Communicating skilfully

We cannot afford to not communicate, it’s just not possible!

I have recently found that I need a refresher on communicating skilfully. The reason for this is that when I’ve been under intense pressure, I tended to withdraw instead of confronting matters head–on.

My coach and I recently addressed this challenge, she advised me to ensure that when I get that feeling to withdraw I need take that as a signal to communicate and be open about what is giving me discomfort this then sets the other person free. For example, I arrived at work one day and found one of my colleagues upset that I had given an instruction to my subordinates to execute on a task which has never been within their set roles. This was not true of course; in fact it was a complete misunderstanding.

I had just stepped into my office and she was already on the attack, I could tell she had been stewing on this for a while and had concluded that I was wrong and had to be set straight. Her abrasive manner did not go down well with me and I was very brisk with her which in retrospect didn’t really make things any easier.

My coach had told me to, when I’d calmed down, to go back to my colleague and set the record straight then say that I would appreciate it if she directed my staff to me if they ever came to her with problems or complaints about their work. In addition she said, I should then arrange to go out for coffee and then iron out any other challenges I may have had with this individual in the past. She called this closing the loop (this is my favourite part). Closing the loop is effectively making sure that the air doesn’t remain uncomfortable. It’s the conversation where I would say “when you do …, it makes me feel… “. Then the hardest thing is allowing the other person to do the same. To close if off, you then come up with suggestions on how you can both move forward, this is also known as a win-win situation.

I have always sort of used my boss as my shield against difficult people and especially those whom I couldn’t afford a fall-out with. They, according to me, are influential and whatever they say in the organisation is taken as the truth and it influences how you are perceived by those who don’t know you well. What I didn’t realise is, conflict is inevitable and those who take charge of the situation, not through strong opinions, but by ensuring that the relationship is not a casualty, are the ones who grow and get respect. That for me was so powerful.

Similarly, I have found that the above principle applies when one is a business leader or business owner. When big things such as reputational damage or you find yourself in an unfavourable business climate, it’s so easy to hide away and hope it all goes away. However, this is not the best solution at all.

Leading people is about ensuring that you bring everyone along with you. During adversity is normally the time when you need to communicate the most with those you lead; perhaps you can’t share the facts entirely but say something to make them understand what is happening to them, to the company and what does it mean for them. They invest in the company each day through the work and time they deliver to you, and you should show them value.

It’s in The complete guide to understanding and using Neuro Linguistic Programming by Barbara Gibson that she advises we cannot, not communicate. This is true and even when we aren’t saying anything at all, we have communicated.

In closing, it’s important that this is done in a responsible manner. You need to understand that whoever you communicate with trusts you at some level , so be clear that everyone is aware of your intent and ensure that you are congruent i.e. what you say is aligned with what you do.


Tradition v.s. Innovation

In a world of quirky start-ups, disruptive technologies and businesses like Facebook, Twitter, Apple and their kind, more and more businesses are beginning to question whether taking the traditional route with regard to innovation is best. We see more amateurs breaking the mould and creating new realities for us thus surpassing a lot of the traditional organisations in the game.

Innovation for me means putting skin in the game, the newbies’ new ways of doing things is earning them respect on the market. It appears that organisations of the future are the ones that are not shy to innovate. In a single sentence, innovate or get pushed out.

I am a member of an organisation which prides itself on its heritage and traditions. It has outlived most of its founders and remains an institutional reminder of where we come from as a society.

As a result of this tradition it’s a dinosaur to its younger members who feel frustrated by the bureaucracy. Getting simple things to change to a large extent takes an entire term of office and by the time that one thing is dealt with the world has changed once again and that matter is no longer relevant. Bureaucracy creates a maddening inertia for those who need to follow it in organisations. The perception it creates is one of arrogance.

In many conversations with my good friend about this, we have agreed that organisations are no longer respected for their past alone. They are respected for what they bring to the market and the way in which they offer utility to the consumers of their products.

In the decision between tradition and innovation, the question is how to keep the good parts of the old and when to begin using the great parts of the new. By definition, a tradition is a long standing custom or belief that is passed from generation to generation. Whilst an innovation is a new method or idea that makes changes in something established. With that said, the disruption suggested by innovation requires a tolerance for failure and a willingness to be misunderstood, qualities that many large companies find hard to master.

In the book Built to Last the authors discuss clock building versus time telling. In this chapter they define clock builders as organisations that are pace setters and time tellers on the other hand are those that stay the same, they follow the trends and never seem to lead consumers into new exciting spaces.

The need to stretch and grow and wake up to the reality of where you really are as an organisation is critical. Many a time we institutionalise our operations, forgetting the principle of continuous improvement. Operations just like competitive advantage are not fixed and should be adapted to the times.

My simple plea is, change something, anything!

We are living in a time where we are seeing a dramatic shift in the ways of doing business which are shaping the future of global business forever.


A Brief Essay by Dr. Napoleon Hill About Life

Napoleon Hill


Life, you can’t subdue me because I refuse to take your discipline too seriously. When you try to hurt me, I laugh — and the laughter knows no pain. I appreciate your joys wherever I find them; your sorrows neither frighten nor discourage me, for there is laughter in my soul.

Temporary defeat does not make me sad. I simply set music to the words of defeat and turn it into a song. Your tears are not for me, for I like laughter much better, and because I like it, I use it as a substitute for grief and sorrow and pain and disappointment.

Life, you are a fickle trickster — don’t deny it. You slipped the emotion of love into my heart so that you might use it as a thorn with which to prick my soul — but I learned to dodge your trap with laughter. You tried to lure me with the desire for gold, but I have fooled you by following the trail which leads to knowledge instead. You induced me to build beautiful friendships — then converted my friends to enemies so you may harden my heart, but I sidestepped your figure on this by laughing off your attempts and selecting new friends in my own way.

You caused men to cheat me at trade so I will become distrustful, but I won again because I possess one precious asset which no man can steal — it is the power to think my own thoughts and to be myself. You threaten me with death, but to me death is nothing worse than a long peaceful sleep, and sleep is the sweetest of human experiences — excepting laughter. You build a fire of hope in my heart, then sprinkle water on the flames, but I can go you one better by rekindling the fire — and I laugh at you once more.

You have nothing that can lure me away from laughter, and you are powerless to scare me into submission. To a life of laughter, then, I raise my cup of cheer!