Posted tagged ‘communication’

Do You Settle for Easy Answers or Address the Tough Stuff?

July 30, 2014

Good questions will cure almost any relational ailment you may have, but some of the most insightful questions can be some of the hardest to ask.

Ask hard questions

Ask hard questions

 What Does It Cost You to Avoid Asking the Tough Questions?

In my work in the last few weeks, I have noticed how often people avoid asking the potentially difficult questions and as a result, settle for answers that are inaccurate, but comfortable to hear and deal with.  For example, the lack of really getting to the “bottom of things,” has (unnecessarily) left:

  • A leader thinking his team is following him, rather than discussing his replacement,
  • Another leader suspicious of an employee’s motives, not realizing how loyal the employee actually is,
  • A young boy wrongfully accused of an action resulting in  a smeared reputation,
  •  A damaged relationship with two people thinking that there is no hope of reconciliation,
  • A religious group mobilizing and killing innocent civilians based on inaccurate news reports and propaganda

Jumping to conclusions before gathering all of the information seems to be some of the best exercise we get.  I am guilty of it too, but am learning (sometimes the hard way) to slow down and just ask a few more questions before acting on faulty information.

What Questions Should You Ask?

My husband Roger, is a huge fan of murder-mystery and law TV shows. He enjoys watching the process of uncovering the deeper truth in a variety of situations.  Many times these shows imply an obvious choice for who the killer is, however; Roger knows that if the killer is revealed within the first thirty minutes of a one-hour show, it isn’t the real killer. Accepting assumptions and arriving at conclusions to early, puts you in the position of having to defend your potentially baseless conclusion…forever.


 How often to we settle for what seems so obvious, and yet, is completely inaccurate?       Here are a couple of phrases you may think or hear someone say, that would indicate not enough information has been gathered:

  • “Want to know why he does that/made that decision/acts that way?”
  • “Well, she just thinks that….”
  • “I heard…..”
  • “It seems to me….”
  • ” You made that choice because you think…”

The next time you find yourself in a difficult or controversial situation, ask yourself, “Is there possibly more information that I am not aware of?  Could there be more than what is obvious? Have I asked enough detail questions to really get to the truth? Is there a gap in the story I am telling myself?   Would it be wrong to become a Serial Skeptic?

Serial Skepticism


One of my favorite authors, Mark Stevens*, writes

We are all exposed to data, factoids, theories, and axioms ad nauseam. All presented as science, the absolute truth, unassailable. And if you are like most managers, you make business decisions based on this “body of knowledge.” This is where you part company with the warriors.  They recognize instinctively that once any form of thinking becomes “the absolute truth” it is baked, dried up, passe, fini. And then they challenge it.  They put it under a spotlight. They examine it it through a microscope.  This determination to challenge what others accept as the truth (think of it as Serial Skepticism) is often a powerful way to achieve breakthrough and sustainable success…. Why? Because while your peers are making decisions based on faith, you are insisting on proof. And that often leads to the truth.

* excerpt from the book, "Your Management Sucks," 
  Crown Publishers 2006

You Can’t See Motive, So Don’t Guess What It Is – Ask!

Here are a few more question starters to help you dig out truth about  what motivates someone to act a certain way.

  • “Tell me more about….”
  • “What are your thoughts on…”
  • “Say more about that.”  (This is excellent to use when someone makes a strong statement…it uncovers the thought process behind the statement.)
  • “Can you share with me more specific details around what happened.”
  • ” I am curious as to why… What do you think?”

Taking the time to uncover truth ALWAYS pays off in the end. It avoids heartache, misunderstandings, bad decisions and regrets in the future. It heals hurting relationships, uncovers bottlenecks in businesses, clarifies confusion and protects progress. What questions do you need to ask? For more help and information, check out our services at Jazz Business Consulting under Deliberate Dialogues.


Easy Elevator Pitches

June 28, 2014



How is your Elevator Pitch?

We complicate our business elevator pitches….and then we stink at them. We sound awkward, clunky and unnatural.

At least that was my experience this week…with my own pitch (if I am honest.)

