Is Your Message Not Getting Through?


Effective communication is one of the most challenging issues for anyone working in a team such as a business or organization.  With so many different personality types working together, trying to tailor your communication strategy to each one can be daunting.

The Compliment Sandwich method is a classic and effective tool that we often forget to use.  It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to communicate anything to any personality style.  The conversation will feel genuine and flow smoothly provided that the positive feedback/compliments are genuine and related to your concern(s), and that you do not overuse that technique so that your words don’t seem contrived.

The idea is to start with some positive feedback (the bread), followed by the issue you need to address (the meat of your message), and finish with another compliment or positive feedback (the second piece of bread).  The part that is most overlooked however is the verbiage you use in between the compliments and the main message itself.  Stay away from words like “but”, “although”, or “however”.  The immediate response to those words is defensiveness.  They directly void any positive feedback —however sincere— you started with.

Let’s say that you are having an issue with a team member spending an increasing amount of time at work on personal matters.  You might approach the person this way: 

“John,  We love having you as a part of this team.  Your idea at yesterday’s sales meeting was right on point! AND in fact it’s clear that you have a real impact on our corporate culture in the office; a lot of the junior associates take their cues from you.

So it’s crucial that you limit the time you spend on personal matters whether it be on the phone or online to the times when you are officially on break.  

I know how committed you have been to this organization and I appreciate all your work especially for this last project.  It made a difference.”

Now, let’s add one more concept into the process. There are three different types of postures you can adopt when communicating with someone: authoritative, participative, or subordinate. An authoritative posture is always direct and to the point: “it’s crucial that you do xyz”.  Your main message —the meat of the sandwich— is ALWAYS authoritative so the corrective action is clear and concise. The positive feedbacks or compliments —the bread— are  ALWAYS participative: “We love you being part of the team”.  You are not posturing down or up, you are simply delivering a genuine compliment as one person to another.

We always have a choice on how we

To your continued success,
James

Personal and Professional Coaching

Your Worst, Best Day?

Many people set small goals in life because they are easy and don’t require overcome many obstacles. Some people set BIG goals in life because they thrive on the challenges that arise on the way to achieving them. And then there are some people, like me, who seem to set BIG goals in life because they are naïve and don’t really comprehend what they will have to overcome to get there.

A few weeks ago, I had to take a trip to a small little town called Grove City in Pennsylvania. We were staying along the highway about 6 miles from town in a very rural place! For my 50-Mile training plan I needed to complete back to back 18 mile training runs the first weekend I was there and another 20 mile run the following Saturday morning before my return flight home.

I had not expected that during this trip the northeast would be hit with one large snowstorm after another the entire time I was there. It snowed and froze the roads with ice the entire first week and I was uncertain how I was going to be able to train over the weekend. However, as Friday approached I was excited! The snow had cleared from shoulder of the roads (rural towns don’t have sidewalks) and Friday evening after class, I set out on my long run. It appeared that it would be a nice but cold evening with little to light snow. I felt that luck was on my side since I did not have to face a four hour fun on the hotel treadmill.

I started out along the clear shoulder of the county road happy as could be! The countryside was covered in snow and it was cold but clear. At the first turnaround at about mile four a light snow started to fall which made the experience even more surreal. I was running along the road, Yanni playing on my iPod, and it seemed a blessed experience. I passed the hotel again at about mile 8 going the opposite direction as the snow continued to fall harder and had accumulated to about half an inch. I crossed the highway and started the long 7 mile stretch into Grove City.

As the sun settled quickly, it brought a dip in temperature and a threefold increase in snow. I was starting to get a little concerned but was determined to finish my run. I slowly started to abandon running on the shoulder of the road because the snow was accumulating and when no cars were coming I could run on the road in the car tracks. When the cars came, I would move back onto the shoulder of the road where the show was getting deeper and deeper. In some places, the shoulder of road was so narrow from the snow drifts I would have to run in snow that was six to 10 inches deep until the road was clear again. My shoes were quickly filled with snow but I was determined to finish the run.

By the time I reached Grove City and turned around with my last 7 miles (I had misjudged the distance and ran farther than I meant to), it was snowing so bad I could only see the road through the car headlights. And, I had not realized it, but I was going to be running back towards the hotel into a 10-20 mile per hour headwind.

