Event Date: 11/04/2020 (2:00 pm EST - 3:00 pm EST)
Courageous Conversations, Shifting Behavior, Inspiring Insights and Elevating Performance
Sarah Cirone: Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar. Courageous Conversations, Shifting Behavior, Inspiring Insights and Elevating Performance. Hosted by HRDQ-U and presented by Bill Treasurer. My name is Sarah and I will moderate today’s webinar. The webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions, please type them into the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel, and we’ll answer as many as we can during today’s session. Today’s webinar is sponsored by HRDQ Assessment Center. The Assessment Center consists of 38 online assessments that deliver soft skills training to transform your workforce. HRDQ assessments are informative and powerful learning tools for employees at all Organizational levels, with the ability to complete assessments from any location, on any device, and at any time. Learn more at www.hrdqstore.com/hac. I’m excited to introduce today’s presenter, Bill Treasurer.
Sarah Cirone: Bill is the founder and chief encouragement officer at Giant Leap Consulting, a courage building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously. He is considered the originator of the new organizational development practice of courage building and is the author of the international best selling book, Courage Goes to Work. The book provides practical strategies for inspiring more courageous behavior at workplace settings. Upon release, the book became the sixth best-selling management book in China. Bill is the author of five books and an off-the-shelf training program titled Courageous Leadership: Using Courage to Transform the Workplace, which you can purchase at hrdqstore.com. For over two decades, Bill has designed and delivered leadership and succession planning programs for experienced and emerging leaders for clients such as NASA, Accenture, eBay, CNN, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Boss, and many more. It’s wonderful to have you speaking with us today, Bill.
Bill Treasurer: Well, it is terrific to be here and I’m looking forward to the time we’re all going to spend together. My name is Bill Treasurer. I’m the chief encouragement officer of Giant Leap Consulting. And let me just start off by expressing gratitude. First, to HRDQ-U. I’ve been working with HRDQ for many years. I’m a friend of Brad Glaser. He’s the CEO. He does a great job. I’ve been very fortunate to work with Sarah Cirone as well. She does a lot of stuff behind the scenes, get me all situated, gets things all prepared, does a lot of the behind the scenes work. So thank you, Sarah, as usual. I want to thank the HRDQ team that puts everything together as well. I enjoy working with them. They represent some of my products and I couldn’t be more pleased. And I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you who showed up for today’s webinar. We have people, almost 1,000 registrants from 42 different countries. Isn’t that amazing? I just think it’s fantastic. I guess it has something to do with this compelling topic, courageous conversations. So thank you so much for showing up.
Bill Treasurer: I’m going to turn my webcam off for right now, so we can go into the presentation piece. But I will tell you that, like so many of you, I’m calling in and patching in from home because that’s what COVID has done to us. I’ve got my three kids. That’s Alex with the hat on in those pictures, he’s 17, standing next to his sister, who’s also 17. It’s his twin. Her name is Bina. You see my wife next to me, that’s Shannon. And then our youngest son named Ian. Now, to give you the sense of the reality of today’s world. Literally, I started this webinar with you and I can now hear my printer going off in my office because my kids are starting to print wireless stuff. I didn’t know that they were going to be using the printer. So if it gets noisy, I promise I’ll put on a headset. But I’m just like many of you, patching in from a home environment.
Bill Treasurer: My company is Giant Leap Consulting. We’re a courage building company. We help people and organizations be more courageous and drive out fear so that you can get superior results. And we do that in three ways. The first is we do strategic planning and we call that courageous future. If you want a group of people to put courage into a culture and a system, it has to start with bold goals, goals that make people want to activate their courage. So we do courageous strategic planning, courageous future to help people set their bold goals. The second thing, and the greatest amount of work that my company does is design, develop, and deliver comprehensive leadership development programs. Some of them are two years in length, and we call that courageous leadership. Oftentimes, it’s connected to succession planning to help prepare the next generation of leaders for an organization.
Bill Treasurer: Then the third thing that we do is work typically with senior executive teams to keep them functional, keep them aligned, make sure that they’re healthy as they operate with one another, we call it courageous teaming. And we also work with teams that might need an intervention because they become dysfunctional and a harm to themselves or the organization. So we do courageous future, strategic planning, courageous leadership, and courageous teaming.
Bill Treasurer: Today, we’re going to be talking about courage as it relates to communications. And it comes from one of our workshops dealing with communications. In all of our work, it comes down to courage. And one of the staple concepts of our business is that people exist on a grand continuum that ranges from safety seeking behavior on the one hand, to opportunity seeking behavior on the other hand. Most of us are willing to go out on that continuum to some degree and then we start to hesitate wherever we are. And we call that area, our comfort zone, our comfort zone.
Bill Treasurer: Now, by definition, if you’re not in your comfort zone, you’re in your discomfort zone. And if you are a leader, you have two responsibilities that is to first, make sure that you are doing things occasionally outside of your comfort zone. And second, to nudge people into discomfort. If you get it right, you activate what we call the courage zone. The courage zone is a place where you’re very excited and a little bit afraid, and you’re pursuing stretch goals. Here’s the thing that I want you to know as we set up this idea of courageous conversations, is that human beings don’t grow in a zone of comfort. We grow progress and evolve in a zone of discomfort. So our willingness to move into uncomfortable conversations is how we learn to be a courageous communicator. You won’t learn it in a zone of comfort. You’ll learn it by getting out and speaking uncomfortable truths.
