Jun 04 2014


When is a pat on the back


  really a kick in the butt?

A client tells you your service is great, then complains about it later to others. Assuming nothing changed along the way to erode the value of your praiseworthy performance, your sense of anguish may simply be the result of of a mixed message. Mixed messages find their way into everyday business exchanges with increasing regularity.

“Pretty good job . . . for a woman!” is a typical example. “You’re doing this the right way, but you need to slow down and think it through better!” is another. Have you ever heard something like: “We need to move forward with plans to collaborate, but not at the expense of our own department (division, team, group)?”

Mixed messages are nonproductive. Mixed messages often couch hidden agendas. Unlike much problem solving that requires “two to tango” and cannot be realistically addressed by a single entity alone, mixed message situations can be resolved by one person taking preventive measures. These include paraphrasing, note taking, feedback, diagramming, and offering/ requesting examples. 

1)  PARAPHRASING. Instead of simply taking statements at face value and then squirming with them later, ask: “Do I understand you correctly to mean . . . (and repeat back what you think you heard, using your own words)?”

2)  NOTE TAKING. The biggest problem with note taking is that most people do not take notes. And even when they do, they fail to directly request the speaker to allow for it. “Would you mind please slowing down on (or repeating) that point for me  so I can make note of it because I don’t want to forget what you said.” is not just called for; it’s flattering to the speaker. But write it!!

3)  FEEDBACK. Speakers need to pause periodically and take inventory: “How are we doing here so far? Do you have any questions? Is all of this information clear?” Listeners need to politely interrupt periodically and take inventory: “Excuse me. Can we take a ‘Time Out’ minute here to summarize this last bit of information? I want to make sure I understand what you mean.” Write it!!

4)  DIAGRAMS. When speaker or listener is not 100% sure that communications are clear, ask for a diagram of the information; arranging keywords and ideas visually helps ensure accuracy, and can often illuminate a new perspective.

5)  EXAMPLES. Ask for them. Very few exchanges of information fail to become transparently clear when examples are offered and discussed.

Getting tangled up in miscommunication can be frustrating, annoying, and stressful. One person who is determined to “get it right” the first time, and who is willing to accept that it may take longer and be more work, will ultimately experience greater accuracy in dealing with others, and accuracy spells success.                               

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 Hal@BUSINESSWORKS.US  or comment below.

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT Day for someone!

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Jul 07 2009


Get your hidden agenda


out of the closet!

  • CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT: Here’s a project we’d like you to do. Please tell us how you would do it, how long it would take and what kind of budget you’d recommend.
  • CONSULTANT or MANAGER: Who’s the project for? What’s the purpose? Who or what’s being targeted? When do you need it done? What’s the budget you have to work with?
  • CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT: Don’t worry about that stuff. We’re not sure of the target and we have no due date or budget; you tell us what you think.
  • A WEEK LATER: “We’ve reviewed your proposal and we don’t like the target you selected, we think it should be done quicker and it’s too expensive.”



     Every business or organizational group works on two levels: The level of the task represented on the surface, and the level of the “hidden agenda” — the undisclosed needs and motives of individual group members.

     Personal goals, values, attitudes, and fears impact the ways that individuals react to or respond to the group’s surface task. Hidden agendas siphon off valuable energy that can be used to accomplish the task at hand.

     People play power games by withholding information. By not telling the person(s) on the receiving end of an assignment, what the parameters are for a particular project, the CLIENT or BOSS or PROSPECT undermines prospects for success. By assuring him or herself of increased personal control, she or he is simultaneously dooming the project to failure.

     Hidden under the surface, you’re likely to find many individual conflicting pushes and pulls. Group members (according to a University Associates Handbook for Group Facilitators) have personal and subjective needs for belonging, acceptance, recognition, self-worth, self-expression, and productivity.

     The needs of one disgruntled or over-zealous or manipulative or misdirected individual can block the needs of another, or of the entire group, or the entire project. These blockages can be resolved in a minute, or drag on for years…in some rare instances, a lifetime.

     The Pfeiffer & Jones Group Facilitator Handbook suggests:

I wonder if we have said all that we feel about the issue. Maybe we should go around the table and ask for individual comments so that we can open up any further thoughts”

…as being the kind of statement a leader might ask anytime that hidden agendas appear to be threatening progress. 

     When you detect a hidden agenda, get it out of the closet!

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Input welcome anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals, good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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