Category Archives: Coaching
The communication funnel is a concept I regularly discuss with coaching clients, most of whom are senior leaders in constant contact with their direct reports and/or managing virtual teams.
We prioritize immediacy and convenience in our communication, so we start with the fastest and easiest channels at our disposal–text, chat or email. But these channels lack bandwidth, so they’re poorly-suited to conveying nuance and complexity.
…comes from the wonderfully cantankerous early 20th century actor W.C. Fields:
I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.
We’re so quick to assume that if someone has an issue or a dispute or wants to pick a fight with us for some reason that we’re obligated to reciprocate. “We’ve been invited to an argument,” we say to ourselves, “and it would be rude to decline.”
We would do well to reconsider that logic.
Awhile back, I was having a chat with a client that I’ve always liked and respected. We got to talking about her career trajectory and she was telling me about the best manager she’d ever had.
Her first manager was someone who was kind, consistent, and most importantly, made time to coach her to be a more effective professional.
She mentioned being particularly impressed with the time he spent a few times a year to meet personally and provide her with some coaching. She was even more grateful for it now, since she had since worked for several other people in the industry and realized how rare it was for a manager to provide the kind of personal attention he did.
Earlier this summer, I attended a rather formal event with several speakers slated. As the program began, there was a slight pause, followed by the first speaker suddenly running up on stage.
He apologized profusely for being out of sorts and made some mention of trouble with his microphone. He explained that he was normally much more prepared, much more organized, and always timely.
The apology and stumbling took half a minute before he got underway with the program. It was a bit uncomfortable to watch and an odd start to a formal event.
In “Bouncing Back,” a profoundly thought-provoking book that draws upon concepts from philosophy, psychology and neuroscience to promote resilience and well being, therapist Linda Graham relates the following story from Buddhist tradition:
A master monk is meditating in a temple with other monks. Suddenly a fierce bandit storms into the temple, threatening to kill everybody. The other monks flee, but the master monk remains, calmly meditating. Enraged, the bandit shouts, “Don’t you understand? I could run you through with my sword and not bat an eye!” The monk calmly replies, “Don’t you understand? I could be run through by your sword and not bat an eye.” [p 229]
I see a connection here with my recent HBR post, which emphasizes the importance of ignoring the unimportant in order to focus our time and attention on those people and issues that truly matter. We often approach this process as an intellectual task of prioritization, but it’s a fundamentally emotional experience. The choice to ignore certain people and issues in favor of others stirs up a complex range of emotions–particularly anxiety, fear and guilt–that can be difficult to manage and can easily cause us to make decisions that aren’t in our best interests.
Several weeks ago, we took our kids to LEGOLAND. As we were leaving the park one afternoon, we stopped into one of the many retail stores and purchased a LEGO set for Luke and a few gifts for friends.
It was a hot, busy day at the park and I felt sorry for the employees. I have family in the retail industry and I’ve seen how grueling retail work can be, especially in less than ideal conditions. When I got to the front of the line, a college aged man greeted me:
“How is your visit at LEGOLAND today?” he asked with a warm smile.