Bill Treasurer: Another staple of my business is that there are three different kinds of courage, the courage to try something you’ve never done before, we call it the courage of initiative, try courage, versus a courage that’s all about the expression of vulnerability. We call that trust courage. And then the third bucket of courage is what we call tell courage. And it relates directly to courageous communication. Tell courage is all about speaking out, asserting one’s voice, being a truth teller and having independence of thought. It comes with a risk though, as you know, if you’re in any workplace, you know that to speak the truth can have ramifications. We say we want people to be honest, but if that honesty doesn’t fit the pervasive understanding of what we want, sometimes we might be cast out of our tribe. So it comes with a risk. We want honesty and yet delivering honesty and being willing to deliver honesty is challenging. And it takes the activation of our courage. Pattern that, so those are two essential pieces of my business with whatever workshops we do.
Bill Treasurer: The willingness to get uncomfortable, to grow and learn. And this one type of courage, tell courage joined with other types of courage, try and courage and trust courage. But if you factor in to today’s communication challenges that have to do with COVID, it really necessitates this idea of courage as it relates to communications. First of all, most workers right now are more stressed out than usual. And stress absolutely impacts the way that you communicate. There might be feelings of unfairness that some people are allowed special allowances right now due to their home life realities associated with COVID. There might be differences in opinions about the severity of COVID ranging from it’s just a flu to, Oh my God, it’s the plague. In other words, politics.
Bill Treasurer: There’s going to be some workers who don’t follow the COVID protocols, that are going to need to be confronted. The company is expecting people to work harder to recoup lost profits than they probably have done in the past. So you might be getting squeezed from your bosses to make more money on behalf of the company. At the very least, there might be somebody in your office that actually contracts COVID and that brings all sorts of communication challenges. So if there was ever a time where we needed to communicate with courage, it is right now.
Bill Treasurer: Here’s what we’re going to talk about today. These are the objectives of today’s session. The first is we’re going to explore the importance of communications relative to project and career success. Second, we’re going to envision the ideal communication. What should it look like? We’re going to consider communication mistakes and how to remedy those mistakes. We’re going to review strategies and approaches for communicating with courage. I’ll give you some frameworks for that as well. And we’re going to learn tips and techniques for overall communication. Those are the learning objectives that we’re aiming for today. How are we going to do that? Here’s our agenda.
Bill Treasurer: In a moment, I’m going to move right into the context and importance of courageous communication. Then we’re going to shift to talking about the communication ideal, what it should look like. Then I’m going to move into this idea called emotional leveling from a colleague of mine who happens to have been the chief ex-FBI hostage negotiator for the FBI. Then I’ll share with you some frameworks for difficult conversations and some tips. And then finally, some additional frameworks around how to put your courage to work relative to communicating with others.
Bill Treasurer: I want to open up with a little bit of quiet reflection, literally one tiny minute that I will ask of you. I want you to think about a work relationship that would benefit from healthier communication. So think of a relationship at work that you have, that you think could benefit with healthier communication between you and them. I’ve started the clock. You have one minute to reflect on this question. (Silence). All right, time’s up. I know that for some of you, a minute is a long time, but it’s just a moment of reflection. I want to make sure that the information that I share with you today is not abstract. It’s not coming from an academician. It’s not removed from your own reality. I want to make sure the information that I convey and share with you today, stitches directly to your own work-life, to help you gain more skills as a courageous communicator.
Bill Treasurer: Now let’s go into the context and background. I’m going to share with you some actual headlines to give you an idea how easy it is to miscommunicate. Starvation Can Lead to Health Hazards. That’s an actual headline, to which I say, duh. Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons. Thanks for stating the obvious. “We Hate Math,” says four in 10, a Majority of Americans. Four in 10 is not a majority. Thank you very much. Utah Poison Control Center Reminds Everyone Not to Take Poison. Thanks for the obvious again. Northfield Plans to Plan Strategic Plan. Sounds like a good plan to me. Homicide Victims Rarely Talk to Police. These are actual headlines pulled from the newspaper. It just shows you that overall communication is misunderstood, misinterpreted, not heard, distorted, ignored, disregarded, all in the same language in the same culture. We’re not even talking about cultural differences that communications presents. George Bernard Shaw was absolutely correct when he said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Bill Treasurer: It’s easier to get communication wrong than it is to get it right now. One of the ways that we do sometimes get it wrong when we’re communicating is when we’re communicating upward to our bosses. Sometimes it’s easier to communicate laterally or downward than when we get starstruck and tongue tied by speaking to bosses above us. Using the question box, I’d like you to chat in your answers to this question. What are some common mistakes people make when communicating with people in senior leadership roles? So what are some common mistakes that you’ve seen that when people are communicating with senior executives, that people, or even you, sometimes make? Go ahead and… Somebody said, they’re not sustained. Actually, this would be good if you wouldn’t mind, Sarah, if you could read it. I’m seeing it quarterized. I’m not able to see it. So if you wouldn’t mind reading a few of those, that’d be great.
