Tag Archives: self-improvement

Eye Rolling: Five Ways to Keep the Conversation Rolling

By Marcia Reynolds, PsyD

Marcia Reynolds-eyes rolling

“I can handle when they talk back to me,” the HR Director said, “but when they roll their eyes, it just gets under my skin.”

“I know,” said the Training Manager. “I have an intern who does amazing work, but when I try to give him some direction, the eye roll makes me explain myself far more than I normally would. I feel I have to defend myself when I’m just stating a clear expectation.”

“It’s not just the younger employees,” the director added. “I get the smirk and sideways glance from one of my most senior specialists. If I ask if she disagrees with me, or disapproves of my approach, she says, ‘Oh no, I see what you mean’ and acts as if she is the most agreeable person around.”

“I think we need to address how eye-rolling impacts our communications. But I bet they roll their eyes if we suggest it!”

How To React When You Notice Eye-rolling

Most people emotionally react when someone rolls their eyes. The gesture is seen as a non-verbal judgment of your words. If you ask about the gesture, eye rollers generally deny they did anything disrespectful.

Don’t let eye-rolling get by you. Eye rollers have something on their mind. Click To Tweet

Whether in a business meeting or an informal conversation, the last thing you want to do is angrily respond to eye-rolling. If you stay curious instead of defensively reacting, you might find out what is underneath the eye roll. This could be your chance to connect by showing you care about the person’s opinion.

For example, during a tense discussion, you might be focused on making your point heard. You want to influence thinking. Eye-rolling might indicate you have pressed too hard. You might back off and sincerely ask the eye roller to share his or her perspective.

You want the person to surface their anger and frustration, to feel safe enough to vent. You need to hear what they think is missing or what they feel they aren’t getting in the moment. Even if you can’t give them what they want, it is better they feel heard instead of ignored.

So, instead of checking out or having a knee-jerk reaction to eye-rolling, notice your urge to defend, reprimand, or shut off from someone for eye-rolling. Then follow these 5 steps to engage them in the conversation.

Encourage Eye Rollers To Express What Is On Their Mind

1. Exhale your stress and recall feelings of respect and care for the person as best you can. Shift to wondering why they are resisting what you are offering. Even if you can’t feel good about the eye-roller, at least calmly (and genuinely) ask, “Would you please tell me what you think I have done or what I’m not hearing from you?” Then listen silently, resisting the urge to defend yourself. 

2. Even if it takes prompting, encourage eye-rollers to vent. Venting is a way to release frustration. If you accept their words without making them wrong, they might feel you care about their point of view. In fact, letting people vent not only allows them to release their feelings, but you can find what they really want or what is causing them to feel the way they do if you listen. Then, once they feel heard, they will be more willing to try to understand your point of view.

Flip Their Resistance Into Participation

3. Summarize what the person tells you and ask for confirmation. Don’t analyze what they say, just share what you hear. Say things like, “I think you are saying…”, “I see you are upset because you think…”, “I now understand that you think the decision was made based on these factors…”. Let people tell you what you got right and correct you if you are off. They must feel heard before the conversation can move forward.

4. Shift their frustration from blame to desire. Once they feel you are listening, ask them what they need to so they feel their ideas or contribution is valued. Ask questions like, “What has you most frustrated right now?”, “What do you need that you feel you aren’t getting from me or other people?”, “Do you have some ideas we can work on together?”, “What would you like to see people stop doing, and what would you like to see happen instead?”.

5. Agree on what the desired outcome is. You may not agree now on the best way to move forward but if you want the same end result, you might find a way to integrate some of their ideas. Agree, negotiate, or explain your point of view in light of their concerns keeping in mind what they think should happen as an end result. If they aren’t ready to provide an answer, ask if you can come back to the conversation after giving the situation some thought.

Don’t let eye-rolling get by you. Eye rollers have something on their minds. See if you can get them to express their views. Show you value their perspective. Integrate their ideas as best you can.

“I discovered something today,” the HR Director said, “Eye rolling could be a way of getting my attention, not pushing me away.”

“Thanks!” the Training Manager said, “That bit of wisdom could help me with my teenager.”

