9 Core Truths From Frontline Managers

 

The real me isn’t the person I describe.

No, the real me is the me revealed by my actions.

Malcolm Gladwell

 

I recently concluded a training program with a group of managers who work in the hospitality industry. I Zoomed with them once a month for six months. During that time they participated in various other opportunities offered through HR.

At our final session I simply asked:

What have you learned that surprised you?

How will you follow through on that insight in the months ahead?

 

And so began a free-wheeling conversation!

 

The following nine insights emerged from our conversation.

 

If embraced and put into action by the managers these insights will set each of them apart from the pack and will help to make each of their teams a stand-out!

 

 

I used to care only about my agenda. I now see that aligning my goals with those of my boss will help me, my boss and our department.

 

How can you help your direct reports align their goals with yours?

 

I used to make them do it my way – now I see there’s more than one ‘better’ way.

 

This is the essence of “trust” – letting team members devise additional ways for reaching goals.

How can you foster more “better ways” in your team?

 

I hate failure – but there’s no getting around mistakes.

 

No one likes failure for a host of reasons. What do you personally do when you fail?

Beat yourself up or learn from your mistakes?

What do you do when your team members make mistakes?

What do they think you’ll do?

 

I easily get defensive – too easily – and I need to relax.

 

It’s so easy to get defensive!

What do you do when you have a difficult conversation with a direct report, colleague, customer

so as to help defuse defensiveness in them? In yourself?

 

I need to be a better active listener.

 

Listening is THE greatest gift we can give someone – and it is a skill that needs mindfully to be developed.

What can you do to make it easier for people to listen to YOU?

 

 

I want to do for my team what my favorite boss do to me –

she made me feel comfortable.

 

What do you do to make your team members feel comfortable with you? What does “comfortable” look and feel like?

Do your team members see you as someone with whom they can have a productive working relationship?

 

 

I do have a ‘little’ work to do with myself.

 

Smart people ALWAYS have “a little work” to do with themselves BECAUSE they know they’re a work in progress.

What specifically are you working on this week?

 

 

I have a lot of skills from having worked with a lot of personalities.

 

Strategic managers are familiar with the skills they’ve developed over the years and continually find ways to build on them.

What personality type do you find most easy to work with?

Most difficult to work with? What has each personality type taught you about YOU?

 

 

I feel good when I personally live out the values of the company.

 

Do you and your team all have a shared understanding of what those values are and how they are lived in daily practice?

 

 

All of communication is about PSYCHOLOGY and STRATEGY.

 

Understand what makes the other person tick, what makes you tick, and you can then strategize how to communicate.

 

The managers now have a keener insight into what makes each of them tick. And so each is in a position to take their key insight from the training and use it to strategize new ways of communicating in smart, healthy and effective ways.

 

Taken together, these nine insights will allow them to create connection, trust and surprise – the enduring hallmarks of THE BEST!

 

 

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

National Positive Thinking Day

 

Your attitude defines your altitude.

Zig Ziglar

 

This Sunday, September 13th, is National Positive Thinking Day.

I know –  with Covid + mass unemployment + national elections + raging fires here in California and the Northwest – why even bother mentioning this holiday?!

 

Well, because – that’s why!

 

My father was a great storyteller who had an appreciation for the absurd. With Scotch in hand, he was a jolly good-fella whom people enjoyed.

 

Although he had a great sense of humor, my father was not an optimist. While he could laugh so hard that he’d cry, the proverbial glass was ALWAYS half empty.

 

We were a Catholic family and like many Catholics of his generation, he could quote the Catechism. The first question in that book is: “Why did God make us?”

 

The classic answer is, “God made us to know, love and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.”

 

My father would quote this and point out, “It doesn’t say anything about being happy in this world. We’re not meant for happiness.”

 

This belief, which is a perversion of Catholic theology, allowed him to explain every disappointment, misstep and misfortune that happened in his life.

 

He was a fatalist and as such had low expectations for life.

 

Dreams didn’t amount to much because they most likely would be decimated.

 

Hopes were pleasant but did little more than aspirin.

