Facilitation Skills at Meetings

Posted on | November 29, 2010 | No Comments

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Groups often experience difficulty working through issues, and that’s where facilitation skills come in handy. Often this difficulty is related to group members’ inexperience with structuring a conversation: The needed information needs to surface and productive conversation must move through a logical sequence, resulting in a conclusion that is clear, actionable and supported.

Many years ago my PowerfulWork partner, Tom Kornbluh, and I developed a conversation model to help groups move through conversations in a smooth sequence. One of our clients found the process so helpful that she posted the model in all of her company’s conference rooms as a visual aid.

Each conversation thread within a meeting will eventually follow the natural pattern of human critical thinking. Designing sessions to align with and reinforce this natural pattern leads to an accelerated work process and less unnecessary conflict. Here is the model and a simple explanation:


• The purpose of the thread/conversation is identified and confirmed with the group.
• Timeline, process steps and roles are identified.
• E.g. “The topic up for discussion is ‘the selection of a new recorder.’”

Data/Information Gathering:
• All facts and information relevant to the thread are shared with the entire group.
• Presentations from outside experts and internal reports may be offered.
• Individuals may present additional data of personal import—as long as it is related to the thread.
• The group has an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the quality and accuracy of the data.
• E.g., “What do we know about the candidates?”

Individual Reactions:
• Individual responses to the data and the facts of the situation are surfaced.
• The floor is open to feelings, thoughts and opinions.
• Individuals are encouraged to speak for themselves.
• E.g., “What do you each think and feel about the information we just heard?”

Group Implications/Options:
• There is a group-level discussion of the significance and meaning of the data and reactions for the group/organization.
• E.g., “What significance or meaning does all this have for our organization?”
• After discussing the implications, the group may want to brainstorm some options for action.

• The group makes decisions.
• Next actions are established.
• E.g., “Can we agree on the best candidate for the job?” “Who will notify all the candidates of our decision by tomorrow?”

• Thread and outcome are summarized.
• Incomplete and connected relevant issues are identified and scheduled for future conversations, if necessary.
• E.g., “After exploring all the relevant information and implications for our organization we have chosen Jane Doe as our recorder and we have identified clear next steps. Are there any other conversations about this topic that we need to have before we leave today?”

Over time we have found that there are two common group tendencies that can derail these vital steps and prevent a conversation from being productive. First, groups want to move immediately to conclusions. They have little patience for really vetting the issues. Organizations are about results and they want to get to the solution. It’s a natural tendency. However, slowing a group down and forcing them to follow this process will ensure a more thoughtful dialogue and result in a better solution. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is and haven’t explored causes or implications.

The second common mistake groups make is failing to separate the facts and data from individuals’ opinions and reactions. Helping a group see the difference between these two categories is an enormous gift to them. This is not to say that opinions are not important—they are—but opinions are a different set of information. Groups need to know the difference between hard data and people’s opinions.

As a meeting facilitator, the more you can help a group stay focused on where they are in the process, the more smoothly the conversation will run. We have found that just noting when the group has moved from one step to the next makes participants more comfortable, because they know where they are in the conversation.

Finally, if you plan to use the PowerfulWork Conversation model, it’s important to show it to the group before you use it. Keep it visible and use it as a reference tool as you track the conversation.

Reduce Your Stress

Posted on | April 15, 2010 | No Comments

In a recent blog I talked about mindfulness and the benefits of cultivating the practice of being in the present moment. April is National Stress Awareness Month and a perfect time to start to look at the effects of mindfulness on stress.

A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed 75 percent of adults experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the previous month, and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the previous year. Yet only half of participants said that they are doing enough to manage their stress.

Not managing stress has significant associated costs:

  • Stress can kill. The American Medical Association reports that stress is the cause of 80 percent to 85 percent of all human illness and disease or at the very least had a detrimental effect on our health.
  • Every week, 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stress-related symptom for which they take medication.
  • American businesses lose an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion dollars per year to stress-related productivity loss and other related costs.

One of the ways we create our own stress is by allowing our minds to dominate our lives. Have you ever noticed where your mind spends most of its time?? For most of us, it’s in the past (ruminating over something that is done) or imagining future scenarios that may or may not ever occur. We worry about what has happened or what will happen.

