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Be You, but Be Careful.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAABqAAAAJGM1ZThmMDBiLWFmMTctNDY1Mi05M2NmLTY3MzdkZTRkZTFiNA“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”  Ken Blanchard

Until we comprehend that others react to their perceptions of what we say or do and not to our intentions, we may continue to experience  negative responses to our   well-intended, natural behaviors. We may, in fact,  see  others  as “overreacting” or  “missing the point.” If  we find that others, not only,  don’t seem to understand us, but also,  often take offense, we may have some fine tuning to do on how we present ourselves.

If you want to take a good guess on how you could be misunderstood, consider your  natural personality. By starting with your behavioral wiring, you’ll quickly get insights into how your well-intended behaviors  could be misread.  You likely fall into one of these categories:

If you’re strongly goal driven, you may be seen as cold and uncaring. Gentle people may avoid you. Work at softening your style.

If absolute perfection drives you, you could be perceived as inflexible and stubborn. Lighthearted folks may write you off as a micro-manager. Focus more on outcomes and less on the methods used to get there.

So you’re  usually bubbly and outgoing? Detail oriented people may see you as lacking focus and not being  dependable. Work on prioritizing your day to assure that you’ll be seen as someone who  can be counted on to meet deadlines.

As a very gentle and caring person you’re compassionate, but run the risk of being viewed as unmotivated and even lazy. You may be seen by the task-oriented people as someone who wastes too much time with people and can’t be counted on to  get the job done. Make accomplishing your tasks your first priority and then reward yourself with people-caring  time.

So BE YOU, but BE CAREFUL to compensate for the possible misconceptions of others or you may find others misreading you and “overreacting” to your natural behavior. The perceptions of others is their reality and they’ll behave based on their interpretations of your actions and not on your intentions..

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” Nietzsche

You Offended!- How to Recover

Hurt Feelings

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”                Ben Franklin

“Sorry, “is enough if you accidentally bump someone on a crowded street, but won’t likely satisfy if you do or say something that causes embarrassment, hurt or jostles someone’s self-esteem. Making a well thought out, sensitive apology may be needed to heal such wounds. Here’s how you do it:

1. Meet face-to-face. The sincerity of your regret will be best seen and felt when you’re looking into the eyes of the person you’ve offended. Add to the power of your apology by suggesting a meeting place that you expect will feel comfortable and safe for each of you.

2. Affirm your relationship. Open the conversation by affirming the importance of your connection with this person and how much you value the relationship.

3. Take personal responsibility. Focus on your responsibility for the incident. This is not the time to point out your hurt or the other person‘s fault in the situation. Your personal contrition may prompt them to share some blame, but that’s their call.

4. Say “I am sorry...” When these magic words are followed by a specific description your regrettable comment or behavior, you’ve sent a message that this is a sincere apology. Note that “My apologies.” or “I apologize.” lack power. As well, avoid the weak expression, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. “

5. Make no excuses. In fact, consider saying “There is no excuse for my behavior. “ Also consider saying something like, “I’m not sure why I said what I did, but I am sure that I don’t want to respond that way again.”

6. Commit to change. Particularly if the incident relates to any continuing behavior. Identify how you’ll be working to change your behavior in the future. The more specific you can be the better.

7. Ask to be forgiven. Offer them time to consider this possibility. This can help bring closure and assure that they don’t have any unresolved related issues or reservations.

8. Consider restitution or a gift.  If there was any personal loss or damage involved then compensation should be made. In some cases, a token gift will add meaning to your apology. This can be sent after the apology to reinforce your sincerity.

When sincerely done, following each of these steps may result in a stronger relationship than you’ve ever had before. Click here for video clip on what this process can look like.

3 Easy Team Builders

laugh“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.”  Jan Carlzon, Moments of Truth

If you understand the relational dynamics of team building, you know that if you don’t feed your staff, they’ll eat the customers. Worse yet, they’ll also turn on one another, and eventually they’ll devour you. So, of course, you want to assure that your team members are well fed and have a zeal for serving, not attacking. Here are 3 easy steps to nourish your team:

Step 1. Get up and get out. Take this literally. Stand up and walk out among your team. This is similar to classic MBWA, Management By Wandering Around, but the primary goal here is to feed your team members, not to manage them. See this walk-around as a regular opportunity to show your interest in them and your availability to them. Your passing through will be even more appreciated if you add step 2.

Step 2. Greet each person. Be the initiator of a greeting with every person on your team. You will, not only, send each one a message that you care, but you will also, model a proactive style of full-team coverage that your staff can learn from. Each greeting will be particularly satisfying if you build in step 3.

Step 3. Connect personally. You’ll put real connection power in each greeting when you listen well. Listen for frustrations, accomplishments and ask about personal interests. Follow up on your previous conversations with each person. Look for ways that you can affirm and assist them. After your visits, make notes so that you’ll be able to follow-up during a future visit.

