Basic Communication





By Alberto Nothnagel



Published by




Copyright 2016 Alberto Nothnagel


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The world has changed.


In the past it was more than enough to be good at your job and to do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times – but today it will probably get you into trouble.


Today’s supervisors, managers and leaders are required to convince those reporting to them and those working with them, that they want to do the that right thing – you have to use a different kind of English, so to speak – the facts do not carry the day anymore.


If this statement irritates / offends / infuriates you, welcome to the world of the leadership – I hope you are up for the challenge because the world needs you even if it will tell you differently – and you need to face the challenge of playing the game differently or you will lose.


Communication, presentation, negotiation and engagement are critical management skills once you find yourself in a position where people report to you or you have to negotiate for the outcomes you want.


Should you fail at these skills you will experience conflict, misunderstandings and failures that will affect your organisation, your career and your most important inter-personal relationships at work and at home.


This book is aimed at providing you (especially at supervisory and middle management level) with the skills, knowledge, techniques and strategies to communicate and engage effectively so that you can get your point across in a confident, clear manner, to your subordinates and superiors, improving efficiency and productivity – and getting them to do and support – what you want to get done.









Communication is a two-way street where ideas etc. are exchanged.


Communication takes many forms – verbal and non-verbal, written and other forms using various forms of technology.


You have to understand from the start that any engagement between two or more persons will always have a two-way implication – it is inevitable. I cannot tell you something without eliciting a response.


Good communication is about ensuring the message received on the other side is the one you intended to communicate. Once you have transmitted your message clearly, it is up to the other party to respond – if your message got across correctly, you at least have a chance of getting the response you are hoping for.


When the other party responds, you need to listen.


Listening is much more than hearing – it is about paying attention to what is being said, how it is being said and ensuring that you are correctly understanding what the other party trying to impart – it is not about preparing to respond!


To be a good communicator it is imperative that you listen well.




Presentation is about selling – selling a concept, product, idea, process, result or anything you can think of.


When you do a presentation, you take the lead in a specialised communication process – you are the initiator – your audience will respond to what you are putting before them – that is if you are doing the presentation right.


When you present it is with the purpose of achieving a specific outcome – you must know what you want to achieve before you start and do whatever it takes to achieve that outcome.


Good presentation is about making sure that you convey your message in such a way that the audience will want to give you whatever you are punting – but it is not just about doing a hard sell – you must be aware of their reaction at all times so that you can adapt to stay on course to achieve your outcome. Remember that presentation is still a form of communication – the two-way street.




Negotiation is communication for the purpose of achieving a desired result that all parties are satisfied with.


Negotiation usually means some kind of trade-off and therein lies the problem – if both / all parties don’t feel they have benefitted from the process, chances are that there will be resentment that will lead to conflict at a later stage.


Enforcing your will is not negotiation – it is a power play no matter how nicely you disguise it – and it will not go down well regardless of how well intended. There are times where it is the right option – but be very sure it is the only option and that you can enforce it, or it will come back to haunt you.


A famous example of such a failed negotiation was the peace treaty following the First World War. The Allies walked away from the table feeling very chuffed with the measures enforced – one man in that team thought differently – Jan Smuts felt that the Germans were humiliated and that the resentment would come back to haunt the world – oom Jan was right – 20 years later the world was in the midst of the Second World War – a war that would never have happened had the humiliation of the German people not opened the door to Hitler to sell his madness…




It is critical that when you engage somebody, you know what it is you are trying to achieve.


Knowing what outcome you want, will decide the model applicable and the specific approach within that model you will utilise.


The communication process


We use spoken words to convey a message clearly and concisely.


To get a message across, the sender needs to do more than just deliver a message – it is critical that the receiver correctly interprets the words.

If the sender and receiver do not have the same understanding, confusion results – and more often than not it will not just be confusion – there will be conflict.

Traditionally communication is split into three main categories – verbal communication, non-verbal communication and written communication.


Verbal communication is common and obvious – it is what we say – but what we say is only part of it as the delivery accounts for a much larger part of the communication than the actual words.


Non-verbal communication is often referred to as body language – but body language is just a part of non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication covers a lot of ground starting from the delivery of the verbal message through to posture, dress code, gestures and much more – the picture speaks a thousand words cliché comes to mind.


Written communication is very important in the modern professional age. In the old days when we still relied on snail mail and letters, we had a few templates to deal with the formal letter, the letter to grandma etc. Today we live in the midst of a technology and information explosion. We have e-mail, SMS, whatsup, Face Book, Twitter and a hundred other mediums to communicate on a non face-to-face basis. Given what we know about the importance of delivery of the message, it is obvious why you can get into all sorts of trouble when that delivery is left to the imagination of the recipient.


Verbal Communication in the Workplace


By successfully delivering a message, business professionals describe ideas, thoughts and directives that allow colleagues to work together efficiently, or for business negotiations to be concluded successfully.


Effective verbal communication begins by acknowledging what the audience needs.

By planning what he wants to say, how he wants to say it and seeking feedback on how the message was received, a business professional ensures successful communication.




It often seems that a business day is nothing more than a succession of meetings – which makes effective communication during those meetings, critical.


Verbal communication occurs in meetings when participants share their ideas.


Effective meeting organizers clearly define their objective(s), when setting up the meeting, and again at the commencement of the meeting.


If you do not outline your objectives when setting up the meeting, your delegates have no reason to want to attend your meeting or you may well end up with the wrong people attending your meeting.


It is critical to restate the objectives when the meeting convenes and to stick to the objectives throughout – if you don’t, you will lose focus and the job will not get done.


Make sure that you manage the meeting – if you have the right people around the table, it means you need the participation of all of those people – get everybody involved without allowing anybody to monopolise the agenda.


Presentations and Lectures


Effective verbal communication is key to presentations and lectures.

Vivid language, descriptive examples and supplementary visuals ensure a successful presentation.


By using short words and sentences, speakers tend to avoid confusion.


Effective presenters allow time for the audience to ask questions and provide comments.




Workshop organizers use verbal communication to direct the activities of participants.


By providing clear instructions for group, the facilitator ensures a positive development experience.


Using effective verbal communication, leaders guide participants in researching issues, solving problems, negotiating solutions and making decisions.


Remember that people attending workshops want to gain knowledge or achieve a specific result – but they also want to have fun and enjoy themselves!


[+ Conversations+]



Conversations typically involve two or more people discussing a topic.


Successful communicators use active listening skills such as repeating back what the other person has said where it is appropriate to do so. (repeating back everything makes you look like an idiot)


Good communicators also resist the temptation to interrupt and allow the other person to speak up as well to convey their thoughts. You have to do more than hear with the intention to reply – you have to listen with the intent to understand.


If the conversation occurs by telephone, the participants need to pay even more attention as those non-verbal queues are lot less.


Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace


Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) cues between people.


Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch, by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact, which are all considered types of nonverbal communication.


Speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume, and speaking style.


The wrong message can be established if the body language conveyed does not match a verbal message – usually the message that sticks is the non-verbal one.


First encounters or interactions with another person strongly affect a person’s perception as we are inherently lazy so we rely on subconscious cues to set up our state of mind for any given situation. This is why we stereotype – our cues triggers specific expectations of a situation based on past experience – effectively our minds are already made up by the cue before the situation has even had a chance to develop.




Posture can be used to determine a participant’s degree of attention or involvement, the difference in status between communicators, and the level of fondness a person has for the other communicator, depending on body “openness”.


Posture can be situation-relative, that is, people will change their posture depending on the situation they are in.


Posture is a killer when it comes to delivery or receipt of a message. A negative posture can end the conversation before it even starts as it will “cue-up” an immediate counter negativity. We have all tried to speak to a person who is already “huffy” before you have said a word – and usually you respond by being “huffy” before you even say a thing.




Again this is a minefield, but the way you dress conveys nonverbal clues or suggestions about your personality, background and financial status / culture, mood, level of confidence, interests, age, authority, value/beliefs, their sexual identity, etc.

People will respond to that – hence the importance of dressing fit for purpose.


It is important to keep your identity and I respect that, but you cannot expect to be taken seriously in a boardroom if you come shuffling in there with your jeans hovering under your bum and a t-shirt that is seven sizes too large.


The same goes for a lady – while I will not stereotype “dressing like a slut”, I will point out that if you are going to put everything on display, you are going to end up being evaluated on that display, rather than your mind – it is a man thing – forgive us…




Gestures may be made with the hands, arms or body, and also include movements of the head, face and eyes, such as winking, nodding, or rolling one’s eyes.


A single emblematic gesture can have a very different significance in different cultural contexts, ranging from complimentary to highly offensive – so make sure you know your audience!


Facial expressions, more than anything, serve as a practical means of communication.


Displays of emotions can generally be categorized into two groups: negative and positive.


Negative emotions usually manifest as increased tension in various muscle groups:

tightening of jaw muscles, furrowing of forehead, squinting eyes, or lip occlusion (when the lips seemingly disappear).


In contrast, positive emotions are mostly revealed by the loosening of the furrowed lines on the forehead, relaxation of the muscles around the mouth, and widening of the eye area.


Watch yourself when it comes to your posture and especially your facial expressions. Some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves – and you tend to lose the audience much easier through showing your emotions than not – especially since those negatives are much harder-hitting than the positives.




Eye contact is when two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time; it is the primary nonverbal way we indicate engagement, interest, attention, and involvement.

Men and women have different ways of eye contact.

Disinterest is highly noticeable when showing little eye contact in a social setting.

People, sometimes, even, without consciously doing so, probe each other’s eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs.


Again be very careful before jumping to conclusions or engaging in specific context here – in many cultures prolonged engagement is considered rude – or worse.

- Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before you engage.

- In many cultures touching is a no-no!

- Prolonged eye-contact may be considered rude.

- Grand gestures may be seen as intimidating or rude.


Also understand the usual – but also the alternate – meanings of facial expressions, before you jump to conclusions. A typical mistake would be to think that averting a gaze is indicative of furtiveness – but more often than not creatives will look away when thinking or gathering their thoughts – so do not think that you have all the answers from a single non-verbal cue!




Written Communication in the Workplace




Written correspondence runs the gamut from a simple email to an applicant’s cover letter used to apply for a job. It also includes press releases, newsletters, news stories, columns, commentary, photo captions and a whole lot more.

Effective written communication skills start with using the proper format for the type of correspondence you want to send. An E-mail to mom will not be written in the same way as a cover letter for a job application.




The purpose of your communication should be clear from the beginning. Keep everything as concise as possible – I am not the only one to delete long e-mails on the presumption that your mail will be the same rambling candyfloss as the previous seven…



There is no excuse for sending a communication that contains a slew of spelling errors and poor grammar. Use you grammar and spell checker or have someone proofread your work, if possible, before sending it out.




The tone of the correspondence goes a long way in making it effective.


It is imperative to match the tone to the audience.

Cover letters for job openings, corporate communications and even e-mails to your boss should be wholly professional.

Always remember that the recipient does not have an inkling of your intent – so always accept that what can be construed negatively, will be construed negatively.


I have seen more fights start on e-mail, whatsup, face book etc than anywhere else – and that is for three reasons:


- those positive non-verbal cues are not there to put things in context;

- we tend to think the worst by default;

- we all tend to be a bit more aggressive when hiding behind a keyboard.


