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Find the Connection

Have you ever been at a loss for words? Doesn't it always happen at an inconvenient time? I'm sure it doesn't happen to every one but for some of us, under pressure, forced to say something, we can't say anything at all. It's like an animal that freezes at the sign of danger -- maybe if we sit very still the awkwardness will go away. It won't go away on its own. But, you know what does help? Connection.  I discovered that the awkward feeling gives me a choice -- I can detach completely (or try to) which leads to even more tension, or I can see that feeling as a kind of connection. Someone cares enough to want a response. That is no small thing. That is, in fact, a wonderful thing. We're connected! Once I see the connection, communicating becomes much easier because it is suddenly less threatening.  Try it. I think you'll like it. The next time (and thereafter) when you feel that awkward silence controlling you because of uncertainty or nervousness just b
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Why Punish Each Other?

Has anyone ever given you the "cold shoulder" by refusing to talk to you? They know you're there, they avoid you, they simply stop communicating...How did that feel? It feels bad. Maybe we've all done it at one time or another, suddenly becoming uncommunicative. In some relationships it can last for years, slowly drifting apart until there's nothing left in common. It doesn't have to be that way. As awkward as it feels, talk about it. Get the issues on the table. Chances are that neither one of you are completely right or completely wrong. Forgive the other person so that you can forgive yourself -- because until that happens there will always be a lingering hurt. Refusing to talk feels like a harsh punishment.  It feels like fighting, when understanding would be better for all concerned. Talk about it. -- doug smith

Respect and Kindness

Communicating effectively includes talking about the tough stuff. We might even appear confrontational when we oppose with strength and courage. We can disagree and keep talking. As long as we listen and keep an open mind, we can influence best when we are open to being influenced. Part of that is speaking, and listening, with respect and kindness. Creating, and preserving a sense of dignity.  When we cana talk about it with respect and kindness we can talk about anything. Seems like a good place to start. -- doug smith  

Trust the Truth

It's hard to escape it: there are lies everywhere. Behind every lie is a liar, someone who knows that they are deceiving people. The lies might be obvious. They might even rationalize the lies into harmless ways around the truth.  There is no way around the truth. The only way to the truth is telling the truth. It's tempting to rationalize our own reactions to lies. After all, they lied first so what's the harm in twisting the truth just a little for a good cause. No. You can't stop a liar from lying, but you don't have to play a liar's game. High performance leaders with integrity tell the truth. -- doug smith

Quick Presentation Advice

Have you ever seen a presentation that was all slides and not much presentation? You know all the signs: fonts too small, too many words, unrelated charts, busy, busy, busy. People won't remember your slides. They'll remember you. Especially when your presentation involves them -- the audience. Make it for and about the audience and then it won't even matter if your slides work. -- doug smith  

Keep Talking

Some of the best conversations I have ever been part of started a bit on the excited side. Well, to be honest, they might have been way over the side and into stormy territory. Elevated emotions and loud tones of voice. That is not my preference. I like calm. I like quiet. But, more than that I like understanding. I like to understand the people I talk with and I love it when they understand me. Sometimes that starts and ends calmly and sometimes that includes a little spice. Keep talking.  That's what I've learned. When it feels hard to say, keep talking. When you're so excited that you can hardly keep the words moving forward, keep talking. When the wrong words emerge and you instantly regret it, keep talking. Breathe. Smile (when you can!) and keep talking. Pause generously to listen. Listen to slow your talking down and truly hear what else is being said. Let it season you, inform you, calm you. Listen, and then talk. If you can't talk calmly, keep talking until you

Appreciate Your Team

While we are each different, we all share many things in common. One thing your team members do share in common is the need to be appreciated. No one wants to feel taken for granted. It doesn't cost a thing to say "thank you" once in a while and it adds so much positivity that we should probably do it more often. We all want to be recognized and appreciated. As leaders, we are in a position to do more of that, so why not start today? -- doug smith P.S. Thanks for reading this! 

Those Annoying Opportunities

Sometimes people can get on your nerves. Interrupting, ignoring, disagreeing, even laughing at the wrong time can feel like an intended insult. Taking that kind of interaction as an insult, though, will not improve the quality of the interaction.  I like to think of the people who drive me crazy as the people who spark more learning.  It might not be the lesson they want to teach me that I learn, but there is certainly something there worth learning. If we missed all learning that wasn't fun we'd miss a whole lot of learning.  Those annoying learning opportunities are sometimes exactly what we need. -- doug smith ]

Courage to Speak

There have been times when I wanted to say something because I thought that it was important and yet didn't say it. I learned that avoiding a difficult conversation usually leads to even more difficulties. Keeping a problem to yourself is not a great strategy. The words won't be perfect. We might sweat when we say them. Disagreement could rise. That's fine. If it is important to you, say it. Sometimes it's less about what you say and more about your willingness to say it. If it takes courage to speak, you should probably speak. -- doug smith  

Test True

How often is your truth tested? How often do people check to make sure that everything you've communicated to them is true? When it comes to your team, the answer is every day. High performance leaders can not stand to slip and deceive anyone on the team because it is sure to be caught. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe some time down the road, but it will surely be caught and when it is, the team becomes a bit less effective Every day your truth is tested so you might as well make it true. If you're going to be tested, you might as well test true.  -- doug smith  

Word Power

If you've ever had a boss say something mean to you, it's likely that you still remember it vividly. You probably won't ever forget it. Leaders do need to provide feedback and much of that feedback may be constructive -- coaching involves helping others improve their skills in order to achieve their goals -- but that constructive feedback can, and should, be delivered in a positive, dignified way. Not mean. Not nasty. Not insulting. Words meant to hurt are better left unsaid. -- doug smith

Talk About It Because...

You can't fix everything by talking about it but you can't fix anything unless you do. Talk about it. Sometimes it will seem rough. There may be deep feelings involved. The words may come slowly. Maybe even the wrong words will come. It is a challenge. Talk about it anyway. What unresolved issue do you need to talk about?  -- doug smith