By this time, my feet and hands were as frozen as my water bottles and Powerbars. I was a seriously chilled running back into the wind and was starting to shiver as my core temperature dropped. I had nowhere to go but forward. By now the roads were covered also and there was no clear path to run. As I slogged back through three to four inches of snow it was like running on loose sand with two little kids holding onto the back of your shirt to keep you from moving forward. The snowplow passed me twice on the road and I had to step off of the road into a snow bank above my knees, turn my body away from the street, and cover my face as it blasted me with snow from head to knees.

After that second snow plow, I thought to myself, “this sucks and I really, really just want to quit.” The problem was, I was stuck in a really bad place. How could I be so stupid as to put myself in this dangerous predicament, running into oncoming traffic during a serious snow storm, along a road with little or no visability, no way to get out of the path of traffic, with frozen food and water in the middle of rural Pennsylvania?

During those last three to four miles I really had to dig down deep into my reserves and tap into that “hardcore” self that got me through some of my infantry training days. Mentally, emotionally and physically, I was not in a good place.

I had many thoughts during those last miles back and they mostly revolved around, “this is the worst day of my life, why am I doing this race anyway, you should just quit.” I was really struggling to find a meaning for why I had put myself in this situation. Why was I training to run a 50 –mile race to begin with? If I had known that I would be in this place when I had first set the goal, I may not have set the goal! How naïve could I be?

As I stepped back through the doors of the lobby at about 11pm that night, I knew two things for certain. First, those moments were some of the worst moments of my life. Second, “If in the worst moments of my life, I am in the pursuit of what I believe is a worthy goal, could the worst moments of my life really be the best moments of my life?” After all was said and done, my answer was a simple, “Yes.”

Do I want to repeat those moments? No thank you, if I never get back to Grove City in the winter it will be too soon. However, as I ran 18 miles on the treadmill the next day, I was never more thankful for the experience. I felt that way again on the following Friday as I ran on another treadmill into the early morning hours to complete my other training run.

As I head into the trail marathon this weekend and prepare for the BIG race on the 27th, the training run I will remember the most will be the one on that county road, in the middle of a PA snowstorm. I imagine at Mile 30, I will recall Yanni on my iPod reminding me to tap into my emotional reserves. At Mile 35, I will remember my frozen water bottles and Powerbars as I pass another aid station and can nourish myself. At Mile 40, I will remember my frozen self dodging snowplows and oncoming traffic in deep snow drifts up to my knees. At Mile 45, I will remember all too vividly wanting nothing more in life than to give up and quit, but I will continue to run. And at Mile 50, I will remember that when I push through my limitations, on the other side, I come one step closer to knowing a deeper part of my true self. That true self that knows when I am pushed to my limits, I will never give up. And, as I cross that line, I am going to keep on going for another loop, to see just how far to 100 miles I can actually go.

In life, there is only yourself to discover, deeper parts of yourself to find, and unless you dream bigger dreams and push yourself, you will never know how much more you are than you think you are. Your worst day in this lifetime as long as it is spent in the pursuit of a worthy goal, could actually be one of the best and most meaningful days of your life.

There was once a guy who did not know himself so he just sat. One day he decided to get up and found himself walking. As he discovered new things in life, one day he found himself while running.

In 2010, Dream Big and Be BOLD!

To your continued success,

James M Murphy

If you want a BIG life you have to Dream BIG and a FULILLING LIFE comes from enjoying the small moments along the way!

Are you Any-body or some-body?

Are you Any-body or Some-body Special?

Being different in life is a great way to build your self confidence. The definition of self confidence is, “You decide to take a specific action so that you can earn and deserve the right to feel good about yourself.”

I was contemplating this last weekend on my long run and started to thing about the implications of the definition. I know I have covered this in previous thoughts but some things are so important, sometimes, they bear repeating.

Do you realize the amount of freedom we are blessed to have? In America, almost Any-body can do almost anything. That is the dream and the hope that has built this nation. The sad part about America is that although almost Any-body can do anything, most Any-body and Every-body tends to do what is easiest. We all tend to take the path of least resistance in life. We see this everyday in work, finances, health, and relationships.

