Monday, September 13, 2010
Aside from following company policy and mandates, before you send an email to somebody’s very busy inbox, ask your self the questions . . . Is this an email that needs to be sent? Do they need to be CC’d on all of this information? Is the email of personal content and not business related? Is email the right medium for this type of communication or would it be more effective to pick up the phone or see them face to face?
When you do send an email, here are some tips:
Put the purpose of your email in the subject box. By doing this, the reader can quickly determine the priority and relevance of your email. It allows them to manage their time more efficiently. “Response required on project X” “Confirm specs by 3:00”. If the subject box says "FW: FW: FW: FW: and then the title" Well, that may merit an instant delete and absolute frustration and disrespect of one's time.
Start your email off with a personal or appropriate greeting then quickly get to the point with your stated objective. Be brief, clear, and polite.
If your email is a request for information and if you have more than 1 piece of information or perhaps multiple questions you need answered, consider using a numbered list; 1, 2, 3. The reader will clearly know there are 3 things they need to send back to you. It makes it easier for them to follow your instructions. It also makes it more likely they will send you all the information you need and save you the hassle of emailing back to remind them of something they may have forgotten to include.
With no tone of voice or body language to go with your message, recognize you may be at a bit of a disadvantage because you can only use words. Please have more focused concentration on the specific words you use. Without the sound or visual to go with the words, a phrase may mean something completely different when reading that phrase in an email. You don’t want to spark computer rage. Even something as simple as the phrase “From now on” may take on a completely different meaning if the tone isn’t there to accompany it. It may be considered a threat, a reprimand. Now to get around misinterpreting a phrase, some people use symbols or emoticons; little happy faces to denote happy in reading that sentence. Or, I’ve seen a series of colons, dashes, and parenthesis to denote happy or sad. Not everyone understands what these series of symbols mean. We also see abbreviations like lol (laugh out loud) or btw (by the way). I saw one the other day of JMO. Apparently it means just my opinion. Who knew? Never heard that one before. So please be aware not to confuse the reader.
Next tip. Never consider your emails to be private conversations. Employers may monitor email transmissions that have been initiated over corporate computer equipment. And please recognize, email messages can be used as legal evidence.
By now, most of us have learned through experience the importance of waiting 24 hours before responding to a heated email. And lastly, if you really want to make a point, or convey the severity of your words, don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS. First of all, it’s hard on our eyes to read in capitals. Yet if you have a series of words in capital letters, more so it may come across as you being very angry and out of control with your emotions. It’s like reading someone yelling. So if you need to have more impact, instead of capital letters, consider bold or italics.
Ahhhh emails. We complain about them but we just can’t seem to live without them. There is a purpose to email and we can be more effective in it’s use. So use these tips to free up your valuable time. Gain the energy of being productive at work rather than managing a workload of emails. I feel less stress just thinking about it. How about you?
Effective Communication, Conflict Resolution, Stress Reduction
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Sunday, July 4, 2010
Here are 2 facts to consider . . .
First, the nerve pathways from the eyes to the brain are 25% larger than the nerve pathways of the ear to the brain. That's quite fascinating. Second, the eyes are the only sensory organ that contains brain cells. Now that's cool! Visual dominates all senses.
Eye communication has the biggest impact. It connects mind to mind, 1st brain to 1st brain connection, and eye communication conveys involvement. Lets say, as an example, you are sharing great news with someone. You've got that excitement in your voice and the animation of your body just saturates to the brain. You've got conviction of message. However, if your body language is inconsistent with your message, you are nervous, insecure body language, and your eyes are darting back and forth - your words will not be trusted. Instead, the message you may be giving is inconsistent, insincere, not confident, or perhaps hiding something. What if you find yourself in a compromising situation or position and you need to establish trust with the people you are communicating with? Remember, YOU are the visual. So, be very aware of the message you are giving to others. When communicating with others, I guess it all boils down to "what you see is what you get".
Lets take this tip, Visual Dominates, and apply it to another area of communication.
Lets say you are doing a presentation, training, or conveying information. Link your information to a visual. If visual dominates, it sure makes sense to do so. We've all heard the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words".
Now, here's a killer concept when it comes to visual . . .
It's hard for the eye to resist a moving object. These days, people are so into TV, computers, computer games, DVD's, movies, videos, and You Tube. So, to have even more impact, rather than using a stagnant visual, use something more animated. It's a powerful engagement tool! If you are not linking your information to a moving object or visual, remember - You are the Visual. Be aware of your body positioning, your movements, the natural flow as you communicate. When it comes to communication, Visual Dominates!
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
As an initial response to conflict, don’t get defensive.
