Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

The Soul of a Project #7: Revenue and Trust

by Gary Monti on March 20, 2012

Increasing revenue can create quite a challenge. Doing more of the same is not necessarily the formula that works. Over the years I’ve come to see there are revenue plateaus companies hit. No matter how they try they can’t break through these sales barriers. So what is going on? One element that shows up 99 times out of 100 is trust. Or, should I say lack of trust.

The typical approach prior to engaging me is trying to “put a tire pump” on what’s worked in the past – more of the same. This lead to exhausted, frustrated employees and executives who feel let down. The approach seems so simple – just do more of what we’ve always done. What could be simpler? Plenty.

During root cause analysis what typically surfaces as the culprit is lack of trust. Senior managers want more of what benefits the company but they don’t want to let go of the reins of power. You might be asking, “What does that have to do with increasing sales?” The short answer is, “The people need to be empowered.”

Correspondingly, the employees try to work the same old work patterns. They shy away from the seeking the increase in responsibility that goes with the freedom to explore and grow the company. They might get slapped down. They want assurances.

In the end it boils down to one word – trust. How does that figure in to expanding an organization? What is happening is a change is needed for the growth to occur. Some of the old rules need to be retired and new ones need to be brought in. This creates a huge amount of stress. Managers fear for their jobs (of which there are fewer and fewer as one climbs the organization) as do the team members (who might have to leave the company if failure occurs).

This fear comes about mainly because people have to go to places within themselves of which they are afraid. In interviewing them the response I get goes something like this, “The skills I have honed are working fine – thank you very much! Go get the other guy to improve his work habits and turn more power over to me. Get out of my office. I have work to do. How much are we paying you to do this?”

If this attitude fails to change the revenues will stay the same or fall back to lower levels. This falling back throws gas on the fire and the tension gets even greater. The confusion also increases because efforts to grow have only made things worse!

What to do? The answer is quite simple but very hard to do: each person has to take charge of leadership in his own life and have the courage to negotiate new connections with those around him. There is a lot of inward activity. The key to success is going deep within and bringing to the forefront aspects of oneself that are a challenge to deal with. When the courage to do that is present and action is taken suddenly the ability to work with others associated with changing and growing seems possible. It is quite rewarding but I have to admit, it is scary and it is hard.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Thought Readership #2: Er, Who Did You Say You Were?

by Liz Alexander on February 20, 2012

We all know the three pillars of marketing, right? Know, Like, and Trust. Then why do so many non-fiction authors, many of whom intend to use their books as marketing tools, ignore this when they write? They dive straight into their material as if that’s enough for us to trust what they have to say.

Sorry, but it isn’t.

Perhaps such authors think that back cover blurbs or page upon page of “praise” from third parties will do the trick. But that’s like asking me to do business with someone because they’ve come highly recommended, without being able to discover for myself whether we’re a good fit.

Superior nonfiction authors never segregate themselves from their topic.

Mike Figliuolo accomplishes this skillfully in One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2011). This book takes you through a series of provocative questions from which you can express your leadership philosophy – not in a document the size of War and Peace – but on a single sheet of 8.5- x 11-inch paper. And in a way that not only makes that philosophy unique and easy to remember but ensures it more effectively engages your audience.

The “leadership maxims method” that Figliuolo shares was something he says he “stumbled upon” after graduating from West Point and serving in the US Army as a combat arms officer.

To establish his leadership without resorting to meaningless jargon that inspires nothing in no-one, Figliuolo learned to communicate two clear expectations to his soldiers: work hard; be honest. He further developed his approach as a rookie consultant with McKinsey and Co., before launching his own professional services firm specializing in leadership.

It didn’t take me long (by page 10, actually), to get a clear sense of who this author is (know) and to admire his openness and honesty (like). Certainly, the clarity and confidence of his writing style helped engender a sense of trust, but also the way he shared his own development story.

The author could have limited referencing his military career to the dust jacket and simply focused on telling me about his extensive consulting experience. That wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting or engaging. To successfully differentiate yourself as an author these days, when so many coaches and consultants are publishing books, it helps to have something to share that goes beyond bog-standard professional knowledge.

