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3 Things People Get Wrong About Assertiveness

I’m running some workshops this week, on Influencing Skills and Dealing With Difficult People. In both, I’ll be talking about how to be assertive.

But I’ll also have to be careful to warn the groups about 3 things that people often get wrong about being assertive.

What do I mean by being assertive? 

A common definition is “standing up for your own rights while respecting the rights of others”.  In practice, this means that you state clearly what you would like other people to do or how you feel about something they’ve done but, at the same time, you acknowledge that they don’t always have to do what you want and they have their own needs and feelings as well.

So you don’t just let other people tell you what to do, or behave any way they want, without saying anything about it (which is non-assertive). But you don’t go around telling other people what to do or what you think with no thought for what they want (which is aggressive).

The three things that people get wrong about assertiveness are:

 

1. Thinking that assertiveness is selfish.

Some people feel very uneasy about stating their feelings or saying clearly what they want from other people. They think it’s selfish, putting their wishes before those of others.

This isn’t how I see assertiveness. As I mentioned above, it’s about accepting that you have just as much right as anyone else to express an opinion and to have your voice heard. No more right, no less. You’re not saying you’re more important than anyone else or that your wishes have priority, just that you have a right to state them.

And, in any case…see the next point.

 

2. Thinking that assertiveness will get you what you want.

There’s more chance that you will get what you want if you are assertive. Why? Because people will know what you want. They won’t have to guess or read your mind.

But that doesn’t mean you will always get your own way. People may still choose not to behave the way you want them to. After all, they can make their own minds up. They can be assertive as well.

Don’t think, just because someone has not acted on the way you wanted, that assertiveness “didn’t work”. That’s not the whole point of assertiveness, it’s also partly about building your own self-esteem and confidence. Also, assertiveness isn’t a one-off thing, don’t write it off just because you didn’t get the result you wanted the first time.

 

3. Thinking that other people will react well when you’re assertive.

I blame some books on assertiveness for this. They often suggest that, if you’re assertive to someone, they’ll probably be assertive back and everyone will be calm and reasonable. That’s not what happens.

Sometimes people react badly when you’re assertive, especially if they’re not used to it. Some people can get aggressive because they see you “standing up” to them. They’re used to getting their own way.

Others can be confused because you’ve never done this before, it’s not the reaction they were expecting. They might get upset or try some form of emotional blackmail, telling you how disappointed they are in you or how you’ve let them down because you don’t want to do what they asked you.

So it can sometimes seem that being assertiveness makes things worse, at least in the short term. You’ve got to be prepared for that and be prepared to deal with people’s reactions.

So I would encourage you to be assertive but be clear about why you’re doing it and have realistic expectations about what it can achieve.

5 Top Tips For Communicating At Christmas

Christmas is a very stressful time in many workplaces.
 
Yes, I know it’s meant to be a jolly season with everyone being nice to each other but I’m talking about the real world – the one where people are working like dogs to get everything done so they can take a few days off, where they’re worrying about what’s going to happen to their job next year and where they’re ready to tell anyone who gets in their way just what they think of them.
 
Then there are the other people – the ones who have switched off already. They’re running down to the holiday, taking long lunch breaks, talking incessantly about Christmas shopping and forcing their seasonal jollity on everyone else. Oh, and infuriating the people in the first group, of course.
 
With this in mind, here are a few pointers about how to communicate effectively over the Christmas period.

  1. This might not be the best time to raise really important issues. If there’s something you’ve been itching to talk about, wait until the pressure’s off before you bring it up. Perhaps book a meeting in the New Year to raise the topic rather than try to deal with it now.
  2. Similarly, accept that people are under pressure and may not be at their most patient or understanding right now. Accept it and do what you can to help them. Don’t get annoyed because you think someone is ignoring you or not noticing you – they probably have other things on their minds just at the moment. Again, wait for a better time to talk to them.
  3. Resist the urge to tell anyone what you think of them ( or the organisation you work for ) after you’ve had a drink, especially at the office party. You may feel that you’re only saying what everyone else thinks but there’s a reason they’re not saying it out loud. In particular, don’t take this opportunity to give your Boss some ” constructive feedback ” about his or her management style.
  4. Remember the value of listening ( and of counting to 10 before you speak ). If you’re not sure what to say, think twice before speaking. If you’re not sure who you’re speaking to, think three times. If you’re not sure where you are, it’s time to leave the party and go home.
  5. If you find yourself dealing with angry customers or members of the public, stay calm and be as helpful as you can. Then give them a big smile and wish them a very happy Christmas. This should really annoy them and give you a deep sense of satisfaction.

I hope you enjoy the Christmas period and I wish you a happy and successful 2012.

For more great tips, get your FREE copy of ” The Book Of 100 Management Tips ” from www.manageleadsucceed.com

How To Avoid Being Seen As Negative

I was working with a manager recently ( I’ll call him Colin to protect his identity ) who complained that some people he worked with had a poor impression of him. In particular, his boss thought of him as negative.

He thought this was very unfair.

But, when we started to talk about how this had arisen, I could see what the problem was.

Quite often, if his boss came to a meeting and set out some idea he wanted to introduce, or some project he thought they should carry out, Colin’s first response was to point out all the reasons why it wouldn’t work!

He couldn’t see what was wrong with this. He was an IT specialist whose job was to find, and fix, problems in software programmes and to design solutions for clients which would meet their needs. So, in his mind, when he told his boss all the reasons his ideas wouldn’t work, he was just doing his job.

” That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it? Why would I just sit there and agree to something when I can see there are problems with it? ”

Well, Colin, so you don’t get a reputation as a negative, cynical doom-monger for one thing.

I know several people like this. They think of themselves as ” realists ” who are just pointing out what they think should be obvious to everyone. In fact, sometimes they take pride in their role as the ” only one who’ll tell the truth “.

But, of course, there are ways to do things and you have to understand the impression you’re giving if this is your usual approach.

None of us likes to be criticised or told that our ideas are wrong. And, when someone sets out their latest plan, what they don’t want to hear as the first response is:

” That won’t work because…

or ” We tried that before and it didn’t work…”

or ” That might work in other places but it won’t work here…”

If your usual comments are criticisms, it’s not surprising that people may see you as negative, even if you’re not trying to be. You may need to restrain your impulse to immediately point out the flaws in any proposal.

Look at it from the other person’s point of view.

When someone ( especially someone senior to you ) sets out what they plan to do, they may not actually be looking for comments at that point. Even if they say, ” So what do you think? ” they may not really be looking for debate.They may already have made their decision and they really just want you to go along with it for the moment. So that may not the best time to start going through your list of issues.

Secondly, understand that, if someone has set out a proposal, they have probably given it some thought ( perhaps not enough, in your opinion ) and they’ll lose face and look a bit of an idiot if you immediately come up with a list of problems as if they haven’t been smart enough to think of them. Especially if you do it in public. So, again, they won’t welcome your contribution.

Also, if you always do this, and people start to expect it of you, they’re likely to disregard what you say because it’s just you ” being negative “. So you’ll have less impact. Far from respecting your insight and your ability to spot key issues, people will undervalue your opinion.

So what can you do instead?

Firstly, hold back. If someone is explaining an idea or a plan, just listen. If you think of problems with it, jot them down if you want, but bite your tongue.

You may be thinking, ” This is the most ridiculous idea since his last one ” but don’t say it.

Next, make sure you’re clear about what the person is proposing and why. Ask questions such as, ” What are you trying to achieve? What do you think the main benefits of this would be? ”

This is just to clarify, so you can be sure what the intention is. Resist the temptation to ask these questions with a hint of incredulity in your voice, ” Sorry, say that again, you’re proposing what???”

If they ask you directly for comments, still hold back your criticisms. If you can’t bring yourself to agree with what the person is saying, at least try to say, ” Yes, I can see what you’re trying to do. I understand. “ 

If you feel the need to add something, try to give it a positive spin, ” One way you might make this even better would be to…” And the end of that sentence shouldn’t be “…drop the whole stupid idea.”

By all means, come back at a later time and talk to the person privately with any reservations you have. You can say, ” I’ve been giving that idea some thought and, while I can see what you’re trying to do, I think there might be a few issues we need to address to make it work. ”

And, if you are going to set out problems, make sure you’ve thought of some solutions as well. That way, you look more constructive than if you just say what’s wrong.

I’m not saying that you have to be a ” yes-man ” ( or woman ) and gloss over problems. I’m just saying that you need to consider the impact you want to have.

If you develop a reputation as someone who always criticises and only ever has bad things to say, you may end up being overlooked and undervalued.

What you probably want is to be seen as someone who has his or her own views, who has insight and who can make a helpful contribution. Someone whose opinion is respected.

If that’s the case, then think about how and when to make your comments so that this is the way you come across.

I’d love to know what you think so please leave a comment.

For more great management tips, get your FREE copy of ” The Book Of 100 Management Tips” from www.manageleadsucceed.com

6 Ways To Really Connect As A Speaker

I love watching a really good stand-up comedian. Of course, who you consider to be a really good comedian is a matter of taste, but all the successful ones share one trait – they know how to hold an audience’s attention.
 
That’s one of the things that fascinates me about them. I like to see how they create that connection, how they manage the audience, vary the pace, draw people in.
 
If you’re a public speaker, that’s something you should aim to do as well.
 
Not to be a stand-up comedian, but to make a real connection with your audience. So many speakers try hard to communicate but fail to connect. They leave their audiences cold and unmoved.
 
Here are a few tips from my own experience of nearly 40 years as a public speaker ( that’s a scary thought ) and from watching and training hundreds of speakers over the years.
 
1. Be the centre of attention.
 
Yes, I know that might scare some of you. But here’s the uncomfortable truth – if you don’t like being the centre of attention, don’t be a speaker.
 
Public speaking is a performance. It’s OK to be nervous, it’s OK to feel anxious but it’s not OK to hide from your audience, they have come to listen to you.
 
Many speakers these days hide behind PowerPoint, of course. The talk becomes nothing more than a slideshow with a voiceover. The speaker is saying, ” Don’t look at me, look at these slides while I pretend you’re not here.”
 
To connect with your audience, you need to step out from behind the technology and say, “Look at me, I’ve got something to say.” 
 
2. Talk to your audience, not at them.
 
 A lot of what I do when I’m training people in presentation skills is stopping them doing things that get in the way of just talking to the other people in the room. They’re perfectly happy chatting to a group but, when they have to stand up and “present” , something happens. They start speaking and behaving in a different way.
 
You wouldn’t speak to an individual without looking at them, by reading from a script or by saying things like,”I will now move on the second point I wish to make” – so don’t do that when you speak to a group.
 
Keep your speech conversational, keep eye contact with the group, leave your arms free to gesture as you would naturally when you speak, don’t stand behind a lectern if you can avoid it, come out in front – be yourself talking to people, not a presenter addressing a room. 
 
3. Tell stories.
 
People love stories. People remember stories. Because stories are about people.
 
Use stories to illustrate points, to introduce humour, to relate to your audience, to show that you have had similar experiences to them. If you tell a good ( relevant ) story, they’ll remember it long after they’ve forgotten everything else you said.
 
4. Get people involved.
 
You can do this physically or mentally.
 
Physically – get people to put their hands up to respond to a question, get them to talk to each other, to ask you questions, to fill in a simple worksheet – get them to do something which doesn’t just involve sitting listening to you. This makes it more of an interaction between you and them instead of a lecture.
 
Mentally – where do you think the term “rhetorical question” comes from? It comes from rhetoric, the art of speaking. A rhetorical question is one which does not require an answer – at least, not one which people say out loud.
 
Speakers use rhetorical questions to engage their audiences. This works because, if we hear a question, we find it hard not to try to think of an answer. We’re programmed to do it.
 
So when you say, ” So what is the biggest mistake you can make?”  the audience can’t help thinking, “Yes, what is the biggest mistake you can make? Tell us.” and they’re waiting for you to go on and answer that question. Don’t overdo it, but use them from time to time to keep your audience moving along with you and to help them process what you’re saying.
 
5. Use humour.
 
Yes, we’re back to humour again. But I don’t mean telling jokes. Most speakers fail at that because they’re not natural comics and they come over as trying too hard.
 
You can use humour through your stories, as I said earlier. Especially if they include self-deprecating humour, i.e. you having a laugh at yourself for something you did wrong.
 
Don’t have a laugh at someone else’s expense but feel free to laugh at yourself. It shows you’re human and you share and understand your audience’s failings.
 
If you’re speaking on a topic which people don’t expect to be funny, you have a great opportunity. Because the audience will laugh at just about anything, they’re desperate to laugh. They really want something to lighten up the subject and they’re grateful if you can do that for them.
 
I can honestly say I used to be one of the funniest speakers around on the subject of Capital Gains Tax. Do you know how much competition there was? That’s right – not much. If you’re speaking on a subject like that, you don’t have to be side-splitting, you just have to be fairly amusing and people will love it.
 
 6. Show concern for your audience.
 
“They don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.”
 
Corny but true. An audience wants to feel that you’re talking to them, that you’ve prepared your talk just for them, that you care for them and want them to be happy.
 
What they don’t want is a speaker who is clearly going through the motions, delivering a talk he or she has given countless times before, in exactly the same way,regardless of who happens to be in front of them.
 
Say something that is specific to your audience. Show that you understand their position and their problems.
 
Explain why your talk is going to be worth listening to. Tell people what they’ll get from it. Thank them for giving up the time to come and listen to it and promise them that they will be better off for being there. Then deliver something worthwhile so they’re glad they came.
 
Invite questions ( and mean it ) and take the time to answer them. Don’t be like many speakers and deliver a long talk, then throw in, “Any questions?” at the end when everyone wants to go home.
 
There you are – just 6 ways in which you can make sure you connect with your audience when you’re speaking. If you do these things you’ll really stand out and make an impact.
 
What do you think? Do you have any experiences you could share? Let me know by leaving a comment.

The No.1 Secret Of Effective Communication

I recently took part in a discussion about the biggest mistakes presenters make. My view was that the main problem with many presenters, speakers and trainers is that they begin with ” what do I want to say? ” instead of thinking about what their audience actually wants or needs from them.
 
That’s why so many talks and training sessions are pitched at the wrong level, include content the audience don’t want and seem to be aimed more at showing how much the speaker knows than actually giving the listeners anything of value.
 
A bit harsh? Perhaps – but I’ve wasted hours of my life sitting through talks like that. ( And, if I’ve given any talks like that, I humbly apologise ).
 
When I made that point, it struck me that this is really  the no. 1 factor in any form of communication, not just presentations.
 
The key to successful communication is being able to think from the other person’s point of view.
 
How many time have you had a conversation with someone and they just haven’t ” been on your wavelength “? They’ve ” missed the point ” or ” misunderstood ” what you wanted to say?
 
Notice how all those expressions suggest it’s the other person’s fault for not ” getting ” what you were saying?
 
In fact, if someone doesn’t understand what you want to say, isn’t it partly your fault for not finding a way of expressing yourself which makes sense to the person you’re speaking to?
 
The other person will interpret what we say according to their own:

  • level of understanding
  • previous experience
  • attitude towards us
  • beliefs and values about the world in general

If these differ from our own, there’s a good chance some misunderstanding will take place.
 
Think about someone you know really well – maybe a spouse, a family member or a really good friend. If you wanted to say something to them which you thought they might not like very much, let’s say you wanted to ask a big favour, you would probably give a lot of thought as to when and how you asked them.
 
And, because you know them well, you would have a good idea of what would be the best time, and the best way, to raise the subject. You would prepare your approach based on what you know about them to give yourself the best chance of success.
 
But, often, we don’t think about this when we speak to someone, our heads are full of what we think and what we want to say and we don’t give much thought to the other person. Then we’re surprised at the way they react to what we’ve said.
 
Of course, we can’t know everyone as well as we know our friends and family. But, sometimes, even a little thought in advance about how the other person might feel can help us to be more successful and avoid problems.
 
A great example of communication backfiring was when I used to work as a Tax Consultant. One of our jobs was to ring up clients some time after we’d invoiced them to chase up payment. None of us liked to do this so the Partners in the office used to set us targets for how much cash we had to collect by the end of each month.
 
One year, coming up to Christmas, the firm as a whole was behind in its cash collection. So the Managing Partner in London ( like the CEO of  a company ) sent a note to the Partners in our office saying that, if we didn’t reach our cash collection targets by the end of the week, the Partners would not be given their ( massive ) Christmas bonuses.
 
Of course, this was a great incentive to the Partners. But then they passed the note on to us, effectively saying ” if you don’t reach your targets, we won’t get our bonuses – please try harder! “.
 
How motivated do you think we were to help our Partners get their bonuses? Not very.
 
Whether you want to inform, persuade, influence, motivate or build a relationship with a person, you need to think from their point of view if you want to be successful.

For more great tips, get your free copy of ” The Book Of 100 management Tips “ from www.manageleadsucceed.com

How To Set Boundaries With People At Work

By this I mean letting people know what you will and will not do.
 
This is particularly important where you feel you need to stop doing certain things, e.g. taking on extra work, staying late, doing things that you really don’t want to do.
 
Often we encourage other people to act in a certain way towards us by our own behaviour. For example, someone once told me that people in her office kept interrupting her when they had finished their work and wanted to chat.
 
I asked her what she was doing that encouraged them. It turned out that she had never made it clear to these people that she didn’t want to be interrupted or that she was busy. She felt it would be rude to ignore them so she usually stopped what she was doing and spoke to them for a while. In other words, she did exactly what they wanted her to do!
 
Her only hope of this stopping was if they suddenly changed their behaviour and went to someone else to talk. But why would they? The current situation worked for them so they didn’t need to change it.
 
The answer was for her to set boundaries, to make it known that she was not always free to talk.
 
Setting boundaries is particularly difficult once we have settled into a regular way of responding to someone. Simply, the more times you say yes, the harder it is to say no. Also, the harder it will be to get the other person to accept that you mean it.
 
There are a number of key points here.
 
Firstly, work out a way of saying what you want which is not rude but is clear. For example, ” I’m sorry, I’d love to talk to you but I’ve really got to get this work done. Why don’t we get together at lunchtime and catch up? ”
 
Or ” I know I’ve worked late in the past, but it’s really eating into the time I can spend with my family, so I’m going to start leaving on time from now on. ”
 
Secondly, accept that the other person will find your new behaviour surprising and may try other ways to get you to do what they want.
 
They may become more aggressive or they may act offended to make you feel guilty. Be prepared for this. But don’t let it put you off.
 
This isn’t always true, though. Sometimes you may actually be surprised at how easily others accept your wishes once they know what they are.
 
Third, don’t back down. You’ve seen parents with children who want something. The parents says ” no ” several times but the child is persistent. Eventually the parent gives in and says ” yes “. What does the child learn from this? That persistence pays off. The parent’s boundaries are not real ones, they are negotiable.
 
Don’t be like this. Once you have made your position clear, you must stick to it.
 
