Tag Archives: communication


Learning from Tesla | The Value of Clear Communication

We interrupt this broadcast with a special report… Okay, not really.

However, I just wrapped up a great meeting with a colleague in the Professional Training and Development world. As we discussed ways to engage and motivate people to growth, I was reminded of a sobering story about genius.

Namely that of Nikola Tesla. In this quick video (3 minutes, 20 seconds to be exact), I pass this genius’ story along as a way to fuel your thinking about the value of clear communication.


Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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Make Your Communication Stick!

Communication…We all know how important it is to communicate, yet what I find is we are sometimes not equipped with how to deliver our message. Brad Lomenick has some great tips below on How to Make Your Communication Stick. What he shares are simple, yet engaging ideas that will inspire you to get that conversation going, and in a way that is meaningful and memorable!

I talked about communication in Silence is Not Golden, it’s Deadly. Employee surveys reveal that communication is virtually always at the top of the “needs improvement list.”  Problems in communication can mean inaccurate information or insensitive comments. However, a huge chunk of it fits in the negative category of not communicating information properly.

Much of what is shared involves some of my favorite coaching topics: Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Connect personally.

Which step are you going to embrace today to communicate better with those in your sphere of influence?

Grateful to be your Coach,




8 Ways to Make your Communication Stick

By Brad Lomenick

Whether you are a seasoned leader, college student, author, professor, CEO, politician, or pastor, we all have to learn to communicate well. Whether we are speaking to thousands, speaking to our staff, giving a report, making a speech, teaching your kids soccer team, or addressing your company, it’s imperative as leaders we know how to communicate. To make our point. To deliver a message. And communicating is much easier said than done. Actually it’s the saying part and the doing part that make it difficult.

So here are some tips that might make communicating a bit easier for you and a bit more enjoyable for those listening. To make it stick. 

1. Keep it Simple. Stay focused on a few key points. And use common sense. If it sounds confusing, it probably is. If it sounds cheesy, it probably is.

2. Tell great stories to validate your points. Unless you are just an amazing communicator, your points probably won’t hold me. So sprinkle in some great stories, good analogies, personal connections, and current events.

3. Inspire action. Push me towards doing something, not just hearing something.

4. Know your audience. Seems simple, but many miss this one. Make constant connections to your audience. If you’re talking to a group of high school students, don’t use the same jokes and intro as you did with the local Lions Club mens pancake breakfast the day before.

5. Create hooks, repetitions, and memorable phrases. I won’t remember all you said, but I might remember something you said. Our current culture is now built around soundbytes- status updates, tweets, texts, etc. So keep it simple, but also keep it short.

6. Connect personally. Look people in the eye. Recognize individuals in the audience and mention their name. Find people in the crowd and speak directly to them. Make eye contact with the entire room, from side to side. If your audience thinks you care about them, then they’ll care about what you are saying.

7. Be authentic, vulnerable, and funny. The key is to just simply be you. Allow the audience to get to know you. Make yourself vulnerable by talking about a failure or something that gives you instant connection. Be funny and find ways to keep your content light and humorous.

8. Land the plane on time. Not just ending on time, but actually ending with the right timing. Don’t keep circling above the runway – land it now.

What other tips would you add for communicating well?

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The Practice of Personal Accountability – Part 2

Last time we discussed the Value of Personal Accountability. Now we will focus on the Practice of Personal Accountability.

“Personal Accountability is not hard… but it is impossible unless you know where to start.”

So where do we start? Start by looking in the mirror! Personal Accountability starts with “me”.

Think about it, most people attempt problem solving or troubleshooting by looking at everyone else first. Typically asking what the author of QBQ calls “Incorrect Questions”.

Incorrect Questions look like:

  • “Why” did they do…
  • “When” is that team going to complete…
  • “Who” missed their numbers…

These “Incorrect Questions” seem straightforward enough. However in reality whoever initiates questions like these are functionally isolating themselves from a sustainable solution. In light of this, let’s pull the thread on these types of questions, looking at the intended outcome and see just how these harmful Incorrect Questions look from this new vantage point.

Illuminated Incorrect Questions:

  • I am the victim here, “WHY” did they do …
  • I don’t want to procrastinate, but “When” is that team going to start…
  • I will blame the real culprit “Who” missed their numbers…

Can you see how these types of questions undermine trust and instill a lack of confidence in your people?

