Communication consulting | Simply Confident Communication

Become A Confident Communicator


Leave a comment

Taking care of your virtual team in a crisis – from a leadership perspective

Working virtually is natural to those of us who have done it for years, we have developed practices, disciplines and tools that help us be productive, connected into the wider team for that human connection.

The future of work is becoming more and more online as I type this, and of course the latest crisis with COVID – 19 has now pushed this to a new level.

For those of you who are suddenly leading teams that are being forced to work remotely, here are some tips from our experience of leading virtual teams.

  • Offer daily touch points, live on something like ZOOM or teams etc, if you have had people working closely in an open plan office and now suddenly they are working from home, some could potentially feel isolated and this can lead to lack of motivation
  • Have an online chat tool going for people to interact like they would if they were in an office
  • Help people to be set up well to work from home, check on their environment, family situation, desk set up, internet speed, skill set level for digital platforms, never assume everyone is all good.
  • Make sure you spend extra time on your ‘pulse’ checks with your team, these are individual regular meetings that are happening normally, if not now would be a good time to start. 30 mins is fine for these one on ones usually, a check in at the start to see how they are feeling right now, before the call is over, then offer any support you can to help them through this time.
  • Brainstorm ways to stay focused for those who are working from home around kids working from home! Do work hours need to shift?
  • Check in staff are still having regular breaks for morning tea and lunch, perhaps consider having set times where people do this virtually on Zoom

Wherever possible try to create a supportive, connected culture online where people feel motivated, and supported to do their best work.

Put a positive spin on people learning new ways of working and connecting, so those who are resistant or fearful feel like they are gaining some great new skills that will pay off in the future.

This challenging time can either strengthen teams, so when they get back into an office environment they thrive or drive them further apart.

We get to choose, we get to choose the way we manage the things we can control right now.

Always happy to chew the ‘fat’ on this one if you want some more ideas and tips, please get in touch.

Jen Tyson,

PS: If team culture and communication was not great going into this, working as a remote team may feel like a welcome relief right now from the obvious tensions that come from people working together, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, because if the issues are not addressed they will actually create bigger gaps that will cost a fortune to fix and take precious energy and time to sort.

If you want to hit the ground running when this is all lifted, make sure you use this time to strengthen your team culture

www.simplyconfident.net

Switched website


Leave a comment

Spreading love not germs – Tips for what we can control

Photo by Dimitar Belchev on Unsplash

Words are powerful – as a writer and communication coach, I have been mindful of this for many years.  Words are only one part of how we communicate but for every word spoken or written, there is impact.

I believe we each have a responsibility for our own communication – the ripples we are creating.

Words can feed love, compassion, confidence or hatred and fear

The thing is, most of us know and understand that at an intellectual level, however fear is an emotion and when we are stressed, overwhelmed or emotionally triggered our logic and reason and things we ‘know’ can fly out the window.

The headlines are full of emotional words on any given day, even more so now because the media has something hot and global, so they are running with it at an alarming rate and people are drinking it up like its truth.

People are mostly intelligent and for the most part very informed from proper channels through work and schools, like Ministry of Health, and World health organisation. These organisations have no hidden agendas, you can tell by the way they write, NO emotional headlines just updates and fact-based information.

FACT: Be aware of the media’s agenda

The media is not paid or funded to tell the truth, or even report the truth, they are paid to get readership, they are all climbing over each other to get more readers, more followers and more money.

They don’t care about the impact of their words, or peoples mental or emotional well being, they count clicks, likes and money that comes in from sponsored ads etc.

“What we reap we sow – what we feed grows”

We can’t control many things in this situation but there are some things we can control

Tip #1: Watch what you read

Be careful what you read and where you get your information from – always be discerning and aware of the information source, social media is responsible for much of the panic, stress, negative social and emotional impact right now. Take care of your own mental health, be discerning.

Tip #2: Mind your language

When communicating, mind your own language. What you share (spread), the language you use, the words you say and write. Even if you decide to ignore tip #1 and choose to read emotive media reporting, then please THINK before you share it. What is your purpose for sharing it? Will sharing it help others in a positive way or just spread more fear.

