Monthly Archives: May 2010

Can You Hear Me? Part 1

Communicating is mechanically defined, but far more complicated. Let me explain. For years I have heard there are six messages that take place every time someone speaks. There is what we think we say and what we actually say. Then, there is what the other person hears us say and what they think they heard us say. In addition, there is what they say back about what we have said and, finally, what we hear them say about what we said in the first place.

Communication also involves the actual words spoken, body language and tone of voice. When we consider these factors it does not take long to see how complicated communication can be, regardless of the language.

In some ways, trying to communicate is like golf. Consider the difficulty of having the perfect swing. The perfect golf swing involves the position of the feet, squaring of the hips, arms straight, hand grip, and oh yes, keeping your head down and eye on the ball. If you feel comfortable, you probably are not doing it right. Golf is a good analogy of the difficulty in communication.

Yet, effective communication is vital to leadership. The key to this statement is “effective.” There are several steps needed to communicate effectively as a leader. The first to consider is listening. Wait a minute, I thought communication was about an ability to speak? The ability of leaders to listen is one of the building blocks to effective communication. Here are a few of the many ideas suggested in developing the skill of listening.

1)  Listening is not passive. In his article on 7 Keys to Listening, Dr. Mort Orman addresses the active nature of listening. A passive approach to listening easily results in distraction and a failure to understand the message being communicated.

2)  Do not think about what to say next. Few areas are more difficult than learning how to listen without waiting for the person to take a breath so we can jump in and give our two cents worth. Michael Webb describes the problem as “Knowing the answer.”

3)  Listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Dr. Larry Alan Nadig says, “it is as if we were standing in the other person’s shoes, seeing through his/her eyes and listening through the person’s ears.” Listening this way requires time and practice to develop properly.

4) Learn to repeat what is heard. While a wealth of information is available, in order to build better relationships with others, one of the key exercises recommended is learning to repeat the information shared. Here is where effective communication is realized.

Can I Get An Amen Here?

We have all known a Negative Nancy, Gloomy Glen, and Defeatist Dan. The power of such pessimism changes the course of life and destroys hope for the future. Leadership cannot survive under such influence. There must be something better for men and women who are seeking for someone to provide guidance.

The difficulty of obtaining and maintaining a positive attitude is the misconception of how a positive attitude is developed. Too often, the tendency is to believe external circumstances control our mental faculties. If I only had more money, I would have a great attitude. If my family would just get along, my attitude would be fine. If I only had better health, looked younger, etc., etc., etc. Do such external circumstances really determine our attitude?

The answer to this question is simple, only if we allow it! Attitude is a choice. Leaders cannot allow circumstances to dictate their attitude, but rather they must choose the kind of attitude that dictates the circumstances. In reality, it will anyway. So why not choose a positive attitude?

Attitude determines our actions; how we treat our family, our friends, co-workers, and, yes, even the people we do not know. We will also find that our attitude affects the attitude of others. How then do we obtain and maintain a positive attitude? Here are four suggestions.

1. Eat the right food. No, I am not talking about the substance we stick in our mouths, although it does help. More can be read here. However, I am talking about what we put into our minds. Read Philippians 4:8 and truly “think on these things.”

2. Set and achieve a goal everyday. Few areas in life help develop a positive attitude better than achievement. When we set and achieve daily goals there is a constant and consistent sense of accomplishment. Do not let the big picture become so overwhelming it hinders the development of a positive attitude.

3. Get some exercise. I am not talking about running a marathon, but get out and move the body. Go for a walk, jog, ride a bike, or lift weights. Do something to get the endorphins and heart pumping. Exercise does a great deal for one’s mental attitude. A sedentary lifestyle leads to being lethargic and ultimately a negative or depressed attitude.

4. Write it down. This is just the basic reinforcement. We need to see it everyday. I have a picture in the office that says, “be the most positive, enthusiastic person you know.” Write it on a post-a-note and place it on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, car dash, and work station. We all need a constant reminder of the positive attitude we should display and writing it down will help.