Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Dealing With Difficult People – Why Do They Act Like That?

DifficultPeopleYou have seen them. They are the people that always have a different opinion. They know the ONLY way to do something. They don’t want to even consider another way. We have all worked with them. Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person?

Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance? What is it that makes them feel that they are right?
Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:

1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
2. They don’t have enough “context” information to see the big picture. Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.
4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports. They have a need to always be right.
5. They are afraid of failure. If you don’t do it my way it won’t work and then I will be responsible anyway.

These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner. I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way. Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors. You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason. Don’t invite everyone. Invite only those that need to participate. If you have a group of people that simply need to be “in the know” send them a memo. Otherwise, you will be wasting time.
2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be. What would they consider “success” of the meeting. Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.
3. When you see bad behavior do something. Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop.
4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors.
5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion. If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning. Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.

One of skills that is growing in demand is “facilitation” skills. To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research. ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods. Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada. ICA-USA ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning). The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the “right” people to have in the room, develop agendas, room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.

Here are the links to the 2 Florida classes. Each of them are a 2 day workshop.

* Top Facilitation Methods – ICA – USA, http://bit.ly/1Udds20
* Making Meetings Work – ICA – Associates http://bit.ly/2aCt5iL

I am a “know it all”……

Nothing could be further from the truth, but so many times that is the impression we give people when we refuse to seek others opinions and input.

Many times we “think” we know the answer to our questions.  Therefore, we don’t ask.  We feel that we understand other situations so well that we don’t need to ask them.   We don’t need to survey them.  We don’t need to tell others  what they think is important.

When you don’t seek out feedback you are missing out on….

  1. Letting others know that you value what they think.
  2. Taking the time to put yourself in others “shoes”, empathize with them, their situation and points of view. You may even get a “new view” yourself.
  3. Asking for others opinions, and listening with intention to what they say.  Seeking to understand the meaning in their words.
  4. You miss the opportunity to develop a trusting friendship. Showing that you value someones’ opinion is the truest form of appreciation and respect.

When you fail to ask others what they think, you are short-changing yourself.  You have only one set of experiences  to base your assumptions on….your experiences.  Everyone experiences life differently, has different realities and different answers.  It is up to you to invite others to share their point of view and their answers.  You may even surprise yourself with the answers you receive.  You may find out you really don’t know it all.

Are you really neutral?

As the CEO of your organization, is it possible to lead your own organization’sI-BadMeeting strategic meeting and remain neutral? Do your biases show through even in the most subtle ways?

In order to save on consulting fees, many organizations rely on employees to facilitate important direction setting meetings. Think about the last time that you facilitated a meeting for your own organization. Where you as excited about putting forth that idea that you know was going to cause increased workloads for staff?

A strategic planning session should not be taken lightly. The investment in the planning, pre-work and selection of an independent, neutral facilitator will pay dividends for years and will help to set the course of the future of the organization.

Overtalkers? Are you one?

overtalkerRecently I attended a meeting and a discussion began about communications and culture. It was suggested that we, in the US, talk to fill silence and that other cultures are more patient. This can lead to frustration in communications and the difficulty of getting all of the voices heard.

At the risk of over generalizing, these simple questions may enlighten you to consider the groups in which you are facilitating conversation. This is not meant to be judgmental, simply a study in culture that may help to create a better understanding and patience.

If you would like to receive a copy of the results, be sure and fill in your name and email address so that they can be sent to you.

SURVEY LINK

A Focused Conversation with myself.

cartoon-airplaneI despise flying, but in order to accomplish my goals and responsibilities, I have no choice. Sometimes I swear that this is the last time I am going to fly, but I guess it is like childbirth.   Afterwards you forget.

Now that I have discovered the ToP Methods and Focused Conversation, my flying is much more tolerable. I used to hear voices like, “why are you here, you know you don’t like flying, you should have went to work at Walmart like your mother told you, you will never get to your destination, you should have driven, and on and on and on.”

My new self talk goes more like this!

Yes, I am on a flight that is a little bumpy.   There are lots of other people on this flight.   We are all going to the same location separately together.

The last 10 times I flew it was bumpy too.   There are not too many flights that are not bumpy.

I get nervous when the flight is bumpy. I feel helpless because I don’t know how long the pilot has been flying or if he is sleeping up there. I think every flight should be smooth with no bumps.

