Friday, January 20, 2012

Good Communication Helps Actions Match Intentions

Managers can be people focused, task focused or a balance (of sorts) of the two.

Background: When a new manager, who was concerned for his people, found himself in the situation where the relationship with his team deteriorated he jumped into action aiming to help sort out the issues. One employee was hardly using full sentences to communicate with the manager while others where being 'stand-off-ish' and far less social as normal.

What started it all off was the manager noticing an employee's performance slipping: coming in late, leaving early, work quality dropping, submitting work late, etc. In an effort to understand the situation the manager decided to do a little background checking first.

The manager asked a few of the team members if they knew of any issues the employee was facing. The manager's intentions were pure; he didn't want to be reactive and rash, he thought by taking some time to investigate what may be going on he could be more proactive and supportive in helping the employee.

After speaking with a few other employees, the manager didn't have any better insight into the situation. Before the manager could set up a meeting with the employee to deal with the performance issue, a big project came in and took up the manager's full attention and time for most of the following week. In the meantime, the gossip grape wine flourished, it got around that the manager was asking 1) 'people to spy on the employee'; 2) 'people to betray the employee's trust'; and 3) that the manager was trying to get some 'dirt' on the employee. (If you've ever played the game Chinese Whispers you'll know that the message sent at the beginning of the line will get twisted and muddled up by the time the message gets to the last person.)

Lesson: The manager meant well and couldn't understand why the situation had turned so sour so quickly. The lesson for the manager is that humans tend to judge actions rather than intentions. If the manager reflects on his actions in the context of how others would have viewed them, what he might learn or do differently in the future could be:

    * to not approach the team about the employee, at least initially.

    * to speak directly with the employee, remember that asking about the possible impacts on work performance is not prying.

    * the employee need not disclose anything that is deeply personal, rather discuss the impact on his behaviour at work, with a view to finding ways for the employee to receive some support.

    * even with other priorities coming in, such as the new project, even a quick initial conversation may have started to open the lines of communication or at least alerted the employee that the manager has noticed his performance. Remembering that employees are a company's greatest asset.

    * if asking the opinions of other employees, to reinforce the confidentiality of the conversation and that no one was in trouble, and the questioning is based on concern for welfare.

Good intentions are often ignored - probably because they are not as obvious as actions - in comparison to the judgement of peoples actions. When you are well intended yet your actions have been misinterpreted by others or your actions don't seem to go as planned, what could you do differently to match action with intention?

Sally Foley-Lewis is an expert in fast tracking new manager productivity. She empowers new managers to develop the skills needed to be successful, effective and satisfied in their new manager role.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Communication Skills For Increasing Self-Worth Articles

We all know how good it feels to be communicating with someone who listens and cares about what we say. Talking and listening goes smoothly and the result is that we feel good talking to this person. In couple and family relationships nurturing communication is vital for each member's emotional well-being. Here are some communication tips which will enhance self-worth.

1. Everyone has the right to disagree

Being able to disagree shows that each person's ideas are valued. There is the freedom to state and comment what one observes and thinks. Everyone's ideas matter. Decisions are made that validate the well-being of the couple and family

2. Rules are flexible

Rules in families are such that they are based on what makes sense. Rules for younger children differ from the older children. Rules change as needed. Every member has a clear idea as to what the rules are and trusts that change will be introduced when required.

3. Self-Esteem is nurtured

Each person is treated with respect regardless of age. Each is appreciated for being who he/she is and is encouraged to flourish.

4. Responsibility for self is expected

There is an expectation that every person takes responsibility for self and at the same time supports the well- being of the family. Expectations allow each person to bring forth their best.

5. Communication is direct

Communication between people is direct, clear and growth producing. Put downs, blaming, placating, judging are discouraged and healthier ways of handling frustration, hurt, and anger are taught.

6. Civility is encouraged

The value of each person is respected. This is shown by saying please and thank you, apologizing when hurting someone else, and by everyone following rules that make living in the family run smoothly.

7. Clear definition of the goal for the family

In families the goal is to grow healthy new people and if there are no children to further the growth of everyone who is there. What is valued is that everyone has the freedom to live in accordance with their deepest needs and can interact well with the community at large.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Build a Stronger Relationship: Ten Tips to Deepen Trust

Trust is the bedrock for building a strong relationship. However, lack of trust is one of the most common themes to surface in most relationships. If you are struggling with the issue of trust in your relationship below are some tips to help you develop greater trust with your partner.