For example, in Chapter 6 of One Piece of Paper, Figliuolo explains that one of his maxims (and to get a full appreciation of their power either read the book or someone’s review) is “What would Nana say?” (Nana was his grandmother). He relates the story of how, as a young platoon leader, he discovered his unit had “lost” a tank tool that would have cost $2,600 to replace. But this isn’t the usual whitewashed story; Figliuolo reveals that he didn’t follow Nana’s example of integrity but opted instead “to reinforce a culture in which barter and white-lie extortion were acceptable behaviors.”

It’s that kind of human frailty, and admissions of such, that endear us to others because we recognize the same tendencies in ourselves. That’s what makes the method Figliuolo shares so authentic and motivational.

Know. Like. Trust. That model works for marketing products so why not use it to better engage with your readers? After all, if I don’t know who you are, I can’t determine if I like you or not. When I do, I’m of a mind to forgive authors a heck of a lot more than if they never bothered to introduce themselves at all.

Coming Next on Thought Readership: What’s wrong with “chocolate fireguard” books — and what to do instead.

Stay tuned.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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As the Paradigm Shifts #W: Will

by Rosie Kuhn on September 28, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this blog for awhile, specifically the intention I had in mind – what I wanted to convey regarding our will. The third step of the Twelve Step Program came to mind:

We turn our will over to the care of a higher power as we understand it

(The original version is: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him. Quite often, people are turned off by the religious components of the twelve steps, so I am paraphrasing in order to hopefully make this more palatable).

What I realized was that throughout our lifetimes, we’ve turned our will over to higher powers many times. From the time we take our first breath we turn our will over to our parents, teachers, coaches; we turn it over to our employers, our lovers and sometimes our children. We turn it over for the purpose of physical survival as well as emotional, spiritual and economic survival. We turn our lives and our will over to those who require respect and authority over us. As a consequence, we often learn to choose disempowering interpretations about ourselves and our lives; we learn to compromise and compensate for the loss of our will; our spirit and life-force; and we choose to use our will in ways that temporarily relieve suffering of such a loss (most of this is unconscious).

In a sense, we have surrendered our essential-self, which handicaps our capability to fulfill our highest expression of Self. Instead we compensate for what is no longer accessible by justifying our existence with what we do and what we get paid to do. Connection with our life force is lost and we use our willfulness to do what we are supposed to do.

To be willful is to thrive and yet, to be willful as a child or as an adult who is required to meet certain expectations is often punished, rejected or humiliated. We’ve all learned to temper our will for the will of those of higher authority. Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness to make a difference in the world turns us toward activities that numb us in all ways. TV, food, gaming, just to name a few, keep us from experiencing the desperateness that underlies so much apathy and dis-ease caused by surrendering our will to others. When we capitulate our ability to empower ourselves in service to our highest truth and our highest good we’ve lost connection to our essential nature and to Universal Consciousness, the source of all that is.

Not my will but Thy will be done

In the world of business each of us is required, sooner or later, to discover what is ours to do. Recognizing and acknowledging this then requires us to observe how we choose to use our will and whether this is, or isn’t, in service to our highest knowing. This is the moment when great leaders are born, as well as great managers and team players. When we choose to use our will to play it safe and stay small we are willingly fencing ourselves off from what we are wanting to avoid, that, however will inevitably precipitate a breakdown. Our survival mechanism – the way we use our willfulness to suffer, settle and survive, will need an overhaul.

I have no doubt that each of us is exactly where we need to be in order to figure out what’s truly ours to do. Willingly and courageously inching our way through the maze of confusion; willfully taking a stand for a quality of being that will transforms corporate culture is a self-transcending process for each individual and for each individual business institution.

We are all essentially in the process of recovery from the influences of our current paradigm, primarily the fear-based reality we are immersed in. Any traumatization we’ve experienced by our circumstances, to whatever degree, has to be worked through, reintegrating our souls/our will back into our bodies. Business environments are a perfect for this healing to occur, because of the multitude of opportunities we meet daily to use our will in alignment with our highest truth. Sometimes we can do this on our own, sometimes we have to reach out for help, and sometimes we feel like we are beyond help. In these moments we realize that we’ve turned our will over to a higher power that failed us. With no hope in sight, where do we turn?

