Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Several weeks ago at a Sunday lunch with friends and family I embarrassed my son. I embarrass him on a regular basis, as doing so is part of a mother’s job. This particular day I went a step too far and Max demonstrated a degree of self-control that made me sit up and notice. While he didn’t say a word, his body tightened and he wrapped his arms around his torso as if keeping his emotion in check. His jaw locked and his lips puckered in disapproval. Add to that, his eyes became steely as he glared at me, suggesting that I might want to stop what I was doing. And I did.

Your body’s speaking and people are noticing. How you’re holding your body, focusing your gaze and what your feet and fingers are doing tells a tale of your inner state.

Below is a snap shot of gestures and the emotions they’re conveying. Before I go any further, remember that no one gesture tells the entire story. In order to interpret what the body’s saying, you must reflect on the whole picture of the person.

Fiddling fingers, bouncing feet and sideways glances reveal feelings of doubtfulness, rejection or suspicion. A combination of picking at fingernails, pinching the fleshy part of the hand, rubbing or caressing a personal object (ring, cufflinks, watch, for example) or chewing on an object, such as a pencil or pen translates into insecurity.

To spot enthusiasm, look for smiles in which both the lips and eyes are engaged. People who are enthusiastic move with a bounce in their step. Their posture is erect, their hands are open and they frequently extend their arms in the direction of their interest.

Negative emotions such as secrecy or nervousness tend to manifest themselves through minimal or no eye contact, throat clearing and covering the mouth while speaking. Boredom reveals itself through drumming fingers, swing feet, picking at clothes and jingling keys and coins.

People demonstrating superiority and authority come across as both relaxed and expansive in their gestures. They steeple their fingers, are comfortable putting their feet up or on their desk. You often see them leaning back with their fingers laced behind their head with their chin lifted upward.

When you notice someone with their hands on their hips or sitting forward at the edge of a chair, you’re right in thinking that they’re ready to go. As you may be by now.

For more about how body language reveals attitudes, emotions and feelings, buy a copy of Body Language For Dummies. You might want to wait to the end of January 2012, when the 2nd edition hits the stands with more photographs and expanded content. Until then, pick up an app to get you started.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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1. Deal in Specifics not generalities

2. Nothing is ever all bad. Look for the positives.

3. How have you coped in the past?

4. What can I do to make things better?

5. Focus on outcomes

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Kuhnke Communication’s Top Tips for How to Get What You Want at Work

1. Understand your listener. Does she seek detail or is she a big picture thinker? Analytical or more of a drama queen? Does she like a bit of social chit chat or does she prefer to get down to business. By knowing her preferred style of communicating you’re able to adapt yours to match hers.

2. Treat your listener with respect. Aim to understand her issues so that you can position your request in a way that supports her and her goals.

3. Find out what matters to the person in charge. When you give someone what she wants, she relaxes and comes on board with you.

4. Know what you want. Often people know what they don’t want and when it comes to asking for what they DO want they struggle. If you struggle, the person holding the power or authority for granting you your wishes will struggle to know what you want, too. If you find it hard to figure out what you want, write down your thoughts. If you can identify what you don’t want, flip the coin and say what you want instead. For example, if you don’t want tension between colleagues rephrase your wording to something like, “I want a buzzy, productive environment where people value and respect one another’s efforts.” Saying what you want focuses your attention and gives you something to aim for. Once you know what you want, you can figure out the necessary steps to get there.

5. Call in favours. People are more inclined to help you if you’ve done something for them. Develop a network of obligation you can call on.

6. Find points of agreement. Listen to what really matters to the person who holds the power. If he’s rejecting your request, find out what lies behind his objection. Emphasise all points of agreement before suggesting a solution that meets their needs and satisfies your own.

7. Find common ground. People who have things in common with you are inclined to grant your request. Find out as much as you can about someone you’re negotiating with so you can establish personal links before making your request.

8. Establish your credibility. You are more likely to get others to respond positively to your requests if they think you’re an expert in your field.

9. Commit to what you want. If you know that you want to work flexible hours, for example, and your company doesn’t have a policy in place, offer to run a feasibility study and report your findings. No one ever said getting what you want would be easy! And if you want something badly enough, then you’ll let nothing, or nobody, get in your way.

10. Prove your worth. If you want to be taken seriously, behave in a serious fashion. Showing up late, handing in sloppy work or spending more time gossiping than being productive makes people think twice before granting your requests.

11. Point out the pain. Research shows that people are more influenced by the idea of losing something than by the idea of gaining the same thing. When you’re making your proposal, point out what the company has to lose if it doesn’t grant your request.