It’s noble to want to protect her or feel responsible for her happiness, yet a gut instinct of defending yourself from being blamed puts you at a disadvantage. It may not be about you personally when she is expressing a criticism. If you first assume a defensive attitude, it may create a big misunderstanding that perpetuates. It takes you off course from actually resolving the conflict and it may create bad feelings between both of you. Also, if you go into defensive mode, your brain flips into emotional, knee-jerk reactions. It’s a fact. In the moment of stress and high emotion, our brains disengage from our reasoning abilities. It’s harder to see things rationally or objectively when in the emotional moment.
Don’t try to fix it, try to understand it.
Men, you do have a drive and capability to fix things. Remember, emotions are rarely clearly defined, people are different, and it’s hard to ‘fix’ something we can’t all agree on. Yet when it comes to conflict resolution, one of the biggest complaints from women is that their partner tries to ‘fix it’ when she simply wants or needs him to hear her out for the purpose of understanding. As you’re trying to fix the problem, she may feel it’s rude and disrespectful to not even allow her to get it off her chest. As we all know, sometimes just by being able to vent about a problem – half of it disappears just by being able to express it. So men, maybe she needs your strength as a supportive ear; a good listener. And as a bonus to this tip, if she feels that you are a good listener, it’s a great aphrodisiac.
Avoid blaming her ‘emotions’ as the cause and affect of the conflict.
Whether that’s the case or not, this tactic rarely works. How someone ‘feels’ is a bi-product of a specific problem or misunderstanding that has caused the conflict. And if the conflict is ignored or not resolved, it just snowballs. Emotions are not wrong per se, and sometimes we don’t choose them. Sometimes people just ‘feel’ a certain way. Yet if emotions get really raw ‘during’ your conflict resolution, it may be wise for both of you to respectfully take a break and revisit it later. As another perspective, if you blame her emotions for the conflict, it’s a weak defense. It can also be a cheap shot in trying to detach completely by blaming the whole thing on how somebody else ‘feels’ about it. It’s also a weak defense that is sometimes used as a tactic when somebody is actually caught doing something wrong. It’s a lot easier to blame the other person’s emotions than to fess up. Yet most importantly gentlemen, never, ever, ever blame it on hormones. Just trust me on that one.
Your relationship with your partner is so important. And effective conflict resolution can nurture the loving relationship you deserve.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Effective communication can nurture a long and strong relationship. Miscommunication may have the opposite effect. So, here are 3 Quick Communication Tips for Women when resolving conflict with your man.
#1 The Timing
Try to find a time when both of you are calm. When calm, we can think more clearly, objectively, and reasonably. If you try to resolve conflict when 1 or both parties are highly stressed or emotional, all that objective reasoning may go right out the window. Then, it may get personal. And remember, this is someone who you love, so you want to protect yourselves from being in a position where 1 person may have a ‘knee-jerk’ gut reaction response, and say something hurtful – that perhaps they wouldn’t have said if they were feeling calm and less threatened at the time.
#2 Be Direct in Asking for What You Want.
Don’t expect them to just ‘get it’. They may not understand hints, nuances, and subtlety. You need to ask for what you want and be direct about it. Watch the words you use. Don’t imply or infer. Don’t ask “could you” or “would you” and avoid saying “you should” as it may spark their reaction of ‘I’m being blamed.’ Instead, try using direct words like “will you” or “I need”. Remember, you’re partners, he wants to help and protect you.
#3 Get to the Point and Stick to the Facts.
Men are considered to be task driven and tend to do better when dealing with 1 thing at a time. Sometimes women, when resolving conflict, tend to tag on a lot of extra information. Don’t let your message get convoluted with all the 'Reasons' – focus on the results you want. And if your man feels bombarded with emotions, his defenses may go up. You are now asking him to fix many things – multi-task - and your message is less direct.
Stick to the facts. Facts can be understood by both parties. The emotions around the problem are not as easy to fix. Unlike facts, emotions are not clearly defined and can have many interpretations. As an example: “You make me feel . . . ” is harder to 'fix' than “The container needs to be repaired before pick-up this Friday”.
Of course, there are many things to consider when resolving conflict, yet I hope these 3 Tips will help my fellow Women, when it comes to resolving conflict with your man.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
- Get your boarding pass ASAP – Most airlines offer 24 hour advance check-in online and often you can change your seat if you don’t like the one they pre-selected for you. Less likely to be bumped and avoid the stress of being late for the check-in deadline when you have your boarding pass in your hand.
- Dress for security success - Be aware of the accumulation of metal you may be wearing from shoes, buttons, buckles, to wire support bras to avoid the pat down frustration & humiliation search exercise under the glaring eyes of other frustrated travelers resenting you for the delay. Wear comfortable shoes without metal (ie: running shoes – most business shoes have metal in them) Take your belt off and shoes if you are unsure about the metal content of them.
- Which security line-up to get into – if possible, get in the line-up that has more business travelers as they tend to be more savvy in packing & preparing for security. Sometimes families, party holiday people, and those delightful elderly who find it all new and confusing may delay the line.
