Showing posts with label People Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label People Skills. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How People Skills Helped Me During My Daughter’s Teen Years

Me and my daughter Alison - great friends as adults!

For many years I was a consultant, working with leaders and employees in different kinds of organizations. One of the main areas I focused on was helping them develop better communication skills – like listening, giving and receiving feedback, and resolving conflict. I've spoken, written and developed products in the area of people skills for 25 years.

It’s one thing to apply these skills in a professional setting, but quite another to use them with family members at home.

That was my challenge when my daughter Alison entered adolescence. The delightful child we had raised was transformed at times into a stranger I didn't recognize.

How well did all my knowledge about people skills serve me during her teen years?

That’s the subject of a conversation I had with my business partner, Denny Coates, where I shared the good, the bad, and the ugly about Alison’s adolescence.

Click the link to listen now or right click to download the mp3 file.

Using people skills with a teenager

At the end of the interview, I mentioned two books that Denny has written for preteens and their parents: Conversations with the Wise Aunt and Conversations with the Wise Uncle

I wish I’d had the one for girls when Alison was growing up. What a terrific resource for helping parents talk with their children about sensitive subjects like sex, alcohol and peer pressure.

If you have a young teen or know someone who does, check out these books. They’re available on Amazon, and you can get the Kindle version at the special price of $2.99 until December 31.

And even better, Denny’s created free discussion guides to help you and your child get the most from the books.

Grab these valuable resources now. They could be among the best investments you ever make in your relationship with your child.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2 Core Abilities Successful Entrepreneurs Must Have

As a business owner since 1982, I’ve learned an important truth: You need to be strong on the inside to make it as an entrepreneur.

This means, even though you may be busy putting out fires and acquiring business know-how, you also have to constantly work on your own personal development.

You can absorb enormous amounts of information about marketing, sales, leadership, and management to help you run your company. But applying this knowledge can be really challenging.

That’s because the world you live in is a constant barrage of obstacles and setbacks. It takes grit, determination and a host of other personal strengths to follow through.

So you have to be smart, and you have to be strong—at the core of who you are.

Recently I had a chance to talk with Rick Zanotti and Gina Schreck on their weekly vidcast, SchreckTeck, about a system that helps entrepreneurs develop two core abilities.

Watch the program, and you’ll discover:
  • Why personal strengths and people skills are critical in every aspect of a business
  • How to use a three-step process to create new habits 
  • The value of a Coaching Network to support you in your development

I encourage you to check out Strong for Business if you want to build the strengths and skills needed for long-term success as an entrepreneur.

"The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart, head and hands." - Robert Pirsig, American novelist (1928- )

Monday, October 15, 2012

3 Interpersonal Skills Every Leader and Parent Should Have

In the first job where I supervised other people, I made a terrible mistake.

One day, a woman on my team told me she had done something without asking me, something she thought I’d be happy about. As I listened to her describe what she did, I let my facial expression communicate that I wasn’t pleased about the action she’d taken. I don’t think I actually scowled, but I probably came pretty close.

I watched her positive energy and enthusiasm evaporate before my eyes as she realized I didn’t approve of what she’d done. She had expected accolades for taking initiative and ended up apologizing for not checking with me first.

Back then, I wasn’t adept at using these essential interpersonal skills, which apply to managers, entrepreneurs and parents alike:

Listen without judging. That means not SAYING anything and not SHOWING disapproval while the person is talking. Be patient and give her time to finish.

Don’t assume you know where the story is going because you might start creating the ending in your own mind. And when you do that, it means you’ve stopped focusing on what the speaker is saying and you’re paying more attention to your own thoughts.

Ask questions to learn more. Don’t jump to conclusions about what you think the person meant or what his motives were. Asking open-ended questions helps you find out what mental processes he was actually using when he made the decision to take a specific action.

These five questions from the Reflection exercise in our online coaching system, ProStar Coach, work like magic:
  1. What happened? (to find out the sequence of events and who did what)
  2. Why did it happen that way? (to discover motives, cause and effect, what helped or hindered)
  3. What were the consequences? (to explore problems, benefits, outcomes, costs)
  4. How would you handle a similar situation in the future? (to draw out lessons learned)
  5. What are you next steps? (to think about how to apply the learning)
Affirm the person. When someone has made a mistake or shown an error in judgment, it’s easy to use language that comes across as criticism of him and not what he did. Separate a person’s actions from his worth as an individual by pointing out what you value about him.

In the situation with this employee, I could have sincerely praised her for taking initiative because that is a behavior I value and wanted to see in the future. Instead, my negative reaction had the opposite effect, at least in the short term. I inadvertently discouraged her from looking for opportunities where she could make additional contributions.