 

I had to work hard to understand how his belief system was grounded in a lie – a lie that allowed him to aspire for very few things of value.

 

All these years later, I don’t think my father was unique in his fatalism. In fact, I think it’s far more common than we care to admit in this “feel-good” society of ours.

 

Mildred (85) is the oldest resident in my condo building.

 

She told me that she and her husband raised their family in this building although she had never wanted to live here. She wanted to own a house but her husband wouldn’t hear of it.

 

She lamented, “I’ve been miserable in this place for forty years. Can you believe that?” And I did detect a twinge of pride in her voice.

 

I laughed, saying, “Of course I can!”

 

It’s easy to surrender power and believe that ultimately life is controlled by forces outside our control.

 

Viktor Frankl, one of last century’s greatest writers and a survivor of Auschwitz, fervently believed that,

 We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

 

You don’t need me to remind you that the circumstances and events of 2020 give more than a little credence to my father’s mantra about happiness!

 

BUT

 

The haunting and enduring conviction of Frankle bears stark witness, reminding us to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

 

National Positive Thinking Day is more than a cute, feel-good fabricated holiday. It’s an urgent reminder to:

 

Find joy.  Be powerful.  Think positive!

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Only Way To Break The Tyranny of Pefectionism

 

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best,

it is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves,

the part that tells us nothing we do will ever be good enough.

Julia Cameron

 

 

Sally is a multi-lingual, well-traveled client who lives an interesting and “good” life. Heck, I wish I’d lived in half of the countries she’s lived.

 

She came to me because she’s tired of being mean to herself. She wants me to help her learn how to be more forgiving of her imperfections.

 

While she was growing-up, Sally’s mother (a single mom) expected her to be “perfect.” And so she placed upon her an array of harsh and unrealistic expectations.

 

Sally knows she can never attain “perfection,” BUT that realization causes her to slip into an attitude of, “what’s the use?”

 

Since there is “no use” she freezes and gives up on goals and projects. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle in both her professional and personal worlds.

 

She sabotages relationships. She sabotages work projects.

 

Sally’s perception of herself is critically distorted by her insistence on a fathom notion of perfection. When she says that she wants to learn how to be kind to herself, what she’s really saying is that she wants to learn how to get freed of perfections grip.

 

I’m convinced that the pursuit of perfection has caused more harm than any other character or personality “failing.”

How break the unrelenting cycle perfectionism creates?

 

Consider these questions:

  1. Who said you had to be perfect?
  2. Why was it important to them that you be perfect?
  3. Did they ever take the time to explain what would happen if you were not perfect?
  4. Have those dire predictions come true?
  5. Since you’re not perfect, how has your life suffered from being imperfect?
  6. If you were able to achieve perfection, how would your life be different?
  7. And if you were perfect how would the lives of the people you work with be different? The people you love?
  8. Since it’s unlikely (seriously) that you will achieve perfection, what can you do to achieve excellence?
  9. Could “excellence” give you as much satisfaction as “perfection?”
  10. Whatever your answer to #9, how do you know that answer is true?!

 

My suggestion – strive for excellence. Get acquainted and comfortable with excellence. Then – and only then – if you want, begin to strive for perfection.

 

I think you’ll find that excellence is not too shabby a place!

 

But – there’s more – always more!

 

A while ago I came across this passage and it was like that cliched splash of cold water in the face!

 

While the passage speaks to the experience of gay men, I think it speaks to the experience of so many – gay or straight, male, female or non-binary. I think it speaks to Sally’s experience and she is a straight, cisgender woman.

 

What would you like me to be? A great student? A priest in a church? Mother’s little man? The first-chair violinist? We became dependent on adopting the skin our environment imposed upon us to earn the love and affection we craved. How could we love ourselves when everything around us told us that we were unlovable? Instead, we chased the affection, approval, and attention doled out by others.

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World

By Alan Downs

 

What would you like me to be?

That’s the question Sally was trained to ask of her mother while growing-up. And her mother’s answer was always the same, “I want you to be perfect.”

 

It’s the question so many of us were trained to ask while growing-up. And the answer many of us received was, “I want you to b perfect.”