Take these 3-steps daily and you’re likely to see…

… a stronger more productive team.

… others following your model.

… the need for fewer formal meetings.

As a bonus, expect to hear expressions of appreciation for your leadership from your well-fed staff.

“The best minute you spend is the one you invest in people”           Ken Blanchard, Legendary Service & The New One Minute Manager

Like UPS, Avoid Left Turns

turn“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”  ― John C. Maxwell

A left turn is an intentional change of direction that usually cuts across the flow of traffic coming in the opposite direction. Left turns are dangerous! Government data shows that left turns result in 10 times as many crashes as right turns. United Parcel Service (UPS) took notice of the stats.UPS engineers studied the numbers and figured that if their delivery routes were designed to minimize left turns they’d…
… save gas.

… reduce exhaust emissions.

… avoid accidents.

… improve profitability.

So they tested the idea and the results were so positive that for years now company routes have been designed for right turns about 90% of the time. The mission is still achieved; packages are delivered, but without as many unfortunate outcomes because of unnecessary left turns.

It’s a great tip for safer driving and, here’s additional good news, the strategy of  minimizing changes that go against the normal flow, that run the risk of disrupting established patterns, not only, pays dividends when driving through traffic, but also, when navigating through relationships.

If you avoid behavioral left turns, those changes in your ways of doing things that cut against the grain of the normal flow of the behaviors of others, you’ll be likely to…
… save emotional energy.

… reduce offenses.

… improve your likability.

… improve outcomes.

Are you thinking about making a change at work or in your personal life,? At the office perhaps you’re considering changing how you handle paid time off or which personal expenses you reimburse. At home maybe you’re thinking about calling your mom every other day rather than every day or whether or not you’ll continue to go out with your friends on Friday nights.

Consider how you can accomplish your goals in each situation without making a left turn. Before you make that change consider the following:

Road test your idea. Try the approach of asking those who might be affected by your change something like, “I’m considering changing …. How would you feel about that?” After hearing the thoughts of others you may conclude that rather than your left-turn, it may be that several right turns, with the flow, would be better and could bring about a comparable outcome without as much risk of a relational crash.
But, if despite your desire to avoid a left turn, you see that it is going to be necessary to change direction in the way you first planned, follow these common sense guidelines:

  1. Signal first and early. Give people plenty of opportunity to recognize that you’re going to make a change.
  2. Slow down early. Because some folks won’t notice your early signal, assist them by slowing down well in advance of your turn. This might mean that your gradual left turn is  less intrusive on them. You want them to be able to adjust their attitude and behavior to your coming change of direction.
  3. Ask for feedback. After the change is made, be proactive about getting feedback. Keep in mind that 90% of people with concerns or complaints will never say anything directly to you. So don’t misread as contentment the fact that no one has come to you. In fact, many disgruntled folks will just leave without actually coming to you. Go out and solicit feedback. If you really want to know what people think, give them an opportunity to respond anonymously.

Keep in mind that it’s their perception of your change that you’ve got to deal with, not your good intentions. It may seem like a right turn to you, but others may view it as a left turn and left turns are dangerous.

The key point here is that effective leaders are skilled in making changes with minimal turmoil and maximum buy-in.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”                Ken Blanchard

When You’re Wrong to be Right!

“Choose being kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time.” Richard Carlson

right or wrongThe pleasant  peaceful evening was now disintegrating as the minor disagreement  over whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher  escalated into a “You’re wrong. I’m right.” shouting match. Hopefully, before too much interpersonal  damage is done, one of the participants will  return to a more rationale perspective of what’s more important- the relationship or the pursuit of trivial accuracy.

To be sure, there are times when getting the facts right is unquestionably more important than concern for the feelings of others. If the question is “Which big toe is to be amputated?” Then, of course, we want our care to be in the hands  of the champion of  “Right.” If, however, the  issue of concern  is less consequential, like, “How many people were at the party last night? “Or, “How long did the trip to the airport take?” then the wise relational approach is usually to either let the matter stand as stated  or if correction is deemed necessary, then to  do it gently and privately.

Champions of “Right” can be people  who are otherwise kind, but who can turn into  righteous monsters who will fight for the accuracy of  any detail, even if it means calling out someone they really care about. For some, this Jeckle to Hyde transformation may be a rare event, but for others it happens more regularly than they may care to admit. To the observers, it’s clear that there’s  no other goal than to win the argument or make the point. What drives such relationally destructive behavior?

Of course, personality type is a major factor in driving some toward a more “Get it right.” lifestyle. Some experts see the Myers Briggs ISTJ, as the “Perfectionist.” Using the four animal categories, the Beaver is the type most likely to be the stickler for details. Regardless of temperament,however, a person’s personal stability may be the most significant contributing factor toward the behavior.

