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-Lynn C. Coleman Vice President of Administration and Finance, Howard Community College


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Work Sucks!

Work Sucks! If you have ever heard this or thought this, I am sorry.

No one should ever feel that way. Work is such a big part of our lives having a negative experience day-in, day-out is a terrible way to live.

What’s worse is people often feel helpless to change it and trapped because they can’t just quit. Even if they could quit, no matter where they go to work, what’s likely is that it will suck after awhile.

Additionally, this negative experience of work has a detrimental effect on performance and productivity, which significantly impacts the bottom line.

What’s the answer?  Help people to handle conflicts, problems, stress and frustration by enhancing their ability to communicate.  The source of upset in virtually every situation is a misunderstanding, misinterpretation or difference of opinion. Every one of these can be resolved through communication.

The problem is that people are not very good at communicating for resolution and workability. They communicate to prove themselves right or to make the others wrong. It’s not their fault. It’s they way we were inadvertently trained to communicate.

Book a session with me and I will show you exactly how to transform your organization and make your life easier.  To schedule a session or find out more information about my programs and services click here.

Are you willing to upset the apple cart?

When you don’t trust your own communication skills it can impact your ability to communicate effectively because you are tentative and hesitant, or worse, withdrawn and unwilling to risk communicating.

In essence, you are afraid to upset the apple cart for fear you can’t put it back together again… kind of like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

When you trust your ability to communicate you are not afraid to mess things up because you are confident you will figure out a way to have it turn out well.

In my experience, there are two main misconceptions about communication that inhibit the ability to trust yourself and really go for it.

The first is the belief that communication is a 50-50 proposition. In other words, you think that the person you are communicating with is 50% responsible for how it turns out.  That belief leaves you at the mercy of the other person, hoping they heard you correctly and understood what you meant.

I recommend approaching communication as if you are 100% responsible for how effective your communication is. This approach enables you to be in the driver seat and work toward the result you want.  In other words if your communication didn’t produce the result you wanted, you don’t have to blame anyone. All there is to do is find a different way of communicating that works. Get curious as to where your communication failed, how could you say it differently?  Every miscommunication becomes an opportunity to develop more mastery in communication.

The second misconception you might have is that getting a negative reaction to your communication or “upsetting the apple cart” is to be avoided at all costs.  Look, upsets happen. People misinterpret information all the time. They often don’t give the communicator the benefit of the doubt; they assume a maliciousness that wasn’t intended. There are myriad ways that communication can go awry.

Accept that other people’s upsets are inevitable and perfection is unlikely. Instead, develop your communication ability so that you can handle upsets when they occur.  How, you ask? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Recognize it’s not personal, people get upset
  • Be understanding, don’t react to their reaction
  • Deal with the facts, what actually happened?
  • Apologize for the confusion/misinterpretation (Be 100% responsible)
  • Give more of the “back story” of the communication
  • Ask, how could you have communicated better?

Most importantly, keep being open to developing your communication ability and accept yourself as a work in progress.

Want more information on communication?  Schedule a free strategy session at http://transformationalconversations.com/contact/

Do you have a big BUT?

Here is what a big but looks like…

  • I would accomplish that BUT…
  • I really want to BUT…
  • I was going to BUT…

Buts are another way of saying, “I have identified a barrier or roadblock on the pathway to achieving my goal and I don’t know how to overcome it or I don’t think I can overcome it.”

Buts are a very interesting phenomenon. Left unexamined, they have lots of power. Buts can stop an otherwise successful person in their tracks.  It’s as if whatever comes after the “but” is reality rather than a reason. In other words, no more thinking is required of you because you have discovered the reason why you can’t have what you want.

Here are common examples I hear all the time:

  • I want to exercise BUT I don’t have time.
  • I want my team to have better results BUT they are so ________ (fill in the blank).
  • I want to pursue my dream BUT I am too old.

