Archive for business communication

Thoroughly Uncommon Common Sense.

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Everyday people are witnessed doing what appears to us as totally out of the realm of what you or I might call sensible.

Is There Such a Thing as Common Sense?

From one’s own view point a solution might look simple because the other person just needs to apply some “common” sense. Unfortunately common sense only consists of the knowledge we have managed to acquire to the point where we need it! For example, an experienced driver will slow for a corner and accelerate through the turn. The inexperienced driver will tend to enter the turn at speed and break in the turn. To the experienced driver the inexperienced driver has no common sense. Add a race driver and he will assess his speed, visualize the line he wants his vehicle to travel and through a combination of braking and accelerating will minimize deceleration and maximize acceleration. The race driver will view the other drivers as having no “common” sense based on the knowledge the race driver has acquired.

It Starts With Common Knowledge

In effect, there really is no true ” common” sense just gained experience and knowledge for each individual. So it would seem common knowledge would fit as a good base for a form of common sense.

How about an example of common knowledge:

The world is flat (common knowledge) – don’t sail out of sight of land or you will fall off the edge of the world (applied common sense).

Within each persons realm of being, there are multiple sources of “knowledge” that shape the base where decisions are formed. The first time a person forgets a cast iron frying pan on the stove and they realize something is burning (sometimes the flames are a clue) the first reaction is to grab the handle and remove it from the heat. Most will get burned because they acted without considering that the handle would be too hot for an unprotected hand. Good old common sense says if the pan is hot the handle will be hot too! Sense of survival says get the pan off the heat (put out the flames if there are any). If you happen to be a child or a teen you likely were told, “Don’t touch that, it’s HOT!” And we all know a child or two who simply needed the experience themselves to believe it – ouch.

 Can Experience Get In The Way?

Insurance companies know all about experience, common knowledge, and common sense, just ask anyone who runs a golf course. When dark and scary clouds roll in, golf courses are made to blow a loud horn to signal danger and bring people in off the course, the rule is there for a reason. You see, common knowledge is…if you play outside swinging sticks of metal in the air, then the risk of getting hit by lightening increases. Easy, common knowledge, right? Unfortunately, this is where ‘experience’ can get in the way. Our common sense is so tightly tied to our own experiential knowledge that the message “It’s never happened to me before” gets in the way and finishing play often trumps the horn. The number of golfers that fail to heed the horn is significant and scary, and the insurance rates align with that information. The fact is, you won’t see a player who has been hit by lightening wait for the horn, his experience tells him to get out of there when the clouds start coming in, and chances are he’s watching them closely.

Strategic Sense

Yes, we know it’s the name of our company, but we also get asked a lot why we chose it. Well, we wouldn’t want to depend on just plain old ‘common sense’, I mean, earlier we said it doesn’t exist! Great leaders, though, they understand the value of strategic sense in all depths and breadths of decisions. A few questions to ask prior to making a decision are:

  1. What do we know and believe about this?
  2. What don’t we know?
  3. Are our common understandings really true?
  4. What experiences have we had that may shape our decision?
  5. What experiences haven’t we had that may get in the way of a good decision?

Stop for a moment to consider a big decision you have to make in life or at work. Try running it through this set of questions. Odds are, you will discover you need more data before you make your final decision, at least a wise one.

The Contemplative Leader

Companies don’t always consider the ‘contemplative leader’ as driven enough and look for the quick-answer-dynamo when promoting. The fact is, contemplative leaders are less likely to blow a cannon off into a crowd the way some dynamos might. Perhaps contemplative leaders who make good calm decisions are actually naturals at running through a filter of strategic sense.


Why You Think I Am Wrong And What I Have To Say About It.

The thing about being an adult in an adult work world is that we’re forced to deal with many things we may find unpleasant or stressful. Communication between people takes many forms and can be interpreted in many ways. Ideally, we would live in a world where every person with whom we communicated would understand our intentions and not interpret them badly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

We are emotional human beings with egos, and we are adamant about protecting our viewpoints because we believe we are right. When communication comes our way, our response is typically based upon a reaction to our own view point and when that viewpoint is challenged, we often focus on the parts that anger us rather than the true message behind the communication.

How we respond to communication in our work and personal environments is a clear indicator of our respect for the viewpoint offered us, or how we respect the communicator themselves. Reponses packed with anger, frustration and hurt will put a stop to a relationship very quickly. This kind of a response can be so damaging it can take years to repair the relationship.

Here are a few tips on dealing with difficult discussions in your life. You’ll want to jot them down somewhere, you see you live in the real world and will be forced to deal with difficult discussions frequently.

  • Avoid Public Responses – A response to a difficult conversation or written communication should remain private. Sure, tell a confidant or two if you need to vent, but until you have calmed down and queried the person about their intent behind the discussion, you are reacting blindly and immaturely. Posting an angry note on Facebook will likely lose you the relationship or get you fired.
  • Analyze The Whole Communication – If you are upset about a conversation or a written communication, try these steps:
    • What parts make you angry? Why does it make you angry? Then explain to the other person in a very calm manner exactly how you interpreted what they said, and ask for clarification. Avoid arguing, listen!
    • Work hard to find the hidden gems of wisdom they’re trying to impart, focus on any compliments or positive statements they have tried to convey, rather than letting your anger focus on a single word or perceived slight.
    • If you are truly right, you will have no problem calmly building a compelling case to prove your point. Answer any questions they may have asked rather than lashing out to hurt them back, there is a good chance they were not trying to hurt you at all. Give them a reason to support your viewpoint!
    • Keep your anger private, being outwardly pissed off, rather than dealing with the person directly only proves YOUR immaturity, rather than their insensitivity.
  • Maintain Respect – Most people who initiate difficult conversations do so because they feel they have a significant stake in the topic or success regarding the issue being discussed. It’s extremely tough to initiate a difficult discussion. A person may already have lost sleep, poured over the written form, and feel vulnerable by exposing a challenge or expressing an opinion they know will create heated response. They do it because they care and believe, like you do, that they are right. The ideal situation is to have the issues put on the table and discussed maturely so the two of you can come to an understanding. Be respectful enough to the relationship to treat the other person with consideration and thoughtfulness.

Wanting to become a leader, striving to excel in any environment or hoping to launch your career will be dependent on the relationships you build and your reactions to difficult situations. If you struggle to handle conflict or difficult discussions in your personal relationships, it is almost a given you will struggle in the same manner in your work environment. Becoming a manager or leader of any kind of business will require you to practice and hone the skill of conflict resolution . Your future career or possible future promotions will be based upon your ability to take on the tough stuff, not the easy and inspired tasks.

Life is not all about what makes us feel good, but rather our attitude and response to all life has to offer, good, bad, challenging, beautiful, difficult, tragic, and amazing! Are you willing to accept all that life has to offer and respond to it maturely with a positive attitude that builds relationships or do you really believe life is supposed to hand you all happiness and ease?