Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Misalignment Continues to Be the True Foil Impeding Organizational Success

By now many in the US and all over the world have heard about or viewed the video of the United Airlines passenger being forcibly taken off from the airplane.  Here is a real time example of how misalignment continues to be the true foil impeding organizational success.

As someone who avoids airline travel like the plague because of the hassle, it has been a long time since I actually read the policies stated when purchasing an airline ticket. Yet it is my current understanding, the policies do state that all seats are subject to certain conditions and passengers must follow the requests of airline employees.  Airlines reserve the right to remove passengers if for example the airplane is overbooked.

Where the misalignment reared its ugly head is in the communication specific to the lottery. The lottery was not for ALL passengers as it excluded first class and rewards passengers.(Source: Radio news)

When one reads United’s commitment to its customers (via website), United Airlines the following:

“Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”

This statement which I am presuming is to showcase United Airlines’ commitment to organizational success does not separate customers by first class, business, rewards or coach.  All customers are supposedly treated equal. Yet we now know this is not the case.

Additionally, the CEO “doubled down” on the incident and blamed the passenger.  Yes, the passenger was at fault for not following the policies of the purchased airline ticket.

However. United is not blameless and is in violation of its own commitment to customers. This misalignment will hurt its ongoing organizational success as its recent stock drop of 3.7% resulting in a loss of $830 million.

Misalignment is continues to be one of the true foils (usually undiagnosed) that impedes organizational success regardless of the organization’s size.  For both small to large organizations, often what happens is executive leadership takes a retreating position.  In this case, the CEO blamed the customer instead of addressing the real foil – misalignment.

To learn more about misalignment and its impact on organizational success, I recommended this book Fail-Safe Leadership. It is an easy read and provides questions at the end to prompt further discussion and reflection.

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What’s in a Word? More than You Realize

We think, read, speak and write words all day long.  Maybe it is time to ask ourselves this question:


What’s in a word?

Each of the words we think, read, speak and write have their own history.  Some of these histories are minute, but others are like a loaded 747 crammed with people, baggage and fuel.

Until we invest the time to reflect upon the words we think, read, speak and write, we may be missing opportunities to improve our own lives and the lives of others.Conversely, we may be harming existing relationships or potential relationships.

Most of the words we use have feelings embedded within them.  Nouns like mother and father to grandma and grandpa may conjure past feelings of love and tenderness.  Then a proper name like George Washington or Madame Currie may create other feelings.

Right now if I told you “you need” to do something, what feelings does this word elicit? For many, the word need sends negative feelings because as some would say it lacks emotional intelligence because it implies judgment.

Our memories may travel back in time to when our parents told us you “need to:”

  • Pick up your room
  • Eat your dinner
  • Go to college
  • Read a book
  • Mow the lawn

Yes, the answer to the question of “What’s in a word?” is more than just the simple meaning of the word.

When we begin to understand and then manage the feelings within the words we think, read, speak or write, we become more emotionally intelligent leaders.  No longer do we say or write words carelessly without thinking.

If you wish to improve your communication and ultimately your results, then begin to listen to the words you speak and watch the reactions of others.  You just may be surprised by what you see.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Communication Chasm by Flo Selfman

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” It can be true in politics and it can be true in business and any other kind of relationship.

communication-flo-selfmanI had an office assistant years ago who, when asked if she had done a particular assignment, would often say, “You never told me to do that.” I used to tell her verbally what I wanted her to do. Clearly, it wasn’t working. One day I decided to give her the assignment in the form of a written note. She did the task. I continued doing this and the tasks got done. At the time I didn’t realize that people process information in different ways. This woman needed it in writing. For someone else, hearing it out loud might have sufficed. Today, of course, it would be written in an email, which also serves as a paper trail. And the assistant can’t say you didn’t tell her.

2. Long ago I had a week’s training for a civil service position with my city. One of the first things they told us is not to use jargon in our communication. In that business, there were a lot of acronyms and we were admonished not to use them with the public. That’s great advice that has stuck with me all these years. The point is to communicate; if we use industry lingo or jargon to someone who is new or unfamiliar with it, we might as well be speaking a foreign language — and, in fact, we are!

3. Growing up, I remember my mother jumping from one subject to the next. My sister and I grew adept at knowing what she was talking about even if it was a mystery to a casual listener. We’re not always so lucky in business, though. With our friends, longtime colleagues and family, we develop a kind of shorthand. If you and I meet at a certain spot every week for lunch, all one of us has to say is, “See you at the mall inside the parking entrance.” However, if we’re giving directions to a new person, she won’t know which entrance, so we need to be clear. This just happened to two colleagues last week. One frequents a certain mall and told the other to meet her at “the outdoor parking lot.” They almost came to blows before they found each other! There were six possible entrances, but the first person could only “see” the one she’s used to, while the second one entered from a different street a block away.

4. Use the correct word: I received a printing estimate from a colleague. I thought the figures were way too high for what we wanted. Then I realized that she got a quote for “printing,” which he correctly took to mean offset printing, while what we needed was actually photocopying. Fortunately, we were able to get the correct information to him before he actually ran the job.

Communication is key, and it’s a two-way street. Make the effort to use the correct words and terms so that you will be clearly understood by the recipient. It will save a lot of wear and tear on your nerves — and your budget.

