Tag Archives: marketing

Tame The Elephant in the Room

You know that feeling you get in your gut when a difficult subject needs to be addressed and you suddenly become the world’s master of procrastination.  Is there an elephant in the room?  What do you do if:

  • The customer service center was unable to handle the volume of inbound leads generated by your Facebook campaign.
  • You hit “reply all” on a conversation which included sensitive subject matter intended only for “reply to sender.”
  • An entire electronic file appears to be missing and the intern is still working on updating the documents.
  • Cash is missing or you realize that someone chipped the heirloom figurine and neglected to tell you.
  • Your toddler, who is in the middle of toilet training, decides to show off their new skills in the toilet remodeling department of Home Depot (Just saw this LOL scene on TV).

No matter how much training you have in mediation or facilitation, these sorts of situations are rarely viewed as light conversation.  Unaddressed, these issues foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied, and sometimes fearful.  All of these emotions waste valuable time and hamper productivity.

Wikipedia describes the elephant in the room phrase as “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going un-addressed…an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss…” awkward moment image

Five Steps to Managing the “Elephant in the Room”

Recognizing the elephant in the room is an important first step.  The real finesse, however, comes in acknowledging  the elephant in a manner that allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion and then to move past it.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can tame the proverbial “elephant in the room:”

  1. Open up the discussion by expressing the issue and inviting input from others.  To do this effectively necessitates that you share your views with little or no emotion.  Why?  Because emotions are contagious and at this point, you are looking to ask others to share.
  2. Asking others to share their viewpoint displays consideration for their perspective.  Stop and listen —really listen—to what they say.  Acknowledge their input and demonstrate a sincere interest in their comments.  Creating an environment where someone feels like they can share allows you to discuss a potentially “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continued dialogue.  As the dialogue continues, you collect more information that can be used for a reality check.
  3. Do a reality check:  Is this really an elephant or can we resolve this with less drama?  Your attitude on this may set the tone for others and alleviate stress or awkwardness.  Honesty expressed in a calm and thoughtful manner can help to disarm the elephant.
  4. Be honest, direct and convey confidence.  A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored despite everyone being aware of it.  By naming what others may be avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle—obstacles are far less overwhelming for the psyche to handle and move off of.
  5. Move forward:  Thank everyone for their inputs.   Summarize the next steps.  Ask others to concur with your summary.  Where possible, ask others to take on a responsibility that increases the likelihood of maintaining harmony.

Deep breath.  You can tame the elephant and move forward.

original post : “You, too, Can Tame the Elephant in the Room” http://ow.ly/qJHb8 by@sharonlewisnyc [TODAY’S POST] #MENGonline #Marketing #Leadership

 

How Do I Trust Thee in the Workplace: Let Me Count Five Ways

How Do I Trust You?
For many, the answer could not be simpler: I trust you or I do not trust you. Who cares how you define it?

I propose that the answer is not quite so simple:
• Trust is a cornerstone of creating change
• Trust requires a relationship between two or more people; Not all relationships are created equal
• Trust implies that even when you, yourself, are uncertain of something….the other party (parties) will help you to uncover the issues and direct you to a solution
• Trust involves a leap of faith; it is easier to speak about trust than to “do trust”
Hence, just like we have various types of power, types of love and types of communication….we have numerous types of trust in the business setting. The person that you trust to run your medical office is not necessarily the same person that you trust to decorate your home, edit your son’s college application or help you with your retirement planning.

Here are FIVE KEY questions to understand trust in a professional working environment:

1. Do you have Professional Trust?
Professional trust in the business setting is often a function of dependability.
• Will you deliver what you promised/exceed the expectations of what you promised?
• Are you a team player?

2. Do you have Rules-Based Trust?
This refers to the trust that people have in the rules of society. For example: people politely form lines when walking up stairs; they avoid eye contact on crowded buses and they superficially begin most conversations with the expression:” How’ya doing?”

In previous work environments, rules based trust said that if we work very hard and demonstrate loyalty to one employer, our efforts will be recognized in status, salary and security. In today’s environment, those rules have changed. Hard work is a function of one’s personal drive to achieve and those achievements are portable into other situations, employment or entrepreneurship.

3. Do you have Situational Trust?
This reflects personal experience and is assumed to carry forward to the current situation. It applies to both workplace and non-workplace forms of trust.
• We trust our management team to provide guidance and support to us in meeting our objectives;
• We trust our educational systems to engage us in learning that will be valued in the marketplace;
• We expect that those we work with will be supportive of our personal efforts and responsible in the delivery of their own individual responsibilities.

4. Do you have Medical Trust?
I sit in the endodontic chair having root canal and trust that his expertise and his steady hand will get me through the procedure

5. Do you Trust Your Instincts?
This is another one of the trusts that have both workplace and non-workplace applications.
• You must have a level of trust in yourself so as to be able to trust another
• There was an Oprah magazine article that said something like “take advice as advice”. Everyone gives you their two cents, but you have to follow your gut.

Summary:
Trust is a special relationship that exists between two or more people. The power of trust is significant as it is the cornerstone of change, as well as the cornerstone of on-going working relationships. Not all trust is created equal. However, every form of trust deserves to be treated as the valuable asset that it represents.

