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I Forgive You

Posted by on Jul, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

July 18 - I forgive you

 

An Uncommon Team Dynamics Solution

 

We’ve all had those times when we felt that someone on the team, or perhaps our direct manager, did something that created difficulty for us – and sometimes we feel that they did it on purpose!

During a recent team dynamics session with a client, it came out that his direct manager had not supported him in the way that he really needed and wanted over 6 years ago. He had not directly spoken to his manager in regards to this situation and was holding onto deep resentment about the situation. As a result, the working relationship between the individual and manager was highly stressed. And because of the lack of direct communication about this perceived injustice, the manager was unable to assist him through the situation.

My approach was to encourage him to forgive his manager because:

  1. Holding onto resentment was only holding him back, creating his stress and having a negative impact on his health. It is said that holding onto anger for 1 hour will impact your immune system negatively for 4 hours.
  2. The relationship between him and his Manager would never improve until he spoke directly with her and worked through the situation.
  3. Thirdly, his resentment was preventing him from having the success he desired.

Many of you may be thinking that forgiveness doesn’t belong in the workplace. However, in my experience, holding onto resentment has a negative impact on not only the relationship with the person who “wronged” you but the entire team dynamic.

Forgiveness is actually a selfish process. It happens when we decide that we no longer want the other person to “rent space for free in our heads” and choose to let go. Steps to forgiveness include fully acknowledge to yourself all the emotions you have attached to the situation, and how this has impacted you. The next step is to look at how holding onto these emotions is restricting you from moving forward and having peace in the situation. The next step is to make a decision to let go of these emotions while understanding that each person did the best with what they knew at the moment that the original issue ensued (even if they were wrong in your humble opinion). And finally, stating to yourself “I release you and set you free. You are free and I am free” while allowing the emotions to leave your body fully.

While forgiveness is a selfish process and allows you to move forward to even better things, it can also open up energy for a new and better relationship with the other person(s) involved. So give yourself the gift of freedom and fully explore how you can forgive that other person today!

To peace, success, and fulfillment,
Sylvia

 

Are you Silent but Deadly?

Posted by on Jul, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Silent Emoticon Icon. Flat Illustration Of Silent Emoticon Vecto

 

An Unhealthy Role that Sabotages Team Dynamics

I remember working with one client and having limited results. As this was unusual for my process, I began to look even deeper at the situation. One team member who appeared on the surface to be respectful was actively sabotaging the initiative.

Suddenly this individual was requesting days off when facilitations were to happen. We had looked at a more vocal team member and thought they were impeding the process however the problem truly lied with the “silent and deadly” team member. You see, through this person’s silence, they were actually yelling to their fellow team members that this will not work. Their energy was like a damn in a river – completely stopping the flow of healthy communication.

Through a number of meetings, it became crystal clear that this individual had decided that the team dynamics initiative would not work and by not engaging in it with their teammates, the person ensured it could not work.

When you are challenged by change initiatives in your organization you can do the following:

  1. Have the person’s direct supervisor/manager/director meet with each team member and ask how they are doing with the initiative.
  2. Inquire about any concerns that they might have. How can you as their direct leader support them more fully in this initiative? You can ask what they have actively done to support the initiative and what within the change is causing any challenges for them.
  3. Help them to see the benefits of the change for themselves, for their team, for the organization, and for clients.
  4. If they continue to block the change, you may need to help them see that it’s not their choice and that continuing to sabotage is a form of insubordination. And deal with it accordingly.

Sometimes the person who is quiet is not really in support. Their resistance can impede change that’s required for the success of the organization. Look beyond the “problem child” who is being vocal because they may be simply giving a voice for others who are not speaking up – and in such, a helpful partner.

Uncovering the silent person can release the energy required to ensure success in your organization.

Now I Remember!

Posted by on Jun, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

June 20 - Now I remember

And Other Things We Think we Really Understand

 

During a recent speaking engagement, I was sharing how to use great communication skills to create transformational moments in our teams. During one exercise, one group was chatting of memories as a child when their fathers pulled out the wooden spoon – one participant laughed as she shared, “Now that was a transformation moment.” I said, “I don’t believe that’s the same definition of transformational.” We had a good chuckle, and they returned to the table discussion.

While this is a humorous example, we often have miscommunication because the different meanings that as listeners place on the words vs. meaning that the person speaking intended. Couple this with the reality that our brain checks out of conversations approximately every 12 seconds, we tend to miss a lot of information during conversations.

