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Tactful communication

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Surviving a Bad Performance Review Recommended Books Recommended Links Gabor's checklist
Corporate bullshit Diplomatic Communication Negative Politeness Fighting direct verbal abuse Soft propaganda
Dealing With Negative Criticism Five Points Verbal Response Test Rules of Verbal Self Defense Socratic Questions Never complain about your boss in office
Six ways to say 'No' and mean it Seven Typical Corporate Email Errors The Art of Positive Criticism Minimize office gossip  
Communication with Corporate Psychopaths Communication with Micromanagers Psychopaths in Movies Humor Etc

 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile.

-Herm

Tact is a careful consideration of the feelings and values of another so as to create harmonious relationships with a reduced potential for conflict or offense. It is acknowledgement of other person "personal space" and "non-intrusiveness" into it.  Tact is considered to be a virtue.

An example of tact would be relating to someone a potentially embarrassing detail of their appearance or demeanor without causing them distress.

Tact is a form of interpersonal diplomacy, the ability to induce change or communicate hurtful information minimizing offence through the use of consideration, compassion, kindness, and reason. Ideally, a tactful person can tell you something you don't want to hear and you feel thankful for the information,

Synonyms: considerateness, consideration, delicacy, diplomacy, discreetness, finesse, savoir-faire, thoughtfulness.

I believe diplomacy is one of the most important elements of office relations.  It is the skillful approach to conducting tactful negotiations, and the ability to speak or act without offending. This skill is necessary for attaining successful relations in such a diverse international community as the United States.

The key idea of diplomacy is the idea of minimization and avoidance of conflict to the extent possible. The idea of conflict prevention recognizes that conflict takes many forms. There is some conflict that is destructive, and there are situations that that are from this point of view hopeless and can never be resolved (for all practical purposes) without a conflict. We also recognize that conflict can be a good thing, that good things can come out of addressing it, and sometimes, NOT addressing it is a bad idea. 

So, we need to distinguish destructive conflict and constructive. Destructive conflict is conflict that has a low probability of being resolved, and is primarily personality or emotion driven, rather than conflict that is issue based. For example, if you and I disagree about how much you should pay me, we disagree on a single issue - pay, or one dimensional conflict.   If however you and I aren't getting along because I don't "like" you, this is a situation with many dimensions and it is more difficult to resolve as other dimensions influence our behavior in this one.  

That also means that we should avoid "globalization of the conflict" -- turining conflict over a single issue turns into emotion based conflict.  The reason is simple. As soon as there are other dimentions of the conflict especially emotion or personality based  based, the conflicts are very difficult to deal with, with a relatively low probability of resolution. It's not impossible, it's unlikely. That's why we use the term destructive conflict; because pursuing the issue makes things worse. Sometimes, one must leave the conflict as it is and make the best of it because pursuing it will make it worse.

We are always going to have issue based disagreements and conflict. Well intentioned people often disagree. What we need to do.

 


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Amazon.com Coping with Difficult People  by Robert M. Bramson

the real difficult person is inside you, March 19, 2003
 
Reviewer: Haseeb (Tempe, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
Most people have difficulty in dealing with certain personality types. An inability to deal effectively with others can cause very serious problems in morale, job performance and self esteem. It has been said that most problems related to losing one's job has more to do with human relations than with job performance per se. As a person who has been fired many times, I can attest to that statement. I've seen incompetent people keep their jobs, but I've seen several people (myself included) lose their jobs over inter-personal conflicts which seem silly in comparison. The more one is able to resolve and or avoid conflicts, the more successful they will be in the long run.

This book divides difficult people into seven different types namely "hostile-aggressives", "complainers", "silent and unreasponsives", "super-agreeables", "negativists", "know-it-all experts" and "indecisives". Each type of behavior is explained and real-world examples of each in action are given. The forte of the book is how it explains how to cope effectively with each type. In my dealings with others, I've found that the coping advice given is right on target. Chances are, any type of difficult person will fit into one of the aforementioned categories. If not, they will be a variation or a combination of two or more of them. The coping methods given in the book are not always easy to implement because they require a lot of practice and may require a great deal of courage. This isn't a book to just read once, the methods must be studied and practiced if you wish to benefit from it.

One of the most interesting things I've discovered when reading this book is that I have fit into some of the categories of difficult people at times. The more effectively I can learn about and fight my own difficult behavior, the easier it will be for me to deal with others who possess the same traits. Regardless of how much one knows about dealing with difficult people, it can still be a battle to implement the methods given in this book. Therefore, coping with difficult people is not about using some simple trick, it's all about confronting the difficult person within each of us.

Effective Leadership A 22 Question Leadership Test by Colleen Kettenhofen ColleenSpeaks.com, Business, Other Business

There’s a big difference between just being a team leader, and leading so that people will willingly want to follow you. The real leadership test is influence. For example, what if you were employed with a volunteer organization, and your employees’ livelihoods, perks and benefits were not based on whether or not they did what you asked? Would they still do as you say? Do you think they admire, respect and trust you as a role model, mentor and team leader?

Leadership Test: Below are 22 questions to ask yourself about how you are performing as a leader. Do you demonstrate honesty, credibility and competence? You may also want to pass this leadership assessment on to your team. How well are they performing compared with other team members? Consider using this leadership test in performance reviews and for discussions in meetings.

  1. As a team leader, how do I show that I am honest? Do I do what I say I am going to do?
  2. Do I make competence, character and credibility priorities? How?
  3. Do I listen effectively to others with an open mind even when I may disagree?
  4. How do I demonstrate honest yet tactful communication with team members?
  5. Do I demonstrate good people skills, or effective leadership skills with my team?
  6. How am I thoughtful and considerate of others in the department?
  7. How do I demonstrate my vision and the organization’s vision in a way that others clearly can understand?
  8. Do employees see how this vision applies to them and to the big picture?
  9. Do I understand my own goals and how they tie in with organizational goals?
  10. Are the company goals and my individual goals specific, measurable and in writing?
  11. How do I take responsibility for my own job?
  12. Am I proactive in taking on or looking for additional responsibility?
  13. How do I tactfully suggest better ways of doing things?
  14. How do I offer ideas for improvement without putting others on the defensive?
  15. Do I show up on time for work and begin work immediately in a way that contributes to the team?
  16. Am I alert and “mentally" present for work?
  17. How do I work to promote better morale with my team and other departments?
  18. How would I grade the overall quality of my work?
  19. Do I complete assignments on time and without being negative?
  20. How do I put forth my best in producing a product or service in which others can take pride?
  21. Have I received leadership training in the area of conflict resolution?
  22. Am I open to leadership training in the areas of personal and professional development? If I've received this type of training, am I applying the skills learned?

Go back and reread the first five questions of this leadership test. As a team leader or manager, how are you demonstrating character, honesty, and credibility? I’ve found that in conducting leadership training worldwide, these are key characteristics employees want to see for them to willingly WANT to follow their leader. Were you able to answer "yes" to most of the questions? How would other team leaders in your organization score?

Remember, if people know they can trust you, they’ll follow you.

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Thriving practices can often attribute their success to positive work relationships.

When members of a practice trust one another, everyone can perform his or her job more efficiently and effectively.

Practices that value diversity and mindfulness are open to new ideas and appreciate people from various backgrounds.

Each member of a practice should model these characteristics to encourage their systemic development.

Practices should also hold meetings for discussion and reflection to promote understanding and action. 

We have observed seven interdependent characteristics of work relationships in successful practices. (To assess your practice's performance in these areas, use the tool below.)

How to get there

Fostering these characteristics of positive work relationships in your practice is not the responsibility of a single person, such as your practice manager. While leadership can play an important role, each member of a practice should be expected to lead by example. Modeling desired behavior is one of the most effective ways to encourage the systemic development of these relationship characteristics.

For example, physicians should treat staff with respect and recognize how their actions affect the rest of the practice. They should make an effort to communicate messages effectively and encourage both social and task-related relationships by being social themselves.

Work relationship assessment form

Plot your practice's performance in these seven critical areas on the continuum below. You may want your colleagues and staff to assess your practice as well, then compare and discuss your ratings. This form can be downloaded as a PDF.

Characteristic

What does it look like?

Where is your practice on this continuum?

Trust

• Seeking input from others.

