communication

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #7: May I give you some feedback?

Delivering feedback is not an easy process, and it is even more challenging when the message is potentially negative.  Just the thought of this type of conversation commonly evokes emotional turmoil for both the giver and receiver. Frustrations with an employee, boss, colleague, or other that are not addressed can lead to apathy and an “it’s never going to change” mindset that demoralizes you and others. And, if the situation has existed for awhile, you may need more than one conversation to resolve it.

Also consider that the individual may have no clue there is a concern, because no one has really given him feedback. You or someone else might have hinted, but how clear was the message, and how self-aware is he?

In their book Thanks for the Feedback (2014), Stone and Heen encourage “creating pull” for receiving feedback as opposed to pushing through the resistance. The authors reinforce the value of creating pull for one’s own reflection and personal development.

Pulling or drawing someone into a conversation makes it easier to engage. It is also a smoother transition into a feedback conversation with them.

May I give you Feedback

So how can you deliver feedback with more ease and engage the individual in the conversation?

  1. Check your emotional readiness. What do you need to be at your best and ready?

  2. Create a safe environment for the conversation. Avoid open areas where others might overhear the exchange.

  3. Begin with the question, “May I give you some feedback?” Asking permission invites the individual into dialogue and offers him a choice to participate. It is a respectful way to gain agreement to proceed with the conversation, and it helps the person be more open to hearing what you have to say.

Remember, asking a question like “May I give you some feedback?” is an invitation into a conversation. When we give people a choice to engage, they will be more likely to participate and actually hear what we have to say.

Strategy #13: I may need to renegotiate our agreement.

We’ve all had the experience of agreeing to something we were not able to deliver on. It’s a horrible feeling when you disappoint another person, not to mention disappoint yourself.

Breaking your agreement could have happened for a legitimate reason. Or perhaps you miscalculated the time required to complete a task. You may have even believed that saying no was not an option, so said yes when you should have discussed it first.

Regardless the reason, breaking agreements can strain even the best relationships and impugn your credibility. The good news is, there is a simple strategy you can use to effectively manage the agreements you make.

Strategy #13: I may need to renegotiate our agreement.

First, understand that agreements are verbal contracts, so take seriously every agreement you make. Next, only agree to what you know you can deliver. That said, sometimes an unforeseen conflict can make this impossible. If this happens, renegotiate your agreement immediately! This gives the other person a chance to look for different options, and it preserves your standing as a conscientious person of integrity.

Finally, the next time someone makes a request of you, don’t feel compelled to say yes on the spot. Try this: Let the person know that you would like to accommodate their request, and that you first need to review your current commitments to make sure you can confidently agree to their request.

Doing this telegraphs the message that you take your commitments seriously and that you are someone they can count on.

What to do when the objective is unclear

Back Pocket Coach Strategy 12: What expectations do you have of me?

“I’ll never do that again!”

In the post-mortem of “what went wrong,” you discover that no one was on the same page from the get-go regarding the objective of the project. It’s a big aha moment for the team, with quizzical looks and much head scratching, implying, “How could that have happened?!”

The funny thing is, it happens more than you might think, and for a variety of reasons. One prevalent reason is that the leader, and perhaps some other team members “assume” that everything is abundantly clear and it never even occurs to them to validate that assumption.

Another big reason is that team members are afraid to ask for clarification because they are concerned that they will sound stupid, out of the loop, or simply unknowledgeable. I have coached many leaders and teams in aerospace over the years and observed that the fear of sounding stupid is alive and well with really smart people.

The fact is, if you are unclear about the objective, chances are pretty good that you’re not the only one. There are many different ways in which an unclear objective shows up in our lives. As such, Back Pocket Coach has more than five strategies that can help guide you out of the weeds and into greater clarity.

what to do when the objective is unclear

Here’s one you could try. Strategy 12: “What expectations do you have of me?” By asking this simple question, you are demonstrating your authentic interest in being part of the solution or success of whatever it is you are involved in.

Whether we realize it or not, we all bring different expectations to the table. Instead of assuming you are both on the same page regarding, for example, who’s going to do what by when, clarify! By asking this simple question, you are implicitly conveying your commitment and interest in being aligned with what needs to be done.

Fortunately, all of these strategies / remedies are quite simple to use. And if you use any one of them, it just may leave your colleagues with a newfound appreciation for your commitment to clarity -- and results.

For more strategies on this and other situations, visit www.BackPocketCoach.com or Amazon.com.