Sarah Cirone: Yes. Peggy says they are not clear as to what they want slash need. Deon says, saying nothing out of fear. Melody says, assumptions about what they know. Joshua says, being too detailed or technical. Mike says, tell them what they think they want to hear. Norma says, telling instead of asking. Oh, we have so many here. A few more. Lisa says, no bottom lining. Dina says, trying too hard. And Candice says, assuming that they care.
Bill Treasurer: Oh man, those are great. Thank you, Sarah. Clearly, these folks have spoken with senior executives and seen some of the mistakes or maybe even made some of the mistakes. You know what’s cool about sessions like this at any workshop, frankly, that I do? I learn from the participants. And you have shared with me some that I don’t have. So I appreciate your input. Here are some additional mistakes that we sometimes make when communicating with upper level folks. First of all, we don’t prepare or we prepare so much that we have too much information. It could go in either direction, but oftentimes lack of preparation. We just go in and wing it.
Bill Treasurer: Second is poor timing. We go to them when they’re getting ready to go to the board meeting or when they’ve got 50 items in their to-do box. We don’t even think that they might be stressed themselves. Third, we come to them with all sorts of information and just dump it in their lap. And we come with no solutions. Email tossing. We just toss something to them in an email, give them a lot of information, probably too much in the email. And then we don’t follow up to make sure that they got it or made a decision. Oftentimes, and this was said by somebody, it lacks a specific ask. We don’t make whatever requests we need, whether it’s support or additional training or funding for our project or whatever it may be. Sometimes we lack an ask. Further, what senior executives get is soft pedaling from us. What they want is the truth from us. They often get late emergencies. What they want is early warnings. Some of you have heard it as, Hey, no surprises.
Bill Treasurer: It’s like the first law of executive leadership. You don’t want your people surprising you with stuff, you want to be able to be brought in at a point in time with which you could be influential. What they get is problem dumping. We dump the problem into their lap and say, washed our hands up and say, well, what are you going to do, boss? What they really want is our best thinking. Maybe even some shaped solutions, maybe even a pilot test on our part that gave those solutions some life. What they want or what they get is too much detail from us. And what they really want is details when asked. They want you to give the bullet points. They want you to have the details at the ready if they ask for them, but they don’t want you to go into some lengthy explanation, filling up all the spreadsheets with every bit of information that they haven’t asked you for. What they get is a fearful you very often. Stumbling over your words, when what they really want is your courage and your confidence.
Bill Treasurer: That’s just a small thing, speaking with senior executives, but it does take courage on our part to deal with authority figures. It has since we were little kids. So let’s talk about the communication ideal. What should it look like? First of all, the goals of communication, what do we do communication for? What should it satisfy when we are communicating? First is, we sometimes communicate to change behavior, to get people to think, do, or say things differently than they do today. Also, we communicate with people to drive action that we want to compel them to do something. We also communicate simply to exchange information, to help that person do their job and vice versa. We also communicate to get compliance.
Bill Treasurer: You need to do it this way. We’re talking about safety, we’re talking about quality. We need compliance, and here’s what you need to do to comply with whatever the request is. Then sometimes we communicate to pitch ideas, or maybe ask for funding, for example. These are generally the goals of communication. When it works right, it should look like this at the one-on-one level. The sender, probably you, encodes a message. It happens instantaneously. Your brain is firing off those synapses. You send your message, whatever it is, you decide what it is. You encode, decide what the message will be, and you transmit it to the receiver who decodes the message. Hopefully, they understand it in the way that you encoded it so that they would, and you transmit it through some type of a channel. Be it face to face or through an email or through a phone call or now Zoom or video chat, whatever it may be.
Bill Treasurer: Then the receiver encodes it, transmits it back to you where you decode what they sent back to you, and that’s called feedback. It’s the insurance that there has been a good communication with high fidelity. That receiver sent them the message, it was received as intended. There is a feedback loop back to the sender that says, “I heard it the way that you wanted to.” And that’s how it should work ideally. But we know that it hardly ever works ideally.
Bill Treasurer: You remember when you were a kid in kindergarten and played the telephone game, where one person whispered something into a person’s ear and the next person whispered it to the next person and so on. And when that message came back to the originator, it’s all sorts of distortion. What gets in the way is what we call noise, transmission noise, things like your own biases, your personality. You might be a detailed person speaking to a visionary who doesn’t want any details at all. It could be your colloquial language, things that you say that other people don’t. It could be your status can get in the way, a person speaking to an upper level. Like we just talked about. The culture in which you reside. A NorthernER speaking to a SouthernER, for example. Your role, how stressed you are, the assumptions you bring. All this stuff is why it’s so easy to miscommunicate the point that I made earlier.
Bill Treasurer: When we talk about courageous communication, it has to start with you, not what you want the other person to do for you and how you intend to change them so that they’re a better communicator. It has to start with you. Let’s consider this scenario briefly. Two weeks ago, you committed to meeting with Rob, one of your direct reports. You had to cancel the meeting with Rob twice because of work urgencies that had to be dealt with. Now, you’re supposed to finally meet with Rob today, in an hour. You got wind that Rob is going to ask you for advice about challenges that he’s having with a teammate, another one of your direct reports.
