Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Walk the Talk & Talk the Walk

Hello.  It is autumn.  TGIF.  Thank Goodness It’s Fall.  I love the brisk air and color still on the trees and skies still blue.  All of this turns grey in Paris in the wintertime.  Now, today, let’s be in the present.  It is the First Friday in Fall.  TGIFFF !!! 😊

We’ll settle for  Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

I am trusting in Walking the Talk.

This week, in my coaching, I have tested conversing solely via text messaging.  Of course, there are the drawbacks of not seeing facial expressions and reading body language.

There are advantages too.

  • People keep a trace of their thoughts. Without realizing it, they are journaling.
  • People admit a weakness differently to a phone than to a person. It’s like the GPS that remains polite no matter how many wrong turns we take.  There is no judgement.  There is moving forward.

I keep noticing how people seek to resolve problems for which they are experts:  the marketing consultant seeks to market herself, the relationship expert feels isolated, the friend of many laments that he is the friend of none.

Not walking the talk

What I do is help to make a plan and stick to it.

Walking the talk comes down to making a plan to implement our own wisdom in our lives.  Without action steps, we are trusting in _______ (Que será, será) !  Is that REALLY what you and I want?

What’s Your Plan to Walk your Talk

Want some encouragement in putting resolutions into action?  Send me an email…and we’ll connect by text!

Gratitude

Throughout the coaching-by-text (see above), I ask questions.  Too many inquiries can make the receiver feel under interrogation.

So, from time to time, I explain the purpose of our discovery process.  I Talk my Walk (explain my actions)

“I’ll be asking you several questions because you can go deeper still.  Let’s get to the core of your motivation….”

This explanatory pause changes the dynamics of our exchange.  It reframes the questions from giving answers that could satisfy me to self-discovery for them.

Of course, I mention this purpose at the beginning of our exchange…and people forget.  I am thankful for the reminders I give and get to both “Walk the Talk” AND “Talk the Walk.”

Inspiration

Roger Federer is an inspiration to me.  His 20 Grand Slams are impressive enough.  Yet what really inspires me is how he speaks of his rival Rafael Nadal.  He said something like this on the French radio.

Image from the Wall Street Journal

 

“Rafael Nadal compelled me to reinvent my tennis game.  He played a different kind of game and made others change.  Because he was so good, he competed with many players and had a powerful impact on the evolution of tennis.”

When I change, I compel others to evolve too.  That’s inspiring!

Fun

Yesterday, while walking in Paris, I came across this cobblestone entrance to a classic apartment building.  The street was narrow with lots of traffic, so I did not get a great photo, but here you go!

Door in Paris

May love accompany you through the doors of your life.

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

TGIF - Girl Power Female soccer

TGIF – Girl Power

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in womens’ leadership and in the business case for diversity (gender and more) in executive teams.  Female soccer is a key player in this game.  Our family is cheering for the French in 2019 FIFA Female World Cup.  Are you watching the matches too?

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer team
The action! TOGETHER. That’s teamwork.

Thought-Provoking Facts:

Twenty years ago, women and girls represented less than 2% of the soccer-playing population in France.  Today, close to 8% of the players are female.

Whereas the number of total French soccer players grew 15% from 1999, the number of women players multiplied fivefold!

What’s the big deal?  According to CEO Magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played sports in college.  I am trusting we can get more women into the boardroom by getting them on the field.

Les Bleues

The French fashion magazine Elle has added an entire section “Les Bleues” (The French women’s soccer team) to their website.  Great pics and daily updates.  That’s where this photo of “Les Bleues” comes from.

(Trivia: the men’s team is called “Les Bleus” without the second “e”)

Gratitude

This week in France all high school seniors are taking the Baccalaureate test.  It began on Monday morning with Philosophy.

On Sunday evening, around the dinner table, our boys tested each other on philosophy quotes. Here is a quiz for you:

Who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ? (scroll down for the answer)

Seen further standing on shoulders of giants

Food for thought:

On who’s shoulders are YOU standing?

My parents, among others.

What have you been able to see that you could not have envisioned without him?

The world.  They took us traveling as kids and I have not stopped since.  We now live on different continents!

How will you thank them?

I call them…try to do so weekly.  In several decades, I want my kids to call me too. 🙂

Inspiration

Of course Isaac Newton (quote above) inspires me…and I wanted to share wisdom from a woman too. Please, in the comments, share what woman inspires you!

I had the pleasure of hearing Leymah Gbowee speak in Paris after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.  As leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network in Liberia, thousands of Christian and Muslim women prayed together for peace and held DAILY non-violent demonstrations.  Their efforts contributed to the end of the Liberian civil war.

Leymah Gbowee Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from LeMonde

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, “Mama, what was your role during the crisis?”

– Leymah Gbowee speaking to dictator Charles Taylor and officials.

Food for thought:

What are you tired of? 

For what will you take a stand?

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from the Personal Development Café

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

– Leymah Gbowee

Food for thought:

Where do you feel powerless? 

What is One. Thing. YOU can do TODAY to make a difference?

Fun

It’s a double graduation year.  Here I am with our son graduating with a Master in Management from HEC Paris and with our youngest who is passing the Bac. (He’ll have his eyes fully glowing when the baccalaureate exam is over!)

