Are You a Know-It-All? Blind Spot #3

Engaged Employees Malandro

This is the third of 10 blind spots that can sabotage your effectiveness.

Blind Spot #3—Having an “I Know” Attitude. What it Means

Do you have an answer for everything? Do you feel the need to defend your views? These are tip-offs that you may have an “I know” attitude.
If you have an “I know” attitude it means that you think you have all the answers. You dismiss others’ input and you have the need to be right.

The Downside of Having an “I Know” Attitude

Is your need to be right much stronger than your need to be effective?
If this is the case, others will label you as: a tyrant, obnoxious, or a bully just to name a few. People will avoid you at all costs, feel exhausted just being around you, and walk away feeling diminished and inadequate.

 

Do YOU Have an “I Know” Attitude?

Ask others to rate you on the following items using the scale of 1 (rarely) to 5 (frequently). Resist your knee-jerk reaction to skip this part because you already know what others will say!

engaged employees

How do you rate?

32 to 40:    You’re in the danger zone. You come across as needing to be right about everything.

17 to 31:    You irritate others. Not all the time, but still too much of the time.

8 to 16:       You come across as flexible and open to other’s viewpoints. Improve the little things.

Want More?

Read the book Fearless Leadership and the anti-blogs on The 10 Blind Spots.

Anti Blog

 

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books including: Fearless Leadership, Say It Right the First Time, and her new book, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.

Are You Insensitive? Blind Spot #2

Blind Spot 2 Malandro Consulting

(Donald Sterling former LA Clippers owner)

This is the second of 10 blind spots that can sabotage your effectiveness.

Blind Spot #2—Being Insensitive to Your Impact on Others.  What It Means.   

Do you miss the verbal and nonverbal cues of others?  If you do, you may have a low threshold for recognizing when your own words and behaviors have a less-than-desirable impact.

If you have this second blind spot—being insensitive to your impact on others—it means one of two things:  1) You lack awareness about how your behavior affects others, or 2) You lack the skills to know how to change your behavior to have a positive impact.

The Downside of Missing or Ignoring Cues 

Are you shocked by how people react to things you say or do?  If you are, you may be insensitive to your impact on others.  Although your intention is not to provoke a negative reaction in people, your behavior sends a different message.

If you are insensitive to others, it’s likely that you do not recognize how your words or actions make people feel.  You will miss important cues and you will leave people feeling irritated, resentful, disrespected, angry, or hurt.

 

Are YOU Insensitive to Your Impact on Others?   

Ask others to assess your behavior using the scale of 1 (rarely) to 5 (frequently).

 

blind spots

 

How do you rate?

32 to 40:    Warning—your insensitivity is highly insensitive. You miss even the most basic cues from others.  Read this several times.

17 to 31:    You are basically a sensitive person with insensitive behaviors.  Close the gap.

8 to 16:       You pick up the cues of others and respond appropriately.   Keep refining your skills.

Want More?

Read the book Fearless Leadership and the anti-blogs on The 10 Blind Spots.

Anti Blog

Do You Go it Alone? Blind Spot #1

Blind Spot Malandro

This is the first of 10 blind spots that can sabotage your effectiveness.

Blind Spot #1—Going it Alone. What it Means

Do you believe that you should be able to handle everything by yourself? That it’s your responsibility to keep the weight of the world on your shoulders?
People who view themselves as self-sufficient and responsible frequently fall into the trap of going it alone. Going it alone—shouldering the burden yourself and not seeking (or rejecting) support from others—is the #1 blind spot.

The Downside of Going it Alone

Do people trust you to be open and honest in good times and bad? High performance teamwork requires this type of self-disclosure, mutual support, and trust.
If you are a team member or a team leader who goes it alone, others will feel excluded and minimized. When people can’t connect with the real and vulnerable you, they will comply, work around you, limit their contributions, and solve problems on their own without the benefit of your input.

 

Do YOU Go it Alone?

If you want the unvarnished truth, ask peers, direct reports, superiors, and your friends/family to assess you.
Directions: Use the scale of 1 (rarely) to 5 (frequently) to rate each item.

 

Blind Spot 1 Assessment

 

 

How do you rate?

32 to 40:    No debate—you go it alone.  Ask others for coaching and apply it.

17 to 31:    You go it alone in certain situations.  Discover what triggers you.

8 to 16:       You seldom go it alone but that’s always room to grow.

 

Want More?

Read the book Fearless Leadership and the anti-blogs on the 10 Blind Spots.

Anti Blog

 

 

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books including: Fearless Leadership, Say It Right the First Time, and her new book, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.

The 3 Levels of Negativity: How Do You Rank?

Malandro Consulting Communication Rules

From the new book Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out

 

Do negative conversations prevent you (and others) from doing your best work?

No one wants to think that he or she is a negative person. We reserve this label to describe our co-workers or friends. You may not realize that you are making toxic comments or silently endorsing negative comments. But these behaviors hurt you just the same.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t join in with the complainers and backstabbers,” take a closer look at your behavior by answering the following questions.

 

communication negativity

 

The questions you answered above correspond to the 3 levels of negativity:

Level 1—Occasional Venting: You blow off steam by venting to others. Your normal optimism is outweighed by your frustration and you just want someone who will listen so you can get back on track.

Level 2—Habitual Negativity: You constantly complain and focus on what’s not working. You’re fixated on what others should or should not do. You are resigned that despite your best efforts nothing will ever change.

Level 3—Taking Sides and Building Camps: You intentionally try to convert others to your negative view by engaging people to be your co-conspirators. You are not a bad person; you’re just highly frustrated. Your unproductive communication damages your relationships and your future.

It’s not easy to confront your own negativity. Denial is always our best defense.

Strip away the judgment about yourself and ask the question: “Are my behaviors undermining my effectiveness?

 

Anti Blog

 

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books including: Fearless LeadershipSay It Right the First Time, and her new book, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.

The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed

From the new book Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out 

Is your communication sabotaging your effectiveness? 

Welcome to our crowded world.  Today instant global communication—where we prize speed over effectiveness—is contributing to massive misunderstandings and conflict.

Everyone is distracted. Chances are that your messages—whether electronic or face-to-face—are being undervalued, misunderstood, or flat-out ignored.

If you don’t know how to get your message across effectively, or how to handle the negativity that is  hurled at you via emails, text messages, and online posts, you don’t stand a chance.

What price are you paying for ineffective communicate? 

  • Stress at work and at home
  • Feeling as if your job is never done
  • Frustrated that you are being misinterpreted
  • Spending too much time dealing with constant misunderstandings

Enter the 9 Communication Rules

More than ever before we need communication guidelines to help us navigate sticky situations and resolve difficult conversations.

These aren’t your standard rules.  They are value-based guidelines that tell people who you are and what you will and will not stand for.

Speak Up

 

The 9 communication rules will set you apart: You will stand out. 

Apply them each time you communicate (consistency is key).  You will:

  • Capture the attention of others
  • Create a strong presence
  • Quickly resolve misunderstandings and conflict
  • Be viewed as an influencer or leader regardless of your title or position.

Anti Blog

 

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books including: Fearless Leadership, Say It Right the First Time, and her new book, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.

The Riskiest Word to Use at Work: Try It and See What Happens

Riskiest Word

The Riskiest Word to Use at Work:
Try It and See What Happens

By Dr. Loretta Malandro

 

You’re standing at the altar taking your marriage vows. The person officiating your wedding asks: “Will you take this woman/man to be your lawful wedded wife/husband?” Without hesitation you enthusiastically blurt out your response and say: “I’ll try”.

You’re doomed. Pack your bags and go home. Your marriage is on the skids before it starts.

There’s a reason why we use the words “I do” in marriage vows: It’s the language of commitment. Your marriage partner isn’t going to tolerate your no-commitment response of “I’ll try”.

This negative reaction is not limited to altar; it occurs in the workplace daily. Do you tolerate no-commitment language in yourself and in others? Before you deny your culpability in allowing the word try to persist, consider how many times per day you use this word and how many times you hear it being used by your coworkers, friends, and family.

We keep the overworked word try around for a simple reason: We love the flexibility that it gives us. But let’s cut to the chase. Flexibility is much too nice of a word. What we really love about the word try is its built-in escape hatch: We can effortlessly avoid being held accountable for delivering on a promise for the obvious reason that we never make a promise.

What message are you sending when you use the word try? The word try falls in the category of hedging language: Words and phrases used to avoid 1) making a commitment, 2) taking a decisive stand, and 3) being held accountable.

The definition of the word try is to make an effort to do something, attempt to accomplish or complete something, give something a shot, or take a crack at the problem. Nowhere in this definition will you find anything about committing. Try is not a commitment—it lacks a clear goal, passion, dedication, and confidence.

But there’s more. The word try signals failure before you even step out of the gate. You’re communicating that you might tackle the problem but you are not committing to resolving it or taking accountability for achieving the goal. See blog entitled “Ferguson’s Mayor Uses Slippery Communication”, October 2014, for more examples of hedging language.

Are you losing points on the Perception Scale? If you are in the habit of using the word try at work, in job interviews, in your resume, in electronic communication, or in meetings, you will be labeled as timid, weak, lacking in initiative, and definitely not leader material. The repetitive use of the word try weakens both your message and the perceptions others have of you.