We’ve corrupted our own identity by willingly surrendering our life force to those to whom we have been forced to trust. How do we begin to willingly choose differently, to will the will of our own highest power – our own highest truth?

Willingly stopping the corruption inside ourselves and all of our organizations is only possible when we are willing to notice that it is in all of us and that only through each of us can we begin to practice something different.

At what point do we consciously choose to turn our will over to an invisible source of support? Most of us wait until it is beyond obvious that our lives have become unmanageable and we are powerless over our addictive ways we deal with our circumstances. At this point, too frequently, we hurt like hell and feel as if we have no other option but to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Universal Source of all the is.

Though it is the same process – turning our will over to God as we understand him (Sorry for the religious languaging), to do it consciously feels vulnerable and scary. Consciously choosing to surrender is different than using the usual logic and justification: “I have to because my boss says I have to; I have to if I want this promotion; I have to if I want to if I don’t’ want that SOB breathing down my neck.” Surrendering our will in these cases required a surrender of our integrity and dignity. I think that’s very telling. We can stop this corrupt practice by revealing the denial that is going on inside each of us.

Regardless of our work environment we have the opportunity to notice how we use our will to empower or disempower ourselves by giving power away to those we choose to have authority over us. How has it served you to exercise your will in this way? What’s it like for you to live with these choices? Are there other choices that would be more empowering for you and your company?

Notice when what you are wanting isn’t in your highest good or the highest good of anyone! Continually ask yourself if what you are thinking or doing is in your highest truth and highest good. If it isn’t, you might want to engage with someone that can support you in making the changes you want.

To willingly engage in this practice of cultivating awareness is in alignment with the paradigm shift. More and more support is available to you and your business organization to ensure an extraordinarily empowering experience. Enjoy the Adventure!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Leader driven Harmony #38: ACE Your Life

by Mack McKinney on August 19, 2011

ACE stands for Always Control Expectations and we teach it in all our classes.  It means no surprises for your colleagues, friends and family:  If you say you’ll do something, then be certain that you make it happen.  Senior people sometimes use the old saying “Mean what you say and say what you mean”.  Lots of wisdom there.

In buying or selling services or products, treat people like you would like to be treated (the old Golden Rule).  And be sure you understand your organization’s internal processes so you can over deliver (and under-promise).  If you promise a signature or a delivery in one week, do it in 3 days.

In negotiations, don’t strive to win at all costs.  Build the relationship first and subsequent business will go much smoother.  Securing a tough, one-sided deal that costs the other party most of its profit is guaranteed to cause ill feelings and will get the relationship off to a rocky start. It might get you that deal, but won’t get you another from the same customer.

Worldwide, I have found that people do business with people they like, all else being equal.  Or maybe not  even equal . . . heck, I’ll pay a little more for insurance if Eddie Fields at State Farm sells it, because I trust him.  I’ll pay a little more for construction work if Ronnie Cooper does it, because he is fair and detail- oriented.  I’ll pay more for sushi at Sakura’s in Moyock, NC because it is fresh, the staff is super friendly and Wing and Wing Ha are great chefs.

In the end it isn’t about the money.  It’s about the friendships, the trust, and the people whose paths you can make just a little smoother as we all take this trip through life together.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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By the time you’ve opened your little peepers in the morning you’ve most likely  set your intentions for the day. This happens automatically for most of us. There are the normal patterns that we engage in to prepare for the day ahead, then follow through until tucked back in bed ready for a good night’s rest. What would shift if we became intentional about creating our day? What would we intend to happen? How would we intend to be that would allow our day to unfold?

People make extraordinary leaps of faith, creating because they were inspired to do so. Inspiration leads to intentions, which leads to acting with integrity. All three are essential yet it is integrity that gets the job done.

You are a rare individual who considers the possibility of creating a paradigm shift in the work place; one that would allow kindness, compassion and true collaboration to inundate the ranks of the stressed, overwhelmed and unfulfilled. What arouses such an undertaking in you? In my mind it has to involve inspiration.

