Welcome to our listeners wherever you might be in the world today!
This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best. Remember, every single one of us is a leader. We’re leading our own lives. We provide leadership within the relationships that we have both professionally and within our families. And of course, within our teams. We set the standard for communication and leadership. Leadership is a combination of things.
As we think about transformational relationships, teams, and organizations, much of it does come assuming that we have in place transformational leadership, which is the vision and the goals and being able to consistently focus on the things that really matter most to us. Well, having that in place creates a direction for our teams, our families, our organizations, and even our own lives.
Next is creating this culture, this environment. The strength of relationship really hinges on a number are these key principles that create this transformation. So living the golden rule, building trust specifically, moving that trust meter over to full, and one of the best ways to do that is through communication. So I’ve decided today to entitle this particular podcast, “Communication on a Scale of 1 to 10.” It starts really in the heart, seeking to leave the world a better place, to show respect for other people, to take the time to listen, and the core belief that we can learn from anybody and everybody, especially if we’re attentive. And we are the ones that can help as leaders, especially becoming your best type leaders, to set the climate where that can take place. And this is literally like being a light, and this light goes out and helps everybody. They see it and they have a desire to model it.
We have found through research and also personal observation that communication is one of the biggest challenges in the corporate world today, but it’s not just in the corporate world, is it? It’s also in personal lives. It’s interactions with other people and it’s most difficult with those that we are closest to in our own families. So how can we really be great leaders to make a difference in communication? And I’d like to share a few thoughts of things that we can do today, but just to remind you and me, that basic and fundamental is our thought about how we’re going to treat other people, and because change is becoming your best isn’t always easy, but when we can shift how we see others and to desire the reason for doing this, of becoming my best is to end up being in a happier place, to have a greater peace and joy in life, and it ultimately affects our prosperity. And so this shows up in many different ways. We know that it can be a challenge in our personal lives, unfortunately, by the broken relationships that we see. And so one person really has to stand up if we’re going to break that logger jam and that’s what leadership does, and especially highly successful leaders, is they take this to another level.
Okay, well, let’s get right into this. I’ll start off with a story and a couple of examples. Sometime back, my wife, Roxanne, and I had…This is when the boys were younger. At that time, we had four boys. We ended up having five and then a little girl, but we had four boys under nine and they were keeping us on our toes all the way around. Roxanne came in and announced that despite her heavy workload at home, she wanted to run a marathon and my wife had never lacked energy or ambition. Now, on the other hand, I had taken a vow many years before that I’d never punish my body by competing in a marathon. But for some reason, that day, my sound thinking flew out the window and I heard myself saying, “Sure. I’d be happy to run the marathon with you.” And so then the next thought that hit me was did I really say that out loud? Well, I made the commitment and Roxanne held me to it with great passion. Now, the fact is that although my feet and knees may not have agreed with me, running that marathon turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of our lives. I’ll always be grateful that I did it.
Now, to prepare for the marathon, we undertook and completed a 16-week training program and this regimen helped us to become more physically fit and also provided us with this rare one-on-one time to really talk and share our feelings and it also gave me the opportunity to become a better listener. And one morning on a training run, I asked Roxanne how she was doing and she replied, “Fine.” Well, her tone was not what you would really call a blissful and carefree tone. She sounded a bit stressed and normally, I might have let it go, but I had been researching the art and power of listening and I sensed that there were emotions behind this fine that really weren’t so fine. And so I replied to her, “That didn’t sound like a very convincing fine,” and her next comment just about knocked me over. Actually, I had never…This is what she replied, “I have never been more discouraged in my whole life.” Wow, I thought to myself, “Well, this is really not the time to make light of her words or try to solve any problems. I am just gonna focus on listening.” I had considered saying, “Well, if you could do these five things, it might help.”
I know she’d have probably just been tempted to push me in the ditch, but it sounded pretty serious. So I replied back to her, “Well, it sounds like things are really weighing heavily on you.” Well, for the next 20 minutes, my wife unburdened herself of something that had been troubling her. I didn’t interrupt at all. I just listened. It’s really provided to be the right thing to do. And by the time we finished our run and reached our front porch, my wife’s mood had lifted and she gave me a hug and said, “Thank you for just listening. I didn’t really need any advice, I just needed someone to listen. So thanks for letting me verbalize my thoughts.” And then she went into the house, leaving me on the front porch with a deeper appreciation for the power of listening. And what was really especially amazing about this circumstance is that Roxanne felt much better in the issue that had been troubling her never came up again. She figured it out.
