All Posts in Category: Human Behavior

Leadership Insights

workshop-groupWhen conducting workshops on various leadership topics I tend to list several points for being effective in the area being discussed. Inevitably someone will ask, “Of all the points you listed, which is the most important?” Listed below are several leadership topics followed by my typical response.

TIME MANAGEMENT:   What gets scheduled gets done. Schedule your action items in specific time slots. If you get blocked on an item re-schedule it.

COMMUNICATION:   Stay in the moment. Wherever you are, be there. Give the other person your undivided attention. Make appropriate eye contact. Eliminate distractions. Ask questions.

MOTIVATION:   Help people feel “special.” Pay attention to them; spend time with them; get to know them; take a sincere interest in things they are interested in; listen to them; and encourage them.

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Helping People Feel Important

meeting-one-on-one2Successful human relations is really the art of making other people feel good about themselves. – Dr. Walter Doyle Staples

There are many ways to help other people feel important. Being courteous, polite, and helpful is a good beginning. Here are some additional suggestions:

  1. Be alert.
  2. Be alive.
  3. Be available.
  4. Be attentive.
  5. Be appreciative.
  6. Be approving.
  7. Show affection.
  8. Be accepting.
  9. Be affirming.
  10. Be a friend.

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workshopIntegrity is the cornerstone of trust, and trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. Therefore, trust and integ­rity are essential in order to develop your personal leader­ship.

Integrity is doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. It can also be defined as doing the right thing even if no one will ever find out or even if you don’t get credit for doing it. Integrity is saying what you will do and doing what you said.

Integrity demands that when you make a mistake, you own it, admit it, fix it, and move on. People who don’t understand the power of integrity spend more time and en­ergy covering up or denying a mistake than they would if they ad­mitted it, fixed it, and moved on.


Unfortunately, most people think they hold them­selves accountable, when in reality they are usually looking for someone or something else to blame.

When my son was 3 or 4, he was sitting on the floor in front of the TV eating a meal. His food and milk were on a tray over his legs. His older sister was sitting several feet away. When my son accidentally spilled his milk, he turned immediately to his sister and said, “See what you made me do!” His sis­ter hadn’t done or said a thing and wasn’t close enough to touch the tray anyway. Even at a young age, people have a tendency to look for someone or something to blame other than themselves.

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  1. planningBe nice.
  2. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
  3. Don’t shovel the river, let it flow.
  4. There’s no such thing as “all of a sudden.”
  5. This, too, shall pass.
  6. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
  7. People do things to gain a benefit or avoid a loss.
  8. People do things for their reasons, not ours.
  9. There’s no such thing as knowing too much, but you can say too much.
  10. Leaders are readers and readers are leaders.
  11. Watch what a person pays attention to and you can tell what their subconscious  intentions are.
  12. Fix problems rather than fixing blame.
  13. Fix issues, not people.
  14. It’s easier to act your way to a new set of feelings than it is to feel your way to a  new set of actions.
  15. You can when you think you can.
  16. Our only limitations are those we place on our own mind.
  17. Writing crystallizes thought and crystallized thought motivates action.
  18. Smile, and the world smiles with you.
  19. Honesty is the best policy.
  20. Talk with people, not at them.
  21. We become what we think about.
  22. If you know, do. If you don’t know, learn.
  23. Enthusiasm is contagious and is the oxygen of the soul.
  24. People respond to us, and judge us, by how we look, how we act, what we say, and how we say it.
  25. Life is about relationships; the better our relationships, the better our life.
  26. People are more important than things.
  27. What’s easy to do is also easy not to do.
  28. We have to get it into our head before we get it into our feet.
  29. Words are powerful.
  30. Showing appreciation is powerful – and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

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As a child you probably heard and maybe even said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” That statement would probably be near the top of any list of childhood myths because the pain from hurtful words and phrases can be “felt” long after the pain from a stick or stone is gone.