HEC Paris graduation

Great memories of lots of work and lots of fun.

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

P.S. PLEASE share what woman inspires you in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

Neat & New Stuff

Insights from Vice-Dean of Sciences Po Management School

Vice Dean Sciences Po ManagementIn this interview, Olivier Guillet of France’s prestigious Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation addresses the 21st century leadership needs.  The Internet has revolutionized the management criteria and requires new skills for success.  Read on…

How to move from Book-Wise to Street Smart

There is knowledge to gain AFTER the degree.  It’s the wisdom of applying what we learn.

At work that translates into changing habits, like disciplining ourselves to gain a fresh perspective.  Tips to open our eyes, ears, and minds.  Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

Tiger in cage. Safe boundaries.

Solutions Alternatives au Licenciement d’un “Employé Toxique” – 2/3

Combattre la toxicité avec des Messages en « Je »

Les employés difficiles répandent souvent leurs toxines sans que cela se voit, ce qui rend compliqué la gestion de leur impact négatif.

Dans le dernier article, nous nous sommes intéressés à parler ouvertement de ce genre de comportement. Mais que se passe-t-il si votre collègue vous évite et s’extirpe d’une réunion qui devait donner lieu à une discussion constructive ?

VOUS pouvez toujours capter leur attention de façon positive en une ou deux minutes avec un message centré sur le « Je ».

Un homme ou une femme qui s’oppose à un chef ou un collègue avec franchise et respect est une personne qui ose ! Les Messages en « Je » sont un outil pour mettre en place des barrières protectrices ou bien pour mettre à bas des barrières qui n’ont pas lieu d’être.

Parlez de VOS besoins avec le « Je »

Quand on aborde une attitude difficile chez une tierce personne, on a tendance à commencer la phrase avec « Vous ».

« Vous me mettez mal à l’aise… »

« Vous causez des problèmes quand… »

« Votre attitude… »

A QUI APPARTIENT LE PROBLEME ?

Le « Vous » implique que l’auteur du comportement a (ou bien cause) un problème. Pourtant, un comportement toxique peut servir ses objectifs.

Dans l’article précédent, nous nous sommes intéressés à l’exemple d’un chef qui touchait de façon inappropriée ses employées. Son comportement confirme qu’il pense qu’il mérite un traitement de faveur, il peut toucher… sans que cela ne le touche lui. Une plaignante peut être réaffirmée dans sa mentalité de victime, malheur à elle ! Personne ne l’aide à se délester de son fardeau.

Ce sont les autres, comme vous et moi, qui expérimentons la difficulté ; nos objectifs ne sont pas atteints. C’est le sentiment de sécurité de la femme qui est violé quand un homme choisit de toucher sa poitrine comme bon lui semble. C’est le besoin de respect du manager qui est mis à bas quand un membre de l’équipe arrive en retard aux réunions avec une tasse de café encore chaude dans la main, le tout surmonté de crème chantilly.

ASSUMEZ LA RESPONSABILITE POUR VOS BESOINS INSATISFAITS

RENDEZ-LES RESPONSABLES POUR LES CONSEQUENCES DE LEURS ACTES

Comment aborder un comportement inapproprié pour que la personne agisse en conséquence et de manière positive ?

Un message en « Je » pose les limites sans juger.

En tant qu’êtres humains et que professionnels, nous cherchons tous à se sentir à notre place et à contribuer positivement à un groupe porté par un but qui en vaut la peine. En tant que managers, nous espérons que les membres de notre équipe trouveront au travail cette communauté pleine de sens !

Quelles sont les qualités nécessaires pour rendre un environnement propice à la mise en place d’un objectif qui fait sens et d’un sentiment fort de coopération ?

  • La confiance
  • La confiance
  • La confiance
  • La sécurité, la responsabilité, l’initiative, l’engagement, la compréhension, l’acceptation, la coopération, l’accueil des différences, la joie, le rire

Des frontières claires et respectées renforcent ces qualités propices au respect.

« On fonctionne de cette manière…. Ce n’est pas comme ça que l’on procède… »

« Comme je sais que ma supérieure assure mes arrières, je suis très actif dans la recherche de moyens pour améliorer notre activité. Je pose des questions à nos clients dans le but d’avoir un retour constructif. Je propose et teste régulièrement des idées pour affiner la qualité de notre service. Je le fais car je sais qu’elle se donne beaucoup de mal pour moi aussi. »

Quand un manager s’approprie le travail de son groupe, il a franchi la limite entre travail de groupe et toxicité. La frontière a été forcée et les besoins des employés ne sont pas satisfaits.

Un message en « Je » aide à parler d’une violation d’un comportement constructif sans pour autant recourir au reproche ou à la honte.

Les Trois Parties d’un Message en « Je »

Il y a trois parties dans un message en « Je ». L’ordre n’a pas d’importance. C’est le fait de couvrir les trois éléments qui compte.