Vincent Van Gogh said, “Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realizing it.” Catch your reactions to eye-rolling. It’s your chance to show them you care about what they think.

Dr. Marcia Reynolds is an award-winning author and world-renowned expert on how leaders inspire change through conversations. She has spoken at conferences and taught workshops in forty-one countries on leadership and transformational coaching. Global Gurus names her number three coach in the world. Her books include Outsmart Your Brain, The Discomfort Zone, and Coach the Person, Not the Problem. Read more at www.Covisioning.com.

How to Simplify and Maximize Your Video Interviews

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy Eskenazi-video interview

Interview practices have come a long way over the last few years. With it has come to some huge benefits like video interviews! It has saved candidates hours in anxious commuting time as one standout benefit. The flip side is that video interviews that are not well set up can create even more anxiety and a poor candidate experience.

A simple way to mitigate this risk is to put some guard-rails around your video (and phone) interviewing practices. This will improve the experience and make sure you’re not missing out on great talent for your organization. Many of the higher cost platforms now include some of these practices, but it doesn’t mean you can’t build your own success practices with a lower cost option. The key is keeping the candidate experience front and center.

Most people now carry a mobile phone with a decent camera. Many will also have access to a laptop or tablet with a camera embedded, so this takes care of the hardware portion of the equation. When approaching video interviews, there are two main methods, and both require the proper set up and expectation setting for the candidate. One way to maximize what you’ll get out of both approaches is to share a checklist to help candidates prepare and know exactly what to expect. It could include the following:

  1. The type of questions you’ll ask 
  2. The process they can expect as they move through the questions
  3. The follow-up practices they can expect after the interview

With these expectations set, candidates will not be surprised, and this helps most people prepare to focus on the questions, not the medium of the interview. The two methods to consider as you think about video interviewing are:

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a have a responsibility to respond after the interview! Click To Tweet

The two-way live video interview

This method is more approachable and more accepted by most people. It involves the recruiter or hiring manager joining a live video session at the same time as the candidate. The interaction is in real-time making it feel very similar to an in-person interview. Some tips that help set candidates up for success for this specific type of interview include:

  • Make sure you’re in spot with good lighting and minimal background noise
  • Test your audio and video before the interview
  • Coach the candidate to think about their answers, even if it creates a pause. Let them know it will not be awkward at all! 
  • Let the candidate know if you have multiple people joining the call (yes, you can do online panel-style interviews!)

We’ve all been on personal and professional video calls that waste the first few minutes with “I can’t hear you”, “What is that in the background?”, and “Are you wearing pants?” With proper expectation setting, your video interviews can be very productive, and quite smooth. Having someone to interact with live allows non-verbal communication to take place. Real-time feedback and the opportunity to ask questions have been staples of interviews for a long time and it is a comfortable approach for most candidates, even if they are not used to being on video. 

Using this type of video interview is helpful as an initial screen to get a better sense of a candidate or through first-round interviews. 

The second more common type of video interviews can produce a very polarizing reaction for candidates. 

Pre-recorded video interviews

This type of interview is newer and rapidly growing in popularity. There are many vendors to choose from at various price points and tiered offerings worth exploring. This type of interview is not as popular with candidates because you are not offering an engaging conversation, but rather the candidate sees a question within the portal and then their responses are recorded (and sometimes timed!). The video is then sent back to the recruiter for review and assessment. While the tips offered above to set up for two-way live interviews still apply, there are some additional tips and expectations that should be set with candidates in advance of you sharing this pre-recorded video interview style. 

  • Set the stage to make it clear that there is no live interaction and that the questions will be provided during the interview and cannot be re-recorded
  • Keep the questions specific so clarification is not likely needed 
  • Be clear about the timelines and don’t expect candidates to record in the same day you reach out to them, nor should they expect your follow up the day they submit their video 
  • Send your own video message to kick things off so there is a real person explaining that the recording is timed, but is not a test

This type of video interview is helpful for a role that produces a lot of candidates, for example, hiring for a call center role or home-based roles. It will give you a faster way to select the candidates you want to move ahead because you don’t need to watch all the questions. 