Today I work hard to apply these three skills. I know what a difference they make in my relationships when I use them well, and the havoc they cause when I don’t.
"What a leader does now sets up what he does later. And there's always a later." - Mike Krzyzewski, American college basketball coach (1947- ) 
"You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower, American president (1890-1969)
"There is no more powerful leadership tool than your own personal example." - John Wooden, American college basketball coach (1910-2010)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What’s at the CORE of Your Abilities?

It’s taken a lot of effort for you to become the person you are today. As this diagram shows, you develop different kinds of ability during your life.

You began some of this learning when you were young, but the learning didn’t end when you became an adult. Later, you acquired know-how that you needed for your various roles, whether as a parent, an entrepreneur, a teacher or a scientist. But that’s not enough.

At the core of all your abilities are two areas that count more than any others: personal strengths and people skills. These are critically important to everything you’ll ever accomplish in life. And yet they aren’t formally taught in schools. They’re most often acquired through life experience, but usually not in a systematic way.

Why personal strengths matter 

You have to be strong to overcome the adversity you’re going to encounter when you do hard things. It doesn’t matter if you have good skills. If you’re not equipped to deal with the inevitable challenges that come your way, you won’t get the results you hope for.

Let’s say you play tennis and you want to get better. So you take lessons and practice until you get really good. But having the skill doesn’t guarantee you’ll play well when you get in a tough competitive situation.

That’s because the unexpected could happen. Your competitor may have better skills and energy…or you’ll make mistakes during play…or the match could go on longer than you thought it would.

Now what?

Skill alone isn’t enough. Under these conditions, you could become intimidated or tired. You might lose your cool. So besides skill, you’ve got to have personal strengths.

To win the match, you’ll need to maintain your composure, self-confidence, and focus. You have to keep giving your best effort and persevere, even when you start feeling tired or discouraged.

Think of it as the inner strength to execute your abilities in tough situations.

Personal Strengths are much more than passive qualities or virtues. They’re observable behavior patterns and life habits. For example:

- How do you respond when someone blows up at you? Or criticizes you in front of others?
- What do you do when things don’t go your way? Or you’re stuck in traffic or a long line?

Where people skills fit in

No matter what you pursue in life, you need the ability to deal effectively with others. This second core area has a huge impact on nearly everything you do.

To build and maintain strong relationships, you’ll need to develop skills such as listening, resolving conflict, giving encouragement, and receiving feedback.

Building personal strengths and people skills requires more than knowledge or having a positive attitude. It’s about DOING. You have to apply the behaviors over and over in the real world if you want them to get stronger and become your natural way of doing things.

And that’s why we created ProStar Coach. It’s an online virtual coaching system focused exclusively on helping you develop these two core areas – personal strengths and people skills. It’s got a proven structure for building the skill and rewiring your brain so a specific behavior becomes comfortable and automatic.

If you’re serious about your own development, you’ll need to address all the layers of ability. Just make sure you give adequate attention to the two core abilities. They’re the foundation for building all the others.
"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength." - Arnold Schwarzenegger, American Actor (1947- )

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Secret of Persuasion

If you want to persuade other people to do something, trying to talk them into it doesn’t usually elicit a positive response. Years ago when making a sales presentation, I discovered an approach that works like magic to reduce resistance. And there’s no manipulation or arguing involved…

The next time you’re in a situation where you need to influence someone to take the action you want, stop and think about what you can do first to learn what’s important to that person.
“I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” – David Ogilvy, British advertising executive (1911-1999)

 “If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.” – Abraham Lincoln, American president (1809-1865)

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” – Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC)

“You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.”
– John Morely, British statesman (1838-1923)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Give Constructive Feedback the Right Way

Have you ever have to deal with a situation like this?

Someone – maybe a customer, colleague, friend or family member – said or did something that caused problems for you. And you weren't sure how to handle it - what to say, what to avoid saying, whether you should say anything at all…

You’re not alone.

Many people are hesitant to give constructive feedback to someone else, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they're afraid of an angry or defensive reaction. Or they don't want to cause hurt feelings.

Or they hope the person will recognize the problem and eventually correct it without the need to bring up the subject. But that's not what usually happens.

When others make mistakes or disappoint you, it’s important to address the issue because these individuals often don’t realize they’re causing problems for you. They don’t see their actions the way you do. This behavior is a blind spot for them, and they're unlikely to change unless you tell them. They can't read your mind, and a heavy sigh or a glare does not communicate what you want from them.

If you're like me, you never had a course in high school or college on how to give feedback to someone whose behavior is creating issues for you. And it's unlikely your parents or other adults provided a good role model for this skill when you were growing up, because they weren't taught the right way to do it either.

You already know what doesn't feel good when you're on the receiving end of criticism. Name-calling. Judgmental statements that label you. Phrases that imply a permanent condition, such as, "You always..." or "You never..."

So what approach can you take that allows you to express your needs and preserves the other person's dignity at the same time?