That quality of being inspired – we know all know what it feels like, and we spend thousands of dollars for motivational speakers to come in and inspire us to – to do what? We read books and watch movies with the intention to facilitate the experience of feeling inspired. Too often, though that inspiration doesn’t last more than a couple of hours and we are back to our normal routine. We know the experience and we know how to cultivate it, Integrity is also a quality of being. We all know what it feels like too.

Our somatic or physical response to the world is the tell-all of our reality. If you want to know what’s true for you, go to the source—your body—it never lies. What does inspiration feel like to you? What is it that has that experience move you to take action? We don’t think much about this, though it is a huge factor in our lives.

Inspiration starts with a sensation of giddiness and excitement in my chest. I feel exhilarated and want to do something to support and nourish this feeling of being swept up. It’s different than anxiousness, which generally has a good dose of fear added. I also feel an impulse to move, to do something that fulfills these sensations. It’s like I’m being asked for something I know I can fulfill.

How does an idea become manifested? Action has to be taken and initially this can feel energizing and fun. Slowly though we lose touch with our original inspiration. With time and distractions we forget what we wanted or why we wanted it. Generally speaking, as we move towards what we want, something in us gets threatened and that stops us in our tracks. We need something more – we need to exercise muscles of integrity. Integrity tells us that we have intentions to manifest our vision and it’s critical to our well-being that we follow through to the very end. This all happens within our bodies. These bodily sensations continually influence us, yet rarely do we pay them the attention they deserve.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

The experience of intention can be very uncomfortable for people. For some, anxiety, nervousness and vulnerability ride shotgun. For others, excitement, anticipation and expectancy are present. What creates these different responses to the experience of intention? The vulnerability of wanting is embedded in our bodies, as are the memories of disappointment. The level of significance we give to what we want influences our willingness to set intentions to make it happen. More people than you can imagine have given up being their intention, not because it’s part of their spiritual practice, but because they decided long ago that it wasn’t safe to want, and most likely they weren’t going to get it, so they stopped being intentional. They wake up in the morning, yet remain asleep to their hearts desire.

The practice of setting intentions to create action and follow through in support of our intentions, while at the same time not being attached to the wanting or the outcome, is essential and challenging. Living in the moment and practicing these steps strengthens character and gives us courage to live into the unknown. It cultivates wisdom and confidence to be with whatever shows up. This too seems very challenging at first. But like everything else, practice brings about the expansion of capability and ease of being with what use to feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and impossible. Either it is enough to take us over the edge of our hopes and fears, into the life we imagine, or it’s not. The only way to do this is by investigating this territory. We have to take the leap.

Inspiration, Intention and Integrity as Tools

On all levels of being, from the current circumstances to the domain of Universal Oneness, we have specific intentions. Without these we would not survive for we would lack even the desire to hope or want life itself. To see inspiration, intention and integrity as tools we can effectively change our relationship to that which generates the unfolding of life itself. As the paradigm shifts, each of us will willingly participate in the expansion of consciousness, thrilled to witness the fulfillment of potential far more magnificent than imaginable. It is definitely worth the price of admission.

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Guy Kawasaki’s Finishing School for Entrepreneurs!

by Roger Parker on March 8, 2011

While reading an advance copy of Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, it struck me that what Guy is providing is a “finishing school for 21st Century entrepreneurs.”

According to Wikipedia, finishing school originally referred to “a private school for girls that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities.” Intended to follow ordinary schooling, finishing school is “intended to complete the educational experience, with classes primarily on etiquette.”

Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is much more than shallow etiquette, as it references many of the most important and influential current books on marketing, psychology, and social behavior, such as Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Power of Persuasion.

Yet, at heart, Enchantment is an etiquette book; its a 21st century behavior book, a guide to the subtleties and nuances of daily business life that determine whether or not others—bosses, co-workers, customers, employees, prospects, and website visitors—will like us and trust us…or simply tune-us out.

Image versus reality

Enchantment fascinates me because—on the surface–it looks, and reads, like a “simple” book. It’s a fast read because sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, are short. Topics inside chapters are short and to the point, broken up with frequent subheads, lists, and quotations that keep readers engaged and moving forward.