Instead of getting nervous about something I have no control over, I will practice my meditation techniques and slow breathing. I will try and laugh about the fact that I know there is more likelihood that someone will die of a heart attack worrying about the plane than there is getting injured during the flight. I will remember that the air is not empty and it is full of pockets of different types of air. I will remember how much worse I hate riding in a car!

You have just experienced an ORID structured conversation with myself.   Self talk that is taking it from a potential hysterical down spiral to a facilitated reasonable conversation with a direction that I can work on.

To learn how to use these conversations at work, home or alone, sign up for a Technology of Participation Facilitation Methods. You can find the classes at the  TopTraining website.   in fact, if you want to combine a class with a trip to Orlando, there is class on October 9- 10th in Orlando.

See you at the airport!

Life in 140 Characters

140-charactersLife in the fast lane. That is where we are. We don’t have conversations any more we have tweets. If you can’t communicate in less than 140 characters, no one is listening. Only the first 5 lines of emails are getting read.   Voice mails are being translated into text messages loosing all the vocal intent of the message.

We, as a society are loosing the the ability to really communicate. We are not getting deeper into matters that have meaning. We simply exist every day and do our very best to “stay in the middle”.   We work really hard at being alone while we are surrounded by what we think are thousands of e-friends.

This is all compounded by the overload factor. We are so good at collecting data that it is turning into garbage. Myself, I sometimes feel like the garbage recycler when I open my email. It is delete, recycle to someone else, forward on, or set on the counter for later action.   We want to be sure that our message is heard, so we try to compete in the message garbage stream. If one message is good, than 3 is better and it better have all of the information in the first 140 characters, because that is all that will be read.

How does all of this make you feel?

Do you feel alone while surrounded by thousands? Do you feel closer to people who you simply have asynchronous dialogs with every day via “chat”?   Do you feel sometimes that your friends and family just want you to “get to the point” so they can get to their point?

Are you gaining knowledge and understanding from this constant stream of non communications? When did you last feel that you have had a breakthrough learning moment?   Was it when you read that incredible email or had a face to face conversation in a relaxed atmosphere?

Think for a moment, when was your last ah-ha moment? Who were you talking to via what communication tool? Did you feel the conversation? Did you experience empathy and share emotions? Did you come out with a deeper understanding of the person, problem or situation?   Did new ideas come to you that would have never surfaced otherwise?

So what?

Is there a chance we can turn this around?   Will the next generation be communicating in 60 characters or less? Will we forget about the human side of life? Will we totally loose the human side of communications?

What can you do?

Turn life around. Make time for personal interactions with conversations that go deeper. Create opportunities for true conversations.   Ask questions that begin with why, how, why, or which. Avoid questions that can be simply answered with a yes or no.   Take time to explore relationships by creating dialogs around opportunities.  Embrace this with your friends, co-workers and family.

Start off your conversations by confirming all participants are actually in the same conversation. Ask simple questions that have simple answers, that begin with what. Examples might be, what are you working on, what happened in your day today, or what headlines did you see today? These are all easy questions that require more than a yes or no answer. They have no right or wrong answer, they are simply stating the facts.

After you have “grounded” the beginning you may want to ask how they feel about the situation you are discussing. How did this headline make you feel, what projects are giving you the most anguish, what projects are you looking forward to the most or what stood out for you as the highlight of your day?

Having set the foundation and gotten the emotional connections clarified, next would be to ask questions about what the real intent of the situation is. A question may be something like, Why do you think your friend did that, what changes would you recommend to the projects, what does this mean for our business or friendship, or why are you interested in this project?   These types of questions allow you to understand the implication that is felt by the situation at hand.   If you understand the situation, the feeling on the situation, and proposed implications, then you can take decisive planned actions.

To wrap up the conversation, you may ask a question like, What do you think we should do now, what should we do next, what followup will help you, what advice would you give considering the situation?

This type of conversation leads to a non threatening, understanding and deeper relationships whether it is co-workers, friends, or family.

What would happen if we all started communicating like this at work, play, and home. What would happen if the government worked this way? Would your legislators ask questions like, What is in this bill, how will it affect people, what is the real intent and what should we do next?

We can all take this opportunity to begin our own journey into deepening our conversations, our understanding and our successes in life. I challenge each of you to make the time for deeper, more fulfilling conversations that enhance our lives and learning.

If you would like to learn more about this type of “Focused Conversation”, I encourage you to seek out a Technology of Participation Facilitation Methods class.

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