Failure To Communicate

by Doc Barham and Mark Goulston

Like it or not, skilled at it or not, after you put the technical aspects of business aside, everything else is about people.

Even though you think people should be able to see past your "interpersonal skill" challenges, the truth is that the more you tick people off, frustrate them or trigger fear, anger or resentment the less people are inclined to do anything to make you more successful (why should they make you happier when you're making them miserable), much less cooperate with you. At the very least, acting in a way that is off putting is a distraction.

Marshall Goldsmith is possibly the world's preeminent executive coach and I (MG) consider myself lucky to call him a mentor and friend. In his mega successful and mega enjoyable book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful he has identified twenty behaviors that are sure to help you lose friends and influence no one. Engage in them at your own peril.

1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations.

2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our 2 cents to every discussion.

3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us witty.

5. Starting with NO, BUT, HOWEVER: The overuse of these negative qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone that I'm right and you're wrong.

6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we're smarter than they think we are.

7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity, or "Let me explain why that won't work": The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren't asked.

9. Withholding information:The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to give praise and reward.

11. Claiming credit that that we don't deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contributions to any success.

12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.

14. Playing favorites: Failing tosee that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we're wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.

18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.

19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.

20. An excessive need to be "me:" Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they're who we are.

The way to use this list is to start winning friends, influencing everyone and achieving breakthrough measurable results are as follows:

1. Select four stakeholders, including the managing partner, a partner, another associate, and a staff person, who want you to succeed but who will be candid with you.

2. Have them check off behaviors on the list that you are guilty of; next ask them to rank, from most problematic to least problematic, those behaviors that get in the way of their working productively with you.

3. Finally, when two or more of your stakeholders agree on certain particularly egregious behaviors, comment to them that you will change one behavior at a time going forward and that you would like to check in with them periodically regarding your progress and for additional suggestions to improve upon.

4. The proof that you have really changed only comes when your stakeholders agree that you have changed those behaviors and are sustaining those changes.

Doc Barham is CEO and Co-Founder of Xtraordinary Outcomes a business advisory firm that helps individuals, organizations and companies achieve "results beyond their imagination" by identifying and making scalable the "secret sauce" that makes superstars and supercompanies super.

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1 Comments

  • Cedricj

    Great list that captures the essence of this often forgotten 'soft' skill.

    However I would add; Communicating Across Cultures.  I have identified Ten Basic Cross-Cultural Communication skills in my blog at cedricj.wordpress.com