The next conversational blind spot I’m going to share is about how we think the meaning of our conversations lies with us, the speaker, when in fact, whatever the listener hears is where the meaning really lies. In other words, we need to ensure that we are clear and are fully understood. Otherwise, we are likely to have a situation like the game, telephone tag – where what we think we heard was not what was intended – the message gets lost and people become confused.

It’s not uncommon in the workplace for situations like this to happen. As so many individuals fear conflict, they are unlikely to clarify meaning and will hope or ass-u-me that they understood. Then they share the directive or other important information with their direct reports. Then other leaders share their perceptions and before you know it, there are inconsistent messages being received along with inconsistent practices happening.

So how can you stop this insidious communication challenge?

  1. In one to one or small team situations, ask people to explain back their understanding, using their own words. The commonly used reflective listening practices often have people simply repeat back the words the speaker but words can have very different meaning for the listeners.
  2. It is important to ensure that the words you are using have a shared meaning – see the example of “transformational moment.” You can ask, “I want to make sure we are on the same page, so when you say ______, can you define what you mean when you use that word or phrase?” This will open the conversation up to explore a deeper understanding of one another.
  3. If it’s in regards to a Change Management initiative, then having a Town Hall Meeting where all team members are present will be important. Again, be careful that you don’t fall into jargon and that you explain clearly what you mean. Then ask for any questions and encourage people to ask anything that is not clear to them – whether in today’s meeting or in the upcoming weeks via email. Putting out an anonymous survey to learn what people understood can also be a helpful exercise especially if you have a less than ideal team culture.
  4. Role model asking for clarity and being open to having questions answered. You might even have someone ask for clarity in front of the team to show that you are open to fully explain your meaning.

Taking the time to ensure that both you, as speaker, and your listener(s) have shared meaning is a valuable and time-saving process.  If you do not, then people’s experience is likely to shade the meaning that they take from the experience. Time spent up front is an investment in ensuring smooth operations going forward.

You said what?!

Posted by on Jun, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Blind businessman

What really happens when we communicate

 

As my husband and I sit on Saturday mornings with our coffees, we will be chatting about something – and all of a sudden our dog, Josee, will hop to her feet with excitement. We are often left wondering what we said that may have sounded like “walk” or “treat” or some other important word that Josee loves. While this example with Josee is inane, when similar communication challenges happen in the workplace, they can set the stage for team dysfunction if not recognized and dealt with in a timely and effective manner.

As communicators, we often think that we are clear and easily understood, however our listeners, like Josee, can often walk away with a completely different understanding or in complete confusion. Given that approximately 70% of workers avoid difficult conversations that are often the outcome of miscommunication, these simple examples when chronic, can result in missed deadlines, lost time, and absenteeism. Being a solid communicator requires us to be self-aware and also be able to understand the reaction of the other person.

So let’s talk about a common Communication Blind Spoteveryone thinks the same way that I do. We often have an assumption that our worldview is shared by all. Our brain’s tendency is to think that our perceptions are shared by others. Isn’t obvious how I got to the conclusion that I arrived at in any given situation? Well, no it is not.

Every time we have a conversation, we are listening through our vast storehouse of life experiences. Believe it or not, like Josee, we hear what we think we hear. And our experiences are different than others simply because of our life experiences. In our brains, we have a bias of listening for what is similar to our past experiences and we make assumptions based on our life experiences.

So if you hear yourself saying “doesn’t everyone know …” or “isn’t it obvious that…” then you are caught in this blind spot. Here are 3 tips to help you:

  1. Recognize that you have made an assumption. Name it and then ask the other person what they understood – and how they perceive the situation. Listen intently for things that are different than your perspective and acknowledge them.
  2. Ask what they feel would be the best solution given their way of looking at the world. The best solutions come forward when team members with different perspectives open up and hear each other, then through the many rich experiences, a new solution can arise.
  3. When you are listening to others, recognize your assumptions and biases and name them. Then make sure that you paraphrase what you have heard and request that they clarify if you misunderstood them.

Blind spots in human behaviour are common and can result in confusion and conflict as individual team members will often feel unheard and devalued. However, when these very same blind spots are fully explored and understood the results will be innovative solutions and a highly functioning team dynamic.

Stay tuned for the next Blind Spot and solutions to it in our upcoming blog.