In times when an individual’s personal stability is shaky and their ego is fragile, their search for security can drive them to reach for  any position or person that might lift them to higher, more stable ground, even if it’s at the expense of an important relationship.

The key overall point here is that mature, relationally sensitive people, understand that long after others have forgotten who was right, they’ll remember how they were made to feel. Sometimes it’s wrong to be right.

“We impress people with our strengths, but we connect with our weaknesses.”                                                                                              Jon Weece

Grow from Feedback

clinton-trump“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard

Do you ever find yourself wanting to get more feedback, but you’re just not sure how?  Well,  one easy way to get insights  from others that you can use to grow as a person  is to offer an anonymous  “More or Less” survey to those around you. Basically, you’re  asking them to tell you what they’d like to see you do more of, less of, or keep the same. It’s  simple and brief, and because it’s anonymous, the feedback will likely be more honest, and ultimately more helpful.

Now before you start, recognize that this process will be most helpful to you when you’re feeling good about yourself, when you’ve got the personal stability to receive what could be some negative feedback. As well, keep in mind that others will respond to their perception of you, not your intentions. So, find out how you’re viewed.

If you’re ready to hear the thoughts of others on how they think  you can grow as a person, then let’s get started.

First, go to and check out “Plans and pricing”, set up a “BASIC FREE”   account. By the way, you may end up using this account  for other surveys.

Next, design your survey. Click here for a sample. 

Finally, write up a brief  “Can you help me…” cover memo and send it out with the survey  link or you can have a third party send it out on your behalf.  Here’s a sample message:

Dear Co-worker, (Friend, Team member,etc)

     As you may know, I’m working to be the best that I can be as a person and as a manager. I recognize that sometimes, despite my good intentions, my behavior could be misunderstood and received in ways that I don’t intend. Would you please help me in this process by sharing your perceptions with me by completing this very brief anonymous survey:

Place the link here.

   Thank you for helping me to grow.


  Now you just sit back and enjoy your “Breakfast of Champions.”

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”  Bill Gates

Laugh Yourself to Success

laugh“Take your work seriously, but yourself lightly.”        C.W. Metcalf

HONK, HONK, HONK…You’re on your way to work and your horn gets stuck while you’re behind a gang of Hell’s Angels.

Yes, you recognize that it’s going to be a long day. Expect the rest of the day to perhaps include the following:

  •  Your office  leader advises you that the  World Wrestling Federation  will represent the staff at the next contract negotiations.
  • The boss sets up a meeting with you because he has  “…a few quality concerns about your work product.”

We’ve all had days like this, but, face it, every day has some stress in it, some days more than others. Stress  is no laughing matter. but consider that a laugh or two may be just what you need to make it through.

In fact, some business leaders are willing to invest in the concept. Large corporations including  Sony, The Mayo  Hospitals, and the Army Special Forces Training Center  have invested in humorists like CW Metcalf to loosen up  their staff. According to author Metcalf, “Humor is a set of skills that anyone can learn.”

The effects of humor aren’t just powerful in relieving mild stress. Some years ago, Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review, was diagnosed with a progressive, crippling disease that the doctors believed to be irreversible. Cousins decided to “die laughing” by watching classic comedy movies. He notes, “I made the  discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter… would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” Working with his physicians they  were able to actually beat the odds.

Medical doctor, Michael Miller , co-author of Heal your Heart, insists that his patients who are recovering from a cardiac event,  “Go home and laugh until they cry.” He notes that “Deep belly laughter triggers the release of endorphins…” the “pleasure hormones.”

The benefits of laughter are comparable to the effects of a good workout. According to Dr. William Frye a psychiatrist at the Stanford University medical school, “Laughing at least 100 times a day equals 10 minutes of rowing.” He observes that laughter relaxes and exercises every major muscle group.

As well, there’s a payoff in work product outcomes. Studies at California State University found that workers who had the most fun on their jobs were the most productive.

So if you’re looking for some relief from the stress of the day, check out one of these videos:

Jim Gaffigan-
Brian Regan-

Now, wipe away the tears and  resume your day with a smile.
“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.” Mahatma Gandhi

Why it’s Your Own Fault

dissappointed“People can’t live up to the expectations they don’t know have been set for them.” Rory Vaden

It doesn’t matter if it’s a disappointment with a gift , a relational response or a worker’s performance, if you didn’t make your expectations clear, then you have no right to hold anyone accountable for the results.

You didn’t make yourself clear and now you’re disappointed.  You may be right in thinking that he or she should have known what you expected. “Denny’s? I was sure he’d take me to that upscale restaurant.” Get over it.

To dwell in your cloud of gloom will only increase your frustration and negativity. Shake-off the blues about this one and determine to be more assertive the next time.