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a responsibility to respond after the interview! A personalized email, phone call, or video message sent via weblink are all ways to accomplish this. You appreciate their effort and interest in your company and don’t want them walking away feeling that they jumped through hoops and got no response. This can impact your employer brand that is so important to your ability to attract top talent.

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

Positive Thinking at Work: Not Being a “Glass Half-Fool”

By: Steve Yacovelli, Ed.D.

Steve Yacovelli-Be Positive

So many people in the modern workplace try to operate from a glass-half-full mindset. But these days it’s getting tougher to see that glass of (insert your beverage of choice) as being half-full versus half-empty. There’s so much negativity in the world today, so much polarization, so many 24/7 news outlets that need something to pull our eyeballs and get our clicks. It gets exhausting looking at your Twitter feed, Facebook wall, your Instagram pics, or tuning into the evening news and seeing/hearing so much “downer fodder.”

There’s a heap of studies out in the world that show that negativity—specifically negative thoughts—can greatly impact your physical and mental well-being. From lowering your immune system to impacting your ability to focus to creating severe depression, chronic negativity can be a disaster for us humans. Studies show time and again that those who have a more positive view of the world tend to be more resilient or “bounce back” in the face of changing times—especially negative times.

Even in those more terrible-horrible-no good-very bad-days (the title of a great children’s book, FYI), if you force yourself to see the good things that happened (“I had good luck driving home today!” “My co-workers acknowledged I did awesome on that project!” “They had pork roll in the office cafeteria today!”) you tend to see the broader world in a more “silver lining” kinda way (more on this later).

So, what can you do to remain a bit more positive at work, and not just build up your Teflon-coating to the negativity in the world but combat it by sending out some good ol’ positive vibes? Here are five ideas you can apply today to help shape your view of the world to be a bit more positive:

1. Keep a “What-Went-Well” Journal

At the end of your day, open up a note app on your phone and identify five things that went well for you during that day and why. This could be things big (“promotion!”) or small (“found a parking spot!”), but force yourself to think of five. Why? On some days it’s pretty easy to find the things that went well.

However, when you have that rough day at work, but still force yourself to find five good things, that’s when the magic happens. Neuroscientists have found that—by doing this exercise over the course of about 2-3 months—you actually begin to rewire your brain to see things more positively. Try it and see if it works for you.

2. Notice the Negative and Positive People in Your Professional Life

Become more aware of the types of energy that coworkers around you tend to emit. Sure: everyone has those “off” days where they’re teetering on the more negative side, but for most folks, their true disposition is pretty consistent. Listen to what your colleagues say, watch what they do, and see what they post on social media. Then, try to be around those who are more “sunny” versus more “cloudy.” Emotions are contagious, so choose your company wisely so you’re catching the good rays versus the clouds.

You cannot control everything that happens to you in this crazy world, but you can indeed control how you react to it. Click To Tweet

3. Limit Your Daily Exposure to Social Media and News

Similar to #2, reflect on how much social media you’re being exposed to and what types. Also, be aware of the news stations / programs you tend to listen to or watch and understand their own bias level or level of objectivity (on both sides of the spectrum). Be mindful of the concept of “confirmation bias” (where we tend to surround ourselves with those who support our world view, adding fuel to our personal flames), and honestly reflect on how you consume those Tweets, Facebook, and Instagram posts.

Have an addiction to social media? Look for apps or built-in smartphone features that limit the number of minutes you can socialize online.

4. Understand Control vs. Influence vs. No Control

In any situation at work, think about the actions you can control, what you can’t directly control but can influence, and those things where you have zero control or influence over. It’s like a three-ring bullseye (where the center is your control area and the outer ring is what you have no control over, the middle the influence part).

Where are you spending the vast amount of your energy? The middle? The outer ring? Too many people dump their energy into that “control” ring when really they have no control, thus wasting their time and energy.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to stay positive is to pull an Elsa from “Frozen” and “let it go,” which is easier said than done for some but much more helpful to your physical and mental health in the long run.

