Have you ever wanted to have the “talk” with someone about something that was bothering you—it could be an employee, a colleague, or even your boss. But you don’t do it. You avoid it. Or, maybe you do have the “talk” but it does not go well.
Last week Cathy Lange, Partner and Executive Coach with Human Capital Advisors, facilitated a workshop with the Fairfax Chamber’s Next Gen Council Leadership Team surrounding difficult conversations. The group discussed why we typically avoid these conversations. In a highly interactive session, participants explored their own personal reasons for avoiding difficult conversations.
The group also explored the costs of not having these conversations—losing the respect of others who are waiting for the boss to take on an employee who is consistently late for work, or losing a good employee who didn’t know how their actions were negatively impacting others; if only their boss had the courage to talk to them so they could correct their behavior. Or, two colleagues not able to work well together because resentment builds up over internal competition. And, to the surprise of some, sometimes people really don’t know the ground rules at work; they need to be told explicitly about work hours, appropriate attire, treating others with respect, etc. If these things are not addressed, productivity and team morale can be severely impacted.
Seeing the positive side—how we can strengthen relationships, a colleague will feel like they matter when a peer has the courage to confront them, or solidify the team, because people trust the boss to give open and fair feedback. There are many reasons to overcome our fear, anger, or resentment and have the tough conversations, even when we are reluctant, or even afraid. However, participants understood that to advance in their careers this skill will “not be a nice-to-have, but a necessity.”
Cathy provided a structure for the difficult conversation.
The 5 Step Process
Step 1: Self-exploration: The process starts with the individual exploring their motivations and purpose to have the talk. What is their intent? What part have they contributed to the situation—what part do they need to own, and what is on the other? Ultimately, self honesty makes a huge difference in the outcome. The individual needs to uncover any hidden agenda or ill feelings before diving in; and must have clarity to overcome the resistance.
Step 2: Inquiry: The individual asks probing, open-ended questions, being curious about how the person sees the situation. What is the person’s viewpoint and how did they think about it?
Step 3: Acknowledgement: The individual then, using effective listening skills, acknowledges the person’s point of view with verbal and other signals that demonstrate they hear what the person is saying. A sincere desire to understand the other’s perspective is crucial. Acknowledgement does not mean agreement. It does give the person the sense of being heard. This can open the space for the next step.
Step 4: Advocacy: Having gotten a deeper understanding of the person’s perspective, the individual expresses their point of view—how he or she sees the situation. It can include expressions of feelings about the impact or other ways of conveying how the person’s actions have effected them or others.
Step 5: Problem Solving: After each has been able to speak from their perspective the goal is to move to solving the problem, considering options that would work, and then putting them into action.
After learning this model, the Council Leadership Team participated in a lively discussion on how to handle specific situations. With a couple of role plays under their belt, and the support of their peers and Coach Cathy, the Next Gen Leaders began to feel more empowered to have a tough talk, and make it work.
To help each other, they exchanged cards so they could reach out for support. Cathy provided resources for them to utilize, and offered for any of them to call her if they needed some personalized help. To learn more about Next Gen, visit our website. To learn more about Human Capital Advisors, visit their website.
Partner and Practice Director
Human Capital Advisors, LLC
Executive Advisory/Leadership Coaching
Organizational Effectiveness/Talent Acquisition
Name: Joe Vidulich
Title: Vice President, Government Relations
Hometown: Oceanside, New York
What brought you to the DC Metro area? I moved down to the region in August of 2004 to attend school at American University and haven’t looked back since.
When did you start at the Chamber? I started in July of 2013.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office? Catch up on the news from around the Commonwealth and the country. I make sure to read VPAP’s News Clips, the Washington Business Journal, Capital Business, Politico, the Washington Post, and the Richmond Times dispatch over my favorite cup of coffee (Dunkin Donuts, if you must know).
What is your favorite part of your job? I love bringing our members’ issues in front of policymakers and legislators in the Government Center in Fairfax, to the Governor and General Assembly in Richmond, and to our federal representatives on Capitol Hill. The Fairfax Chamber was started 90 years ago with the goal of ensuring business had a voice at the table on the issues that matter. Fast forward to today and the Fairfax Chamber and our members have the premiere voice on the issues that matter to our businesses.
Tell us one of your goals for this year. (Ex: attend more council meetings) To expand the Chamber’s reach and network to officials outside of just the region and find champions outside of the immediately area.
Who is someone that you would love to meet (living or dead)? I am a political and history wonk. After reading, Robert Caro’s Master Of The Senate, I developed a great admiration for President Lyndon B. Johnson and his tenacity and knowledge of the legislative process. I would love to sit down with him and learn from the “Master” of the Senate.
