If stories can incite an audience to action, then how do we go about getting our stories? Janice Elsheimer in her book, “The Creative Call,” shares the importance of keeping a “day book.” I can identify with her sharing that our journals can be our companions and confidants during the most important times of our lives. “Writers can use their daybooks as a source book for ideas, images, characters, dialogue, and plot for other writing…”
Jeanne Robertson, a professional speaker who specializes in hilarious humor based on her life experiences, in a session she conducted at the National Speakers Association entitled, “Don’t let the funny stuff get away: turn everyday experiences into speech material that audiences will remember” suggests “jotting down” when something happens and writing up as soon as possible so the stories can materialize. Indeed, Jeanne Robertson is a consummate story teller herself and is described as “the aunt you can’t wait to talk to at the family reunion, who always has a new story to tell that keeps the whole family in stitches. (The Carlisle Theater, Carlisle, PA). Read more about Jeanne at her website at http://www.jeannerobertson.com/
Have you ever gone to a meeting where the meeting leader just shared facts and figures? What do you remember from that meeting? Perhaps you were able to capture the information but were your emotions stirred? Were you excited to go act on the information?
Daniel Goleman in his books on emotional intelligence (Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence) suggests that it our emotions that guide us and propel us to pursue our dreams.
Next time you are leading a meeting, think about how a short story, anecdote or real-life example can “flesh” out and bring life to the facts that you are relaying.
Another benefit of stories especially telling and hearing stories from others is that stories connect us with each other. Certainly our lives are a story and we can learn a lot about ourselves, and others, by ‘telling and listening” to stories. By listening to stories, we are providing a safe place for work colleagues, friends and family to be who they really are! By telling our stories, we provide people an opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
Who in your life can you ask to “tell you their story?” There are hundreds of people in rest homes with real-life stories who just need someone to listen to them. Who can you tell your story to? There are people who desire an opportunity to get new glimpses into your own life.
Each of us has a story. Each of us is a story. Who will you share yours with?
Let’s talk about what a story is. In an essay entitled, “Praise of Stories,” Daniel Taylor writes, “A story is the telling of the significant actions of characters over time. Each element is important, both in the stories of literature and in those that shape our own lives. Remove or fail in any of these elements and you no longer have a story.” As Mr. Taylor says, “The central things that happen in important stories don’t happen to a character, but within a character. This is why significance is part of our definition of stories – the telling of significant action. Most writers on stories would agree that the best stories are about morality, values, and choices that we can relate with.
So stories are the telling of significant journeys with meaningful characters whose principled choices help us see ourselves.
Think about the stories you cherish. Did they not stir something within you? I would venture to say that stories can ignite us to think about things in new ways, ignite our spirits and emotions to actions, and enable us to see ourselves.
If you are feeling stagnant in your career or life…if you are desiring a boost to your service to your customers…if you feel the need to get out of your rut…if you are looking for new perspectives… I would encourage you to read a story.
What do you say to yourselves? Sometimes the biggest barrier to our goals is ourselves! So here is something to ponder: Think about what you are thinking about! Zig Ziglar says that some of us have “stinky thinking.” Perhaps you need to get a new mindset, a new way of thinking. It is basically “rewinding your negative self-talk.”
One way you can “rewind your tapes” is to ask yourself, “Would you say the same thing to someone you love?” Often times, we can be our worst critics. We would never say to others what we say to ourselvs. Take a look at how much you are feeding your mind and thoughts with negative news. Strive to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
In this final installment in our series about the implications of a more collaborative workplace, we focus on what may seem like an apparent contradiction – unity in diversity. What does this mean? First, unity means that as an organization, department, or a team – every person needs to clearly identify what goal or mission they are striving towards as a collaborative team. There needs to be a unified effort or mission to achieve the goals or mission of the team. Second, but in this unity- there needs to be an honoring of the diversity of the people involved. Diversity in personalities, skills, talents, backgrounds, experience, education, genders, language, culture, etc. We are thus all going in the same direction while retaining our own unique talents. An organization that can successfully do these two things – be clear on the mission as well as invite and honor and celebrate the diversity of talent – is able to effectively thrive in this new type of collaborative workplace. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you currently conduct a diversity class for all your employees?
- What are you doing to ensure that you are recruiting and interviewing well-qualified people who bring diversity into the workplace?
- Are all your managers aware of your state and federal regulations as they relate to interview questions, hiring and firing, professional development opportunities, and tuition reimbursement?
As a manager, one of your traditional jobs is to “remove the barriers” – and allow your team the freedom to make decisions that affect their day to day operations. In this new organizational structure, where teams are more self-directed and self-empowered, your job is to ensure that every team member is empowered to remove the barriers. Certainly, there are some decisions that can only be made by leaders but there are a plethora of decisions that employees can make – decisions that remove barriers to their providing value and achieving the goals of their job and team.
Some of the barriers include: out-dated policies that need to be re-written and communicated, not having the right training and educational opportunities, or artificial barriers that could encompass wrong assumptions and beliefs about their own ability to make decisions or what the “traditional” management to employee hierarchy rewarded in the past.
So here’s a question – what do you need to do as a manager to educate your team to remove their own barriers? What barrier do you need to remove as a manager? Or here’s a penetrating question – are you the barrier?
As organizations get more and more team-focused and collaborative – employees and managers need to learn the skill of “seeing things from the viewpoint” of the other person. How many times have you been in a conflict with someone else, only to discover, much to your amazement, how seemingly innocent things you did were misconstrued and interpreted? The following “Ladder of Inference” was initially developed by Chris Argyris, and subsequently presented in Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.”
The ladder of inference begins with real data and experience – but how quickly we can move up the ladder to selected data and experience to Assigning meaning to make assumptions to Reaching conclusions to Forming beliefs that all ultimately affects our Actions. If we are not careful, we can move up the ladder within seconds!
Next time you find yourself making a quick assumption, hasty judgment, or a powerful belief about someone in your organization – take a few moments and think “How does this situation look like from that person’s perspective?” And when you are with that person, ask more questions and listen, as opposed to making declarative statements.
Along with the ability to collaborate – in today’s collaborative workforce, the skill of effective communication is more important now than ever. And yet if you asked most people what their biggest challenge in the workplace was – poor communication continues to be high on their list!
How do we communicate with people who are “different” than us? Many intact work teams have benefited from team training on the DiSC Communication style assessment. Each team member (and manager) learns his or her own natural communication style and all the individual results are compiled so that there is a “team makeup” with powerful implications to team interactions. For example, if one team member is high on “Dominance” – and yet the team is high on the “Conscientiousness” style – there could be a number of potential issues that could prove disastrous if the team is not aware of them. The high D or Dominance team member may perceive others on the team as being too passive, cautious or too focused on the details – and that staff member may feel constantly impatient and frustrated. From the team’s perspective, that same team member may appear overly aggressive with little thought to doing things “right.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can use the DiSC Communication style assssment to help your team, as well as learn about other Inscape profile assessments, please visit www.JanDwyerBang.com/Products.
Employee engagement seems to be the “fad” these days. Yet engaging your employees is not a passing fad but rather, a crucial strategy to keep your employees and managers operating with optimism, intentionality in service delivery, and enthusiasm that will positively transform your organization.
Here are a few ways you can engage your staff:
- Consult with your staff before making any changes affecting their work.
- Value the differences in opinions and ideas.
- Listen to and respect your staff member’s opinions. Be open to new ideas and suggestions.
- When presented with a problem or question, ask how they might solve it.
- Recognize their contributions. Make it timely.
Remember that your staff members are perhaps your organization’s most important customers! Engaging your staff members shows them that you value them!