What Message Are You Really Delivering?

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Words Have Power

Throughout our country, we have endless campaigns to stop bullying as we recognize the devastation that it can have on our youth. Despite these government funded campaigns, the behaviour of candidates in the upcoming election is wrought with extensive bullying.

This is a clear “do as I say, not as I do” tactic. Where’s the personal responsibility? If you are name-calling other candidates, what does that say about your character? I honestly can’t hear what you are using as an election platform through this barrage of bullying. And even of greater concern, our youth are witnessing these behaviours – and actions speak louder than words! If you are engaging in these behaviours, you are role modeling bullying as an acceptable practice.

Human nature seems to make it easy for any of us – yes, we are all capable of this inappropriate, judgmental and disrespectful behaviours – to rationalize our behaviour or simply pretend that we are getting results by the way we communicate.

I’ve seen this happen in many organizations. Plaques proudly embossed on the wall are sharing lofty Missions, Visions, and Values citing how these values are core to the organization. Yet, the day-to-day behaviour of some leaders is in direct opposition to the Mission, Vision, and Values. I remember one day walking into my Executive Director’s office and seeing a huge plaque about sexual harassment, only the following day to have an inappropriate gesture from that very same Executive Director. As a staff member, it was demoralizing.

Sometimes it is more subtle than the examples above, like a disrespectful comment or lack of emotional management skills that result in the manager yelling at direct reports. We need to ask for help to ensure that we are not engaging in nor tolerating these behaviours as the leaders in an organization.

Here are some emotional management tools that you can use today:

  1. Learn to manage your emotions. Identify the emotion and then take deep breaths. This can help you to stop reacting and make healthier choices about your communication.
  2. Start journaling using the stream of consciousness technique. As you write, keep asking yourself what’s really bothering me? Once you have the cause, there is often a sense of relief.
  3. Get an Executive Coach to assist you in understanding how you are received by others in your organization and to help you communicate more effectively.
  4. If you are aware that you have been bullying in your behaviour or communication, make a plan to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Then apologize to the individual or team that you acted inappropriately with. During your apology, be fully transparent and share your plan with them. Invite them to tell you if you are making them uncomfortable. And be aware, that if you have been bullying them, they are unlikely to feel safe enough to be open around your behaviour.
  5. Use self-reflection on a daily basis to identify when you have made someone uncomfortable or when you may have become overly emotional in your communications. Take active steps to prevent this from happening again.

At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for what we say and do. Choose to ensure that you are in full alignment with the Mission, Vision, and Values of your organization. Make sure that the message you want to deliver is congruent with what you do and say.

Let’s start fully respecting one another and become strong role models for our team members and the youth in our communities!

The Art of Accountability

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

May 9 - Account4ability

When people are asked to define what accountability means to them, many conger up thoughts of uncomfortable conversations, defensiveness, and conflict. For some, it’s all about confronting “them” about how they are underperforming and what they “must” do to improve. When thought of in this way, accountability becomes something to avoid and put off. After all, you might have thoughts that the person that he or she will never really change their behaviour. There is an inherent discomfort in this entire way of thinking and viewing the world of accountability.

So we need a new mindset to achieve a different result. That’s why I coined the phrase and concept “Account-4-Ability©”.

At its core, Account-4-Ability© is about seeing another person’s potential and having a deep honest desire to assist them in their success. By holding the highest vision of the other person and appreciating that they are doing their best according to their awareness at the moment. This process is all about genuinely caring about the outcomes for the individual as well as the organization or project.

Here are four key concepts of Account-4-Ability©

  1. Every interaction is about Respect for all persons concerned. That means that we don’t judge or criticize the other person. We simply recognize that they can do even better than their current performance. And we choose to share information about specific challenges by describing behaviour and outcomes, never criticizing the individual’s personality or personhood.
  2. Account-4-Ability© is about Honouring the other person fully. I choose to honour you and our process together so much that as we build our relationship, we are truthful and honest with one another. Every time I think about you, I choose to see the highest vision of you – that place where you have potential to be most successful.
  3. Caring is a key component. In order for this to work, it’s paramount to focus on what you like and appreciate about the other person so that you offer feedback in an authentic way. As humans, we have mirror neurons that allow our brain to “read” how you are feeling towards us, so this cannot be faked. If necessary, find a small part of the person that you like and appreciate about them. Then focus on that throughout the conversation – otherwise you run the risk of alienating the other person – after all, we all want to be cared about.
  4. It is helping that person to realize their true ability through honest, constructive and respect filled conversations. Learning more about what makes the person most successful, offering help to remove barriers and help that person discover how they can grow into their potential. It is having conversations that go deeper than the behaviour of concern and into exploring the best working relationship for both of you.