12. Claim your space. If you come across all humble and apologetic, no one’s going to feel inclined to give you what you want. There’s nothing wrong with asserting what you want. Avoid arrogance and apologies and aim for assertiveness.

13. Move with purpose. Pussy footing around, shuffling your feet and playing with your pen endears you to no one. When you’re asking for what you want, look the other person in the eye, tell him what you want and give him time to respond.

14. Be prepared. Have your arguments in place for supporting your request. If you want a raise, for example, be prepared to demonstrate how your efforts have improved the bottom line. “As a result of my efforts implementing the marketing plan, we are 30% up on last year’s sales figures.”

15. Give yourself positive messages. If you’re all worried that you’re not going to get what you want, if you think that you or your requests are going to be rejected, if you fail to believe in your worth, you’re never going to get what you want. Fill yourself with positive messages. Treat yourself as if you were your best friend. Remind yourself of your strengths and what you’re good at and the reasons you deserve to get what you want. (Cage the Parrot!)

16. Develop self-awareness. The more you know about yourself – your values, beliefs, motivators and attitudes – and how these and your behaviour impacts on others, the more able you are to present yourself in a way that is true to who you are in a way that appeals to your listener (see 1. Above)

17. Negotiate in increments. Because people tend to avoid change and taking risks, find ways of breaking down the process into small steps. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Address her issues and plot a course which can what you want – if not immediately, then in the future.

18. Frame your proposal. For example, if you want to work in a different part of the organisation from where you currently are, make the case that what you’d learn there will make you more proficient in your current job. As long as you’re doing what you were hired to do, few managers will complain when you want to take on extra work in another part of the company. Once you’ve gotten into the area where you want to be, volunteer to join task forces or take on projects others might not have time to handle. Be prepared to explain to your current boss how the activities relate to the job you have now. When the chance for you to make the transfer comes up, you’ll be ready and the idea won’t be such a shock for your boss.

19. Show willingness. Go the extra mile. Put in the time and effort. Demonstrate that you’re reliable, dependable and worthy of your request.

In today’s work environment urgency rules the roost, more is being done by fewer, and resources are guarded. Knowing what you want and going out and getting it is vital if you want to get ahead. Colleagues and competitors are biting at your heels, waiting for you to slip and stumble, and are prepared to pick up the baton and run with it, leaving you in their dust. By knowing what you want and having the courage to go for it, you gain credibility and enhance your career prospects.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Sometimes we don’t all have time to read a lot of materials, so here’s Kuhnke Communication’s cheat-sheet on how to communicate with impact.

When You Speak

 Make your language vivid and descriptive

 Be clear, complete and precise.

 Repeat your points for emphasis, confirmation and clarification. Be creative in your phrasing.

 Confirm that your listener understands.

When You Listen

 Give your complete attention

 Listen with an open mind. Refrain from judging what is being said and shutting down.

 Listen for and reflect on both the words and the feelings behind the spoken words.

 Ask opened questions: who, what, where, when, and how. Avoid asking why. It will lead to a vague, unspecific response and may sound condemning.

 Pause to process what you have heard before responding.

 Avoid responding with but, yet and however. If you disagree, do so diplomatically.

 Let the speaker you know you respect them and value their thoughts and opinions – especially when they differ from yours.

 Confirm meaning. Clarify important points.

Nonverbal Communication

Use positive body language

– When speaking: well supported posture; look at your listener and use comfortable eye contact; varied volume, rhythm, pitch and pace; expressive facial and hand gestures.

– When listening: alert body; face the speaker; comfortable eye contact; receptive gestures.

– Be Aware of Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication
 

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And… Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher 

 

The ability to motivate a team as well as yourself is key to achieving good management skills.

 One of the challenges facing CEOs and managing directors is how to keep motivating the people who are supposed to motivate others in the organisation.

 The question has several different dimensions. Too often senior managers – the people whose responsibility is to provide leadership in an organisation – don’t realise the impact (or lack thereof) of what they say. It is this impact that either fires up managers and employees, or sets the stage for indifference and malaise. It does not have to be that way.

 Seldom are senior managers prepared to take the time to find out what managers and employees hear when they are on the receiving end of motivational speeches.

The reality is in most cases, that the recipients of the message are actually hearing something other than what is intended. 

This is not simply because the speaker says the wrong words; it is often because of the way in which the words are said.

Once a CEO is aware of how managers and employees are receiving his messages, he needs to begin to work on building creative tension into his presentations. Creative tension is a way in which you can conv ince people to get together to achieve a goal.

An excellent example is the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech given by Dr Martin Luther King in l963 in Washington, DC. King’s challenge was to motivate people to change the way some Americans viewed the Civil Rights movement in that country. His speech captured the imagination and commitment of people by using creative tension.