There are also enough graphics to reinforce important points.

Look behind the apparent simplicity and easy reading, however, and you’ll find a wealth of carefully organized, up-to-date information. Enchantment’s bibliography may only include 20 titles, but they’re the right 20 titles, and Guy Kawasaki obviously carefully read each of the contemporary business classics before skillfully weaving them into the narrative.

You’ll definitely want to read Enchantment with pen in hand, so you can underline the many ideas you’ll want to revisit.

Importance of balance

Most business books fall into the trap of either being too abstract or too practical.

  • Abstract books, often the ground-breaking books that introduce new ideas and perspectives, are often too research-oriented to be useful. They may define a new way of approaching a problem, but they don’t provide the daily nuts-and-bolts, “do and don’t” advice, that readers need to efficiently implement and profit from the new perspective.
  • Practical books, on the other hand, are often so distilled down to the “how to’s” that readers don’t understand the background, or the context, of the recommended advice.

Enchantment is one of the rare exceptions. It defines a “code of behavior” that will encourage others to like, respect, and trust you (and your ideas) and also provides the specific advice and recommendations you need to create the daily habits that will enchantment those whose approval you need to achieve your goals.

Is Enchantment for you?

Basically, Enchantment is for you, if :

  • You’d rather read 1 book, instead of 20 other books.
  • You’re interested in stories, rather than ideas. Enchantment is filled with examples from Guy Kawasaki’s own experiences plus personal stories contributed by a variety of successful entrepreneurs.
  • You’re part of the personal computing and Internet age. As a well-known Silicon Valley participant and investor, Guy Kawasaki writes from a privileged “insider” perspective about the past. This also makes him the perfect guide to introduce you to ways to achieve your enchantment using the latest online and social media technology.

Enchantment contains additional subtleties that enhance its value as a “finish school” for entrepreneurs. The table of contents, for example, provides topic lists with check-boxes for you to track your progress as you read. In addition, the Conclusion contains a self-scoring quiz you can take to test your mastery of Enchantment powers. There’s also a fascinating story, (that word, again!), describing the origins of the book cover and how it was crowd-sourced and market-tested before committing to it. (Guy practices what he preaches.) All in all, Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is a book that deserves your attention. To learn more, view Guy’s Enchantment slides and speech, take an online quiz, read online excerpts, or view (or embed) the Enchantment infographic.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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Project Leadership #4: Trust is bidirectional

by Himanshu Jhamb on January 10, 2011

There have been many a books written about TRUST. It is, without doubt, one of the most important assessments that we, as humans, make, usually internally and act on the basis of that. In the project management world, there are a number of levels at which the PM needs to establish trust, before s/he can make anything happen. A few key ones that are encountered day to day:

  • Trust with the Client
  • Trust with your Management
  • Trust with the Team

Now, trust is a funny thing. It has a way of following the age old adage – “What goes around, usually, comes around”. In other words, it is bidirectional. The tricky part about trust is that you cannot control when and how you’ll get it, no matter how hard you try. In fact, it is one of those unique things that you get, only by giving first!

Coming back to my three categories above:

TRUST with your CLIENT

Establishing trust with the CLIENT is to provide them with stellar service that sends a clear message that you CARE for them. It is not about appeasing them, but guiding them. Amateur Project Managers might shy away from guiding the client thinking “The client is always right”, Project leaders know that clients are humans, too, and that humans have this strange knack of “Not always being right”. In this knowing, Project Leaders are compassionate to their clients’ needs and also, their ignorance (Yes, clients can be ignorant – not a bad thing, if you are compassionate to their needs). Once the clients learn to observe and value this CARE, the ground is fertile for trust to bloom. Trust can be a beautiful thing. It lowers the cost of transacting with the client(s) manifolds. Project leaders who have experienced this know what I am talking about.