 

And then we grew-up and hadn’t a clue as to what “perfect” was supposed to look like and sound like and feel like.

 

Sally doesn’t know who she would like to be. She does know that “perfect” is no longer the right answer. From a place of confusion, she lashes out at herself and is unkind.

 

She asked me to help her learn how to be kind to herself.

 

The only way she will be kind to herself is if she learns and embraces who she would like to be.

 

And so, I’ll add two other questions to the above list of questions:

  1. Who do you want to be?
  2. What are you willing to do to become who you want to be?

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

Breaking Free From the Tyranny Of “Should”

 

Every next level of life will demand a different you.

Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Maybe it’s because the world keeps tumbling upside-down that in the last month I’ve encountered several people who spent a lot of time telling me how life is not fair and, in particular, how each of their lives shouldbe different – and not just because of Covid.

 

As I emphasize in my workshops, we’re prone to telling ourselves “lies” – statements of belief and attitude that are untrue and unrealistic. One of these self-deluding lies is that life should play out the way I think it should play out. And if it doesn’t, then something is critically wrong.

 

Ray (all names changed) is the Assistant Director Of Finance for a mid-sized business. He came to me upset with his performance review that landed him on a PIP.

 

He speaks to colleagues abruptly and takes the rejection of his ideas personally, usually by raising his voice, storming off from a conversation, and shutting down. While he later apologizes, the drama is taking a toll on his performance record and on the climate in his department.

 

In our first session, he became heated as he explained to me how “they” SHOULD see the truth of his opinions.

 

Clinging to should makes him a martyr for his convictions.

 

Without intending to be, he is a harsh, demanding and unforgiving task master especially to himself.

 

He reminds me that people obsessing about how things should be are seldom happy people.

 

Oh, and in addition to all that, he asked me, “Why should I smile in the morning at my colleagues if I’m not happy?”

 

Alana, who works at an IT start-up, quickly explained to me that she has a high work standard – if she sees a need, she does it without being asked, she’s willing to go the extra mile AND she proudly told me that she doesn’t need to be complimented on any of her work.

 

This is what she expects from her team and she thinks she should not have to spell it out for them. They should follow her lead.

 

As she said (in an annoyed tone of voice), “I’m not here to hold their hands and I shouldn’t have to give them compliments for work they’re being paid to do.”

 

Say should in the tone of a mantra and you will charge up feelings of frustration and anger that will result in you either shutting down or blowing-up.

And then, when the other(s) reacts in kind to these energy-draining out-burts, the should folks label them “difficult.”

 

And so, the circle is formed!

 

BUT – here are some questions to reflect on –

  • Why should your team share a work ethic with you?
  • Do they know the benefits of doing things your way?
  • Why are you certain that if others do things your way, they will succeed and be happy?
  • What needs to be done so they know the benefits?
  • Why should they believe you? Trust you?
  • How did you develop your should beliefs?
  • Would you have developed them without the influences you had?
  • Is your should really THE best way?

 

And THE most important question –

If you truly believe that something should be done a certain way then

what is your responsibility in bringing that SHOULD to life?

 

YOU have the responsibility to help people see – understand – relate – to the benefits your SHOULD will bring them.

 

To manage means you agree to be willing to have hard conversations. Helping people understand your should is one of those hard conversations.

 

There’s more (of course!)

I’m reminded of David, a UCLA Extension student, who wrote about his struggle with “should.”

I had a boatload of expectations for how my life was supposed to work out. I kept wondering, though, why things always fell apart. 

I was convinced that if you act a certain way, dress a certain part and do what you’re supposed to do then life would fall into place as it ‘should.’ 

I resented that my life hadn’t worked out the way I was told it would and was always waiting for things to happen as I expected they should.

I’m now at a phase in my life where everything is uncertain. If you asked me three months ago what my plan was, I’d have given you a road map, foolishly thinking I could walk it through without failing.

Now I see that expectations of how life SHOULD be can be the demise to almost anything.

I’ve recognized the many ways in which I’m hard on myself, the areas of opportunity where I can grow and most importantly I’ve discovered the ability to be surprised again – something I thought was long gone.