We are constantly concerned about how we will accomplish the millions of tasks we have in front of us. Our mind keeps reminding us of all we need to do to be successful, to achieve, to be “better,” to obtain. Our mind is a tyrant!

When we are focused on the past or on the future we miss what is happening now. The practice of mindfulness is a way to train your mind to stay in the present moment. As you grow in your ability to remain in the present you will start to notice less stress and more enjoyment. And you will be living your life as it happens!

If this is all new to you, I don’t expect you to take my word for it. It’s something you need to decide whether you want to try—and if you try it, see what you find. If it works, great; if not, feel free to go on to try something else. No matter what, I encourage you to find your way to manage your stress and to begin to understand that you can live a less stress-filled life.

Here’s a simple experiment that Jon Kabat-Zinn gives:

Take a raisin and place it in your hand.

Don’t eat it.

Just look at it. Pretend you are an alien and have never seen this odd object. Look at it with curiosity, carefully and slowly. Take your time! Notice what it looks like, feels like, and smells like. Turn it over and look more closely at it. Do this for a minute or two.

Now place it in your mouth but don’t chew it. Notice in great detail what happens. What are the sensations? Tastes? Smells? What does it feel like in your mouth? What is your body doing in response? Notice your thoughts as well.

Now, with attention, bite the raisin. And again notice how it feels, tastes, smells and what your reactions are.

When you are finished, take a moment and reflect on the experience. What did you notice?? When you stay mindful what happens?

This little experiment reveals to us that if we slow down and stay present to the moment we are in, there is great richness to each moment. These are moments that we have been missing until now.
Today, and just for today if you like, try taking three minutes out of your day to sit quietly and put your attention on something. It might be a picture on the wall, a tree, or flower, your dog, or something on your desk. It can be anything. Simply allow yourself to breathe deeply and bring your attention to whatever you choose. See if you can just be with the attention. You will undoubtedly notice your brain reminding you that you have things to do, or telling you that this is silly. That’s fine. That’s what our minds do. Just gently bring your attention back to the object and to your breath. See what happens.

If you find that interesting, you can expand this practice to make it longer or try it a few times a day. You will begin to get some benefits from breaking the habitual patterns of your day and thoughts, and you will start to see how your mind has control of you. In fact, you can take back control of your mind. This is just the beginning.

Can You Challenge and Still Be Collaborative?? (Part 1)

Posted on | April 13, 2010 | No Comments

Recently an esteemed colleague of mind asked me a very insightful question. Can you challenge someone and still be collaborative? (Hence the title of this post.)

There are a number of ways to answer this question. The short answer is yes! In this post I will give you some tips on what to do in a meeting. In another post I will help you create some context for these kinds of dilemmas and guide your thinking.

Here’s a recap of the situation my friend, Alan, encountered. Alan had been in a meeting with a colleague, Amy, who was proposing that one of their working teams could meet a particular goal with fewer resources than had been offered in the past. Alan was on board with the effort but felt that the resources needed to be higher to support the project’s success. He questioned Amy’s decision on resource allocation and cited several recent examples.

Amy eventually said that Alan wasn’t being collegial or collaborative anymore, because he was disagreeing with her. Alan was left wondering how to challenge without alienating someone.

Collaboration typically refers to the process of a group of people working together in the pursuit of a shared goal. The verb “challenging” often refers to an act of questioning or to taking exception to something. These two notions are not mutually exclusive. It’s important to explore issues thoroughly before making decisions; one process is to engage in divergent thinking before you converge or make a decision. Groups need to be able to disagree and have healthy conflict in order to work at their best. In a very real sense, to do good collaborative work together you must be able to exchange ideas, perspectives and differences in healthy ways.

In a meeting when you want to question someone and still be seen as collaborating, it’s helpful to:

1. Make your intentions clear. Before countering or questioning, especially if you feel some resistance, declare your intention. “I am in support of this (whatever it is) and I want to be sure we do this really well. My questioning or thoughts are an attempt to help us do this project really well.”
2. Make sure they see you as aiming for the same goal. Acknowledge where you agree with them or support them first. You want them to perceive you as on their team.
3. Focus on the problem or content and not the person. This is not personal. Keep the dialogue on the task or issue. Imagine it as something on the wall. “Let’s look at this question together.”
4. Ask for permission to ask questions or delve deeper. Getting another person’s verbal permission makes them responsible for engaging the conversation and makes them more open to listening.
5. Be sure you have thoroughly understood their position. Before you challenge or question, be sure they feel you have heard them. You might ask clarifying questions and then restate their position in order to be sure you are both on the same page.
6. Then ask if you might offer a different perspective in order to broaden the thinking and ensure that the project goes well. Using Alan’s example, you might say, “While I support your efforts at being more mindful of resources, I am wondering how this other data or experience might inform our decision?”