TRUST with your Management

Assuming that you work for someone, there is a set of folks who are as important to your career well-being as the client. Your Management team, that is, the people that you report to. Your Management team is your primary client – You could do a fabulous job for your company’s clients but not take care of the concerns of your own company; that’s when this distinction shows up in not so pleasant ways. You need to establish trust with your management so that you keep the cost of transacting with them low, as well. Here are a few ways of doing that:

  • Reporting status to them before asked for.
  • Making sure there are no to very little escalations in your project(s).
  • Running your project on time and within budget.
  • Being a hawk with scope on your projects.

These are all ways of taking care of the concerns of your management – and hence, the building blocks of trust with them. By now, I am sure you are getting the gist of this post: These actions are all about giving first… and in turn, you are rewarded with their TRUST.

TRUST with your Team

One of the most important and commonly overlooked aspects by project managers is establishing trust within your team. Again, it all starts with a declaration of CARE for your team. Project Leaders show this in a number of ways. My favorite is to make sure that when you make commitments to the client and put a plan together to deliver those commitments, you DO NOT plan on having your team work more than the regular workday. I have seen many a project plans where the team is slated to work 12-14 hours in a day for over 2 months at a stretch. Heck! I saw one in which the PM had the team working for 36 hours in a day! It is not surprising that morale is low in an overworked and underappreciated team. Another way is to be result-focused and not overly rules-focused. Unless you are working with a bunch of monkeys (highly unlikely – though, I have heard some folks call their teams that!), you need to take care of the human concerns of people. As long as you keep your head wrapped around results, and be flexible with everything else – you will be rewarded with TRUST. I have personally been bailed out of sticky situations by my team many a times, and have even had the team putting in extra hours to get stuff done on their personal time – WITHOUT being ASKED! It’s a wonderful thing when you see this on your projects… when things follow the path of least resistance and simply flow… bidirectional, like TRUST!

Have any stories that made your life really easy as a Project Manager, once you established TRUST? Do share!

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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In our last article we talked about the importance of having an unremarkable handshake, one that people do not remember.  It shouldn’t be too long nor too short, neither too firm nor too soft.  Now we’ll see how the handshake fits into a smooth, professional business greeting.  First let’s build a proper business handshake.

A good handshake has eight key parts (don’t worry – - – they are easy to learn and to remember once you practice them a few times):

  1. Distance from other person (cultural) – - – stand 2 to 2½ feet apart in North America and Western Europe.
      • Any closer may be awkward and that can affect the handshake.
      • Any farther apart causes stepping into the greeting (appropriate when meeting a group of people but not one-on-one).
      • If seated (and able), stand up to greet the other person and shake hands
  2. Make eye contact just before the hands meet, then very briefly glance at the hands, to avoid a miss!  Smile FIRST, then glance at the hands, and then join hands.  And keep the smile throughout all the handshakes and into the subsequent discussions.  Avoid the linked “pump-smile”.  You know, where the fake smile starts when the hands first touch, lasts during the hand-pumping, then instantly evaporates when the hands separate.  That sends a message of insincerity and pretension.
  3. Relax your upper and lower arm and wrist so that when the hands meet, the other person feels no tension – - – the arm should move back and forth easily, to let the hands gently bump together in the initial grip and then find a comfortable mid-point in the space between the two people.  The subliminal message here is “I am relaxed around you and you have no reason to be tense around me.  I am friendly.”
  4. Join hands web-to-web, getting the hands firmly against each other without slamming them together.  If the other person is too fast on the draw and grips your fingers instead of your hand, stop, break the handshake, saying something like “you were too fast for me”, and then reengage the hands.  Under no circumstances allow another person to get a limp-fish or fingers-only handshake from you.  You cannot risk them concluding that it is indicative of your personality.  As awkward as it may be (and it usually isn’t, really) break the handshake and do it again.
  5. Drop your thumb around the other hand and wrap your fingers up snugly around the other hand.  If you have a very small hand in comparison to the other person’s, do the best you can.  Avoid at all costs a tense, straight-fingered handshake which uncomfortable to experience and sends a message of a person who is anxious or uptight about something.
  6. Gently squeeze the other hand, slightly lighter when meeting a woman but NOT when you ARE a woman.  More on that in a moment.
  7. Engage in two to four small pumps from your elbow, using only your forearm, while saying an appropriate greeting
      • Nice to meet you
      • Thanks for taking the time to meet
      • Good morning/afternoon/evening (when you can think of nothing better)
      • John speaks very highly of you (only if it is true – - – somebody may ask John what he said)
  8. Release the grip and (in Western business culture) step or lean back since the comfortable handshake distance is closer than the comfortable conversational distance

After the handshake is broken if an awkward silence begins, say “I have a card here somewhere . .” and dig one out.  It is a good ice breaker.  (In a future post we may discuss the card exchange ritual and how it differs in the US, Europe and Asia.)