 

David believed life “should” be the way he envisioned and when he encountered disappointments he became disillusioned and discouraged. He couldn’t envision alternatives and couldn’t see the opportunities smack in front of him.

 

He hasn’t given up on his dreams; he has, though, given up on insisting how those dreams “should” become reality.

 

And so, his life has expanded.

 

Do you want to loosen your grip on SHOULD and so expand your possibilities – for your own self and for those you impact?

 

Practice these steps:

  1. Be aware of what you’re feeling, especially chronic irritation.
  2. Explore how your feelings affect your attitude. Do you believe you’re a victim? Hopeless? Helpless?
  3. Gauge the certainty of your commitment to “should.” How do you know it “should” go your way? There is a difference between needed technical procedures vs. mere preferences.
  4. What are you afraid will happen if life is not as it “should” be?
  5. What is your willingness to explore reasonable alternatives?
  6. Remember – experiment is not a permanent commitment!
  7. If your experiment fails, can you commit to learning from it?

 

Practicing these steps is what Emotional Courage is all about.

All emotionally courageous people are confident because they live free of the “tyranny of should.”

How about you –

Is there a “should” you need to let go of?

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

15 Things I Know For Sure About Talking To People

 

We cannot put off living until we are ready.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

This summer I’ve been teaching an 11-week on-line course – the Dynamics Of Interpersonal Communication.

 

Each week I give the participants an array of resources including articles, podcasts and videos. Because we typically have so much to cover in our weekly sessions, we seldom have a chance to talk about any of those resources.

 

This past week I divided the class into three groups of four people and I met with each group for a one-hour Zoom chat centered on their reactions to their favorite resources.

 

It was a risky move on my part as I wasn’t sure how any of these conversations would pan out. To my surprise, relief and delight each group conversation was a revelation. Lively, engaging, free-wheeling and no conversation ever came close to duplicating the other two in terms of topic, range and insight.

 

Once again, I was reminded that good things can come from good conversation!

 

Currently I’m working with three clients who sought me out because each feels crippled by shyness.

Each wants to figure out how to talk tactfully, intelligently and spontaneously in a variety of situations and with a broad range of people.

 

These three clients are diverse in terms of age, life and professional experiences.  While each has their own particular issues and goals, each wants to become more comfortable while engaging with others.

 

While they won’t gain traction on their goals in “6 Easy Steps,” I think I can help them reach that place of ease and sociability because each has a “fire in the belly” to break through what is holding them back.

 

Are you wanting to break through a shyness that inhibits your social success at work?

 

Here are my Top 15 life-learned truths about talking with people –

people of any generation, position or experience.

 

  1. Generational differences don’t matter when having a good conversation. Lively talk is lively talk.
  2. Observe the other person and their surroundings – and ask questions based on those observations of what you see and don’t see.
  3. Remain open to being non-defensively challenged from anyone’s odd or probing questions.
  4. A compliment can go a long way in creating a relaxed climate.
  5. Be present in a conversation – don’t leave the work of a conversation up to the other person because then you could be taken conversationally hostage.
  6. Have some kind of animation and know how to modulate it to the other’s personality.
  7. Don’t expect people to fully understand what they’re saying – heck, far too often I don’t understand what I’m saying!
  8. Most people want to present themselves in the best possible way, though their tactics may not always be the best and so you need to be on the look-out for that best.
  9. You will not always understand the other person’s p.o.v. and that’s when curiosity expressed as a “why?” question can illuminate.
  10. Recognize that you are biased – it only makes sense that you click more readily with some people than with others. You may not always like the other person, but that doesn’t diminish the potential for productive conversation.
  11. Recognize that everyone has a particular instinct that helps or hinders them. Personally, I am guarded and have a residual, knee-jerk lack of trust – so I need to recognize this instinct and be vigilant that it doesn’t trip me up.
  12. With some conversations the stakes are just not that high – and it’s too much effort to care about the outcome – and that’s okay.
  13. Remember the conversations you have had with generous people and also remember that you have an obligation to be for others what those generous people were for you.
  14. Everyone has the capacity to surprise you – and me – because everybody has a story and IS a story.
  15. You never know what a conversation will lead to – friendship, love, employment, or just a hangover!

