Failure To Communicate

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


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.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Negativity, or “Let me explain why
that won’t work”:
The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t

9. Withholding
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

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

12. Making
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
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
The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

About the author

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Co-Fonder of Heartfelt Leadership a global community whose Mission of Daring to Care it dedicated to identifying, celebrating, developing and supporting heartfelt leaders who are as committed to making a difference as they are to making a profit