We recently watched the Presidents of Russia and the USA on television as they shook hands at the end of a strategic arms treaty signing.  The US president’s arm seemed relaxed and his elbow was bent at a comfortable angle.  But the Russian President’s arm was straight out!  This was not caused by the difference in the height of the men.  The Russian had stepped back to begin the handshake, putting him too far away from the US President and he then closed the distance not by stepping closer but by extending his arm.  That made it impossible to offer a relaxed hand and wrist, an essential part of a comfortable handshake (see tip # 3 above).  I wonder what the US President thought when the Russian offered him his tensed hand and wrist, perched at the end of a taut, stiff, locked arm!  I might have concluded that I had scared the Russian stiff!  And maybe he had.

There are exceptions to the above rules and injury is one: An injured right hand is certainly a reason not to shake right hands.  So extend your other hand!  I have shaken left hands many times with folks who had sports/other injuries (even a nail gun wound on one occasion).

An irrational fear of germs is another reason not to shake hands.  Some extremely introverted and/or germ-phobic people really dread handshakes and avoid them at all costs (visions of Howard Hughes and Howie Mandel?).  But anyone who avoids shaking my hand needs to be sniffling and complaining of flu-like symptoms, so I know they are worried about infecting other people with whatever malady they have.  And if that same person, over time, always seems to avoid shaking hands with anyone, always blaming a new infection or injury, that may indicate severe introversion, a psychological aversion to touching other people or some other psychiatric/pathological issue.  Nice to know if you are considering doing business with them!  But if the person just avoids shaking hands with you, then the two of you may have some issues to iron out privately!  Either way, the handshake is the key indicator of much deeper issues.

Women’s handshakes deserve special mention.  The days of ladies being expected to offer limp handshakes are over.  Men and women expect firm handshakes from women, period.  And ladies, do not squeeze too hard since this can be perceived as overcompensating for the stereotyped woman-in-a-man’s-world.  Just cultivate a firm handshake using the guidance here.  And gentlemen, mirror the grip of the lady, offering the same level of strength and grip.  And remember that ladies’ hands are often smaller than yours and her fingers may not make it all the way around your ham-sized hand!

The two-handed handshake:  we sometimes see people adding their other hand to the handshake, putting it either atop or underneath their primary hand.  This seems to be more common in the southern US than in the north.  In an earlier time it was used to show very sincere appreciation but it is now mainly used at funerals to show deep sympathy.  We suggest it not be used in normal business circles: it invariably takes the other person by surprise and they are then unsure whether to add their own second hand to the mix and if so, where.

Cheek-Kissing, where people alternate 2-4 left and right bumpings cheek-to-cheek, is making a comeback in some circles and here we suggest you just go with the flow.  Continental Europeans seem to do this to Americans just because they know it completely confuses us and we blush and mess up the direction our head should go and look silly.  But give it try.  Turn heads to the left for the first “kiss” and then alternate.  The worst that can happen is an exchange of facial make-up.  But if you absolutely do NOT want to try it, as you approach the other person, just extend your hand for a handshake.  That sends a clear message.  (Be advised that Belgians and people in show business may also simultaneously lip-smooch the air each time the cheeks touch.   I never even try this – - – coordinating the cheeks and the heads is hard enough for me.)

Hugging upon greeting or parting is acceptable among friends and long-time business acquaintances.   It is usually done instead of a handshake so decide early-on if that is what you will do with someone and then when the time comes, open both arms so the hands are at least shoulder-width apart and at waist level to signal your intention to hug.  Then step smoothly into a brief embrace.  And here is a subtle but important point: Usually hugs occur last, after you have shaken the hands of all the other people you with whom you are not as friendly.  This is so you don’t inadvertently insult subsequent people who might now also be expecting a hug but instead get a handshake.