Tip #3: Connect with your team on a personal level

Communicating with your organisation if you are a leader, business owner etc, is vital and you will need to be keeping people informed. Please remember to connect in on a personal level with your people, ASK how they are feeling, how their family is coping, do they need any support emotionally or physically to get through this unsettling time.

Tip #4: Consider the impact before sharing jokes

Be careful about appearing insensitive, there are lot of jokes going around, always consider the impact before sharing them. If you feel you MUST share it, sometimes just in a personal message to a few friends or family will satisfy this drive we seem to have to share everything on social media, carefully consider what you share on your main feed, who may see it and what that impact may be.

Tip #5: Being community minded and helping each other out

Be community minded in your communication. Understand there are people being affected by this virus, the global panic and crisis in so many ways, in many ways much worse than we are in NZ right now. Instead of sharing negative stuff, keep up the posting of positive stuff, think of ways you can help life others rather than feed the fear and hatred.

Tip #6: What to do with triggered emotions

Processing our emotions is a communication skill that not everyone knows how to do in a healthy way. Emotions are part of who we are, and they can give us information to act in an intelligent way if we know how to process them.

Instead of being driven by emotions and reacting all over the show, which can be exhausting and wear us down, learn to process emotions, work through them to understand what information they might be giving and then use that as part of  planning what to do with that information.

Stay safe, stay positive and remember to be mindful

Love and good vibes to you all – keep spreading the love

Jen Tyson

Communication Coach – Author – Trainer

https://www.simplyconfident.net/

https://www.switchedonlearning.net/

PS:

Take good care of your physical health, keep up routines of exercise and health appointments, if you were going on a holiday that has had to be cancelled, replace that holiday with a ‘staycation’ still take the time to rest, relax and do something fun, it just may look different to how you had planned


Leave a comment

The essential skill – Communication

As I travel around training organisations and clients in the art of communication, I am convinced more and more of the essential nature of it.

When the skill level doesn’t match the role title or job description, there are systemic problems throughout an organisation. The impact can be far reaching and recovery is difficult.

If a manager or leader can’t or doesn’t communicate in a healthy and positive way, organisations struggle on a constant hamster wheel of trying to fix a stressed culture.

You will see any or all of the following:

  1. Lack of trust, at least in one area- lack of trust spreads like a cancer
  2. Lack of engagement and loyalty, retention
  3. Lack of productivity, increased sick days, and well-being of staff

It surprises me that communication training is often seen as a ‘nice to have’ if we have the budget, or ‘soft skills’ or lets do a course and sort it all out in one day and one hit

Companies are running well-being programs, engagement programs, and resilience programs. They are all the buzz words of the time. Leaders know there are issues and are scrambling to fix things. These are great programs I am sure and from what I know of some that are out there, some touch on communication along the way.

At the core of a good culture is a good communication strategy that everyone is on board with. Driven from the top but engaged with and committed to at every level.

Exceptional communication as a leader is a skill set that takes time, practice and lots of learning. It needs more than a token mention in a bigger program, it needs a plan, a coach sometimes, accountability, practice and building one skill at a time

If you want to see happy, healthy teams, achieving their full potential, keeping them around long term take a quick look at your communication internally.

If it is OK, and could be better this is a great time to do some work, when things are really broken it is alot more costly and time consuming to fix.

This also fits alongside any growth strategy, because if your internal communication is not good, cracks will show on the outside to

Simon Sinek says it well:

“Customers will only love your organisation or company as much as your employees do!”

Time to start focusing on communication as an essential skill, that as technology use grows, we are going to need more of, because humans will always need real interaction, connection and the need to feel valued, and a sense of belonging.

Jen

https://www.simplyconfident.net/


Leave a comment

People leave stinky culture and poor managers/leaders – NOT jobs

We know this, we have seen the quotes right! How, as leaders, do we change this?

Here are my thoughts/tips/ideas – Leader to leader, manager to manager – from one who has lived, and learned on my own journey.

