Tag Archives: Perspective

Communication

Pay No Attention to the Pink Elephant

Pay No Attention to the Pink Elephant. karen-pink-elephant
At a recent retreat of senior-level managers, we started the day with a yoga session.  What a positive way to open a meeting, don’t you think?

The instructor arrived early, set up the room, and greeted the participants as we entered.  We were doing the initial breathing exercises when she said, “Forget about all the emails piling up in your inbox.  If you’re worried about what might happen later in the retreat, let that go.”
Her intention was exactly the opposite of the outcome!  When we tell our minds what not to think about, that’s pretty much all we can think about.  The experience reminded me of a coach that I had who was keen on neuro-linguistic programming.  This coach often says wittily, “Forget about the big pink elephant with white spots.”  Well, of course, what do you imagine we think about whenever she says this?  Did you picture a pink elephant with white spots, just from reading this?  It’s impossible not to think about what’s being described, even if only for a split second.
This is a valuable lesson for coaching employees and for improving performance.  Rather than telling employees what not to do, tell them what to do.  For example, instead of saying, “Don’t turn in the report late again,” ask, “How will you meet the March 15 deadline?”  Instead of saying, “Don’t be cranky with the customers,” say, “Think what this customer means to our business and greet her with a smile.”
It’s a small adjustment, yet it will reap elephant-sized results.
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Mindset - Performance Management

Wired

11292069_sI had an appointment with a manager today.
She had a cell phone.
She had a desk phone with caller ID and three lines She wore a beeper.
She carried a Blackberry.

During our 90 minutes together, each time a device rang or beeped, she responded. Although she responded to each of the 12 summonses in less than a minute, I left our meeting feeling jangled.

The next person I met with closed his office door as he came to greet me. He turned off the ringer on his phone, then looked up, and made eye contact. We covered our agenda. He took notes. We were not interrupted.

After 45 productive, business-focused minutes (and 10 minutes of chatting), I left feeling informed and connected.

Is it always responsible to be responsive?
Are you ever wired instead of connected?

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Mindset

Make Lemonade

19548888_sJulie and I went to college together.
When others saw lemons, Julie made lemonade.
It’s not that Julie had fewer challenges than the rest of us,
It’s that Julie wrote the book on turning challenges into opportunities.

These days, Julie and I don’t talk as often as we’d like. After all, between us we have two jobs, two husbands, five kids and one house to manage.

Before Ivan, we had two houses to manage. But now Julie’s house is floating somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve talked to Julie often during the past week.
I can’t help her rebuild her house, but I can let her know I’m thinking of her.

Julie is sad about her “new” life, but as usual, she is making lemonade.
“After all…” she says, and begins her “I’m-thankful” list:
“Nobody in my family was killed or injured.
Phil and I still have jobs.
My parents can take care of the kids until we find a place to live.
We just moved in, and I hadn’t even started decorating.
And guess what? I found some of Grandmother’s china buried in muck in the front yard.”

Julie has a new perspective about her bills, her colleagues, her work responsibilities and her life. And she’s thankful for that, too.

I don’t want to depend on a natural disaster to remind me to be thankful. Got any good recipes for lemonade?

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