How often does the word “try” creep into your everyday language? Take a look at the following list of commonly used try phrases. Which do you use? What phrases do you hear from your coworkers, your direct reports, and your superiors?

  • I’ll give it a try.
  • I’ll do my best.
  • It’s worth trying.
  • I’ll give it my best shot.
  • I tried everything.
  • I’m trying to be productive.
  • I’m trying to explain.
  • I’ll try to close the deal.
  • I tried to handle the issue.
  • Try to keep your chin up.
  • I’ll try again.
  • I try to act respectful.

 

Are you sabotaging yourself? Words shape our reality and our actions. When you use the word try—instead of providing a clean “yes” or “no” response or a decisive “I commit” or “I am not committing” statement—you set yourself up for failure. You kill your own motivation to achieve the goal by giving yourself an out before you even begin. Worse, you erode your confidence because what you are saying to yourself is that you are uncertain that you can succeed. When you stumble or fail, instead of recovering quickly, you’ll send your self-esteem in a downward spiral with an “I told you so” to yourself. After all, you didn’t believe in yourself from the beginning.

Imagine using the word “try” to motivate others: Athletic coaches are known for inspiring their teams to achieve great success. How do they do it? There are many views on this matter but one thing is certain: Great coaches do not use hedging language such as try. These coaches take a bold stand and inspire confidence in others.

But what if the following famous coaches used the word try and variations of this term? Would you be inspired? Compare the rewritten quote using try language with the actual quote and see what you think.

  • Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame NFL football coach

Rewritten: “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s worth trying.”

Actual: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

 

  • Bear Bryant, American college football coach

Rewritten: “I’ll put you through hell, but at the end we will have given it our best shot.”

Actual: “I’ll put you through hell, but at the end of it all we’ll be champions.

 

  • Mike Ditka, Award winning NFL football coach

Rewritten: “If you are determined enough and are willing to pay the price, you will know you have tried your best.

Actual: “If you are determined enough and willing to pay the price, you can get it done.”

 

  • Herb Brooks, Gold medal-winning head coach of U.S. Olympic hockey team

Rewritten: “You were born to try. You were born to attempt to be a player…This moment is yours so try, try, and try again.”

Actual: “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”

 

  • Bobby Knight, American basketball coach:

Rewritten: “Most people have the desire to try, few have the desire to prepare to win.”

Actual: “Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.”

 

Simple changes you can make to boost your credibility and confidence: It’s not complicated. To increase your communication effectiveness you will need to take a bold stand and be crystal clear about what you are or are not committing to. Here are a few tips. For additional tips and skills, see Rule 6—Commit or Do Not Commit in Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out.

1)      Replace “try” with “I will”: Stop trying and just do it. Nike got the point; follow their lead. Use power phrases such as: “I will,” “my commitment is,” “you can count on me to,” or “I promise to”. Then follow through with action and deliver on your commitments.

2)      When you really want to say no, say no. Don’t mislead people by using the word try when you really mean no. This will erode your credibility. For instance, say no when you feel a timeframe or commitment is unreasonable or something that you do not want to take on. Be straight and be clear.

3)      Confidently take a stand and state your position. Don’t erode how others perceive you by watering down your point-of-view or commitment with the word try or other hedging phrases. Like the Little Engine that could, declare what you will and can do: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.”

 

For those of you who love the word try, it does let you ride the fence and avoid being held accountable. This linguistic perk may bring you some small comfort, but don’t lose sight of the fact that in the eyes of your employer or future employer, the word try means you can’t be counted on. Too much reliance on this word, instead of committing or not, can result in you being marginalized, taken off the high performer list, or losing career advancement opportunities. Is this small word worth all of that?

Choose your words carefully. Yoda was right: “There is no try. Only do, or do not.”

 

Loretta Malandro Keynote Speaker

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books published by McGraw-Hill including: Fearless Leadership, Say It Right the First Time, and her new book which is being released November 2014, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.

 

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When You Make a Mistake Come Clean Immediately or Pay the Price like Goodell

By Dr. Loretta Malandro

 

When you make a mistake, especially a big one, you must come clean immediately, be transparent and authentic, and drop all double-talk. Or pay the price of lost credibility and trust as Goodell did.

In the News:Let’s take a short excerpt from Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, when he addressed the media on Friday, September 19, 2014. He was quoted as saying: “At our best, the NFL sets an example that makes a positive difference. Unfortunately over the last several weeks, we’ve seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me. I said this before back on August 28 and say it again now, I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter and I’m sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.”

