How to Tell Anyone Anything

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-06-03
  • Publisher: Amacom Books
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Sometimes it's hard to keep our communication with coworkers positive. Whether it's with a boss, someone we manage, or a peer, bringing up and resolving awkward and challenging situations is never easy-and it's potentially explosive! But interactions that might otherwise become verbal tugs-of-war can easily be transformed from stressful moments of criticism to collaborative, problem-solving exchanges...just by using the right technique.

Author Biography

RICHARD S. GALLAGHER (Ithaca, NY) is a popular corporate trainer and public speaker

who specializes in the mechanics of workplace culture and communication. He is

the author of several books including Great Customer Connections (978-0-8144-

7308-5) and What to Say to a Porcupine (978-0-8144-1055-4).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: A New Way of Looking at Dialoguep. xi
The Basics
Why We Stink at Difficult Conversations-And How We Can Changep. 3
How to Have Painless Conversations: The CANDID Approachp. 13
The CANDID Approach in Detail
Compartmentalize Your Message: The Neutral Zonep. 31
Ask Questions: From Furious to Curiousp. 48
Normalize: It's OK, Reallyp. 59
Discuss the Issue: Just the Factsp. 68
Incentivize: It's All About Themp. 77
Disengage from the Discussion: Making a Good Last Impressionp. 92
The Advanced Course
Reframing: Making Difficult Messages Painlessp. 101
Managing the Dialogue: Response and Counter-Responsep. 111
You Don't Say: Phrases to Avoidp. 123
How to Receive Feedbackp. 140
Putting It into Practice
Case Studies: Creating Painless Discussions in Real Lifep. 155
Troubleshooting the Mechanicsp. 172
Epilogue: Summing It All Upp. 189
The Painless Conversation Worksheetp. 195
Strength-Based Psychology: The Basis of Painless Communicationp. 201
Indexp. 205
About the Authorp. 217
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