3 Guidelines for Valuing Someone's Work or Contribution

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #1: I would like to appreciate you for…

3 Guidelines for Valuing Someone's Work or Contribution

Have you ever found yourself silently appreciating something about a colleague or family member, yet failed to articulate it? Before you beat yourself up for answering in the affirmative, know this: we have all done it; and we will all do it again.

Let’s talk about why it is worth cultivating the habit of appreciating others. For starters, research shows that appreciation is the number one thing people say they want most at work and in life. Being authentically appreciated is valued even more than getting a raise. Think about it: getting a raise is really a token of how much you are appreciated.

Another reason to make appreciation a habit is that it is a powerful relationship builder. Why? Think about the last time someone took the time to really appreciate you. How did it make you feel? How did it influence your relationship with the other person? How did it influence your outlook?

Here are three guidelines for appreciating others:

1) Be authentic: say specifically what their behavior or contribution meant to you. Example: “Tom, thank you so much for staying late last night to crunch those numbers. Your work really saved my presentation this morning. I appreciate your commitment to our team.”  

2) Be timely: do it now;

3) Make it a habit: do it regularly.

Start scanning your environment now for opportunities to authentically appreciate someone’s work or contribution. Then speak your appreciation. And notice the impact you just made on someone’s day. Maybe even their life.

6 Ways to Boost Your Self-Awareness (Hint: It’s Good for Business)

To start building a process in self-reflection, try this: Use these starter questions to reflect on the results of a recently completed project or conversation. Bring a mindset of curiosity, openness and honesty to your answers. Adapt the questions to fit your situation.

reset your mind self awareness in business
  1. What went well (with this conversation, task or meeting)?

  2. What could I have done to have made it work even better?

  3. Did I have unexamined assumptions (regarding the information I had, or about a person or situation)?

  4. Who else should have been included here and how might I do that in the future?

  5. Who needed to be appreciated, and for what?

  6. What follow up is needed now and by whom?

Next, Try This

After answering the questions, reflect on what you wrote. Did you discover anything that surprised you? Or something that you hadn’t previously thought of? Did you get any new insights into your own behavior or have a new perspective about someone else’s? Whatever you did, congratulations for engaging in the process! You now have the foundation for a self-reflection discipline.

Look for opportunities to use the process whenever and wherever you can. Adapt the questions to fit the situation. When you’re ready, find an opportunity to try it out in your team environment. And remember to have a conversation about the process itself.

There are lots of opportunities to use this skill -- even at home! Remember that supporting others, and particularly your direct reports, in developing their skill in self-reflection can have huge payoffs, helping them and you become more self-aware. And, just like anything else, it takes time to cultivate a new habit, so have a patient heart -- with yourself and others!

When you give this a try, let me know how it went. I’d really like to hear from you!

Appreciation is the secret sauce -- now more than ever.

Appreciation Several months ago when we were preparing to write this blog on appreciation, we went on Twitter and entered #AppreciationPolitics, thinking it would be wonderful to find an uplifting story from the political area that we could write about — something that would give us a reason to wax poetic and get a glow on.

Well, not so much. Twitter reported: “No results.” What?! Of all the hundreds of thousands of topics on Twitter that garner interest and are share-worthy, there was nothing.

Our spontaneous reaction was to burst out laughing. But, unfortunately this is no laughing matter. Why? Because appreciation is a crucial component for happiness and successful relationships. There is much research that points to appreciation being the number one thing that people want most at work and in life.

Given the recent episodes of violence around the world and this weekend in Orlando, it is more important than ever to find a way to open our hearts and appreciate others -- especially if those others view things differently than we do. Appreciation is not about being a Pollyanna or turning a blind eye to bad behavior or worse.

Voltaire, 18th Century French philosopher and prominent figure of the French Enlightenment, powerfully articulated the value of appreciation when he said,“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Imagine the kind of world we could create together if we were all guided by this philosophy.

Considering this on an organizational level, we know from experience that both team effectiveness and a leader’s effectiveness closely correlate with a culture of real appreciation. Maybe you’ve had the experience of walking into a room where a team is meeting and were able feel  the appreciation and respect team members have for one another; it’s palpable.

And the reverse is just as true. Working in a team of people who are angry, hostile and totally lacking in appreciation for one another is miserable. It’s a no-brainer to know which team will be the high performing one. And have the happiest, most satisfied team members.

So while we’re probably not going to heal politics and violence in the world, we do have the ability to make a difference right where we are — within our professional and personal lives. A kind word and a gesture of sincere appreciation can go a long way.