How do I Trust Thee in the Workplace…Let Me Count Five Ways!

This blog originally appeared 01/2014 via #EQlist: What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask to be Successful goo.gl/d4XFwV

Is there a formula to asking Brilliant Questions?

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

Not surprisingly, Einstein makes a good point. And, so I set out to ask others what they think of that observation. In turn, practicing the philosophy first hand. The dialogue was great. The conversations produced a list of seven common themes. And so, with a number of qualitative research projects on my plate, I set out to be uber-deliberate in using these themes in the formulation of the questions that I would be taking into the field. Correlating the brilliant question criteria to my own facilitation guides did indeed have a positive impact!  Here are the seven themes:

What qualities make a question brilliant?

1. Inspiration to see things in a new light

For example: Five plus five equals ten; what other numbers can be used to get me to ten?

  1. Generates thoughtful willingness to challenge the norm

Referencing Storm Sandy remains a tangible reference point. What would happen if a critical piece of this process were no longer available?

  1. Creates ownership of the solution

Tell me: What do you suggest we do here?

  1. Provides clarity of purpose

In explaining what someone does, they are forced to account for how the dots connect.

  1. Encourages new solutions

Probe: What are the frustrations in doing it this way? Can that be done in any other way?”

  1. Asks for an evaluation of limited resources

If you had the power to change it, what are the consequences of choosing A over B?

  1. Open ended enough to solicit the “how, why and what do you think about this” yet tight enough to provide direction to the thought process

Imagine yourself painting a picture. Now imagine yourself painting a picture of the golf course where you played last week-:)

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Look Elsewhere for Answers

In addition to the quest for consistently developing brilliant questions to ask, it always astonishes me when the “ah-ha moments come from where you least expect.

I was recently contracted to interview people that could help us learn more about employee overtime as a source of income in today’s economic environment. While speaking to individuals across industries, it was time to dig deeper within a particular function within a particular industry. Employees, HR executives, department managers all provided lots of interesting insights. It was the conversation with a professional in a completely unrelated industry to the one that I was researching….that the “ah-ha” moment came into place. My facilitation guide took on a new twist and each time I presented the “ah-ha” question to my interviewees…they lit up in the same way that I did with the implications presented. This was empowering. And, it was fun for all involved.

When in doubt, provide praise

In the exploration phase of a project looking to uncover breakdowns between functional departments, I was presented with an opinion that I did not quite know what to do with. “Great point. No-one else has mentioned that”, I said.  “Tell me more.” And the flood-gates opened!

Do you find yourself asking questions that lead you to great answers?

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” (said the same man).

Location. Location. Environment. Environment

Location. Location. Location. This has long-been the mantra in the real estate industry. I propose an extension of this mantra which says: Location. Location. Environment. Environment. The environment that you set up for your work, home, study and communications is as important as the physical location.

I recently learned of a wonderful woman who was looking to launch a think-tank for entrepreneurial start-ups. Her twist on the concept was great and I looked forward to getting the announcement details for the kick-off event. Her meet-up announcement drew a strong response. So why did so very few people show up to the meeting? The location, while conveniently located and free to the facilitator—-was to be held on the second floor conference room of a funeral parlor. Location and environment need to work together.

A recent retiree was excited to start taking classes at her local community center. She read the website and the catalog in detail and chose a selection of programs. Her first day of class, she noticed a sign on the building that she never took note of previously; it read: “Senior Center”. The woman felt horrible and while she knew that both the class and the other class participants were young and vibrant, she gets a knot in her stomach every time she enters the building and sees the words “senior center”. Nuances in one’s environment can make all the difference.

Years ago a decorator told me how they were asked to create a working space for a young student with ADD, poor grades and a frustrated attitude toward his school work. As the story was told, the decorator’s chest popped outward and his shoulders squared back—“I designed a working area for that student”, he said which “took that young man’s grades up to B+/A-. That marked an entirely different type of reward for the decorator who normally created beautiful entertaining spaces.

What do you do every day to create an environment that is creative to your own work and the comfort level of others? Here are a few more examples that I have found recently.

When you speak to your doctor, do they stand or sit so as to meet you at your eye level? They should; it creates an entirely different environment for your conversation.

When you meet someone in their offices, do they bring the conversation to the small work table in their office or move their chair around their desk so as to sit next to you while speaking? That desk creates an informal barrier.

Whenever I am in the elevator of an office building, I always look out into the offices of each floor that the elevator makes a stop. Today I watched as three people got out on the same floor and each employee passing by the reception desk took a piece of the fresh fruit sitting in the bowl on the reception table. What a nice way to tell someone: Good Morning; Take good care of yourself!.

And least, we forget the lighting, the flowers, the candles and the music which so distinctly add dimension to our environment.

Location. Location. Environment. Environment. Both are key criteria to making you, your family and your business team comfortable.

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Ya’ Think You Heard Me? The Art of Good Communications

Ya’ Think You Heard Me? The Art of Good Communications

“Ya’ Think You Heard Me? The Art of Good Communications” http://ow.ly/mbFix by@sharonlewisnyc [TODAY’S POST] #MENGonline #Marketing #PR