What do podcast editing and visual communication in business have in common?
Check out today’s episode to find out…
Thanks for listening to today’s episode. I’d love hear from you about today’s topic or just in general. You can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to shawnwashburn.com/contact and you’ll find links to connect with me on social media as well.
Today I’m excited to introduce a new segment of guest answers, where I have guest experts share their insights on various topics that we cover in the podcast.
Today’s guest is Kent Sanders, a ghostwriter, host of The Daily Writer podcast and of the Daily Writer Community (http://www.dailywriterlife.com/community).
Kent shares 3 killer email tips to help business leaders be more effective in using this tool.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode. You can shoot me an email at email@example.com.
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Listening is one of the best skills you can develop. Being a great listener can value your team while also encouraging creativity, new thinking and new ideas.
In episode 5 we poked a little fun at the phrase of the year: “You’re on mute”
Even just that phrase still makes me smile a little bit honestly. I can picture the mouth moving and everyone scrambling to unmute themselves so that they can tell the muted one that they are, in fact, muted.
But today we’re going to talk about some ways that we might be actually muting others around us without realizing it.
Their mouths are moving but we’re not hearing anything. We’re not listening.
To me, one of the top skills you can have as a business leader is to be a good listener. And I don’t just mean someone that people talk to. I mean, someone that really listens.
To be a good listener means that you are approachable. It means that people know that you value them and what they have to share… even if it’s hard to hear.
Being a good listener isn’t asking for an opinion and then letting your team member speak while the whole time you’re secretly holding your own answer behind your back ready to pounce it on them.
Being a good listener is being curious. Being willing to acknowledge that you might be wrong, that you might not be able to see the whole picture.
I heard a great quote from Andy Stanley years back. He said that “leaders who don’t listen will soon be surrounded by people with nothing to say.”
I remember hearing that and having to think that one through again. But it is dead on and I’ve seen it happen.
If people don’t feel like their opinions and thoughts and ideas are truly valued, then eventually they might try to find a place where they are.
And then all that will be left are people who just repeat back what has been said before.
So, if you really want to not only help your business thrive but also to bring out the best in your team members, put in the work to become a better listener.
It may take time. And if your people haven’t been used to being asked for their ideas and really listened to, it may take some time for them to trust they this time it’s different.
Maybe you could start this week and invite a few members of your team in for a meeting with no agenda other than to just hear from them. Let them know that you want to honestly hear how things are going for them, what frustrations they have, struggles, roadblocks to success.
Ask them what ideas they have about making things better… and let them finish, even if you don’t believe they are things you can do right now. That can come later, but you’ll miss out on so many great ideas and empowering your team if you shoot down ideas from the get go or if they feel like it’s not even worth sharing.
Every person on your team is asking this same question: “Can you hear me?… do you want to hear me?”
I believe your answer is yes, because you care about each one of them… and you also want the business to grow as well.
So un-mute your team this week and let them speak what they’ve been dying to say… unless, of course that lawnmower is still blaring in the background…
Assumptions… they usually get a bad rap. But today we’re going to dig a little deeper and see how they can actually help us if we use them wisely
You know what happens when you assume, right? You make an…
Yeah, well, I’ll actually let YOU finish that sentence on your own. And… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, head over to the Google after this and just search for “when you assume”.
Now, I’m here to shed a little more light on assumptions.
Obviously, they have a PR problem. I mean, imagine if whenever anyone mentioned you, the first thing that popped into their head was that something really bad happens whenever you’re around.
Yeah, that’s what it’s like for assumptions.
They have to live with this dark cloud hanging over their very existence.
And I get it. Usually, when they’re around bad stuff happens.
But I want to dig a little bit deeper into assumptions today.
I’d like to propose that they actually can have a lot of value, but that they have to be used wisely.
You see, assumptions are sort of like a short cut.
When you say that you assumed something, you are basically saying that you took a short cut in your thinking or investigating or conversations.
As the saying goes, maybe you even “jumped to conclusions”.
But honestly, we assume things all the time. And if we didn’t life would grind to a halt.
We take calculated risks, we believe certain things to be true about the world around us.
We assume that our house isn’t going to fall apart today or that the milk that was perfectly fine in our refrigerator yesterday hasn’t totally turned to curdled yuck overnight. That we weren’t on mute when we chimed in with that perfectly timed response in our zoom call.