As you set your expectations, remember that the more specific you are- the who, what, where, why and when, the less likely you are to suffer a “disappointment-headache.” Have the Excedrin ready if you say: ” Joe, I’d like your expense report ASAP.”;  or you can relax and enjoy your weekend if you ask: ” Joe, I’m closing the books for the month next Monday, the 12th. Can I get your expense report completed and on my desk by 1 pm this Friday, the 9th?” If you can get  both understanding and  buy-in of your expectations on the front end,  you’ll help assure that your days of disappointment because of unclear expectations are over.

For the sake of the empowerment of others, particularly those who report directly to you, I recommend focusing expectations on outcomes and measurable results and not on methods or style. Micro-managers can suck the life out of good people.  In fact,  you can expect them to move on.

“Be clear on what you want; don’t rely on unexpressed expectations.” Alison Pescosolido, M.A.,Divorce Detox

Be Shockingly Transparent!

shocked“Don’t expose your private affairs in public.” Emily Post, Etiquette Guru

Contrary to the etiquette queen’s opinion and the edicts of the PC police, my advice is that if you’re looking to establish long-term credibility in a personal or business relationship, develop your ability to speak  frankly. I’m not talking about Trump-style blasting, but skillful sharing of your perspectives. You’ll not only feel more confident  for expressing yourself, but you will also reap these additional  benefits:

You’ll be more likely to…

… be seen as a person who is  honest and forthright.

… engage others in meaningful dialogue that can lead to better solutions and mutual understanding.

… be viewed as a  person of independence and confidence.

… be someone who others will seek out for honest constructive feedback.

… develop deeper relationships and be trusted more.

… avoid being misunderstood.

If this open communications style is new for you, begin by being transparent with your uplifting, affirming thoughts and opinions. Whenever you think a positive thought about someone, tell them. For these affirmations, the  guidelines are: be sincere, tell them ASAP and, whenever possible, speak face to face.

So, the new  transparent you  says things like- “I love that color on you.”-” I appreciate your upbeat attitude.” – .”- “That’s a sharp looking car.” – “You’re the right person for this job.” In addition to building others up, uplifting expressions lay a more receptive foundation for  any future  critical comments.

The research says that for the best relational results from critical comments, establish  at least a 3 to 1, positive to negative ratio. Don’t overdo the praise, anything beyond 13 to 1 will likely be perceived as insincere. So, be transparent with your honest accolades, before you offer your more challenging opinions.

Of course, this bold, assertive style only works well  if you’ve learned and practiced the skills of  effective communication. Brash, insensitive sharing of your views will only drive others for cover and alienate even the most forgiving of your friends. Here’s a helpful video.

“It’s our secrets that separate us.” unknown author

3 Ways to be More Likeable

avoiding“People like people who like them.” Kare Anderson

Running for office? George Gallup has discovered that the deciding factor between  Issues, Party and Likeability is the “L” word. In fact, whatever business you’re in, your likeability can make or break you. According to The Like Ability Factor author, Tim Sanders, “… the more well liked you are,the more likely you are to keep your job.”

Who doesn’t want to be liked? If you can be you and be liked, not only, is it a natural place to live in, but also, it’s a position with significant benefits.   For starters, if you’re liked, other people will be more apt to  show you grace and become a cheerleader for you.  As well, studies say that  better things will come your way and you’ll be happier.

In fact, according to a 1992 survey, if you’re likeable, you’re likelihood of divorce is one half of the divorce rate of the general public.   As a bonus, studies show that likeable people are healthier to boot.

Here are three tips for improving your likeability.

 1.  Be transparent and real. A cheesy smile, feigned enthusiasm and too much makeup may get you a quick look, but if you’re perceived as self-centered, with an artificial aura, you could cause people to be cautious of  a deeper relationship. Just be you, and let your natural personality guide your style as you focus on others. Your honesty about faults, fears and faux pas can make you more approachable than gloating about your title, connections and accomplishments.

2. Talk less, listen more.  Have you ever heard of anyone avoiding someone because “They listen too much,” of course not,  but they will hide from you if you’re a “Gas-bag.” Talkers often focus on themselves, their own agendas and scripts. The stories may be interesting for a minute or two, but likeability suffers as the yakking continues. Getting away gracefully from a long-winded person takes some skill. Check out these escape tools.

Contrariwise, likeable great listeners  are masters at asking leading questions and encouraging others to keep the microphone in their hands.

3. Remember  names and passions It goes without saying that you should remember  preferred names, but you can also improve your likeability by remembering personal passions. Remember what others are  excited about; what’s important to them. When you say to me “Hi Dick, how’s that new grandson, Lincoln?” You’ve won my endorsement as a likeable person.

You’ll be someone others will want to be around if you’re comfortable in your own skin, a great  listener and someone who remembers people and their story. People will be saying “I really like that lady.”

“If other people don’t perceive you as friendly, you aren’t friendly.” Tim Sanders, The Like Ability Factor.