Trust means that you have placed your confidence and faith in your partner, and that you expect honesty, integrity, loyalty, and respect to be at the center of your relationship. You also expect your partner to keep promises and confidences, and to stay with you when the going gets tough.

Your trust should always be earned; you should not give it to another lightly. When you first met your partner, you probably shared information that helped you to figure out whether or not he or she was "worthy" of your trust and of your heart. As you got to know your partner better, you most likely shared more vulnerable information about yourself, expecting that he or she would hold this most precious part of you in a place of safety and love. At some point, however, your wonderful partner may have either said or done something that triggered you and your trust was broken.

We are all inherently complex beings who bring our past experiences, hurts, fears and expectations into every new relationship we enter. Sometimes our woundedness spills over into our relationship and we lose our ability to feel safe in our relationship - regardless of whether or not our partner actually "deserved" our lack of trust.

If you would like to deepen the trust between you and your partner, please try these 10 tips:

   1. Keep what your partner tells you within the confines of your relationship. Telling others what your partner has shared with you in confidence destroys trust.

   2. Don't rely on email, phone calls and texts to communicate with your partner. Spend time communicating face-to-face. Communicating in person will help each of you to build a greater sense of security as you become more open and vulnerable with one another.

   3. Consider your partner's interests. The more you do for him or her, the more he or she will know that they can count on you and that you have their best interests at heart. If your partner feels like they can count on you, it will make it much easier for them to share the more vulnerable parts of themselves with you.

   4. Follow through with the little promises that you make. For example, if you say that you will call or be some place at a certain time, be sure that you do these things. Small actions matter toward helping you to build a strong foundation of trust.

   5. Learn to apologize when you make a mistake or disappoint your partner. An authentic apology should be sincere and from the heart. To be truly meaningful, take responsibility for your actions and reassure your partner that you understand how your action impacted him or her.

   6. As you learn more about your partner, allow yourself to share more personal information and history with him or her. Aim for balance between how much each of you shares, since trust is not built if only one person shares.

   7. Spend time together doing things that make each of you happy. Since you are two different people, you will naturally like some different things. Being open to a new experience that your partner brings to you will build the bond between you and trust will follow.

   8. Practice forgiveness when you are upset with your partner, and let go of a hurt after the two of you have talked it through. Receiving a sincere apology builds trust in an important way.

   9. Take some time away from your partner to check in with yourself, and get some feedback from your trusted friends or relatives. By taking space and speaking with a trusted friend or relative, you may gain a new perspective about your relationship. For example, you may discover that you have been pushing aside information about your partner that tells you this person cannot be trusted. On the other hand, you may discover that your partner is ultimately worthy of your trust.

  10. Trust can fluctuate over time as each of you experiences the bumps of life. Reassure each other that your love and safety are still intact. This will further strengthen the foundation of trust between the two of you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Relationship Commandment Two- Communicate With Your Partner

"Communicate with my partner? That sounds easy enough.", you say. Ask yourself this, if communicating with my partner is easy, than why are you fighting all the time? Worse yet, why are we fighting over and over about the same things?

Truth is, we don't communicate all that well. We take for granted that because we have been talking since the ripe old age of 2 and have learn vocabulary and grammar that we are effective communicators. Talking and communicating are 2 different things. Though you can't communicate without talking, you can talk without communicating.

This post isn't about how the nuances of effective communicating. What this post is about is to help you learn to focus on what to communicate about.

Truth is, all couples fight. Whether you're talking about happy couple and not so happy couples. As a matter of fact, if a couple comes to me for counseling and their not arguing I'm really concerned. This usually means they have stopped communicating all together. They have now become dangerously close to the end of their relationship.

Arguing in and of itself does not end relationships. Research states that there are 10 - 15 topics a couple will argue about from the day they meet to the day they part. These topics just never get resolved.

What does end relationships is failing to focus on what we're really arguing about. The true underlying, not so obvious, meaning of the argument that signals to the brain that the emotional connection we have is in jeopardy.