Bill Treasurer: The reality is it’s a tough time for you. You’re overloaded with work. Your boss is pressuring you for better results. Your boss wants you to delegate more, but your team is made up of a bunch of rookies. At home, your marriage is very strained because your three teenagers are having to attend virtual school because of COVID. Your spouse thinks it’s ridiculous that you even have to go to the office and they don’t appreciate it. What kind of communicator are you likely to be for Rob today, and what kind of communicator does Rob need you to be today? Go ahead and chat in some of your answers again, using the question tool. We’ll let some of the answers come in.
Sarah Cirone: David says, most likely not a good listener. Barbara says, stressed. Charles says, make it safe. Sean says, chaotic versus calm. Francis says, distracted. Jennifer says, you’ll be distracted. He needs you to be focused. Norma says, likely to be distracted and shorts. Minnie says, going to be stressed and hurried. A few more here that we’ll read off. Mike says, try to rush it. Dalian says, not an active listener. And Brandy says, distracted. So we have lots of distracted coming through.
Bill Treasurer: Yeah. Thanks, Sarah. And thanks everybody for chiming in there, such good answers. It’s exactly what I’m going for. I love the idea of chaos versus calm. Distracted, absolutely. This person is likely to be, in this case, the scenario we make it that it’s you. The first person mentioned psychological safety. In our courage program, we spend a lot of time on that concept because if you want people to extend themselves, do courageous things, take some degree of risk, be willing to make a mistake here and there, you have to put psychological safety into the system. You as a leader are not going to be safe for Rob today. He’s going to shut down or not be his best self if you’re coming all distracted with current behavior, full of chaos yourself. The first thing you got to get right when it comes to speaking and communicating courageously is you got to get you right.
Bill Treasurer: Here’s a few ways to do that. Ask yourself, what’s going on with me today? Am I the person with whom I’m communicating deserves me to be? In other words, I’m going to get set to communicate with this other person, am I the person that person deserves me to be? What’s my aim? Am I trying to change this person, support them, punish them, get compliance? Where do I want to end up? Get centered, free yourself from whatever distractions that might impede your ability to communicate with your full presence. And then know how you’ll know, know how you’ll know. How will you gauge your effectiveness? How will you know that they’ve acted on or absorbed what you’ve communicated? What will be your feedback loop? So getting right with yourself is the first place to start, just as it is with leadership. Being a leader of yourself before you lead others. Now I’m going to open it up to a couple of poll questions. I’m going to let Sarah run the polls here. And it connects to the ideas we’ve talked about so far.
Sarah Cirone: Okay. So I’ve launched the first poll here and everybody can take a few moments to submit your answer.
Bill Treasurer: Good. I could see the answers coming in. Getting some decent participation out there from all those folks from the 42 different countries patched in.
Sarah Cirone: Great. I will now share those results, Bill.
Bill Treasurer: Great. Are they shared?
Sarah Cirone: Yeah. So we have, if you can’t see them on your screen, [crosstalk 00:29:48]. Oh, you can. Okay, great.
Bill Treasurer: So it looks like we have, in terms of level of effectiveness, ranging from I’m a highly effective communicator or extremely effective down to not effective. The majority of you are at 47%, which is the mid range at three. And then a good number of you almost tied. It almost looks like a presidential race actually, at 45%. So we’ve got really close. The people are in the threes and fours, the vast majority of you. There’s a couple of people, much smaller in the ones and twos. And there is a person who thinks that they are extremely effective as a communicator, which is terrific. I’m glad to get those results. Let’s go on to the second poll question, if we can.
Sarah Cirone: All right. The second poll is now launched. And again, everyone can take a few moments here to submit their answer.
Bill Treasurer: Great. And as you see, this question is a little different. There is one thing to be an effective communicator, it’s another thing to be an effective communicator under stress. So let’s see how we do on this one.
Sarah Cirone: Okay, great. And we will share those results now.
Bill Treasurer: Perfect. As you can see, the number of people who are effective under stress drops dramatically. In fact, most of us give ourselves a two on a scale of one to five, with 46% at the two, and 36% at the three. The persons who were in the extremely effective goes down to [inaudible] probably just a few people at 2%. Four as an answer, came in with 7% and not effective came in at 9%. So clearly, we diminish our effectiveness when we’re stressed and I already showed you how many of us going through this COVID moment, naturally are stressed. Let’s do one last question with them.
Sarah Cirone: All right. The final poll is launched. Again, everyone can take a few moments here, submit your answer.
Bill Treasurer: Right. This one deals with the percentage of time where you’re required to communicate at work when you are under significant stress. So we’re going ahead and putting down our answers. I imagine you see a theme developing from these poll questions that I’ve asked.
Sarah Cirone: Great, and we will share those results now.
Bill Treasurer: Perfect. So what we find is while only 9% of you are working under significant stress 75% of the time, 77% of you are working at either 50% of your time but less than 75%, or 25% of your time and less than 50%. So basically, more than 25% of your time for most people is communicating under significant stress. And for many people, it’s over 50% of your time. A smaller percentage of you, 24%, is between 10% and 25% of your time. In other words, we just walked you through a process where we talked about how effective you are as a communicator. Then we asked you how effective you are during stress and a significant number dropped down and said, I’m not so effective. And then we said, well, how often are you stressed? And as you can see, we’re stressed at a fairly sizeable and significant portion. Stress has a lot to do with miscommunication or abrupt communication or antagonistic communication.
