Tag Archives: Active Listening

Communication

The Gift of Feedback

gift

Receiving feedback can feel like a gift, or feel like a hard slap in the face, can’t it?

So I have a lovely neighbor who is full of love and light.  When she sees me, she always finds the positive to report on.

“I love to see you pounding away on the pavement.” she compliments.

“Did you see how slowly I am going?  I never make it to a fast jog like you.”  I retort

“Yes, but you are out here and every motion you make is a positive one.” she replies.

Likewise, I have another neighbor who also notices both my actions and inactions.

“You have trash all over the yard.  Looks like you left the recycling out on a windy day again.”

I am thinking, “While you were talking, you could have picked up a piece or two.”

And as much as I don’t always appreciate her comments, she is the one who alerted me that we had lost a shingle, and she is the first to let me know when our dog has taken another unaccompanied walk.

Feedback at work is the same.  Sometimes it’s just the encouragement you need, sometimes it’s something you already knew and sometimes it’s a blind spot that you aren’t excited about, but nevertheless, you needed to hear it.

Feedback at work is one lense into how others perceive you.  It can also give you some ideas to help you plan your own development and that feedback can help you reach your full potential.

Tips for effectively receiving feedback:

  • Take long, deep breathes; they are free, take as many as you can.
  • Listen carefully – paraphrase to make sure you heard the message correctly. This also demonstrates to the other person that you are sincere in wanting to hear his or her feedback.
  • Ask for examples – direct the conversation by saying, “Tell me more” or “What have I specifically done to make you feel that way?”
  • Acknowledge – you don’t have to agree or disagree with the person.  It’s appropriate to recognize the other person’s input by saying “You’ve given me something to think about.”
  • Think objectively – evaluate the feedback. Ask yourself if the feedback is valid and important.  Have you heard it from someone else? Are the person’s standards and expectations valid?
  • Think about what you are going to do with the feedback – you don’t have to act upon the feedback right away. Spend some time thinking about the feedback and then determine what action, if any, you wish to take.

In my programs I sometimes ask for examples of feedback that have really helped participants.  I would love to hear from you.

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Employee Recognition - Management - Meaningful Conversations

Does Your Spot Award Lack Momentum?

Have you ever gotten mail or phone call telling you that you’ve won a cruise or timeshare?  Likely you have.  And likely you hung up the call or discarded the letter in the trash as ‘junk-mail’ without giving it a second thought.

Then again – if you had entered into the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and got a call or letter saying you’ve won, you’d likely give it a bit more attention wouldn’t you?

Publishers_Clearing_House_Prize_Patrol_awards_5000_A_Wk_For_Life

…Why is this?

…This is because you know about this sweepstakes; you’ve heard about it for years and have continued to hear about how it has changed the lives of those who have won.  In this case – you knew you were in the running for this award and the contest has credibility and importance in your mind.

Remember when you create spot awards for your employees – to do the same thing – make sure the employees know about it ahead of time; make sure they understand the importance of it and feel that it has some meaning and value when someone wins!

The next time you give out a spot award – remember to make it into a big deal.  He might get red and be embarrassed but that’s okay.  He will love it and everyone needs to hear it.

Of course you won’t mention the amount, just talk about all that he has taken on (literally name some of the work you know it).  Talk about his “can do” attitude, his willingness to embrace change….etc.  Make yourself a few talking notes before presenting it so that you know what you want to highlight.

The bottom line – don’t forget the balloons, the streamers, the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of the spot award.  Build up the spot awards to be something that employees are excited about and strive to earn.  This will go a long way to improve moral – and it’s fun!

 

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Communication - Parents - Self Reflection

Musings On Staying in Touch with Your College Student

A few days ago, my friend posted a picture of the most beautifully decorated dorm room I have ever seen.  It looked like a catalog ad.  Knowing my friend, she placed as much effort and thought into preparing her daughter emotionally for college as she did in helping her decorate her room.  She has always been a devoted and thoughtful parent.

Since I’m not busy this year buying comforters and setting up bank accounts, I decided I would compile advice for parents of college students. Having made the transition twice, I consider myself a quasi expert.  Below are my musings…

Whether you are looking forward to your child being out of the house, or dreading it, or a combination of the two, there’s a lot of change going on in your world.  Be gentle and accepting of yourself.

If you are old enough to be the parent of college student, you are old enough to remember life without cell phones.  It was cumbersome to call home when we went to college.  We may have used one central phone.  We may have paid a fee for every minute we spoke; we may not have had privacy.  Unless your child is studying in a remote and foreign land, it will be easy for him or her to call home.

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Then again – just because it is easy to call, doesn’t mean it will happen.  If you want to be called often, be a friend worthy of calling.  That’s right, a friend.  If you are supporting your son or daughter, you can choose the level of responsiveness that you expect with that compensation, but it’s a choice and it should be considered, not assumed.

If you are feeling an incredibly strong urge to give advice, call a different friend.  Call someone who’s known you as a friend for say, 20-30 years and will feel comfortable ignoring you.  Don’t give this new friend/your son/daughter advice. Remember that this is a new friendship and it is fragile.

If your daughter actually solicits your advice, even then consider stifling yourself.  I remember asking my mother for advice once in college and she said, “You have always made wonderful decisions and I know you will continue to make good decisions.  I believe in you and I will support whatever you decide.”  While I admit that I was frustrated not to have an “easy” answer from Mom, I have remembered her answer for decades; 3 plus decades in fact.

What advice have you been given that has lasted 3 or more decades?

 

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