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September 25, 2008

When you throw the communication doors open,

you get ideas, comments, dedication and energy. My two primary goals as the lay leader at church are to communicate and to promote civility. I strive to involve many, to make others feel seen and heard, to consider all ideas and not react negatively. That keeps the ideas and comments coming. As you may guess, there are some terrific ideas coming my way that makes that congregation far more vibrant, focused and possessed with a spirit of community that I could ever generate on my own.

Sharing information and responsibilities
Some of my actions since taking office in January
• Seek out members who are not on church boards to serve on internal committees and task forces as well as be our church representative on outside boards.
• Upgrade the monthly newsletter from come-what-may announcements to planned articles. I ask others to write on specific topics and I write to produce a true “news” letter.
• Post the agenda and minutes of executive board meetings on a primary hallway bulletin board.
• Share decision-making and abide by those decisions. I gave the executive board a list of candidates that fit the profile for a transition team and asked them to vote. I asked the executive board for ideas of qualifications for task force members; they gave me qualifications and names. Several of those task force members told me if was one of the most exciting and meaningful things they’d ever done for the church.
• Provide information and opportunities to ask questions and make comments on important matters that will come up for congregation vote. Information goes out in the newsletter, it’s in worship bulletins and special information sessions so anyone who wants to learn about what we’re voting on has the opportunity.
• Delegate and set expectations for roles and responsibilities.

There is always room for improvement
I am asked pointed questions about what am I doing about this or that. That’s good; it shows people care. I still get kidded about the Sunday we had cake after worship to recognize two members but neither of them were present; slight communication breakdown between two boards and I’d not paid attention….obviously. Even the failures can provide a spirit of vitality.

Sharing lots of information
It’s gets buy-in. It’s a matter of civility to communicate and involve others. It’s a whole lot of fun to energize others. It creates community.

September 24, 2008

A near miss; it can be hard to remember to share

I had an ‘aha’ moment this weekend. I’ve been working on a new project, a challenging one. It’s bringing some project management into the processes of producing educational materials and promotional marketing. I’m many hours into writing a project charter. Many of those hours were in the evening and on the weekend because this is a challenge and I love to be challenged.

That ‘aha’ moment--I’m doing exactly what I so loathe when others do it. The only input I’ve had was from my boss and some very informal discussions with others.

I need the perceptions and expectations of others
This need for project management was identified at a staff retreat. On Monday I was scheduled to meet with the three managers in my unit. I was going to give them copies of the project charter I’d worked so hard to create. I didn’t. Instead I gave them each one sheet of paper with some historical information and nine discussion questions.

I’m going to do the same exercise with anyone on the staff who wants to be involved. Why are we trying to incorporate some project management techniques? What is the vision---what will this look like when we’re finished? I’ve now convinced myself that all my work to date is simply background so I can host focused discussions.

This was a near miss
I was so focused on my work that it didn’t occur to me that talking through some basic questions will help shape what I’m doing into a much more relevant effort. I planned to share lots of information and ask for ideas and comments later, but I needed to share much earlier in the process. I almost missed that civility component of respecting what others can bring to the initial planning.

September 23, 2008

They don’t like to share

That’s one of the cultural differences American managers find working in China compared to working in the United States.

A Gannett News story about the book “Leadership Success in China: An Expatriate’s Guide” says, “In the past, resources have been scarce in China and workers grew up hoarding what they had. They think if they share information or knowledge with another worker, it will limit their chances for personal success.”

I’ve been in work cultures that I could say, “They don’t like to share.”

From those experiences I’ve deducted some reasons for not sharing.
• It’s the same as the Chinese. People believe if they know details of a project or information from a meeting, they have power over others.
• They are insecure and don’t understand one is effective when you include others who have expertise and ideas in areas you don’t.
• They don’t understand the power of effective communication. It doesn’t occur to them that communicating details will get buy-in, discussion leading to better ideas and solutions.
• It takes time to write and speak effectively giving only succinct and meaningful information.