Let’s Break It Down: Too Much Hedging, Not Enough Straight Talk

As a communication expert, here are my time-seasoned dos and don’ts to communicating effectivity and authentically when the world is watching you apologize.

  • Stop the PR Campaign: When you’ve made a major mistake, this is not the time to talk about the good things you or your organization have done. Goodell’s opening line “At our best, the NFL sets an example that makes a positive difference” is irritating and useless. Who cares about the good stuff when there is an urgent matter at hand?People see right through the ruse of talking about past good deeds. Drop all preambles and go straight to the real message: Sincerely apologize and take full accountability for your actions.
  • Drop filler words and phrases used to pad the message: Fillers are used to soften a message and/or minimize the significance of an issue. “Unfortunately” and “I said this before and I’ll say it again,” are examples of filler language. They make listeners work to strip out the soft cushioning phrases to understand what is really being said. When people are upset, fillers escalate the intensity of negative feelings and judgments.
  • Avoid phrases that come across as cliché or scripted: “I got it wrong” is repeated several times and then used again in what sounds like a speechwriter’s clever phrase: “I got it wrong…but now I will get it right….” Clever? Not in this context. Memorable? In a negative manner. Authentic? Absolutely not. This play on words waters down the message and makes the apology seem disingenuous. How about dropping scripted language and speaking from the heart? For instance: “I blew it” or “I made a big mistake” and “I am talking to you today because I want to publicly take full accountability for my action and my lack of action.”
  • Be specific about what you did or did not do: People need to know that the person apologizing understands the full extent of how his or her actions affect others. “I got it wrong on a number of levels” a phrase used by Goodell, is vague and ambiguous. What does this mean? What levels? Are we climbing a staircase? As a listener, we are left to fill in the blanks and interpret the message. Goodell misses the opportunity to own his mistakes in a public forum by being sincere and detailed. If he did, we might actually believe that he is genuinely taking accountability. He would need to be honest and stop dancing around the issue such as:  “I made several mistakes. First, I did not talk to you when the Ray Rice matter surfaced. I waited over a week. My behavior was unacceptable. With an issue of this significance, I needed to talk with you immediately. Second, I made a number of mistakes from the process I led to the decision that I reached. They are….”
  • Dump sweeping and empty promises about the future. If you want to get people more upset than they already are, just make a promise about the future that is meaningless. Take Goodell’s broad and empty promise: “…now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.” Do you have any idea of what this means in terms of action? Are you convinced that things will be different in the future? Or, are you bristling with the deflection just used? Goodell needed to make a bold commitment about where the NFL stands on this highly sensitive manner—now and for the future. He also needed to deliver a specific plan so we, his listeners, would know what exactly would be different in the future to prevent the same (big) mistake from occurring again.

 

Actions you can take if you make a whopper of a mistake: Even if your company never ends up as headline news for all the wrong reasons, you’ll want to know how to best communicate so you don’t lose customers, shareholders, loyal fans, and your prize players (or employees, if you will.)

If you need to come clean about a mistake you’ve made, learn what not to do from others. Take control of a challenging situation and:

1)      Communicate immediately to the appropriate person(s).

Do not postpone the conversation even for a day. If you do, things will get worse and emotions will escalate.

2)      Drop all preambles, explanations and excuses. Sincerely take accountability and apologize.

Forgo lengthy explanations, reasons, and excuses for why you did what you did. Stick to the facts. Take accountability and genuinely apologize. Example: “I dropped the ball big time. I let you down and the team down and I deeply regret my actions.”

3)      State—in precise terms—how your actions affected others:

People want to know if you really got it—that you truly understand the full extent of how your actions created a big problem for others. So address this: “I know I have disappointed you and I have lost your trust. I also know that my actions—and my lack of action—have hurt the reputation and credibility of our team. All of this is my accountability. I will not run from the damage I have caused. I must—and I will—change my behavior and I will address the actions I am taking with you today.”

4)      Make an authentic commitment about what will be different in the future.

What we call commitment today are words without action. An authentic commitment requires a) precise actions, and b) “by when” dates so everything is tied down in time. Without a time commitment, no one can be held accountable. You may not have all the details, but your apology will not be taken seriously unless you communicate the first steps you will take in addressing the situation. For example: “I know these are just words right now. You need to see real change in me and action. The actions I will take are….You can count on this being done in under 90 days. I will give you a progress report every month starting at the end of this month. I will include you in every step of this process. I want to regain your confidence and trust.”

 

Loretta Malandro Keynote Speaker

Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group (www.malandro.com) and the author of several landmark business communication books published by McGraw-Hill including: Fearless Leadership, Say It Right the First Time, and her new book which is being released November 2014, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out”.

 

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