Any-body can do something but it takes Some-body special to do what others are not willing too. It takes Some-body special to get up on a Saturday morning at 5am and go out on a training run for 17 miles. Any-body can sneak out of the office early on Friday to get to happy hour but it takes Some-body special to put in that little bit of extra time to get the job done right before leaving. Anybody can go out and get a credit card and get in debt by overspending but it takes a special Some-body to earn, save and actually own their home and car mortgage free. Anybody can put on that extra 20 pounds by sitting on the couch every night watching TV (one statistic I read stated the average child watches 22 hours of TV per week and adults average 8 hours per week—but they can not find time to exercise or spend quality family time). Anybody can go to work for somebody else, not pursue their dreams and put in their 8 hours and go home. It takes a Some-body special to understand their interests, strengths, and purpose in life, create their own business, and take on the risks of being an entrepreneur and providing jobs to others so they can feed their families. Any-body can not be invested in their community and not go out of their way to cultivate friendships outside of co-workers. It takes Some-body to find a meaningful pursuit that helps others less fortunate than them and invest their time building relationships with others. Do you get the point?

My question to you this week is, “In your life, where are you showing up an Any-body?” Where are you doing what Any-body and Every-body else is?” Where are you buying into the status quo of underachievement, living that unfulfilled meaningless life, and believing that you can’t do anything in the current economics to make your life better? Any-body can be an ant, following the ant in front of them, going to the same piece of food, taking your little piece and returning home. It takes a Some-body special ant to break away from the status quo and go find food itself. That is what builds up the self confidence of the ant and in the end benefits the entire community! Step up, face life’s challenges, commit to something different that Any-body COULD do, and be that Some-body special to ACTUALLY do it.

"Two Roads Converged…"

“Two Roads Converged…”

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of taking Isabelle to school. As we came up to the stoplight leading out of our neighborhood, the line was very long and I guessed that it would take about 3 light changes before we would be able to turn left onto the main street. We were looking at a ten minute wait in line which meant she would be late for school.

Instinct took over and I quickly merged into the right hand lane. I drove past the long line of cars straight up to the light. At this point, the only way for us to go was the “wrong” way. We had to turn right instead of left, which took us farther away from her school. Isabelle immediately realized we were going the wrong direction and asked, “Daddy, why are we were going the “wrong” way?”

I turned right, drove 100 yards and turned around in a different neighborhood entrance. Almost immediately, I was able to make the left hand turn onto the main street going towards Isabelle’s school. As I drove, I explained to Isabelle that I was taking a “secret short cut” to school and even though it seemed like the “wrong” way, sometimes going the opposite way of everyone else was quicker. We would have to experiment and see if it was true. In this case, it was true, much to her delight. She even waved at the line of cars as we passed them, who were still waiting for the light to turn green.

A similar experience occurred at the Atlanta airport last Friday. I was waiting for my return flight and needed to stretch my legs one last time before boarding time. As I walked farther and farther down the terminal wing away from the main hub, I noticed that not only did the people traffic lighten up but the drink prices for Coke and water dropped with every store. It was also amazing that the Coke prices were lower than the water prices. Isn’t it ironic how what is better for you is sometimes more expensive and what seems easier, less expensive and more convenient is sometimes not as good for you?

In today’s world, with the media news, business forecasts, stock market news, and radio ads, you may need to get away from the mainstream, take a walk away from the mainstream to where it is not as crowded. It is good to notice where opportunity lies and more often than not, it will be away from popular idealism. Making a little bit better investment on what you are feeding your mind, body and spirit can make a big difference in your health. It can also provide you the edge that will make a small difference in your life today and a very BIG difference in your life in the long run. Make the investment in yourself that will yield results for you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If you take the initiative to walk a little farther away from the crowds you may be surprised at the deals you will find.

This morning Isabelle asked me if we were taking the “secret short cut” to school. It took me a moment to understand that she had changed her association from us going to school the “wrong” way to the “secret short cut” way. Separate yourself from the rest of the people who are waiting in line for something different to happen. That is the secret to getting ahead. All of the answers you need to overcome any challenge in your life right now are out there waiting for you. Be courageous, brave and try going the “wrong” way once in a while. We will see you at the “secret short cut” turnaround and we’ll be sure and wave “Hi!”

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Don’t Smash My Fruit!

Don’t Smash My Fruit!

My little one and I were at the grocery store the other day and had the most wonderful and frustrating experience. The gentleman in the produce section was courteous, helpful, and went out of his way to help us with our shopping. He gave my daughter a free banana and gave us a quick National Geographic lesson on how monkeys peel bananas upside down. (Yes, it was cool and really works!)

