Leading Edge: Adding Power to Your Gratitude

Leading Edge: Adding Power to Your Gratitude

Leading Edge: The Gratitude Mindset

Leading Edge: Why Gratitude Matters

Leading Edge: The Practice of Gratitude

Video Library: The Practice of Gratitude

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Developing People Skills

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

To grow and enhance your people skills, begin doing the following:

1. Valuing People
The beginning step in growing people skills is to intentionally value people beyond what they do for you or what they accomplish. Look deeper at the total person and what they add to their family, community, and the world. Take a long-term approach in establishing a person’s value.

2. Mindfully and Intentionally Listen
Lock into every conversation as if someone were going to give you winning lottery numbers. Focus only on them and reduce any potential distraction and never try to multitask (a great myth) when engaged in listening. Never interrupt but ask clarifying questions and complimentary validate what you have heard (i.e., thank you for sharing that or that was very interesting).

3. Ask About Others
Demonstrate genuine interest in other people by asking what is important to them and what they value. If you’re unsure about those items, start with family, pets, what they do in their free time, where they are from, and what they want to become or where they want to go. At each response, compliment their response to keep the information flowing and be sure to read item 3 below.

4. Avoid Sharing or Oversharing Your Own Poetry
If you want to really demonstrate your prowess in people skills, you will learn to subordinate your own story and own things that you’re just dying to share with others and make interactions about them. There will be plenty of time to tell your story but make interactions about other people as much as possible.

5. Compliment and Appreciate People
When you see something in others that is a positive attribute or something you value, share it with them. Tell them you appreciate them or their efforts or their value. Tell them they did a great job or performed some work in an awesome manner. Do it in a genuine and enthusiastic manner and don’t keep those positive thoughts to yourself. If you see good, speak the good.

6. Non-Judgmental and Non-Comparing Empathy
Many interactions with people provide the opening for genuine empathy. Empathy is the placement of ourselves in the scenario being experienced by another. This highly admired characteristic is about experiencing what they are feeling and understanding where they are at. Two important qualifiers separate good empathy from an awkward try at it. First, never compare the situation that someone is experiencing to something that has happened to you (i.e., you think that was bad, I was in the hospital for three days or sounds like a good camping trip like when we spent a month in Hawaii.) Comparing makes it about you and not them.

Eliminating judgement and fixing also set apart great empathy. Although your mind will be tempted to judge, and sometimes offer a fix for scenarios presented to you, you must not. It wasn’t you and it’s not about you, it’s about them and they deserve empathy.
7. Speak Ill of No One
Both your people skills and your reputation are on the line when you speak poorly or gossip about others. For most people, this is a significant turnoff that will alienate people and create no desire to speak with you again. If others try to draw you into their gossip or spreading of ill will, resist the temptation and say nothing or create some positive redirection for the conversation.

8. Use Courtesy
Sadly, please, thank you, and I’m sorry are becoming rarer and rarer in human interactions. Engage a platinum level of courtesy and error on the side of being overly polite. Thank often, say please always, and apologize to express empathy or regret. Be known as the politest person in the room. Please note there is an arcane stigma that courtesy equals weak. This could not be farther from the truth. Truly strong people are not afraid to be courteous and being viewed as nice.

9. Let the Small Stuff Slide
Unless you live in an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia, you are going to encounter people during the day. And during one of more of those interactions, someone is going to wrong you. They won’t say hello back. They use the wrong words. They accidentally step on a sensitive issue for you. They don’t pay enough attention to you. They don’t text you back quick enough. You get the idea here; someone is going to slight you or not treat you exactly how you want to be treated.

Now the hard part; you must let those small little things go. Provide instant forgiveness and move on. Not dwell on it, not retaliate, not let it affect the other interactions you are going to have. Just let it go and move on, release it to the universe.

10. Don’t Seek Reciprocation
In a perfect world, every person you encounter would reciprocate all the above with you. Please don’t be naïve and certainly don’t engage in an interaction with someone and expect it back in return. It just won’t happen. Your skills will invite the return to you and certainly model a great behavior but that is still no guarantee that it will come back to you. Treat any reciprocation of courtesy, interest in you, appreciation for you, or excellent listening as an unexpected bonus.

11. Smile
Nothing is most endearing and warm than a smile and it is one of the most powerful and easy to use people skills. Let them know you value the interaction with this simple non-verbal signal. Not a cheesy grin but a legitimate smile that shows you’re happy to interact with them. Our facial expressions are common behavioral blind spots so you will need to be intentional about it until it becomes a more naturalized part of who you are.