1. EXPOSEZ BRIEBVEMENT LE COMPORTEMENT INDESIRABL

« Quand vous arrivez en retard aux réunions de groupe avec une tasse de café liégeois encore chaude dans la main… »

2. PARTAGEZ VOS RESSENTIS (UN MOT PAR SENTIMENT)

« … je sens de l’injustice… »

3. REVELEZ LES CONSEQUENCES

« Parce que d’autres doivent prendre sur eux pour votre confort. Quelqu’un, moi ou un coéquipier, perd du temps à vous faire un récapitulatif de ce que l’on a déjà abordé. C’est une perte d’argent pour l’entreprise et c’est un manque de considération pour la charge de travail du collègue en question. »

OU

Exprimez ce que vous souhaiteriez

« J’aimerais que vous arriviez à l’heure. »

En ce qui concerne la partie 3, je préfère me concentrer sur les conséquences des actions perturbatrices et permettre à l’autre personne de proposer sa propre solution. Il se peut qu’ils arrivent à l’heure à la réunion avec du café pour tout le monde !  Exprimer un souhait peut paraître directif.

Un Exemple de Message en « Je »

Un professeur de management a raconté comment il avait utilisé les messages en « Je » avec les étudiants de l’université quand le groupe commençait à se dissiper. Un jeune homme en particulier, plus difficile que les autres, avait roulé des yeux, et, marmonnant quelque chose sur l’injustice de la vie, allait et venait bruyamment pendant leur temps de réunion.

Pensant, « Mais quand vont-ils grandir ?! », et sentant sa colère monter, le professeur avait décidé d’attendre le cours suivant pour réagir.

La semaine suivante, pendant une session sur le commerce mondial, il a abordé le sujet de comment saisir les fruits de la diversité en utilisant des messages en « Je ». Les gens de différentes cultures se comportent de façons qui peuvent être déstabilisantes pour les autres.

Il a partagé deux façons de traiter un problème de différence générationnelle dans sa classe :

L’option des messages en « Vous » : « Vous gênez les autres quand vous parlez pendant le cours. »

La classe a souri narquoisement. Ils avaient déjà entendu ce genre de remarques. C’est rentré dans une oreille et ressorti aussitôt par l’autre.

L’option des messages en « Je » : « Quand vous parlez pendant le cours, je me sens volé parce que le bruit supplémentaire me prive de la possibilité d’entrer en contact avec ceux de vos camarades qui sont intéressés et qui souhaitent apprendre. »

La classe s’est tue et leurs yeux se sont écarquillés. « Je pouvais les voir réfléchir… et se rendre compte qu’ils faisaient une différence dans la réussite de toute la classe », a-t-il raconté.

Des Conseils pour Réussir avec des Messages en « Je »

A. PREPAREZ-VOUS EN AMONT, AU CALME

Bonne nouvelle : un message en « Je » est rapide à dire. Si une personne qui n’a pas un bon comportement évite vos tentatives de prises de contact, un message en « Je » d’une minute attirera son attention.

Retour à la réalité : ça prend du temps à préparer.

Un des défis est d’identifier une émotion appropriée au travail.

Quand on dépasse nos limites, notre cerveau passe en mode combat, fuite ou bien arrêt. En fuite ou en arrêt, on ne rétorque pas quelque chose sur le coup. En mode combat par contre, c’est le cas… et avec des mots que l’on veut blessants.

« Je me sens violé… ridiculisé… détruit… usurpé… »

Ces émotions sont réelles et valides. En même temps, ces mots plein de jugement peuvent se retourner contre vous.

Quand notre cerveau se met en mode combat, on répond avec des mots que l’on veut blessants.  Se calmer nous permet d’avoir de nouveau accès à un langage constructif.

Donnez-vous le temps de vous calmer après avoir été confronté à une situation toxique avant d’y répondre.

B. SOYEZ PRECIS

Rappelez une situation toxique qui a eu lieu.

Evitez d’employer les mots « toujours…. » et « jamais…. »

Considérez ces questions :

  • Qu’est-ce qui a été fait ou dit ?
  • Comment vous êtes-vous sentis après ? Comment les autres ont-ils réagis ?
  • Qu’est ce qui a été le déclencheur négatif ?
  • A quoi vous attendiez-vous ?
  • En quoi le comportement actuel diffère-t-il des actions souhaitées ?

Essayez de définir l’écart qui pose problème. Il est utile d’identifier les qualités de l’environnement de travail que vous souhaitez pour le rendre constructif. Vous êtes-vous heurté à de la moquerie alors que vous recherchiez de la confiance ? Êtes-vous relégué à des tâches subalternes alors que vous souhaitez apprendre ?

C. UTILISEZ UN LANGAGE FACTUEL

Quand vous décrivez un comportement, remplacez le vocabulaire subjectif par une description neutre.

« Quand vous insultiez Jane… » invite à une réponse défensive.

« Quand vous avez dit à Jane qu’elle ressemblait à… » relate des faits.

D. REDIGEZ DES EBAUCHES

Plus votre message en « Je » sera clair, plus vous aurez de chance de recevoir une réponse positive.

Il se peut que vous n’ayez qu’une minute pour capter l’attention de « l’employé toxique ».

Les messages en « Je », comme tout nouveau langage, demande de l’entraînement. Imaginez que vous êtes en train de parler à un représentant d’une autre planète (D’une-Ville-Qui-Pense-Vraimeeeeent-Différemment-De-Moi). Essayez votre message en vous entrainant devant votre miroir.

Attendez-vous à rédigez plusieurs brouillons… de chacune des trois parties : le comportement, vos sentiments, et les conséquences.