]Improving verbal and written skills]


- Weed out anything unnecessary.


The more you write, the more can be interpreted negatively.


- When you speak, eliminate saying “uh” and “um” and vocabulary that adds no value, such as saying “like” in between other words.


We all know how irritating it is when somebody keeps popping that horrid little catchphrase into every second sentence – but we all do the same thing. Be alert to those phrases and mannerisms – especially if you are a public speaker!


- When you write, edit out extra words and descriptions that take up space without giving your reader any information.


- Expand your vocabulary.


Use the right word at the right time – and make sure you know how to pronounce it before you do your thing on national tv? Increasing the pool of words you know will also help you become more precise. You will be better equipped to choose words that convey exactly what you mean.


- Practice speaking or reading your work alone and in front of other people.


Watch and listen to yourself to hear phrases that sound awkward, and realize where you fumble for words. Rather feel stupid in front of the mirror than confirm it in front of the millions and millions of adoring fans.


- Know your audience.


Making your communication specific to your individual audience keeps people engaged and prevents you from sounding canned.




Barriers to effective communication


Planning, preparation and practice of communication will be incomplete and unsuccessful unless one identifies and understands the barriers to communication.


These barriers are physical, sociological and psychological obstacles that interfere with the planning, organization, transmission and understanding of the message – and there are quite a few of those!


When the communicator transmits the idea in an unchanged and undistorted form to the receiver and the receiver responds to it, then, the process of the communication is supposed to have been perfect – but this process of ‘perfect’ communication is as rare as hen’s teeth.


If you want to make sure your message gets across, you need to familiarise yourself with the reasons for poor communication in order to overcome those issues and barriers effectively.


Language Barrier


Lack of common language


If the communicator and the receiver belong to different language groups, their ignorance of each other’s language or the lack of common language will be a barrier to communication between them. It is not possible for them to communicate with each other unless they know some common language, which is properly understood by both of them.


When we refer to a proper understanding, we need to tread carefully – you may be a fluent speaker but you may still be unable to grasp certain concepts that the other party may take for granted such as the names and descriptions of geometric shapes.

Semantic Barrier


A word may have a variety of meanings and the meaning attributed to a word by the communicator may not be the same as that of the receiver’s attributed meanings of that word. A word can have different meaning to different people at different occasions.

The use of jargon or slang is a definite risk here – and even the age of a speaker – an example of this would be the meaning of the word gay – if you are seventy, gay and happy are the same thing – but not for those born a generation later…

Poor vocabulary


Poor vocabulary makes it more difficult and less effective to get our message across.


Words stand not only for their meanings but they are also charged with action and emotions. When the communicator and the receiver understand these word-associations, they are capable of using them as living entities – but if you have one understanding and I have another, we will be on different pages altogether.

Poor grammar and punctuation


Poor knowledge of grammar and punctuation is a barrier to verbal communication. A good vocabulary is useless unless the communicator acquires the knowledge of how to use it in a sentence.

There and their, to and too, your and you’re, the list is endless.


I don’t even want to guess how often I have agreed with somebody who said that they are boring…do you think the message was understood when I agreed?


Physical Barriers



Noise interferes with the transmission of the signals – in fact we could refer to noise as interference of any nature that distorts the original message.


This disturbance is usually in the form of sounds, but it need not be always the sounds. The interference can be visual, audio-visual, written, physical or even of a psychological nature – any ‘unwanted’ signal or message which interferes or disturbs the reception of the intended signal or message, can be deemed to be “noise’ or “interference”.


A typical example will be the distraction a TV causes when you are visiting a friend.



The frequency of communication affects human relationships, as does the intensity of the encounters and the amount of time that passes between these encounters.


While there is a certain truth to the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder, I would advise against bargaining on it – neither love nor friendships survive long term separation.


If the employee does not communicate with their superiors for a long time, it will probably create a communication gap between them, which will affect their long-term relationship.

Realistically you cannot expect to maintain contact with everybody all of the time – but for parties to understand each other well, they need to be in contact regularly.




The distance between the communicator and the receiver can be a strong barrier to communication, if the technical devices of communication such as telephone, Skype, etc. are not available to link them.


Even with the technical advances made, there is no communication as effective as face-to-face communication, and with obvious reason.



The age, maturity, educational background and the eras in which a person grows up make a generation, which inevitably comes in the way of human communication.


As indicated earlier, the generation gap becomes obvious in our use of vocabulary, style of speeches and the values to which we adhere.


Gender and related matters


Men and women communicate with one another according to their gender and aspects such as sexual preference, norms, morals, religion etc.


At risk of stereotyping, the following is typical:


- When they work together in a group, men tend to be more assertive, acquisitive, self -confidence and aggressive than women.

- Women are more likely than men to express their emotions and feelings about a situation.

- Both genders are more comfortable working with and being in the company of members of the opposite sex who prefer same-sex relationships.

- Relationships between persons of differing religions are usually uneasy even when the mutual respect is there. Much of this has to do with the fact that the differences are often deeply rooted and what is completely natural in one religion is unacceptable in the other. Keeping these do’s and do not’s in mind all of the time is a challenge.


While it is important to bear all of this in mind when communicating a message, it is also important that the recipient bear these factors in mind when receiving.


We place a lot of emphasis on being politically correct when communicating – it will go a long way toward good communication if the recipients also bear in mind that the perspective of the sender must also be respected.


[+ Social-psychological Barriers+]


Over the years I have come to realise that the social-psychological barriers are the toughest to deal with – mostly because many of those barriers are there by choice and that the owners do not want to budge an inch.

Status barrier


The person’s abilities, amount of pay, job-skills, seniority; type of work assigned, age, etc. reflects the degree of power, authority, importance and responsibility placed on an individual by the other people in the society.


Interestingly, it is often the people around the wearer of the crown that have the most air – typical examples will be the wife of the surgeon or the children of the CEO.


Going back to what was said about stepping into the boardroom to do a presentation – those who a status-aware are easy to affront – but the opposite can also happen where “too much” respect could be interpreted as brown nosing.


Also bear in mind again that sometimes a status could have been assigned in terms of religion or similar – the rules applicable could then be absolute, for instance any physical contact may be taboo – your polite offer to shake hands may have been the end of any hope for negotiation.


Bottom line? Know who you are dealing with…


Attitudes and values


Attitudes serve the personal needs of the people – those needs and the effort to satisfy them are the wellspring of attitude. Attitude reflects what we are about.


We all prefer a message which is favourable and palatable to our opinions, values, norms and attitudes.


The message which runs contrary to our views and beliefs, is not easily acceptable to us even when it is factual and true – and if there is a cohesive group receiving the message they do not want to hear, they will convince each other that it is not true – that is one of the dangers of dealing with groups.


It is imperative that you know as much as possible before you start communicating – about the other party and the topic – ask anybody trying to deal with a rebellious teenager!


Different perception of reality


Off the bat I want to state that reality and facts are irrelevant – the only thing that matters is your perception.


Because your perception is your reality.

I know, I know – the facts are supposed to rule – but they don’t – and the sooner you realise that, the better you will be able to communicate successfully – because once you realise it is all about perception, the sooner you will be able to “speak their language” (Personally I struggle with this – I have a really hard time to get past the facts and the weight they are supposed to carry…)


If you want the perfect example, listen to the heated discussions that follow any sporting competition – sometimes you wonder whether the debaters even watched the same game!



As inferences go beyond the facts in making certain statements, they can give wrong signals too.

Our inferences are based on assumptions, which usually prove correct, but we must be aware of the probability that they may sometimes prove incorrect.




We use language to communicate our experiences and feelings, but we cannot communicate every detail of it. We cannot communicate every detail of our experience to others. Also, we focus our attention on some details and do not bother about the rest. When we try to convert our experiences and observations into words, we further abstract it by using selected words, which involve leaving out the details.


[+ Closed-Mindedness+]


It is very difficult to communicate with a man who has deeply rooted prejudiced mind. Such a man is not prepared to receive any message on a subject about which he assumes to know everything. His mind is closed to new ideas, facts and suggestions.


Distortion, filtering and editing


When a message is transmitted through translations, interpretations, explanations and simplifications, some part of it gets distorted or lost. The accuracy of the message is lost and the transmission becomes imperfect as the message goes through the filters of translations and simplifications. The upward communication also tends to be distorted and filtered. The negative effects of the informal channel like grapevine are due to distortions and filtering.


Bad listening


Bad listening is one of the major communication problems. Misunderstanding and conflicts can be reduced if people would listen the message with enough attention. Most people do not listen very well due to various distractions, emotions, excitement, indifference, aggressiveness and wandering attention. One of the major reasons for bad listening is an individual’s continual thinking about his own problems and worries. The poor listeners always feel that the thought in his mind is more interesting than what the speaker is saying. Some listeners mentally argue with the speaker before comprehending the complete message.




Negative emotions are obstacles in the communication. Usually, the positive emotions such as joy, love or affection do not interfere with communication, but the negative emotions act as strong barriers to effective communication. This is especially true when one’s negative emotion is uncontrolled and misdirected


Active listening


Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.”


When interacting, people often “wait to speak” rather than listening attentively. They might also be distracted. Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the “function” of communicating objectively.


Primary elements


There are three key elements of active listening: comprehending, retaining and responding.


- Comprehending:

Comprehension is “shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction”. Determining the context and meanings of each word is essential to comprehending a sentence.


- Retaining:

Memory is essential to the listening process because the information we retain when involved in the listening process is how we create meaning from words. There are many reasons why we forget some information – for example you aren’t paying attention when you receive the information. Using information immediately after receiving it enhances information retention and lessens the forgetting curve Mindful listening is active listening.


- Responding:

Listening is an interaction between speaker and listener. It adds action to a normally passive process. The speaker looks for verbal and nonverbal responses from the listener to determine if the message is being listened to. Usually the response is nonverbal because if the response is verbal the speaker/listener roles are reversed so the listener becomes the speaker and is no longer listening Based on the response the speaker chooses to either adjust or continue with his/her communication style.



Active listening involves the listener observing the speaker’s behaviour and body language. Having the ability to interpret a person’s body language lets the listener develop a more accurate understanding of the speaker’s message. In emotionally charged communications, the listener may listen for feelings. Thus, rather than merely repeating what the speaker has said, the active listener will describe the underlying emotion (“You seem to feel angry,” or “You seem to feel frustrated, is that because … ?”).


Individuals in conflict often contradict each other. This has the effect of denying the validity of the other person’s position.

The proper use of active listening results in getting people to open up, avoiding misunderstandings, resolving conflict, and building trust.

Barriers to active listening


All elements of communication, including listening, may be affected by barriers that can impede the flow of conversation.


Such barriers include distractions, trigger words, vocabulary, and limited attention span.


Frequently, the listener’s personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices lead to ineffective communication.


Steps to provide feedback in difficult conversations


Conflict avoidance is most frequently the topic when conflict in organizations is discussed.


Conflict resolution – as quickly as possible – is the second most frequent topic.


This is bad news because meaningful work conflict is a cornerstone in healthy, successful organizations.


Conflict is necessary for effective problem solving and for effective interpersonal relationships.

