The “why” behind the message

Multiple books since Mars and Venus highlight that men tend to be problem-solvers, and women often seek validation in communication. This often leads to a woman’s complaint being met with a man’s attempt to problem-solve rather than listen and simply support her right to be angry momentarily.

The important lesson in any context – personal or professional, male or female:
To be helpful, always consider the “why” behind the message, not just the “what”.

Social media may have amplified this lesson.

The best teachers

Too often people who want to acquire a skill seek out teachers because they have expertise in that skill. Seems logical.
The gymnast who brags that her coach was an Olympian. The student who thinks he should only learn German from a native German-speaker.

Two flaws with this approach:
1) some people have a high level of skill despite (not because of) the way they learned
2) the skill of performing and the skill of teaching/motivating/coaching other people are unrelated

The best teachers leave repeated evidence in the form of students who have learned to excel because of them.

Next time you’re looking for a great teacher, forget asking how good she is, ask how good her students are instead.

Seek first to understand

Communicating effectively may be one of the most important skills. Interesting that our education system trains us in only 3 of the 4 major means of communication: reading, writing, and speaking, but not listening.

In Stephen Covey’s best-seller, Habit 5 is “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This is the essence of effective listening.

Next time you’re in a discussion (especially a disagreement) rather than planning your next words while the other person talks, listen with the intent of repeating their message back to them in your own words. Here’s the catch: you have to choose words that are not only your own, but that the other person agrees captures their point/argument/message.

Not an easy task. Especially when there is disagreement. But the surest way to making sure your message is heard, is to make sure theirs is first.

The average of 5-10 people

If we are the average of the 5-10 people you associated with most, then our health, success and happiness partially depends on:
– Surrounding ourselves with positive influences
– Being a force of positive influence to those around us

Perhaps you’ve heard this before. But knowing is not enough. When was the last time you took inventory of both?

More isn’t better

Better is better.  Period.

Often, our tendency when we compose a speech, sales pitch, TV interview, or any kind of performance, is to feel that two hours of stage time is better than one, and ten minutes is better than five.

Better to plan your delivery based on greatest impact. Better to leave them wanting more rather than with too much.

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.”
– William of Occam (1300-1350)