If the meeting still does not go well, you have another opportunity. You can go see the person after the meeting and ask them to debrief with you. In private, you might be able to explore the dynamics in a less threatening way. Tell the person that you are concerned about what occurred and ask when it would be a good time to talk. Many people are more comfortable with these kinds of conversations when they are in private and they have had time to reflect. In this conversation, you might ask them how they would like to be approached in the future when you have questions or concerns.

Remember, too, that you can only control how you are behaving. You can only make your intentions clear and offer to modify your approach if that would help. The other person has to take responsibility for how they receive you.

Three Secrets to Making the Right Hire

Posted on | April 6, 2010 | No Comments

Losing good people—and onboarding their replacements—are very expensive and potentially disruptive events, so you want to make good hiring choices and keep those good employees. Following some simple steps will facilitate good hiring practices and avoid conflicts and difficulties down the road.

Here are some surefire ways to choose well:

1. Clarify expectations during the interviewing stage: One of the most significant indicators for successful hiring is how well your expectations match those of the employees. Be scrupulously honest about the job they will be doing. Give them a very clear picture of:

  • The job they will be doing
  • The organization’s status, both positive and negative
  • Challenges they will face
  • What you, if you are the manager, are like to work with.

In return ask them to do the same. Acknowledge that everyone has his or her own strengths, gifts and learning edges or weakness. Explain that you would rather be prepared then surprised. You might even share one of your own shortcomings as a model.

Then ask, Read more

How to Use Praise Effectively in Business

Posted on | April 1, 2010 | No Comments

Recently I was coaching an executive who told me that she makes a habit of thanking people effusively. She said that many of her assignments require the cooperation of a team of people, and she wanted some tips on how to engage people in better ways to get the work done.

This executive was using praise as a motivator, which is generally a good idea. However, when I asked her to give me an example of thanking someone, she described an effusive amount of thanks—but presented in a very general way that made it sound as if the team had been doing her a favor.

Her team was not doing her a favor, though—they were completing assignments that were part of their job descriptions. So while my client appreciated the team’s work, her show of appreciation was sending a message that what they were doing was optional—a favor to her. This was creating a disincentive to work!

Appreciation or thanks that work:

1. Make it timely: As close the event as possible so the person has recall of the situation.
2. Make it specific: Tell the person what they did that was helpful. Make it as concrete as possible.
3. Specify the impact: Explain to the person how their help impacted the work or job. Here’s what you did and here’s how it helped.
4. Make some of your feedback about qualities they bring: Sometimes we encounter situations in which it is not what the person does but how they are being that is making a difference. If you have someone who demonstrates a quality you appreciate, tell him or her that. Examples: enthusiasm, initiative, attention to detail.
5. Do it often: Humans tend to remember the criticism more than the praise. So it’s important to praise more often.
6. Reward the behaviors and qualities that support the work or that you want to see more of from the person. People will tend to repeat behaviors they think are successful. Do not reward behavior or qualities that you do not need or want on the job.

The payoff in giving regular, thoughtful and specific feedback is that you will be building motivation for the person to continue doing the behaviors you want and to do less of those you don’t want. You are also building good will and creating an environment where people feel appreciated and valued. This in turn, leads to a loyal workforce.

My client took this advice and noticed immediate return. She felt better in her role as she started to expect cooperation rather than feel like she had to earn it. The people around her began seeing the work as expected and appreciated that their contributions were making a difference.

That was one success story. Do you have one?? I’d love to hear it.

Mindfulness in Practice

Posted on | March 30, 2010 | No Comments

Many of us who are coaches, consultants, and facilitators have been taught the importance of being aware of who we are and how we impact a room. We have been told about the difference between “being” and “doing.” The notion of “use of self” has been a central tenant of our respective professions.

