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Interpersonal Communication, Leadership, Our Blog

Leadership Lessons from the Classroom

By Tasha M. Troy

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it’s been 20 years since I first started teaching.  I can tell you that my career hasn’t gone where I expected it to!

I remember my first year of teaching like it was yesterday.  It was an incredibly challenging year!  Boy, have I grown since then!

Over the years, I have taught every age level, from 5 years old to 65 years old, though most of my work has been with is the 20 – 50-year-old age range.  Through my experiences in the classroom, coupled with my more recent studies in leadership skills, I have learned a number of lessons that help me get a new class off on the right foot.  With the school year starting, I thought I’d share a few of these lessons.

While I learned these lessons by leading the classroom, they can apply to any team leadership situation.  All you have to do is exchange the word “students” for “employees” or “team members.”

 

1. Set clear expectations and define desired outcomes.

I know this sounds obvious, but for a long time I didn’t do this with every class.  Now I try to do it with every class session.  When people don’t have to wonder about what you are aiming for, they are more likely to succeed.

 

2. Let people know the benefit you expect them to gain from a given assignment.

This is related to the first point, and something I found extremely important when working with busy adults.  People despise busy work and will resist any assignment that seems to have no point.  I choose to respect my students by always having a long-term purpose for their assignments, but when I communicate that purpose, I gain more concrete buy-in.

 

3. Respect individual differences and look for their unique strengths.

I like to say that everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses, and by working together, we can balance each other out.  The classroom is no different. It affirms the individual and models respect for differences.  In fact, I have my students work in groups very often, and they quickly learn to appreciate each other.

 

4. No matter how accomplished, everyone needs praise and encouragement.

I will admit I was surprised to discover this, but in retrospect I shouldn’t have been.  Because I love learning so much, I forget that for many it is a vulnerable act to be under someone else’s tutelage.  When working with adults, I have often had students I found intimidating, but they were just as hungry to know they were doing a good job as any other student.

 

5. Be gentle when giving critical feedback or delivering low grades.

This one I should have learned firsthand as a student myself, but it became essential to my teaching style when working with high-performing adults.  So often we tie our identity and self-worth to our accomplishments, and when we are confronted with evidence that we are not as competent in an area as we thought, it can be devastating.  Children are no different from adults in the respect.

 

6. Meet people where they are, but believe they will rise to the occasion.

Everyone is in a process of becoming.  There have been so many times when I’ve been super concerned about a student preparing deliver a speech or a project, but they pull through and deliver more than I expected just about every time.

 

7. Don’t assume that what is obvious to you is obvious to all.

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn, and I have to keep this fresh in my mind.  You can’t assume that people see things the way you do, whether it is the purpose for an assignment or the potential of the individual.  You have to clearly and directly communicate these things, assuming nothing.

 

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

Leadership, Our Blog

When the Future Becomes the Present

By Tasha M. Troy

Last week I attended a briefing at a local think tank dedicated to international security issues.  It was an update and overview of the Coast Guard delivered by the commander of the Coast Guard.

While I learned several interesting things about the work and challenges of the Coast Guard, what really struck me was how well-spoken the admiral was.  He gave a clear briefing and answered a number of questions, all without consulting notes.

I know from experience that deep knowledge of a topic doesn’t automatically translate into strong presentation skills, and it was clear to me that he had developed his public speaking skills over a period of time.  I suspect he began working on those skills long before he achieved his position as commander of the Coast Guard, a position that I can imagine requires a lot of public speaking.

 

Hindsight in a Foresight Position

Long ago when I was in college, a wise man once told me to have “hindsight in a foresight position.”  We all know the saying that hindsight is 20/20; his challenge was to imagine what we wanted to remember at the end of any particular season.  This concept has stayed with me my entire adult life and has helped to fuel my success.

Many times when I’ve been training people in leading discussions and meetings, I’ve gotten a lot of pushback.  The participants say things like, “I’m not going to be leading meetings; I don’t need to know this.”  My response is always the same: “You never know where life is going to take you.”  Anything less comes across as short-sighted.