Relisez. Est-ce que les sentiments sont en lien avec les conséquences ? Si ce n’est pas le cas, repensez à ce qui vous a gêné, et réessayez.

Pensez à votre message en « Je » comme un pitch court. Qui doit attirer l’attention. Qui invite à la collaboration. 10 brouillons !

E. CHOISISSEZ DES OCCASIONS

Partager et recevoir des messages en « Je » implique de la vulnérabilité et du courage. Utilisez ces ressources précieuses avec parcimonie. Il serait dommage de vous créer une réputation de quelqu’un qui ne fait que souligner les problèmes.

« Quand tu laisses le stylo ouvert sans son bouchon, je… »

« Quand tu prends le dernier Kinder à la cafétéria, je… »

Se Laisser Être Surpris par la Réponse

Certaines personnes incluent un autre élément au message en « Je » : une demande pour une action précise. J’aime croire que la personne réagira efficacement.

Le professeur d’université a également raconté « la fin de l’histoire ».

« La semaine suivante, je suis arrivé en classe en avance et l’élève le plus perturbateur était déjà là. Je suis allé le voir, lui ai fait remarquer sa ponctualité et lui ai dit à quel point j’appréciais son effort de comportement. Il a souri, eu un petit rire et a dit « Ouais. Je pense que c’est la première fois cette année ! »

Il a contribué positivement tout au long de la classe. Alors qu’il s’en allait, je lui ai de nouveau dit que j’avais remarqué sa participation pertinente. Il s’est exclamé « Et, vous savez, j’ai écouté alors même que la fille derrière moi n’arrêtait pas de me planter son stylo dans le dos pendant tout le cours. Je ne me mettrai plus devant elle ! »

Je pensais que c’était une personne toxique. Il m’a prouvé le contraire. Son comportement avait été répréhensible mais il s’est montré capable de contributions positives même dans des circonstances difficiles. Il a surpassé toutes mes attentes. »

C’est pourquoi j’aime présenter un message en « Je » et permettre à l’autre de me surprendre avec leur propre réponse constructive. Ça arrive dans la plupart des cas.

… Et si les difficultés persistent, alors il est temps d’adopter encore une autre méthode. Nous en parlerons la semaine prochaine.

Lire : Qu’est-ce qu’un employé toxique ?

Lire : Solutions alternatives au licenciement d’un employé toxique – 1/3

Monkey looking in mirror. Feedback!

Alternatives to Firing a “Toxic Employee”- 3/3

Don’t give feedback. Give feed-FORWARD

Feedback can be difficult to receive.  A team member with toxic behavior may have had ears full of “constructive criticism.”

Full ears lead to closed hearing.

In one of our training activities, participants are given a series of directives.

“Be on time.” “Take notes.” “Treat the client well.” “Check the references.” “Find out about _______.” 

The listeners exclaim, STOP.

  • Stop talking AT me.
  • Stop talking OVER me.
  • I am STOPPING TO LISTEN!

This is the third article in a series on toxic employees at work.  Today’s focus is on providing feedback in a way that builds collaboration.

We are building on the previous articles

  1. Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it
  2. Set firm and kind boundaries with “I” Messages

Today’s post considers how to create and follow up on a personal development action plan of a team member.

1. Focus on Qualities to Build

Did you know?  The challenges we experience today present opportunities for learning and growth!

Blessings in disguise. Ha!

And yet…by overcoming our obstacles, you and I have grown wiser and more experienced.

For every behavior, there is a counterpart.

Think about Territorialism.  Its obverse could be Teamwork.  Somewhere along that spectrum lies Communication.

We can focus on trying to stop territorialism OR to build communication and teamwork. (Progress is never a straight path.)

 

Step by step. Build on strengths

 

I love how this cartoon contrasts the removing and building outlook.

Destruction fosters insecurity.  People erect defenses. Constructing enforces community.  People feel a sense of belonging and an ability to contribute.

Asset or deficit based mindset

In the office these two perspectives could sound like this:

  • Looking back (deficit focused): “Last meeting with Jane and Joe did not work well.  What will you do differently?”
  • Facing forward (asset based): “How could you demonstrate open-mindedness in the upcoming meeting with Jane and Joe?”

2. Build on Strengths

Imagine two cliffs with a void in between the two.  How can one get to the other side?

With one thread, one can slide another strand, then a third…until one can cross.  Does it take work and time to build on that initial filament?  Of course.  AND one can build on it.

Focus on weakness is like facing the void.  Follow the thread instead.

birds on a wire

3. Encourage Self-Evaluation

People with toxic behavior can easily be on the defensive.

Read: What is a “Toxic Employee”?

Auto-evaluation makes a person responsible for his own behavior.

One manager shared this incident.

“A team member did not take her share of the workload.  Absenteeism was an issue and so was quality of output.  As an engaged union member, she knew she could keep her job despite her disruptiveness.

I finally asked her to evaluate her own overall behavior on a scale of 1 to 5.

She responded 3. 

I answered that this was a bit higher than my own assessment.  Even more importantly, was she satisfied with 3 out of 5 when we both knew of her capability to do more?

Until then she had chosen to stand up while I was sitting down.   She took a seat and we began to make a plan to help her contribute to the team through her excellent written communication skills.”