Though we have learned about these concepts and may cognitively be very aware of them and their importance, however, the practice of these concepts is not typically imbedded in our schooling. The ability to bring ourselves totally present and be an instrument of change is an ongoing journey and one that requires commitment and regular practice. Often we find alternative routes to discover ourselves and the practice of mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, spiritual paths, therapy or even religious practices.

As someone who consults and coaches in organizations I am struck by two seemingly incongruent dynamics within organizations. One is the lack of “mindfulness”—meaning the ability to be fully awake to the present moment. Most of us, if we look closely, will find our minds in the past or in the future, not focused on the here and now. We also more often than not are operating on unconscious emotional reactions. To be mindful, in my definition, is to be fully present to this moment and aware of what is arising without being attached or hooked by it.

The other dynamic I see in organizations is the longing for meaning, appreciation and a sense of community. People are starved for mindfulness, for balanced lives, for making a difference—and yet our organizations foster fast paces, information overload, stress, long hours and suffering.

After spending a hard but glorious week with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli as a participant in their “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals” training, I am committed to bringing the practice of mindfulness to my work and to my clients in a more direct way. I want to dedicate portions of my blog to support my own journey and to share that experience in hopes that it may support others on their journeys.

To start, I’d like to share my learning from the program that I found most impactful:

1. Defining “presence” or mindfulness as being awake or focused on this moment. It’s not something to achieve in the future, it’s not a journey to be an enlightened soul or any other spiritual aspiration. It’s simply attending to this moment. And it’s available to you now. Now is all you really have anyway.
2. Allowing whatever is arising to simply be. Emotions and thoughts will arise; it’s the nature of the human being. There’s no right or wrong about it, it simply is. Allow them to be without judgment.
3. Noticing that we cling to or resist emotions and thoughts. We tend to want to keep emotions or experiences we see as positive and to get rid of the ones that we don’t want. Holding on or trying to change is what causes our suffering. The reactions to what’s arising are the source of pain. If you can just observe and be—without judgment about what is arising within you—you will find that more ease, more clarity and more choice is available to you.
4. Invoking curiosity and kindness toward yourself. Be an observer to yourself and your habits of mind and body.
5. Creating a regular practice of mindfulness and being fully committed to it; doing so will build and strengthen new muscles. Welcome the time and give it to yourself as a gift. Make friends with the practice.

Since returning from my week with Jon and Saki (as well as a wonderful group of fellow participants) I have made mindfulness practice the “bones” of my day. I have shifted the way I schedule my time. I put on my calendar the “practices” I want to commit to before I put anything else.

We all have work requirements that are non-negotiable, so you may want to put those in as well. I have coaching appointments and teaching and facilitation commitments already made. Many are not movable for a variety of reasons, or I choose not to move them.

I put on each day 30 minutes in the morning to sit quietly and just be with myself. Some people name that practice “meditating.” You can call it anything you like. I do that once in the morning and once at night. I also added in physical exercise. I like to do yoga at least twice each week and aerobic and strength training three times. I put them on my calendar. Everything else now has to fit around those events.

I also make a point during my day to stop and check in with myself. What do I notice, how am I feeling, what am I doing, thinking?? Observing with curiosity has brought new information, clarity, and spaciousness to my day. I can now very quickly recognize when I am no longer in the room (mentally or emotionally) and can readily bring myself back. This facility promotes my ability to be with my clients and myself fully.

Though I am not sure if any of my work or general life responsibilities have declined, I feel my pace has slowed and my anxiety has significantly decreased while enjoyment and ease have grown.

For those of you reading this who would like to join in the dialogue, you are most welcome.

I would love to hear your thoughts, learnings and questions.

The Secret to Resolving Conflict

Posted on | March 18, 2010 | No Comments

In a recent article entitled “Playing the Blame Game,” Ralfee Finn wrote that “…opposites can also be seen as complements, especially when we are willing to synthesize what separates and divides through understanding and reconciliation.” This is a wonderful notion and one to which I subscribe.

I see many conflicts created when people frame a problem as a matter of irreconcilable opposites. These same people, assisted by skillful exploration, are able to shift their perspectives to see the differences merely as tensions to be managed. Shifting our perspectives from opposites to complements is a powerful way to resolve differences and unite for common good.