There are things that we assume every day… but we just don’t call them assumptions.
What I would like to propose is that most assumptions are fine… they just need to be interrogated. They need to be sat down in that dark room with the spotlight on them. And then we need to ask them some really tough questions.
If we’re willing to do this, then assumptions can actually be good. They can be beneficial. They can save us time.
If you question an assumption and it can’t give you a solid answer, then you need to do more work on your part.
For example, let’s say you have a big meeting coming up with a customer. You set it up weeks ago and you need to make sure that they will be present.
But you haven’t had any communication with them recently about it.
You have a choice to make. You can either assume that all is good on their end. Or, you can just shoot them an email to make sure that they are still good for the meeting.
An email that might take you a few minutes but could save a ton of waste and add tension to the relationship if they didn’t show.
Maybe they had emailed you last Tuesday saying that they had to reschedule but it got lost in your inbox. Or maybe they never got the initial request. Or maybe something else urgent has come up and they were so consumed with it that they had forgotten about the meeting.
Whatever the reason, if you have any uneasiness in your gut or if there might be a big downside to a potential miscommunication, then it’s worth your time to just check in and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
We’ve all experienced the bad side of assumptions and have been burnt by not interrogating ours or we’ve burnt someone else.
But together, you and I can help change the face of assumptions. Using them for good, instead of evil.
Try looking at them a little differently this week and how, when used well, they can actually be something positive.
Maybe the new phrase could be “You know what happens when you use assumptions wisely? You and I save a lot of time and energy!”
OK, so maybe that one needs a little work.
I hope you’ve been getting value from these episodes. If you have, I’d love it if you left a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite player. It truly means a lot and lets me help even more people. Thanks so much.
Some words just cost more than others. And “should” is one of the most expensive because almost everywhere it’s used you’ll find waste and loss of time and money. Everywhere you find “should” in communication this week, take a deeper dive. You’ll find a world of opportunity there to close gaps and make things better.
“What happened last night?” I asked him as we both stared at the cage of scrap parts from the night before.
“They didn’t change over to the right setup,” he replied.
“Do… you know why?” I asked as my mind was trying to dig deeper into the dilemma.
“No. They should have known it was the wrong setup for that job,” came the reply
“Did they have the right information?” I asked.
“They should have been able to look it up in the book,” he said.
“What I don’t understand,” I interjected “is why this didn’t get caught in the initial quality check. They should have noticed it there.”
Should… is an expensive word.
I’ve found that whenever “should” shows up in a conversation, somewhere there was a gap in a process, documentation or communication. Somewhere, the ball was dropped.
Should is so intriguing. If it could be converted over to a percentage, it would be something like 95%.
Like, It’s almost 100%, but not quite. It’s almost a done deal, but not guaranteed. You can almost take it to the bank, but it’s still risky.
Should is like a foundation with a crack. It looks strong but you’re not entirely sure you can trust it.
Imagine jumping out of an airplane. “Will my parachute work?” you ask. “It… should”
Doesn’t give you a lot of confidence does it?
It’s confusing because when it is used, the intention is actually to convey something sure and dependable.
And yet, in reality, that 95% might as well be 5%.
I’d venture to say that Should… should have a warning label.
“Warning: when using this word, understand that you are almost certainly guaranteeing a failure at some point”
It’s a dangerous word to throw around.
But, if you’re observant, it can be one that can help you hone in on potential issues in your business.
Try this exercise. For the next week, look for any shoulds that you come in contact with in your own conversations or with others. And then do some investigative or follow-up work. Whenever someone has used the word, dig deeper. If it’s used before an event (“I should be able to get that done”), challenge the user to solidify their goal or see if there is a reason why they aren’t more confident in it.
If it is used after an event (“they should have known that we agreed on that”), consider pulling all parties together to figure out where the gap occurred (if it did) and what needs to happen to make things more clear. Maybe it’s instructions that need to be clarified or someone was left off an email chain or was outside the loop in some way. Or maybe the main person in the area was out and their fill-in wasn’t aware of some tribal knowledge.
Should is expensive. And Should can be dangerous.
But should is also an opportunity, both to teach and to find those leaks in the boat and shore them up.
Well, that should be about it on this topic.