The young lady bagging our groceries provided us with the exact opposite experience. She was deep into a conversation with the cashier and as she reached out to place the bag of fruit into the cart she missed, and dropped it straight onto the floor! She picked it up and the next bag into the cart contained maple syrup, butter, and salsa. It landed right on top of my already bruised fruit! In my head I was screaming, “Don’t smash my fruit!”

I have to admit that “smashing my fruit” is a pet peeve of mine and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. So, keeping my emotions in check I stated, “Excuse me, next time could you please not put the heavy stuff on top of my fruit?” The bagger ended her conversation, turned a quarter turn away from me, folded her arms, stared at the floor and promptly ignored me. So, I stated again, “Excuse me ma’am, next time please don’t set the heavy stuff on the fruit, that bruises it.” The lady stayed turned away with no eye contact and stone cold silence. I was shocked at her ignoring me.

By the time I reached the car I was very emotionally charged. I was frustrated at the way I was treated as a customer and mad at myself for all of the times in the past I didn’t say anything when my fruit was smashed. As I slammed the trunk closed, all I could think was, “THEY SMASHED MY FRUIT!” At this point, I was feeling a healthy amount of internal conflict between the need to gain other’s acceptance and approval or the voice that said, “stick up for what you believe in, that was horrible customer service!”

It was a perfect moment for some deep change. In any heightened emotional moment if you find a way to resolve the conflict inside, new beliefs will be formed at a very deep level.

In that moment, I made a huge decision to interrupt my old pattern of behavior. I pushed away all of the old thoughts and beliefs that were running around in my head and marched directly to the customer service desk.

I approached the manager and proceeded to tell her what was on my mind, “I just wanted to let you know about my shopping experience today. I had the most wonderful experience with the gentleman in the produce department. He went above and beyond in his customer service. My checkout experience was the direct opposite. The lady bagging the groceries dropped my fruit on the floor and then smashed them again when she put the other heavy bags on top. When I asked her as politely as I could to please not put the heavy stuff on the fruit she completely ignored me, twice. I just wanted to give you some feedback on my shopping experience today.” The manager thanked me for my feedback and said that she would make a note of it.

My voice and body were shaking with emotion as I left the store. In that emotionally intense moment I was able to anchor in some new powerful beliefs.

First and foremost, act in integrity with yourself. If I would have said something the first time my fruit was smashed I wouldn’t have been in such an intense place.

Give feedback so that others can take responsibility for their actions. Love the person enough to give feedback in a non-threatening way by addressing the behavior, NOT THE PERSON. As long as it is done without anger or malicious intent, it is for the other person to take or leave. I do not know what came from the experience for her on her end but she was the one to take responsibility for her actions from there.

Next time someone smashes your fruit, I wish you continued success in acting with integrity and giving constructive feedback to others.

If you need some support because too many people are smashing your fruit, interrupt your pattern! Call TODAY for your evolution towards greater success. Commit to 3 or more coaching sessions in the month of October and/or order a Sure Hire Assessment and receive 10% off!

Developing a plan!

Stop Thinking!

Many times in life we think about something that we would love to achieve or accomplish and then immediately talk ourselves out of it because the first thing that comes to mind is, “…but I don’t know how I will ever be able to do it.”

Most people take a great amount of certainty and security from “developing a plan” to achieve their goals. I am sure that you have heard the saying, “If you are failing to plan then you are planning to fail.” Waiting to take action until you have developed a plan sets up a perfect behavioral pattern for procrastination.

Many of the most fulfilling and rewarding goals I have achieved in life came from taking a bold, immediate action before I had a plan in place. Let me give you some examples:

• In 2007, I wanted to take a family trip to the Bahamas to visit friends, swim with dolphins and dive with sharks. Instead of waiting until I had the trip planned financially and logistically, I took the money I had saved and purchased the plane tickets. I had no clue how I was going to manage the time off work, get the family scuba certified, or make the rest of the money that would be needed for lodging. I let those parts of the plan develop after I made that first commitment. It was some great motivation to develop the plan and get it moving. We had a once-in-a-lifetime trip full of amazing memories.

• In June 2007, I had a goal to move to North Carolina. With the Phoenix housing market going downhill fast, I had to drop my tentative plan to sell my house and immediately put it up for sale. My final plan ended up including a double move with a 3 month stay in Colorado for a summer. One year later we closed on our new home in NC. If I hadn’t taken that first leap of faith, I might still be in Phoenix.

