill can be dismantled.

In all likelihood we will not find ourselves as a news story on CNN, but how do we keep ourselves from one mistake that eats away at our reputation?  Two ways:

1.  Proactively evaluate your life

What is a source of joy and passion?  What is a source of stress and even resentment?  Don't wait to address this because stress and resentment will come out some day.  We're human.  We feel.  We can't keep it bottled up forever.

While there is no easy answer for what to do (each situation is different) let me make a few suggestions:

  • Talk to a mentor (ask someone you trust to listen and provide you with some advice)
  • Read a book such as Start or What Color is Your Parachute.
  • Find a way to give back to others, such as a charity or ministry.

2.  STOP your communications

How do we check ourselves to make sure that we don't communicate poorly in a moment of frustration?  Airline pilots use an extensive set of checklists to ensure that they do not make a mistake and properly manage their risk.  So I came up with the following checklist to follow BEFORE sending out any piece of communication (verbal, written, or electronic):

S - Step Back.  Do I need to step back and wait before communicating?  Am I communicating from emotion?  Do I need to take a deep breath and come back later?

T - Tone.  Is my tone positive and respectful, rude, or even apathetic?  How could it be perceived by the recipient?

O - Objective.  What do I want to accomplish with this communication?  Is my articulation of that objective clear?  Is it articulated in a simple form that the recipient will easily understand?  Is the objective worth pursuing?  Does it build up this relationship?

P - Purpose.  Why do I want what I want?  To win?  To be right?  To collaborate?  To make the other person look good?  To make me look good?

If you sense that feeling of frustration, let that be a red flag.  Be proactive and make the changes necessary to resolve it.  And when you do make a mistake (we all do), be like the person in Cleveland who was very gracious, honest, and apologetic in her responses.




Do Your Leaders and Managers Think They Are Communicating With Clarity? Have Them Try This

IStock_000010677531X_WebAccording to a study by The Conference Board, almost two-thirds of all employees are 33% as productive as they could be because they don’t understand what they are being asked to do.  According to author and consultant William Schiemann (see his book Performance Management: Putting Research into Action), only 14% of employees have a good understanding of their company's strategy and direction.

I have seen several similar studies and experienced this first-hand.  For example, I have articulated a number that represents a target goal (i.e. 5 new clients), only to have ambiguity the very next day from my team.  Whose fault is that?  Mine.  I have to be accountable for my communication.  In that case, I threw out several numbers, muddying my message.

You can bet the statistics aren't much better for individual teams and groups.  That means there are a lot of leaders and managers in your organization who think they are communicating with clarity but are not.  If the statistics hold, you and I are probably both one of them.

Here's an exercise you can give them to test the level of actual clarity and alignment:

After a meeting discussion, give everyone a sheet of paper, and ask them to take 2 minutes to write down what was agreed upon (or what the strategy is, or whatever it is you have been communicating).  Ask them to read their responses.  Remember this isn't to evaluate them, it's to evaluate you.  How can you communicate with more clarity?  Is everyone properly aligned?  Or are is there a disconnect?  This gives you the opportunity to discover the perception in the room of what is happening, and it provides a discussion point.  Many times people will not share what they are thinking and you assume you have clarity and alignment when you do not.  They go off and don't do the things you want them to do, and you wonder why not.

Never assume that you are communicating with clarity.  Constantly evaluate, check alignment, and practice improving the clarity in your communications.