Why People Don’t Participate in Appropriate Work Conflict


There are many reasons why people don’t stand up for their beliefs and bring important differences to the table. Why?

- Conflict is usually uncomfortable.

- Many people don’t know how to participate in and manage work conflict in a positive way.

- If poorly managed, people sometimes get hurt and they then become defensive because they feel under attack personally

Why Appropriate Work Conflict Is Important


Effectively managed work conflict has many positive results for an organization.

- Disagreements often / should result in a more thorough study of options and better decisions and direction.

Tips for Participating in Healthy Work Conflict


- Create a work environment in which healthy conflict is encouraged by setting clear expectations.


- Foster an organizational culture or environment in which differences of opinion are encouraged. Make differences the expectation and healthy debate about issues and ideas the norm. If organizational goals are aligned and all employees are moving in the same direction, healthy work conflict about how to get there will be respected.


- If you are a manager or team leader, you need the team to speak up when they disagree or have an opinion that is different from others in the group.


- Reward, recognize, and thank people who are willing to take a stand and support their position.

You can publicly thank people who are willing to disagree with the direction of a group. Your recognition system, bonus system, pay and benefits package, and performance management process should all reward the employees who practice personal organizational courage and pursue appropriate work conflict.


- Expect people to support their opinions and recommendations with data and facts.

Divergent opinions are encouraged, but the opinions are arrived at through the study of data and facts. Staff members must be encouraged to collect data that will illuminate the process or problem.


- Create a group norm that conflict around ideas and direction is expected and that personal attacks are not tolerated.

Any group that comes together regularly benefits from group norms. These are the relationship guidelines or rules group members agree to follow. These guidelines set up the expectation that personal attacks are not tolerated whereas healthy debate about ideas and options is encouraged.


- Provide employees with training in healthy conflict and problem solving skills.

Sometimes people fail to stand up for their beliefs because they don’t know how to do so comfortably. Your staff will benefit from education and training in interpersonal communication, problem solving and conflict resolution.


- Hire people who you believe will add value to your organization with their willingness to problem solve and debate.


Actions to Avoid in Conflict Resolution


- Do not avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away.


- Do not meet separately with people in conflict.


- Do not believe, for even a moment, the only people who are affected by the conflict are the participants.


How to Mediate and Resolve Conflict


Meet with the antagonists together


- Let each briefly summarize their point of view, without comment or interruption by the other party. This should be a short discussion so that all parties are clear about the disagreement and conflicting views.

- Intervene if either employee attacks the other employee. This is not acceptable.


- Ask each participant to describe specific actions they’d like to see the other party take that would resolve the differences. Three or four suggestions work well.


All participants discuss and commit to making the changes necessary to resolve the conflict


- Commit to noticing that the other person has made a change, no matter how small.


- Commit to treating each other with dignity and respect. It is okay to have reasonable disagreements over issues and plans; it is never okay to have personality conflicts that affect the workplace.


Let the antagonists know that you will not choose sides


It is important that everybody recognises that it is impossible for a person external to the conflict to know the truth of the matter – the expectation is for the individuals to resolve the conflicts proactively as adults.


Finally, assure both parties that you have every faith in their ability to resolve their differences


- The parties involved need to know that they are expected and trusted to resolve the conflict and to get on with their successful contributions within the organization.


Mediating a conflict is challenging, but as a manager or supervisor, the role of mediator comes with your territory. Your willingness to appropriately intervene sets the stage for your own success. You craft a work environment that enables the success of the people who work there.


E-mail etiquette


Be informal, not sloppy


Your colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in e-mail, but when communicating with external customers, everyone should follow standard writing protocol.


Your e-mail message reflects you and your company, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.


Keep messages brief and to the point


Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be long. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.


Use sentence case


USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU’RE SHOUTING. (the disclaimer at the end of the mail does not change the effect either – it looks bad and it is not comfortable to read – so why do it?)


Using all lowercase letters looks lazy.


For emphasis, use asterisks or bold formatting to emphasize important words.


Do not, however, use a lot of colours or graphics embedded in your message – not all e-mail programs and standards (i.e. plain text) will display them.


Use the blind copy and courtesy copy appropriately


To cc half the literate world when you are having a difference of opinion is a great way to escalate a fight – not only are you wasting the time of the onlookers, you are making them uncomfortable and you are adding fuel to the fire by “going public” – bad form!


Don’t use e-mail as an excuse to avoid personal contact


Don’t forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail communication isn’t appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages.. Don’t use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.


Be especially careful if you want to use e-mail to avoid face-to-face.

As a rule of thumb, never do it by e-mail if you wouldn’t do it face-to-face.

We usually want to avoid face-to-face because there is a chance of an emotional response – most of the time that would be anger.

Knowing how easy it is to read the worst into words when the non-verbal communication is not there to put it into context, does it still seem like a good idea to e-mail?

Remember that e-mail isn’t private


I’ve seen people fired for using e-mail inappropriately.

E-mail is considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law.

Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that e-mail over the Internet is not secure.

Never put in an e-mail message anything that you wouldn’t put on a postcard – one to be read by your spouse, boss and mother…

Be sparing with group e-mail


Send group e-mail only when it’s useful to every recipient.

Use the “reply all” button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add. Recipients get quite annoyed to open an e-mail that says only “Me too!”

Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose


Respect the time of others – make sure they can understand why they need to pay attention to your mail at first glance.


Don’t send chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail


Spam filters are great, but the best filter is not sending rubbish.

Also bear in mind that if you are the recognised purveyor of nonsense, all your mails will get the same treatment when they arrive – the delete button…

Remember that your tone can’t be heard in e-mail


In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons, but use them sparingly so that you don’t appear unprofessional. Also, don’t assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message.


Use a signature that includes contact information


To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Web site, and phone number.

I don’t think I am the only person to be annoyed off the bat when I receive a “business” mail and I don’t know who is addressing me…


What are the traditional models of communication?


How can I use the traditional models of communication to my advantage?


Linear Model


It is a one way model to communicate with others. It consists of the sender encoding a message and channelling it to the receiver in the presence of noise.


This is the classic “I say – you do” or “me-to-the-world-from-my-perch-on-the-apple-box” approach.


Draw backs:


- The linear model assumes that there is a clear cut beginning and end to communication.

- There no feedback from the receiver, so we have no idea what was received.


The typical example is mass communication – television, radio, newspapers (we know how accurate those are…).

Interactive Model


Basically this is two linear models stacked on top of each other.


The sender channels a message to the receiver and the receiver then becomes the sender and channels a message to the original sender.


This model has added feedback, thus indicating that communication is not a one way but a two way process.


Draw backs:


- There is feedback, but it is not “interactive”.


The typical example is instant messaging.

The sender sends an IM to the receiver, then the original sender has to wait for the IM from the original receiver to react.

Transactional Model


It assumes that people are connected through communication; they engage in transaction.

The first important point is that it recognizes that each of us is a sender-receiver, not merely a sender or a receiver. (remember what we said about posture while being addressed?)


Secondly, it recognizes that communication affects all parties involved – communication is fluid/simultaneous.


The typical example of this model is a regular conversation.

While your friend is talking you are constantly giving them feedback on what you think through your facial expression verbal feedback without necessarily stopping your friend from talking. There is a constant back and forth.


It is critical for you as a manager or leader to understand the place each of these models has in the work environment:


- Reporting is a linear exercise.

- Listening and responding to complaints will usually be an interactive exercise as it is important to give the person who is complaining the opportunity to finish what they are saying before you start with your response.

- General conversations are transactional as there is a constant exchange of verbal and non-verbal information.


Time is not on your side – effective and structured communication


Good managers communicate


Without communication there is no team and no organisation.


Communication is not only about information – it is about relationships and interaction.

This makes it difficult because you are talking about character and personality as well as knowledge and information.


Any adult will have more than a little experience of the issues encountered around miscommunication, personality clashes, personal strengths and weaknesses, willingness (or unwillingness) to share info and knowledge etc., but if you are a manager you must put all of that aside if you are to be successful.


Unless information is confidential, you have no right to disempower your team by withholding information.


If you withhold information, you will not only lose the trust of your team, you will create the impression that you are trying to protect your position by keeping everybody in the dark and thus eroding the respect you have earned from your subordinates and cultivating the impression that you are insecure.


360º performance feedback


Conduct a T-Account at least monthly (a T-Account is a balance sheet of positives and negatives)


Ask your team (frequently) what it is you can do to be a better manager for them, bearing in mind that you do not need to act on all feedback you receive, but you need to take into account what is being said and why.


Take the time to ensure each team member understands what is expected of them and ensure they are eager and capable of delivering.


It is important to understand that the 360˚ is totally dependent on maturity of the organisation and the individuals involved – it is pretty much a matter of you take it from who it is coming from.


If you are operating in a high performance environment with a team of creatives, you are going to see very different results as to operating in a coal-face environment where you are trying to draw blood from a stone.

The main issue here is to make sure that you understand what they are thinking – no matter what it is – rightly or wrongly, you need to understand their perceptions in order for you to operate efficiently.


The more uncomfortable bit is where you also have to assess your own maturity with regards to your self-evaluation. This is an uncomfortable exercise.

Especially in this day and age you have to realise that being right and doing the right thing, is not the issue anymore – it is not enough.

More often than not, being right and doing the right thing will bring you in conflict with others – and that can already make you the loser.


If you find yourself in this situation, you need to tick the “am I right?” box – and move straight on.

Focus your attention on how you handle the situation – find ways to get what you need without putting your head on the block – and sometimes make your peace with the fact that being right is irrelevant – pursuing the matter will cost you more than it is worth.

Accepting that fact will be the measure of your own maturity.

Meetings, Meeting cycles and Meeting Principles


Meetings are a necessity as they form part of organisational communication, planning, control etc.


Unfortunately meetings are also the bane of many organisations as there are far too many meetings; the meetings achieve no positive results and the meetings in fact keep people from attending to real issues – the classic activity instead of productivity scenario.


In order to ensure meetings serve their purpose it is imperative that you adhere to the basic meeting principles and effectively manage your meetings.


Meeting principles


These include simple principles such as:


- inviting only those attendees required;


- clearly note the issues under discussion beforehand


- distribute the agenda and all pertinent material beforehand – this will also inform attendees whether they should be attending, or whether a substitute may be better i.e. somebody with more technical background etc


- be prepared for the meeting – be conversant with the material provided and the issues at hand


- where possible scheduling meeting well in advance or if required, as a recurring series (this ensures a drumbeat to work to)


- schedule enough time to deal with the matters at hand – but not too much or the meeting will degenerate and it will eat into production time


Meeting management


Abide by simple rules such as:


- be on time;


- Insist on full attendance during key meetings


- focusing on the agenda items during the meeting;


- reach decisions;


- Take personal responsibility for the quality of your own meetings.



Communicating important decisions


A common criticism about management, is that they often announce important decisions with little or no explanation, rationale, or indication of the precise results they hope to achieve.


Moreover, these complaints often come from line managers who say they are often required to explain senior management decisions to their workforce, with only the vaguest understanding to back them up. ”Foolish” and “uninformed” are words these line managers often use to describe how they feel.


