This LeMonAide is being penned at a time of significant political upheaval in our nation.  Unfortunately, every headline is etched with drawing unwavering lines in the sand for the other side to attack.  I am convinced we often sabotage our best intentions and dreams with the insistent mantra, “…the first person who blinks… loses.”   Haven’t we learned by this time in our tragically repetitive history that negotiation is the art of everyone losing something in order for the organization to win…everything?

 

We will all get there.  Some sooner, and some later.  But, we all get there.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, noted author of On Death and Dying, called this final stage of life, “acceptance.”  And, we all get there.

 

But this column is not about physically dying; it is about living comfortably with change that originally felt like dying.

 

Do you remember when you scoffed at wrapping an infant in a “plastic diaper”?  Can you recall when, in 1958 you pressed a button on your automobile’s radio and the little red line started moving back and forth “looking” for the strongest signal?  Does your memory include black and white television images of people being denied the right to vote, attend a particular high school or sit at a lunch counter?

 

History regularly serves up hazy images of what was once “impossible” and today has become the “new normal.”

 

Seemingly, in the speed of light, you and I are forced to watch the introduction to the new normals.

 

Social media can introduce our wares to millions of new customers in nanoseconds.  Our “smart phones” have become an indispensable appendage to our anatomy which, if lost, is equated with losing a limb.  And, customers do not want anything in a “week to 10 days.”  It better arrive in the next second or they will contact our competitors.

 

So, what are the interpersonal skills to effectively work with someone who has not moved into the “acceptance” that the “new normal” has arrived?  Try these.

 

First, when your workplace has been informed the “rules have changed,”  ask this question of your coworkers, “Can any of us, equipped with our best arguments, get this decision reversed?”  

 

You will hear, “Well, yeah, things could get turned around if some of us just showed some tenacity and guts right now.”  Notice that statement was not an answer to your question. So, ask it again, using exactly the same words, “Can any of us, equipped with our best arguments, get this decision reversed?”

 

You may continue to get resistance, but not an answer.  Point out everyone is “feeling” strong emotions right now, but emotions will not return everyone to the favorably-remembered status quo.

 

Second, after the staring has commenced and silence stalks the ranks of the sentimental, it is time for the next question, “If we cannot reverse what we did not ask for, what can we do to “leverage” this moment to meet some of our needs?”

 

Leveraging means we do a “deal” to get something you want in the process of change.  The “leverage” could be a special training class, adjusted working hours, additional compensation for mastering a new, difficult skill, etc.  This approach can be a “win-win” for both the organization and the employee.

 

Finally, when you are genuinely going to be victimized because of an arbitrary change at work, begin the process of moving out and up.  Some of the most effective professional decisions I have ever made are those that initially hurt (I was losing something I had counted on) and eventually turned out to be the best career moves I have ever made.

 

As a matter of fact, I would not be regularly penning LeMonAide and creatively crafting my own business if it had not been for some gut-wrenching moments when the employment rug was quickly pulled from under me.

 

If you have been bumbling around the business books, you have undoubtedly seen the spate of new titles focusing on discovering and utilizing your strengths.

 

I have taken the plunge into the familiar waters of Marcus Buckingham and Donald D. Clifton with their work, Now, Discover Your Strengths (ISBN 0-7432-0114-0).

 

What I like about Buckingham and Clifton’s approach is their “Thirty-Four Themes of StrengthsFinder which include fairness, deliberative ideation and woo” (you have to buy the book to find out what “woo” means).

 

The value of any of the “strengths books” is to discover if you are in the right career after isolating your strengths.  Continuous advancements in technology will make it possible for more of us to become entrepreneurs.  If you can chart your own future, you obviously need to know what are your strengths to make the right choices.

 

If you have spent a lot of time naval-gazing and know, in grinding detail, what are your weaknesses, it is time to turn the page and discover your strengths.  Buckingham and Clifton can help.

 

Article for Free Download

 

I have just finished an article for those of us who are consistently feeling “overwhelmed.”  

 

“When You Can Never Seem to Catch Up” is a practical, no-fluff set of six skill sets you can start in the next hour that will begin to give you control over your controllable life.  

 

If you know you should stop reading this edition of LeMonAide because the top of your desk looks like a city landfill on a windy day, go to www.execenrichment.com and choose the Free Resources option.  You’ll see this latest article, as well as previous articles.

 

When a colleague at work becomes “personal” in his/her comments about your private life, there are three options you have to maintain this relationship on a “professional” level.  

 

First, listen politely and then establish your limits.  If you have gone through a marital separation you could say, “I have no comment.”  Notice I did not add, “…this has been a difficult time.”  That addendum will just stoke the fires of this person’s need to tell you his story or offer advice.

 

Second, give a definitive answer.  You may have a teenager who has been experimenting with alcohol and your coworker wants to know the details.  You can end the conversation with, “This is an issue we are dealing with at home and I am not comfortable talking about my daughter at work.  Thank you for your understanding.”

 

Finally, you can deflect the comment to a larger issue.  If you are having coffee with a coworker and the topic of national politics comes up and your convictions are 180 degrees opposite this person, you can say, “You know, we as a nation have significant decisions to make in a few months.  I am relieved those decisions will be made privately in a voting booth.  You know, that is the genius of our democracy.  Can you imagine how different our lives would be if the state required us to publicly vote our conscience?”