Here’s an example. I was recently called into a situation in which a group of lawyers were claiming that they were being overly and unduly managed. They wanted freedom and autonomy, claiming that their professional reputations were at stake. They did not want their superiors to have the ability to overrule their decisions. The supervisors saw these lawyers as renegades who were not sensitive to how the decisions they were making affected the organization as a whole. They wanted final review rights on all work.

These two groups had created a strong “us-them” culture with autonomy and accountability seen as irreconcilable differences. When we examined the two perspectives, however, they were able to reframe the dilemma as a tension between independence and interdependence. They realized that each side had the same objectives. The supervisors realized that they had to give the lawyers some freedom and autonomy but also build in accountability mechanisms to ensure the organization’s ultimate success.

Once the two groups saw the problem as a tension to be managed and not a set of opposites with no bridge, they were able to move into finding mechanisms that would satisfy each group.

Another wonderful example is a mediation I did in a racially charged situation. When I administered the Myers-Briggs indicator, the parties at first saw they were “opposites” on most of the scales. Then I shifted them to look at the differences as a continuum of strengths. Each aspect had its benefits, and using both temperaments made them stronger. Once they embraced the notion that this was not an either-or choice but a “we can have both,” they were able to begin respecting the others’ attributes and use them not as wedges, but as supports.

The next time you find yourself looking at a situation and seeing it as a collision of opposites, look for:

1. The underlying unifying goal. What does each party want??
2. Play out the opposites until you see the other side of it. For example: too much autonomy leads to…, too little autonomy leads to…; too much control leads to…, too little control leads to…. The extreme of the poles is usually what is scaring one of the parties.
3. Play out the upside of each pole. What is the benefit of each pole?
4. Then ask “how do we get the benefits and manage the downsides?” This is the shift to seeing the opposites as a tension to be managed, not a choice between one or the other.
5. Finally, ask “what do we need to do to get the best of both?”

Who Else Wants Good Relationships With Colleagues?

Posted on | March 16, 2010 | No Comments

What’s in a Word?

Recently I was working with two colleagues, Joe and Daniel. They had been friendly and had worked well together for close to two years, but their relationship had suddenly turned sour and was affecting the entire office. Their boss called me to ask if I might help.

I embarked on a fairly typical process to help the two parties work this out, starting with individual conversations.

Daniel claimed that all was fine and there was no need to get in a room and talk.

Joe said that Daniel was temperamental and had frequent outbursts, but that he had come to live with it. Joe also said that he wanted to talk about Daniel’s performance—and went on to cite numerous incidents of work not being done as instructed. Joe readily admitted, however, his tendency to have high standards and to get upset when things were not done exactly the way he wanted them done.

I was not at all sure how the mediation would go, as Daniel was so reluctant to get in a room with Joe. The meeting started slowly with them both tentatively acknowledging the value of working this out and articulating each other’s strengths. As they got closer to talking about “the problem” they started arguing in great detail about each step of their standard operating procedure (SOP).

In the midst of the debate, Joe said, “I told Daniel to own his work.” This was an accusation that Daniel was somehow responsible for the errors because he was not talking responsibility.

I asked Daniel if he recalled Joe telling him “to own” his work. Daniel said, “Yes.” I then asked Daniel what owning his work meant to him. His response was to do his work the way he thought it should be done even if it varied from the SOP.

Next I asked Joe what “owning” his own work meant. Joe replied, “Doing the work the way I said it should be done.”

Ah, a small word—“own”—but a huge difference in interpretations!!

In that moment they saw their problem. Though they both heard the same word, they had sent and received very different messages. Neither actually cared about the SOPs, but they both cared about getting the work done efficiently and effectively. They were colliding, if you will, over who got to decide how the work got done on a number of occasions. Joe thought he had permission to do things his way, and Daniel thought Joe was to do it precisely the way Daniel wanted it done.

Now you might think that the decision on who makes the call about process was the issue, but it was not. They easily cleared that up. The ultimate problem was that Daniel often gave vague instructions when telling Joe how he wanted it done. The words we use count. This was their biggest learning—that when they discuss work togther they have to be sure they are communicating well. They agreed to simply restate their understandings when they finished planning so that they both could agree to what was decided.