In using this technique to motivate people in an organisation, a speaker first paints a picture of the way things are in the organisation (the current reality), and then paints a picture of what could be (the desired future) for the organisation. By doing this, the speaker established a gap between what is and what could be.

Then, by building the case for changing from the current reality to the desired future and how to get there, listeners are able to clearly understand the challenge they face and why they need to accept the challenge.

By both making the case  for closing the gap and walking the listeners through the steps to get there, the speaker is able to show why it is better to close the gap by moving the current reality closer and closer to be desired future instead of just weakening the desire to achieve something better.

In medieval times, there was a philosopher named William of Occam, who stated: ‘One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything’.   This belief is known as Occam’s Razor, and it means that there is no value in doing more than needs to be done. This includes talking things over before a decision needs to be made.

Getting things done requires discussion and input but only if the discussion and input are focused on the real issues the company is facing; and only if a decision comes out of them.

Discussion – good discussion that is – requires that you explain the situation you are facing the things that complicate the situation, and then offer an option that will resolve the situation. It doesn’t require ramblings about other issues or other agendas.

Good discussion also requires good listening. And good listening means that you not only hear the words being said, but hear what is behind the words.  

Think of why that person has that view. Talk about which options make the most sense. 

Which options will provide the greatest leverage with the least prolonged effort? Which options will provide the greatest return on investment? And which options will have the least negative unintended consequences? Then make a decision.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And… Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this:  ‘No’ is not a naughty word.  It’s not a ‘four letter word’ nor is it one to be ashamed of saying.  People struggle with saying ‘no’ because of feelings of guilt. While it’s flattering to be offered opportunities – going on vacation together, being a God parent – they may not be what you want.  If you put yourself first by saying ‘no’ to some requests you can serve your friends and family better in other ways.  

Remember too, look at your reasons for saying ‘no.’ If you’re rejecting an opportunity to stretch yourself a bit – for example, refusing to speak at your best friend’s wedding because you doubt your abilities to do a good job – reconsider. Sometimes people say ‘no’ because they’re afraid to take themselves out of their comfort zones.

When you do say ‘no’ – mean it. Saying ‘no’ while nodding your head and smiling gives mixed messages. Speak like you mean what you’re saying. That doesn’t mean you have to be harsh – just clear, concise and committed to what you’re saying.

This blog addresses how to say No to common requests from good friends – not unreasonable, but ones which will cause you a great deal of time, anxiety etc, that you can’t afford, such as public speaking. We have chosen a few common situations to guide you through saying no.

1. Will you be my child’s godparent?  Before saying ‘no’ allow the person making the offer to ask and define what being a God parent entails. What commitments are involved?  Once you’ve given them time to speak tell them that while you’re flattered by their request and that you look forward to being part of the child’s life, you’re not in a position to accept the invitation.  You don’t need to give further explanation (Not religious, can’t meet the expectations, etc) Show your appreciation in your tone of voice and body language. A flip ‘thanks but no thanks’ can come off a bit gruff.

2. Will you be best man/woman? (You hate public speaking,)  If the only reason you say ‘no’ is because you hate public speaking, get over it.  Before saying ‘no’ outright, find out what the job entails.  If the expectations are beyond your capabilities , thank the person for the opportunity and suggest an alternative choice.  If the person is a good enough friend, you can find the resources to accept the offer even if it takes up time.

3. Shall we all go on holiday together? (You want a relaxing time with your own family) Tell them exactly that.  That another time you’d enjoy going on holiday together, this time you want to be relaxing alone with your family.  You don’t need to say a lot to get your point across clearly and concisely.

4. Can I come and stay after a marital row? (You’re busy/don’t have room/ don’t want to take sides)  Let her speak so she feels valued and cared for.  Then tell her that while you care for her the best thing she can do is rely on herself to work out the problem.  Unless  your friend is in physical danger – in which case you definitely don’t take her in , referring her instead to an abuse agency (Refuge, for example)– you’re not doing her any favours by treating her like a helpless child.

5. Can I borrow some money?  The answers below are perfectly acceptable reasons for saying ‘no’. The second response – don’t trust them to pay back – could sound a bit harsh.  You could frame your response in terms of ‘I wouldn’t want to put you in the difficult position of having to pay me back.’   Even Shakespeare knew not to mix funds and friendship (‘Never a borrower nor a lender be’ – Hamlet)
(You don’t believe in mixing friends & cash/ don’t trust them to pay it back)

6. Can you have my (difficult) teenager to stay while we go away for the weekend?  Express your happiness for them that they’re getting away together.  Empathetically, tell them that you have plans for the w/e that and are not able to help them out this time.  You don’t need to go into any great explanation.  As my grandmother used to say, ‘never complain, never explain.’
(Too much responsibility & you don’t want to row with him/her about drinking, lifts, etc.)

