5 Steps for Successful Email Communication

5 Steps for Successful Email Communication

Get Out of Your Stories Emails are dangerous because of the gap in communication elements. No tone, no body language, no context. As humans, our first instinct is to create a story to give us perspective on the message. This is how we decide our boss is fuming mad when we get a one-liner email. Or, how we decide Susan has too much time on her hands when she sends a four-paragraph email, the first and last of which are more like engaging in small talk. If you aren’t in face to face dialogue with the other person, you really don’t know.  Here are 5 easy steps for successful email communication. 1. Stop with the stories Take the actual message for what it is. If it’s not clear or context and perspective matter to your next action, clean it up first. Pick up the phone or go see the sender. Don’t be the person creating this week’s office drama because of a story you made up because you were too lazy to get the facts. 2. Know Yourself Take 5 minutes and look at your inbox. What details about the emails you process each day make it more or less likely you’ll engage? What makes it easiest or hardest for you to take action? Whose emails do you like most and whose do you like least? Why? (other than you just don’t like the message/data they’re sending) For example, I personally like emails with the specific required action stated first and a bullet point list if necessary.  Support or background info is OK, and I want it last with...
4 Practical Ways to Immediately Improve Meeting Productivity [+ our Meeting Productivity Calculator]

4 Practical Ways to Immediately Improve Meeting Productivity [+ our Meeting Productivity Calculator]

How productive are your meetings?  What are you doing about it? According to research done by themuse, more than $37 Billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings. Calculating meeting productivity is hard, which is why we’ve created the free meeting productivity calculator. Use the calculator today to establish a baseline.  Like using a map, you’ll know where you’re starting and establish a goal of where you want to be.  Start a simple trend chart to monitor progress on meeting productivity in your organization. Sound silly?  Think about everything else your organization tracks and measures, then refer to the $37 Billion number above. Do something about it now. Download the Meeting Productivity Calculator by filling out the form below, then implement the 4 Non-Negotiables outlined in the rest of the post. Name First Last Email CAPTCHA Here are 4 non-negotiables to get your meeting productivity moving in the right direction. RESPECT TIME: Show up on time.  Start on time.  End on time. Ever noticed how annoyed you get when the doctor is late for your appointment or when your food is late?  It’s annoying and distracting to say the least.  Your meetings aren’t any different.  When you don’t start and end on time you convey the message:  others are not important, their time is not valuable, their family is not important, and in your mind, they have nothing better to do.  If they are not important and their time doesn’t matter, why should or would they care about you or the organization? If nothing else, be selfish here.  Want to get out of work on time to spend personal...
4 Skills to Speak with Clarity in Tough Conversations

4 Skills to Speak with Clarity in Tough Conversations

Miscommunication… What an annoying word! We hear and experience it all the time, with seemingly no end to the “mis-” of it all. Miscommunication is inevitable when we’re dealing with people. Right? Maybe not. Being human guarantees we won’t “get it right” 100% of the time—it also means we strive to do and be better, so if we can reduce the amount of miscommunication on our end of things, we can contribute to the general death of “miscommunication”. Though there are many things contributing to poor communication, speaking with clarity—our message is delivered inline with our intentions—goes a long, long, long way in preventing drama and repetitive conversations. There are 4 skills we can employ to speak with clarity when conversations get tough: Story ≠ truth Say what you mean Share how you got to your conclusions Do NOT exaggerate Reflecting on the previous night’s events, Patrick shook his head in disbelief.  He estimated a single email had blown up to at least 20 emails, 5 phone calls, 20+ texts, multiple hallway conversations, snaps, instant messages, etc.  Not good for his career. Unfortunately, we tend to kick up a lot dust when it comes to tough conversations.  Rewind back 12 hours.  Patrick was running the night shift.  After he had the team settled in on the schedule and made his rounds he sat down to catch up on emails.  Shortly after he began a new email popped up from the night operational administrator, Cindy.  It was short and direct.  “Prep room 8015 on the East wing.  We have a VIP arriving tomorrow morning and that room is to be held for them.”...
Does going to work feel like a drama fest?

Does going to work feel like a drama fest?

Teamwork feel more like team-drama? Most of us know what it feels like to be on a team that feels more like a high school locker room than a professional workplace. If you look back on those experiences, you probably feel certain of who or what the problem was. Here’s the problem with that: we don’t often know things, we usually assume them. Our perspectives are stories.  Our stories are missed opportunity. However, when we look at our teams through StrengthsFinder and choose to get curious (instead of judgmental), we can transform our workplaces from a drama fest to a professional, goal-oriented workplace. In other words, you can unleash the vibe of your Tryb! Take our friend, Tracy, for example. Here’s a snapshot of a typical day at work for her: Tracy walked slowly down the hall, rarely making eye contact, checking her phone. Tracy rarely engaged people around the office in small talk except for a couple of her peers. Amongst the staff, the general opinion was that Tracy didn’t care, was arrogant and had her favorite clique. You were either in or you were out. Most felt they were out. As Tracy walked through the building she felt people were avoiding her. She noticed Shara look up, frown, and stare at her computer. Across the room, Thomas was shuffling papers on a desk that looked like it should be on the tv show about hoarders. As she neared Marcus’s desk, she could hear a lively discussion taking place until they noticed her, at which point they abruptly halted the conversation and moved on. As she reached the conference room, Tracy...
How to Break the Cycle of Distrust on Your Team

How to Break the Cycle of Distrust on Your Team

Trust in the workplace is an interesting topic.  Trust starts with communication, specifically with the ability to handle Tough Conversations. Tough Conversations are those involving anything that makes us uncomfortable, sparks emotions, requires vulnerability, etc.  For example: questioning your boss discussing performance issues asking for a raise proposing a major process change correcting a coworker, or asking for clarification on how anonymity is maintained on employee surveys The less a team is willing to step into these Tough Conversations, the more space they leave for stories about the motives of others.  The more the stories grow, the more trust shrinks and before long, voilà! The cycle of doom takes hold. Consider the annual employee survey when trust is missing: In this cycle: Employees feel management doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, and does whatever they want regardless of employee input.  The perspective on feedback is that it’s a waste of time and makes the person offering it a target. Management feels employees are disengaged and not aligned to organizational objectives.  The perspective becomes a need to micromanage and control versus empower and grow. Solution: Avoid or break the cycle of distrust and learn to handle your team’s Tough Conversations. Tough Conversations are complex and unfortunately not something covered in grade school or college.  We get very little training on how to handle them effectively with candor and skill.  Most people just wing it. Here’s some tips on how to begin: Accept that everyone is different. We all bring different Strengths, blind spots, experiences, and knowledge. Avoid blame. It’s judgement and doesn’t move conversation forward. Be curious. Seek understanding. Clarify intent, yours...