Account-4-Ability© provides a process to champion each member of the team, while ensuring that everyone benefits from honest, respectful and caring interactions with both the project’s best interests and each team members highest potential as well. It’s a roadmap to organizational success!

Gratitude Done Right Creates True Felt Appreciation

Posted by on Apr, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

april 25

Ever had that experience when someone truly appreciates you for the impact you have had on their lives?

Recently, I had that experience when I was chatting with a client about some work I completed with them a few months back. She shared (complete with a smile on her face) the true impact of my work. She took the time to let me know how 3 leaders in the organization had created a new process that has radically influenced the teams. This was brought about simply as a direct result of our work together. I soon shared her smile – having lasting impact is what inspires me to do the work I do with team dynamics and leaders!

Let me tell you, I experienced true “felt appreciation” that day because I knew that my influence had made a lasting impact months after the work we shared.

So let’s peel back the layers and explore this concept. In contrast, another client I have worked with regularly buys lunch for her team members, but does not share the “why” of the lunch. Her rationale for buying lunch is to appreciate the hard work they do each and every day. As a result, the team gets a good lunch, but the gesture is quite lost. If you ask members of the team, they would have said that their leader never does anything in way of appreciation. You see, sharing the reason or ‘why’ behind your behaviour allows others to really feel that you notice and value their contribution.

So here are a few things to consider:

First, ensure that you share this gratitude in a timely manner. Letting people know that their behaviour created a positive experience for you is powerful. It tends to motivate and satisfy others that they are really valued. Make the time to do so. This will help you to feel increased well-being and is likely to improve the other person’s day as well.

Second, share the “why” of what makes their behaviour so impactful for you. Connecting it to your culture’s value system and sharing the reasons it contributed to your organization will create a more meaningful conversation. It also shows that you have thought about their impact enough to be able to speak at a deeper level about it.

Third, make sure that you take the time to express this in a way that they personally can take in. For some, a note of gratitude is much more powerful. For others who are motivated by recognition, acknowledging the appreciation in a team meeting may be even more powerful. Look at the individual’s needs to understand what would be most meaningful for them.

Finally, repeat, repeat and repeat – make gratitude practice a daily part of your life. For the next 21 days, challenge yourself to reach out to someone in your life every day to express your personal appreciation of how they improved your life in some way. See how many times you can produce “felt appreciation” for another person or team.

Because we all know the when we truly feel appreciated, it gives us much more discretionary efforts than those who do not experience felt appreciation. And that choice is up to you!

Road Blocks, Whiplash and Success

Posted by on Apr, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

A road barrier reading Progress in Action signifies that work is

You are working away at a change initiative and all of a sudden, you run right into a road block. You might feel a bit of emotional whiplash as you are gob smacked by this occurrence. The risk is seeing the “road block” as a problem and getting caught up in reactionary thinking. You know, seeing only the problem and not recognizing any progress to date.

Be cautious not to go into the absolutes – meaning seeing something as a success or a failure. The truth is often somewhere in between. Seeing it as good or bad tends to polarize our perspectives and limit our thinking (and others involved in the project). Check for those shades of gray or those in between colours that are often harder to discern. Once you train your brain in this way, you can tweak a process, and encourage the growth to continue.

Next time you hit a (perceived) road block, stop, step away and look at it from another perspective. Remember, resistance to change is natural and occurs when people feel frightened by the change.  So, if it’s a people problem, and it often is, look below the resistance – what was challenging for the person? What new challenge may have arisen that is actually a sign of progress? Is this an opportunity to shift the direction slightly to make the initiative even more successful?

If it’s a machine or systems issue, notice what shifted to enable this new “challenge” to arise? What was cleared away, what different ways are people working together? What caused the individual to shift from where they were to their current status? For example, are they now able to articulate potential gains from the initiative that they were unable to before? What are the potential solutions that this current “road block” offers? How might we shift our thinking to see this differently?