What are some of your hobbies outside of the office? Stop in my office and you will see know what my hobbies are. I am a lover of all things American University. I am unapologetic enthusiastic alumnus. I sit on the AU Alumni Board, Corporate Social Responsibility Council, University Council, and have court side seat’s to the men’s basketball season. I also am a big politico wonk. I have photos of leaders (from both parties) adorning my office space. I often like to discuss politics, even if it isn’t appropriate dinner party conversation. Third, I am a big sports fan. If I am not in the office, more often than not, I am at a game or watching a game. Football (NY Giants). Hockey (Washington Capitals). Baseball (depressingly so, the NY Mets). Soccer (DC United). You name it. I like to watch it or play it.
In your opinion, why is the Fairfax Chamber a great membership organization? Our Chamber, your Chamber, has been around for over 90 years, so we must be doing something right. The Chamber prides itself on being a member service organization. We program, communicate, educate, and advocate on the issues, topics, and interests of our membership. Our staff take pride to ensure our members are getting the greatest return on their investment.
How can we reach you? (Phone, email, social media, etc.) “How can’t you reach me?” is the better question. I am always available. If you want to keep up with me, I suggest you follow me on Twitter, @Joe_Vidulich.
This piece is produced by Jeff Porro, speechwriter at Porro Associates LLC.
Dynamic executives think long and hard about how to improve their skills, so they can both help their organizations succeed and also move forward in their careers. As you weigh the skill sets you need, be sure to include public speaking.
Here’s why: one of the great ironies of the 21st Century is that -- at a time when new communication technologies seem to spring up every week --one of the oldest forms of communication, one person speaking to a group, has become more important than ever. Studies show that speeches and presentations give executives the chance to create the kind of personal connection with audiences that people crave in the digital age. Jan Fox – a four-time Emmy winner, who is now a leading speech coach author—puts it this way, “Sequestration, the ups and downs of the economy, smaller staffs, bigger workloads…when there is so much change going on, how a top executive speaks about change will determine how the people will follow – employees, investors, customers.”
A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal featured an article that started with these words: “Give a speech. Win a client.”
As the article noted, if you’re making the traditional one-on-one or small-group sales call you face some big obstacles, starting with frustrating games of telephone tag. Even when you succeed in meeting with a prospect, you have to overcome that potential customers’ wariness about dealing with “another salesperson.”
Compare those challenges to what happens when you give a speech or presentation to an audience that includes potential clients. In a larger group, people feel less pressured, less awkward, and more willing to listen. Audience members also get a chance to see if they want to work with you without having to listen to your sales pitch.
And, most important, when you give a speech, the audience is there because they want to be. You are not there as “another sales person” but as a subject-matter expert, a thought leader. You’re providing them something they want—valuable information.
Advancing the Business
Think of the worst speech by a CEO that you ever heard. How did your opinion of the CEO’s company change after you heard that speech? You were probably less likely to do business with that firm, or at the very least to wonder about the strength of that firm’s leadership.
On the other hand, after the listening to a terrific speech by a CEO it’s a pretty safe bet your confidence in that company rose.
Mike Daniels, former chairman of Network Solutions, former chairman and CEO of Mobile365, and former chairman of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, put it this way: “If you have two growth companies headed by equally smart guys, where one can deliver an enthusiastic speech, lay out the mission of the company and encourage people to work smarter and harder and the other can’t…it makes a world of difference to the success of the company.”
And it’s not just the CEOs. Whenever any executive gives a terrific presentation, the audience always emerges from the event with a more positive view of that executive’s company or organization. A compelling speech builds reputation and broadens the pool of potential clients, customers and even investors.
Boosting your Career
Finally, since the ability to perform well behind the podium has become so important to organizations’ success, executives can make themselves more valuable if they can learn early on how to engage audiences. The audiences can be external or internal, large or small. A great presentation can mean the difference between success or failure at a small in-house meeting, or a large industry event. In addition, good communication skills are relatively rare among senior executives. Speaking well in front of audiences is a great way to set yourself apart.
Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative (Wiley, 2014)
by Scott Eblin,
reviewed by Steve Gladis
1. Overview. In a world where most of us are more connected to work than any other part of our lives, this book offers an escape hatch: Mindfulness—the intersection of awareness and intention. Mindful attention to our physical, mental, psychological and spiritual domains when we’re at home, at work and in the community acts as a kind of North Star for us all.
2. Your Brain Overworked and Overwhelmed
3. Your Life GPS ® —Personal Planning Model—Best Self
4. Four Mindful Domains: Physical, Mental, Relational, Spiritual. Create routines that are simple, regular, and reinforce your best self. To become more mindful (present, aware, and intentional), imbed routines in the four domains of your life: