How are you avoiding saying "No"

I have been delivering a number of free coaching sessions recently to help people start 2010 off on the right foot. One of the themes that seem to be emerging is people’s fear or reluctance to put in place boundaries, and say “No” in order to protect those boundaries. I will write about how to say “No” without fear of unleashing world war 3, in my next “Leading Questions” newsletter.

Meanwhile, I am really interested to know how you avoid saying No. Here are some recent examples:

  • Saying “I can’t” when I mean “I won’t”
  • Bringing in all kinds of reasons/excuses why I can’t or its not possible
  • Talking about something else in order to deflect
  • Making vague promises using “maybe” “perhaps” “sometime soon” etc.
  • Saying “Yes” and hoping they’ll foget
  • Using “they” “the management” “the group” or “someone” when I mean “I”
  • Avoiding the person making the request.

So, here are my coaching questions. And I would love to hear your responses:

  1. How do you go about not saying “No”?What kinds of situations lead you to behave like this?What is the fear that is holding you back?What is the potential impact on you and on others of not saying “No”?

Yes everyone hates role playing ….. and

I just read this post Everyone Hates Role Playing by Frank Roche.

Frank suggests that as everyone hates role playing, trainers should forget experiential learning as a way of embedding the learning points all together and try teaching instead! He goes on to argue that people learn from teaching, and visual learners learn from books. What do you think?

I disagree with Frank’s view of how people learn. We learn mostly from experience and reflection. I have yet to see a baby pick up a book in order to learn how to walk! They try it, fall over, try it again, and again until they have mastered it. In work, studies show that people learn from experience (70%) role models (20%) and books and courses (10%)(Centre for Creative Leadership)

As a trainer I leverage this by using work related experiences, examples and stories and follow the training up with work based learning opportunities such as projects, experiments and tasks.

As far as role play goes, I want to distinguish between role play (acting – not good) and real play (real life scenario’s – good) Employees may also hate the idea of real play but we never learn to do anything differently without stepping out of our comfort zone. My job as the trainer is to make this step as safe as possible. I hate exercise but that’s not a valide reason to avoid it.

I’d love your views:

Have you been on a training programme which used role play or real play?
How have you learned to be the manager you are?

Managing Clever People

As we move towards a knowledge economy we need to manage organisations full of clever people who don’t usually respond well to being managed.

Managing clever people can be like herding cats. Do you have clever people on your team who you need but don’t enjoy managing? It’s important to learn how to bring out the best in clever people because they can add tremendous value or, as we have seen recently in global businesses, destroy value. Here are some thoughts and tips from Rob Goffee, co-author of “Clever”

What do you do or can you do to create the environment in which clever, creative, innovative and talented people thrive and also contribute fully to the organisation?

How to ask questions without looking stupid

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from asking questions for fear of looking stupid or demonstrating that we don’t know something that we feel we “should” know. Imagine how dangerous it can potentially be for a business if the senior team are pretending knowledge or understanding they don’t have or are restricting their options by not asking others for their contrbution and thinking. That’s why these suggestions by Jodi Glickman Brown may prove useful:

1. Start your question with what you know. Do your homework first. Get enough background information to put your issue or problem in context. Give the other person an idea of what you’ve completed to date or what you know already and then proceed to explain what’s outstanding, where or how you’re struggling, or what you need help with.

2. Then, state the direction you want to take and ask for feedback, thoughts or clarification. Form an opinion on what you think the answer should be. Don’t just ask, “How should I reach out to the brokers?” Instead propose a course of action and get your boss’s feedback: “I’m thinking of sending out a mass email to the brokers but I’m not sure if that’s the most effective format…what do you think of that approach?”

3. If you don’t know the direction to take, ask for tangible guidance. Instead of asking “What should I do?” ask specifically for the tools you’ll need to make that decision yourself, such as a recent example of a similar analysis or a template for a given task. Or, ask for a referral to someone who has worked on a similar initiative or project in the past.

In the vast majority of cases, you’ll get a lot further in your career by asking the tough, smart questions.

So, my questions to you are:

  • How many times in the last week have you not asked a question when to do so, would have been useful or helpful?
  • What stopped you? And what assumptions might you be making?
  • How can you start practicing the above approach in a relatively risk free environment?
  • When will you do it?

Original source: Jodi Glickman Brown Great on the Job.

Social Media – For Good or Ill?

It’s been three months now since I committed to launching myself fully into the social media world. I am blogging, tweeting, posting, and linking like a good ‘un and making some great connections ….. or am I?

While I am totally convinced of the potential value of social networking, I have started to get some uncomfortable feelings about its potential for harm and the damage it can do at an individual and global level. Only this week Stephen Fry had a moment of doubt about how good twittering is for his mental health.

I know by posting this to a blog I am likely to be talking to people who are sold on social media so I am interested to hear your responses to my following musings.

1. My social media company kept re-iterating to me that “it’s about being social” and that if I don’t keep posting to facebook regularly, “friends” will assume I am not interested in them and stop following me. All the posts I am seeing on Facebook are upbeat, chirpy and superficial. Great! I am all for demonstrating a positive attitude. What happens when people aren’t feeling positive, and can’t tell anyone because that isn’t what it’s about?

2. I watch people who are apparently spending their time pootling off to Paris, bungy jumping in Brisbane, and living it up in Las Vegas! and that’s all on a Wednesday afternoon. How does this affect people who are lonely or isolated and how real is it anyway?

3. I am using Tweetadder to find hundreds of people who are interested in leadership and management and following people who are following me. I thought I wanted to learn from thought leaders in my field and provide free, practical resources to people that follow me.

What is the motivation of twitter users? Are we genuinely wanting to learn from or connect with everyone we follow or is it more like a cacophony of monologues? Are we on an ego trip to show how popular, or credible we are? or are we really just looking to sell our products and services?

4. When I am out and about and seeing people in social groups, or even in team meetings overtly or covertly sending text messages, emailing and twittering I am just willing them to be present where they are, enjoying the people they are with, fully involved in the conversation. Making eye contact for goodness sake!

In summary my concern is that while we are all so hooked on making as many connections and sharing as much information as possible what is happening to real relationships? Are we linking with people but not getting to know people. Are we “friends” with people but not there for them when they need help? I would love to know that social media is being used as an additional resource and not as a replacement for the deep, trusting, confiding relationships that we all need.

What do you think?