Well, this is the power of communication and it is so tempting when somebody expresses something to us, whether it’s in hot emotion and they’re upset at us, or in the workplace and they’re criticizing, or they’re simply sharing heartfelt expressions, rather than judging or jumping in or giving ways to solve the problems. Just listening and understanding is the first step to highly successful leadership, becoming your best type leader, because it’s only then that circumstances change when we really listen. The other person that’s involved can take a deep breath. Trust levels start going up. They calm down. They feel understood. And so you can see all of these dynamics that change and we as….at least someone that’s trying to be like a BYB leader gets to a better place where maybe we can be a resource if it’s needed. So this is one of the most important mindset skill sets that we can use in our lives, and, indeed, it affects our happiness, our joy, our peace, our prosperity, the success of our organizations, the success of others. So this is the opportunity to have a big influence.
So today, I am going to just talk about five ways to improve and even transform your communication. So let’s just start out first of all with this foundation that we talked about. We said live with the golden rule. That is a mindset all the way. It’s respecting others. It’s actually loving them, and especially if it’s a member of the family, more than your desire to control or to dominate the conversation or to have your way. One of the ultimate sacrifices is to give of your willpower so that you can listen to where others are. This is a huge gift. The second one that is foundational, also a mindset, but it is a skill set, it is using….so building and maintaining trust by examining where the trust meter is. So if you think of a gas gauge, where it’s empty, that’s usually not a great place for it to be. It doesn’t feel good. It’s stressful, especially if you’re out on a lonely road. On the other hand, when that needle on the gas gauge is at full, it feels great. It feels confident.
Well, this is exactly the way it is with trust, and we can look at any of our relationships, our teams, our customers, clients, children, partners, spouses, whatever it might be, and imagine where that trust, where that meter is, the trust meter on the gauge of empty to full. And you’re gonna be accurate if you just listen to your heart and kind of visually see this in your face, you’ll see where that gauge goes. And then listening is one of the most powerful ways to start unilaterally moving that trust meter up by just following some of the things we’ve talked about, but also now we get into communication. So here are the five ways. I said we’re gonna entitle this “Communication on a scale of 1 to 10.” So let’s start out with this, which is a good way to communicate, is by talking about how do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10. Part of my vision is to help my wife, Roxanne, feel like a 10, and so what I will do is periodically try to take a little measurement.
So I’ll say, “Roxanne, how do you feel physically on a scale of 1 to 10?” She’s, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know on a scale of 1 to 10.” And I share with her, “Well, just take a shot at it. What does it feel like?” And she’ll say, “Well, I’m doing pretty good, I guess. I don’t know, a seven or an eight.” “All right, well, that’s pretty good.” Now, instantly, see, communication is taking place and you’re starting to assess where things are so that you can be of help. Then my next one is, “Well, how do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10 mentally?” “Oh, I feel pretty good. You know, I’ve been reading some books and staying on top of some things and teaching this class. I’m doing pretty good.” “Okay, well, great.” So she doesn’t have to give a 1 to 10, but a pretty good to me, I know, because of our long years of being together that that means a seven or eight, not bad.
“How are you doing on a scale of 1 to 10 spiritually?” “Well, I’m doing pretty good.” “Okay, good.” And we’ll identify what that looks like, but see now I’m starting to get a good picture. Well, I have found that… I don’t know. This may work differently for you, but rather than saying, “How do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10 emotionally,” that that is way top big of a field, and so you can get there eventually. I found that a better way to say this, at least for me, is, “How are you doing on a scale of 1 to 10 on the happy meter?” Well, if she says, “I’m, like, at a four,” okay, that’s a red flag for me. If she says, “I’m at a six,” well, that’s still a concern for me. That’s a yellow flag. If she responds with, “I’m happy. You know, I’m probably at a seven, or eight, or a nine. I’m doing well,” well, then that tells me, “Greenlight, we’re doing pretty good.” Well, this is number one, scale of 1 to 10. That’s a way to quickly communicate.