For those for whom ‘being liked’ is important, it’s hard to say no because it feels/sounds/looks like rejection.  If you change your viewpoint and see saying ‘no’ as a way of empowering others to come up with their own solutions without relying on others to solve their problems, you’re giving them a gift.

We find it hard to say ‘no’ because we’re taught to be nice to others, to behave in a generous manner, to serve others, and to pay back for favours done.  We also find it hard to say ‘no’ when the person asking is similar to us – be it background, beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviours, culture, religion, etc.  Similarities create bonds.  If you owe someone a favour it’s also hard to say no to them.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Although it’s hard for colleagues to quarrel, as their mutual friend and workmate, it’s pretty rough for you too. But here’s how to stay sane (and supportive) while being pulled two ways.

What sort of issues most commonly cause colleagues to fall out?

  1.  Workplace gossip – the ‘he said she said’ scenario – leads to nothing but trouble at the workplace.  Simple rule:  don’t gossip.
  2. Workplace affairs.  If one person is having an affair or sexual relationship with a colleague it can lead to jealousy, especially if your other friend is on their own.  You could offer to go out to lunch/dinner with your friend so she/he doesn’t feel left out in the cold.
  3.  Promotions and bonuses.  When one person is rewarded and the other one isn’t, jealousy can rear its ugly head.
  4.  Not pulling his/her weight at work/laziness/time wasting.  We all have jobs to do.  If your friend is spending more time at the water cooler, out of the office having her nails done, surfing the net, or any other activity that impacts negatively on her work, others in the office may become resentful.
  5.  Feeling unappreciated.  See #3
  6.  Stress / seeing one another as rivals.

What is difficult about the situation that their other colleagues now find themselves in?

Once you were all friends, now there’s a spanner in the works.  Through no fault of your own the dynamics of the friendship has changed and you’re stuck in the middle or left out in the cold.  Having no control over what’s happening between the other two, you’re in an awkward situation because there’s nothing you can do to put things back where they were.  Your life has changed and you must decide how you’re going to proceed.  This may mean that you have to see them individually, rather than as the group of friends you were before they fell out.  Let each one know you care about both of them and that you’re not going to gossip or talk in any way about the other.  Then stick to that promise!

What is the best course of action for anybody who is working with two colleagues who have fallen out?

Should you try and mediate? Or keep well out of it?

  1.  If you care about each person you could offer to facilitate a conversation between them.  Only do this if you are able to remain neutral, non-judgemental and have experience in facilitating or providing feedback.
  2.  If you’re uncomfortable facilitating, tell each one that you care about them both and that it’s up to them to solve their problems between themselves.
  3. Sometimes people will try to use you as a ‘middle man’ like the corner of a triangle where two lines meet.  I call this the Triangulation Approach.  Do NOT get sucked into this trap.  You’ll end up being part of the problem (“Judy said that you said….”).  If they have a problem, let them work it out between themselves without getting you involved, unless you’re able to facilitate.

Should you ask how things are between them? Or just ignore it?

Stay clear.  Let them know at the beginning of their fall out that you care about them both and hope they can work out their problem.  Then stay away.  Asking how things are only pulls you into the problem.

How should you avoid getting drawn into taking sides?

Tell yourself that you’re not going to get drawn in and then live up to your word.  Taking sides does no one any good and exasperates the problem.  It can be tempting to become involved.  You may want to ‘help’ or be part of what’s going on (rather like people stopping to stare at a road accident). Other people’s lives can seem exciting – the truth is, they’re simply exhausting.  Too much interest in other people’s lives leaves you little time to pay attention to what’s going on in your own life.  Getting drawn in and taking sides doesn’t do you or anyone else any favours.  Don’t fan the flames.  The less attention you the sooner it will die out.  If the upset is causing problems at work, it’s up to the manager to deal with it professionally.

Finally,

  • Demonstrate respect.  You’re not Ms Fix-It.  Act like a friend to both by respecting their privacy and emotions.  Treat them like adults, not quarrelling children.
  • Show your friends that you trust they’re adults and capable of solving their own problems.  Be trustworthy in all you say and do.  Don’t gossip about their fall out with anyone.  If/when they kiss and make up, don’t rehash what happened.  Let by-gones be by-gones and move on.  If they don’t make up, don’t discuss what happened.  Let each one know you care about them individually and that you’re not taking sides.  Stay neutral.
  • Stay out of it.  You’ve got enough to deal with in your own life.

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher