Silence is Golden

The Holidays are here, and some of us will spend more time with our extended families than we spent in the first eleven months. Hey, it’s family, what could go wrong, right? Well, you all know the answer to that! Nonetheless, this is the time of glad tidings, and good cheer. So, why not give them the gift that may ultimately reward us in the long run; silence.

If you are in management, education, or sales, you are taught to talk, and talk a lot. Talk every chance you get. We talk to establish who we are, what we do and hopefully build a relationship. But, when grandpa starts describing his latest stomach ailment in graphic detail, or when little sis goes on nonstop about her fifth boyfriend this year, it may be time to pause, and spend some time on the OTHER half of communication; listening. You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know there may be a greater reason for our loved ones to “dump” all their problems on us.

Perhaps they think WE are the only ones who will actually listen to them. Think about that, just remaining quiet could be very important to those we care about. This is not to say the project should be attempted without a good stiff eggnog, but it is an exercise in your own level of compassion. By remaining quiet, and hearing them out, we remove ourselves as active participants in their latest challenge, dilemma, or scheme. When we are just with them in a nonjudgmental way, we allow them to vent, and remove what they have been carrying around with them all year long. Don’t attack them, defend them, or try to “fix” the problem. Instead, just hold your tongue. They may finally move off the point of their own issues, and ask about you! Nonetheless, they will be convinced, it was one of the best “conversations” they ever had with you. So this year, give the gift that is worth its weight in gold, just be quiet, and LISTEN.

Do You Want Fries with that Degree?

In my senior year of high school, there was a young lady who subbed for a study hall I had. She was working for a few weeks before her next semester began at college. I heard she attended a university and proceeded to ask her questions about her field of study. Not because I was interested in academia so much as how cute I thought she looked with her brunette hair in a bob cut.

“So, what’s your major?” I asked as smoothly as a pimple faced seventeen-year-old boy in combat boots and a T shirt with a skull on it could ask. Her reply: “History.” “Oh, so you want to teach” I asked. “No, I’m just working on a Liberal Arts degree. Unless you are entering a specialized field, employers don’t really care what your major is so long as you prove you have the gumption to actually complete four years of college. A degree tells a company you have the necessary skills to pick up new tasks.” That statement permeated my mind as well as her perfume or deep brown eyes. Hey, I was seventeen.

That comment, however, really stuck with me when I entered college myself. I have long stated I learned just as much in college from the people I met, extra-curricular activities and debating with my professors. As a free thinker, that turned out to be fairly often.

In the not so distant past, more and more schools began offering online classes. Ideally for people who needed to finish out their degree or do some graduate work. Online classes are now the norm, not the exception. My own kid has five of her six classes online. One would think online would be cheaper, but her classes cost MORE than physical classroom instruction. What’s this movement all about? You guessed it, money.

Without the personal interaction, there is no meeting other people, no joining clubs and sadly, no arguing with professors! The whole process becomes one big, giant thought funnel. Open mind and insert beer bong of… whatever one-way thought. I am reminded of the finale episode of Psych, where the main character’s father, a retired cop, begins teaching at the local community college. His opening remarks to his tiny classroom was; “I just don’t believe you can effectively teach criminal forensics online.” To which a student replied, “Then why am I making all A’s?” Why was he making all A’s indeed? Was it the curriculum has been so dumbed down that EVERY class is a crib? I certainly hope American colleges are not sacrificing quality for quantity, but some of the evidence doesn’t look good.

gradsAcross the country, there are such ridiculous classes as; the “study” of Seinfeld, Game of Thrones, How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse and, God help us all; Lady Gaga and Her Fame. Princeton even has a class on how to get dressed. Princeton!!! No wonder the Chinese are kicking our ass on trade. Even where I live, there is an online “walking” course being offered. Walking… online. I guess the convenience is you never have to leave your bed to receive a passing grade these days. Perhaps they should include a few sections on the “The Art of Panhandling” to prepare graduates. Students may have fun, sail through college and never really have to think, but once they enter the real world, they will fail and fail miserably. Without responsible faculty and students being in close proximity, where will be the reasoning, the debate, the collaboration? Where will come the exposure to new thought? Where will teenage boys hit on girls?

