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Comm Series #7: More On Candor

23 Feb

In the video Susy Welch says we are trained to be nice and this is the reason for our lack of candor. Another explanation is that candor often elicits a negative emotional response, this leads to avoidance.

How do we become sensitive and effective users of candor?  Practice is the key element. Effective performance results from careful preparation, lots of trials, feedback and refinement of our practice.  In human performance, we do our best when we work inside our style.


Comm Series #6: Candor

16 Feb

Communications tools will not work if we fail to practice candor.  Candor is quite simply honesty or directness.

Jack Welch in his book Winning says that candor in communications does three things:

1. It gets people into the conversation, and with more ideas and frank discussions, better decisions are the potent outcome.

2. Candor generates speed, and speed in our competitive economy is a powerful competitive advantage.

3. Candor cuts costs by eliminating meaningless, non-contributing functions such as pointless meetings and lack of follow-through.

Why then is candor so hard even for those of us who know its value and have had success using it?

Can you spare four minutes to consider why candor is so powerful yet so difficult to practice? Also, learn the hardest place to practice condor.  Go to


and under “related videos”  on the right, click on the “candor” link.

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Comm Series #5: Feedback

9 Feb

Recently the Gallup organization published an interesting finding from their “Q12” employee satisfaction survey.  Almost 70% of employees stated that they had not received any feedback from their immediate manager in the past six months. Gallup has substantial information that effective feedback builds engagement and engagement is a driver of productivity.  Consider the potential improvements in performance if every manager would even occasionally visit with his people about performance.

Feedback comes in many different flavors such as the spontaneity of an “attaboy” (easy to overuse) to the formality of an annual review.  The best have these characteristics:



Direct but sensitive



Focused on performance, not the personality

For a more in-depth discussion of effective feedback go to Feedback! What’s That?.

“I can live for two weeks on a good compliment”  – Mark Twain

Comm Series #4: Listening

2 Feb

Do you want to have an interesting discussion? Ask any professional woman “What irritates her about male colleagues?”  One of the top three answers will be: They don’t listen.

Effective listening is one of the most respectful things we can do with others.

Yet on a day-to-day basis in the workplace and elsewhere there is very little evidence of people practicing good listening skills.  Consider how often we are either not heard or misunderstood in both our private and work lives.  Why?

Americans always seem to be in a hurry and the “hurry-up syndrome” precludes taking the time to listen to others.  Also, most of us have a natural tendency to be thinking of our response when others are speaking.  This interferes with good listening and we often miss critical elements, make an inappropriate response and inadvertently offending others.

Improve your listening skills by practicing a simple procedure called “active listening.”  Although there are many facets to active listening, the essential ingredient is to restate or summarize what the other person has said.  This forces us to attend to the content of the message.

The benefits of effective listening are fivefold:

1.    Receive more information.

2.    Show your respect for others.

3.    Earn others’ respect and confidence.

4.    Save time.

5.    Can be an effective conflict management tool


Comm Series #3: You Are Always Communicating

26 Jan

As a manager or leader you need to understand that you are always communicating and you’re actions speak more loudly than your words.  Many of your people, usually the best, are always watching you and comparing what you say with what you do.

This phenomenon is your say/do ratio.  Here is the idea:  I will do what I say I will do when I say I will do it.  If circumstances change and I cannot deliver, I will inform you as soon as possible. This is an important measure of your effectiveness and is a core trust builder in relationships and organizations.

Consider colleagues for whom their word is their bond and compare them with those who make promises but deliver unpredictability.

Who do you respect?

Who do you trust?

Employee’s, co-workers, managers and colleagues perceptions of the say/do ratio is a key variable in their evaluation your effectiveness.

Covey says that effective people build a “well of trust” through how they treat people and they can draw on this trust in difficult situations. Therefore a high say/do ratio is an investment in your future.

How high is your say/do ratio?

How do you measure and manage it?

This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give.

For more go to Beyond Luck, click on “preview this book” and scroll down to page 12.

Comm Series #2: Principles

19 Jan

The very best of human behavior is principle driven, as compared with thoughtless, impulsive responses to situations.  Exemplary communication needs principles we can test our decisions against to assure we behave in a manner that is consistent and wise.

The over-arching principle of exemplary communication is simple:

The better informed people are, the better they perform.

This is more than a principle and it is also a belief.  As you test your communications competency begin by testing this principle in two parts,

Do you believe it?  and

Do you practice it?

With few exceptions it is better for people to know, than not to know.  One assumption of this series is that people are extraordinary learners.  However, people cannot adapt and learn without timely, accurate information from their environments.

I believe there are few exceptions to this principle and raise it whenever someone is considering what to share.  Please note the answer is not more, but rather what and how.

Comm Series #1: Welcome

12 Jan

to a series of posts that will try to examine every aspect of communication.

” The fundamental task of management is to make people capable of joint performance by giving them common goals, common values, the right structure and the ongoing training and development they need to perform and to respond to change.”

– Peter Drucker

If managing is “a principle driven art” then having a deep understanding of information and communication is an essential aspect of that art. Exemplary communication is the most essential ingredient of effective managing and leading.

Our understanding of leadership has improved markedly in the past few years.  Most people who write cogently about leadership now talk about a life-long developmental process that ultimately produces people who are capable of extraordinary performance in an organizational context.  Communication is an essential ingredient of this performance.

Communication, perhaps with the exception of mathematics, is the most interesting and complex aspect of human cognitive behavior.  In this series will explore all aspects of communication and will try to build a managerial taxonomy of communication that helps you think about and optimize the why, what, when, where and how of your communications style.  As with all blogs your suggestions for topics, sources of information and comments are welcome.  We will begin next week with the most basic principle of communication.