Statistics say:

In a survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason.
Source: hayes.com

Corporate culture is absolutely everyone’s responsibility uphold, but it is driven by the leaders, and good communication is at the core of good corporate culture.

Let’s get visual for a moment because I think in pictures:

Imagine a lovely pool of clean water, full of healthy fish and water life, and leading into this pool is a spring that comes from the hills above, this spring feeds the pool at the bottom.

What happens when that spring starts being contaminated with dirt, animal waste, chemicals etc?

Well, that is obvious, the pool becomes toxic, the life that was in there starts to either get sick, or die, the pool is dirty and full of poison and the ONLY way to fix it is to look at what is feeding into the pool.

What I see a lot of, is leaders and managers wanting their people to have better communication skills, they want the team ‘fixed’ but are at times unwilling to look at the ‘spring’ coming in from the top, it may not be them directly it may be above them, it doesn’t matter, the people in the team will just tar ‘management’ with the same brush.

The way we speak to others, the way we treat others, the way we value others, the vibe we bring are all part of the work place culture picture.

The impact of not being truthful.

Leaders may not see anything wrong with telling the odd lie or bending the truth. They may think they are protecting people from the ‘scary facts’, they may think they are helping the team stay focused on the job, keeping moral up, and a number of other reasons for ‘bending the truth’ but here’s the BAD news!

When leaders don’t tell the truth it can:

  • Lead to unrest, people make up their own versions of the truth with the bits they do know
  • Lead to lack of trust, people become more distracted because they don’t know for sure
  • Lead to lack of respect, people think the leader doesn’t respect them enough or think they are smart enough to tell them the truth
  • Erode any good culture that there might have been

People know they are lying, they know they are bending the truth, they know they are not telling them what is really going on!

When this is happening, despite the intentions, people will stop trusting their leader/manager and they will stop listening.

One of the tell-tale signs that a leader are out of integrity is, there is a mismatch between what they say and what they do.

This causes lack of trust, which leads to lack of engagement, which leads to lack of productivity and loyalty!

The GOOD news – you can win back trust if it has been broken, people can make a decision to trust, or not, in the blink of an eye.

My tips for managers and leaders when they are struggling with the symptoms of a poor work culture:

  • Tell the truth with compassion and consideration of the impact – use the delivery method that is most appropriate to what is needing to be said.

Even if you don’t have all the facts, tell them what you know or tell them you don’t know but you will find out what you can tell them, and then follow through.

  • Line up your actions with your words – if you can’t deliver don’t say you can

If you are going to tell them you will get some information and get back to them, do it. Don’t leave people hanging on false promises. Be careful what you promise people, make sure you can deliver what you tell them you can.

  • Be vulnerable first – show your human side, this is a STRENGTH

I am not talking about baring all, talking about your personal life at length etc, I am talking about being authentic, real and in the trenches ‘with’ your team, this even relates to admitting when you don’t know something. Vulnerability can be shown so many ways and still keep relationships professional

  • Be prepared to get in the trenches with your team

Muck in, get back in touch, even if you have been where they have in the past, they may have forgotten this or not seen it for a while or at all, be prepared to work where they are, do what they do. Get along side them, value their input, views and opinions.

Final thoughts on culture:

  • Be open as a leader to lifelong learning, and open to learning from your team members as much as through courses, books and other leaders
  • Learn to communicate well, be prepared to be uncomfortable and vulnerable
  • Lead the cultural change, put time, energy and resources into it. When workplaces have great cultures that are intentionally nurtured, people stay, people perform at their very best and drive projects and outcomes.

If you want to find out where you currently sit with your own communication skills as a leader, take my 5 min ‘communication skills assessment’ here online.

It is a great benchmark for understanding where your skills are great and where they may need improvement.

Take the assessment here for managers and leaders

** If you are a team member wanting to find out where your skills are at take the assessment for professionals here

Talk soon

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net


Leave a comment

A good assumption to make, the stories we tell ourselves

Get to the truth and cut through the stories we tell ourselves, or assumptions we make.