What happens when there is no sharing
• Staff spend time speculating and complaining. Morale and productivity are undermined.
• Staff tire of ‘surprises’ and begin searching for new jobs or no longer care about their work production or quality.
• It’s viral. Others stop sharing information.
• If openness brings criticism and repercussions, people focus on protecting themselves.
• There’s no excitement or energy.
• There’s a lack of civility (respect for others) in the workplace.

Sharing information promotes a cohesive energized workplace that can focus on common goals.

Gannett News Service, July 23, 2008
Anita Bruzzese: When in China, heed differences

September 18, 2008

You will be happier if others like you

More than just this moment matters
One of the hallmarks of the likeable personality is the ability to register another person’s values and opinions. The long-term thinker uses this skill to look into the future.

Interdependence is one of the goals of any great family, civic organization or company.
Individualism is waning. Synergy occurs when two or more people produce more value together than they could produce individually. Interdependence isn’t the same as dependence. It’s a relationship in which, by relying on another, you become stronger.

Harmony is key to any successful team. Technology has made cooperation and collaboration possible in new situations. The loners now need to join groups.

Success redefined
It means having a job you enjoy, coworkers you like and a pleasant environment within which to work. A positive workplace is so important that most people would make a financial sacrifice to achieve it. A Nov. 2003 survey by the research firm Robert Half International found that ‘one third of all executives surveyed believe the work environment is the most critical factor in keeping an employee satisfied to today’s business world.’ Unlikable people can’t buy affection and loyalty.

Likeability improves your capacity to understand others’ emotional expressions and respond to them as well as understand the implications of your own behavior.

If you make people feel great, they will listen to you, think about what you said and store it.

This is the final post from The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams by Tim Sanders.

September 16, 2008

Likeable people enjoy better health

One of the reasons likeable people often enjoy better health than unlikeable people is self-esteem. When you’re likeable, likeability is reciprocated and that in turn increases self-esteem. That helps withstand stress.

People high on the agreeableness scale (positive, good-natured, cooperative, civil) tend to make friends easily and often have a larger number of friends than those low on agreeableness. Popular people have stronger immune systems, fewer physical ailments, lower incidence of mental health problems and live longer than loners and introverts.

Having good relationships improves health and lifts depressions. One of the greatest benefits of likeability is a social support system that provides a lifeline to help through tough times.

The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams
By Tim Sanders
Crown Publishers, New York 2005

September 12, 2008

Are you relevant?

Relevance is….
your capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants and needs

When you’re relevant, you’ve connected to someone’s sweet spot—that area of the heart and mind in which passions are concentrated, the bull’s-eye in each of us that represents something significant.

Relevance has three levels—contact, mutual interests and value

Contact is based on frequency and proximity (how often you see another person face-to-face).

Some people will be more relevant than others depending upon the strength of the connection. When people connect with a trivial interest or need, they are less relevant. You have a higher level of relevance with mutual interests, a friend or relative, or a political or religious belief.

Relevance is strongest when a personal value proposition that you offer connects with another person’s wants and needs. If you possess a skill that will help someone complete a task, you are relevant. If you appeal to someone’s need to laugh, your relevance is your sense of humor. As your importance grows, so does your likeability. Your personal stock price rises in another soul’s marketplace.

Relevance is finding a way to matter. The ability to know what others dream about or agonize over is a form of intelligence possessed by relevant people.

The critical elements that shape your likeability factor--
No. 1 Friendliness
No. 2: Realness
No. 3: Empathy
No. 4: Relevance

Post 7 inspired by ‘The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams’ by Tim Sanders.

September 09, 2008

Walk a day in someone else’s shoes: empathy is likeability factor No. 3

Empathy is....
your ability to recognize, acknowledge and experience other people’s feelings

Think of films or books that have moved you to crying or laughing, applauding. You have felt another person’s pain or joy. You see life through the character’s eyes and you are sensitive to his or her feelings, desires, ideas and actions. The secret lies in imagination to boost your empathy factor.