 

To explore how communication  skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

The Power Of Being a Dynamic Speaker

 

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life –

and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

Georgia O’Keeffe (American artist)

 

Today’s post is a sneak peek for my upcoming Aug 26th speaker training with the awesome Marla Diann of marladiann_mentor_to_creatives where we give our best in a 2-hour training from our 40+ years combined experience of delivering presentations and how to turn those into qualified leads!

Early REGISTER only $99. www.marladiann.com/speaker-training

 

I’m afraid of heights and especially hate rollercoasters. So, of course, last year what did my godson Finn want for his birthday? He wanted me to take him to Magic Mountain!

 

When I got strapped into each ride I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I was determined to keep fear in check, but when the ride rocketed, I just screamed my head off.

 

After each ride I felt like vomiting, yet I also felt satisfied. I hadn’t let fear win. More than rollercoasters, I hate being afraid. I don’t want to be controlled by fear.

 

I regularly work with people who are paralyzed with the most common of fears – the fear of Public Speaking. Of all the communication skills I coach, public speaking is my favorite. I think it’s because I was painfully shy in high school.

 

While I’ve not discovered a “secret” formula for overcoming fear, what I have learned is that fear is fueled by clinging to a lie – a lie that seems so true that to deny it seems to be a lie in itself.

 

I see this in many of the people I coach. Take Ralph, for instance ­–

My greatest fear is not being “enough.” When I think back to my childhood, I remember I thought I was invincible. I did well at so many things, I knew I would have a successful life. However, sometime after high school, I lost faith in myself; faith turned into fear. Fear of not being “enough.” This fear has led me to play it safe, because I am trying to avoid situations where the attention is all on me, or to do things that would embarrass me.

 

Ralph was a participant in a six-week workshop I offered on breaking through the fear of presenting. For his first presentation, Ralph told an odd story that had the class laughing. Yes, he was obviously nervous, but his nerves didn’t derail the tale. The class gave honest, encouraging feedback. His accent didn’t distract them (Romanian); his nerves didn’t distract them. He surprised them and they wanted more.

 

For some folks speaking in front of people is as frightening as riding a rollercoaster. But is my fear of rollercoasters the same as Ralph’s fear of speaking?

 

In a way, yes, because both fears are grounded in the expectation of the worst happening. Both are grounded in believing a lie.

 

Here’s the thing – we only break through fear by believing in and building on our strengths.

 

To build on those strengths, we have to know what they are AND we have to know why we have those strengths. If we don’t understand what we’re good at, then we can’t break through fear.

 

Oftentimes we resist taking a hard and grateful look at our strengths because it’s more comfortable believing the lie that we suck at something. Being helpless can be consoling in an odd sort of way.

 

True confidence means owning one’s strengths and acknowledging one’s weaknesses – and using both to reach a goal. No one becomes great at something by focusing solely on mistakes.

 

To learn what you’re good at, embrace the compliments people offer you. They’re not simply being “nice” – they’re acknowledging your strengths.

 

You have to believe you’re worthy of people’s attention. If you don’t believe you have anything worthwhile to offer then that will come across and people will ignore you.

 

AND there’s one more piece to all of this –

 

My 85-year old neighbor, Martha, told me that when she was younger she used to be a pack-a-day smoker. I was stunned as she’s fit and active and I can’t imagine a Virginia Slim dangling from her lips. She went cold-turkey when the doctor told her that if she didn’t quit, she’d die.

 

Cold turkey.

No support-group.

No patch.

Just a lot of Tic-Tacs!

 

Is it possible to go cold turkey with fear? To just say, “I’m not going to be afraid any more” and pop a lot of Tic-Tacs?!

 

Martha’s fear of dying was greater than her fear of not smoking.

My fear of turning into a boring person was greater than my fear of speaking in public.

My fear of disappointing Finn was greater than my fear of heights.

 

The secret to breaking through a particular fear is having a fear that is stronger and more compelling than a lesser fear!