Bill Treasurer: We’re going to move away from the polls and we’re going to go back into the content. Now I want to get to this idea of emotional leveling, and it connects directly to this idea of stress. And it connects directly to you when you are communicating under stress. The person who taught me this term, emotional leveling, is Steve Romano. Steve was the FBI chief negotiator in hostage situations. He’s a friend of mine and he comes into Giant Leap Consulting workshops on communication and/or on our conflict and negotiation workshops. Steve Romano says, “The lessons learned from diffusing tense standoff situations and dangerous confrontations, have direct application for avoiding or resolving everyday conflict in business and in life.” That’s why I’m bringing to you this content. What Steve will tell you is this idea of tactical empathy.
Bill Treasurer: People are more likely to comply with somebody that they view as willing to listen. That was something that you said people don’t do when they’re stressed when I gave you the case study. They’re much more likely to comply with a person who is understanding. They’re more likely to comply with a person who is worthy of respect and who is not threatening. I.e., psychological safety. Negotiators also call this building rapport. And you can think of the word compliance as the word influence, and the word influence directly relates to leadership. So what does it mean? Steve Romano will tell you that generally in a hostage situation, people either have grievances that are rational, goal directive, substansive demands that you can actually understand. That makes sense. Logically, they’re rational. But people also have expressive demands that are emotional ventilation, no clear goal, and they’re senseless and it’s full of emotionality.
Bill Treasurer: Your job is twofold, is to bring emotional leveling to yourself, to make sure that you’re not communicating, you’re rattled and you’re tweaked. So you’ve got to level yourself first and to do the best you can and helping level the other person. As Steve says, emotion always overwhelms reason. He talks about it as being emotionally inebriated. In other words, you can’t be productive when you’re having a conversation with somebody who is emotionally drunk, or if you’re emotionally drunk. You need emotional sobriety to be able to get to a place where you can have an adult life communication. This has a lot to do… Well, I’ll do this.
Bill Treasurer: We’re going to use the chat tool again. And I’m going to ask you, what will you do or what do you do to level yourself when you’re emotionally inebriated? What do you do to emotionally level others? So when you are stressed and you know it, and you’re not being your best self communicator, how do you bring yourself back to leveling? What do you do to keep yourself from being emotionally inebriated and extra credit if you’ve got a technique for helping level the other person? Use the chat tool again, and Sarah, I’ll let you read some answers as they come in.
Sarah Cirone: Melody says, breathe and recognize that I am triggered. Ophelia also says, breathe. Melody says, think about the first step. Charles says, wait 24 to 48 hours to rejoin the conversation. David also says, breathe and focus. John says, pause, think it through and think about what I will say. Francis says, take a walk. Angela says, pause and allow emotional thinking to go to the rational side of my brain. Robert says, remain quiet and listen. Norma says, take a break, take a walk. A few more here we’ll read off. Mary says, take time and a bit of distance. Jane says, slow and lower voice, breathe.
Bill Treasurer: Hmm, I like it.
Sarah Cirone: There are lots of breathing and taking walks and pausing.
Bill Treasurer: Good. All right. This is terrific stuff. I appreciate it. They were the answers that I was going for there. Yes, to be able to get that disconnected moment. Some of you might remember one of the greatest management gurus of all time, Dr. Stephen Covey, God rest his soul. He used to talk about this idea of being response able, that if you take that word responsible and break it into two words, becoming response able, and in between the stimulus that trigger that sets you off and your response to the trigger, is what he called a degree of freedom. Then you have choice in that moment. And sometimes you need to disconnect from the trigger. You do need to breathe. You do need to go and wash your hands under cold water. You do need to take a focused walk, maybe to give yourself some space.
Bill Treasurer: I had a CEO said to me, “If I get a flaming email my way and it sets me off and triggers me, I respond to that dang email. I fire up my email and I send it to myself. And then I review that email 24 hours later. And in all probability, I’m going to have proportionality with that second email once I make changes to it.” So sometimes just getting yourself back to level is critical, this emotional leveling so that you can at least be the adult in the room. Now, many of you know that this comes from this idea of emotional intelligence, what you’re getting to here. First of all, somebody even said that they recognize when they’re triggered. Self-awareness, I know when I’m triggered. Self-management, I have ways to decompress myself. Just like the ways that you shared with me there. On the other hand, that’s just for me. I also have to consider the person I’m communicating with. Am I aware that they are triggered? Do I have strategies to tamp them down and bring them back to emotional leveling? This is the central idea of emotional intelligence.
Bill Treasurer: Now I want to share with you some strategies for how you can have those difficult conversations in adult-like ways. They’re simple, but not simplistic. I’m not saying that they’re easy to do, they’re easy to comprehend. The first strategy is what I call just like me. When I’m communicating with somebody who’s frustrating me or I’m having a difficult conversation, my first thought needs to be, they are just like me. They want security. They want to be treated fairly, they have suffered hurts in the background somewhere. They are like me somewhere. And if you can see the human being, it helps with your empathy to be able to relate to them.