• Allowing others to complete their work without unnecessary oversight.

• Feeling comfortable discussing successes and failures.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Diversity

• Including people who have different backgrounds or perspectives.

• Encouraging those who think differently about important issues to share their opinions.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Mindfulness

• Being open to new ideas.

• Talking freely about what is and isn't working in the practice.

• Adjusting routines in response to current situations; not running on autopilot.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Interrelatedness

• Being attentive to current tasks as well as larger goals.

• Being aware of individual roles and how they affect other functions and people in the practice.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Respect

• Being considerate, honest and tactful.

• Valuing others' opinions.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Varied interaction

• Understanding the importance of both social and task-related relationships.

• Encouraging people to pursue activities outside of work.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

Effective communication

• Understanding when certain methods of communication are more appropriate and timely than others.

• Using "rich communication" (e.g., face-to-face meetings) for more sensitive matters.

• Using "lean communication" (e.g., memos) for routine matters.


 

| Always |     | Sometimes |     | Never |


 

 

Practices also should allow time to meet and discuss important issues. Practices that meet often provide the opportunity for group interaction and reflection, which results in learning, increased understanding and appropriate action.

Finally, practices should pay close attention to other factors that can influence the quality of their work relationships, such as the hierarchical nature of the staff or the physical layout and organization of the practice. Anything that could potentially hinder the creation of successful work relationships should be examined.

Trust, diversity, mindfulness, interrelatedness, respect, varied interaction and effective communication may seem like simple concepts, but they are critical. When these characteristics are modeled, developed and nurtured, the practice has a better chance of operating successfully.

Recommended Books

Amazon.com Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations Books Don Gabor

Don Gabor, in his book Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations, gives these examples as ways to boost your listening skills:

Person 1. "I'm not all that crazy about it." < - - - underline indicates key words

Person 2. "Tell me exactly what you don't like about it."

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Person 1. "It ought to be pretty clear what I think about that great idea of yours."

Person 2. "I have no idea what you think of my idea. Do you like it or not?"

≈≈≈≈≈≈-

Person 1. "You know what I'm trying to say!"

Person 2. "No, I don't know what you are trying to say. Please tell me exactly what you mean."

≈≈≈≈≈-

Mr. Gabor offers these tips for using TACTFUL conversations:

DOs and DON'Ts to Accompany T-A-C-T-F-U-L Strategies

   
DO be direct, courteous and calm DON'T be rude and pushy
DO spare others your unsolicited advice DON'T be patronizing, superior or sarcastic
DO acknowledge that what works for you may not work for others DON'T make personal attacks or insinuations
DO say main points first, then offer more details if necessary DON'T expect others to follow your advice or always agree with you
DO listen for hidden feelings DON'T suggest changes that a person can not easily make.
   

Could You Just Listen?

. . . Author Unknown

 Improving Presentation Skills

Making effective presentations to groups or key individuals is a regular part of an executive's job. Delivering a clearly understandable message that gains the support of the listeners obviously requires expertise in public speaking. Less obviously, it requires that you understand the perspective of your audience and be willing to adjust your presentation based on feedback during the session.

Experts tell us that public speaking ranks highest on the list of situations people fear most (followed by death!). Overcoming this fear requires education and practice, practice, practice!

Few of us are born to be excellent public speakers. We offer encouragement to those who feel insecure don't give up! Organizations such as Toastmasters (and many others) offer proven techniques for overcoming fear and assistance in mastering master speaking skills. We have seen many, many people become accomplished speakers, who in the past became speechless when asked to speak in public.

A personal experience: Many years ago, I (Barbara Taylor) worked for a boss who recognized that a co-worker and I would not progress well in our careers if we did not learn to overcome our fear of public speaking.  The boss was program director for a national professional association and scheduled us to speak at their upcoming convention (a year away). We (naturally) were horrified when he told us his plan for us to speak there!! He explained that he would spend the year teaching us and coaching us how to speak in public. We were quite skeptical at first. After several months of coaching, we had lost our intense fear of speaking in public. By the time the convention came, we were excited and confident. We felt that we could talk about anything to anybody - because we had been doing it in so many different ways as part of our training. It was a wonderful learning experience for both of us and helped us both immensely as we progressed into management.