In today’s business and public sector worlds, “just do it because I said so” is an approach to management that rarely succeeds.

Whether we like a decision or not, most of us want an explanation supporting the important decisions that directly affect us.

While many small management decisions — yes, you can have Friday off — require little or no explanation at all, as a general rule, managers should spend a proportionally appropriate amount of time crafting an effective communication message, depending upon the importance of the decision itself.


While the exact wording of an important communiqué is always optional, the following guidelines are recommended:



- The attention span of most humans is short to begin with and can easily be shortened further by a plethora of words.

The goal is to accommodate the human attention span, not test its endurance.


- Always bear in mind that the more you say, they more there is to interpret in the wrong way.



- This may sound simplistic but clarity is often obscured by attempts to say too much, or by your choice of words.


- Don’t take anything for granted when you communicate – your triangle and mine will not look the same unless you stipulate the dimensions.



- The goal here is not to sell your decision to others or justify your action – managers are empowered to make decisions, so they require no justification.


- Rather, the goal is to clearly and simply communicate the reasoning that led you to the decision you made so that the team can believe in you and the decision. You need the team to buy into your decision or you will not achieve the intended result – trust me – if they do not want it to work, they will find away to make it fail.


- The other very important reason you want to put your reasoning out there, is that you may be WRONG.

We are fallible – if you are about to make a mistake, rather have it brought to your attention early and change course – you will look like bigger fool if you leave it until later – in fact you will look a lot better and garner respect if you recognise your mistakes and correct them – and the team will have more trust in your judgement and leadership.



- If you cannot measure it, it is nothing more than candyfloss.

We don’t do things just to do them – we do things to improve – and there can be no claim of improvement if you cannot measure it.


- Letting a workforce know that you intend to measure results — and sharing the measures you intend to use — is a powerful message that enhances your managerial credibility.



Putting an exact time frame on the re-evaluation process lends credibility to the promise it contains and forces some form of tracking process to fulfil the promise – and stick to the promise to check – again it speaks to your credibility


Emotion coaching


What is Emotional Intelligence?


When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ) – maybe even more.


Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your career and personal goals.


Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.


If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.


Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes


[+ Self-awareness+]


You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour, you know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.


[+ Self-management+]


You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.


Social awareness


You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.


Relationship management


You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.


Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important?


As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life.


IQ can help you get into college but it’s EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions of sitting your final exams.


Emotional intelligence affects:


– Your performance at work.

Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career.


– Your physical health.

If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process.

The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.


– Your mental health.

Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression.


– Your relationships.

By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

How to raise your emotional intelligence


To improve your emotional intelligence—and your decision-making abilities—you need to understand and control the emotional side of your brain. This is done by developing the five key EQ skills – each of these skills build on the last

[]Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 1: Rapidly reduce stress


Being able to quickly calm yourself down and relieve stress helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control–no matter what challenges you face or how stressful a situation becomes.


Stress is not a weakness – it is a reality.

Recognising what puts stress on you, what behaviour you exhibit and how to deal with that is good self management – a sign of emotional maturity or high EQ.

We all respond differently to different stressors – take your ego out of the equation – evaluate objectively, create solutions and move on – that is what makes you strong.


Stress busting requires three steps:


– Realize when you’re stressed


The first step to reducing stress is recognizing what stress feels like.

Start with the physical signs – how does your body feel when you’re stressed?

Being aware of your physical state when stressed will alert you to the condition and regulate it when it occurs.

Recognise your mental alerts – be aware of specific thought patterns. We allow or self talk and role-plays to get away from ourselves – either shut it down or change the direction immediately – remember your mind does not know that it is not real!


– Identify your stress response


Everyone reacts differently to stress – and the different types of stress.

Identify how you feel when you are stressed, what reactions you exhibit and what counters that. Consciously engage in the counter- measure.

Physical signs are usually knotted muscles, pains etc.

Mental signs are usually role-plays and self-talk.


– Discover the stress-busting techniques that work for you


One of the best ways to reduce stress quickly is by engaging one or more of your senses.

Each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing and/or energizing to you – you can relieve stress by surrounding yourself with input that you find soothing to you i.e. a cup of coffee, a piece of music or anything in between.

When dealing with stress you can attack the symptoms in order to start the treatment of the “disease”

When the physical signs manifest as knotted muscles, pains etc – stretch, walk it off, do a few exercises – if the symptom goes, the mind often accepts the situation as resolved.

Mental signposts of stress are usually role-plays and self-talk. Hit the reset button hard! Change your thinking immediately! Negative thoughts are incredibly powerful so kill them as embryo’s – to neutralise one of these suckers you have to load a hundred positives on the other side of the scale – and they breed faster than rabbits!

I literally think “Reset, Reset, Reset” and then I get some other thought in there – sometimes you are going to do that a dozen times before it will work – or more…



Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 2: Emotional awareness


Having a moment-to-moment awareness of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions, is the key to understanding yourself and others.


Many people are disconnected from their emotions. This is a problem because even though we can distort, deny, or numb our feelings, we can’t eliminate them – but they will be influencing our conduct.


Without emotional awareness, we are unable to fully understand our own motivations, responses, needs etc.


What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?


- Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?


- Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?


- Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?


- Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?


- Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?


If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In order to be emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent, you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, become comfortable with them and be in control of them.


Developing emotional awareness


Emotional awareness can be learned at any time of life.

When you can manage stress, you’ll feel more comfortable reconnecting to strong or unpleasant emotions and changing the way you experience and respond to your feelings.


Emotional intelligence skill (EQ) 3: Nonverbal communication


Being a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills. Often, what you say is less important than how you say it or the other nonverbal signals you send out. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, you need to be aware of and in control of this non-verbal communication. You also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send you.


These messages don’t stop when someone stops speaking. Even when you’re silent, you’re still communicating nonverbally.


Tips for improving nonverbal communication


Successful nonverbal communication depends on your ability to manage stress, recognize your own emotions, and understand the signals you’re sending and receiving.


When communicating:


- Focus on the other person.


If you are planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, or thinking about something else, you are almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and other subtleties in the conversation.


You will also be almost guaranteed to be sending out negative non-verbals if you are not attentive – the other party will be picking up on the fact that you are not following the conversation – and by implication, that you are not interested in what they have to add.


- Make eye contact.


Eye contact can communicate interest, maintain the flow of a conversation, and help gauge the other person’s response – subject to cultural rules of course.


Control your eye contact – you must be interested – not aggressive, leering etc…


- Pay attention to nonverbal cues you’re sending and receiving


Facial expression, tone of voice, posture and gestures, touch, and the timing and pace of the conversation speak volumes – be alert to what they are telling you and adjust as necessary.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 4: Use humour and play to deal with challenges


Humour, laughter, and play are natural antidotes to life’s difficulties.


Playful communication broadens your emotional intelligence and helps you:

- Take hardships in your stride.

- Smooth over differences.

- Simultaneously relax and energize yourself

- Become more creative.


How to develop playful communication:


- Try setting aside regular, quality playtime.

- Find enjoyable activities that loosen you up and help you embrace your playful nature.

- Practice by playing with animals, babies, young children, and outgoing people who appreciate playful banter.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 5: Resolve conflict positively


Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships.

Two people can’t possibly have the same needs, opinions, and expectations at all times.


Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people.


When conflict isn’t perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships.


Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate nonverbally, and use humour and play, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotionally-charged situations and catch and defuse many issues before they escalate.


Tips for resolving conflict in a trust-building way:


- Stay focused in the present.


Digging up the old cows will just add fuel to the fire and have the whole argument spin out of control. Deal with the current issue and nothing other than the current issue. When other issues get pulled into the argument, it is guaranteed to escalate – stay with the current issue, end the argument or take a time out – escalating arguments never end positively.


- Choose your arguments.


Choose your arguments on worth – some things are simply not worth it. When we ask whether it is worth it, you have to evaluate a few aspects:

a) what do you stand to gain?

b) what will it cost you?

c) why are you prepared to pursue the issue?


The reality is that the most heated exchanges are usually a dead loss – even if you “win” you will gain nothing – but the cost in bad blood may be very high. More often you will not “win” – you will just have ensured that you have another person or persons bearing a grudge against you.

When we ask why we are prepared to pursue the issue, we usually have 100 reasons – but in the end it will more often than not, come down to ego. You can be sure that 99/100 times, the more vehement our response, the bigger the ego-threat.

We hate the ‘humiliation” of conceding the point – especially when we are “right”.

Now remember what I said of perception?

Right and wrong are irrelevant as long as the perception on the other side is not the same – and if the perception is not going to change when confronted with “logic”, it is certainly not going to change when confronted with aggression.

If you cannot change the perception, you cannot “win” – by default that means you lose when you pursue the matter as there will only be growing negativity on the other side.

So what are your options?

Keep fighting on principle, or;

Let it go as a lost cause.


You ego will not like the latter, but it is logical – why waste the time and effort if there is nothing to gain? Accept that the cause is lost and change direction or focus – use your time and ability for something positive – invest yourself wisely.


- Forgive.


At the risk of sounding preachy, you need to forgive whenever and wherever possible.


If you carry that negative stuff with you, you are allowing a person who brings nothing positive to the party, free room and boarding in your mind.

Negative thoughts and emotions add absolutely no value to your world – you want to build your world – you cannot build or create or maintain negatively.


The act of “forgiving” has nothing to do with saying what that person did to you is ok – it is about letting go of your negative emotion on the topic – and you do that for your own wellbeing.

Nobody is saying that you must forget – you would be a fool to do so because you could well end up making the same mistake again – but don’t carry the cancer of negativity around inside you.


- End conflicts that can’t be resolved.


Sometimes we have to agree that we will disagree – no hard feelings.

There is nothing that says you have to agree on anything – in any situation there will either be a person with the authority or perhaps a majority vote.


State your case and after that a decision follows from the person in authority or the forum or whatever – and so be it – you did your duty when you stuck to the facts – now let it go.


The reality is that there are times that you can compromise – but if that is going to start a war within yourself, you have to stand your ground calmly and allow consequence to finish the discussion.


If the conflict cannot be resolved, walk away from it in a dignified and professional manner.


What to do with your emotions


Dealing with frustration


Stressful situations are all too common in a workplace that’s facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and department, process and other changes. Add economic woes, family and personal issues and it becomes harder and harder to manage your emotions – but that is exactly why it’s even more important for you to do so.


So, how can you become better at handling your emotions, and ‘choosing’ your reactions to bad situations?


Common Negative Emotions at Work:


- Frustration/irritation.

- Worry/nervousness.

- Anger/aggravation.

- Dislike.

- Disappointment/unhappiness.


Below are different strategies you can use to help you deal with each of these negative emotions.


[+ Frustration/Irritation+]


Frustration usually occurs when you feel stuck or trapped, or unable to move forward in some constructive way. Whatever the reason, it’s important to deal with feelings of frustration quickly, because they can easily lead to more negative emotions, such as anger. The kicker with frustration is that it grows – building on itself and each additional incident – and the dam usually bursts over something relatively inconsequential.