Often, assumptions can be at the core of most conflict and angst, we can assume too much or too little about a person, or situation, we make up our own meaning, narrative or stories.

Instead of assumptions I have taken to applying a new habit, asking questions. It just cuts through so much potential time wasted on making the wrong assumptions. I have written some of the questions I use often to gain better understanding about situations I encounter, below.

I have found a good assumption to make is:

Everyone is doing the best they can, with the information, time and resources they have available right now. Including myself.

Once you assume that about someone or a situation, it gives you the freedom to look at anything from a new perspective, from that place of new perspective you can ask a KEY question or two, to move to a place of better understanding.

Some questions you can ask for greater clarity:

“May I ask what you meant when you said……?”

“ The story I am telling myself about …………………….. is………… can I just check in if this is correct?”

“I would love to know what you are thinking or how you are feeling about that?”

“Is there something else you would like me to know about this situation that may help me get a better understanding of it?”

“Is there something I can do to help you out with that?”

“What do you need right now from me or anyone else?”

“So I can get this in the right priority, what is your expected deadline for this?”

“Are you happy with……?”

“Is there something I can improve about……?”

Ask these questions with an intention to seek understanding, not to be right or pass judgement. By understanding a person or situation better, doesn’t mean you agree or take sides, what it does is open the doors of good communication and this can lead to a higher level of trust, less pain and better productivity.

Here is to better productivity and workplace environments

Jen

PS: I love to coach leaders and managers on the art of clear communication, get in touch if you want to explore that further.

Contact or connect with me


Leave a comment

Productivity tip: Clarity

Lack of clarity is often at the core of most conflict and lack of productivity, not being clear on what someone means, wants from us, or wants us to do leads to confusion, mixed messages, assumptions, frustration and lack of productivity. Things either don’t get done the way we need them to, they take way longer than they should or they don’t get done at all.

Each of us has a unique way of communicating, which mixes with our own filters and perceptions of things, we all read different things in the same sentence.

For me, I am a direct communicator, If someone sends me an email, I want to know, really quickly, what they want from me, do they want action, or just to share information, what do they want me to do with that email, and by when?

If I can’t get his information in the first few lines I either go into overwhelm and frustration or I skim past it and save it for ‘later’ in my ever increasing piles of ‘starred emails’.

You don’t have to be blunt, rude or aggressive to be clear either. We can be clear, and polite in one go, it is possible.

Two sides of the coin:

1.The way we communicate with others

Making sure we are clearly understood when asking others to do things, just because you think you have been clear you are not going to know if the receiver is clear unless you…….

ASK: (just some sample questions to get you going)

  • Do you have all you need from me in order to get this done?
  • Do you have any questions that have not been answered?
  • Is the time frame realistic for you?
  • Is there anything you that is not clear about what I have asked you to do?

2. The way we like to be communicated with when others are asking us to do things

If you are not clear…ASK (some sample questions to get you going)

  • May I ask when you would like this done by ?
  • I am not 100% clear on the outcome you are after, can you explain what you are after here?
  • What are the key things you need in the time frame you have given me?
  • What is your biggest priority here?
  • If there was one thing you would like me to focus on today what would that be?

When people have all the information, time frames and tools they need to do a job, most of the time they are able to produce what you want, same goes for us, if we are clear on what is required, have the information we need, know when it is need by and in what format and have the tools we need, we can produce great work.

Extra tip: if you have team members who you manage, who are not producing great work, ask them a few key questions:

  • Are you clear on what you need to be doing, why and the time frame?
  • Do you have all the tools and information you need in order to complete the task?
  • Are there any questions you want to ask for clarity on this task?
  • Is there anything you need from me in order to carry on and get this done?

Clarity is a key to great communication

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net


Leave a comment

How to say NO nicely and why cop outs back fire

It is possible to be truthful, kind to yourself and others and still say NO.

By the way I don’t always say NO, I have just made it a habit to check in with myself to make sure I am only saying YES to things that I can manage to deliver well and keep my own balance of health, family and work.