 

We always have fear. The trick is can you find a fear that will propel you to take action on your own behalf and so smash through that other crippling fear?

 

The truth is you can lead a happy, successful life without speaking in public. Hoards of people manage to do this. BUT– why limit yourself?

 

If you develop the skill of speaking something profound will happen.

 

You will become more YOU.

 

You will find your voice AND you will learn how to use your voice for the common good.

 

Do you believe YOU are a “gift?”

 

Do you believe YOU have something to offer that is a “gift?”

 

Let your fear of not becoming YOU shatter any crippling lie that mutes you!

 

I am EXCITED to tell you that I have teamed up with renown Success Coach and Business Strategist @MarlaDiann_mentor_to_creatives to offer a 2-hour Speaker’s training on August 26th.

This Zoom training is for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

Registration is now open. https://lnkd.in/gvHRFnq

 

Speaking is the best lead generator on the planet. How’s it working for you?

Leadership and brand presence have taken on a whole new meaning since Covid hit our lives. As an expert, you have the world at your fingertips like never before due to our required online pivot.

Marla and I are here to help you excel at your speaking platform. Our collaborative and humorous style will put you at ease as you learn what it takes to deliver a compelling, much talked about speaking presentation that creates the reputation you desire and the leads you most want.

Between us we have over 40 years of inspiring and entertaining audiences large and small to help you excel!

I’ve lived the past two decades+ teaching and coaching confidence and purposeful communication to professionals from more than thirty countries, in addition to officiating weddings, writing and keynote speaking.

Marla has three decades of PR, branding, speaking, coaching and leading workshops.

What this means is that you’re in for a jam-packed FUN and enlightening 2-hour training!

Stories – Insights – strategies – inspiration and encouragement guaranteed as we hang out together!

Register early rate at https://lnkd.in/gATBQMv

Zoom training for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

 

I am EXCITED to tell you that I have teamed up with renown Success Coach and Business Strategist @MarlaDiann to offer a 2-hour Speaker’s training coming up August 26th.

 

This Zoom training is for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

 

Registration is now open. https://lnkd.in/gvHRFnq

 

Speaking is the best lead generator on the planet. How’s it working for you?

 

Leadership and brand presence have taken on a whole new meaning since Covid hit our lives. As an expert, you have the world at your fingertips like never before due to our required online pivot.

 

Marla and I are here to help you excel at your speaking platform. Our collaborative and humorous style will put you at ease as you learn what it takes to deliver a compelling, much talked about speaking presentation that creates the reputation you desire and the leads you most want.

 

Between us we have over 40 years of inspiring and entertaining audiences large and small to help you excel!

 

I’ve lived the past two decades+ teaching and coaching confidence and purposeful communication to professionals from more than thirty countries, in addition to officiating weddings, writing and keynote speaking. Marla has three decades of PR, branding, speaking, coaching and leading workshops.

 

What this means is that you’re in for a jam-packed FUN and enlightening 2-hour training!

 

Stories – Insights – strategies – inspiration and encouragement guaranteed as we hang out together!

Register early rate at https://lnkd.in/gATBQMv

 

The “I Didn’t Want to Say Anything” Syndrome

 

Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.

Hermann Hesse

 

The pandemic has reminded me just how much I don’t like to cook and how much I miss my local hangouts. Sadly, one of those joints, an Italian bistro, has shuttered its doors. It’s going to be hard after the pandemic ends (it will end, yes?) to replace this eatery because the servers knew my usual order and the food was way better than anything I could rustle up.

 

Ellen, the owner, used to have a manager, Louis (names changed), who treated customers as friends, but in an annoying kind of way. He’d stand too near the table, lean in too closely when telling a “joke” and talked incessantly, even after food arrived at the table. He had no sense of boundaries and wouldn’t / couldn’t take a hint.

 

Oddly, no one complained, including me. People simply stopped coming in (not me). Eventually, Ellen figured it out and let Louis go. Customers returned, but Ellen was puzzled.

 

Why hadn’t anyone said anything to her since she could have taken action sooner?