Another way that you can do this is about things that you wanna do together, or that if you’re in a team, you can just quickly throw it out. So you can say, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you wanna go to the movies tonight.” “A one.” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you wanna go to the play?” “A nine.” So see, instantly, you can communicate, and what you can do is you can say, “Well, I’m like a seven on the movies, but that’s okay. I don’t feel strongly about it, but I am a two on the play.” Well, instantly, now you can just laugh about, talk about it, and even though one of you may be off, you may be willing to still go to be of help to your partner. Well, it’s just great way to communicate. That’s number one.
Number two is a very simple way to get feedback and communication. This can be done personally, but also in the professional workplace. And that is where you have a sheet of paper, you write three words on it: continue, start, stop. Now, the three words are spaced vertically on the paper so that you can write after continue, your feedback, and then after start, your feedback after stop. So what type of things do you want me to continue doing that are working well? What kind of things do you want me to start doing I’m not doing today that if we did do them, they would work better and help us do better? And number three, what kind of things do you want us to stop doing, excuse me, that don’t work, that if we didn’t do them actually it would be a little better? Now, I’ve done this with 150 employees at one time. Aha, it is fabulous. And you ask them to be very specific on their feedback.
So particularly, if they’re giving recommendations on what to start or stop, don’t just say, “Improve morale.” That’s way too general. Actually, offer specific recommendations. The more specific, the easier it is to deal with it. And as you get feedback from a large group like that, sometimes you’ll see real outliers that really nobody else says. It might be one or two people and it’s a little dramatic. Well, that’s not what you’re looking for in the continue, start, stop. You’re looking for overriding comments and trends that you see time and time again. We had an office in the San Diego area that did this about six years ago with their team and communication came up big time on the continue, start, stop as a serious problem, and so they went right to work on this. They transformed that office and that organization by vastly improving communication. They really had a big-time focus on it. It showed up in their revenues with a 300% increase in revenues over the next several years. I mean, it was dramatic.
And if somebody gives feedback, it’s good to say, “Here’s some of the feedback I’ve got. We’re gonna focus on this right now. This one, we’re gonna put in a parking lot and work on later, but thanks for the feedback.” I’ve done this with our family. We’d take an evening together as a family, a Sunday or Monday evening. I’d give out this sheet to each of our children and my spouse and just ask them for feedback. Oh, by the way, with the 150 people, we didn’t ask them to put their names on it at all. This is not about who’s doing it. It’s about getting the feedback. Now, of course, with your family, in our family, I knew everybody’s handwriting. I could still tell them, “Ah, don’t put your name on it,” but they knew dad would know. It was really fun getting the feedback, very helpful. One of our sons, who was probably ten at the time, David, wrote on his, “Stop yelling at me.” I read that and I thought, “Are you kidding me? I don’t yell. I don’t yell at you.” But David’s spirit was far more sensitive than the other children and it’s simply for him, yelling was a slightly elevated voice or a firmer voice and it was upsetting to him. Well, I would’ve never known that, ever, unless I would’ve done something simple like this. So this is communication. This is learning things of how people feel or points of view that they see that helps us become our best, to do better, to be a better leader and a better person.
All right, so that’s number two, continue, start, stop. A third thing that you can do to be an effective communicator, especially leader communicator, highly successful leader communicator, is to create a climate for healthy communication. I was serving in an organization, this is a civic group, and one of the individuals told another person, “Hey, you really need…if you feel something, man, you need to go tooth and nail for that thought.” I am not sure, although we should have commitment around our ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, that may not create a healthy climate for communication. It may actually be divisive and counter-productive. So if our job as a leader is to get to a better place, we wanna do things both mindset, skill set that help us do that. So one is what we started off by talking about is when somebody expresses… Just think of it as two sides of a coin. Side one is the receiving and confirming that you understand it.
So when somebody shares something with you under any circumstances, hot blood or a thoughtful idea, whatever it might be, or even a simple fresh idea, they think they may have something that causes you to improve. Just say, “Let me be sure I’ve got it here. Thanks so much for sharing this.” So you acknowledge it, “And let me be sure I understand what you’re saying.” That’s side one. That is miraculous. It is a skill. Just try it. I’ll bet you could do it 5 or 10 times in a day and watch what happens. The opportunities present themselves all the time. Side two of the coin is one of those as a leader helps you create this climate, and that is you can bring up any issue, hard or soft, highly emotional, big time stakes, whatever it might be, but you do it in a way that makes it easy to talk about it, or at least easier to talk about it. You’re creating the climate that is positive and upbeat that helps you get to a better place.