In my last blog “Just say No” I spoke about the freedom and joy saying no more often can bring, I promised to write another one on ways to say NO to the things that drain your energy, time and take you away from the things that matter to you.

I wanted to follow that up with some practical ways you can practice this more in your life at work and at home.

In my experience some of the reasons people (me included) say YES way too much are:

  • Afraid of what people think of them if they don’t
  • Want to be liked (people pleasing)
  • Feel guilty for saying no
  • Value others more than themselves
  • Fear of letting someone down

None of those things are bad things in moderation, but when saying YES too much takes over your life and leads you to exhaustion, overwhelm, when you start to miss out on the relationships closest to you because you have too much on your plate for other people, then it is perhaps time to start saying NO more often.

TIP: Cop outs lead to more pain, and you only have to deal with it later, some cop outs may sound like:

  • I will think about it, but you never get back to them, you leave them hanging
  • I might be interested, but you have no intention of being interested so you just have to say NO later and you drag it out for both sides
  • Maybe, when there is no maybe, you are just avoiding saying NO, ditto above

Making up a lie as to why you can’t, just say NO, it is kinder and living with integrity frees you from more guilt.

It is always better to be compassionately honest, the other person will appreciate it even if NO is not what they wanted to hear.

Saying NO strategy ideas (this is what works for me and others I have worked with, feel free to pick and choose your own strategy)

Extra requests on time:

When someone asks you to do something, more work, a new project, volunteer to contribute for something or run an event…etc, but you know you have heaps on your plate.

First thing I do, is I take a breath and ask myself these questions:

  • Will saying YES mean that other things will suffer including my health and energy?
  • Could this be done by someone else (not always my responsibility to find that person either)?
  • Am I only saying YES because I think I ‘should’ or are afraid of what people will think if I say NO?

Give yourself time to process and give the answer that honours your time and energy best

If I feel my issue is saying YES because I am on the spot, I may ask nicely to think about it and get back to them, BUT I will always get back to them, otherwise you risk appearing rude and unreliable.

If I need to get back to them to say NO then I will do the following:

When thinking about how to land something with someone, I try to think about how I would like it said to me, that mostly helps – unless you are a ‘blunt’ person and ok with people being blunt, remember not everyone is OK with that, you may need to learn to put a little fluff around the word for relationship sake.

My goal is to clearly decline, so there is no maybe, I might be keen, if I know I am not, then I just have to deal with it later again and give false hope, and to maintain a good relationship with the person ie. Not cause offense, pain or too much inconvenience.

The first few examples have no explanation, you can learn to say NO without big justification, the person probably just wants a yes or a no anyway, not your life story, but if you are starting out on this journey it may be easier for you to practice by adding a small line at the end, it is for your benefit really, just to ease your guilt and help you to believe you have the right to say NO, but it can work like a ‘crutch’ for a while, so you can become more familiar with saying NO.

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now.
  • I will not be able to complete this in the time frame you’re are asking, sorry.

A bit more fluff for those who need it:

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you, due to family/work commitments.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now. My diary is full, and I wouldn’t do the project justice.
  • My plate is really quite full right now, I would prefer someone else took this on, so it gets done in the time frame you are asking.

General lead ins for saying NO – the lead in is the way to start the sentence

  • Thanks for thinking of me, however…..
  • I appreciate you have a gap, however
  • Thank you for asking, but
  • Your charity sounds fantastic, however
  • Thank you for taking the time to explain to me, however/but

Followed by ways to say NO nicely

  • I am unable to fit it in right now
  • I am unable to take this on for you
  • No thank you
  • Thank you, but no
  • I donate to other charities and am at my capacity
  • I am at capacity right now sorry
  • Sorry but I am unable to help you right now
  • Sorry I can’t help you

This topic can grow, and sometimes lead to people understanding they have a bigger issue with setting boundaries and taking care of themselves than just saying NO more often.

As a communication coach I help people with these strategies, I would be happy to answer any questions you have, feel free to get in touch.

Be brave, be honest, and honour yourself

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net