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Posts tagged: communication

The Nod

I run. And when I take my 4-mile trek around the outskirts of a local golf course very early in the morning, I do so against the tide of about 50 cyclists. These are serious riders and they’re doing about 25 laps a day…so I get to see a lot of them over the course of 30 minutes.

For about a year now, I’ve made it a practice of giving a quick head nod as the riders go by. They’re coming towards me at about 50 MPH so I’ve rationalized that they just can’t see me very well at such a high rate of speed – and that’s why no one has ever nodded back.

This morning that all changed. The lead cyclist was approaching and I gave my customary nod for the gazillionth time. And then it happened. He nodded back. Then most of the riders trailing behind him nodded. And finally, as the last rider in line started his sprint to close the gap behind the person in front of him, he raised two fingers ever-so-slightly off the handlebars and shot me a peace sign…along with a nod.

I had arrived!

I had to earn those nods – at least that’s how I’m choosing to see it. I had to make almost a hundred trips around that golf course at 5AM on weekdays for many months to get that nod of acceptance, of validation, of acknowledgment for my efforts. I run for me and my health, not for anyone else…

But we all need a nod every once in a while, don’t we?

Or maybe, by pure coincidence, they just happened to notice me for the first time today and when the leader gave me my props, everyone else decided to follow suit (which is an entirely separate topic for a great post in the future – stay tuned for that). Whatever. Either way, I finished my last quarter-mile today with a huge, peaceful grin; which hasn’t always been easy to muster up at the end of a tiring run.

So…who can you give a nod to today? Who has earned your respect with their demonstration of resilience, perseverance and determination? Who do you see going that extra mile?

Today – amidst the hustle and bustle of your busy, fast-paced schedule – notice someone going by you who has consistently exceeded your expectations.

Give ‘em a nod. Flash ‘em the peace sign.

They’ll appreciate it.


On Hurricanes & The Art of Communication

Whenever a hurricane approaches us here in Miami, the local stations start broadcasting severe weather reports days in advance. The newscasts always involve the relentless display of various tracking models that plot the path and anticipated strength of an approaching storm; and they help us know what’s coming and when to start preparing.

The two graphics we see plastered on our TV screens most often are the “forecast tracks” and the “eye cone”. It got me to thinking today – it’s too bad we don’t have access to these kind of models when it comes to what we say everyday. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could pre-determine the exact impact of our words and know precisely where (in someone’s head and/or heart) they’ll make landfall (uh…person-fall)?

Here are three quick tips to consider so that your messages – at work and at home – don’t get swirled around in a storm of confusion and potential gale force destruction…

  1. Use your barometer. Measure your level of pressure and gauge your attitude before saying things (fly reconnaissance planes in there if you have to).
  2. Rate your message. Know (and appropriately categorize) the urgency and importance of what you have to say ahead of time (a Category 1 message’s content and delivery should be easily distinguishable from a Category 3 or 5).
  3. Plot the course. Identify who your message is for and, as best you can, forecast the anticipated reactions/responses from all recipients (consider the “eye cone” and remember there is a wide swath of possible outcomes).

Be safe out there.

Big is the Torah

My good friends at Google sent me an email this morning, suggesting that I play with a new gadget from their world domination toy box: voice search. It seemed pretty cool to me so I went over to Google, clicked the little microphone, leaned in to my laptop and said my name aloud.

Within .15 seconds, a long list of sites with headings like “…the big bang theory of Torah” and “The Velveteen Rabbi (which I thought was hilarious, by the way) popped up. So…what I said was “David Vittoria”, but what the little Google gremlin heard on the other end was “big is the Torah.” A classic case of miscommunication which lead to my unmet expectations and ultimately, poor results. 14,500,000 of them to be exact.