4. Notice Progress

A sense of accomplishment highly impacts a person’s motivation and desire to contribute asserts Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile in her work on The Progress Principle.

Noticing progress helps people progress in performance.  They are

  • more productive
  • more engaged
  • more creative and solution-oriented
  • more committed to work
  • more collaborative

Managers often associate progress with major landmarks.  “We signed the contract!”

Amabile asserts that remarking progress on “small” efforts generates these positive attributes too. “Thank you for saying ‘Thank you’.”

5. Repeat Feedback Feed-FORWARD REGULARLY

It is different to give feedback regularly vs. to do so often.

Feedback Often

How frequently is “often”?  What triggers the need to review behavior?

Collaborative behavior is like service management.  When things go right, we don’t notice it.  How many times have you paused today to thank your firewall supplier for protecting your computer against viruses?  Or your bank for generating interest on your savings?  Probably none.  These service gets taken for granted…until a problem arises.  THEN IT IS URGENT.

When things go right, we don’t notice it.
Take time to notice it so that things go right more often!

Unless feedback is regularly scheduled, it tends to happen when toxic behavior merits correction.

That’s when our own behavior communicates a toxic message!  Our actions reveal that we don’t care about building a team member’s strengths or transmitting values.  We prefer comfort without nuisances.

Checking-in “too often” can communicate lack of trust in their ability.  Without me or you, that woeful, tiresome person will stay doomed to exasperate others.

Scheduled Feedback

A scheduled check-in time creates a sense of accountability on both parts:

  • the person building constructive behavior (notice the progress in using positive language ?)
  • the one encouraging personal development in his team member

There is an expectation of results.  An appointment to recognize progress.  An opportunity to further strengthen relationship muscle.

There is an expectation of results.  An appointment to recognize progress.  An opportunity to strategize for continued successes and further tone the relationship muscle.

The planned-ahead element creates a safe space, allowing for bloopers and learning from mistakes.  This is not an emergency meeting called because the person messed up (again).

Follow up sessions are scheduled on the calendar to check in…and to keep focusing forward.

“It sounds like you, Jane, and Joe are starting to understand each other a bit better?  How can you go the next step?  What could teamwork look like?!”

 

Thank you for your positive attention! ?

Photos by André Mouton and Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Tiger in cage. Safe boundaries.

Alternatives to Firing a “Toxic Employee” – 2/3

Counter Toxicity with “I”Messages

Challenging employees often diffuse their toxins under the radar which makes the negative impact difficult to contain.

Last post we looked at getting the behavior out in the open.  What if your colleague avoids you and slithers out of setting a meeting for constructive discussion?

YOU can still positively catch their attention in one or two minutes with an “I” Message.

A man or a woman who stands up to a boss or colleague with forthrightness and respect has balls!  “I” Messages are a tool to position protective boundaries or remove unnecessary fences.

Address YOUR Needs with “I” Messages

When we address the challenging behavior of someone else, the tendency is to begin the sentence with “You.”

“You make me feel uncomfortable….”

“You cause problems when….”

“Your attitude…”

To Whom Does the Problem Belong?

This implies that “You” has (or is causing) a problem.  However, toxic behavior may serve the perpetrator’s purposes.

In the previous article, we looked at an example of a boss who inappropriately touched female employees.  His behavior confirms his belief in deserving preferential treatment; he can touch…without it touching him.  A complainer can be confirmed in her victim mentality; woe is she!  No one helps her by removing her burden.

It’s other people, like you and me, that experience the difficulty; our goals are not met.  It is the woman’s sense of security that is violated when a man chooses to touch her chest at his whim.  It is the manager’s need for respect that is undermined when a team member arrives late for meetings with a cup of warm coffee topped off with fresh whipped cream.

Take Responsibility for YOUR Unmet Need
Give Responsibility for THE Consequences of THEIR Actions

How to address inappropriate behavior so that the person acts on it positively?

An “I” message establishes limits without making judgements.

As humans and as professionals, we each seek to belong and to contribute positively to a group with a worthwhile purpose.   As managers, we hope our team members will find that meaningful community at work!

What are the differentiating qualities of an environment which builds meaningful purpose (the kind we all dream of finding at work) and an engaged sense of partnership?

  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Security, Responsibility, Initiative, Commitment, Understanding, Acceptance, Cooperation, Welcome of differences, Joy, Laughter

Clear and respected boundaries foster these respect-building qualities.

“We act this way….  This is not what we do….”

“Because I know my manager has my back, I am on the lookout for ways to improve our business.  I ask our customers more insight-seeking questions.  I regularly propose and test out ideas to tweak our service quality.  I do it because she is going out of her way for me too.”

When a manager takes credit for his group’s work, he has crossed over the line from teamwork to toxic.  The boundary has been broached and employee needs are unmet.

An “I” Message helps communicate a breach in constructive behavior without resorting to blame or shame.

The Three Parts of an “I” Message

There are three-parts to an “I” message.  The order is not important.  Covering all three elements matters.

1. Briefly state the undesired behavior

“When you arrive late in team meetings with a steaming cup of coffee with fresh whipped cream in your hands….”

2. Share your feelings (one word per feeling)

“…I feel resentful…”

3. Express the consequences

“because others suffer for your comfort.  Someone, me or a team mate, spends extra time to bring you up to date with what we already covered.  It is a waste of company money and a lack of consideration for the team member’s workload.”