Perhaps your life was shaped early on when you heard words and phrases from someone you loved such as, “You’re lazy…stupid…clumsy…(fill in the blanks). Or, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Perhaps you have some frayed relationships because of poor word choice either by you or the other person.

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The most important component in selling is the ability to ask questions.

When asking questions, if you focus on finding the best way to serve your customer, you will intuitively ask the right questions.

You sell yourself by asking questions and showing an interest in your customer.

People like you because of the way you make them feel about themselves.

The only way to find out what the customer is thinking is to ask instead of to tell.

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From: “Throw the Rabbit, The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling

by Joe Bonura, CSP

A good listener looks at the speaker and makes Eye Contact.

A good listener does not finish the other person’s sentences. There is nothing more irritating than trying to express an original thought when someone cuts in and assumes the rest of the statement.

A good listener uses positive body language. Keep your arms open, and not crossed, to indicate that you understand their ideas. Occasionally, nod your head or shrug your shoulders to get your body involved in the process of listening.

A good listener uses positive verbal signals. Say “u-huh” or “hmmm,” or “I understand.” As the speaker gives you information, these verbal signals, which give positive feedback, will reveal that you are in the conversation. Imagine the confusion if you telephoned someone, but they made no response when you answered the phone. You would continue to ask, “Are you there?”

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Have you noticed that most people think they are better communicators than they really are? As a result, deadlines are missed, productivity suffers, mistakes are made, feelings get hurt, tempers flare, customers leave, and profits sag.

With more messages than ever before flying at us from all directions, even being a good communicator isn’t good enough these days. The gap between being a good communicator and being a great communicator can be huge. How would your business and life be better if you and everyone you interacted with improved their communication from good to great?

Effective communication is more than keeping people informed; it requires that people respond to your ideas, direction, and leadership. People respond to us by how we look (our demeanor and expression more than our physical appearance), how we act, what we say, and how we say it. The good news is we have total control over how we look, how we act, what we say, and how we say it. That means we have total control over our side of any communication. Since people respond to these four factors, and we have total control over them, the better we communicate the better chance we have of getting people to respond to our ideas, direction, and leadership. Listed below are seven ways you can improve your communication ability:

  1. Choose your words and phrasing carefully (what you say). Words are powerful. They can build up or tear down; encourage or discourage; clarify or confuse; motivate or de-motivate. Choose simple, easy to understand words that clarify, build up, encourage and motivate. Instead of “should have” (judgmental), say “next time;” instead of “have to” (parental) say, “get to” or “it’s important…;” instead of “always” or “never” use specific occurrences. Phrases such as “I believe in you,” “I appreciate you,” “tell me about it,” and “thank you” are powerful and get people to respond to you in a positive manner.
  2. Choose tone and inflection carefully (how you say it). “WHAT…. WERE… YOU… THINKING!?” will illicit a different response than “What happened?” or “Tell me about it.” Tone and inflection can help you emphasize key points. Improper use can also trigger negative emotions. People will remember how you made them feel (positive or negative) long after they forget the words you used.
  3. Choose facial expressions and body language that are congruent with your message (how you look and how you act). People will put credence in what they see over what they hear. Make eye contact. Stay in the moment (avoid looking at your watch, checking your pda, or otherwise disrespecting the other person). Avoid posture or gestures that might indicate you’d rather be somewhere else.
  4. Choose to listen purposely and actively with your eyes as well as your ears. Eliminate or reduce distractions, take notes, ask questions, paraphrase for understanding, and do anything else to insure you fully understand what the other person is saying, needs, and means. Listen to word choice, phrasing, and what the person is not saying as well as what he or she is saying. Your eyes can help by reading facial expressions and body language. My granddaughter (who is three) can read facial expressions and body language – and she’s never attended a body language course. If she can do it, you can too.
  5. Choose to communicate with integrity. I believe the truth will find you out and if you haven’t been truthful your credibility will be damaged. Besides, it is easier to tell the truth because you don’t have to remember what you said. When you communicate with integrity, you will feel better about yourself and be more effective in every area of your business and life.
  6. Choose to be a positive, enthusiastic communicator. Positive, enthusiastic people attract people and negative, dull people have a tendency to repel people. Choose to be the former.
  7. Choose to ask better questions to get better answers. When you are clear on your goal for a given communication, situation, or person, you will have a tendency to ask better questions and get better answers. Plan your questions in advance and/or have an arsenal of questions that you’ve found to be effective in given situations.