Bill Treasurer: The next strategy is back it up. There might be some times where somebody’s going to say about a decision that they make, that you just think is dunderhead and you wouldn’t have made it that way and that you want to lash out at that. Or you want to tell them that they’re wrong. Before you do that, my suggestion would be to use the strategy of back it up to help you get more perspective. You can simply say to them, help me understand what led you to that conclusion. What else would be helpful for me to know? In other words, what’s the additional context that I’m meeting? Because you just told me that decision and I don’t agree with the decision. You don’t have to tell them that part, but if you ask them to back up and give you additional context, you might understand how they came to the conclusion they did.
Bill Treasurer: Conversely, play it forward. There might be something that they’re getting ready to do that you think is not a great idea, but rather than tell them, Hey, that’s not a great idea, you just get them to play forward. Well, how might that impact? And then you put your concern in there. Then let them think through, because if they think through versus your finger in their face telling them, they’re much more likely to have the uptake and have the epiphany and not feel ashamed or embarrassed. They’ll get it.
Bill Treasurer: Another strategy is emotional labeling. Some of you are aware of this. That word, label, is usually a bad word. We don’t want to label people. But when it comes to emotional labeling, what you’re labeling is what you’re seeing. It’s like holding up the mirror to help that person catch themselves being themselves. So it’s simply saying something in a nonjudgmental way, something like, you sound really frustrated or you sound very angry, or it sounds like you’re not on board with this. Or it sounds like I need to further explain this. But what is the emotion you’re seeing with the other person? You sound angry. Again, not with judgment, just noticing what you’re seeing. And then that person will validate or invalidate. They’ll be like, “No, I’m not angry. I’m frustrated.” Well, then you can be, okay, frustrated.
Bill Treasurer: Then I like this one, it comes from Benjamin Franklin, one of the great American founding fathers, somebody who was known for a level headed and reasonability and a great communicator who had sought harmony with the people around him at the Constitutional Convention. And rather than saying, you’re wrong about that, he would acknowledge the truth of what the other person said. It’s true that person’s point of view, and then pivoting it to it’s also true and then insert your point of view. So it’s not dismissing the other person by saying, but or however, and negating that person’s point of view. It’s acknowledging their truth and acknowledging your truth as well. The other way to do it is using the words, that said. Yes, it’s true X, Y and Z. That said, it’s also true A, B and C. All right.
Bill Treasurer: Those are a couple of techniques for leveling you. Let me now move on to a courageous framework here. First of all, I want to show you this guy here. He’s still a mentor to me. He was my boss at Accenture. 20 years ago when I worked at Accenture, this guy, Heinz Brandon, in Atlanta was my boss. Still a great figure in my life, a mentor to me. I’m going to walk through a model that he used in giving me tough feedback. He didn’t formally use it. I put it together later that this is the model he used. The model is from Dan McCarthy, who has a website called greatleadershipbydan.com, greatleadershipbydan.com. And this is called The Beer Model, when you have to have a tough conversation.
Bill Treasurer: Here’s what Heinz said to me. He said, “Bill, I’ve noticed some behavior that is starting to get in your way, and it’s going to limit your career if you don’t address it. The effect is if you allow this behavior to go on, I think it’s going to hurt you. It’s going to plateau and you’re not going to be able to move beyond a middle manager. Bill, you’re starting to become a brown-noser.” Ooh, it hurt. He said, “The expectation that I have for you, Bill, is that you will be a truth teller. I don’t need another suck up and kiss butt person here. I don’t need a brown-noser, I got plenty of those. I need a truth teller working close to me like you do. My expectation is that you’ll be honest with me because when you’re schmoozy and kissing up to me, you’re trying to get ahead by manipulation and that’s dishonesty. And Bill, if you could speak with more confidence and speak plainly, it’s going to help you as a consultant, be more truthful. It’s going to help your writing be more powerful. Will that be a good thing?”
Bill Treasurer: So he had the behavior, he had the effect, he had the expectation, he had the result. He was sharing a beer with me. Here’s what it looks like. Let’s say that you have somebody who works with you and her name is Rose. She’s a critical resource on your team. She’s extremely bright and she knows it. Everyone of her teammates makes, or whenever one of her teammates makes the suggestion, she feels compelled to one-up them. And even for trivial things, she’s a know it all. It’s gotten to the point where people have come to you and complain that they don’t even enjoy working with her anymore. You need Rose on your team, but you also need harmony on your team. Keep in mind, there Rose is a perfectionist. So she takes criticism really personally. How would you use the Beer Model? So I’m not going to have you chat the man in the interest of time. I’d walk you through how I would use the Beer Model.
Bill Treasurer: First, I would suggest the behavior. Rose, there’s some behavior that I’m starting to notice that if you don’t address, I think it’s going to not be good for you. It’s noticeable that when people share ideas, you end up sharing one that tries to jump theirs or trump theirs. A lot of times you feel compelled to prove that you’re doing well on this team. The effect of that is that people are going to see you as somebody who thinks that you’re a know it all. And that effect is not going to be good for you because they’re not going to want to bring you into situations because they’re going to think you’re insincere.