- Pack carry-on for success – YES, put all liquids in small 3 oz containers in a plastic bag. Even though every Transport Security Agent (TSA) will tell you, amazing how many people don’t do it and you’ll further prolong the ordeal for everyone else in line if you’re not prepared. A stuffed bag is harder to detect what’s inside so take out extra things to put in the bin if you’re packed to the max – electronics, anything metal. Regrettably, many flights currently will not allow ANY carry-on luggage so know in advance what restrictions there are.
- Wear extra support socks as your feet will swell during flight.
- Have food handy - Any flight under 3 hours will not offer you food & with delays, line-ups, & tight connections, eating can be challenging. Most airports tend to specialize in pizza, muffins, junk/fast food & carb heavy questionable sandwiches so bring something healthy. Examples: nuts, prunes, energy bars, tuna & crackers to-go that are found in grocery stores (fish, prunes, nuts are good for the brain) and have drinking water available.
- Always be polite and respectful to the Transport Security Agents (TSA) even if they may be rude and less than diplomatic. Give eye contact with a pleasant expression. TSA’s are almost in the same hated category as parking meter attendants. Don’t give them a reason to feel defensive or disrespected – you don’t want to be singled out as they take the stress of their job out on you.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Effective communication is one of the most important skills yet when our children become teenagers, it gets more challenging. Communication may become more stressed, painful, frustrating, confusing, anger inducing, heart wrenching.
These communication tips are designed to help you open communication, resolve conflict, and reduce stress for you and your teenager.
- Put Yourself in Their Shoes. It’s a challenging time. Their developing bodies, brains, hormones, peer pressure, independence, and natural inclination to defy authority is in full swing. Think about it, would you want to go through puberty again?
- Build their self-esteem. It’s a time when they need it most. They yearn for parents to be proud of them and be accepted by others - even if they don’t show it. Low self-esteem is one of the most crippling diseases out there.
- Sleep is a Factor. Before we assume they are lazy remember, teenagers do need more sleep. Also, when overtired, we can’t think straight. A sleep depraved teenager and fatigued parent is not a good mix for effective communication.
- Be a Guide on the Side - not a Sage on the Stage. Most of us don’t want to be told what to do and how to do it. Educate means to bring out from within, not being a know-it-all.
- Reinforce Positive Attention. Attention is a form of reward. Acknowledge what they do well so they are inclined to do it again. Some kids behave horribly because any attention is better than none at all.
- Be Specific When Praising. The more general it is, the less impact it has. Acknowledge the specific behaviour or skill they used when praising them.
- Never Say Always. Accusing them of Always doing or being a certain way often triggers the shut down, tune out response.
- Avoid Saying Never. Never comes across as blame, accusation, or guilt inducing. You’ll be tuned out again and resentment will build.
- Be Aware of Stress. Under stress, we can’t think as rationally and may say things we regret. When you and/or your teenager feels stressed, it may be wise to delay communication.
- Listen. If you change the letters around, it also spells the word Silent. Hear them out without interruption. One of the best ways to honour someone is to listen to them.
- Ask for Specifics. If you don’t understand what they mean, ask for an example or something specific. In encourages understanding and avoids assuming, or getting it wrong.
- Don’t Nag. A teenager’s most common complaint with parents. Teenagers don’t always listen, they forget constantly, it’s mentioned in scientific/medical journals. Expect to experience the frustration of chronic reminder syndrome. Even when you’re right, they’ll resent it when nagged about it.
- Involve Them in Conflict Resolution. Ask them what they see in the way of resolution? What would they do if they were you? It encourages negotiation and accountability.
- Criticize in Private. Being criticized in front of siblings, friends, or in public is rude and displays bad manners. Losing face in front of others may only motivate your teenager to resent you and themselves more.
- Prepare In Advance. It is wise to take time to think and prepare how to best communicate. Forethought wins.
- Be Objective Not Personal. “By not providing your resume in time, you missed the opportunity to be considered for the job” is objective. “You’re so lazy, you didn’t even get your resume there on time” is personal.
- Change Body Language to Reduce Conflict. Standing over them, in their space, pointing your finger, or standing full-on face to face (especially father and son) can increase stress. Try sitting down, equal eye level, stand to the side so shoulders are closer than torsos, even tilting your head to the side implies your openness to listen and decreases their defensiveness.
- Be The Parent. It’s great to be their friend yet remember, they need you to be the parent. Call them on it when they go astray or too far. Reinforce what is right and wrong, talk to them, and lead through example.
- There is an End in Sight. Coach them through it and don’t be too hard on them or yourself. Provide a safe environment to grow and make mistakes. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we needed, respected, or learned from our parents until we become adults.
Having a child is when we truly understand and experience the depth of love. When they reach those trying teenage years remember, communication challenges are normal. You are not alone. Just do your best and trust the rest.