12. A Little Energy
Even if you are a quiet, reserved, introvert, we need to add a little spark of energy to your interactions. No one wants to be engaged with someone who you can barely tell if they have a pulse or not. Speak up, smile, and add some great, positive energy to all of your people interactions.

13. Prioritize People Interactions
We all get a little over-peopled at times. I do, my close friends do, we all do, but we must be mindful that people are the most valuable resource around us. We are wired to be connected to others. People are more important than projects, tasks, and really anything else we have going on. We need to prioritize those people interactions and opportunities for interactions ahead of the other stuff. It will still be there after you engage with people. I promise.

Lack of People Skills Frequency:
Often __________
Occasionally __________
Never __________

Lack of People Skills Impact:
High ____________________
Moderate ____________________
Low ____________________

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Lack of People Skills

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

The lack of meaningful people skills is certainly limiting and, in many cases, totally defeating for people. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you don’t ever want to be the person that everyone avoids either. We occupy this blue marble with 7.89 billion other souls and the ability to interact with and get along with other people is paramount. People skills should also not be dependent on beer count, as everyone gets more charming by drink two.

The defending argument for a lack of people skills always relies on self-identification as either shy or as an introvert. Introvert or not, naturally shy, or not, we all need a minimum baseline of people skills to operate in the working environment and in even small social circles. Shyness and being an introvert are hardwired parts of our personalities, while the use of people skills is a learned behavior that can be embraced by all.
Failure to utilize commonly used people skills will dramatically hamper workplace success and the ability to work effectively with others, regardless of your technical expertise. Rather than being a valued team member, you will be the person everyone avoids. If you desire to move into higher levels of leadership, your people skills become even more important and more magnified and valued by others.

Consider this workplace scenario with significant consequences:

Shawn has been in the fire service for over 30 years and is a technical expert in the field. He is a walking encyclopedia of all things fire and what it means to be a first responder. The problem is that he is also an unapproachable, grumpy, curmudgeon who has not said good morning to anyone since 1994, and that was begrudging. He never asks about anyone and never seems interested in anything but his core work.

Vicky is a relatively new fire officer with only five years of direct experience and has not yet seen it all in her industry, but she is affable, approachable, asks about others, and demonstrates care for others. She has great people skills and is highly likeable.

A captain’s job is opening in the agency and both Shawn and Vicky will be applying. The panel interviewers will focus on the ability to lead the team and create meaningful connections with all the team. They are looking for someone who can rally the team when needed and who will have a positive impact on the morale in the department.

Who gets this job is obvious and this scenario repeats itself hundreds of times a day. People skills are more valued in most workplaces than technical skills.

People skills are also the foundation of relationships with others. I have encountered numerous people who are painfully hard to get to know because of their lack of people skills. Sure, once you get to know them, they are fine humans, but how many people give up trying because there is nothing there in the first two, three, or twenty interactions.

Another scenario to consider with a personal angle:

Two people join a meetup group at the same time. Lawrence is outgoing and loves to greet and talk with people. He has quickly built a reputation as someone they love to have on hikes and group outings.

Cindy goes to the events but doesn’t talk to anyone and when she does it has the tone of someone having a wisdom tooth removed. People try to engage with her, but she provides one-word answers and nothing more.

As the group grows and breaks into several subgroups, who is going to get the ongoing invitations?

Even in a close interpersonal relationship like a marriage, a baseline of people skills is needed for ongoing happiness and relationship success. Relationships fail without a healthy flow of communication, doses of empathy, and a great deal of interest in the other person.

People skills are best defined as those interaction and engagement skills that serve to connect with people. Most are communication based, meaning that communication must flow well, and you must have some great communication skills, and all require a level of discipline to turn them into a habit set. The core communication skill needed in people interaction is listening, real listening, not formulating your response, not letting your mind wander off, not interrupting, but real validated listening with the singular focus on the listening event and nothing else. As your listening skills improve, you’ll be amazed how people begin to migrate to you and value time with you.

Next on the importance triage of communication skills is our tone, how we sound to others. Most people have very little understanding of their own tone and the impact it can have on our other people skills. Visualize two people saying the exact same words, something simple like “thank you”, and a person with a harsh tone makes it sound almost punitive, while someone with a softer and more sincere tone makes the message much more believable and valuable. We craft this narrative about how we sound (our tone) and that narrative is completely removed from reality. How many of you have heard the sound of your own voice? Did you enjoy what you heard? Unless you are a trained voice actor, singer, or just particularly fond of yourself, you probably didn’t enjoy that experience. Solicit some feedback about your tone from some trusted sources and then begin to manage it by doing a few voice exercises for inflection (no one likes monotone) and learning to lower or raise your assertiveness as needed in any conversation.

