Showing posts with label Censure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Censure. Show all posts

January 25, 2014

I, U, Y Talk Like That

Already young children in pre-school learn that "Words have meaning, and words can hurt."

All through life, we refine our communication skills learning what works and what doesn't.

Here are three letter-words with which to beware:

- "I" (Use sparingly) - I is usually people's favorite word; they love to talk about themselves. I this. I that. I like. I hate. The problem is that "I" can also be selfish, egotistical, and narcissistic. Without tempering talking about I all the time, you run the very large risk of overdoing it.  All the I can easily end up boring other people to near death or simply make them want to run the other way to get some needed healthy attention for themselves.

- "U" (Use carefully) - U is most often used to criticize.  U should do this. U did something wrong. U are a blankety-blank. While it's also caring, loving, and empathetic to talk about U (i.e. taking a genuine interest in the other person), talking about U can easily go astray and lead to disapproval, denunciation, and censure. We should and need to talk about U, but more from the perspective of understanding U and how can I help U.

- "Y" (Use almost never) - Y is used to ask questions, but usually ends up being used judgmentally. Y did you do that? Sometimes we question honestly and with positive intentions to understand, but very often we end up using the response to evaluate their actions, and pronounce judgement on them. From all the interrogative questions (who, what, where, when, Y, and how), Y should be used the absolute least, if ever. 

 I, U, Y - are letter-words that can imply selfishness, criticism, and judgement.  

While, they can't exactly be banned from the alphabet or dictionary, they are dangerous words that can get you misunderstood, alienate others, and hurt people in the process, and therefore use them, but with extreme caution, please. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to id-iom)

May 30, 2010

Getting Out From Behind Closed Doors

One of the most important lifelines for a CIO or any executive is the communication from their people. That is why the best leaders go out of the way to meet and talk with their employees (as well as their customers, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders).

Only when armed with good information from the people who know best—usually those on the front lines—can an executive make strategic plans and sound decisions to move the organization forward responsibly.

The best leaders regularly and genuinely connect with their people. Without this employer-employee connection, there are not only basic communication problems, but also trust and ultimately leadership issues. These issues present themselves for example, when employees are either afraid to communicate with their leadership or just feel it’s futile to do so.

Harvard Business Review, June 2010, has an article called “Debunking Four Myths About Employee Silence,” asserts that many employees actually hold back or “self-censure” and do not provide their bosses the information they really need. Further, futility, not fear is the predominant obstacle—holding back information is primarily due not to the commonly held belief that people are afraid of retribution for what they say, but rather because they feel a sense of futility in speaking their minds and so they just don’t.

Some interesting statistics from the annual Cornell National Social Survey on when employees hold back:

1) Withholding information is common across the board—“There is no statistically significant differences between workers of different genders, educations levels, or income levels in the likelihood of holding back because of fear or assumptions of futility.”

2) Speaking does not preclude withholding information—“Fully 42% of respondents report periodically speaking up but also withholding information when they feel they have nothing to gain—or something to lose.”

3) Employees hold back on information for day-to-day issues—“About 20% say a fear of consequences has led them to withhold suggestions for addressing ordinary problems and making improvements” (not just on more serious issues of illegal or unethical conduct).

The point is, listening to employees is not just a nice thing to do, but the intelligent way to run an organization.

Therefore, the way we treat our people is one of the most important determinants of our success as leaders.

As leaders, when it comes to communication and collaboration, we must ensure that feelings of fear and futility are banished from the organizations’ culture, so that employees feel it is worth it to tell us what’s going on. Ignorance is not bliss!

The way we do this is not by just paying lip service to “open door” policies and the like, but to listen thoroughly, communicate profusely, and work as a team taking all input as valuable to the final outcome.

People have got to feel that they can communicate openly and honestly and that they will be taken seriously—as long as it is done professionally and respectfully.

Of course, employees also have to understand that there is a time for input and debate and a time for decision-making and that the boss (as “the boss”) ultimately has the final say. But with a leader that is open to hearing from their people, and working with all input, there will be a better decision at the end of the deliberation for everyone.

And then, what separates the exceptional leaders from the ordinary is the follow through and results.