• In the back of my mind I have had a desire to run a 100 mile ultra-marathon this year since I just turned 40. You could call it the answer to my mid-life crisis. Instead of mapping out the six month training plan, core strength program, and eating regiment, I found a race that fit my needs, applied, and was accepted as one of the 250 runners of the race. Now, I have huge incentive and motivation to get my plan in place and have started running again. Wish me luck!

After you set your goals in life, sometimes it is best to sail to the new coast, burn your ship and then develop the rest of the plan on the fly. I understand this will cause a great amount of uncertainty, doubt, and fear. However, those emotions can be converted into actions and planning that will lead you to the desired end result.

If you are stuck in any of your goals, I urge you to find a way to put down the need to plan and instead take an immediate action that commits you to your goal. It is the immediate action that provides the motivation, activities, and opportunities that help you to develop the plan.

Your mind will be flooded with questions like:
• How am I going to pay for that?
• How can I make this work?
• What am I going to see and do there?
• How will I spend my time?

“Take action towards your plan NOW and you will naturally discover what needs to be planned for in the future.”

If you need some support developing a plan and taking action TODAY! Call TODAY for your evolution towards greater success. Commit to 3 or more coaching sessions in the month of October and receive 10% off!

Breaking the Rules!

Breaking the Rules

In today’s hectic world there is no shortage of emotional intensity. There is plenty of stress, frustration, depression, anxiety, and unhappiness. Fear seems to have begun to take hold caused in party by the recent fluctuations in the housing and stock markets. If you have any doubts these disempowering emotional states are present, just ask any customer service representative, listen to the news, or just drive home in rush hour traffic in the left hand lane.

Most people who come to coaching are looking for the greater empowering emotional intensity that is sometimes hard to find in our everyday life: peace, success, achievement, happiness, and love. Many find their lives have become flat, lonely, without purpose.

Having a purpose in life is an interesting ideology that many people spend their entire life pursuing. But often by living life everyday, we build our habits which develop our limitations and beliefs about what we can and can not do, without consciously thinking about it. Many of you reading this now may be saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for meditating on my purpose in life; with three kids, a full time job, a spouse that works, and a household to keep in order, who has time for purpose?”

Well, I propose we break out of that cycle. We’re going to do this in two parts: The first part is as follows – this week I would love for you to repeatedly ask yourself this question. Here is it:

“When you were younger, what was so fun, exciting, and adventurous that you were willing to break Mom and Dad’s rules, even at the risk of being punished?” When you were a kid, what did you get in trouble for wanting to become? What did you get in trouble for doing? What did you dream about and never tell anyone? What would you have done that was worth the spanking, grounding, or loss of car privileges you would have received?

OK, so that was more than one question… What came into your mind as you were asking yourself those questions?

One of the problems with living life as an adult is that many times we have become the parent of ourselves. Oh, NO. When was the last time you were willing to go out and do something so unexpected and crazy that even if you got in trouble with your “parental” self the experience would be worth it? What do you want to sneak out of your bedroom window at night to do that would be worth the risk of getting caught when you got home?

Now here’s the second part – pick one of them and go do it now. Add some joy, enthusiasm, adventure, fun, and playfulness to your life. It will make the routines of life, kids, career, and finances easier to manage when you wake up Monday morning. You will smile, feeling great inside, knowing that it was totally worth it. Live life to its fullest, dream big dreams, break your own rules for yourself and do what is worth getting in “trouble” for!

Keep in mind, however, this statement has a very important caveat: Only break the rules doing something that is truly good for you, those closest to you, your community and the world as a whole. Clearly I am not advocating the type of activities that would cause irreparable harm to your finances, your relationships or your standing in the community – and definitely nothing that lands you in jail! But lead life joyously and a little outside your self-defined lines – allow yourself to play music full blast in the shower as you sing along at the top of your lungs, eat that occasional ice cream cone licking your fingers as it melts, take the kids out in the middle of the rain storm to stomp in puddles… Whatever brings that child-like happiness and joy back into your life!

Really, it’s ok…. I give you permission! It’s time you did too!

We are two thirds of the way through this year. If you need help finding something to do in order to “break the rules that your parental self” has developed, CALL NOW! You need some support!

(303) 681-3555

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