When you begin to deconstruct the “but” it becomes clear that whatever follows it is a declaration not the truth.  It’s whatever you decided was a reason you were not willing to overcome.  Using “but” is a way to avoid responsibility for getting whatever you want; it is a valid excuse that lets you off the hook for going for it and then dealing with the possibility of failing.

Did you ever wonder why you look at roadblocks, barriers and BUTs as the end of the line?  When did the discomfort of actually going for what you want become less desirable than the pain of giving up and having a good reason?

Many years ago I had a coach who said, “You either have results or the reasons why not. Which would you rather have?”

When you are truly committed to something, you won’t let anything stand in your way. So if you are being stopped by “buts” you have to first ask yourself, “I am truly committed to this thing I say I want?”

If the answer is yes, then replace the “but” with an “and,” (e.g., I want to exercise and I don’t have time). This let’s you see the two things do not have a causal relationship.  All that needs to happen is some figuring out. Let’s face it, if the Wright brothers could figure out how to fly despite the constraints of gravity, you can figure out your dilemma once you let go of the but!

If you have a big BUT that you want help eliminating, contact me for a complimentary strategy session by visiting: http://transformationalconversations.com/contact/

How many times do I have to tell them???

This is a good question. My answer: As many times as it takes to produce the result you want produced.

Communication is a very complex phenomenon. However, we rarely think about it that way. What’s more common is to think, I spoke, he/she/they heard. That’s it. Communication complete.

That’s insufficient for effective communication.

Consider we each come to every communication with a file cabinet filled with our past experiences. This file cabinet is our reference point for everything, how things should be, how things shouldn’t be, what things mean, etc. And the biggest barrier to effective communication is that we all think that we have the same things in our file cabinets.

In fact, no two people have the same stuff in their file cabinets because we all have different past experiences, and more importantly, we all have interpreted those past experiences through our own unique point of view.

What does that mean? Here is an example:

Mom: Kids, I want you to clean the garage today
Kids: Ok, mom, we will. (Hey, they are good kids, what can I say)
Mom goes off to work and the kids go outside to clean the garage.
Mom returns home from work to find the outside of the garage sparkling clean but the inside still a mess.

The mom in this scenario thinks she was clear because she knew what she meant and ASSUMED the kids knew what she meant. This is such a common problem. The worst part is we then assign meaning to the kids failure to produce the desired result, i.e., “They were being… defiant, smart asses, difficult, etc.” By blaming the “listener” (the kids in this case) we don’t recognize that it was a communication breakdown. Instead we think we have to motivate the kids, or teach them teamwork or something else to fix them.

To rectify virtually every situation when you asked someone to do something and they either failed to do it or they failed to do it they way you wanted, consider it is an opportunity to be responsible for your failure to be clear.

All that’s needed is to inquire into what they heard, what was the meaning they added to what they heard and then to clarify your request/message. It’s really simple when you understand it as a communication breakdown rather than attribute the failure to another cause.

One Bad Communication Can Ruin Everything

WIFE TEXTS HUSBAND ON A COLD WINTER MORNING,

“WINDOWS FROZEN.”

Husband texts back, “Pour some lukewarm water on it.”

WIFE TEXTS BACK 5 MINUTES LATER,

“COMPUTER REALLY SCREWED UP NOW.”

I am absolutely crazy for communication! I LOVE IT. I have been called a “Communication Geek” by one of my clients because of my passion for it. I have dedicated my life to mastering communication. It is the source of all success and failure.

What makes communication so amazing? You can make everything work better when you communicate effectively.

I know, I know… improving communication is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about improving the bottom line or producing more results… but it should be.

Many people think of communication as a soft skill or “touchy feel-y.” But it isn’t.

In fact, IT IS THE ONE SKILL THAT TRUMPS ALL OTHERS.

Think about it:

  • One miscommunication from a manager or executive can muck up the works for the entire team.
  • Misinterpretation between and among employees leads to mistakes, lower productivity, reprimands, disciplinary action, etc.
  • Unresolved conflict in the workplace causes stress, frustration, cliques, gossip, etc.
  • Ineffective communication leaves a bad impression

I could go on… but I think you get the point.