Asking “Proactive Questions” is the antidote to a lack of trust, the accelerant for how to grow relational equity with your people and implement productive action.

Proactive Questions look like:

  • “What” can I do to help…
  • “How” can I best support…

When you and I switch our focus to asking Proactive Questions, we begin eliminating bureaucracy and lead by example.  Regardless if you’re the Leader, Manager or an Entry-level employee. You and I begin to be the change that we want to see in our company. Not to mention over time you will begin to save time, money and eliminate unhealthy stress by helping people to thrive.

The practice of asking Proactive Questions will empower you and your people to stop playing the unnecessarily common blame game. Equipping you to work collaboratively and accomplish more together…remember, it is a practice. You and I must commit to making Proactive Questions a habit.

Is it time to invite Shandel Group to help lay the groundwork for your team or organization to learn the Value and Practice of Personal Accountability? Reach us here.

- Alan Andersen


The Value Of Personal Accountability – Alan Andersen

Have you read our most recent quarterly newsletter? In it we discussed gossip and the insidious effect it can have on relationships of all kinds. Being accountable and deciding if we are adding to negativity is an important in our personal accountability process.

This week we feature our newest coach, Alan Andersen. Alan addresses the topic of personal accountability. What role does it play in the workplace? In our personal relationships? Let’s find out!

Here’s Alan…

Have you noticed that we live in a day and age where one of our societal norms is having a low level of awareness? We hear employees say things like, “I can’t believe I didn’t get the promotion!” or “I had no idea that my communication style irritated you.”

What is the cost of this pervasive and detrimental disease? First, here are a few stats on our current state of stress, dissatisfaction and unhappiness:

The net effect is that 70% of the workforce is disengaged and this costs the U.S. economy more than 400 billion dollars (yes, ‘B’…FOR BILLION) in lost productivity annually! So what is the antidote to lost productivity?

Personal Accountability. The primary way to combat this shortfall is to adopt the practice of personal accountability. Instead of being in a typical individual or company become different! The choice is yours and the reality is that this is not rocket science but it does take diligent training.

I’ll share a personal anecdote that will get you heading in the right direction. This mindset has served me well in my journey to be more personally accountable. The concept is called “Win 3” and it’s taken from a story in the must-read QBQ by John G. Miller.

Essentially to be most successful at whatever I am doing, I have to win in 3 critical areas of life…

  1. Myself. I must overcome my fears; crushing apathy and training (personally and professionally) like no one else.

  2. My Opponent. The metaphorical opponent may be a project, competitor or even my colleague. I must “win them over”.

  3. The Referee. The ref is a metaphor for things out of my control. I must overcome any hitch, hurdle or hardship.

What if we approached each day with a fresh spirit to winsomely overcome obstacles or critics? I am not alluding to a zero sum game, but rather a win-win approach to our personal and professional life. I assure you, if we lived in such a manner that no one or thing could take us down. We would be unstoppable.

So how do I become unstoppable? I am glad you asked, it all starts with asking “Proactive Questions”. Proactive questions are at the root of Personal Accountability. This is training that Shandel Group specializes in and we can help you, your team and even your leadership grow into personally accountable people.

If you’re ready to gain productivity or increase performance, we can help! We will engage, empower and equip you and your people to learn the art of asking the proactive question and become unstoppable.

- Alan Andersen



In our last blog post, we talked about the practice of gossip, and how poisonous it is. A lot of people think gossip is inevitable — a byproduct of human nature we can never be free of. I’m here to tell you that we can – and we must!

Why do people gossip? What’s at the root of the desire to spread negativity about other people?

Remember, we’ve said that there’s a very basic need every human has to have communication, community, and connection. Yet, where there are people, there’s conflict. If you hate to deal with conflict and you do everything to avoid it, you’ll end up with only superficial relationships. And that’s one of the foundations of gossip.

No Avoiding Conflict

If you want to be in healthy community and truly connect at a meaningful level with other people, you will have conflict. No way around it. Period. There will be times when we offend each other, when we miscommunicate, when we jump to conclusions, when we miss what the other person was trying to say.

When we have honest conversations to resolve those conflicts, we learn and grow from the experience of being challenged by another point of view. That is what makes us wiser and stronger as it helps grow our character. The way to PEACE is through truth. And peace-making is through resolving conflict, not avoiding it.