Let's look at an example of what I mean. A wife starts an argument over the fact her husband leaves his socks on the floor all the time. This could just be one of those things that the couple will argue over indefinitely. What if, the argument is over something deeper. The wife starts the argument because the socks on the floor is a symbol of how her husband never seems to listen to her. Her argument causes the husband to withdraw because she is always complaining about the socks on the floor and he is left feeling like he cannot do anything right. His withdrawal cause her to argue more because withdrawal in a relationship is a threat to connection. So is not being good enough for your partner.

Repeat this pattern many times and you can see how the argument is not really about socks. Remember at some point in time the request to pick up the socks was just that, a request. It is the lack of responding to this request, added to other times she is left feeling unheard, that leads to the argument.

The argument then can be looked at from a deeper place. It is about, for the wife, are you there for me? Do you hear me and value me? Am I important to you? For the husband it's about am I good enough for you. I try my best but it does seem to be enough.

How does one go about changing this pattern of interaction? How do we change this negative cycle that plagues us?

Ask: First, learn to ask for what you really need. The argument in the above example is not really about the husbands poor sock picking up skills. It is about being heard. State what it is that you need and how your partner can help. "I feel unimportant to you because you never listen to my request to pick up your socks." If the husband responses poorly to this then "Your shutting down right now adds to me feeling unimportant and unheard. I need you to listen to me for a moment."

Persist: People frequently will try once and then immediately declare that it doesn't work. Anything new takes time to become the way we do things.

Perform: Do your best to take action to your partners request for help.

Listen: Truly listen to what your partner is saying. Listen for what they're not saying. Listen to what your saying. Is the argument about socks or something deeper?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is Texting Ruining Your Relationship?

As you know when you text, most of the time you get immediate feedback on any subject with the people you know. It's great, quick, easy, no effort. So what's the problem? One of the problems is that this form of communication leaves out certain vital clues that help to understand the other person. Where's the voice inflection? Where's the body language and facial expression? Oh, you have those when you text?: ) or;-) or: D or XOXO, etc.... They can be helpful sometimes.

Have you ever fought with your spouse or significant other by texting? Have you ever tried to makeup with your partner via text? Then you know that the text emotions and emoticons don't cut it. XOXO all you want when your partner is pissed off at you.

I hear regularly about the decline in relationship satisfaction due in part to a busy lifestyle of text communication. Since men and women differ in communication styles to begin with, it can be particularly frustrating to try to understand text only communication. Clients have told me about fighting via text over the course of hours during the day without emotional resolution. When a man and a woman communicate they rely very much on non-verbal cues to understand each other.

For example: In order to be trusted in the communication, the woman needs her man to be fully present. This means listening intently and looking directly at her. Frequently the woman will test the man to see if he is capable of being fully present to her needs. If not, trust erodes, and frustration and resentment build. The man is usually thinking only a few things when his woman communicates. For example: What's the point? and Can I fix it? This fix it thing usually gets the man into hot water because women don't want to be fixed, nor told what to do. They want to be heard, and understood, and texting is not allowing that to happen fully enough to the satisfaction of many of the women that visit my coaching practice.

By the way, that matters because women initiate more than 70% of all divorce. If you think that you are building trust and respect, heartfelt understanding, and a deep intimate connection by texting with your partner you are kidding yourself. One of the only things you're doing is making a convenient form of communication a bad habit, and an excuse to not have the deep meaningful conversations that need to happen.

It takes Zero courage to argue with your partner by text. It takes Zero guts to spill your guts to your significant other via text. Maybe it fills a need for instant gratification in today's busy world but it is not helping create the level of communication that sustains a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the text conversations often become a model for normal superficial partner communication.

Men and women can get so caught up in the instant text conversations but they ignore other obvious facts that place the relationship at risk. I know about the cheating partner who is texting back and forth to their spouse while they are in bed with another person. I've heard all about the relationship that seemed so great by text until the couple was forced to spend more time together. I am not surprised about couples who text as the primary form of communication at home and are unhappy.

It is a symptom of a relationship going bad, or a cause? Intimate relationships are challenging enough. Restore the integrity of masculine and feminine communication by paying more attention to each other in person. Take the initiative to communicate to your partner in person about the things that are important to you, and save the texts for the little things. Your relationship will be glad you did