<html><head></head><body><p style="margin-top: 0">INTRODUCTION </p><p style="margin-top: 0">A New Way of Looking at Dialogue </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;I can&#8217;t deal with him anymore!&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">This pained outburst, spoken sharply into a cell phone, rose above the </p><p style="margin-top: 0">din of a crowded Wednesday afternoon at Chicago&#8217;s O&#8217;Hare Airport, as a </p><p style="margin-top: 0">well-dressed man wheeled his luggage behind me. Later that same afternoon, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">settling into my seat at the United Airlines Red Carpet Club, I overheard more </p><p style="margin-top: 0">cell phone conversations from more successful-looking people with business </p><p style="margin-top: 0">suits and briefcases&#8212;things like: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;She may be the boss, but she doesn&#8217;t know how to get along with </p><p style="margin-top: 0">anyone,&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;Everyone knows that he just isn&#8217;t working out, but no one has the guts </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to tell him,&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;I got so fed up with that man that I walked out of a project with him </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and got fired!&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">These people all have one thing in common: they don&#8217;t know how to positively </p><p style="margin-top: 0">influence the behavior of other people. They struggle with how to talk with their </p><p style="margin-top: 0">employees, their bosses, and their peers about difficult subjects&#8212;or perhaps they </p><p style="margin-top: 0">have tried airing their grievances and gotten nowhere&#8212;so instead, they gripe to </p><p style="margin-top: 0">others and feel powerless. They don&#8217;t realize that the right kind of honest and </p><p style="margin-top: 0">authentic communication, delivered in a nonthreatening way, could actually </p><p style="margin-top: 0">change many of these situations for the better. And if this group of elite frequent </p><p style="margin-top: 0">flyers among America&#8217;s best and brightest feel stuck in situations like these, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">where does that leave the rest of us? </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Situations like these lie at the heart and soul of our ability to engage in dialogue, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">a term the dictionary defines broadly as &#8220;an exchange of ideas and opinions&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and more specifically as &#8220;a discussion between representatives of parties </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to a conflict that is aimed at resolution.&#8221; In the ideal, dialogue serves as a mechanism </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to make things right. But in our own experience, it too often has the opposite </p><p style="margin-top: 0">effect. When we ask people to improve their performance, treat others </p><p style="margin-top: 0">differently, or even shower more often, the result is frequently anger and resentment&#8212; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and far too often, nothing changing. So does this mean we are forever </p><p style="margin-top: 0">doomed to choose between getting people riled up, or swallowing our pride and </p><p style="margin-top: 0">accepting the status quo? </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">In a word: No! </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">This book presents what, for most people, is a very new and different approach </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to having difficult conversations in the workplace&#8212;one that is remarkably </p><p style="margin-top: 0">effective in actually getting people to listen to you, negotiate with you, and </p><p style="margin-top: 0">ultimately make positive changes in their behavior. This approach is easy to </p><p style="margin-top: 0">learn and put into practice, and is grounded in broader trends that are now </p><p style="margin-top: 0">changing the way we apply psychology to human situations. Above all, it is designed </p><p style="margin-top: 0">seemingly to achieve the impossible: to make these conversations painless </p><p style="margin-top: 0">on both sides of the discussion. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">So, is there a catch to this win-win situation? Yes, just one. It will require </p><p style="margin-top: 0">you to change the way you view and respond to people&#8212;and at times, say things </p><p style="margin-top: 0">that are precisely the opposite of what you might have said in the past. But once </p><p style="margin-top: 0">you experience the results of this new approach to communicating with people, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">I&#8217;m betting that you&#8217;ll never go back to the old way again. This new, painless approach </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to dialogue will not only help give you power in situations where most </p><p style="margin-top: 0">people feel powerless, it will fundamentally change the way you relate to other </p><p style="margin-top: 0">people in all areas of your life&#8212;because the techniques will work just as well </p><p style="margin-top: 0">with personal as with business contacts. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">To give you a taste of where we are heading, let&#8217;s jump right in with a realworld </p><p style="margin-top: 0">example that is all too common in many workplaces: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Now, what would you say to your employee Marcia after hearing this? Let </p><p style="margin-top: 0">me guess. If you are like most people, I suspect it would fall into one of three </p><p style="margin-top: 0">categories: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">1. You would have some choice words for Marcia that you probably </p><p style="margin-top: 0">wouldn&#8217;t say in church. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">2. You would gravely intone about your company&#8217;s service standards, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">how Marcia&#8217;s behavior doesn&#8217;t meet these standards, and how she </p><p style="margin-top: 0">needs to improve. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">3. You would try to avoid a confrontation by dodging the subject entirely, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">but make a mental note of it for her next performance review. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Next question: how do you think Marcia will react to any of these approaches? </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Will she express joy and thankfulness at being shown how to do her job better? </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Will she enthusiastically commit to meeting standards of excellent customer </p><p style="margin-top: 0">service in the future? In fact, is she likely to make any positive long-term </p><p style="margin-top: 0">changes at all, particularly the next time you&#8217;re out of earshot? </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">I didn&#8217;t think so&#8212;and that&#8217;s where this book comes in. Whenever I&#8217;ve been </p><p style="margin-top: 0">in situations like these (and as someone who spent much of his career managing </p><p style="margin-top: 0">call center operations, trust me, I have), here is how I have handled them, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">using the approach that forms the basis of this book: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Service with a Slam! </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">You are the manager of a telephone customer service center, and </p><p style="margin-top: 0">once in a while you like to walk the floor and hear what people on </p><p style="margin-top: 0">your team are saying to customers. Today, as you approach Marcia&#8217;s </p><p style="margin-top: 0">cubicle, you can hear what she is saying from 20 feet away: </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;This is the fourth time I&#8217;ve tried to explain this to you, and all you </p><p style="margin-top: 0">do is keep asking more stupid questions! I&#8217;ve already spent way to </p><p style="margin-top: 0">much time trying to help you with this problem. You need to go find </p><p style="margin-top: 0">someone who knows what they are talking about. Goodbye!&#8221; As you </p><p style="margin-top: 0">walk by, you can hear her slam the receiver down and sigh deeply. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; I would come to Marcia with a smile on my face, observe that this </p><p style="margin-top: 0">customer was getting under her skin, and ask her to tell me about it. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; As she responds to me, I would acknowledge and validate everything </p><p style="margin-top: 0">that she says. (&#8220;You&#8217;re right. Customers who don&#8217;t read the manual </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and take up your time are really frustrating. I hate being in situations </p><p style="margin-top: 0">like that too.&#8221;) </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; Next, I would offer to help make this situation better in a way that </p><p style="margin-top: 0">benefits her. (&#8220;Would you like to learn how I handle situations like </p><p style="margin-top: 0">these?&#8221;) </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; Finally, I would role-play better ways to handle the situation with her, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and have fun with it. (&#8220;Marcia, here is a way to tell someone they are </p><p style="margin-top: 0">stupid without ever using the word &#8216;stupid&#8217; in the sentence: talk about </p><p style="margin-top: 0">what happened when you made the same mistakes.&#8221;) </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">What you are seeing here are the mechanics of a totally new way of having a difficult </p><p style="margin-top: 0">conversation&#8212;a positive, criticism-free process that never puts the listener </p><p style="margin-top: 0">on the defensive, even in difficult or sensitive situations. The results of this approach? </p><p style="margin-top: 0">Consistently, over and over, I&#8217;ve watched people with so-called &#8220;bad attitudes&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">blossom into top-rated employees, some of whom even garnered awards </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and leadership roles. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">But for some of you reading this, I believe that I can read your mind right </p><p style="margin-top: 0">now. &#8220;Oh, come on, you&#8217;re just being nice to a rude employee. You aren&#8217;t holding </p><p style="margin-top: 0">her accountable. She isn&#8217;t experiencing any consequences for her behavior!&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">If you work with people in the real world, these all sound like legitimate </p><p style="margin-top: 0">concerns&#8212;so let&#8217;s look critically at each of them: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;You&#8217;re just being nice to a rude employee.&#8221; Actually, what you are seeing </p><p style="margin-top: 0">here is a very formal, scripted process that has nothing to do with my attitude. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">It is, in fact, a thoughtfully planned and composed performance. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">More important, this isn&#8217;t something that I or anyone else just made up </p><p style="margin-top: 0">off the top of our heads, but rather a process based on very specific principles </p><p style="margin-top: 0">of human behavior. As you read through this book, you will learn </p><p style="margin-top: 0">exactly what I said at each step of this process, and why I am saying it. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;You aren&#8217;t holding her accountable.&#8221; Actually, if you read this carefully, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">I am holding her very much accountable: I am coaching her. And I will </p><p style="margin-top: 0">keep coaching her, again and again if needed, until her performance </p><p style="margin-top: 0">meets my expectations. What I think you really mean to say is that I am </p><p style="margin-top: 0">not criticizing her, and on that point you are precisely correct. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Listen carefully. I have never accepted people giving less than their very </p><p style="margin-top: 0">best at their jobs, and I have the management track record to prove it, including </p><p style="margin-top: 0">creating near-perfect customer satisfaction ratings, near-zero external </p><p style="margin-top: 0">turnover, and high growth. Anyone who has worked for me for </p><p style="margin-top: 0">more than ten minutes knows that I have extremely high expectations </p><p style="margin-top: 0">for how people treat our customers, our organization, and each other. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">And at the end of the day, I use a painless approach to communications </p><p style="margin-top: 0">skills for a very selfish reason: it gets me much more of the behavior that </p><p style="margin-top: 0">I want in situations like these. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;She isn&#8217;t experiencing any consequences for her behavior.&#8221; What you are </p><p style="margin-top: 0">really saying is that she isn&#8217;t experiencing any punishment for her behavior. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">Again, you are correct. I am 100% focused on changing how she responds </p><p style="margin-top: 0">to customers in the future, rather than making her feel bad about </p><p style="margin-top: 0">how she responded to them in the past. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">One of the things you will learn as you work your way through this book is </p><p style="margin-top: 0">that while our natural reaction is often to lash out at people who disappoint us, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">criticism and punishment are almost always the least effective way to change </p><p style="margin-top: 0">performance. If you want things like sullen compliance, resentment, turnover, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">and sabotage, negative feedback will certainly get you there. But I want something </p><p style="margin-top: 0">much better for you: I want you to be able to help people grow and </p><p style="margin-top: 0">change. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">THE THEORY BEHIND PAINLESS CONVERSATIONS </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Picture an important peer in your life: perhaps your spouse or partner, a good </p><p style="margin-top: 0">friend, or one of your co-workers. Now, I have a question for you: have you ever </p><p style="margin-top: 0">tried to change his or her behavior? When I ask this question to audiences at my </p><p style="margin-top: 0">training programs, nearly every hand goes up (including mine). But then when </p><p style="margin-top: 0">I ask another equally simple question&#8212;did it work?&#8212;suddenly no one&#8217;s hand </p><p style="margin-top: 0">is raised. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">The reason for this is that most of us naturally practice &#8220;deficit-based&#8221; </p><p style="margin-top: 0">communications, where we point out another person&#8217;s faults and try to correct </p><p style="margin-top: 0">them. Deficit-based feedback is simple and logical&#8212;and almost never works. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">Why? Because human beings are inherently programmed to fight back against </p><p style="margin-top: 0">criticism, no matter how &#8220;right&#8221; it is. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">But there is a new approach in psychology&#8212;it&#8217;s called a strength-based </p><p style="margin-top: 0">approach&#8212;that will dramatically change your ability to influence people in any </p><p style="margin-top: 0">situation. It isn&#8217;t a gimmick, nor is it a random assortment of verbal techniques </p><p style="margin-top: 0">that you will need to memorize and pull out on command. Instead, it is a proven </p><p style="margin-top: 0">approach that is based on one simple but powerful idea: </p><p style="margin-top: 0">Always speak to the other person&#8217;s strengths and interests&#8212;even in difficult </p><p style="margin-top: 0">situations. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">It is the key to effective, painless communication on any subject. Sounds </p><p style="margin-top: 0">simple enough, right? So why isn&#8217;t everyone practicing strength-based communication </p><p style="margin-top: 0">already? The problem is, when we go into the real world and run headon </p><p style="margin-top: 0">into challenging situations, strength-based feedback is the last thing on earth </p><p style="margin-top: 0">we want to do. Here is why: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When an employee is late again, the last thing you want to do is </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8220;understand&#8221; it. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When you feel someone is dead wrong, the last thing you want to do </p><p style="margin-top: 0">is explore the benefits of her approach. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When someone is rude and abrasive, the last thing we want to ask is </p><p style="margin-top: 0">what frustrates him. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">But that last thing you want to do is exactly what will keep another person in </p><p style="margin-top: 0">dialogue, and more often than not, change their behavior. Here is why: </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When you acknowledge the feelings and frustrations of the late employee, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">you can much more effectively coach him&#8212;or even discipline </p><p style="margin-top: 0">him. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When another person feels you understand the benefits of her approach, </p><p style="margin-top: 0">it becomes much easier for them to listen to your concerns. </p><p style="margin-top: 0">&#8226; When you connect with another person&#8217;s frustrations, it opens the </p><p style="margin-top: 0">door to showing him more productive ways to handle them. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">Using numerous real-life examples, this book will show you how to fundamentally </p><p style="margin-top: 0">change your ability to influence other people&#8217;s behavior, using a simple </p><p style="margin-top: 0">process that creates honest, authentic dialogue that benefits everyone concerned. </p><p style="margin-top: 0"></p><p style="margin-top: 0">As I mentioned before, these powerful new communication skills have their roots </p><p style="margin-top: 0">in psychology; if you are interested in learning more about the psychological underpinnings </p><p style="margin-top: 0">of these techniques, read Appendix B. Meanwhile, let&#8217;s start by looking </p><p style="margin-top: 0">in detail at why difficult conversations are so hard for most of us. </p></body></html>

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