People involved in shallow, fake relationships are still trying to get their human need for connection and their desire to be heard met. Unfortunately, they feel the need to protect themselves, so they refuse to engage in authentically caring for others.

Calling into Community

When we listen to gossip, we allow these people to continue in their isolated world. We do not call them out of that lonely place into a community where they can be real, messy — and loved. We allow them to continue their pattern of negativity and unhappiness. Then we allow them to pollute our environment with their negativity and critical spirit.

You cannot have joy and criticism at the same time. So why would you trade in your joy card for this negativity? I don’t get it.

When I was in graduate school, I shared a house with four women. We agreed to some basic rules, but two really left their mark on me: 1) No gossip about fellow housemates, and 2) No listening to gossip.

That second rule kept me on the straight and narrow. I did not want to be called out by one of my friends and embarrassed because I was a gossip. I was willing to do the hard work of communicating, of working through the inevitable conflicts we faced, which deepened our relationships and led to peace and joy.

Anti-Gossip Policy

Please help me end gossip. I encourage all companies to adopt a policy to ensure that personal conflicts are being handled in a way that keeps people’s dignity and integrity in check. (Read my article on healthy conflict.) Equip your people with communication and conflict-resolution training.

I promise you, if you insist on a culture based on agreed-upon values and attract the right people to your organization, you can eliminate gossip in your workplace.

It is simple; it is just not easy!

Your Coach,



Side-by-Side Assessments: Line Up for Better Communication!

Communication is at the root for success in every relationship — whether at work and at home. Not only that, communication skills need to be continually improved and strengthened.

Have you “arrived” and feel really good at communicating to those you work or live with? Well, it’s been my experience that whenever we get to that point, watch out. Here comes humble pie! We always need to go deeper and learn more and practice those skills continually. (Remember, you have to do something a minimum of seven times before it sticks!)

As leaders, having the tools to improve communication, resolve conflict, and increase trust is essential for us to motivate our teams to greatness. We must know each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses if we are to keep our eyes on the desired outcomes.

Side-by-Side Wisdom

Now, the Shandel Group is offering an incredible new tool to help you communicate better. And it’s FREE! (For most of you, anyway.).

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To test this new tool, I ran the new report on my husband, John, and me. You might know already that we are exact opposites. I can tell you that the comparison charts have helped us communicate so much better! This new knowledge has allowed us to quickly resolve conflict effectively! We have laughed and had a lot of “A-HA” as we read through the report together. (Feel free to look through ours and giggle with us.)

Here are just a few ways the report is being maximized at work:

• Onboarding new employees

• Conflict resolution

• Owner and CEO communicationcompchecklist

• Owners and managers

• Executive team member collaboration

• Mentoring programs

• New orientation with manager

• CEO and Vice President of HR

• Succession planning

• Couples coaching

• Selection and development of talent

• Investment in high potential leaders

Great Offer During April

SO HERE’S THE DEAL: If you took the TTI Talent Insight or Trimetrix report after October 1, 2014, we can run this report for you for FREE! No additional cost! Just contact us with your name and the person you want to be compared with on the report.

If you took the assessment before 2014, then see us for a limited offer on retaking it for 50% off during the month of April! If you have never taken the assessments, we will offer them to you at 20% off for you and one key relationship then run the comparison report at no charge.

Remember, everything starts with WHY. Our WHY drives us out of bed in the morning and is a force that keeps us motivated all day long. When our WHY is clear, we are naturally driven to take action on our what and how.

Dr and Mrs Sutherland graphsJust as true is when our why does not align with another person’s why over a small or large issue, we will have conflict. This new report helps give clarity into the fact that conflict may be a motivational and not personal.

Invest in your relationships and take them to the next level, if not now, when?

Your Coach,



Leading by Effectively Communicating

As a part of my executive coaching practice, I use a DISC/Motivators assessment tool to help identify the natural behavioral tendencies and the personal motivations of my clients. During most of my years as a coach, I was adamantly opposed to “recommending some online assessment that will slap a label on my clients and pop them into boxes.” Coaching is about growth and change and the antithesis of living in a box. I had my speech and I was committed to it.

A couple of years ago a business partner challenged me to learn more about the value of this work, and I subsequently became a behavioral/motivators analyst. What turned me around? When you know how you normally behave and what motivates you, and you understand how you differ from others, you can adjust your communication so that others can understand you. The concept is as simple as knowing your native tongue very well, while at the same time learning a few key words from a variety of primary world languages so that you can effectively communicate.