The final couple of points related to communication involve clarity and richness. Clarity is about delivering messages in a way they are easily understood. There are people that talk in word clouds of language and take turns during a conversation that a Formula One driver could not follow. Reduce your word count and stay on track of the objective of the conversation. Don’t stray and don’t add any language or explanation that is not needed or requested. Communication richness is about the modality in which we communicate. In-person communication is the richest because it contains the words, non-verbal signals, and your tone. Any other form of communication such as telephone or email reduces the richness significantly. In the history of our planet, no one has ever been complimented or acknowledged about her or his people skills because of email. Where feasible, talk face-to-face and if not, schedule a virtual meeting or make a phone call. Take your fingers off the keyboard and thumbs off the phone and make genuine human communication connections.

Beyond communication, the most noted and remembered people skill is about showing interest in others and making other people feel important. This will absolutely ensure that you are remembered and valued in return.

Shameless Plug Moment: In LeadWell-The Ten Competencies of Outstanding Leadership, there is a major section devoted to improving our ability to communicate and connect with others.

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Overcoming People Pleasing

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

To move past people pleasing and over-accommodating, begin using the following tactics:

1. Buy Yourself Some Time
Because your automatic answer is always a yes, learn to add some time to your decisions and analyze if you can truly help or assist. Start saying something like “please let me have until the end of the day” or “I will let you know tomorrow morning” for you to be able to see if you can fit the needed time and effort into what you already have going on. You can use this time to check your calendar and task list to ensure that you truly have capacity for another project or volunteer for the event.

2. Use a No Substitute
You struggle with saying no but you can begin using some “no” substitutes. No lite, if you will. Try saying “I’m sorry I can’t” or “Unfortunately, I just don’t have the room for that right now” instead of a hard no. You will also want to develop a tolerance for saying no if someone continues to press or badger you for something that you just don’t have the room for in your current schedule.

3. Create and Share Boundaries
Boundaries are those self-created fences that guard you. They protect your time, emotional energy, and overall capacity for something. We all operate within the boundaries of law and ethics and personal boundaries serve to help you help yourself.

First look at the people that often take advantage of your accommodating nature. Craft a limit for talking with and interacting with them. When they hit the limit, cut off the interactions for a period.

Next create a boundary for the number of things you take on during a week or month. These can be work projects, extra tasks, home projects, or volunteer work. When you hit the limit, stop taking on anything extra until your capacity catches up.

Now the hard part about boundaries. You can set them all you want but until you share them with others, they have absolutely no impact. So yes, you must tell your boss, wife, kids, church friends, dog rescue peeps, whoever, that you have some boundaries and are not going to take on everything for everyone anymore. And be prepared to tell them why.

4. Develop Tolerance for Conflict
People pleasers and over-accommodators must develop a small tolerance level for routine conflicts. This will require that you do some self-management to understand that conflicts are not bad, conflicts do not have to be emotionally charged, and most importantly, conflict is the root of all progress and growth. Without some conflict, or disagreement, we can never innovate or produce continuous improvement. Tell yourself that conflict is not only okay, but it is highly desirable if it is managed at an issue or process level and the people in the conflict effectively manage their emotions during the conflict event.

To assist in the tolerance for conflict, note the objectives for any conflict or disagreement, set a time to discuss it, and stick to your talking points. Stay resilient and do not take the bait of a personalized or emotional response. Stick to your points and stay focused on the issue or process, not the person.

5. Limit Apologies
Apologies are an awesome display of empathy and certainly have value when you have made an error, but people pleasers lead with an apology far too often. Catch and stop yourself when you are about to apologize for bringing up an issue or expressing your needs. Similarly, do not apologize for your opinions on a subject, even if they are contrary to the opinions of others. And certainly, never apologize for needing or wanting to be heard.

6. Improve Relationship Depth
Growing your relationship depth with other people will make it significantly easier to say no or to ask for time to think about something before committing to it. As you get to know people more deeply you will feel more comfortable telling them your needs and articulating your boundaries.

7. It’s Okay to be a Little Selfish
If it’s important to you or you enjoy doing it, then do it without regard for the needs and desires of others. This will not work all the time but sometimes you need to do what is best for you and not the family, coworkers, boss, spouse, or any others. Don’t be so anxious to give away your time with friends, yoga class, or other things of personal enjoyment and make this part of your boundary set.