 

Remember, you always have the right to represent your decision not to respond to personal thoughts, convictions or decisions at work.

 

You may want to try this if you are constantly “running out of time.”

 

How are you starting your day?  You know, the alarm goes off and you dart out of the bed and the craziness just begins until your manic moment when you set the alarm to do it all over again.

 

One of the best ways to stop “running out of time” is to take time at the beginning of the day to focus, renew and plan.

 

Set your alarm so you have at least 30 minutes of “alone time” at the beginning of the day. These moments can be accented with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, hot tea or some other beverage (preferably not alcohol-based) that offers you pleasure.

 

The intent is not to establish an agenda. It is what I call “random acts of nothingness” when my mind and spirit adjust to a conscious world stuffed with demands.  

 

As you emotionally, spiritually and intellectually begin to sort through the mounds of enticements for your time and talents, have a voice recorder nearby and be ready to record your impressions.

 

When I use this method in the embryonic minutes of a new sunrise, I normally am able to define whether or not my plans are worthy of my manic craziness.

 

Because I fly commercially all the time, I am often asked what are the best “hub cities” to fly through.  And, once I give the “good news,” I am compelled, out of a penchant for honesty to relate the hub airports from hell.

 

So, here are my two picks for the “best.”  I will choose to fly through either Dallas-Fort Worth or Denver since I live in the Midwest.  Both airports have excellent inter-terminal train service, clean restrooms and wide escalators and even wider “people-movers” (Denver).  I have the fewest delays in both airports and both do a great job in the winter of dealing with frigid weather and snow.

 

On the other side of this ledger are Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta Hartsfield airports.  I avoid, when it is possible, either of these hub options.

 

My reasons are simple:  (1) both airports regularly experience delays because incoming traffic is “stacked up” circling for up to an hour waiting for a “slot” to land, (2) both airports have repeatedly been physically expanded by putting another “addition” on the existing buildings which means you better be a track star if you plan to make your connection and (3) both airports have antiquated rail service between terminals.

 

Now, is there one airport that makes flying easy?  No, so pack your bags, roll the dice and renew your spiritual life.  The “friendly skies” is an advertisement, not normally a reality.

 

My latest podcast recording, When You Deserve a Promotion, is now available.  After you have established a history of quality work, building positive relationships and creating value, it may be time to appeal for a promotion.  This podcast will give you the strategy and language to use in the process of growing your career.  

 

To access the recording, go to www.execenrichment.com and choose the Free Resources option.  You’ll see Podcasts listed in the drop-down menu.

 

If you want the sale, get the potential customer involved in your presentation.

 

The problem with most sales presentations is just that….it is a presentation.  The sales person does all the work and the potential client just “observes.”

 

I have learned a lesson from occasionally buying furniture (I try to make this a once-in-a-decade occurrence).  If I am looking for a new sofa, the sales person will say to me, “Now just sit down and tell me what you think.”  Well, I am not thinking anything; I am strictly “feeling” right now.

 

If the sofa, mattress or new car “feels” right, the sale is made.

 

So, why not involve your client in the sale? You can: (1) hand the client the remote control device for your PowerPoint presentation so he/she can advance the information according to his/her need, (2) ask the client to read his specifications for this new piece of machinery you have just placed in front of him, (3) encourage the client to lead you in a tour of his workplace before you make a presentation and (4) if your product requires manual control by the client, put them in the “driver seat.”

 

Client participation, when possible, is your best sales method.


 

Date

Location

 

October 10-11, 2011

Richmond, Kentucky

 

October 12, 2011

Ooltewah, Tennessee

 

October 13-14, 2011

St. Louis, Missouri

 

October 17, 2011

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

October 18, 2011

Columbia, Missouri

 

October 20, 2011

Springfield, Missouri

 

October 21, 2011

Branson, Missouri

 

October 24-27, 2011

Denver, Colorado

 

October 28-29, 2011

Spokane, Washington

 

November 1, 2011

St. Louis, Missouri

 

November 4, 2011

Springfield, Missouri

 

November 7, 2011

Sumter, South Carolina

 

November 9-10, 2011

Springfield, Missouri

 

November 16, 2011

Denver, Colorado

 

November 17-18, 2011

Roosevelt, Utah

 

Much of business writing, unfortunately, remains “ethereal.”  You know, the beginning of a business letter will often begin with, “The aforementioned dispute was not resolved because the client was not properly informed of the pending….”

 

In our attempt to be “professional” we often “fog” the reader with amorphous vocabulary and convoluted structure.  It is time to return business writing to simplicity.

 

Instead of stating, “In accordance with the previous correspondence…” why not write, “Your last letter requested….”  Try eliminating “Thank you for bringing to our attention the importance of timely deliveries as a result of your unfortunate circumstances…” and use, “Thank you for giving us the date when your product arrived.”

 

Specific language is a necessity when there is no time to “dig through” verbal chatter to decide what the writer wants.  Below you will find illustrations on how to write with specificity.  The copy on the right is the preferred option to the verbosity on the left.

 

“the question as to whether”                               “whether”

“there is no doubt but that”                                 “doubtless”

“she is a woman who”                                        “she”

“in a hasty manner”                                            “hastily”

“the reason why is that”                                      “because”

 

 

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