Remember this: In appreciating others we acknowledge their value in the situation or relationship. Challenge yourself to notice what you can appreciate about someone, even (and especially) if it’s difficult. Here are a few simple guidelines: 1) be authentic: say what it means to you; 2) be timely: do it now; 3) make it a habit: look for opportunities to appreciate another.

Who will you appreciate today?

For help in creating a culture of appreciation within your organization, contact Diane Brennan & Alexandra Ross at info@backpocketcoach.com 

Updated from original post March 20, 2016 www.backpocketcoach.com

Download Back Pocket Coach for free, June 8 & 9

Free download for Back Pocket Coach- 33 Effective Strategies for Work & LifeAvailable Wednesday, June 8 - Thursday, June 9 on Amazon. Click here for your free download of Back Pocket Coach: 33 Effective Communication Strategies for Work & Life!  No matter what your role in an organization, Back Pocket Coach will complement your existing tools and strategies to help you create seriously effective outcomes.

Leaders and Managers: Who doesn’t want to manage a team that is known for its high performance and its collaborative spirit? Or, be part of an organization where you feel valued for your contributions and enjoy coming to work? Back Pocket Coach’s powerful communication strategies can help you get there.

Human Resources / Organizational Development Professionals: Back Pocket Coach can be used to support training and development curricula. The modular nature of the strategies offers flexibility for training events that range from 30 minutes to a full day. Back Pocket Coach can also be useful for internal coaches and human resources business partners in meetings with customer stakeholders.

External Coaches: Experienced executive and business coaches know that inspiring their clients to adopt a learning mindset will help them go further, faster. Back Pocket Coach offers 33 strategies to support your work with your clients. It is a concise, effective learning tool that can be used in coaching sessions and can support ongoing learning and development with practice between sessions.

Here’s what people are saying about Back Pocket Coach...

A Private Coach--in your back pocket: “We all have situations in our business lives when we wish we could call someone and get coached through the problem and best response. Back Pocket Coach does that, and helps prepare us ahead of time for situations that might arise. Alexandra and Diane bring their considerable Executive Coaching experience to this tool to help in four areas: One-on-One Conversations, Conversations On-the-Fly, In Meetings and Self Reflection. My favorite: "What Outcome Do You Want?" It works not only for sticky business situations, meetings but also in personal life. Who doesn't want vetted, successful communication strategies in their life?” -- M.A., Denver

Convenient and easy to use: “Convenient and easy access to very helpful tips on navigating difficult situations and conversations. Situations that require immediate action and responses do not allow me to run back to my office and find the right approach for handling the situation. Having this material in my iPhone, easily accessible and easy to navigate makes it a very useful tool.” -- R.G., California

Concise and Targeted Coaching is Ready-to-Use: “Find experienced, concise and targeted coaching in this extremely user-friendly tool. I've not seen anything like it before. I love this ready-to-use coaching for "just in time" situations as well as for contemplating more deeply. As a trainer, I plan to use these cards in various training environments to help people achieve better results in relationships at work and beyond. Their website blog generously provides even more perspective to some common issues. Their years of experience show up in their style of clear, upbeat, and empathetic communication.” D.W., Boulder

Back Pocket Coach is available for all Apple and Android mobile devices and can be easily accessed using the free Kindle app.

Click here to download your free copy of Back Pocket Coach on Amazon now!

For more information visit us at www.BackPocketCoach.com

And follow us on Twitter at @CoachDianeB and @RossCoach

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #13: I may need to renegotiate our agreement.

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #13 I may need to negotiate our agreement.We’ve all had the experience of agreeing to something we were not able to deliver on. It’s a horrible feeling when you disappoint another person, not to mention disappoint yourself. Breaking your agreement could have happened for a legitimate reason. Or perhaps you miscalculated the time required to complete a task. You may have even believed that saying no was not an option, so said yes when you should have discussed it first.

Regardless of the reason, breaking agreements can strain even the best relationships and impugn your credibility. The good news is, there is a simple strategy you can use to effectively manage the agreements you make.

First, understand that agreements are verbal contracts, so take seriously every agreement you make. Next, only agree to what you know you can deliver. That said, sometimes an unforeseen conflict can make this impossible. If this happens, renegotiate your agreement immediately! This gives the other person a chance to look for different options, and it preserves your standing as a conscientious person of integrity.

Finally, the next time someone makes a request of you, don’t feel compelled to say yes on the spot. Try this: Let the person know that you would like to accommodate their request, and that you first need to review your current commitments to make sure you can confidently agree to their request.

Doing this telegraphs the message that you take your commitments seriously and that you are someone they can count on.

Strategy #13 | www.BackPocketCoach.com | @CoachDianeB | @RossCoach