Leadership Skill: Lead by effectively communicating.

Over the next few months we will explore how different people respond when they face four situations that are common to everyone:

  • problems or challenges
  • the desire to influence someone
  • change and setting pace
  • rules that have been set by someone else

Your natural way of responding shapes your behavioral style.  How you walk. How you talk. How you shop. How you drive. How you play.

We will also consider why you do what you do, i.e. what gets you out of bed in the morning. We will consider six categories:

  • thirst for knowledge
  • commitment to never wasting money, time, energy
  • desire for harmony and beauty
  • longing to help others
  • drive to lead
  • focus on tradition

Human beings are much more complex than what any assessment can tell us about how we tend to behave or what motivates us. This work offers you broad strokes to understand yourself and others for the purpose of communicating more effectively.

How are you doing, 0 – 10, leading by effectively communicating?

Since I spend a significant amount of time doing team workshops and 1:1 training on this topic, I am constantly aware of communicating with family and friends, as well as clients, with language that fits how they behave and what motivates them. I get better at it every year and find the key is taking a moment to clearly listen, not just be thinking about what I want to say.

In anticipation of adding new communication tools these next few months, I invite you to choose a couple of primary people in your life and notice how they behave, and what is important to them. It will be particularly interesting if you choose people with whom you struggle to communicate. I encourage you to suspend your natural tendency to judge anything that is different from you. That does not mean that there is never behavior that is good or bad, it just means that behavior that is different from yours is not, by definition, either bad or good. It is just different. Obviously, this is a core principle in effective communication.

Be excited. The info coming these next months has opened doors for executive teams around the world to take their communication skills to the next level and create highly successful organizations. You will find yourself applying it to the vital areas where you lead – work, community, and home!

- Mary Beth King

This article has been featured in Blue City Monthly


Leading By Delegating

How many times have you ended your day thinking,

“I need to clone myself. I will never to able to create a life that includes everything that matters to me – doing excellent work, having time to play, nurturing great relationships, eating well, and exercising – unless I somehow figure out how to add more hours to my day.”

Whether considering your work or your personal life, delegating is the answer. Start from the premise that your job is doing only those things that others cannot do. Delegate everything else.

I recognize how radical a thought this is, and that strictly following it will vary in each of the roles that you have in life, but embracing the premise is essential. You can create a To-Do list that includes ALL of the things that truly matter to you and have enough time to actually get them done and do them well.

But delegation is NOT shoving something off your plate onto someone else’s and breathing a sigh of relief.

Delegation is a process of granting authority to someone else for a specific task or project for which you are ultimately responsible, and holding them accountable for good work.

Leadership skill: Delegate effectively.

Step 1 – Choose to whom you will delegate by considering:

  • Who has the time or whose priorities could be adjusted to make the time?
  • Who has an interest in the task, or is closest to the issue?
  • Who is either capable of doing it or learning to do it?
  • Who has the most to gain, in either skills or experience?

Step 2 – Clearly define the desired outcome and which of five progressive levels of authority you are granting:

- Do exactly what I’ve told you; let me know when it’s done.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome and report what you find.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, report what you find, and make recommendations.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, go ahead and do it, and let me know when it’s done.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, and go ahead and do it.

Step 3 – Create buy-in.

Be clear about how this task fits into the big picture of their personal goals or values, and the goals of the group. That reminds them how important they are.

Tell them why they were chosen and what specific skills they bring to the task, and involve them in designing the process to the outcome. That reminds them how valuable they are.

Step 4 – Together design a schedule of follow-up.

Establish and agree upon the structure of checkpoints before beginning the task. The frequency of check-ins will be based on the trust you have in their abilities and motivation. This realistic schedule of dates needs to include training time, progressive mini-outcomes, and completion.

Avoid micromanaging. Follow-up creates accountability and success. Micromanaging, on the other hand, looks at process, not outcomes, and expects compliance in how things are done. Everyone hates it because it strips them of their individuality.

How are you doing, 0 – 10, delegating effectively?

- Mary Beth King

This article was originally featured in Blue City Monthly


Leading By Understanding Different Motivations

You know those people who are SO different from you? Who go on-and-on about things that make no sense to you? Put simply, different things matter to different people.