Over the years, my business partner Denny Coates and I have learned the secret for giving others feedback. We've consolidated all the nuggets into a 10 minute video, How to Give Constructive Feedback.

You don’t have to opt in to watch it. Just be ready to take notes, because the steps are all laid out for you.

By the way, this is just one of two dozen People Skill videos we've created in our ProStar Coach online virtual coaching system. If you're serious about making long-term changes in habits that have been holding you back, this is a program you'll want to check out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Listening Skills for Phone Conversations

The listening skills you need for telephone conversations are not exactly the same as what you need for in-person meetings. Since the speaker can’t see you, it’s easy to get distracted and start doing something else when it’s not your turn to talk.

Discover three tips for helping you stay focused so you really hear the message when you’re on the phone.

What do YOU do to keep your attention focused on the speaker when you’re having a phone conversation?
“Boredom is what happens when I fail to make someone interesting.” – Warren Bennis, American author

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do Your Workouts Include MENTAL Weight Training?

Sometimes you find life lessons in surprising places.

I was reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by brothers Chip and Dan Heath to stimulate my creative thinking for marketing strategies. It’s a fascinating, clearly-written book that outlines six principles for helping people remember and act on the ideas you’re presenting.

And these ideas aren’t just for marketers. They apply to anyone who needs to communicate effectively, including leaders, parents, and teachers.

One of the principles is the power of stories to convey an idea. Because of my ongoing passion in my work to help people learn new skills and change behavior patterns, the following story was especially memorable.

A high school algebra teacher was participating in an online discussion forum with other math teachers. They were wrestling with a question they commonly get from their students regarding the application of a specific math concept or formula:

“When will I ever use this?” 

The algebra teacher shared how he responds when his students pose this question. It’s brilliant.
“This question used to really bother me, and I would look, as a result, for justification for everything I taught. Now I say, ‘Never. You will never use this.’

“I then go on to remind them that people don’t lift weights so that they will be prepared, should one day someone knock them over on the street and lay a barbell across their chests. You lift weights so you can knock over a defensive lineman, or carry your groceries or lift your grandchildren without being sore the next day. You do math exercises so that you can improve your ability to think logically, so that you can be a better lawyer, doctor, architect, prison warden or parent.

MATH IS MENTAL WEIGHT TRAINING. It is a means to an end for most people, not an end in itself.”
Some of the things we’re asked to learn may not seem to have immediate relevance in our lives, yet the mental work required to do them prepares us for future challenges. That’s because this “mental weight training” enables the brain to build the neural pathways needed to complete important tasks with less effort.

This process is exactly what my company has done with our online ProStar Coach program. We call it your “virtual gym for becoming stronger as a person” because it provides mental workouts in the critical areas of people skills and personal strengths. We recognized that a cycle of taking action and then reflecting on lessons learned from the action is critical to transforming a behavior pattern or ingraining a new skill.

What are you doing each day to stretch and strengthen your brain so you’re prepared for unexpected situations when they arise?

There could be one habit or behavior pattern that’s been holding you back from being as effective as you could be – maybe a lack of self-confidence, patience, composure or self-discipline. If you could strengthen this one area, it would make a huge difference in the results you achieve. 

You can do this on your own, of course. But you could get even greater results with the power of a virtual coach, combined with coaching from people who care about your success. You can get both types of coaching in ProStar Coach.

Are you ready to do the mental weight training to get to the next level in your own development?
"Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity."
Stephen Covey, American author

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to Help Others Think for Themselves

A critical life skill is learning how to think through ideas and problems. Anytime you find yourself leading others, it’s important to find opportunities that help them acquire this skill. Providing advice and solutions is not the best approach, so what does work? This video reveals one way that gets great results.

Do you find it easy to use this approach for getting others to think through their problems and come up with their own solutions?
“A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves.” - Harvey Mackay, American author

“Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." - Peter Drucker, American author
My colleague Denny Coates has a great post on this topic that includes several questions you can ask, along with many helpful tips for asking questions the right way. Read his post here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Give Feedback the Right Way

Giving feedback to someone who has created a problem for you is an important life skill. If you don’t do it well, the other person is likely to react defensively and shut down the conversation. When you learn the 4 steps for giving feedback the right way, you’ll see a big difference in the way that individual responds to your words.

When you've needed to give someone constructive feedback, did you follow these steps?
“One of the best ways to give better feedback is to get better at receiving feedback. When that happens, you are better able to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and give more helpful and successful feedback.” – Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris in From Bud to Boss

Monday, February 7, 2011

How to Encourage Someone

When you encounter a person who’s discouraged, giving advice or offering solutions doesn’t help them. So what is effective? There are actually four things you can do to encourage someone who’s in a bad place. When you apply these steps, you’ll be amazed at the impact you can have on another human being.