Here are some suggestions for dealing with frustration:


1) Stop and evaluate:


One of the best things you can do is mentally stop yourself, and look at the situation. Ask yourself why you feel frustrated. Acknowledge the issue – if you don’t, you cannot deal with it. The idea is to give the issue the recognition it is clamouring for – but you recognise it, categorise it and shelve it where it belongs – do not allow it to decide its own worth and importance, or it will go from being a politician to being the president…


2) Find something positive about the situation:


Thinking about a positive aspect of your situation often makes you look at things in a different way. This small change in your thinking can improve your mood.

[_ Don't get mad, just move on – in 99% of situations your anger and frustration will be wasted on the person causing it... _]


This is always easier said than done, but there is always a positive – even if it is just the fact that you applied the rules instead of allowing the situation to dictate to you. You may also find that as you get into this habit, you have a talent for spotting unusual angles, being philosophical or spotting the comical – it doesn’t matter what – the important thing is that you broke the negative cycle within yourself.


I will give you a simple example that a lady by the name of Taryn shared with me – as South Africans we can all identify with the frustration of minibus taxis driving like hooligans – but they may be the last vestige of client service in this country as that driver does whatever it takes to get his passengers from A to B faster – he stops wherever they want to be dropped off – even if it means to cut in front of 4 cars across two lanes in peak traffic – because the passenger wants to get off HERE!

Imagine that service in a government department?


Remember the last time you felt frustrated:


The last time you were frustrated about something, the situation probably worked out just fine after a while, right? Your feelings of frustration or irritation probably didn’t do much to solve the problem then, which means they’re not doing anything for you right now.


There is an adage that what you are stressing about now will not even matter a year from now. Sometimes this is not so, but the fact is that your mind cannot differentiate between thought and reality.


When you stress and fret and seethe and you are doing the self talk and role-plays etc, your mind, emotions, mental being is living the reality – again and again and again – that is bad news!


Reality is that more often than not we get worked up and nothing happens – so let it go – if it becomes reality, you will have plenty of opportunity to rumble…



[+ Worry/Nervousness+]


Worry can easily get out of control, if you allow it, and this can impact not only your mental health, but also your productivity, and your willingness to take risks at work.


Try these tips to deal with worrying:


1) Don’t surround yourself with worry and anxiety:


Don’t worry with everyone else. Worrying tends to lead to more worrying, and that isn’t good for anyone – especially if it is not your problem. Taking everybody’s issues on your shoulders is in fact stupid – not noble…


2) Breathe:


One of the first things that happens when you worry / get nervous / get tense, is your body tenses up – and that means you will not be breathing freely. Less oxygen to the mind means your best tool is starving – that is bad news.


Try deep-breathing exercises – This helps slow your breathing and your heart rate. Breathe in slowly for five seconds, then breathe out slowly for five seconds. Focus on your breathing, and nothing else. Do this at least five times.


3) Focus on how to improve the situation:


Write down your worries in a worry log – If you find that worries are churning around inside your mind, write them down in a notebook or ‘worry log,’ and then schedule a time to deal with them.

Before that “scheduled appointment”, you must put these worries from your mind, knowing that you’ll deal with them at the scheduled time.

When it comes to the time you’ve scheduled, conduct a proper risk analysis around these things, and take whatever actions are necessary to mitigate any risks – and then let it go until it is time to re-evaluate!


The purpose of this ‘scheduling” is to teach your mind discipline – problems will be attended to – but not when they clamour for attention…


Procrastinating has NEVER resolved a problem – but it ALWAYS makes things worse…


[+ Anger/Aggravation+]


Out-of-control anger is perhaps the most destructive emotion that people experience in the workplace – it’s also the emotion that most of us don’t handle very well.


If you have trouble managing your temper at work, then learning to control it is one of the best things you can do if you want to keep your job.


Try these suggestions to control your anger:


1) Watch for early signs of anger:


Only you know the danger signs when anger is building, so learn to recognize them when they begin. Stopping your anger early is key. See the signs as markers and act on them – discipline is the key to controlling your anger and the earlier you clamp down on it, the better your chances of staying in control of yourself.


2) If you start to get angry, stop what you’re doing:


The best way to control your anger is not to get angry – don’t “control” the fuse – cut it.


Close your eyes, and practice the deep-breathing exercise described earlier. This interrupts your angry thoughts, and it helps put you back on a more positive path.


Hit the reset button – literally.

Whether you find a pressure-point on your body or just think “reset” three times – you must do something consciously to halt the anger process.


Change your train of thought.

Think of something else, change your focus – the mind is in control – use that control to change direction.


3) Picture yourself when you’re angry:


If you imagine how you look and behave while you’re angry, it gives you some perspective on the situation. Would you want to work with someone like that? Probably not.


4) Realise that your anger is playing into “their” hands:


I am a perfectionist, I hope I can be considered intelligent and I know I am competent.

Unfortunately this tends to put me at loggerheads with a lot of people who do not share the same sentiments and traits.


One thing I have learnt over time is that once you become irritable, people make it about your conduct – the facts become irrelevant because you are now the ogre.

What you need to realise is that allowing your frustration to show, is giving them an out – so if you really want to stick to the facts, you cannot allow your frustration to surface – and anger even less so.


Know and understand your anger and frustration and the reasons for those – nobody is telling you to deny their existence – trying to do so will kill you eventually.


Recognise the signs, acknowledge the existence, evaluate the cause and response – then control it and focus on resolving the cause without allowing your emotion to become the focus of the engagement.




We’ve probably all had to work with someone we don’t like. But it’s important to be professional, no matter what.


Here are some ideas for working with people you dislike:


1) Be respectful:


If you have to work with someone you don’t get along with, then it’s time to set aside your pride and ego. Treat the person with courtesy and respect, as you would treat anyone else.


2) Be assertive


If the other person is rude and unprofessional, then firmly explain that you refuse to be treated that way, and calmly disengage.


[+ Disappointment/Unhappiness+]


Dealing with disappointment or unhappiness at work can be difficult. Of all the emotions (after anger) you might feel at work, these are the most likely to impact your productivity.


Here are some proactive steps you can take to cope with disappointment and unhappiness:


1) Look at your mind-set


Take a moment to realize that things won’t always go your way. If they did, life would be a straight road instead of one with hills and valleys, ups and downs, right? And it’s the hills and valleys that often make life so interesting.


2) Adjust around your goal


If you’re disappointed that you didn’t reach a goal, that doesn’t mean the goal is no longer reachable.

Keep the goal, but adjust the plan!

Once the mind has fixed on a goal anything is possible – maybe the timeline needs to change or the way you are going to get there – but if you set your mind on something the impossible becomes the ordinary. In life setbacks are inevitable – learn from them, adjust and push twice as hard…


3) Record your thoughts


What is making you unhappy? Is it a co-worker? Is it your job? Do you have too much to do?

Once you identify the problem, start brainstorming ways to solve it or work around it. Remember, you always have the power to change your situation – apply your mind


4) Smile!


Strange as it may sound, forcing a smile – or even a grimace – onto your face can often make you feel happy.

Try it – you may be surprised!



Key Points


We all have to deal with negative emotions at work – or home – sometimes, and learning how to cope with these feelings is now more important than ever. After all, negative emotions can spread, and no one wants to be around a person who adds negativity to a group.


Know what causes your negative emotions, and which types of feelings you face most often. When those emotions begin to appear, immediately start your strategy to interrupt the cycle. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pull yourself away from negative thinking.


Some of our biggest frustrations in life can come from our work environment.


When we care very much about what we are doing there is a passion to have it done well. The organization, or the systems in an organization don’t always seem to support what we think are improvements. When our desired changes aren’t implemented we are often frustrated.


If we become tired of the battle for change we are tempted to drop the fight. We give up caring because caring about it just becomes too painful. If we find ourselves saying “It doesn’t matter” or “I don’t really care”, this usually isn’t exactly true.


Change is a risk. The grass is not always greener on the other side – hence the need for a calculated risk in whatever choice you make. Leaving to sell ice-cream is an option – but what is the alternative?


Often the biggest factors that make our jobs unfulfilling are issues we can change. These factors have to do with what is going on inside us. If we identify and eliminate the judgments and victimizing stories that we carry around about our work, co-workers, promotion, recognition, and the nature of the work, we can alleviate many of the frustrations. Once we deal with our stories and our point of view, then we can make the decision to make changes or look elsewhere with clarity and be sure of our choices.


Know when you are being negative.

Seeing things for what they are is not being negative – not being able to formulate a positive response or outcome – that is where you become negative.

Being negative is a mindset where you accept that there is nothing you can do to improve your situation – you have given up and abandoned your fate to external factors – you are going to get your butt kicked and there is nothing you can do about it…


Read that again – to be negative means that YOU have given up – that is NOT about your situation – it is about your choice!


Dealing With Your Initial Response


Your immediate response is the most important one – it has the greatest scope for making things worse or better.


Here are some ideas how to overcome the natural urge to express your anger or fight back:

Step 1: Remain Calm


The first thing to do is remain calm, whether the rhetorical slap comes from a colleague or a boss.

Negative criticism can give rise to anger or feelings of inadequacy.

Expressing these emotions will only dig you deeper into a hole, and give your critic the high ground.

Step 2: Have the Point Repeated


Don’t pressure yourself to think of the perfect response on the spot – you probably won’t – the really cool ripostes only come to mind an hour later…


Simply and calmly repeat your critic’s complaints back to him, to make sure that you’ve understood him properly. Making steady eye contact and in a non-aggressive tone, say: “So, what you’re saying is.,” and put his criticisms in your own words. The goal here is to take the focus away from any personality clash, and place it squarely on substantive issues.


In many instances your critic will start backpedalling right there – if they are wrong. Be very careful to be factual and avoid the temptation to exaggerate – when the facts speak for themselves, don’t interrupt!

Step 3: Open up Both Perspectives


The objective repetition tactic may set your attacker off-balance, and inspire him or her to backtrack.


If so, now may be a good time to open a real discussion of the critique.


Note I said “may” – a good strategist knows when to take a victory and leave the field.


You may feel vindicated and pumped up for round 2 – just remember that your opponent just had his or her butt handed to them in a sling because they made a move that based on opinion / emotion – your counter could well be exactly the same!


Also remember that your opponent is smarting from defeat – if you keep pushing you are going to walk into a fight – on principle – is picking a fight here and now in your best interest?


If you choose to pursue the matter, a smart tactic would be to couch your response in language like “from my perspective”, or, “I can see how you might get that idea, but I probably haven’t properly explained that.”


This establishes respect as a key element of the conversation. You will have shown that you’re willing to look at things from his perspective, and you can see how he might have reasonably drawn the conclusions he has.

Now you’ll give him the opportunity to return the favour.


DO NOT attack the other party unless you want a fight – if you are going to come at this saying “ you this” and “you that” , you will be going on the attack and your opponent will be defending.


Step 4: Move on Politely


If, on the other hand, your critic holds firm even after you repeat his complaints in his own words, you’ll need some time to develop a good response.


You’ve shown that you’ve understood “where he’s coming from,” and hopefully you’ve done so without showing anger or other obvious emotion.


Now it’s time for a graceful exit.


“That’s certainly something to think about going forward, and I appreciate the feedback,” you might say.


This presents you as someone genuinely trying to do the best job possible – and places the focus on future interactions – it also allows you to exit stage left and now you have time to evaluate and plan your response.