A quick Google search shows that somewhere around 60-80% of new managers fail to some degree.  This tells me that they – like most of us – failed to prepare for future possibilities until the future became the present.  When the opportunity presents itself, it is too late to begin preparing.

Even I didn’t do so well in my first leadership positions, and there was no one to help me figure out what I was missing.  This was one time my “foresight” failed me.  I didn’t know leadership was something that could be studied and applied.  Now I know better and invest time and energy in preparing for what’s next, even if I can’t see clearly what that might be.

 

Benefits of Personal Leadership Development

John Maxwell says that the measure of leadership is influence.  I have found that as my leadership skills have improved, the influence I have on those around me has increased.

  • It has changed the way I approach teaching my classes and interacting with those who report to me.
  • It has enabled me to see when a work environment no longer serves me, nor I it.
  • It has opened opportunities for me to coach friends and family through big life decisions.

The only downside I have found is that I now live with an increasing tension between who I am becoming and how others perceive me.  They don’t always line up, and I tend to get impatient as I experience growing pains.  However, I know this tension keeps me moving in the direction of my dreams and goals.

 

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

Interpersonal Communication, Our Blog

Four Steps to Greater Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

Recently I was asked what would help someone become more persuasive.  The answer I gave may have seemed simplistic or counter intuitive, but I’ve found it to be essential for myself in having influence without position and persuasion without pressure, particularly in the cross-cultural settings I usually find myself in.

If you are interested in influence in “disposable” relationships, there are a number of manipulative strategies out there; a simple Google search of “how to persuade” brings back over 38 million results!  However, if you are looking for more lasting results, I would like to share four steps that you can take.

Because these steps are unilateral, you have to consider them as investments rather than exchanges.  Once you’ve made enough of an investment into any one individual, it will eventually become an exchange, but if your focus is on the exchange, you will likely become discouraged and frustrated.

If it is an investment, you should expect it to take time to generate a return.  Executed with consistency, these steps will establish you as a “go-to” person, a reliable ally when things are difficult.

1. Listen to Understand

The most powerful tool I have found in building rapport with anyone is simply listening.  Not listening to fix or to respond, but listening to truly understand where another person is coming from.  This one action alone has established me as the one person in my family that is trusted to get through to the other members.

Effective listening at this level does not happen when we are focused on our own position, our own ideas, our own “rightness.”  We have to set that all aside and truly focus in on where the other person is coming from.  Responding and defending our position can come later.

How to Develop Listening Skills (according to John Maxwell):  1. Look at the speaker.  2. Don’t interrupt.  3. Focus on understanding.  4. Determine the need at the moment.  5. Check your emotions.  6. Suspend your judgment.  7. Sum up at major intervals.  8. Ask questions for clarity.  9. Always make listening your priority.  (p 46 – 51)

More on listening:

2. See the Other’s Perspective

Building on the deep listening of step 1, you can begin to “put yourself in the other’s shoes.”  When you focus on the heart of what people are saying rather than on the words used to express those ideas, and you are able to reflect back to that person their own thoughts with your own words, you create a bond that is not easily broken.  When people feel like you “get them,” they begin to open up to you – and your influence – in ways you might not expect.

If you’re not sure where to start with understanding others, I suggest you start with the “five core concerns.”  Dan Shapiro of the Harvard Negotiation Project describes five things that every person you meet is concerned about.  When you are able to understand these concerns, you have begun to understand the person’s perspective.

How to Understand Others: the 5 Core Concerns (according to Dan Shapiro):  1. Appreciation, 2. Autonomy, 3. Affiliation, 4. Status, 5. Role

More on understanding others:

3. Encourage Others to Achieve

If you can learn to understand people – how they think, what inspires them, how they’re likely to act in a given situation – then you can motivate and influence them.  While it might feel unnecessary, it has been my experience – both as a teacher and coach and as a recipient of encouragement – that people often don’t clearly see their own strengths and potential.  Very often, what I see as an obvious strength in an individual is a source of insecurity for that person.

However, when people understand what you see in them, it gives them confidence and the power to set aside the insecurity and move forward in their personal life purpose.  When they achieve some success through your encouragement, it can then establish you as a trusted source of advice, further increasing your influence with them.

How to Become a Believer in People (according to John Maxwell):  1. Believe in them before they succeed.  2. Emphasize their strengths.  3. List their past successes.  4. Instill confidence when they fail.  5. Experience some wins together.  6. Visualize their future success.  7. Expect a new level of living.  (p. 24 – 31)

More on encouraging others:

4. Build Trust

The final step to long-lasting influence is to build trust.  This is the result of consistently walking out the first three steps.

John Maxwell has compared building trust to a deposit account.  Every time we act in ways that demonstrate integrity, we increase our trust account.  Whenever we act in ways that don’t demonstrate integrity, we decrease our trust account.  Some activities create larger deposits or withdrawals, and some can bankrupt your trust reserves.  (p. 357)

As we develop integrity and trustworthiness, it becomes our character.  This is when you’ve become the influential “go-to” person in your circle, regardless of your position.

How to Become a Person of Integrity (according to John Maxwell):  1. Commit yourself to honesty, reliability, and confidentiality.  2. Decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price.  3. Each day, do what you should do before what you want to do.  (p. 65 – 66)

More on building trust:

From “Investment” to “Exchange”

Once you’ve become consistent in these four steps, you will likely find “investment” relationships evolving into “exchange” relationships.  If you find the other person reciprocating, you can consider this an exchange relationship and can feel confident taking the relationship deeper.  Often, these people will become trusted allies in your plans and projects in return.

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

References:

Maxwell, J. 2003.  REAL Leadership: The 101 Collection.

Shapiro, D. The Five Core Concerns of Negotiation. http://bigthink.com/videos/the-five-core-concerns-of-negotiation

Leadership, Our Blog

The One Thing that Helped Me Move to a New Professional Level

By Tasha M. Troy

I’m sure we all know someone who is never satisfied with simply doing a good job; they have to reach higher and go “above and beyond the call of duty.”  In fact, that might be you!

Even as a child, I had a drive to excel, stemming in part from a perfectionist tendency in my personality.  I have been fortunate to be surrounded with people with similar drives for most of my life.

 

The Pain of Discontent

However, just a few years ago, I was no longer content with the reach of my influence.  I wanted more.

  • After coaching hundreds of training participants to give presentations, I wanted to give my own presentations.
  • After training clients in negotiation strategies, I wanted to help those people in my life who needed the same training.
  • After helping trainees gain a greater clarity in cross-cultural situations, I wanted to expand my circle and help even more people gain that clarity.

 

I decided to take my personal and professional development to a new level.  I am an avid reader, so of course I started reading up in the areas of leadership, influence, and negotiation, but I wasn’t always able to implement that learning in my environment.

I had been in a particular role at work for several years, and it appeared that I had grown to the extent that my environment would allow. When I reached the end of my own ability to grow where I was, the tension I felt caused that hunger I felt to become even stronger.

That’s when I decided to hire a personal career coach.

 

Benefits of Coaching

While working with a personal coach didn’t make all the obstacles disappear, it did help me gain perspective and stop overthinking decisions.  Through my growing awareness in the coaching sessions, I gained the confidence to push out of my comfort zone and to step out into new areas.  I haven’t looked back.

In fact, one of the first things I learned through being coached was how much coaching I did with those who report to me.  I often believe in their potential before they do, and it is one of my greatest joys to guide them into living from a place of strength and confidence.

Today, as I continue to work with a coach, the partnership serves me in several ways:

  • It provides an outside perspective for making decisions.
  • It serves as a sounding board and creative thinking partner for thinking through projects.
  • It challenges my assumptions when trying to make sense of situations.
  • It reminds me of my accomplishments when I feel bad about my progress.
  • It provides accountability as I am pursing my goals.

 

Is Coaching for You?

Coaching isn’t for everyone.  Many people are discontented with their situation and want to see things change.  However, I believe it was Tony Robbins who said that “change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”  Until you reach that threshold, change will not happen.  Have you?

If you have been reading my blog and felt a growing desire to move forward in the areas of professional communication, leadership, and intercultural intelligence skills, I invite you to explore what a coaching partnership could mean for you.

 

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

To learn more about executive or career coaching, check out this article from the Harvard Business Review:  What Coaches Can Do for You.

 

Cultural Intelligence, Interpersonal Communication, Our Blog

A Blueprint for Cross-cultural Communication

By Tasha M. Troy

In 2001, I made one of the biggest, most impactful changes of my life; I moved to South Korea and stayed there for just over eight years.

While in Korea, I grew in so many ways:

  • I discovered my niche student population.
  • I learned how to connect with my students, drawing out the quiet ones and reining in the overly talkative ones.
  • I developed key strategies for interacting with my Korean students, managers, and friends as well as my remarkably diverse language faculty colleagues.
  • I broadened my experience and deepened my understanding of different countries and their cultures.

 

I achieved a modest level of professional success, and I became very confident in my skills.

 

New Adventure

In 2009, I made another of the biggest, most impactful decisions; I moved back to the US.

I came back to the US feeling that I was now an expert with unique skills.  While this was true to an extent, I still had some hard lessons to learn.  While the basic demographics of my students were largely the same as my last few years in Korea, my classes were now quite culturally diverse, with no more than two students from the same country and no more than four speaking the same language.

Furthermore, the students used a communication style that I had become unaccustomed to.

 

A Communication Blueprint

You see, what I didn’t realize was that there are three general cultural communication styles, according to Susan Steinbach, who uses three sports metaphors to describe these styles:

  • Rugby – a loud style that involves a lot of “talking over” each other and frequently interrupting each other. It is very physically demonstrative and seems chaotic to an outside observer.  This style is used in South America, the Middle East, the Mediterranean nations, and most of Africa.
  • Bowling – a quiet style that involves each speaking clearly getting their own turns to speak with little or no interruption. It seems very reserved and orderly to an outside observer.  This style is used primarily in East Asia and Northern Europe.
  • Basketball – a moderately loud and somewhat fast-paced style that includes limited interruptions. It seems lively and relatively (though not perfectly) ordered to an outside observer.  This style is used in the US and Central and Western Europe.

 

The bowling style of Korea suited my personality, which helps explain why I was so comfortable living in S. Korea.  However, I now had several students from the Middle East and Africa, and my classroom gave me culture shock; I felt like someone had taken me off a bowling alley and thrown me onto a rugby pitch!

 

Moving Forward

It was my openness to learning, adapting, and growing that enabled me to come through those first years back in the US stronger and better able to connect with students from all communication style backgrounds.

Today, I know that many people face cross-cultural communication situations regularly, if not daily, and I know that there are many miscommunications that create tension and conflict.

  • Is it possible that you are misreading someone in your personal circle, whether at work or at home?
  • Are you misinterpreting intentions?
  • Are you giving the wrong impression?

 

If you want to connect with those around you, especially if they are hard to connect with, it is time to do a little self-examination and recalibrate your perceptions.

 

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

 

 

Cultural Intelligence, Leadership, Our Blog

The Magic Key to Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

How often do you open up to someone who clearly isn’t interested in your perspective?  For me, it is never.  That is why showing “mutual respect” is one of my foundational values.

For many years, my classrooms have had a high level of cultural diversity.  That’s the nature of the field of teaching I went into.  At one point, out of a class of 12 or 15 students, I had 8 or 9 languages and nationalities and at least 3 religions represented.

Respect in the Classroom

In order to create a flourishing learning community, I have to establish mutual respect.

As the instructor, I set the example for respect:

  • I respect their time by not assigning “busy work.”
  • I respect their personal goals, as distinct from the training program goals.
  • I respect the time and effort they have already invested to achieve whatever level of success they’ve achieved.

In turn, I expect them to respect me as their instructor and to trust my judgment and expertise, and I expect them to respect each other for who they are.

Respect in the Real World

Outside the teaching environment, I continue to endeavor to live out this value of respect.

  • When a friend makes an outlandish comment, I ask for clarification before challenging their assumptions.
  • I accept that people think differently and have dramatically different perspectives from me, and I can accept that they are still good people regardless of our point of disagreement.
  • I recognize that my priorities are not another’s priorities, and I choose not to get upset by that.
  • I choose not to take it personally when someone attacks a belief or position I hold. (Ok, I’m still working on this one!)

When we start from a place of respect, we open the door to progress on the issues that matter most to us.

We all come to the issues of our day from different perspectives, by different routes.  We must respect the journey others have taken if we want to have influence with them.

 

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

Cultural Intelligence, Interpersonal Communication, Leadership, Our Blog

The Secrets to Connecting with People at Work and Beyond

By Tasha M. Troy

It is difficult to describe what I do in just a sentence or two:

  • Do I provide professional communication skills training?
  • Do I coach people in cross-cultural situations and environments?
  • Do I develop leaders?

The answer to each of these questions is “YES!” Modern leadership of any sort is becoming more demanding.  Position is not enough.  You need a whole suite of skills. Our focus at Troy Communications is at the intersection of each of three distinct fields: professional communication, leadership, and cultural intelligence.

Professional Communication Skills: 

For over 10 years, I have worked in professional development programs, equipping adults with the skills needed for workplace success – giving effective and engaging presentations, participating in and leading discussions and meetings, preparing for and engaging in negotiations.

While the participants in these programs have all been non-native English speakers, I have come to recognize that many of these skills are lacking among native English speakers as well.  There is power in being able to communicate clearly and effectively, and I am passionate about empowering people through communication, no matter their role.

Leadership Skills:

In 2014, I decided to partner with one of the world’s top leadership experts when I joined the John Maxwell Team.  I didn’t realize how little I understood leadership until I read his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  Twice.

Dr. Maxwell promotes a style of leadership that is interested in the personal and professional development of those under the leader’s authority, making it an others-focused leadership.  The book changed the way I teach.  Instead of focusing only on language and communication development, I also endeavor to instill sound leadership principles into my teaching style and my lessons.

Cultural Intelligence Skills:

While my entire career has been in cross-cultural settings, in early 2016, I stumbled upon the field of CQ, or cultural intelligence.  Since the 80s, I’ve learned many skills and principles of cross-cultural competence through both studies and experience, and it has even been an element of the language and communication courses I’ve taught for the past several years.

What I discovered with CQ was a way to go deeper, a framework for assessing intercultural effectiveness and identifying areas for continued development, in myself and in those I am training.

Where these three fields intersect could be called “The Communication Skills of Culturally Intelligent Leadership.”

Starting with a personal awareness combined with understanding key principles from each of the three fields, we aim to develop effective leaders for our globalized and multicultural society, whether it is an international businessman or a grassroots political activist.  When we learn to connect with each other across dividing lines, we all win.

  • Take It Deeper

  • Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net
  • If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.
Interpersonal Communication, Leadership, Our Blog

Connecting Across the Aisle: How to Talk with Family, Friends, and Colleagues about the Issues that Divide Us

By Tasha M. Troy

In early November 2016, I went in to work as usual and encountered a coworker who was quite distressed.  She was very concerned about what it might mean if Donald Trump actually won the US presidency in the quickly approaching election; I had concerns of my own about the election.  As I sat to talk with her, I had a very uneasy feeling about discussing political views so openly when I knew there were differences between us.

Despite our political differences, we are still friends.

Connective Conversations

It used to be that politics was a shunned topic.  People understood it could be divisive and so, unless there were pertinent reasons to bring it up, it was largely avoided.

Then 2016 happened, bringing political divisions to the surface and into our daily conversations.

Today, sometimes it seems that politics is all anyone wants to talk about.  Now, I live in the Washington, DC, area, so politics is always a common topic here.  However, I’m seeing social media posts from friends and family all over the country, and even overseas, making sure the world is aware of their political views and positions.

Surrounded by Diversity of Thought

I am blessed to have friends, family, and colleagues who embrace many political positions.

  • A friend from work still declares that he’s “with her.”
  • A friend from college “still feels the Bern.”
  • A friend from church is working to “make America great again.”

These are people that I am happy to have in my life, regardless of their political position.  They are caring and intelligent people, every one, and it would be a great slander to “demonize” them as “other” just for their political views.  In fact, I find that I agree with each of them on certain points, just as I disagree with each of them on certain points.

One thing I have learned through my years of interacting with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life: People take positions for reasons that make sense to them.  I believe that where the communication breakdown often happens is we discuss conclusions, not reasons.

There is always an internal logic behind beliefs and decisions.

Where Angels Fear to Tread

When I feel it is important to discuss the issues of the day, I have found it is essential to choose my engagements carefully.  The conversation with my colleague worked out because she was open to my perspective.  We had already established a strong rapport and we respected each other.  I haven’t been able to have similar conversations with everyone in my circle.

When I discover someone is entrenched in their views, I don’t engage in conversation or discussion with them on that topic.  The few times I have, I have come away feeling slighted or insulted.  Instead of threatening the relationship by engaging in a “battle” I can’t win, I simply listen and walk away.

Sometimes people just need to feel heard, and I am ok with that.  At the very least, I begin to understand them at a deeper level, and it helps to build trust.

Seeking Common Ground

When engagement does happen, I try to follow John Maxwell’s 101% Principle – I find the common ground and build from there.

Common ground?  With THEM?!

Yes.

If you think there is no common ground between Republicans and Democrats (or other political positions), you are sorely mistaken.  I often find people from opposing sides have the same goals and aspirations.  While I realize that there are some out there with a distinct agenda, the disagreement among most is usually in the prioritization and implementation of achieving those similar and shared goals.

Tasha’s Tips for Controversial Conversations

Starting the Conversation:

When I want to intentionally connect with someone, especially over controversial topics, I start by asking, not telling.

  • What is their position?
  • What led them to that position?
    • Their experiences?
    • Their background knowledge/ studies?
    • Their values (personal/ religious)?

Then I listen to understand, only asking clarification questions.  This also gives me a chance to determine whether my friend is open to me sharing my perspective.

Remember – these are cross-cultural conversations!  The perspectives and views may be wildly different from your own.  Take time to understand where someone is coming from before you try to explain your own perspective and views.

Maintaining the Conversation:

Establish some ground rules to keep the conversation going in a positive direction.

  1. Both parties must be interested in conversation, not grandstanding or soap boxing.
  2. Emotions must be kept in check. If you or the other person starts feeling like you want to scream, it’s time to step back from the conversation for a little bit.  And don’t be surprised when this happens.
  3. Always communicate with respect and clarity. The authors of Crucial Conversations say that you need to be 100% honest and 100% respectful[1].
  4. You and the person you are talking with came to your conclusions by different logical paths. Share the information you gathered on that journey so that you have a more complete picture of reality.

The Third Side

Most political disputes assume a black and white approach, but so much of life cannot be so sharply divided.  When we embrace binary options, we all lose.  There is always a third option, a collaborative solution that is possible.  Are we willing to do the hard work needed to find it?

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

Reference:

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

[1] p. 22

Interpersonal Communication, Leadership, Our Blog

But What If You’re Wrong? How Negative Feedback Changed Me for Good

By Tasha M. Troy

A few years ago, I experienced a misunderstanding and miscommunication with a student.  I worked with her for a few months but couldn’t understand why she was resistant to my instruction and feedback—seeming even uncooperative.

It wasn’t until I saw the mid-term student evaluation of instructors that I realized my own misperceptions regarding this student.  It turns out that she had gotten the impression that I disliked her on a personal level.  This quite upset me because it was both untrue and not the impression I aim to give my students.

When You’re Wrong, It’s Never Apparent Right Away

As the instructor, it was my responsibility to correct the situation; once I did, the final few months were very positive with this student.

If I had maintained my perception of myself as concerned about my students and hadn’t been open to discovering and correcting the misconceptions, the outcome for this student would not have been as positive.