OR

Express what you wish

“I would like you to arrive on time.”

With regards to Part 3, I prefer to focus on the consequences of the disruptive actions and allow the other person to come up with his own solution.  They might and come to the meeting on time with fresh coffee for everyone!  Expressing a wish can sound directive.

“I” Message Example

A management professor shared how he used “I” messages with university students when the group became unfocused.  People talked without listening to each other.  The group became dissipated.  One particularly challenging young man rolled his eyes and, mumbling over the unfairness of life, noisily moved his chair about during their meeting time.

Thinking, “When will they grow up?!” and feeling his temper rising, the professor decided to wait for the next class to respond.

The following week, during a session on global business, he addressed the topic of reaping the benefits of diversity by using “I” messages.  People from different cultures behave in ways that could be unsettling to the other.

He shared two ways to address an issue of generational disparity in their class:

Option “You” Message: “You are causing problems for others by talking in class.”

The class smirked.  They had heard similar comments before.  It went in one ear and out the other.

Option “I” Message: “When you speak in class while I am teaching, I feel robbed because the additional noise takes away the opportunity for me to connect with interested classmates and for them to learn.”

The class went silent and eyes popped open.  “I could see them thinking…and realizing they made a difference in the success of the entire class!” he shared.

Tips for Success with “I” Messages

1. Prepare in Advance, When Calm

Good news:  An “I” Message is quick to say.   If the person with disruptive behavior dodges attempts to connect, a one-minute “I” Message will catch his attention.

Reality check: It takes time to prepare.

A big challenge lies in identifying a work-appropriate emotion.

When our boundaries are crossed, our brain goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode.  In flight or freeze, we do not retort on the spot.  In fight state we do… with words intended to wound.
“I feel violated…ridiculed…crushed…usurped…”

The emotions are real and valid.  At the same time, these judgement-filled words can backfire.

When our brains are in fight mode, we respond with words intended to hurt.  Calming down allows us to re-access helpful language.

Give yourself time to calm down from experiencing a toxic situation before responding to it.

2. Be Specific

Bring to mind an actual toxic situation.

Avoid “always _____” and “never ______”

Consider these questions:

  • What was said or done?
  • How did it make you feel? How did others respond?
  • What was the negative trigger?
  • What were you expecting?
  • How does the actual behavior differ from the desired actions?

Try and define the bothersome gap. It is helpful to identify the qualities of a constructive workplace you seek to build. Were you hoping for trust and found mockery instead?  Are you seeking learning and are relegated menial tasks?

3. Use factual language

When describing the behavior, replace judgmental language with a neutral description.

When you insulted Jane…” invites a defensive response.

“When you told Jane that she looked like …” relays facts.

4. Prepare Written Drafts

The clearer your “I” Message, the more likely it will invite a positive response.

You might only have one minute to catch the attention of the “toxic employee.”

“I” Messages, like any new language, takes practice.  Imagine you are speaking to a representative from another planet (someone who Thinks-Waaaaay-Differently-From-Me).  Try your message out by speaking at your image in the mirror.

Expect to write several drafts…of each of the three parts: the behavior, your feelings, and the consequences.

Review.  Do the feelings relate to the consequences?  If not, reconsider what bothered you and try again.

Think of your “I” Message like an elevator pitch.  Attention-grabbing.  Inviting collaboration.  10 rough drafts!

5. Choose Occasions

Sharing and receiving “I” Messages involves vulnerability and courage.  Use these precious resources, wisely.  It would be a shame to create a reputation of fault-seeking.

“When you leave the cap off the pen….”

“When you take the last Kinder at the cafeteria…”

Trust to Respond

Some people include an additional element in the “I” Message:  a request for a specific action.  I like to trust the person to respond productively.

The university professor above shared “the rest of the story.”

“The following week, I arrived in class early and the student with the most disruptive behavior was already there.  I went up to him, noticed his timeliness, and shared how I appreciated his effort for punctuality.  He smiled, chuckled and remarked, ‘Yeah.  I think this is the first time this year!’

He contributed positively throughout the class.  As he was leaving, again I commented noticing his helpful participation.  He exclaimed, ‘And, you know, I paid attention even though the student behind me was sticking her pen in my back during the entire class.  I’m not sitting in front of her again!’

I had thought he was a toxic person.  He taught me otherwise.  His behavior had been reprehensible but he proved capable of positive contributions even under adverse circumstances.  He performed beyond my expectations.”

That’s why I like to present an “I” Message and allow the other person to surprise me with their own constructive response.  It happens in most situations.

…and if challenges persist, then it’s time to seek yet a different approach.  We’ll address that next week.

Read: “What is a Toxic Employee”?

Read: Alternatives to Firing Toxic Employees – Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it

Serenity of lighthouse

Serenity to Accept Things I Cannot Change

Google announces 6,2 Million results to my search for “Serenity Prayer.”

Many team-help groups gain inspiration from this prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

These lines hold “serenity” as the namesake, and yet who focuses on accepting the things they cannot change?!

Courage to Change Things

How exciting and ego-boosting to be a valiant savior!

To show courage and, with chivalry, to forge ahead into the unknow with sword drawn.  We can almost hear the cheerleaders encouraging us on: “A.C.T…I.O.N….Action, Action, We want Action!”  