Fourth point – for this reason, make sure you only set boundaries which you are willing and able to stick to.
 
As an exercise, write down some situations where you feel you need to set boundaries with other people. Then give each one a mark out of 10 for how difficult you think it would be to do this. Start with a couple of the easier ones first and work your way up the list.

For more great management tips, get your free copy of The Book Of 100 Management Tips from http://www.manageleadsucceed.com

How To Be A Good Listener

Have you ever been talking to someone and just got the feeling that you didn’t have their full attention? 

Have you ever been listening to someone and found that they became cross or agitated, as if you weren’t paying attention even when you thought you were? 

It may be that one of you has been giving out some non -  verbal clues, perhaps without realising it, which has caused the other person to think they were not being listened to properly.

If you want to communicate successfully, you need to know how to be a good listener.

One way to make sure you are listening attentively is to use what’s called” active listening ” to show an interest in people who are talking. 

Active listening can include:

- making the occasional sound, such as ” Hmmm” or ” Yes ”

- asking questions

- taking notes

- repeating back certain things the person has said or using some of their words

- summarising and checking what the person has said 

What I want to mention today is the non – verbal element in all this, i.e. the impact your body language has. 

Here is a list of ” positive ” body language, which would help to reassure someone that you are listening to them:

- maintaining eye contact

- nodding

- smiling ( in the appropriate place )

- sitting forward in your chair

- being silent ( i.e. not interrupting ) but be careful – if  you stay silent too long,  they may think you’ve drifted off

- having a relaxed posture or body position 

And here are some ” negative ” features which might have the opposite effect:

- looking away most of the time while the person is speaking

- frowning

- shuffling restlessly

- sighing

- slumping

- narrowing your eyes

- drumming your fingers

- puffing your cheeks

- moving your foot from side to side

Of course, there are more obvious ones, such as reading a paper, looking at your watch or getting up to go and get a coffee.

A great deal of the impact we have on people comes from these non – verbal clues which they pick up. The problem is that we aren’t always aware of our own body language. We may see the effect it has on others ( for instance, they get cross with us and say we’re not listening ) but we’re not sure what we’ve done to cause it. 

So a key tip on how to be a good listener is just to think more consciously of your own posture, gestures and expression when someone is talking to you. If you catch yourself doing any of the things in the second list, try to correct them and replace them with things from the first list. That way, you’ll soon get yourself a reputation as a ” good listener “.

How To Deal With Angry People

I was running a course last week about handling conflict at work. Several participants mentioned that they had problems dealing with angry people.

I’m sure that this is something many people find difficult, whether with clients, colleagues or even family members. Here are some tips to help you.

TIP ONE

If someone is angry, let them sound off and calm down before you try to deal with the situation. Unless they get really abusive or threaten you, it’s best to let them get it off their chest. Once they have run out of steam, it’s much easier to handle things.

Don’t try to interrupt them and certainly don’t say, ” I think you should calm down ” as this is like throwing petrol on a smouldering fire.

TIP TWO

In the face of anger, your  ” fight or flight ” responses will kick in. In other words, you will feel the urge either to become aggressive yourself or to run away. Try not to shout back or to burst into tears. Stay calm, count to 10 ( or 20 ), take deep breaths and stay in control.

TIP THREE

Maintain neutral but assertive body language. What does that mean? Well, it sounded impressive.

I think I mean, don’t avoid eye contact and look down at the floor and don’t shrink physically. But don’t take an aggressive stance either, just sit or stand up straight, keep eye contact and try to look calm and attentive.

TIP FOUR

Listen carefully and try to really understand what is causing the problem. As they calm down and you can have more of a dialogue with them, start to ask questions to get specifics about what is wrong. Show them you are interested in getting to the root of the matter, not avoiding it.