5. Ask Yourself: “What’s the Worst that Can Happen?”

In any stressful situation: stop, take a breath, and put things into a greater context. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if …” and insert your current focus here (like, “… if I’m late for work this morning”). This helps put situations in the right perspective and context, helps avoid negativity, and allows you to embrace the positive of what you’re doing. Chances are you get yourself worked up even when “the worst that can happen” really isn’t all that bad.

Being more positive takes practice for many people. And yes: acknowledge that things can get crummy at times. Ultimately, you cannot control everything that happens to you in this crazy world, but you can indeed control how you react to it. Take the challenge to be that glass-half-full kinda person (and not a half-fool), and help others be a little more half-full, too.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli, (“The Gay Leadership Dude”) is Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and consulting firm based in Orlando, FL, USA, with affiliates across the globe. With over twenty-five years’ experience, Steve is a rare breed that understands the power of using academic theory and applying it to the “real” world for better results. His latest book, Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle came out June 2019. www.topdoglearning.biz.

Going from Good to Better

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I remember years ago as I gazed about my office, I am amused at its absurdity. It contained an eclectic array of form and function. Although my computer technology was first-rate, the room’s remaining accouterments were a varied collection emanating from different decades, with the diverging appearance and disparate degrees of utility.

In short, nothing matches. Of the six filing cabinets, three were metal and the rest, wood. With different finishes, colors, and styles, there were only two that match. The four shelving units were likewise dissimilar: early American dark oak, maple-adorned particleboard, light oak veneer, and modular plastic. It was not much to look at, but it all worked—effectively and efficiently—to my complete satisfaction and utter joy.

What change have you been putting off in your office? Act now and enjoy the results. Click To Tweet

My office, however, was not just about function, as it also contained a collection of sentimental artifacts: gifts from family and friends, trinkets from significant events, and a near gallery of wall hangings— the most elegant of which was a tastefully matted and smartly framed cover of my first issue of Connections Magazine. Next to it was an evocative gift from my eleventh birthday, a reprint, bordered with a simple homemade frame. Then there was a framed 3-D art rendering—the kind that you need to go slightly crossed-eyed before the hidden image emerges. On the far wall was an avant-garde depiction of a Monopoly game in progress. The remaining item was a black-and-white photo, housed in an inexpensive but seemingly ornate and likely antique frame. It was an aerial photo of my grandfather’s chicken farm, DeHaan Poultry, circa 1960.

The preceding description was written in 2007, but it remained fully accurate until a few months ago. For over a decade, my office configuration and contents had served me well. During that time, it had undergone a minimal change; even at the end, it lacked little in terms of functionality and efficiency, despite its visually diverse array of appurtenances.

So why did I want to ruin a good thing? Quite simply, I wanted to make things better.

Now when I had a colleague (see “Candy DeHaan Joins Peter DeHaan Publishing), it was impractical to have our respective offices on different floors, so I moved my office to be next to my wife’s.

Although the upheaval of my comfortable office was borderline traumatic, the ending result has been worth it. An efficiency expert would deem my new configuration to be even better, and a time-motion maven granted me high marks as well.

Moving also afforded the opportunity to simplify. Several things were discarded, while others items were elevated in status; files were scrutinized, workflow was streamlined, and computer configurations were reworked. A new desk was acquired and a more practical printer connected.

Moving my office required an investment of time and money. It also took a while before I felt comfortable and effective in my new environment, but I’m better off having made the change. What I had before was good; what I have now is better.

What change have you been putting off in your office? Act now and enjoy the results.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is a published author and commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services.

Asking Questions to Enhance Your Strategic Thinking

By Jill J. Johnson

Jill Johnson-question

The foundation of effective strategic thinking and strategy development is knowing how to ask the right questions. Learning to ask the right questions can be difficult because most people only know how to ask superficial questions that have easy answers. Asking challenging questions allows you to be more impactful in critical situations, have a greater influence on outcomes and help your organization achieve greater results.

Ask Questions That Matter

The level of uncertainty in today’s business climate is driving major challenges for most leaders.

To be an effective leader, you have to fully understand the overall strategic goals of your enterprise and key leadership. Use these goals as the framework to align your thinking.

