Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"I" messages say what you mean

Use “I” messages. It is important that you let people know how you feel about the situation. “I” statements are assertive and forthright. They let the other person know where you stand and where you are coming from. “I” messages state what you think, feel, need, want or believe. They communicate the attitude that while you are not willing to give up what you need, you are willing to help create a win-win situation.

There are three parts to an effective “I” message:
1. a description of the behavior,
2. a description of the feeling(s) this behavior causes you, and
3. a description of the effects caused by the behavior.

Let’s say you have a colleague who is always late for meetings. Say something like this: “I noticed you have been late for the last two meetings. Since we can’t start the meeting without you, we waste a lot of time. How can we better coordinate our schedules so that the meetings start on time?”

“I” statements are less confrontational than “You” statements are. Compare this statement with the one above. “You are always late for meetings. Everyone has to wait for you. What a waste of time! Why can’t you be prompt?”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Small change, big results

Don’t strive for major changes overnight. The Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement -- kaizen -- encourages us to take small, consistent steps that cumulatively make a difference.

One step may not make much impact; 10,000 steps can take you up a mountain.
• Make the tasks look small and easy in your mind.
• Do only a small part of the task each time.
• Five-minute plan: Work on something for just five minutes. At the end of five minutes, switch to something else if you want. Chances are, you'll get involved enough to keep going.
• Plan tomorrow and establish priorities. Sometimes, just writing down reasonable starting and stopping times can help you get going.

Expect some backsliding. Occasionally, your plans will not work. Accept setbacks and start again. You can always recover from a small mis-step. It's a lot harder to recover if you jump off a cliff!