 

Maybe it’s because I’m from New York and am used to neighborhood “characters,” but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to simply stop coming in because of Louis. Besides, I always brought a book and used it as a shield.

 

So why did people not want to tell Ellen about Louis?

 

She asked returning regulars and some claimed they didn’t want to be responsible for him losing his job. Seems it never occurred to them that if they stopped giving Ellen their business, she wouldn’t have money to pay his salary!

 

Other customers gave the vague reason they “didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.” It was easier to stay away from a place they enjoyed than complain.

 

Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Way back in the lost land of January, I coached a team of four managers who worked in the same department. I was brought in to help them generate a smoother flow of communication. Ideas ranged from replying faster to email to socializing after work so as to get to know each other better. Ah, the good old days of “Happy Hour!”

 

The youngest of the group, Marie, said they needed to have more direct lines of communication. On the job less than six months, she shared with me that she already was afraid to go directly to two of her colleagues as she found them intimidating. Instead, she’d go to the remaining member of the team who usually couldn’t help her, but who lent a sympathetic ear!

 

“Nice” people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings and don’t want to get others into trouble.  And so, I’m often asked, “What should I do when it really is easier to just say nothing?”  

 

And, in turn, I always ask, “Is it really easier to just say nothing?”

 

Matt came to me wanting to learn how to be assertive. Although embarrassed, he told me the story that drove him to me. . .

 

For eight years he never told his roommate that he wanted the guy to make space for him in their shared freezer. For eight years he stewed – and never said anything. Then, one day, he snapped and emptied half the roommate’s freezer items into the sink. That’s how the roommate found out Matt was annoyed that the guy hogged the freezer!

 

Remember – Matt told me the reason why he had not said anything to his roommate is because he didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings.

 

Again, I say, Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Hey, this is a blog post and not a book on how to have a crucial conversation (thankfully, that book has been written by others and I highly recommend it!)

 

For now, though, consider this:

Before focusing on the risks of having a conversation that you worry will go “wrong,”

focus on considering what the risks are of NOT having that conversation.

 

Louis encroached on customers’ space and drove them away. Because it was no biggie for me, I didn’t feel a need to confront him. For other customers, it was an issue.

 

Rather than not saying anything to the owner, here’s what an unhappy customer could have said:

 

Your manager is a nice guy and tries to give good service. The only problem is he doesn’t seem to have a sense of boundaries and we find it annoying when he leans over and talks while we’re trying to eat or have our own conversation. I don’t know if this is just my issue or if others have said something. I hope you could have a chat with him.”

 

That is what being assertive looks and sounds and feels like.

You’re not complaining or being rude. You’re simply letting the other person know how you feel, why you feel that way and what you’d like from them.

 

Being assertive is grounded in your attitude – towards yourself, the other and the relationship.    

 

None of this is simple since most of us weren’t instructed as children in how to non-manipulatively express our needs.

 

So, yes, it can be awkward.

 

That’s okay – for what’s the alternative?

Give up a favorite meal?

Drown your frustrations at Happy Hour?

Stare longingly at your freezer?

Why complicate your pandemic life? Trust yourself. Trust the other.

 

Do you want to become comfortable speaking assertively so as

to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

National Friendship Day

 

From what we get, we can make a living; from what we give, however, we make a life.

Arthur Ashe

 

Undeterred by a pandemic, my friend Doris recently bought a car equipped with Bluetooth. Although she made the first call to me, she later admitted the Bluetooth made her realize she doesn’t have many friends – I was the only person she could think of to call!

 

Last Fall, Marcus (identities changed), an IT executive from France, began a year-long sabbatical here in Los Angeles. His wife and seven-year-old son joined him for the year.

 

He told me that on the first day of class, after the teacher introduced his son, the boy smiled and said to the class, “raise your hand if you’d like to be my friend!”

 

You’re smiling, yes?

 

When I was growing-up my parents didn’t encourage me to make friends as they didn’t trust people.

 

As the years passed, though, what I learned is that the great gift of friendship is that friends bear witness to our lives – they help us make sense of the journey.

Today, July 30th, is National Friendship Day. 