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Focus and concentration are critical to success in most undertakings and it is especially critical in human relationships. When you “Multi-task,” i.e. thinking about something else, checking your email, reading a report, or doing anything else while you are conversing with someone in person or by phone is not focusing or concentrating. Two things can happen and neither is good: 1. The other person will sense it and could feel devalued and/or 2. You might miss something crucial to the relationship or issue being discussed.

Either of these outcomes can hamper productivity, lower the quality of work, and damage an important relationship. Listed below are 16 tips for staying in the moment. Pick one or more that might be an issue for you and make a concentrated effort to improve. Then, pick another and continue the process until you are a master at staying in the moment.

  1. Focus on what the other person is saying.
  2. Pay attention to tone, inflection, phrasing, speed, volume, etc.; try to match the other person without being obvious.
  3. Use the other person’s name; this can help you concentrate.
  4. Paraphrase (helps you concentrate & clarifies understanding).
  5. Make eye contact.
  6. Face the other person squarely; avoid turning your shoulders as if you’re trying to leave, looking at your watch, etc.
  7. Eliminate distractions.
  8. Ask questions; pause and let the other person answer.
  9. Talk less; don’t interrupt.
  10. Avoid being judgmental or thinking about what you’ll say next; if you pause after someone speaks or asks a question, it will appear that you are giving the person’s thought or question careful consideration and, at the same time, it will give you time to think of a response.
  11. Acknowledge key points with nods and/or phrases (“I see,” “I understand,” “Right,” “Makes sense,” etc.).
  12. Resist jumping to conclusions or pre-judging.
  13. Ask relevant, open-end questions, e.g. “What do you mean by that?” “When you say…” “Tell me more.” “Tell me about it.”
  14. Act like the other person is the most important person in the world; at this moment, he or she is.
  15. Set a goal to learn something from everyone you meet.
  16. Help people be right.
  17. Take notes; have a mindset that you will need to send the other person a recap of what he or she said even if you won’t.

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Thoughts on Communication

  1. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate. Gerald Ford
  1. Communication is the glue that holds relationships together. It is the chief means by which people relate to one another.
  1. Communication, like nature, abhors a vacuum. In the absence of communication, people will create their own messages, typically in the form of rumor, innuendo, and gossip.
  1. The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel, and misrepresentation. Northcote Parkinson
  1. People get used to poor communication and accept it as a natural part of life.
  1. Most, if not all, people think they are better communicators than they really are.
  1. The biggest miscommunication is to assume communication has taken place.
  1. When communication is done correctly, people will be inspired to follow, and in the process will achieve inspired results for themselves, for the leader, and for the organization.
  1. Most conflicts and controversies are caused by people not understanding one another.
  1. The moment people see that they are being understood, they become motivated to understand your point of view.
  1. Everybody wants to feel important. Everybody can feel important when somebody understands and believes them. It doesn’t take much effort to help people feel important. Little things, done deliberately, at the right time, can make a big difference.
  1. Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk. Doug Larson
  1. One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears — by listening to them. Dean Rusk
  1. The answers are in the questions.
  1. People’s opinions, thoughts, and desires are often molded by the questions they are asked. Kevin Hogan
  1. I’d rather know some of the questions than all of the answers. James Thurber
  1. When you talk you only say something that you already know. When you listen, you learn what someone else knows.
  1. One of the key principles of business management is that words of encouragement or discouragement affect production. Leaders have great power to encourage and build up or destroy, discourage, and debilitate their followers with words.
  1. If you want to change what people are doing, you have to change what they are thinking. To change what they are thinking, you have to change what you are saying and, perhaps, how you are saying it.

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