Consider how often this happens to you. You think about what you’re going to say, say it as clearly as you know how, and the receiver of your message translates it into something wildly different from what you actually said. Happens all the time, right? Sure it does; and my little Google experiment today highlights this enormous challenge that is eroding relationships and seriously impacting outcomes in workplaces (and homes) today:

  1. We don’t fully grasp all of the different ways people actually listen to what we say.
  2. We then assume our message was universally understood and will be acted on accordingly.
  3. And we’re later disappointed to discover that our message had, in fact, been misinterpreted and now things didn’t turn out the way we’d planned.

Here’s the thing …

Hearing is a constant variable. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever the content of the message – hearing is universally understood quick forum readtopic propecia none generated to be “the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations through an organ such as the ear”. Listening is more complex; and the way we make meaning out of those “vibrations” depends on our personalities and our prior experiences which, in part, determine our most comfortable listening approach.

Some people are most naturally appreciative listeners – their focus is on relaxing and enjoying the listening experience. Others are more empathic (like me) in their approach to listening – we look for ways to support the speaker and better understand their emotions. Many people are discerning listeners – their main goal is to gather complete and accurate information and to review the “data” later. Comprehensive listeners want to organize all the information they’re taking in and really seek to understand the meaning of the message. And people who are evaluative listeners want to critique the information they’re receiving and then they get prepared to act on it right away.

Consider how you most naturally listen and think about the people you interact with everyday and how they tend to approach the listening experience. I often suggest to teams (and individuals, couples, families and even entire companies, for that matter) that they meet every once in a while and identify not just what is being communicated and expected, but also talk about how things are being said and how information is being processed with everyone involved.

We can’t always readily identify someone else’s listening style; nor should we be expected to constantly alter our message depending on who’s listening and how they’re most “comfortable”. But awareness goes a long way and it often leads to greater understanding and more predictable (and positive) results.

Now you’re aware.

Driven to Succeed

I’m not a big NASCAR fan. I am intrigued, though, by the incredible success of one of the sport’s premier drivers, Jimmie Johnson. Even if you’re like me – and you’re not an avid racing fan – you’re likely aware of Jimmie Johnson’s astounding accomplishments on the race track; recently winning his fifth straight Sprint Cup title in a row. That’s like one football team winning the Super Bowl or one baseball team capturing the World Series crown…five years straight. It’s a pretty big deal.

This morning, I watched an interview with Jimmie Johnson and the reporter asked him: “What’s the secret of your team’s success?”; and here’s how “Superman” (as he’s known around NASCAR) replied:


What makes us different is that I’m aware of every single sensation within that car so I know exactly what it’s doing, and going to do, literally at every turn. Then I communicate those sensations to our team in detail. I think that’s what makes us special.

I could instantly understand what differentiated him from the competition. First, the awareness. Not only is Jimmie Johnson acutely aware of what’s going on in and around his car on the racetrack, but he’s equally attuned to the fact that this skill he’s developed (since he was 4 years-old on his first dirt bike, he adds) gives him and his team a competitive advantage. Second, the communication. It’s one thing Cialis Online to be so keyed into your senses that you see, hear and feel everything that’s going on around you. But it’s a decidedly different and complementary talent to be able to relay those perceptions and convey your expectations around them (like: “change the front tire, it’s low”, or “the stabilizer bar needs raised one millimeter”) in a way that people can clearly understand. And to be able to do all of that in seconds, through a headset, while driving 200 MPH, inches from 30 other cars that are all hell-bent on beating you to the finish…well…that’s extraordinary to me. I see why they call him Superman.

So this morning I find myself asking: “Dave, you’re pretty attuned to what goes on around you at work, but how are you doing with your communication to your coworkers and customers about what you see and what you would like to be different?”. And then thinking: “Okay Dave, so you pay close attention to what’s happening in the lives of your children at every turn, but how often are you checking in with them (while we’re all running our own race at what seems like 200 MPH) to make sure they’re on track?”.

I may not be a NASCAR fan, but I admire anyone that demonstrates exceptional insight and displays leadership qualities like Jimmie Johnson does. So…I guess you could say I’m now a fan…a fan of “Superman”.