Responding to a Critical Colleague


Well, you certainly have been given something to think about, and now you’ve bought some time.


The best possible response will depend, of course, on whether your critic is a colleague or a superior.


If it’s a colleague, the first thing to do is take the time-tested advice:


1) Consider the facts:


If you are wrong, you are wrong.

Accept being put straight graciously and move on.

Your ego may be slightly bruised, but the fact that you admit when you are wrong will score you credibility points with those who matter – and it will stand you in good stead the day you are right and stick to your guns, as people will know you as a person who will admit when you are wrong, so when you stand your ground, they will give you the benefit of the doubt on being right.


When you are right, things can get a bit tricky as being right is not always enough…


If you are going to get emotional, it will open create an opportunity for the focus to shift from the facts, to your conduct.


You will also have to evaluate whether pushing the issue is worth the fall-out.

Are there alternatives?

Remember that if you “win”, you are almost guaranteed that there will be resentment – is it worth it?


2) Consider the source:


Is he a respected voice within the company, or someone who criticizes others in a desperate attempt to shore up his own flagging reputation?

If it’s the latter, you may have already solved the problem by calmly repeating his criticism during the meeting.

“There he goes again,” other team members quite likely will have thought.


If your critic’s opinion carries weight within the company, it’s worth doing some damage limitation.

One good idea might be to suggest a meeting to hash out your differences.

Even if you find his or her reasoning flawed, don’t discount the chance that you might have something to learn from this.


If you think your critic is wrong, be open-minded but stick to your guns – graciously.


If your critic persists, and you are convinced that he or she is wrong, you might consider looking for buy-in from a superior.


Be careful not to launch a personal attack – accurately portray both sides of the argument, and explain that that you understand the alternate point of view, but that your side is better.

Again, even if your boss sides with your critic, you’ll come off as someone actively looking out for the company’s best interest even though you have a different point of view.


Tangling With the Boss


What, though, if your critic is your boss?

This is a knottier problem.

First, schedule a meeting, and hear him or her out.

Are you sure the criticism isn’t valid?

If, on balance, he or she make sense, then cede the point, and adjust your approach appropriately. In most instances the boss expects and likes to be right. If you conducted yourself politely and then “learn’ from the boss, there will be no issue – to the contrary!


If you remain convinced that the criticisms fall wide of the mark, and he or she persists in making them, try graciously, through one-on-one meetings, to bring him or her round to your view.

Failing that, you might request a meeting with someone higher up the ladder.

In doing so, though, recognize that you risk undermining your position further. The boss’s boss may see things your way – but if you are wrong or there is some other negative perception, you could be digging yourself deeper into a hole.


Again, if you are making your case to a senior, make your case as calmly and rationally as possible – stick to the facts and the best interest of the organisation.


Providing you and your boss both keep in mind the goals of the team, rather than your personal or professional differences, you should be able agree a positive way forward.


Rational discourse really is the best antidote to unfair criticism.


More often than not, it wins out in the corporate world, providing the people involved are open and willing to finding the best course.


And if it doesn’t go your way despite the facts and the rationale and the positive engagement?

Then accept it for what it is – there is nothing more you can do and persisting is just going to get you canned – so bow to the authority graciously and get on with the job…


Maintaining Your Self-Esteem


Being subjected to unfair criticism can easily be a bruising experience, however well you handle the situation.


So it’s important that you don’t let the experience damage your self-esteem or self-confidence.


The main thing to remember is that we’re talking about unfair criticism here rather than constructive feedback.


Key Points


It’s natural to react strongly to unjust criticism, but this is rarely a wise career move.


If you conducted yourself in a dignified manner, you have won that round.


If the facts supported you, you won that round.


If the powers-that-be opted in the other direction regardless, you have done what you can – accept things for what they are and let it go. The decision is not a reflection on you, so don’t carry it around with you!


Accept that it is the nature of the beast to do things “the other way” – you know the truth of the matter – close the case and file it – get on with your life and the business at hand.


Holding firm when it is time – being assertive.


Being assertive means being direct about what you need, want, feel or believe in a way that’s respectful of the views of others.


It’s a communication skill that can reduce conflict, build your self-confidence and improve relationships in the workplace.


Being assertive: Reduce stress, communicate better


Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills.


Being assertive is a core communication skill.

Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others.


Being assertive can also help boost your self-esteem and earn others’ respect.

This can help with stress management, especially if you tend to take on too many responsibilities because you have a hard time saying no.


Some people seem to be naturally assertive. But if you’re not one of them, you can learn to be more assertive.


Why assertive communication makes sense


Because assertiveness is based on mutual respect, it’s an effective and diplomatic communication style. Being assertive shows that you respect yourself, because you’re willing to stand up for your interests. It also demonstrates that you’re aware of the rights of others and are willing to work on resolving conflicts.


Of course, it’s not just what you say — but also how you say it that’s important.

If you communicate in a way that’s too passive or too aggressive, your message may get lost because people are too busy reacting to your delivery.


Assertive vs. passive behaviour


If your style is passive, you may seem to be shy or overly easy-going.


You may routinely say things such as, “I’ll just go with whatever the group decides.”


You tend to avoid conflict.

Why is that a problem?

Because the message you’re sending is that your thoughts and feelings aren’t as important as those of other people. In essence, when you’re too passive, you give others the license to disregard your wants and needs.


The internal conflict that can be created by passive behaviour can lead to:

- Stress

- Resentment

- Seething anger

- Feelings of victimization

- Desire to exact revenge


Assertive vs. aggressive behaviour


If your style is aggressive, you may come across as a bully who disregards the needs, feelings and opinions of others. You may appear self-righteous or superior. Very aggressive people humiliate and intimidate others, and may even be physically threatening.


Aggression undercuts trust and mutual respect. Others may come to resent you, leading them to avoid or oppose you on principle.


Assertive vs. passive-aggressive behaviour


. If you communicate in a passive-aggressive manner, you may say yes when you want to say no. You may be sarcastic or complain about others behind their backs.


Over time, passive-aggressive behaviour damages relationships and undercuts mutual respect.


The benefits of being assertive


Behaving assertively can help you:


- Gain self-confidence and self-esteem

- Understand and recognize your feelings

- Earn respect from others

- Improve communication

- Create win-win situations

- Improve your decision-making skills

- Create honest relationships

- Gain more job satisfaction


Some research even suggests that learning to be more assertive can help people cope with mental health problems, such as depression, anorexia, bulimia, social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.


Learning to be more assertive


People tend to stick to the same communication style over time. If you want to change your communication style, you can learn to communicate in healthier and more effective ways.


Here are some tips to help you become more assertive:


1) Assess your style.


2) Make the decision to positively assert yourself.

Commit to being assertive rather than passive or aggressive and start practising today.


3) Aim for open and honest communication.

Remember to respect other people when you are sharing your feelings, wants, needs, beliefs or opinions.


4) Listen actively.

Try to understand the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt when they are explaining it to you.


5) Use ‘I’ statements.

Using “I” statements lets others know what you’re thinking without sounding accusatory.


6) Practice saying no.

If you have a hard time turning down requests, try saying, “No, I can’t do that now.”


7) Rehearse what you want to say.

If it’s challenging to say what you want or think, practice typical scenarios you encounter.


8) Use body language.

Communication isn’t just verbal. Act confident even if you aren’t feeling it.


9) Keep emotions in check.

Conflict is hard for most people. If you feel too emotional going into a situation, wait a bit if possible.


10) Start small.

At first, practice your new skills in situations that are low risk. Here are some tips to help you learn to be more assertive.


11) Agree to disagree.

Remember that having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong.


12) Avoid guilt trips.

Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want without making accusations or making them feel guilty.


13) Be patient.

Being assertive is a skill that needs practice. Remember that you will sometimes do better at it than at other times, but you can always learn from your mistakes.



Everybody is not the same – do not treat them that way


One of the biggest management myths is, “I must treat everyone the same way.”


Treating everybody the same way is a copout – it is lazy thinking and lazy conduct. Each person is unique – if you want to get the best out of them, you have to treat them that way. Anybody who has spent more than two minutes with people will recognise that you cannot treat a high-performer the same way as you would treat an assembly line worker – they are wired differently and need to be approached differently.


What makes one person happy might make another person miserable.

Most people want a challenging job; a job they can make their own decisions about. Others do not want any changes in their environment – the sameness is their security – respect those differences – you need all the different types of people to make the world go round.


Career-pathing is important to almost everybody – people want to know that they are going somewhere and that there is potential to achieve something with their lives. You can’t expect everybody to be excited by the prospect of being a clerk until retirement.


People want to be valued in their current position, they want to be recognized for their individual contributions. Everybody wants a pat on the back – and i have never met somebody who does not appreciate a bonus in the bank…


People want a fair working environment. They want regular feedback about their performance, meaning when they do something good or not so good. They don’t want feedback once a year—that’s too late and you are guaranteed to have a fight on your hands if you come up with anything but a fat bonus.

When people are ready for more responsibility, they want to be able to stop working on tasks that are no longer challenging, and they want to start working on tasks that are challenging, regardless of where the challenge is.

If you stick people in a box, they will get antsy…


People want fair compensation. And, in return, they will work at a sustainable pace, providing the best work they can for the organization. (Fair compensation is of course open to debate – especially when the union types enter the fray…)


That’s what people want from work.

You can’t provide that if you treat people equally, because people are not equal – but as long as we treat people fairly, we will end up with a fair workplace – and that creates a wonderful place in which to work.


Anger management


We all experience anger.


Managed in healthy ways, anger can be a positive thing -- a red flag that something’s wrong, a catalyst for change, a good self-motivator.


Handled poorly, anger can cause health and relationship problems.


For many, especially those who didn’t have positive role models for anger management while growing up, dealing with anger can be confusing; it’s hard to know what to do with such a powerful and potentially destructive emotion.


Understand Your Anger


Dealing with anger is much easier when you know what you’re really angry about.


Sometimes people may feel generally irritable because of stress, sleep deprivation, and other factors; more often, there’s a more specific reason for the anger. Either way, you can become more aware of what’s behind your anger if you keep an anger journal (a record of what makes you angry throughout the day) for a few weeks, then talk it over with a good friend, or even see a therapist to uncover underlying sources of anger.


Once you are more aware of your sources of anger, you can take steps to deal with it.


Express Yourself—Constructively


Research shows that writing about anger and expressing it constructively can help reduce negative mood and even pain, particularly if the writing leads to ‘meaning-making,’ or speculation into the causes of the anger.


The written expression of anger allows you to actively do something with your anger.


There are other ways to express anger – talking is an option, but keeping record of that is a bit more tricky – a tangible expression can be interrogated to learn from… Art is a tangible expression – and in some instances even becomes a lucrative one – in contrast to breaking things of course…


Take Action


Your anger is telling you something.


Knowing why you’re upset can go a long way, but eliminating your anger triggers and fixing problems that make you angry are equally important.


You may not be able to eliminate everything in your life that causes you anger and frustration, but you sure can cut down on the triggers.


If you cannot remove the trigger, learn to control the response – bottom line – you have to be able to choose your response or you will live the consequence of losing control.


Don’t Obsess


Trying to solve a problem is a good idea, but stewing in your anger is not.


Those who have a tendency to stew over situations that have made them angry in their past tend to cause themselves health problems.


Don’t Over-talk It


Discussing your anger is a tricky thing.


Talking about your anger with a trusted friend can be an effective strategy for dealing with anger -- to a point. Repeatedly discussing topics that make you angry with your friends can actually make you both feel worse, and increase stress hormones in your blood.


If you find yourself wanting to talk a lot about what is making you angry, it might be a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a therapist, who may have some effective ideas on dealing with anger – and part of dealing with your anger is letting it go when it is time.


Keeping your temper in check

Take a timeout

Counting to 10 isn’t just for kids. Slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.

The idea of the timeout is not avoidance – it is a pause before reengaging i.e. go make a cup of tea, not going on an around-the-world cruise…

Think before you speak


In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret.

Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.


You will of the best speeches you will ever regret, in the heat of the moment…


Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand.

Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.

Once you’re calm, express your anger

++]]As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way.


State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.


Stick with ‘I’ statements

To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem.


The reasoning behind the “I” statements is that you are not “attacking” anybody when you express how you perceive things to be. Be respectful and specific – addressing the situation or the conduct – stay away from the person or they will become defensive.


Use humour to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. When you are furious it is difficult to see the lighter side of things – but remember that your anger and frustration will in nine out of ten situations be wasted on the person causing it.


Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work.


1) Get some exercise

Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt – the proverbial blowing-off-steam.


Physical activity burns certain chemicals and stimulants such as adrenaline out of your system and also stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.


2) Know when to seek help.

Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.


Anger management classes and counselling or training can be done individually, with your partner or other family members, or in a group.


Seeking help is not a weakness – it proves high EQ.


It is important to understand that we are all wired differently – your BF may not be fazed in a certain situation, while you are go ballistic – that is just the way it is. Don ‘t worry about his or her wiring – focus on making sure that you do not act stupidly and take yourself out of the game.


3) Don’t hold a grudge


Forgiveness is a powerful tool – and it works for you.


If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

You cannot do good things from a bad place…


Actions to Avoid in Conflict Resolution between others


Do not avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away.


It won’t.


An unresolved conflict or interpersonal disagreement festers just under the surface in your work environment. It bubbles to the surface whenever enabled, and always at the worst possible moment.


Do not meet separately with people in conflict.


If you allow each individual to tell their story to you, you risk polarizing their positions.


Do not believe, for even a moment, the only people who are affected by the conflict are the participants.


Everyone in your office and every employee with whom the conflicting employees interact, is affected by the stress. In worst case scenarios, your organization members take sides and your organization is divided.


How to Mediate and Resolve Conflict between others


These are the steps you want to take to help with conflict resolution in your workplace:

Meet with the antagonists together.


Let each briefly summarize their point of view, without comment or interruption by the other party. This should be a short discussion so that all parties are clear about the disagreement and conflicting views. Intervene if either employee attacks the other employee. This is not acceptable.

Ask each participant to describe specific actions they’d like to see the other party take that would resolve the differences.


Three or four suggestions work well.


Sometimes, you, as the supervisor, must own some of the responsibilities for helping the employees resolve their conflict.


All participants discuss and commit to making the changes necessary to resolve the conflict.


It is okay to have reasonable disagreements over issues and plans; it is never okay to have personality conflicts that affect the workplace.


Expect the individuals to resolve the conflicts proactively as adults.


Assure both parties that you have every faith in their ability to resolve their differences


Mediating a conflict is challenging, but as a manager or supervisor, the role of mediator comes with your territory. Your willingness to appropriately intervene sets the stage for your own success.





Empathy vs. sympathy vs. Pity


Empathy is distinct from sympathy, pity, and emotional contagion.


Empathy is the capability to share your feelings and understand another’s emotions and feelings.


Sympathy is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier.


Pity is feeling that another is in trouble and in need of help as they cannot fix their problems themselves, often described as “feeling sorry” for someone.


Emotional contagion is when a person (especially an infant or a member of a mob) imitatively “catches” the emotions that others are showing without necessarily recognizing this is happening.


Sympathy Vs. Empathy.


Sympathy is feeling what somebody else feels through you.


When you are being sympathetic, you’re not really helping much, because you’re making the situation about you.


In contrast, empathy is feeling what somebody else feels through them.


The focus stays on “them”, until you’re certain they’ve expressed themselves fully.


Empathy is understanding; it is a deep emotional feeling of another person’s feelings or situation.


It is different from sympathy in that you are able to put yourself in someone else’s situation that has not happened to you, and have real emotional reaction and understanding.


In the working environment we usually strive to communicate with empathy.


Practical emphatic communication


If an employee comes to you with a problem, do you typically say: “Don’t worry about it..” or “you’ll be fine..”?


Our instant reaction is often to offer sympathy. But this may prevent them from opening up to you. They may feel foolish by your reaction, or quietly angry that you don’t seem to understand how important this problem is to them.


To improve your listening skills, practice “Active Listening” which involves reflecting back the words and the emotion expressed by the other person.


Avoid these Empathy Blockers:


Dominating Response


“Look, just get on with it..”
“You are always complaining..”


Avoidance Response


“You are worrying over nothing..”
“Wait until you hear what happened to me..”


Judgemental Response


“I am really surprised you did that..”


Sympathetic response


“Oh, you poor thing… I feel so sad for you.”


Reassuring / Consoling response


“You might be upset now, but I’m sure you will feel better soon.”


Shutting Down


“There is no reason to feel that way!”




“You don’t remember this accurately.”


* Interrogating*


“Why did you decide to do that?” or, “What got into you?”


* Commiserating*


“I know what you mean – your cousin is one of the biggest jerks I have ever met!”

These temptations are actually premature attempts to connect. Why? Because most people listen with the intent to reply.


When another person speaks, we are usually ‘listening’ at one of four levels:

- ignoring

- pretending

- selective listening

- attentive listening


Very few of us ever practice the highest form of listening ~ empathic listening. Only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say, another 30 percent by our sounds, and 60 percent by body language.

Empathetic Listening is a combination of:


- Having the intention to connect

- Focusing on clarifying the speaker’s needs first

- Remembering that criticism is someone’s poorly expressed feelings and unmet needs.

- Checking the timing before offering your feelings, suggestions, corrections, etc.


The Benefits of Empathic Listening:


- builds trust and respect,

- enables the one in need to release his/her emotions,

- reduces tensions,

- encourages the surfacing of information,

- creates a safe environment for sharing and problem solving


The Process of Empathic Listening


1) Give the person you are connecting with your full attention.

Remember that the person in front of you is your sole focus at this singular moment in time.


2) Do not speak when the other person is in the middle of communicating their issue. Empathic listening means that it is your job to actually hear what is being said, and reach to the heart of the topic to achieve full understanding of the situation.

3) Offer a summary of what you have heard to the speaker, when they are done talking. This means you take what you have heard and reword it, offering them a summarized version of what they have said. It need be no more than an outline going over all of the most important key points of their problem. This affirms to them that you were listening, and reaffirms to yourself what you heard.





“Creativity” isn’t the first word you’d associate with the average business presentation – and therein lies the problem.


The phrase “Death by PowerPoint” has been a cliché for years, but sadly the same clichés are being perpetuated day in day out all over the world – slides are “designed” using hideous templates, crawling with bullet points and paragraphs in tiny fonts, which presenters then read out in a monotone ( usually turning their backs to the audience).


And then they wonder why the audience isn’t cheering at the end of this effort…


The first thing to realise is that presentations are not always PowerPoint slides – and even if you use PowerPoint slides, presentations are much more than a set of slides accompanied by a monotone narration of what the audience can read for themselves.


Please, please, please, please – at this point I would like to make a personal appeal on behalf of the rest of world – we can read – if you just want to recite the content of your slides – don’t ! Speak to the slides – DO NOT RECITE THEM!

If you have nothing to add, please just send me the presentation by mail – I will get back to you!


The “typical” great presentation


1. Most good presentations will have a beginning, a middle and an end.

2. Use short sentences.

3. Have clear and understandable graphics.

4. Keep it as short as possible and always to the point.


[+ Considerations:+]


1. Who are the audience?

Pitch at a level suited to your audience or you will lose them before you have started.


2. What points do I want to get across?

Especially in a business presentation, it is imperative that you get your point(s) across ASAP. Time is money – do not waste the time of people who have precious little of it.


3. How much time have I got?

If you make a good pitch, people will be eager to engage you when you are done – make sure you leave enough time for that – going over your allotted time is not on!


4. What visual aids are available? PowerPoint projector? Flip chart? Make sure that you have what you need to get the job done. Please remember – you do not have to use every aid known to man when you do a presentation – sometimes the best presentations are the most informal as they engage the audience at a personal level – but if you need to use a PowerPoint presentation and you cannot get the projector to work or your presentation is not compatible to the hardware or software available, you will look like the horse’s hynie.


The Introduction:


1. Welcome the audience or thank them for the opportunity to present, depending on the situation.

It is key that you make sure you know who you are dealing with before you open your mouth – or you may as well stay home. People are fickle and for most part, egotistical. A boardroom is a kingdom – if you swagger into another man’s kingdom as if you own it, you are guaranteed to have already rubbed him up the wrong way. If at all possible, observe the players before the time. Some want the adulation, others are all about the business – make sure you deal with them accordingly. Know the difference between being engaging and being familiar – being familiar is not on and it is not professional.


2. Introduce your presentation in terms of aims and objectives.


3. Make sure your introduction gets their attention. Personally I am not one for a song and dance routine unless you are selling song and dance – but that is my profile – I am all about the business. What I will advise is that if you want to go with music and flashing lights, tread carefully. In most instances you will not have the right equipment on hand and it will come across as an amateur production – not how you want to be seen at all…

Careful on humour as well – we live in a politically correct world – you could be breaking the ice or you could be offending somebody – and since you are in their house…


The Middle or the meat:


1. Keep it short as possible.

The more you talk, the better your chances of putting your foot in it or losing your audience.


2. If at all possible stick to two or three main points and allow everything else to support these. You want to stick to two or three points because it is easy for the audience to hold onto two or three points – those are the bones.


3. Put meat around those “bones” – but trim the fat! Don't try to say pack too much content in or you will babble non- stop trying to get through all your content and you will lose the audience due to information overload.

Your presentation must list the main points and one or two supporting points – no more! If the audience is sitting there reading, they are not listening. You want their attention fixed on the “bones” and eating the “meat” as you are dishing it up – remember – you are the main selling point in this exercise!


4. Watch the crowd – be aware of their response and adjust if necessary. You should know what response you want to evoke at what point in the presentation. By watching responses, you will know what questions and arguments to expect – or where you need to clarify or move on without being asked.


5. Make sure of your facts. Nothing is more humiliating and guaranteed to send you packing, than getting the facts right – especially if you get your facts wrong when talking about your audience or their company – bad form!




1. The end should be on a strong or positive note – it is your lasting impression so you want it to be a good one – not tailing away to “..well that’s all I’ve got to say so thank you very much for listening ladies and gentlemen”.

If you do not finish well it is time to listen to the snores and exit stage right…


2. Briefly summarise your main points.

Please, please, please – this does not means redoing the presentation in summarised format. This is an amateur mistake that confirms that you are operating straight off the “presentation for dummies” playbook.


