Being a leader means you can’t avoid difficult conversations, even when addressing conflict makes you uncomfortable, Marlene Chism writes. One of her four suggestions for inviting discomfort is to avoid interrupting during triggering conversations, instead encouraging the speaker to express themselves.
” from SmartBrief on Leadership
Rather than avoidance, engage to understand. Rather than terminating or firing the speaker, encourage the offering of alternative ideas, options to explore.
Attract people to your inner circle who are willing to disagree with you and who bring alternative viewpoints.
As the leader it is your responsibility to make the final decisions but listening and learning first will allow you to make better decisions. You don’t want your assumptions to get in the way of deep and exploratory thinking about a subject.
Unless you have a perfect memory for everything you hear and everything you read, you will need to make notes of important points you DO want to remember. By that, I mean not writing everything down because you don’t know what you will want later, but instead just noting the keywords and ideas. Learning to focus and to listen to understand and parse is a worthwhile skill.
Connecting the important ideas and writing down only keywords and phrases can most easily be done by taking notes as a mind map. The mind map allows you to add keywords or phrases to the topic branches as they come up.
It is also much easier to review your notes in a mind map than to reread whole paragraphs or outlines.
You will find that making notes about a topic you want to write or speak about in a mind map form allows you to organize your disparate ideas into logical branches before proceeding. You may find that if the purpose is to give a short informal talk, you can follow the mind map and give the whole talk without writing out a speech. Your talk will sound much more natural and you will appear well versed in your topic versus looking like you are reading from a document or note cards.
Helping Others Learn
The well known old Chinese proverb says, If you give a person a fish, he eats for a day, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life.
Teaching a concept to others is like that. They learn and can apply the concept. But teach someone how to learn, how to increase their knowledge, and you have given them a gift for life.
Teach someone how to read or listen effectively, so they remember what they read or heard, is like teaching them to fish.
Most people hardly listen. They can’t remember someone’s name nor what they said. When you learn to listen for content and context, for the meaning, then you will remember and those who feel listened to will remember you for that appreciation you showed.
Women need to change what they are doing that undermines their authority
It is not just the power stance, though that is a good way to stand when talking to others at work.
Stand up when someone comes into your office. It serves 2 purposes. First it will keep the other person from acting like you have all the time in the world to listen to them. Second, they are not looking down at you.
Train yourself not to end your statements as a question. There are two ways women do this that undermines their authority. First they end with OK? or right? or some time of question that means you are asking if what you said is ok with them. Second, even if you don’t make it an obvious question, you use the question tone of voice at the end of you sentence. You might want to record yourself and listen.
Back to the power stance, feet separated about a foot or foot and a half, facing the other person directly. Don’t cross your legs or lean on anything. Look directly at them. Make eye contact.
BTW, this is true for men, too. It just is observed more often in women.
Drawing or diagraming information you want to explain helps everyone understand it better, including you. When you sketch using stick figures, or flow diagrams, or a mind maps, or any way to help visualization, you will be able to show as well as verbally explain. The process of doing the diagram helps you simplify the ideas in your own mind. The process of explaining using a diagram helps others understand, and later remember, what you showed them.
Mental shortcuts, we all make them throughout the day. In a sense, they are necessary coping mechanisms your brain has been developing your whole life. Because there is no way to pay equal attention to everything within eyesight, earshot, and close enough to touch, our brain has developed filters to let in what it believes you need to know and leave out a large majority of what is going on around you.
Consider for a moment how you function during your daily drive or ride, or even walk, to work.
Most of what you pass by is a blur. Most of what you pass you take little or no interest. So much so that when you arrive at your destination you will not remember seeing or hearing most of what was actually there.
Your cognitive bias made those decisions for you. The filters you have built up to protect yourself from over stimulation and clutter worked.
But, and that is a big but, did you miss something that in the past wasn’t important but now is? Did you assume you knew what happened but really didn’t?
We can’t function in a busy world without our filters and we can’t take for granted that we didn’t miss anything important.
So what can you do? Ask others what they saw and heard. Ask for other viewpoints, other experiences, to add to your own. Be open minded about what you might have missed or added into a scene because of your filters, your own cognitive biases. They, too, have biases. Together you may both get a more complete picture.
Ask open questions and listen openly to the answers.
When you multitask you do a mediocre job of each, or worse. Think of the times you were doing email while on a conference call. No one could see you so you thought no one would notice; until, the boss calls out your name with, “what do think of that?”
Oh, oh! Now you have to admit you weren’t paying attention. Now you need to ask your boss for a ‘do over.’
To keep your focus on the meeting you might try listening so hard you are paying attention to the meaning, not just the words.
Or you can mind map the subjects during the meeting.
For sure, you don’t want to be thinking about what you will say when it is your turn. That, too, will mean you won’t be able to answer the boss’s question.
Have you noticed that your eyes often glaze over and your mind wanders as someone gets up in front of your business meeting with another deck of typical bullet pointed slides? How can you avoid being the next boring speaker?
If you pride yourself on your analytical thinking you have a double whammy because your business associates, your audience, most likely wants you to be short and to the point. Get to the conclusion. Keep the data charts out. Executive summary please!
If you would like to know how to be the most appreciated speaker at your next meeting by using mind mapping instead of graphs and bullet points, let me know. I’ll teach you how. To get started you can watch my TedX talk https://youtu.be/5nTuScU70As
We can find research to support which ever side of an argument you need. Is that hard to believe? Here is an example.
I do seminars on creativity and powerbrainstorming (™) so this research supports its importance: “according to the Adobe® (Nasdaq:ADBE) State of Create global benchmark study. The research shows 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth and nearly two-thirds of respondents feel creativity is valuable to society, yet a striking minority – only 1 in 4 people – believe they are living up to their own creative potential.”
80% say creativity is most important.
But another study by IBM of 1700 CEOs by AMA of 50,000 leaders proved’ 80% say the ability to inspire (which I also teach and do seminars about) is the most important trait for leaders and teams.
So here is a take-away, both are important and you will get different statistics depending on how you ask the questions.
Both attitudes force us to question what we and others are doing or suggesting. Both can have some healthy self searching and lead to good debates. But skepticism can end in great support for new ideas once questions are explored and answered while cynicism doesn’t give in or give up.
Be careful of people who are cynics but say or think they are skeptics.
Ask questions like what would it take to change your mind? How will you support this new effort if the majority of evidence says to move ahead?