Yankee Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra said, “If there’s a fork in the road, take it.”
You face many forks in the road at work, mainly dealing with how you respond to challenging situations with people and information.
You will quickly become a more effective communicator when you apply these two concepts in stressful situations:
To put these two ideas in proper context, consider the factors you can’t control at work:
- Expectations of others about you
- Perceptions of others about you
- Emotions of others
- Stress from others
- Priorities of others
- Delivery of products or information from others
- Attitude of others
- Timeliness of others
- Attention to detail from others
Now consider what you control:
1. Your choices about how you respond to others:
- the type of emotion you show
- the level of detail you provide
2. Your consistency in how you respond to others:
- building trust because you show a record of focusing on issues rather than personalities
- earning respect for attention to detail and interest in your own projects and those of others
By using your choices and consistency as guides for how you communicate through emails, presentations, conference calls, and meetings, you will find greater success and enjoyment on the job.
Choices and Consistency For Better Health
“Finish your meals by leaving a third of your food on your plate,” Dr. John Rumberger told me during the most complete physical I’ve had in my life at the Princeton Longevity Centeryesterday. The advice was simple and profound. By leaving just a little bit of food on the plate, you condition yourself to make better choices about what you eat and the size of your portions in order to lose weight.
The good folks at the Center preached the message of being consistent and making smarter choices in regards to food and exercise. After hearing about choices and consistency all day, I thought about how those ideas apply just as well to becoming a more impactful communicator.
For example, say you’re working with a colleague who promised to email you a summary this morning of a project that you need to include in a report you’re sending to your boss by the end of the day. It’s now 4:00 and you receive an email from your co-worker with a few points but nothing close to what you expected.
Now you have several choices to make, such as are you going to:
1. Get upset or remain calm?
2. Blame the other person or get the information you need?
3. List every time the person has let you down over the past month or focus on this issue?
4. Respond in an email, with a phone call, or if possible go to that person’s office?
When you take just a few seconds to answer these four questions, you are setting yourself up for success or failure. Clearly, you do not have time at that moment to come up with a better way of working together. However, you can schedule time to discuss how to create a more productive process.
Also, you do not control the fact that you need to submit your report in an hour and you have 17 other white-hot projects waiting in your email inbox. But you do control your response and consistency in how you discuss the problem with the person and come up with a solution that works for both of you. Let choices and consistency be your guide in becoming a more influential communicator.