Kathryn Schulz, in her TED Talk “On being wrong,” points out that being wrong feels like being right—until we realize our mistake.  We often get so wrapped up in our own perspective that we don’t consider the possibility that a different perspective might give a clearer picture of the situation.

Of course, there are foundational truths that should not be diluted, but it is my observation that most disagreements don’t fall under that classification.  Rather, most seem to be over a question of perspective or priorities, and these are subjective.  You can only comprehend the bigger picture by listening to others, by understanding other perspectives.

The Four Levels of Listening

Mark Goulston and John Ullmen, in their book Real Influence, argue that, in order to exert influence, you must also be influenceable—which means hearing out others’ perspectives and ideas.

However, they don’t mean any type of listening; they describe four levels of listening:

  1. avoidance listening, or listening without giving your attention to the speaker
  2. defensive listening, or listening to respond
  3. problem-solving listening, or listening to accomplish a task
  4. connective listening, or listening to understand and build relationship

Goulston and Ullmen point out that if you are not willing to engage in connective (or conscious) listening, to hear others’ ideas and keep an open mind, your listeners are not likely to afford that consideration to you.

Seeing Conflict as a Growth Opportunity

This doesn’t mean that you need to abandon your own ideas; according to Goulston and Ullmen, “It involves not surrendering our judgment, but suspending it.”

You cannot properly evaluate an idea before you’ve truly understood it, and this requires attentive, conscious, connective listening—followed by the weighing of ideas to see to what extent, if any, you should adopt the new ideas.

Goulston and Ullmen, in their book Real Influence, say that connective listening “transforms conflicts into fertile ground where new ideas can take root.”  Isn’t this what we need to see happen in our communities and country today?

I encourage you to begin practicing conscious, connective listening with the people around you today.

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

Leadership, Our Blog

Building Trust in the Marketplace Starts with Me

By Tasha M. Troy

Have you ever felt misunderstood, that you were being treated unfairly based on someone else’s misconception?

A few years ago when I was leading a rather large project, I lost the trust of my team.  I had made a few bad decisions, and about two-thirds through the 6-month project, the situation reached a crisis point.  I had to make great efforts (and to humble myself) in order to sufficiently regain their trust so that I could coach them through to completion.

When I lost their trust, their success was jeopardized.

 

The Center of Trust

What can you do to resolve such a situation and move forward?

The root of it all is an issue of trust; it became clear to me that my team did not trust me or my intentions.

Stephen M. R. Covey, son of the famed author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that today, “We are in a crisis of trust.”  Trust is truly a highly precious commodity that is in short supply today.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Covey describes “5 Waves of Trust” as ripples in a pond: self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust.

It all starts with the individual: to what extent are you a trustworthy and credible person?

 

Two Elements of Trust

Covey goes on to say that “trust is a function of two things: character and competence.”  It seems to me that most people spend a lot of time and energy on developing their competence—pursuing advanced degrees and certifications, building their skills and expertise on the job—but few pay attention to building their character.

Character has its source in our daily decisions, which forms our habits.  The bottom line is that every day we can choose to make any situation better or worse.  If we consistently choose to make the situation better, we build the habits that lead to strong character.  However, if we consistently choose to make the situation worse (including choosing inaction), we build the habits that lead to weak character.

 

Developing Self-Trust

The first wave of trust, according to Mr. Covey, is self-trust, by which he means personal credibility.  Are you able to trust yourself?  If you cannot trust yourself, no one else will be able to trust you.

I find this closely related to self-discipline.  So many times, we hold ourselves to commitments made to others, but neglect the commitments made to ourselves.  How many times have you made the same New Year’s resolutions yet failed to keep them?

Every day you can choose to keep your commitment to yourself or you can choose to break it, choices that form your character and either establish or corrode your self-trust.

If you want to grow in the area of trust, Mr. Covey suggests starting with your commitments to yourself.  For me, this means getting up when my alarm goes off the first time, the time I intended to get up, and developing healthier habits.

Take It Deeper

What about you?  What commitments to yourself are you going to follow through on this week?

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.