TIP FIVE

Acknowledge their right to be angry if they have a point. For example, if you have made a mistake or failed to complete something by a deadline, own up to it and don’t make excuses. If they have been left in a difficult position, tell them you can see why they are annoyed or frustrated and that you are eager to help them put things right.

Don’t say, ” I understand how you feel ” because people often react to that by saying, ” I don’t think you do “.

Instead, say something like, ” I can see why this is frustrating for you. ”

TIP SIX

If something has gone wrong, make suggestions about how to fix it. Don’t get bogged down in how it went wrong, be positive about how you are going to make it better. Show that you are taking them seriously and say,” This is what I’m going to do to deal with this.”

Tell them exactly what you’re going to do and when – and make sure you do it.

If you feel they’re wrong, that they are making unfair accusations or blaming you for something which was not your fault, state your case calmly once they have settled down and, again, try to come up with a plan to deal with the situation which will make them feel better.

TIP SEVEN

Don’t take it personally ( unless it is, of course ). Often, if someone gets annoyed, it’s not personal, it’s because something has gone wrong and they are in a difficult position. That may or may not be your fault.

I watched a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream recently and there’s a scene where Puck drops a love potion in Titania’s eyes so that she falls in love with the next person she sees.

Sometimes, this happens in reverse. Something gets in a bad mood about something and the next person he or she sees gets the full brunt of their anger. If you happen to be the unlucky recipient, remember it’s nothing to do with you, but you still have to handle it.

Don’t take it as a personal attack. Deal with the situation, not the person.

TIP EIGHT

Remember that the way you deal with a mistake can lead to someone becoming a committed client or customer of yours. Or, if the other person is someone you work with, you’re more likely to gain their respect. I know I’ve had problems with certain people in the past and, when I’ve raised the issue with them, the way they dealt with it really impressed me and caused me to see them in a new light.

Are you Hiding Behind Email?

We all know that email has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. Unfortunately, like all revolutions, not all the consequences are beneficial.

For one thing, we now have much more information to sift through every day as people send us junk we don’t really need to read. That’s often because they haven’t taken the trouble to consider whether we need to read it, it’s easier for them just to send it and leave us to have to delete it.

Of course, we don’t do that, do we, it’s just other people…isn’t it?

Another thing about the ease of using email is that we can sometimes hide behind it and avoid direct contact with people we should really be speaking to face to face. Yes, this can be because it’s just quicker, but it can also be because we’re avoiding a potentially difficult situation.

There have been several stories in the papers recently about people being made redundant by email and most people would say, ” How callous and insensitive! How could anyone do that? ”

I agree, it is a terrible way to break bad news to people, but I suspect something similar goes on in workplaces all over the country every day, with people using email to avoid proper conversations.

Here are a few pointers that YOU might be doing the same.

1. You send an email when you think the other person won’t like what you have to say.

2. You send an email when there’s a problem with your relationship with the other person and you don’t know how to sort it out.

3. You send an email as an alternative to taking some other action which you’re avoiding.

4. You send an email when you want to say no but don’t want to do it face to face.

5. You send an email when you want to ask for something but you’re afraid of rejection.

6. You send an email when you should be following up ( e.g. an initial meeting )with a phone call but you’re nervous about doing that.

In other words, it’s tempting to use emails whenever you are avoiding something that is difficult, challenging or uncomfortable.

The problem is – doing this doesn’t usually deal with whatever it is that needs to be done, it just puts it off.

Also, if you really need to persuade or influence someone else, there’s no substitute for face to face conversations. It’s hard to persuade someone just by email. Written words are easy to misunderstand and misinterpret.

If you want to persuade someone, or to get across something which may be difficult to understand or accept, you really need to speak in person. Failing that, the next best thing is to speak on the phone. Email comes a very distant third.

So, next time you’re tempted to send off a quick email, ask yourself whether that is the best method or whether you’re really avoiding something ( or someone ) and taking the easy option.

Site by: Dawud Miracle, Business Coach & WordPress Websites