Wisdom to Choose

The wizened elder expounding sound advice conjures up a positive image too.

The sage gathers a following of disciples.

The wise person holds authority.

The counselor is sought out.

A mentor’s insights lead to action.

Decision-making is prized by people from all walks of life

  • CEO’s organize “strategy sessions” around critical company decisions
  • Poets pen about our choice of life path…which makes all the difference
  • Child educators and neuroscientists refer to developing social and emotional skills by triggering areas of the brain related to decision-making

Making choices also brings a semblance of control, a feeling especially prized when we feel out of control!

Serenity to Do Nothing!!!

Isn’t doing nothing…bad?!

Non-action runs against our sense of control.  When we make a move, we feel power.  When we wait, we depend upon others.

Inaction is vulnerability.  Big time.

Serenity: When “Doing Nothing” is Good

To Accept Matters Beyond our Control

Some battles we cannot win; matters are beyond our control.

As I write, the French railroad employees are striking.  No personal effort on my part will get my scheduled train on the tracks.  Serenity helps me stop waste time moaning and groaning.   Then wisdom and courage get me on my smart phone to reserve a spot on a car-pool app.

Challenges happen.  We don’t choose war, persecution, cancer, corporate takeovers, our noisy next-door neighbors or ageing.

We do choose how we encounter hurdles:  either as victims or as survivors.  Serenity helps transform anger, hurt, and frustration into resilience, creativity, and hope.

Serenity helps us step back to identify whether we have a chance to win the challenge-of-the-moment.

To Take a Step Back

Sometimes our trouble results from a choice we took; our chosen path did not lead to the desired destination.

If we climb the winding trail at the base of Machu Pichu, we will not find a Yurt.  In the same way, no matter how far we travel the plains of Mongolia, we won’t find Inca treasures.

It sounds obvious…and yet how many of us slurp ice cream or sip wine and simultaneously lament being out of shape?

Or let steam out on a colleague and expect them to be motivated at work.

Or nag at our children and anticipate they will turn to us as trustworthy, secure, and patient counselors.

Sometimes the best action is to STOP. That’s what serenity helps us do…and to look around and find an alternative route to reach our goal.

How to Build Serenity

Serenity in the Brain

Our ability to observe a situation with calm and clarity relies on brain chemistry.

Have you noticed how your thoughts get fuzzy under emotional excitation, whether anger or extreme frustration or deep grief?

Our human brains physically disconnect.  The prefrontal cortex (which enables you and I to make logical connections, develop plans, understand emotional cues….) lifts and exposes the mid-brain which is responsible for our gut reactions of fight, flight, or freeze.  Dr. Daniel Siegel, neuroscientist at Stanford, explains it in this two-minute video.

Serenity in the Mind

Sometimes it just takes seconds (literally) to help calm the brain and to reason clearly again.

1. My favorite way is through laughter

… and sometimes I fake it until I make it. Other times, I imagine the S.H.I.T. hitting the fan…literally.  Stench.  Aggggh, the clean up!

The dread of this outcome makes me laugh.  AND STOP.

2. Gratitude also invites serenity.

Early in my career I interned with a clothing manufacturer to do market research and help the company owner prepare a five-year growth plan. The team consisted of seasoned men who had worked their way up in the garment district.  They considered me book smart and street stupid and wanted to prove me wrong.  I presented what I thought was the final report…and then discovered mistakes in the Excel calculations!  No opportunity to reverse time or to delete the shared files from these colleagues’ computers.

Gratitude helped me find serenity which then allowed me to act with intelligence.

  • Thankful to have found the mistake as soon as I did and that it did not change the recommendations
  • Thankful I learned to review. Review. REVIEW work early on in my career
  • Thankful to realize that we become super through our bloopers…the inspiration behind SoSooper!

 

Serenity is simple.  Not easy.  The opposite of serenity is worry and brooding.  Now THAT is complicated!!!

In what situations do you need serenity?

What do you do to take a step back and regain perspective?

 

Cover photo by Joshua Hibbert from Unsplash.
Martin Luther King Jr "I Have a Dream"

6 Insights from MLK to Dream Big

Today we commenmorate 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many remember this inspiring leader in the human rights movement and his speech “I Have A Dream.”

What is your cause? What is your dream? 

Martin Luther King Jr did more than dream.  He transmitted it too…so that others could share it and spread it too.  He began with the folks close to him, and his circle of influence grew and grew…to include me and you!

Let’s start turning our dreams for those closest to us into reality.

1. Dream for the Next Generation & Empower Youth to Dream Too

Learn from this great man to dream big and empower others to have a vision.

It’s OK to dream big even when the situation looks dire

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail … I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” MLK Jr

nine dots

You and I can limit ourselves.

We can allow ourselves to hope what is feasible – the Basic-Fix-Dream rather than THE GRAND-VISION.

We do this every day at work and in family.

We hope employees get the job done.  They do…and 70% of them lack engagement in their work.  Could we dare for a passion for contributing to their team and for excitement to grow?

When siblings fight, we hope for “no blood.”  Can we envision them as co-builders of an amazing venture?

You may be familiar with these nine dots.

The exercise consists of passing through each of these dots once with four straight lines.  No more, no less, no curves.