This is not an unusual problem. It happens in two-way conversations and it happens in meetings. People assume they all have the same information because they all heard the same words. Not always true! Here are a few tips:

1. At the end of every conversation or decision, someone in the room should be asked to restate the conclusion. This allows everyone to hear the message once again. If there are just two of you, you both should say what you heard. Be careful to be as specific as possible.

2. Use a flip chart and make a point of writing the decisions, agreements and next steps. A visual will help people notice if they have misunderstood.

3. At the conclusion of a meeting when there have been several conversations, always review the major points, decisions and next steps.

4. When summarizing or giving directions, paint a picture. Describe exactly what it would look like if it were done as agreed. Be as concrete and specific as possible.

Meeting Facilitation: When Less is More

Posted on | March 4, 2010 | No Comments

One of the great lessons I have learned as a facilitator is that the less I do in the room, the better a meeting goes. Seems odd, right? But when my partner, Tom Kornbluh, and I teach our seminar “Standing in the Eye of the Storm,” we ask our participants what their greatest fear is when they are facilitating—and 99% of the people say, “to be found incompetent.” Interesting!

We all share that fear, and it often drives us to over-facilitate or too feel overly responsible. In meetings, we are busy making ourselves look useful or helpful, or showing that we know something. But those behaviors are about us and not about the group’s needs. Our job as facilitators is to serve our clients’ needs.

If this dynamic sounds familiar to you, try the following exercise:

1. Define competence. What is competent?? List what you man by that. Don’t just list a few, try to list them all. Keep writing until you start to feel it’s silly. If you dig deep enough you find you have some funny beliefs driving you, and those need to be examined.
2. What’s driving you? When you look at the list, what sticks out? What is motivating your actions?? The need to be the expert? Fear of making a mistake? Of getting fired??
Examine your own motivation. Then move to step 3.
3. Decide what is in the best interest of the group. Ask yourself, how does my doing these things help the group build its own self-responsibility or capacity to resolve its own issues? What are a good facilitator’s goals? How am I supporting the group’s goals? Align your behavior with the outcomes you want for the group.
4. Make it manageable. Is it possible to achieve all those standards?? If you had to throw three quarters of the list out, what would you save?

As always, I’d love to hear your reactions or any tips you have for facilitators to help them and their groups be more successful.

Communication 101: Getting the Work Done Vs. People Liking You

Posted on | March 2, 2010 | No Comments

Another title for this article could be: “I Don’t Care if They Like Me, I Have to Get the Work Done.”


You have probably heard the refrain: It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it. Many a manager I have met has told me, “My job is not to have people like me, it’s to get the work done.” That is often their excuse for not saying things in a way that can be heard.

Just think about that: saying things in a way that can be heard. It’s not about being LIKED; it is about getting the work done effectively and efficiently. To get the work done, however, you have to communicate in ways that people can hear you. You have to not just listen to words, but take in the information and use it. Your job as manager or co-worker is to communicate in a variety of methods and in ways that people are willing to listen to you. You may not be liked but you should have earned respect and have the ability to motivate your people.

In my experience some people are aware of how they are impacting people, others are not. If you are aware, then you are halfway there. You need only to try new techniques. For those of you who know something is wrong but don’t know what it is, here are a few tips:

1 Get feedback. Ask trusted colleagues or employees for some feedback. Ask them to be very specific. What does it look like when you are impacting people negatively or positively? Without specifics you can’t change the behavior.

2. Check how you are feeling. Often behaviors are a result of an emotion or feeling. Begin to practice just noticing what’s happening in your body. Do you feel tense? Frustrated? Angry?? At ease? How is that feeling showing up in your communication style? People hear words but the message is often in the tone.

3. Check your priorities. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Do you value expediency over relationships? Doing it right versus teaching someone? Make a list of what you think your values are at work and then another list for home. Do they match? Are they different? Sometimes we keep the heartfelt values at home and bring task-related values to work. See what needs to be blended or applied in both places. Getting your values clear in all parts of your life will help you feel more of yourself everywhere you go.

4. Be purposeful about how you want people to feel. When you are communicating take a minute and think about the message you want to send—in terms of the language you use, the points you want to make, and how you want people to feel. If you want them to feel motivated, enthusiastic, and included, be sure to build your message in a way that transmits the right feeling.

If nothing else, remember the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And it’s how people feel that will drive their behavior.

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