Many times, we are looking for large gains when those tiny incremental steps are actually the true success makers. It’s when we are open and willing to experiment with new things that the long-term progress can happen. Each time that you notice a micro-shift acknowledge it – champion the team or person to understand how we got here and how we can continue the progress to the end goal.

After all, when you open up your mind, see the progress to date, even if it’s micro steps, it indicates that you are enroute to success. Movement towards the goal sometimes looks from the outside as something sliding backwards. And there is always opportunity in it if you can view it as so!

Honesty and Respect in the House of Commons or in the Common Team?

Posted by on Mar, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Parliament_building

 

A few months ago, I was gifted with the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes tour of our Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. My absolute favourite place was the Library of Parliament as it was incredibly peaceful and hallowed. A place where people go to learn, explore and discover. In contrast, the House of Commons lacked that peaceful feeling. It led me to consider what made them so different. I realized that in the House of Commons, people are often debating, arguing, and challenging one another. Not a place of respect, but of undermining and blaming.

These kinds of behaviour can happen in the workplace as well. If you are working in a blame culture, there are things you can do to influence this.

As a Team Dynamics Consultant, here’s how the House of Commons could operate differently if we lived in never-never land:

    1. Everyone shares openly with one another. All MP’s held the values of respect and honesty in the house? And all parties let go of party interests and hidden agendas? Instead, all parties could openly discuss their initiatives and how to make them work best for the country.
    2. People took the time to really listen to each other before preparing their response. By simply listening, MP’s could better hear themselves speak and then recognize shifts in a plan that might need to happen for success.
    3. They give up the goal of popularity (or seeking votes).  They asked themselves, how could we all work together to get the very best for the Canadian people (i.e., their customers)?
    4. During Question Period each person would genuinely acknowledge a positive about a given initiative before asking a question for clarification. And questions would be asked to improve the program vs. exposing flaws. Frequently asked questions would include:

“How could we help you make that project more successful?”
“How could we be even more efficient in this endeavor?”
“What support do you need from me?”

Okay, I’m not naïve enough to think this will happen in politics! Yet, my goal is really to take politics out of your team dynamic!

Are you actively using these strategies on a consistent basis in your team? If not, choose one of the above behaviours and put it in place today. You can and will have positive impact on the system you work in. Imagine the peaceful workplace you could co-create!

Are you saying Not Yet, No or Yes?

Posted by on Mar, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

Susan Aglukark, Sylvia

“Trust the fear, it will always be there. Take advantage of opportunities and don’t fear the challenge, because that’s where the lessons are learned.” ~Susan Aglukark

I recently had the privilege to hear Susan Aglukark keynote and sing at a local event. She shared her story of how she minimized her ability to sing, citing she was simply a preacher’s daughter and “singing in the choir was what we did”.

Several times, she denied her talents to people in the music industry. I’m grateful that they encouraged her until she could see her talent and the opportunity it presents. As I reflected on her story, I thought about those opportunities I’ve let slip by in my life because I didn’t have the confidence to say yes.

How many times have you stepped back from opportunity because you told yourself you weren’t ready yet? Do you hold back, waiting until you have it all together?

Thinking that you just need to learn more before you could do a new task or apply for a promotion may simply be holding you back. Many people feel that they “just need one more course” or “I need more experience” before stepping up for a new identity.

Folks, it’s that fear being present – so just name that fear and step out of your comfort zone. Take the risk – because you might just be successful! If you make mistakes, you can learn and grow from them.

What if you fear success? Saying no because you are frightened will keep your gifts from being fully expressed. Because if you allow anxiety or fear sit in the driver’s seat of your life you will even more create chaos and doubt. Your mind will be busy monkey speak or negative self-talk. Fortunately, there are great techniques in my toolbox that can help you shift your mindset to realize your full potential! I truly believe success is possible for all – and that the fear of success can easily be overcome.

Playing small does not serve the world as Marianne Williamson says. So step up, be bold and see a new vision of yourself. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have given it your best shot and will have learned new lessons and skills.

Get a coach who will celebrate your wins and encourage your growth in business and in life. Sometimes we need someone outside ourselves to reflect back our real destiny and abilities.

In contrast, at the end of the evening, I meant another business owner who decided last year to say “yes” to all opportunities last year – and is experiencing remarkable success. And if Susan had of kept saying yes, we would have not had the gift of her wonderful message and voice!

Saying No, and not yet is likely to hold back your growth and progress so step up and take that risk!

What will you say “YES!” to today?