Bill Treasurer: Now, my expectation is that we’re all going to be sharing ideas. I don’t want you to bite your tongue, but I want you to recognize when you really need to share an idea versus when you might be sharing it for ego reasons. Finally, when you do that, when you were able to have discernment as to when to offer an idea, not to trump somebody else, but maybe even build on their idea, won’t you be a much better teammate to be around? Won’t people want to pull you into projects? So we see how the beer effect works.
Bill Treasurer: I’m going to give you another framework and then I’m going to open it up to some questions. This is, I call the courageous framework. First, you’ve got to set the stage for courage. Saying something to the effect of, I’d like to address something really important with you. The issue is X and it’s impacting Y. Then discuss all the possible risks. If the issue isn’t addressed, I’m concerned that if it’s left unaddressed, and if you don’t deal with X, that these things are going to start to happen. Thirdly, generate solutions with them. Don’t come in with all the answers. You need them to start thinking solutions because they’re the ones who have to walk away with the behavior change. Please think through some ideas with me right now, how can we resolve this situation and prevent X from happening in the future? Then finally, restate the importance. Thanks for recognizing the importance of this. Let’s get our calendars out and set a date for a follow-up conversation, just to process how things have gone since we had this conversation.
Bill Treasurer: We spend time with this in our workshops and let people practice various scenario. Actually, I have three different scenarios that they use this framework on. The idea is that when you’re communicating courageously, you’re vacillating between being a velvet person, with a lot of diplomacy and a lot of sensitivity to the other person. And sometimes you’re having to be a hammer. You’re having to deliver a tougher message, a message that gets through and can be more startling. You just don’t want to be a hammer in all situations and being brutal and brutally honest, because you don’t need to bring violence to your honesty. But you also don’t want to be a pushover and never say anything because you’ve diluted with too much diplomacy. You have to vacillate between being a velvet hammer. All right, I’m going to open it up to some questions and then we’ve got an interesting offer for you after that. So let’s go ahead and we’ll open it up to some questions, Sarah.
Sarah Cirone: Yeah. So type your questions into the questions box, and we’ll have a few moments here to answer some of your questions that you have for Bill today. The first question that we have is from Alana, and Alana would like to know when you accuse Rose of having ego-based motives, won’t that put her on the defensive?
Bill Treasurer: There’s an old saying by Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “The truth only hurts if it should.” Sometimes the truth is going to sting. You’re right. I can be more thoughtful about words that I might use to not put up for defenses. But remember, what Heinz Brandon said to me, he said, “Bill, you’re starting to become a brown-noser.” Now he didn’t say it in front of the team. It was a one-on-one conversation in private. So I could have that moment of embarrassment simply with him. But I needed that moment of self-consciousness to promote the behavior change that I was trying to get to. So you’re probably right. I might be able to use softer terms and I have to calibrate how much I think she can take based on my history with her. She’s a newer employee. So I probably would hold back on being as stringent as I was. But I also have to be careful not being so diplomatic that I don’t say anything and she doesn’t really get the point. But you bring up a good point and part of it is about calibration.
Sarah Cirone: Aaron would like to know, how do you deal with someone who always has an excuse for behavior and never takes responsibility?
Bill Treasurer: Right. Some of this is challenging at the behavioral level and at the psychological level. I certainly have known people like that, that it’s never them. Sometimes it’s attached to perfectionism. My question to you, Aaron, or a question that I would invite you and all the listeners to consider when you’re in a situation like that, it’s a term by Margaret Wheatley. Margaret Wheatley says, and she’s a great leadership writer, she says, “Everything comes from somewhere.” Why might this person be reacting this way? Any time criticism comes about, anytime you need to give them feedback, it’s not them. It’s never them. Ask yourself, what would drive that behavior? It’s an echo of something. And what is it serving them? How is it protecting them? What is the fortification? My sense would be it’s a person who has a perfectionism streak and that it is easier for them to try to make everything perfect than to be able to suffer an assault to their ego because they’re very sensitive to any of that feedback.
Bill Treasurer: How to get them to open it up would be rather than directing it at that person, maybe in a team conversation with your team, talk about what is an ideal teammate? What would that look like? If we were going to put the ingredients together or what makes a great teammate, it’s a person who can take, it’s a person who can give feedback. It’s a person who wants to do a high quality job and has a tolerance for mistakes. Put the ideal together. And then when that person misses living that ideal, just ask them, what you just did there, how does that smack with the team ideals that we put together about what makes an ideal teammate? If you can help them catch themselves being themselves, that’s great. But here’s what won’t work, Aaron and anybody else, how come you’re so sensitive every time I give you feedback? The finger in the face, it just won’t work. You’d rather have them come to their own conclusion.
Sarah Cirone: Great. Laura would like to know if you have any tips for leaders who have been courageous and spoken up to executives about truths within the organization, and then have gotten cast out.
Bill Treasurer: And then have gotten what out?
Sarah Cirone: Cast out.
Bill Treasurer: Ooh, cast out. Well, if you’ve gotten cast out of the organization, that’s probably a good thing because your values are probably different than their values. But if you just got cast out of future situations or ostracized or put in a box, my first encouragement to you would be to don’t stop, try twice and try different ways. That it could be the way you can be [inaudible 00:56:06]. Remember, there’s the what and the how, there’s the content that you’re communicating and the how is the message delivered. And maybe if you could have somebody who was part of the group that cast you out, but you have high levels of trust with, who could give you insight into how it was received or how you could have changed the delivery of the message, it could be a learning opportunity for you about how might you approach it in the future?