Try it.

The clue?  Get out of the square.  In fact, there is no delimited zone.  The nine dots are in the shape of a square and folks like you and I turn that into boundaries.

Dreaming means setting sights high…

…then following through with an action plan.get out of nine dots

2. Powerful dreams tap into a common heritage, a larger-than-me mission

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the hue meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

According to psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, grandfather of Positive Psychology, a communal vision which benefits your community, be it family, neighborhood, friends, or more taps into our basic human needs of belonging and contribution which he describes as “Gemeinschaftsgefuehl .”

A community goal brings along with it a network of supporters.

It takes a team to reach the stars.  Set a dream that motivates and engages all.

Co-dream. And co-labor (collaborate).

When you converse with your team members or even with your children, how often do you refer to the common goal?  Find ways to include it in every day conversation.

At work:  “Today was a good day!  I helped solve a customer problem and it felt like ’empowering our customers through our technological and service excellence.'”

In family:  “How will we talk so that we show we are a family and that we love each other?”

3. Live the vision

Walk the talk.

Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words.

The US constitution declared all men of equal value.  And yet they were not treated as such.

Are you ambitious for your team or your child?  What qualities do you dream for them?

  • Respect of self and of others
  • Love of excellence and effort
  • Wise decision-making
  • Curiosity and tolerance

Let the next generation witness it through your actions.

  • Speak to the young interns and children with respect…even when they act without thinking
  • Stick to your commitments, like when you say, ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • Allow them to live the uncomfortable consequences of their own unwise decisions when the stakes are low. Misplacing a 10 cent coin is less painful than losing €1000.
  • Listen actively to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions

THAT is dreaming with credibility and conviction.  Our example convinces our youth of the value of our hopes.

4. Dream with valor

Martin Luther King Jr ignites our fire when speaking of brotherhood, transformational peace-making, and character.

A dream worth living for is one worth dying for too. 

Who do you want with you as you end your days here?  What do you want said of you and for them to share with each other?  NOW is the time to plant those seeds.

For me, I want the “F.U.N.” back in funeral.  It’s because I celebrate life today that I hope folk will remember me with a smile GRIN in later years.

5. Clearly define success

“…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

A clear goal vitalizes both you and your co-dreamers.

Visualizing is a technique many leaders adapt to help them define their objectives.

A friend shared her experience at a career change workshop she attended.  The facilitator invited participants to close their eyes and to think of their ideal (dream) job.

“Now visualize the office in which you are working.”

And they proceeded with another dream session.

“Describe your colleagues.  Their age, what they are wearing, their facial expressions…”

Specifics make the dream more real…and realizable.

6. Seek strength for the LONG (loooooong) haul

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with… With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.”

In our quick win world, how can we prepare for valiant dreams that require sacrifice and persistence?

Performance experts assert that it’s not talent that keeps people from reaching their goals; it is lack of consistency which engenders lackadaisical results then discouragement and finally giving up.

In what will you place your faith?  Where will you find your source of strength?

The question is not “if” you will require boosting and encouragement.

The issue is WHEN.

Martin Luther King Jr found his from the God of the Bible.  It did not make him into a perfect person.  It made him united with others AND able to take a stand alone, peaceful AND powerful, patient AND courageous.

WOW.

 

Cook kneeding dough

How Mindfulness Builds Confidence

Whatever the outcome, our confidence grows from taking risks. 

That sounds nice, and it may have benefited people like Elisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France, who spoke about this in her interview.

But is it true for ME and YOU?  How can I find out…safely?

For Your Action

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

Many of us take in insights with the “FYI, For Your Information” mindset.

It’s like reading a cooking recipe.  And stopping there.

Moreno invites us to go further.  “For Your Action” and “For You to Transmit.” 

That’s like rolling up your sleeves, getting fingers in the dough, and kneading…and kneading some more.

In a work setting it’s about sharing the passion for excellence, the engagement that comes from connecting with another person, and the pride in a job well done.

This process of learning to transmit is (somewhat) straightforward with hard skills.  Take cooking: Turn the heat to 180° and bake for 30 minutes.  (Although, in France, I discovered recipes which instruct “Cook until done.” Huh?!)

What about with soft skills like risk-taking and confidence-building?  The steps-to-success for getting out of one’s comfort zone vary from individual to individual.

Mindfulness Makes Confidence-Building Easier

That’s why it’s helpful to be mindful of our specific behaviors and attitudes which help us grow.

We pause.

Breathe.

Bring back into our memory a past risk that worked out well.  Revisit it through a benevolent lens.  What worked?  What did I learn?

Then recall a risk that did not turn out as desired.  What did I learn about myself?  About others?

Step back again.

What did I gain from this reflection?

Confidence-Building Worksheet

Try this worksheet to guide you through the process.

Here’s an example of ways I have grown through professional challenges.

Confidence-Building-Worksheet-Pro

Click here to download the pdf.

Confidence-Building in Personal Life

You and I take risks at work and in life.  Here’s an example from my situation as a wife and mother of teens.

Confidence-Building-Worksheet-Personal

Click here to download the pdf.

For Your Action

It’s your turn!

Click here to download a blank worksheet for YOU.

Share this worksheet with a friend, family member, or colleague.  It’s a powerful discussion starter!