3. Answer any questions.

Question time is where you will know whether you hit the mark. You will know the feeling of the room and what the quality was of what you conveyed. There will be rare occasions where the presentation said all there was to say – but by and large there will always be probing questions and then there will be babbling – be ready for both as they are part of the game.


4. Thank the audience for their time and attention, and remain engaged with the audience until you leave the room.


5. Afterwards…

In the event that you are invited to do lunch or snacks with the audience, please make sure that you are ready to engage. Do not park in a corner with an overloaded plate and stuffed cheeks – this is not a poker-date – this is an opportunity to network. Nibble politely, sip politely (I am not even going to say anything about getting tipsy if there is alcohol) – be ready to talk about business – that is what you are there for…


Making a presentation work for you – when, where, what, who, how;


1. Know your material:


2. Know your audience:

Be sure to check before giving any type of talk to find out the level of your audience’s previous knowledge, their familiarity with the topic, and their likely interests.


3. If you are nervous rehearse your presentation at least three times before you give it.


4. Dress appropriately:

Don’t let your appearance devalue what you are saying, but make sure you are fit for purpose. You look stupid in a suit and shiny shoes in the middle of a horse paddock – similarly you do not pitch up in your jeans when the audience is dressed formally.


5. Come Early, Really Early

Preparation can do a lot to remove your speaking anxiety.

Come early, scope out the room, run through your slideshow and make sure there won’t be any glitches.

Don’t fumble with PowerPoint or hooking up a projector when people are waiting for you to speak.

If you are the main attraction, make sure that you have extra hand-outs for your audience, pens and notepads, make sure the room is not too warm or cold, depending on the length of the engagement, make sure there is water for yourself and the delegates etc.


5. Greet and smile!

When you greet and smile the audience will probably respond in kind – and there you have already built rapport built on an instinctive reaction.


6. Speak clearly, firmly, confidently and enthusiastically:

Speaking clearly, firmly, confidently and enthusiastically puts you in control and gives people reason to want to believe in you – but a word of caution – do not overdo the enthusiasm or you will come across as fake.

Don’t speak too quickly: you are likely to speed up and raise the pitch of your voice – especially when nervous. Give the audience time to absorb each point. Don’t talk in a monotone the whole time. If you think people at the back can’t hear, ask them.


7. If you’re behind a podium, you can keep a sentimental item in your hand, or even an inspiring picture on the ledge where people can’t see. This sometimes aids in relieving stress.

You don’t have to anchor yourself behind the podium – walk around if you want to – but keep it natural. This works particularly well if you are doing a PowerPoint presentation or engaging the audience.


8. Use silence to emphasise points.

Before you make a key point pause: this tells the audience that something important is coming. It’s also the hallmark of a confident speaker as only these are happy with silences.


9. Avoid slang and jargon.

This comes back to knowing the audience – if they are experts then it is well and fine – even needed – to speak the industry language – but in any other situation you need to ensure that the audience understands what you are saying. If they do not understand you, you have lost them.


10. Eye contact is crucial to holding the attention of your audience.

Try to involve everyone, not just those directly in front of you. Questions to the audience may also be an option, but be careful not to put anybody on the spot – and definitely stay away from getting the audience to engage in a song and dance routine – they do not like looking like fools and if you fail to engage them positively, you will be looking like the horse’s hynie – again…


11. Don’t look at your notes too much.

If you are reading notes all the time it suggests insecurity and will prevent you making eye contact with the audience.

If at all possible I recommend you stay away from the notes – politicians read speeches and we all know they are lying – if you really know your stuff you do not need notes other than specific numbers, dates etc – those are the things you refer to notes to.


12. It’s OK to use humour in moderation:

Careful on the humour though – remember the danger of offending the politically correct and otherwise sensitive. It is safer to use appropriate anecdotes than to rattle off a string of jokes (Unless you are Barry Hilton of course) – but make sure your anecdotes and jokes are fresh – clichés are clichés for a reason…


13. Keep track of time.

Take along a watch to help you keep track of time or keep your eye on the timekeeper. It can be very helpful to practise at home in front of a mirror. You can also record your presentation and play it back to yourself: don’t judge yourself harshly when you replay this – nobody likes to watch recording of themselves, but it is a great method to pick up the little irritating habits you need to weed out. Time how long your talk takes. Run through the talk a few times and try it on a friend.


14. It’s normal to be a little nervous.

This is a good thing as it will make you more energised and keep you on your game. If you are too nervous, do a few practice-runs to get it out of your system.

Take a few deep slow breaths before you start talking and make a conscious effort to speak slowly and clearly – this is especially necessary when you are not a mother tongue speaker – we tend to rush when speaking a different language .


15. Get to the core of your message.


16. Wow them with words.

You should never try to get your presentation word perfect, by memorizing every single word – that will only make for stilted delivery. Words are spice – it pays to sprinkle your delivery with a few choice phrases jokes etc. – just don’t overdo the spicing.


17. Create stunning slides.

Slides are optional, but if you’re going to use them, make them great.

Great slides are not about frills – it is about effectiveness. Keep it simple – think in terms of the 10-20-30 slideshow rule by Guy Kawasaki. This rule states that a PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and have no text less than 30 point font. The principle is obvious – the core is on the slide, holding their attention while you deliver – to hold their attention it must be simple, easy to read and done and dusted before they get bored.


18. Don’t Plan Gestures

Any gestures you use need to be an extension of your message and any emotions that message conveys. Planned gestures look false because they don’t match your other involuntary body cues.


19. Giving the audience a chance to speak out? Of course – but don’t let them take over your session!


20. Have Fun!

Sounds impossible? Not at all! While presenting you are the master of all you survey. Make sure you know what you are talking about, prepare thoroughly and believe in what you are doing. With a little practice you can inject your passion for a subject into your presentations. Enjoy what you are doing – enthusiasm is contagious.

The negotiation process


The Win-Win Negotiation Model


In this model, each party involved in the negotiation wins.

Everyone benefits to some degree and does not lose.


This approach is the most sought after option or approach as it allows individuals to maintain an on-going relationship with the other party after the negotiation process.


The Win-Lose Negotiation Model


In this model one party wins and the other party loses.

In such a model, after several rounds of discussions and negotiations, one party benefits while the party remains dissatisfied.


This is what we see when we deal with the hostile take-over or when we negotiate a peace treaty after one side has been defeated. We “negotiate” – but in actual fact we are stipulating terms of surrender. The fact that the losers are dictated to will foster resentment – the Allies negotiated peace in this way after the first World War – twenty years later they were back for the second World War…


The Lose-Lose Negotiation Model

As the name suggests, in this model, the outcome of negotiation is zero. No party has benefited out of this model.


Plan to Negotiate


You will become a better negotiator if you plan your approach in advance.


Regardless of the scale of a negotiation, you should seek to clarify a number of points before any discussion commences.


Clarify your key objective:


1) What outcome do you want to get out of the negotiation?

2) Also think about what the other person wants to achieve.

3) Know what are your negotiables and non-negotiables.

4) Know what is on your wish list, know what is on the wish list of the opposition and know as far as possible what you are prepared to concede on – and at what price…




What do you and the other person have that you can trade?

What do you each have that the other wants aside from their key objective?

Is there anything you feel comfortable with giving away?


[+ Alternatives:+]


If you don’t reach agreement with the other person, what alternatives do you have? How much does it matter if you do not reach agreement?

What alternatives might the other person have?


[+ Relationships:+]


What is the history of the relationship? Could or should this history impact the negotiation?


Expected outcomes:


what outcome will people be expecting from this negotiation?


The consequences:


What are the consequences for you of winning or losing this negotiation? What are the consequences for the other person?




Who has what power in the relationship?

Who stands to lose the most if agreement isn’t reached?

Basic principle – don’t demand or set ultimatums if you cannot leverage them – don’t play the “or else” card unless you can back it up…


Inside the Process


A widely used method of Negotiation in the workplace is the RADPAC model of negotiation.


R – Rapport:


The parties involved in negotiation ideally should be comfortable with each other and share a good rapport with each other.


A – Analysis:


One party must understand the second party well.

It is important that the individual understand each other’s needs and interest.

D – Debate:


Nothing can be achieved without discussions.

People debate with each other and each one tries to convince the other.

Do not lose your temper.

P – Propose:


Each one tries his level best to come up with the best possible idea and reach to a conclusion acceptable by all.

A – Agreement:


Come to a conclusion at this stage and agree to the best possible alternative.

C – Close:


The negotiation is complete and individuals return back satisfied.


The Art Of Negotiation Succeeds When Both Sides Win


What is negotiable? You name it: the amount of a raise, the terms of a job transfer, a divorce settlement, a broker`s commission, the price of a car or a house.


Most often, though, you will find that you like the outcome better if you learn the methods of the pros.


Here are fifteen of their recommendations:


1) Learn as much as you can about the other party.

Never underestimate your opponent – but don’t overestimate them either.

Know them before you go to the table.

Try to find out something about his background, including similar transactions he may have been involved in.

Talk to others who have negotiated with him to get a sense of his style and tactics. Figure out his needs.


2) Convince the other side that your needs can be their needs as well.


3) Don`t parley without a strong purpose. Have a mission and purpose. Without it, you’ll get nowhere at the negotiation table.


4) Be sure you are going to the right person at the right time. When asking a superior for a raise, for example, check first that he has the authority to grant it.


5) Calling someone “Mr” after he’s already given you his first name, takes you down a notch in the power hierarchy – in fact wait for him to offer his first name before you do yours.


6) Have the facts to make your case.

7) Be alert to body language. By giving you an affectionate pat or suddenly calling you by your first name, a negotiator may be hinting his position is not as inflexible as his words suggest.


8) Talking too much too early conveys the subconscious message: “I’m desperate for an agreement.”


9) Know how much time you have. Never pledge for time, pledging for time signals to the other party that you’re not in the driver’s seat. The same goes for reverting to higher authority.


10) Stay calm, an overly enthusiastic and excited person always give the party across the table the advantage.


11) Keep your mind open and genuinely curious in order to focus and rise above the mental clutter – don’t fall into the traps of bias and stereotyping.

Stay present in the moment. It enables you to ask smart questions and really listen to their answers and observe them.


12) Sit down to negotiate in a location that gives neither side an edge.


13) Negotiating correctly means the other party will invite you to close before you force a decision.


14) Rational problem solving approaches are impossible to use when emotions are high. While needy negotiators raise their voices, negotiators who simply “want” lower theirs. A confident negotiator always allows the other party to feel comfortable and unthreatened.


15) A forced agreement leaves resentment which will lead to conflict at a later stage – forget the movie stuff.



Basic Communication

Basic Communication is about the fundamentals of communication within business. It deals with the differences between communication, presentation and negotiation, the ground-rules for each and then with elements within each discipline - verbal and non-verbal communication, dealing with conflict, dealing with the boss and critical colleagues, barriers to effective communication, basic negotiation skills and many other basics.

  • ISBN: 9781310193323
  • Author: RadixalX
  • Published: 2016-04-02 15:20:20
  • Words: 21957
Basic Communication Basic Communication