So how do you do that? This is a recommendation, and that is this set of words. It’s a skill set. Practice it 5 or 10 times and then go do it 2 or 3 times a day and watch what happens, and it is this. “I have been thinking about such and such, and if we did this, I think it may have this impact, but I would love to get your thinking on it. How do you see it? What are your thoughts?” Well, see how that kinda changes everything. It’s not pitting us against them. It’s us trying to solve the problem or get to a better place. And if you’re sincere it’s not a manipulation, then it will genuinely help you get to a better place because if they come unglued and fly off the handle, you go back to side one. I mean, this is amazing, the peace and the power and the control that it provides you to stay in charge of your emotions and be the type of leader that gets to a better place, and then you can switch back to side 2 again once we have a better environment. So that’s it. That’s pretty significant stuff.
Number four. I love this one, it’s simple. My partner and I use this one a great deal, and that is as we interface with our managers and workers in our company we’ll say, “Well, how is Pete doing?” Or “How is Mike?” Or “How is Julie?” And they’ll say, “We’re all doing good, doing good. Thank you.” Then you can say, “Well okay, Julie, what are your plans for the next one to three years?” And then just listen. It is amazing if you really listen, all of the things that you can hear, and then once again, then you’re in a position to exercise world-class type leadership or Becoming-Your-Best type leadership that gets you just into a whole different place. It’s great leaders that get results, great results. It doesn’t just happen by accident. It’s doing these type of things that produces a different outcome. Well, and so let’s say that Julie says, “Well, I really would like to do this,” well, now you’re in a position to work together with her to help her get and fulfill her dreams as you’re also realizing your goals and vision as an organization or family.
Okay, there’s four of them right there. So the first one was “How do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10?” Or “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you like to do this?” Number two, continue, start, stop. Number three, create a climate of healthy communication by using side one or side two of the coin, but you use them interchangeably all along. Number four is “Well, how are you doing, Pete?” Whatever it might be, and “Well what are your plans for the next one to three years?” Really listen. And the last one that I’d like to share today, if you don’t know the other person, simply ask them, “What is your story or background?” I had a really wonderful experience a couple of weeks ago when I had the opportunity to meet with one of our county commissioners. They’re fabulous people. I’d met with the other two, we have three county commissioners, the week before. So this next one was a one-on-one. This one, I had not really had the opportunity. I knew his name, I’d actually voted for him, but I didn’t know him well.
And so before we got going on… We were talking about community business, community service, and a project that we’re working on. Well, before we got to that, I said, “Would you mind sharing… What’s your background? I just haven’t had the chance to really get to know you.” Oh, my goodness, it was so fun as he really just shared his background. He loved horses, raising horses, lived in the country. It was great. I mean, this is a smart fellow and it gave me a whole different perspective. He talked about his passions, the things that he wanted to do. Well, when we do this, we see people at a whole different level and it allows us to be more effective in working together with them. I then briefly shared some of the things in my background and so it gave him some insights into me and then we went to work. We had actually a really fun time as we talked about how to help our community and help it get to a better place.
So these are five things that you and I can do to be a 10 in communication or at least work towards being a 10 in communication, to be the type of leader that as a Becoming-Your-Best leader can shift the field to a better place because of the things that we do and we work to be an effective communicator. So just one last time, we’ll repeat these five that we’ve talked about today. A scale of 1 to 10 on how you feel or things you might like to do. Number two, continue, start, stop. Number three, create a climate for healthy communication. Number four, “Well, how’s is Mary doing?” And, “Mary, what are your plans for the next one to three years?” And five, if you don’t know the other person or if you don’t them very well, “What’s your story?” Or, “What’s your background?”
Well, okay, these things will help shift your communication to a whole another level. I wish each one of you the best as you’re changing the world for good as you do these things. It allows you to be a light and when you’re a light, that light grows as we keep practicing on both the mindset and the skill set, and as that light grows, it radiates out and influences literally everybody that we associate with and come in contact with. So I wish you the best as you become a Becoming-Your-Best leader and listener. Wishing you a great day wherever you might be. This is Steve Shallenberger.