Bill Treasurer: Regardless of that, related to that, and this is for everybody, I know that some of you are like, well, how do I deliver a tough message like that to somebody above me? My response is this, try this in a performance review, or when you are getting feedback from them, ask them, Hey boss, do you need me to be a yes person? Now, no boss is going to say yes, please be a yes person. Pretty much 98% of your bosses are going to be like, no, I don’t need you to be a yes person. Don’t agree with everything I say. I need you to be a truth teller and to occasionally push back on me. Then you say, okay, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to honor that. From now on, I will honor that. I will not be a yes person to you with everything you say, and I will disagree with you.
Bill Treasurer: Will you do me a favor, boss? Can you give me some coaching on how to deliver tough messages to you in a way that you won’t get defensive when I give those messages? So get coaching from your boss about how to deliver tough messages like that. Because bosses want you to have a ground rule with them. They want the establishment of a ground rule. And now when you get to the point time when you have to disagree with them, instead of getting cast out, say, Hey boss, remember when we agreed that you didn’t want me to be a yes person and you gave me coaching on how to deliver that message? What I have to say next honors what you taught me before. It’s a great way of getting permission to say tough things to people in authority.
Bill Treasurer: I fear that we don’t have enough time for one more question. So I do want to make sure that you know that this is just a small tip of the iceberg of our Courageous Leadership Program that talks all about communication and courage, as well as a whole bunch of other things. It comes with a courage profile. It comes with a participant workbook, and a trainer’s guide. It gives you comprehensive information to certify you to be a courageous leadership carrier of the message, a master courage builder. And with that, let me just say, thank you so very much. I enjoyed it. I know I went fast, but holy smokes, we’ve got so many people on today’s webinar, 42 different countries. That’s awesome. And I turn it back to my friend, Sarah, to bring it home from here.
Sarah Cirone: Great. Yes, HRDQ actually has a special offer to you for registering for today’s webinar. Use code, Get Courageous, for 15% off the Courageous Leadership product at hrdqstore.com. We will also send an email following today’s session, including the coupon code details, and that will bring us to the end of today’s session. Thank you, Bill. It was really filled with an abundant amount of information.
Bill Treasurer: Thank you, Sarah and everybody.
Sarah Cirone: Yes. And thank you to our sponsor, the Assessment Center from HRDQ, providers of informative and powerful learning tools online, anywhere, anytime. Learn more at www.hrdqstore.com/hac. That is all the time that we have for today. Thank you, Bill, again for joining us today.
Bill Treasurer: Thank you.
Sarah Cirone: And thank you all for participating in today’s webinar. Happy training.
Communication has always been elemental to leadership and teaming. People want to know their leader’s vision, goals, and expectations. They also want their leader’s performance feedback, business insights, and recognition. The most effective leaders are clear, persuasive, and compelling communicators. While, there is a large body of knowledge about what leaders can do to be great communicators, much of that knowledge isn’t useful in this COVID moment.
During times of uncertainty and anxiety, such as right now, fear has an undue influence on people’s behavior and organizational performance. When fear directs workers’ behaviors, they become distracted, afraid, and unproductive … just when their companies need them to be the opposite. Fear is bad for business.
Courage has always been the antidote for fear, and during fearful times leaders need to communicate with courage and clarity. This webinar will cover the why/what/how of communicating without a playbook. This engaging and dynamic webinar will help you communicate more flexibly, transparently, and courageously during these challenging times.
Attendees will learn:
- How to communicate honestly, transparently, and courageously without amping-up peoples’ fears.
- Why communicating courageously requires promoting “psychological safety,” and how safe environments advance innovation!
- How to practice “tactical empathy” without being seen as manipulative.
- Why miscommunication is more common than effective communication, and what to do about it.
- Why nudging people into discomfort is an essential leadership responsibility.
Who should attend:
- Training and HR professionals
- Independent consultants
- Managers delivering training
Bill Treasurer is founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting (GLC), a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously.
Bill is considered the originator of the new organizational development practice of “courage-building.” He is the author of the internationally bestselling book, Courage Goes to Work. The book provides practical strategies for inspiring more courageous behavior in workplace settings. Upon release, the book became the 6th bestselling management book … in China.
Bill is the author of five books, and an off-the-shelf training program titled Courageous Leadership: Using Courage to Transform the Workplace. The program, which you can purchase at HRDQstore.com, is designed to help organizational development practitioners and training professionals inspire more courageous behavior in their organizations. The program has been taught to thousands of leaders in 12 countries on 5 continents.
For over two decades Bill has designed and delivered leadership and succession planning programs for experienced and emerging leaders for clients such as NASA, Accenture, eBay, CNN, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Boss, UBS Bank, Lenovo, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the CDC, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Learn more about Bill at www.giantleapconsulting.com.
Our library of 40+ online assessments deliver soft skills training that transforms your workforce. HRDQ Online Assessments are informative and powerful learning tools for employees at all organizational levels. And our platform makes delivering and administering them fast, efficient, and secure.