Understand the critical market forces impacting your business strategies so you can determine the questions to be answered. What critical market forces are at play in your industry? Are there forces evolving around you which have the potential to impact your survival or growth opportunities? Consider what it will take to grow revenue, expand profitability, improve job satisfaction, enhance productivity, or increase customer retention. How does each of these areas impact the questions you should consider? Structure your questions to challenge the critical issues impacting your ability to achieve these goals.

The foundation of effective strategic thinking and strategy development is knowing how to ask the right questions. Click To Tweet

Three Critical Categories of Questions

There are three primary categories of questions to evaluate when you are focusing on your strategic thinking. These questions allow you to scan the various elements impacting your enterprise. These include reviewing what is going on internally in your organization, exploring external market forces creating new challenges or opportunities, and a review of your organizational relationships. Here are some examples of the types of questions you can consider for each level of your scan.

Internal Scan: Ask detailed questions about your customers and their evolving needs. What is the impact of your ownership, culture, stage of your business life cycle? Where are the sources of your profitability and capital resources? What are your leadership capabilities? How deep is the expertise of your team? Make sure you fully understand the key strategies of your organization and the opportunities you have to implement them.

External Scan: Consider the impact of various market forces on your target market and opportunities. What is happening demographically? How is your competition influencing your target market’s expectations on services, costs, and quality? What generational influences impact your ability to compete for your customers? What are the risks of remaining status quo?

Relationship Scan: Consider the status of the strategic relationships and partnerships you and your enterprise have developed. How do they impact your opportunities and create new challenges? Can you tap into other resources they offer or leverage them to achieve your goals? What are your internal relationships and how can you use them to impact success?

Constructing Your Strategic Questions

Focus your consideration of the questions on the key components impacting your enterprise growth or survival. Your questions should follow the format of who, what, where, when, why and how. They should be action-oriented. As you answer them, they should provide clarity to your strategic direction and focus. This will provide guidance on areas needing more research.

Align your questions to answer critical business questions. Your questions should help you clarify the most critical priorities for your organization. These should be broken into levels of importance: top, short-term, and on-going. Also consider the time-horizon for the impact: short-term, mid-term or long-term. By understanding the time priorities, you can categorize your strategic questions to align them with the key external market forces impacting your ability to achieve your goals. Aligning your questions with the external market forces provides you with a deeper level of critical thinking. As you elevate your critical thinking, you can begin linking your questions to impact your overall enterprise strategies.

Make sure your questions are challenging enough so they cannot be answered without some research or reflection. Questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” are not strategic questions. Ask provocative questions to encourage deeper thinking. This will bring a higher level of critical thinking to your planning effort. If your team cannot ask tough enough questions, find an outside advisor or consultant who can provide insight.

Getting Answers to Improve Your Strategic Insight

Often you will have to do some research before you can develop your questions. Think of this as your “homework”—doing the right preparation before you begin ensures you will ask better questions. Look to your major industry associations as a good starting source for insight about emerging issues and challenges. Study how your competitors are tackling challenging market forces.

Consider your options for obtaining the information which will allow you to confidently address your questions. Outside resources can be an objective source of obtaining information. If you keep this research role internal, work carefully to minimize any bias you might inject into the research.

Identify the key metrics you should be monitoring by carefully analyzing industry data. Tie your questions to what improves or impacts each of these metrics. Your questions should consider what impacts your profit margin, return on capital employed, return on investment, and return on assets. If you don’t understand these terms, learn more about them.

You will never have all of the available data to answer all of your questions. The goal is to obtain enough data to make reasonable judgments or to clarify for you the next layer of questions to ask.

Final Thoughts

Asking the questions that matter will build your confidence and others will be more confident in working with you. Learning to ask challenging questions allows you to be more impactful in critical situations, have an influence on outcomes, and help achieve greater results. Thinking strategically is a skill set you must actively work at trying to improve. Find resources to help you learn and practice your critical thinking skills. Building your strategic mindset takes time, discipline and focus.

What critical questions do you need to ask to improve your business?

Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.