 

I suspect it’ll come as no surprise to learn that Hallmark Cards established the holiday – back in 1919. Enthusiasm for the day waned and by the start of WWII it had faded away.  Then, in 1998, the United Nations named Winnie The Pooh the world’s “Ambassador of Friendship” and so Friendship Day was revived. Who knew the U.N. could do “cute?”

 

I wrestled with writing a post on “friendship” – what could I say that Winnie The Pooh hasn’t already said?!

 

Then I came across an article by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in which he writes:

According to estimates by University of Chicago psychology professor John T. Cacioppo, PhD, coauthor of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, at any given time at least one in five people, or roughly 60 million Americans, suffers from loneliness. By this I mean both the acute bouts of melancholy we all feel from time to time, as well as a chronic lack of intimacy – a yearning for someone to truly know you, get you, see you.

 

His article was written pre-pandemic and so I wonder how many more are struggling now with loneliness.

 

In her movie, “Letter From An Unknown Woman,” Joan Fontaine’s character remarked, “My life can be measured by the moments I’ve had with you.” 

 

While it’s a desperately romantic notion, I think it also applies to enduring friendships.

With real friends, there are established rituals for celebrating the relationship.

 

In the years after college, my friend Buddy and I would always go to the World Trade Center’s “Windows on The World” to celebrate a momentous occasion in either of our lives.

 

When my friend Norman makes his yearly visit from the South Pacific, the first place we go is Jerry’s Deli for a drink and a corned beef sandwich.

 

On the wall of my dining room I have a collection of framed menus that I stole from restaurants (what can I tell ya?) – each tells the story of a memorable visit with a memorable friend.  (see photo)

 

BUT – there’s more –

 

Back in the lost time of January, my friend Valerie had surgery. I hadn’t seen her in a while and wanted to visit before the operation. I said I’d pop in on Tuesday.

 

Well, things got busy and I couldn’t make it, so I assured her that I’d stop by the next day (surgery was slated for Thursday). Wednesday was just as hectic BUT I knew I had to visit Valerie.

 

On the way to the hospital I realized I was feeling – annoyed?  Anxious?

 

I felt out of sorts that I had to squeeze in a hospital visit on top of everything else I had to do.

 

I was embarrassed.  How could I feel this way since Valerie was a friend?

 

It was a great visit and within minutes I’d forgotten all the “stuff” I was worried about.

 

Back in January, all that “stuff” that delayed my visit with Valerie seemed so pressing. And now? Well, I’m shamefaced to admit how much of January “stuff” was and is actually inconsequential.

 

The simple truth is that many of us are lonely because many of us have carelessly  forgotten what it is to prioritize “friendship.”

 

Any day we stop the nonsense of saying “I’m too busy” and simply make time to mindfully luxuriate in the company of a friend can be National Friendship Day.

 

Of course, today, that luxuriating has to take place in creatively Zooming ways.

 

And, YES, there’s even more –

 

Here’s the thing – many of my clients will say, “I don’t know how to talk to people.”  Which is another way of saying, “I don’t know how to make friends.” 

 

People show up to my classes and workshops wanting to learn how to talk to anyone with confidence and ease. Yet, people typically walk into a room, sit down, take out their smart phone, and ignore the person next to them.

 

Marcus’ son was able to ask who in the class wanted to be his friend because he believed he was good, funny and interesting enough that other kids would want to be his friend.

 

AND he believed that in this new class new friends were waiting for him.

 

He also was able to ask the entire class because he was happy to have a range of new kids in his life.

 

Now THAT is confidence!

 

In the messy exhaustion of these days I invite and urge you TODAY to –

Reach out to a friend you’ve not spoken with in a while.

Reach out to a co-worker, a client, an old boss and say “thinking of you.”

 

Sure, we’re bleary-eyed from Zooming, but, arrange for a virtual whatever. You know you even can do a virtual wine tasting?

 

Covid-19 has made life harrowing to so many and in so many ways. Let today be a respite.

 

At the risk of being unabashedly schmaltzy, I’ll end with the words of the U.N.’s Ambassador of Friendship –

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.

You have to go to them sometimes.

 

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115