Increasingly, the perception of a college degree is losing its prestige. Recently, an old college buddy of mine, presented to a group of high school student leaders. He essentially told the young crowd college is not all it’s cracked up to be and they should scrutinize the return on investment for four years. I heard about his candor because my own kid was in the audience. Of course, I set her straight by telling her that was complete nonsense. I want my children to have as many options in life as possible. Sadly however, I must agree with my friend. Though I don’t think he will be making any presentations at that school again.

Fortunately, there is hope. In 2017, I was conducting a management seminar in Louisville, Kentucky. At my hotel, I came across a group of students and instructors who were participating in a vocational / technical event put on by SkillsUSA. It was a big deal, even Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame was in town. In a national interview, Rowe stated there were 600,000 IMMEDIATE openings for American jobs in the technical field. These are plumbers, LPN’s, electricians, welders and even paramedics. You won’t study Chaucer at a vo-tech, but you will learn real world skills. Ironically, I appreciate one of Chaucer’s quotes; “The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people.” Just having a bachelor’s degree does not make one smart. That is especially true today.

 

 

 

 

Four Conflict Styles of Communication

Most people hate conflict and will do what they can to avoid it. However, when we interact with others, there will be disagreements from time to time. Our words are our weapons of choice. Use them sparingly and we may be taken advantage by other coworkers. Use them too quick or often and we run the chance of being viewed as a workplace bully. We have the right to defend ourselves but it’s a delicate balance between ignoring a rude remark and speaking up.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communicators think win-win. They will pursue what is due them but not at the exclusion of anyone else. The assertive individual understands all co-workers have rights and are to be treated with respect. They are generally easy to get along with, yet will maintain organizational policies and standards. This type of positive communication style is good for the overall morale of the group and is generally expected of those in leadership positions.

Aggressive Communication

In short, an aggressive communicator is a bully. They consider their wants above the needs of others and look for those to exploit. However, their tactics may not be overt and more manipulative in nature. They are fine to take advantage of others if it will make their own jobs easier.

A bully only respects one thing: strength. If you are correct and have a right to something, be willing to confront them. Address their behavior as unacceptable. This

Angry Woman Bezel Case Office Secretariat

may seem obvious but on a deeper level it is a show of strength. Of course, it is always necessary to assess the total damage of kicking over the euphemistic beehive in the workplace. What will be the repercussions of standing up to an aggressive communicator if that person is your boss? Once they know you will stand up to them, bullies will generally leave you for other prey elsewhere.

Passive Communication

The passive communicator is a perpetual people-pleaser. They get along by going along, never wanting to upset the apple cart. Though they view themselves as the salt of the earth, others will see them as weak and mark them for exploitation. They are often made a victim because they will not voice their opinions stand up for themselves.

Passives generally have issues with setting priorities. They are often busy putting out other people’s fires because they can never say “no”. They need encouragement. The positive words you give them may be the only confidence builders in their lives. Ask them for opinions and solutions on team matters. However, it is important to ensure they understand job requirements and how their part affects the team. If in management, set the priorities for them.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

business_man_beautiful_man_business_business_men_man_young_male_businessman-625568.jpg!dYes, there are those who manage to be both passive AND aggressive at the same time. They will stand up to others… but behind their backs. They have an “I’ll show you” mentality and will carry a grudge. They love to play the victim, yelling one minute and then crying the next if yelling doesn’t work.

Understand the game the passive-aggressive plays but do not play it yourself. To do so would only enable them. Stay focused on what is fact and relevant. Once they realize emotional outbursts do not work, they might come to their senses. When dealing with this personality, ensure everyone is in agreement and there won’t be any “misunderstandings” later. It may be prudent to write a summary in and email to them after a conversation.

In one of my workshops, we go deep into what makes a person behave in such ways. Find out more at: http://MomentumSeminars.com