Some tips for improving presentation skills:

  1. Know your subject! This is most important.
  2. Prepare for the speaking situation (outline, writing the entire presentation, delivering it to friends or whatever works for you). Even professional public speakers take time to prepare themselves.
  3. Prepare outlines and overheads to help develop your confidence in your presentation (part of knowing your topic well).
  4. Have your outline (or overheads, slides or note cards) with you to refer to as you make the presentation and to trigger your thoughts as you speak.
  5. In the early stages of your preparation, ask someone you trust to listen to your presentation and give you honest feedback in a one-on-one situation. Ask them what works well and what needs improvement. The more important the results of your presentation are to you, the more important it is to get help in refining your presentation.
  6. Take classes where you are able to develop presentations and have them critiqued (e.g., classes in public speaking or verbal presentation skills, Toastmasters).
  7. Tape your presentation (videotape is best) and ask others to critique your presentation. Watch yourself and learn to look for subtle body language clues to your confidence or insecurity.
  8. Talk to people you respect about how they learned to speak well. Ask them to coach you (if that is appropriate) or try to find someone you admire who will work with you.
  9. When you are confident, relaxed and enthusiastic about your topic, that comes through strongly to your audience. Remember how much comes through non-verbal clues.
  10. Ask for feedback from your audience about your presentation and pay attention to what they say. 
  11. In workshops, ask the participants to introduce themselves, state why they are there and what they hope to gain from the presentation. (This is most appropriate if you are making a speech or giving a class to strangers). Based on the participants' needs and expectations, you may adjust your presentation as you go through it.
  12. In a management presentation especially (e.g., to present your new budget or present sales information), stop occasionally to ask if people understand what you have said.
  13. If you have an executive coach (or someone who can play that role), have them sit in on your presentations and help you pick up clues from the group. (We did this very effectively with one of our clients who had been promoted to department manager. We used hand signals and other cues to let her know when she was going too fast, too slow or missing the body language of an executive group where she gave regular presentations.)
  14. Practice, practice, practice!

An aside about written communications:

The disparity in methods of delivering messages is why it is so difficult to write something that is clearly understand by large audiences - only 7% effectiveness is achieved by the words alone!

That is why good visual presentation using graphics, color, balanced design layout adds so much to a written message. These additional "clues" can help compensate for the non-verbal aspect of a written message by triggering emotions on the part of the reader. Without such non-verbal clues, the Internet would fail miserably as an effective communication tool.

Notice the difference in these two graphics (one animated and one plain) and the word by itself.

Which one gets your attention? Keep this little example in mind as you develop overheads, handouts and other written material for your presentations.

 Leadership Communications Skills

Leaders, executives and managers need to be very clear about what they expect from others. One of the best exercises we have seen to assist in this area is from the book, The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. One of their suggestions for setting an example and behaving consistently with your stated values is to write a "Leadership Credo."

How to Write a Leadership Credo

  1. Imagine that you are being sent on an assignment to a remote post for nine months. You will be unable to communicate in any way with your team during the time you are away.
  2. After nine months, you will return and resume your present responsibilities.
  3. You are allowed to leave behind a one page guideline (your business beliefs, philosophy, values, credo) on how people should conduct business in your absence.
  4. Write a memo with your guidelines to your team members and others.
  5. These guiding principles will be given to everyone who works in the organization you lead.
  6. Take the time to do this exercise.
  7. Treat it as real.
  8. Share it with the people on your team.
  9. Read it to them and give it to them in written form.
  10. Ask them if they understand it.
  11. Ask them if they can adhere to the values you have given them.
  12. Review and revise your statement as necessary.

This "simple" exercise is a very powerful way to measure your effectiveness in clear communication. It forces you to create a document that is clear, powerful and succinctly captures your business philosophy. It is also a strong measure of your ability to translate what you feel into succinct communication that others can use, understand and learn from.

One example of a leadership credo actually put into practice.

If you are willing to do this exercise, it will forever change you for the better. It may lead to pleasantly surprising results with your team members.

 Example of a Leadership Credo

(Comment: the last line was suggested by the team members)

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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

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Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

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Last modified: February 19, 2014