I spent this week in Philadelphia, PA with my good friend Imelda Alejandrino, CEO of AP42. We attended and co-exhibited at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Conference (WBENC).  It is a phenomenal gathering of the Supplier Diversity Managers of major corporations and sales representatives from Certified-Women-Owned business.  Many corporations have made a commitment  to award a number of vendor contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Everyone needed to have a good pitch to share about their own business.

We set up a booth dedicated to coaching people on how well they “pitched” their products and services.  We had a ball! Our booth was constantly full of teachable people hungry to learn memorable ways to talk about their offerings.

We made it simple.

For quality promotion, just answer 3 questions and do it as succinctly as possible…

  1. What do you fix?
  2. Who do you help, and/or
  3. Why are you different?

If you can answer those questions in that order…you will stand out.  The biggest mistake we observed is that people tried to include every possible scenario their company could address in their pitch.  Remember, a pitch is merely a conversation-starter, a way to inspire curiosity and invite further conversation, not an entire marketing campaign.

Here are a few examples:

Some of these people started with lengthy explanations about their business. We helped them whittle them down to:

  1. I put fashion and style back into the world of ugly uniforms. (Uniform Supply company)
  2. Do you ever worry that your personal information will fall into the hands of the wrong people? We fix that. (Document Shredding company)
  3. We breathe new life into old equipment for big companies. (Equipment refurbishment company)

These communication teasers were easier to remember and more fun to say, which immediately increased the amount of enthusiasm in the delivery.

How is your elevator pitch? Need some help? Send either Imelda or myself and email and we would be happy to help!

Happy Pitching!


The Vibe of Vision

September 6, 2010

The metaphor for vision is the mountainWhen your organization achieves all of its objectives and goals, what will the world look like?  This is the how vision is defined.

Vision is the “snapshot” or still picture. It is best described using nouns, not verbs. We use the metaphor of the mountain. Vision is the ultimate and final destination. However; your vision has to be compelling and  inspiring to everyone in your organization…all the way to the front lines…not just the executive team.


3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...

Image via Wikipedia

 In Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I have a dream” speech, he used many word pictures to describe what his vision looked like,”..I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”  Dr. King went on for 10 minutes describing the world he desired. He described it with clear pictures and invoked powerful emotions.  That is vision.

Vision usually outlives the visionary.

Yesterday, Roger and I drove to Santa Cruz, Ca to hear a young pastor preach what his vision was for the church. We have spent time with the leadership team of Faith Community Church in helping them create a strategic plan to carry out their vision while fulfilling their purpose. This amazing team of guys (who could easily be mistaken for beatnik or surfer dudes), are passionate about transforming the city of Santa Cruz into a “safe and thriving community…” They are working tirelessly to partner with leadership teams of other churches and government agencies to achieve this bold and audacious vision.

It was one of the most inspiring and compelling talks I have ever heard.

Pastor Andy described in detail what his city will look like when they have achieved all of their objectives.  In less than 30 minutes, he addressed areas that included Family, Religion, Education, Arts/Entertainment/, Media, Business and Government.

People got excited…very excited. 

People are looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves that they can contribute to in meaningful ways.

When was the last time you painted a picture for those you lead in a compelling and inspiring way…in a way that moves emotions…in a way that clearly articulates where your organization is headed and why it is going there?

Vision describes what your mountain will look like when you get there. Mission is defined as the methods of how you will get to the mountain. It is the “vehicle” you drive to get to your destination. Mission is described using verbs and action.  Too many leaders confuse the two.

a confused employeeWe have a saying, “A confused mind says, ‘No’.” Do your employees have absolute clarity about what your mountain looks like? Walk around and ask them how they would describe your company vision. Author Patrick Lencioni says, “You know you have communicated effectively when  your people can impersonate you.”

Would they all answer with the same answer? If not, you know where to start. Communicating vision aligns your team. Companies don’t have vision, people do. What’s your vision?

And if you need help creating one…please call us…we are passionate about creating a world in which healthy Vibe is the standard…in the workplace, in the home and in the community. And it all starts with a compelling and inspiring vision.