This month’s look at communication styles (as defined by the DISC/Motivators Assessment) invites you to consider which of the six motivators gets your motor running. Once you know that, you can figure out how to communicate effectively with those other people.

The six motivators:

1 – Theoretical. Seeks knowledge.

2 – Utilitarian. Seeks return on investment in everything.

3 – Aesthetic. Seeks harmony and beauty.

4 – Social. Seeks to help others reach their potential.

5 – Individualistic. Seeks leadership in order to advance their cause.

6 – Traditional. Seeks a system of order and structure.


Motivators Wheel

Leadership skill: Communicate effectively with those who are driven by different motivators.

Imagine that you are planning to run a half marathon (or take a trip, or go for dinner at your favorite restaurant) and you want a friend to do it with you. Consider what you would say to your friend based on what motivates them:

1 – Theoretical. The Rock and Roll Half Marathon is on June 13, at 7:30 AM. The route starts at the Space Needle, goes through downtown to Columbia City, back north to I-90, through SODO, and back through downtown to the Space Needle. There are live bands all along the route. The price is $110, and that includes a T-shirt.

2 – Utilitarian. When you sign up, you know you will ratchet up your training program to be ready. You could set a personal best this year. You will be moving toward your goal of running a marathon. And you will be able to choose a charity to support that you know will use your money wisely.

3 – Aesthetic. The beautiful course takes you through vibrant Seattle, along the Sound where you will see the ferries gliding to the islands, and the Lake Washington coastline with glimpses of snowcapped mountains. The cacophony of music from live bands all along the way will be awesome. How cool to do it together.

4 – Social. It has been hard for me to find time to train for this race. We would be a great support to one another if we both committed to it.  And you will have an opportunity to contribute to a charity that you choose.

5 – Individualistic. I would like you to be the point person for the company sign-ups for this race. Our North Seattle division has challenged us to a competition. We need a leader who will encourage everyone to sign-up, focus on training, and bring in an average time that will trounce them.

6 – Traditional. This race, started in 1998, is now run in cities throughout the world. The Rock and Roll series is the most run in the United States. In Seattle last year, 12,000 runners crossed the finish line in the half marathon alone. The events include a Health and Fitness Expo and a spectacular concert that afternoon. What a support system they must have to pull this off.

How are you doing, 0 – 10, communicating with people with different motivators?

I am about a 5. I, along with the rest of the world, tend to lead my conversation from what motivates me. I invite all of us, especially when we are not seeing eye-to-eye, to consider what motivates each other. That most likely is the root of our differences, and a powerful key to understanding each other.

- Mary Beth King

This article was featured in Blue City Monthly


The Top 3 Takeaways from An Employee Survey

Yesterday I had the joy of training 44 supervisors in a progressive company that has been around for nearly 100 years. We debriefed their employee survey results and discussed actions we could take to better support the manager and supervisors. Ironically, the top 3 results are the same in almost every company I have the privilege of coaching:  Communication, Recognition and Training.


If you are a leader then you are fully aware that communication is an ever-growing need in every organization. Communication and trust go hand in hand. If there is a communication problem you can pretty much assume there is a trust issue. Trust and Communication are always at risk of silent erosion; thus, leaders must pay special attention to these two areas on a consistent basis.


Positive recognition for the work that is getting done. The desire for more more “atta boys” and verbal recognition for what is going right. How often do you pay attention to what people are doing right?  It was a great opportunity for me to share about the Emotional Bank Account. For every negative withdrawal (or interaction) you make, it takes five positive ones to compensate. As leaders we must be overly zealous in our positive affirmations of our co-workers … and, really, everyone in our lives!


It seems with the fast pace of growth, we just need a warm body in the position and training can happen later. Unfortunately, what I often find is that the lack of training becomes a huge source of employee dissatisfaction. You can assume that whatever training you have presently is probably not sufficient. Leadership training on communication, trust building, conflict resolution, active listening, and how to lead a high performing team are just a few of things we are tackling this week. For a leadership team of seven people you will want to work on these skills bi-annually and at least bring them into the conversation evaluating how you are doing in these areas quarterly.

Whenever you run an employee survey you want to make sure you have an effective debrief session and then you must ensure you follow up on all initiatives. You will destroy trust if you do not handle the results effectively, so get help if you are not 100% certain you know what you are doing and until then work on the top three issues above and you will be on your way to great success.

I would love to hear below any other observations you have from employee surveys you have participated in.

Your Coach,