If you’re sympathetic, you feel compassion for another but it’s your feelings. If you’re empathetic, you are projecting yourself into another’s heart as though you’re in that person’s shoes. The first step toward understanding how others feel is recognizing their emotions. You can’t fake true understanding of another’s feelings.

People convey seven types of emotion via the face

Three regions of the face that communicate all these emotions are the forehead, eyes and mouth.
See www.timsanders.com/7faces

Press mute
And listen. Think about what other people say and how they must feel. Concentrate on the other person’s feelings and keep yourself, your situation and your feelings out of a listening conversation. If someone always replies with a similar story or situation, I’m pretty sure they’re listening only to be able to give a response about their own feelings or experiences.

Rudeness and incivility convey a lack of sensitivity and empathy.

Post 6 inspired by ‘The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams’ by Tim Sanders.

September 04, 2008

You know you need civility at work when…

Sept. 6, 2008 marks the second anniversary of this blog. I want you to help write the celebratory post. Finish that headline with one or more submissions….please. Here are three to help get you in the mood.

You know you need civility at work when…

…two people who haven’t seen each other in years meet outside your short cubicle wall and relive years there.

…you discover the lead person on the project you love…is a micromanager.

…you find your wastebasket pulled out into the middle of your cube space. ESP message: the contents weigh more than 8 ounces and you’ll need to empty it yourself.

Post your comments now.

Are you real? (Part 2)

Be true to others to maintain a high level of realness
1. Don’t forget your past. We all have ups and downs. Keep the link between today and yesterday’s experiences and the people in your past.
2. Share your glory. Would the outcome have been different if others had been absent from the story? Recognize those people.
3. Practice humility. It’s between false modesty and false pride. Those who have an inflated view of their value and their accomplishments are generally perceived as out of touch with reality.
4. Don’t exaggerate. Embellishing stories to the point of tall tales leads others to question everything you say.
5. Learn to say, “I don’t know.” People who are honest about their lack of knowledge on a particular topic are judged very real. Think of former television host Johnny Carson who often said to a guest, “I did not know that!”
6. Be honest when you make a promise. Follow through or confess you can’t as soon as you decide you will not be able to keep your word.
7. Recruit a reality coach, someone you trust who will give you fast and honest impressions.

Share your realness---now we’re really down to civility
Be totally present with someone when you talk, no distractions.
Admit your mistakes to yourself and to others face to face. Seek solutions on your own and suggestions from others. Correct your mistakes.
Be generous with yourself. Share your emotions, your beliefs, your dreams, your fears.

September 03, 2008

Are you real?

Likeability factor No. 2: Realness is
the integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity.

A real person is genuine, true and authentic. Real people know their roots, heritage and history; they don’t forget them. They know their values and behave accordingly. A real person is sincere and trustworthy.

When you give others your trust, you do it for yourself. You trust people so you can get on with your life. When you encounter someone you don’t trust, you wear yourself out trying to decipher the truth. The five characteristics that contribute to a listener’s perception of trust are expertness, reliability, intention, dynamics and likeability.

What shows a lack of realness?
Lying—everything the person has ever said to you is called into question.
Hypocrisy—you notice when others don’t act out what they said they believe.
Insincerity---you’d rather have someone tell you the truth rather than treat you as if they can’t because you’ll be upset or can’t cope with perceptions or facts.

Be true to yourself
Who are you? You need to know the answer.
One of the exercises Tim Sanders asks you to do in his book ‘The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams’ is write the answers to questions such as these:
• What do you talk about when the conversation is about values?
• What do you stand for that separates you from others?
• If you give money to a cause, what kind of cause is it and why do you make that contribution?
• What was the last piece of advice you gave someone that you felt strongly about?