 About the Guest Author – Flo Selfman

Flo is a PR Consultant, Proofreader-Copyeditor, and President, Independent Writers of Southern California ( and her website is

She is also a contributing author to book MEDIA MAGNETISM: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve

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How the Words You Speak Can Increase Sales

Most sales people understand the importance of words and how specific words can turn off a potential customer. Yet, the full magnitude of the words we speak appears not to be understood given these facts:

  • Psychologist Albert Mehrabian suggested that 93% of all communication is non-verbal (this percentage has been challenged by others since then)
  • Research at 3M corporation suggested we process visuals (pictures, graphics) 60,000 times faster than text (written word)
  • Human brain processes pictures (visual images) simultaneously while language takes additional time because it is processed linear
  • Visual stimuli has a greater impact

These facts suggest that you as the salesperson have an incredible opportunity to create the visual image you want your potential customer to see in her or his mind’s eye if you truly wish to increase sales. This is why it is important to understand the emotional marketing value of the words you use because emotions are embedded in all of those visuals or pictures.

Additionally using words to enhance the other senses of smell, taste and feel will make those pictures even more real.  Think about how you can use words to create:

  • The smell associated with buying a new car?
  • The feel of walking into that brand new home?
  • The taste of a sizzling piece of tender beef?

By being selective in the words you speak (use fewer words with greater impact) helps you work through all that other sensory information that is blocking your verbal communication (spoken words).   This strategy may require you to be very selective so that you avoid words that may generate images such as should, need, ought to, etc. and thus keep you from your goal to increase sales.

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How Emotions Are Unintentionally Fused into the Communication Process

Many Star Trek fans (myself included) enjoyed seeing Leonard Nimoy as Spock the Vulcan who was always so logical even with having a human (earth) mother.  He took communication for face value and did not infuse emotions into that process because that would be “illogical.”

Human beings are indeed creatures of emotion and no where is that more evident than within the communication process. How many times have we heard this statement or something similar  “I do not like your tone” from someone?

What further complicates effective communication between the sender and the receiver is that not only are we hearing emotions in the words we use, we subscribed specific behaviors to what we have heard. Just as our minds hear words, but see in pictures, those pictures are connected to specific behaviors that can be positive or negative.

To stay unemotional or logical is difficult and does take a great deal of training specific to being proactive instead of reactive.  One beginning step is to know yourself.  Far too many people truly do not know what they do well especially when it comes to their internal talents such as:

  • Self esteem
  • Role awareness
  • Self direction

Sales Training Coaching Tip:  There are many tools to help gain greater clarity. The one that I have found to be most effective to understand personal performance is the Attribute Index as published by Innermetrix.

Another solution especially for group communication dynamics is the use of the DISC profile. This assessment allows individuals to understand the communication styles of those they work with or interact with. Again discussion can focus on the specific behaviors that they unintentionally associate with different styles of communication.

Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP is another communication strategy.  When individuals speak words such as hear, sound, resonates, etc. these words suggest this person is an auditory communicator and processor. To positively maximize the communication process with this person would be to use similar words or to model those words back such as “I heard what you said.”

Another great tool is transactional analysis or TA. This old and proven tool helps to better understand how our behaviors are viewed by others. Again, remember it is our behaviors that others see based upon their own experiences when we communicate.

Within talent management, sales management, sales, executive leadership, customer service, or even self improvement, the ability to effectively communicate is critical to professional and personal success.  By becoming aware of how you communicate and then learning to gain greater clarity specific to how others communicate will help you from unintentionally infusing emotions (usually negative due to negative conditioning) into the communication process.

P.S. Sales Coaching Tip:  A previous posting of how presumptions challenge successful communications may also be of interest.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images –

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Presumptions Challenge Successful Communication

How many times do we have presumptions within our communication processes? If someone does not call back, he or she is not being responsive to me, his or her customer? Then as time passes, we may make more presumptions about why I have not heard from him or her.

For example, this past week I had a technology problem respective to my website.  Logic told me it was on the end of the hosting site and nothing to do with my computer or Internet access.  I sent an email and waited 24 hours.

The webmaster responded and we exchanged emails.  Again 24 hours passed and the problem continued. So I sent another email and made a phone call. In both cases I was professional and did not display or communicate any negative emotions given that this problem was now reaching 72 hours. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Having a written value statement helps to demonstrate consistent business ethics.

Finally, the webmaster answered my last email and shared he had been at the hospital with an elderly grandparent.  He apologized and said he would attend to the problem. Within 12 hours, the problem was corrected.

Thanks heavens I refrained from making any presumptions and going off on him through negative verbal and written communications.  Sometimes we forget as we communicate with others, it is not all about us and our needs or wants, but the wants and needs of the other person with whom we are in communications.

Communication is a two way process with both a sender and receiver. What is unique is that these roles continually change between who is sending and who is receiving.

Presumptions happen all the time.  With the current football mania between the Packers and the Bears, many presume that everyone cares about professional sports.  This can be a dangerous presumption.  For me, as much as I believe sports can be beneficial to individual health, investing several hours of my time watching two teams vie for some win is not a constructive use of my time. I would rather be reading, writing or engaged in some other activity.

When we infuse our presumptions within the communication process, this causes potential misunderstandings that can have serious consequences.  Correcting these misunderstandings may take additional time and may leave long term unintended consequences. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Presumptions may break trust which is the first Ma href=””>sales buying rule.

Presumptions are very much like clouds that impede the message from reaching the intended receiver. To ensure clear communications begins with these active listening skills.

  • Clarity to separate the “”knowns from the unknowns
  • Legitimize the real issue
  • Emotions behind or in front of what is being communicated
  • Agreement to find common ground
  • Retention to remember what is actually said

By removing the presumptions we have as individuals is a challenge. However the effort is well worth it if we wish to truly engage in successful communication.

Graphics courtesy of Bing Images

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