Tuesday 31 March 2009

Communication.......Just the Basics

Mike Gibson, the legendary Irish and Lions rugby player once said that doing the basics as if they were automatic allowed him to try new things with confidence. Many of these new things came off because the basics/fundamentals were in place. Why would such a talented player bother when he didn't need to....? Interesting question and one I wrestled with, but then I realised what he understood..........If you do the basics so well you can take risks with other parts of your game and develop these as well.......Smart guy!! The more I look at great performers the more I realise they actually practice more than anyone else. George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Daley Thompson all spring to mind.

If the most important thing in our lives is the quality of our Relationships then what makes this happen? You guessed, the most vital of all human skills-the ability to Communicate. Yet most of us don't know the basics and may end up stumbling through life and work. As Leaders we're expected to be superb Communicators and yet 80% of my own Coaching enad Mentoring work is in this area. It's a vital building block and worth the effort to become great at this skill.

Just what are the Communication basics?
There are 3 aspects to it:
- Cycle- We give out messages (transmit) and they are received by others (receivers) like radio waves. How do we know people understand what we say?
- Style- We each have a style of Communication which may or may not be effective depending on the person we are with and how we accommodate their style into ours...ugly isn't it!
- Code- We use Words, Tone, and Body Language as do the people we communicate with.

To deal with all of these in one Blog Post would be unrealistic, so.................

If any of this seems like an area you need help with, get in touch, either leave a comment or send me an email and we can discuss more fully.

The most effective people in life and work are those who validate what they say and do and take the reactions of others into account. The world of Emotional Intelligence calls this EMPATHY.

Would love to hear your challenges/success stories in this area.

Monday 9 March 2009

Effectiveness- Complexity Simplified....

The book voted 'The Most Important Business Book of the 20th Century' is well known, widely owned, yet rarely read and very poorly understood...........Sounds contradictory but true. The book's called 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'. It was written by Stephen Covey 20 years ago in 1989. I will attempts to demystify and take you all the way to the end in one simple blog post......(phew!) It's essentially a book about Personal Change. My own definition of Effectiveness is: 'Doing the right things, with the right people in the right way everyday'. This then becomes an upward spiral of growing and developing.
It has 2 key building blocks (called Foundational Principles-) These build our Character. They make us better people- They allow us become 'true arrows'

  1. Principles- These are enduring good things we all know about. When we live this way, life is better and we're more successful (Honesty, fairness, hard work, kindness, helping others). They rule our lives....NOT the other way round!! Violating them is like running traffic lights, sooner or later you run into trouble.

  2. Paradigms- This is simply our view of the world and how we see things. They're like maps. Good when accurate, useless when not. When we have a proper 'handle' on things we can make better decisions,more often . This leads to better outcomes. Happy days!

Habits 1, 2 and 3 are 'internal work'. They allow us be strong, independent yet caring people who are even, calm, focused and purposeful.........You're begin a journey....Your own LIFE journey!

Habit 1- 'Be Proactive': Take RESPONSIBILITY for your own life...it is YOUR life! Focus on what you can do, not what you can't. Decide to make a difference. Don't be put off and influenced by others. Carry your own weather. We have freedom to choose...Be the driver of your own bus. In short, ditch playing the victim.

Habit 2- 'Begin with the End in Mind'- Life your life with purpose. Look back on your life as if you were an old person. What do you see? Few people have no regrets. Write down what's important to you and commit to following these ideals (This is your Personal Mission- Draw your own map. You take a LEADERSHIP role in your own life, deciding your Goals and Values)

Habit 3- 'Put First Things First'- You've committed to a journey (H1) with a destination (H2), now make the journey happen (Personal Management) Discipline, Focus, making things happen!

This builds Character.......you are now ready to interact in a mature way with others. Your first victory is over yourself!! This allows you Trust others, be Positive, Creative, easy to be with.

Habit 4- 'Think Win-Win'........Be upbeat and positive. There's plenty for everyone. This allows you be generous. When you deal with others, think 'a win for you is a win for me'...but there must be a win for BOTH of us. We draw people to us by our generosity. This builds trust and lays the foundation for lasting relationships. You become open, but are never a mug!

Habit 5- 'Seek first to Understand, Then to be Understood'. Practice listening to others FIRST. This is not weak...it's smart! You get the full picture and you also get time to think, 'how can we both win here'...? We all need to be understood. This is the basis for all great Communication. It's a mark of respect.........It's also highly unusual. You become a great listener.

Habit 6- 'Synergy'- I want a win for both of us (H4), we both understands the other's point of view (H5). If we work together, we can create something new between us we could not have done alone. A new idea, a new solution, a new product, service etc...Eureka!!

Habit 7- 'Sharpen the Saw'- Maintain balance in our lives. We are a house with 4 rooms. -Body, rest, food, stress management, exercise) Mind-Learning, Professional Development, Skilling Up, Heart- Relationships, Important People in our lives, Spirit- Our Legacy, our contribution. This allows us to grow and take on new challenges-We don't burn out. This then allows us to visit all the Habits all over again and live deeper, richer more fulfilled, balanced lives. They're called Habits...because we do these things all the time...They soon becomes routine.....

Best thing I've ever done.........This WORKS. Sure it takes time. Small changes can yield results you can build on and once you get on a roll this becomes a way of life. In a nutshell, I've never met anyone from any place, or culture where these principles don't apply. When people are difficult or don't play by the rules.......The payoff is I handle myself better, having more friends and very few adversaries. Here's the link: https://www.stephencovey.com/

Made any sense.? What do you reckon..............?