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Once & For All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work

Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Conversation with a Purpose

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

rick-harry_smGuest Post by Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

I confess – I pilfered the title of this article from a man who was renowned as a wise and insightful pathfinder in the field of diversity, Dr. Roosevelt Thomas. A sample of that wisdom is seen in his statement, “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” In essence, he is saying that, in order to have real dialogue, we need to know what we want to accomplish during the conversation – we need to set a goal.

Let’s face it, goal setting is important in any aspect of life. If, for example, we dream of a trip to Paris, but neglect to set a goal of saving the amount of money required, the chances of us ever dining at the top of the Eiffel Tower are pretty slim. That’s because we will spend small amounts on other things along the way and get off track.

The same principle applies to conversation. If we don’t know what we want to accomplish, we won’t make the word and attitude choices that will get us to that goal. It is especially likely that we will get off track if we have a strong emotion associated with the interaction. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about along with the kinds of productive goals you might set for each incident.

Example 1: You have been offended by what someone has said or done.
Possible Goals:
A. To embarrass the person and make him or her feel guilty
B. To educate the person about your point of view

As tempting as option “A” might be (let’s be honest, “guilt-tripping” is sometimes tinged with a perverse personal satisfaction), the most productive answer is “B.” Guilt is, after all, rarely a good motivator of change. Your act of trying to make the other person feel guilty will accomplish little more than making them defensive and, in turn, become utterly unable to listen to what you have to say.

Example 2: You have made a clumsy or ignorant remark that you think might have offended someone around you.
Possible Goals:
A. To show respect for your colleagues by calling attention to what you did and apologizing.
B. To minimize the importance and impact of what you said by ignoring it.

The goal here is “A.” The very fact that you are willing to take responsibility for your error shows, not only that you want to communicate respect, but that you are prepared to model truly inclusive behavior.

To return to Dr. Thomas – “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” I think he would agree that, if we don’t know where we are going – whether it be in conversation or in life — we just might end up someplace we’d rather not be.

This article is excerpted from the video program, Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments Into Productive Conversations, which features Sondra and a variety of vignettes depicting these concepts.

Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for webinars or in-person presentations. For additional information, go to http://thiederman.com

© copyright 2013 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.




5 Elements of Successful Communication

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Communication infographicCan you imagine going through your workday without being able to communicate verbally?  It would be nearly impossible, wouldn’t it?

For most of us, talking is so easy that we just do it without thinking about it.  We have a general idea of what we want to say, we say it, and we move on.

And yet we’ve all experienced what happens when communication goes astray: misunderstandings, unintended consequences, missed opportunities, and general frustration. It doesn’t have to be like that! (more…)

How Leaders Keep The Team from “Goin’ to Abilene”

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

How Leaders Keep The Team from "Goin' to Abilene"  In our last article, “The Abilene Paradox – How You Can Skip the Trip”, we explained how group members who sense their group is “going to Abilene” can own up to their true feelings in the presence of the other group members. We further explained that –if the person has misdiagnosed the situation and there is no Paradox operating in the group– by speaking up, the group member has at least opened the door to honest discussion and debate. However, if the situation has been correctly diagnosed and the Paradox is operating in the group, the group member will typically hear nothing but relief on the part of others who’ve been struggling with the course of action the group has agreed to take.

But, what about preventative measures? Are there things that can be done at different stages of the decision-making process to help groups skip the trip entirely? The answer is yes! And, a great deal of the responsibility falls on the group leader to make sure these practices are put into place (1) before decisions are made, as information is gathered (2) during meetings and discussions, and (3) after decisions are agreed upon. Those practices include: (more…)

Don’t get so defensive…

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Communicating Effectively in the WorkplaceAh, the joys of the corporate workplace. Increasingly tight project deadlines, mistakes and oversights (our own as well others’), and  sometimes-baffling changes requested by management can really add up. It’s no wonder we get defensive sometimes. We push back against a new policy, we react to someone’s criticism of our work, and we shut down in response to yet another item added to our to-do list.

When things seem to be going wrong, it’s natural to want to protect yourself. But, not surprisingly, defensiveness rarely makes things better.  But what else can you do?  How do you stop yourself from taking things personally?

Deal with the situation, not with the emotion.