8. Stop Worrying About What Others Think
People pleasers often do so to curry favor with others. The people that you want in your life, personally and professionally, will like you for who you truly are and not what you do for them. The people that pretend to like you only when you do things for them are not the people you want or need in your life. Think twice, and maybe three times, about how much you worry about what others think about you and if those people really should matter to you. The loss or ill opinion of a person or two that doesn’t like you because you didn’t subordinate everything else you have going on to do their favor, is worth it compared to a healthier and happier you. Be you, boundaries and no responses included, and the right people will stick with you.

9. Challenge How You View Yourself
Closely related to worrying about what other people think about you, you need to challenge how you value yourself. Your value is not about how much you do for others and nor is it how popular you are with others. Your value is deeper than that and not about what you do but rather about who you are, your core person. You are not tick marks on a task list, you are much more than that.

People Pleasing / Over Accommodating Frequency:
Often __________
Occasionally __________
Never __________

People Pleasing / Over Accommodating Impact:
High ____________________
Moderate ____________________
Low ____________________

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – People Pleasing / Overly Accommodating

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

People pleasing and being overly accommodating is a severe type of self-defeating behavior. This one is not just limiting but it can absolutely cause you, your career, and the people around you harm.

On the surface, people pleasing and accommodating sound great and certainly some people could use some more of it in their lives. Maybe just a little accommodating or pleasing to others. And certainly, I don’t want any of you to become obstinate, objecting, difficult asses because of this. Quite the contrary, you want to be a good person, but not at the cost of your own needs and happiness. That’s what happens to people pleasers and the overly accommodating. They sacrifice their own needs, emotional health, and boundaries to make others happy and ignore their own happiness and well-being.

People pleasers struggle with any form of the word “no”. It just gets stuck in their throat even when they know the answer should be a hard “no”. They agree to just about anything reasonable and will offer help even when they do not have the capacity for any of it. They rarely turn down any request and many times this creates an undue burden on their time and capacity. They will work incredibly hard not to disappoint anyone to whom they have made a commitment to help. People pleasers often report feeling a sense of great burden to take care of the needs of everyone around them, work and at home.

Another sign of people pleasing includes an inability to disagree unless in extremely subtle ways and many times, not at all. People pleasers will acquiesce in conversations even about a subject they are passionate about just to not upset the other person. They can morph from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican based on who they are talking with and the subject at hand. In extreme cases, people pleasers and over-accommodating people take on the personality traits of those that they are around. The chameleon whoever they are around and validate everything that comes out of other people’s mouths, demonstrating an agreement and alignment with that person. In general, people pleasers and over-accommodators will be conflict adverse or conflict avoidant and they will struggle to ask about anything that resembles their own interest. A healthy working environment and a healthy home has conflict that is rooted in issues, managed without emotion, and dealt with in real time. Avoiding conflict does not resolve it but makes it worse later when it has no choice but to boil to the surface.

Avoiding any form of even the most benign conflict and being extremely uncomfortable or upset when someone is mad at you is also a signal that you are a people pleaser. The overly accommodating and people pleaser is very uncomfortable in these types of situations and will then bend their own needs and desires even further to restore peace.

One final symptom of people pleasing is overly validating and overly apologizing. People pleasers will often go out of their way to validate the thoughts, words, and feelings of others, including many times when this is not needed. They can even end up taking on the emotions and feelings of others as well. And equally often they will use leading apologies or apologize for their actions when none is needed. Consider this example:

Steve approaches his leader to talk about a manager opening in the department. Because he is a people pleaser and his boss is a busy woman, Steve starts by saying “Sandy, I’m sorry to bother you but I would like to talk about upcoming manager position”.

Or another example from a home setting:

Shannon has been avoiding talking about her needs with her husband for a long time but has finally worked up the courage to do so. She leads by saying “I’m sorry for bringing this up but…”. She later apologizes again for starting a small conflict.

It is painfully obvious that the key penalty for people pleasing, and overly accommodating behavior is a complete disregard for your own needs. Your needs are not just second, they are non-existent in most interactions because you choose to always put the needs of others first.

Now some of you are going to raise a hand and object that this Mother Teresa-esque type of selflessness is noble and should be encouraged and certainly not discouraged. The needs of others are extremely important and must not be ignored, but we cannot run ourselves dry of emotional and physical energy helping others and not paying attention to our own needs. There also comes a point that when we are not tending to our own needs, we will withdraw and shut down. Your needs are every bit as important as everyone else’s.