Which of the four steps involved in encouraging someone is easy for you?...or is hard for you?
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia, American author

“A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track... an inch between wreck and smooth, rolling prosperity." - Henry Ward Beecher, American author
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop, Greek fabulist
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” - Benjamin Franklin, American scientist

Monday, January 31, 2011

Remarkable Compassion at a Basketball Game

An example of compassion is not what you’d be looking for at the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. But in 2010, West Virginia’s Coach Bob Huggins displayed an unforgettable act of kindness towards one of his injured players.

What are some small ways you could show compassion or kindness to others today?
“Every moment that you share someone else’s pain, feel what they feel, makes you more human.” - Bill Murray, American actor

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia, American author

“If you think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.” - Woodrow Wilson, American president 
“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” - James Barrie, Scottish novelist

Monday, January 24, 2011

Three Reasons Why People Avoid Conflict

Most people hate conflict and will do whatever they can to avoid it. Discover three fears that may be keeping others from addressing a problem with you.

Are there people YOU are reluctant to address issues with? Which of the three fears keeps you from speaking up?
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” – William James, American psychologist

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to Use Dialogue to Improve Your Relationships

Knowing how to use dialogue will help you become a more effective communicator. Find out the two things you must do if you want to transform arguments into meaningful conversations with the people who are important to you.

How can you apply the two aspects of dialogue in future conversations with people you often disagree with?
“I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person.” - Carl Rogers, American psychologist
"When learning about life and people, make no more assumptions than are absolutely necessary. Ask and observe." - William of Occam, British philosopher
“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.” - Mark Twain, American novelist
"We are complacently caught in our particular view of the world, which compels us to feel and act as if we knew everything about the world." - Carlos Castaneda, American author
Get additional insights about dialogue by reading these excellent posts from Denny Coates:

Dialogue - Have You Mastered This People Skills?

Refine Your Dialogue Skills - Some Tips and an Illustration

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Receive Feedback

Knowing how to receive feedback is an acquired skill. That’s because it’s natural to become defensive, assign blame or offer excuses for your behavior. When you learn how to respond to constructive criticism the right way, your interactions will look like dialogue instead of arguments…and your relationships will be strengthened in ways you can’t even imagine.

What will you say the next time someone gives you constructive criticism about something you said or did?

“Oh, what a great gift we would have if we could only see ourselves as others see us." - Robert Burns, Scottish poet 
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” - Norman Vincent Peale, American author

“The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” - Thomas Carlyle, British essayist

“A man needs self-acceptance or he can't live with himself; he needs self-criticism or others can't live with him.” - James A. Pike, American minister

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Positive Feedback Matters

If you’re like many people, you rarely hear praise about the things you do well. Yet the desire for positive feedback is a deep need of every human being. Learning to focus on the positive and give people genuine, specific feedback will strengthen your relationships in ways you never imagined.

What will you do in the future to give yourself and others positive feedback throughout the day?
“The compliment that helps us on our way is not the one that is shut up in the mind, but the one that is spoken out.” - Mark Twain, American novelist

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” - James Barrie, Scottish novelist

“Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone."
- Gertrude Stein, American novelist

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” - Mother Teresa, Indian humanitarian

Monday, November 1, 2010

Learn from Your Experiences

To learn from your experiences, it's important to reflect on what happened – for your successes and mistakes. If you don’t take this important step, you risk repeating mistakes and you may not make the most of your successes. Gaining insights from everything that happens to you will prepare you for greater positive results in the future.

What kinds of questions can you ask yourself after every important event to make sure you take away all the valuable lessons the experience has to offer?
“Good judgment comes from experience. And where does experience come from? Experience comes from bad judgment.” - Mark Twain, American novelist

“It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.” - John Wooden, American college basketball coach

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” - Helen Keller, American author

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Leadership Skills Are Also LIFE Skills

“Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships." - Mike Krzyzewski, American NCAA basketball coach
When you think of someone who is truly a great leader, chances are that individual is also an outstanding human being in every area of his or her life. That’s because the people skills required to be effective in leading others are also needed when you relate to those outside of work.

Whether or not your title places you in a formal leadership position, you need to get things done through others. That means you’re trying to get people to follow you at some point – whether it’s a colleague, client, significant other or child.

Your ability to listen, receive feedback, and resolve conflict, for example, come in handy whether you’re dealing with a coworker who’s upset or responding to a child who doesn’t want to carry out instructions you’ve just given.

In this 7th segment of my interview series with Denny Coates, you’ll learn how both people skills and personal strengths are used in every aspect of a person’s life.

Do you find it easy to transfer the skills you use at work over to your home life…and vice versa?

In case you missed the first six videos…

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

#3 – Leader Skills Are NOT Enough

#4 - Leaders Learn Best ON THE JOB, Not in the Classroom 

#5 - Why Leadership Habits Take Time to Ingrain

#6 - Learn from Experience with 5 Magic Questions