Take a moment to breathe and step back, consciously disengaging from the emotional impact of what’s happening. If someone is giving you feedback that is less than positive, give her the benefit of the doubt and do not assume she is questioning your competence or attacking you personally.  This way, you can deal with the situation rather than with the personality involved – which is always a more productive approach. (If it turns out there are issues between you and the other person beyond the situation at hand…set aside time to address them later when emotions have settled.) If someone presents an idea that means more work for you, or that challenges the way you’ve been doing something, take your ego out of the equation by telling yourself “this idea is being presented as a way to help the organization, not to hurt me personally.” (more…)

Public Speaking: Dispelling the Top Ten Myths

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Public SpeakingThere are many misconceptions about how to speak effectively to an audience. People look for formulas and rules to follow with the belief that public speaking is a mechanical process.  It’s not. It’s a human process. Other people think they could never become a public speaker-they just have no talent. While exceptional speakers usually do have a real talent for it, this doesn’t mean that we all can’t give a speech that will engage our audience and be a personally rewarding experience at the same time.

The more you hold onto old-and often misguided-beliefs about public speaking, the less effective you’ll be on the platform. You must go in with an open mind and, in some cases, work to change your thinking about giving presentations.

With that in mind, here are ten of the most common myths about public speaking-along with some food for thought to help you dispel the myths in your own mind.

1. I’m  not a public speaker. Wrong. Everyone is a public speaker. Every time you speak at a staff meeting, you’re speaking in public. Anytime you stand up and introduce yourself at an association meeting, you’re giving a presentation. The waiter who recites the specials of the day is presenting. When you complain to the customer service department or go on a job interview, you’re presenting yourself. (more…)

Speaking Effectively to 1 or 1000

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Speaking Effectively to a GroupMost people, even high-powered successful types who are fearless in other aspects of their lives, absolutely dread public speaking. Studies show that public speaking is a top phobia; in fact, it is a recognized medical condition. Considering that public speaking is a highly sought-after workplace skill, it’s a shame so many people avoid it.

If you or any of your employees suffer from a fear of public speaking (or could just use a refresher course), the popular video Speaking Effectively to 1 or 1000 is an extremely helpful and effective training tool.

In the video, host Steve Landesberg and a team of improvisational actors show the most common ways speakers can botch a presentation and what can be done to fix it. The four main components of speaking effectively to an audience of any size are explored. These components are: Mental Effectiveness, Visual Effectiveness, Vocal Effectiveness, and Verbal Effectiveness.


Starting Out Right – Orientation Basics

Friday, March 14th, 2014

New Orientation Training for Employees Employee orientations tend to focus on logistical details about payroll, vacation time, health insurance, and so forth.  Since managers understandably want new employees at their desks getting up to speed on their responsibilities as quickly as possible, there may be pressure to keep the orientation short, covering just the basic necessities. But is rushing the new employee off to their desk the most effective way to start someone on a new job?

Starting out right means both the new employee and the organization demonstrate their interest in each other’s success, setting the standards for performance and creating a partnership in which everyone can excel.

When you show new employees what your organization considers to be exceptional performance, including examples of the behaviors you expect of them and the values your company upholds, you also show them that you’re truly interested in their individual success.  And that means you begin laying a strong foundation for real employee engagement and loyalty, leading to bottom-line success for the organization. (more…)

Respectful Communicator: The Part You Play

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Respectful Communication in the WorkplaceAre you a respectful communicator? How would you know if you were not one, and why should you care? The truth is, on any given day, each one of us has opportunities to build others up, or tear them down, with the words we say (and how we say them). Striving for respectful communcation is crucial to individual and organizational success.

The first step to becoming a respectful communicator is understanding that it goes beyond not using swear words or avoiding blatantly discriminatory language. It requires that we adopt a mindset of inclusion–making the effort to ensure we understand what someone has said, caring about the way we come across and showing people we value their ideas. (more…)

Verbal Communication: The Power of Words

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Any organization can benefit from improved communication.  And what better way to help people brush up on their Communication & Listening Training Videoscommunication skills than through right-way, wrong-way visual examples? Verbal Communication: The Power of Words is a proven video training program that shows how, in today’s busy work environments, messages are often received in ways other than what the speaker intended.

Using compelling workplace vignettes and the analogy of an air traffic controller speaking to a pilot, the video shows that communication is most successful when the following things are in place: (more…)


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