You know the number one problem with communication?

People think they know how to do it but they don’t. People think that because they can talk, write, and hear that means they know how to communicate. That’s like saying just because you know how to turn a computer on you are a whiz.

Communication is very complex and has nuances that most people are not aware of. I have spent more than 25 years learning everything I could about communication and I have discovered the keys to effective communication. I also know how to teach it to others so that they don’t have to spend 25 years mastering communication.

Here’s the bottom line… if you are dissatisfied or unfulfilled in ANY AREA of your life consider it is a communication issue. Take time to learn how to communicate better, inquire into how you are listening or interpreting the communication of others and how it is impacting your communication.

If you want to set yourself apart from the pack or in any way get ahead at work… develop your communication skills. Seriously, no one else is so you will stand out in the crowd and be seen as an asset. When others are complaining, DON’T engage. Instead, look for a way to redirect the conversation onto a solution, e.g., “I wonder who we could talk to about resolving that?”

Lisa Giruzzi

YourCommunicationAuthority.com

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to My Blog.

5 Steps to Instantly Improve Your Ability to Effectively Deal With Conflict

Dealing with conflict can be one of the most challenging aspects of communication even for the most skilled communicators. It is by far the topic I am most frequently asked about during my programs and presentations. For many people, the mere thought of conflict causes a lot of stress and some will go to any lengths to avoid it. Unfortunately, avoiding conflict can result in more damage than the conflict itself.

Dealing effectively with conflict or potential conflict can be stress-free when you employ the strategies presented in this article. When dealing with conflict or potential conflict face to face communication is recommended. In general, the communication should not be done via email.

Note: The strategies outlined in this article are intended for mild to moderate conflicts. In the event of “bullying” or other types of aggressive, intimidating behaviors additional strategies may be required (i.e. third party intervention, etc.). Prior to utilizing any strategy, one should consider their personal safety first and foremost.

First, be clear about the outcome you want to achieve with the communication. Take time to think through what would be an acceptable result. It is important to have a clear goal so you don’t get sidetracked. Keep this goal or outcome in the forefront as you proceed through the following strategies.

Second, identify any opinions or beliefs you have about the person (or people) you are communicating with that could negatively influence your communication with them. Ask yourself, “What opinion would I be willing to let go of in order to achieve the desired outcome?” Any negative opinions you hold onto will exacerbate any conflict. For example, if you believe the person is stubborn, uncooperative, etc., it will effect how you speak to them including the words you choose and what you say or don’t say. This will likely instigate the very behaviors you are trying to avoid.

Third, speak to the highest good of the person. Said another way, give them the benefit of the doubt. In other words, instead of thinking diminishing thoughts think the best of the person. Reframe from destructive to constructive; stubborn becomes passionate, uncooperative becomes independent. Reframing will help you to approach the person as an asset rather than a hindrance.

Fourth, stick to the facts of the situation as opposed to your conclusions. For example, “ I noticed you were late three times last week” (Facts) Vs. “You seem distracted or disengaged” (Conclusion). Your conclusions could be completely wrong and if you start with them it could lead to the other person being defensive, increasing the likelihood of conflict. The facts are what actually happened or is happening. Facts are not usually the source of the conflict. Whatever happened, happened – it’s the differing explanations about the facts that lead to trouble.

Lastly, be genuinely curious and willing to learn about their perspective and what’s important to them. If you approach a potential conflict from curiosity you will see much different results than if you approach it from already knowing the answer. Just think about the last conversation you had with a “know-it-all.” How was that for you? Likely, it was frustrating and left you upset. Approaching a potential conflict as if you already have all the answers will leave the other person feeling the same way. Instead, assume you don’t know it all, that your solution is one possible way to deal with the situation… not the only way. Get curious about what’s important to them and how they would like it to be.

Using these strategies will significantly enhance your communication effectiveness in any situation and in particular will help you be better equipped to successfully handle conflicts.

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