Order:  Shake people’s hands in order of the most senior person first, followed by anyone who helped arrange the meeting, then everyone else’s.  Save close associates and friends until last so you can hug them if desired.

Practice your personal handshake style with colleagues and friends.  And then an hour later ask them what they remember about your handshake.  If they reply “nothing” then that is perfect.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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Leader driven harmony #1: Communication by Handshake

by Mack McKinney on December 3, 2010

Introduction to This Series

This Series is about life and business.  We will discuss tips and techniques to enhance your business; reduce your stress level; simplify and strengthen your relationships with work colleagues, family and friends; in short we are going to show you ways to smooth out your business life.

Our family has lived and worked in a lot of places in the US and Europe.  In the US we have lived in the northeast, the mid-Atlantic and the south. We have also lived in Germany and I have spent lots of time in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.  I have done business with people from the US, Europe (western and eastern), Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.  We have worked in small villages, medium towns and large cities.  From these places and the people I’ve known and worked with, I will be bringing you world class, time-tested, practical business tips and techniques.  We have cherry picked only proven, best-of-breed techniques from successful business and government professionals.  And we will concentrate on timeless lessons and tips that span multiple cultures and are applicable now and for many years to come.  Our first topic should be of interest to anyone doing business anywhere – - – the business handshake.

Communication by Handshake

Studies have shown that people decide how they feel about you – - – basically what kind of person you are and whether they will trust you – - – within the first fifteen seconds of your first meeting.  One study found that this decision is often made within the first eight seconds!  Wow.  Think about that.  In less time than it takes to read this sentence, a person you have only just met will judge your trustworthiness and character, based on . . .  well . . . what?  On the flimsiest of “evidence” that’s what.  Let’s see what information you are “telling” people about yourself during those initial seconds.  What can they possibly experience about you in those few seconds?

Studies of interpersonal dynamics estimate that communication between individuals is 70% non-verbal and only 30% verbal.  Humans have extremely heightened senses when first meeting other people.  We primarily use four organs to stream information to the brain:  Our eyes, ears, nose and skin.  What decisions are people making in those first few seconds?  In addition to the trustworthiness decision mentioned above, people often reach almost instantaneous conclusions about your personal hygiene, general health and level of fitness, honesty, self-confidence and friendliness.  What gives a person the cues they use to make these decisions about you?

  • Handshake
  • Body posture
  • Body odor
  • Personal appearance (clothing, shoes, appearance of teeth, breath, hair, make-up, skin condition, facial hair)
  • Eye contact (or lack thereof)
  • Smile (or lack thereof)
  • Your spoken words (content, delivery, accent, pitch and grammar)
  • Physical distance you put between people

We’ll discuss each of the above “messages”, what each communicates and how to manage them all, in upcoming weeks.  But let’s start with one incredibly important “transmission” that you can change, if needed, right away – - – your handshake.  Once you know what you are communicating with your handshake you can easily change what it says about you.  In fact, the handshake is probably one of the easiest impression-makers to change.

But first let’s dispense with two common myths especially rampant among Generation Y-ers (aka Millennials):

  1. “Handshakes are for old guys.  They don’t really matter these days, not like they used to anyway.” Wrong.  They matter very much in the business world, especially in the US and Western Europe.  It is true that handshakes were recorded in ancient Egypt but even today business is still based upon trust.  And handshakes can communicate trust.  Gen-X-ers, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists take handshakes very seriously, many of them without even realizing they do so.  If you don’t think your handshake matters to others, it probably won’t.  Because YOU won’t matter much to others.
  2. “My handshake is _______ [fill in the blank yourself - strong, quick, etc.] but it is just my style. And I like it that way. It reflects my unique personality and sets me apart from others.” Wrong.  If your handshake is odd in any way, YOU will be seen as being odd and odd people don’t get much cooperation in the business world, which is still based fundamentally on trust.  Let your excellent work or your conversational skill or something else set you apart, not an odd handshake.

A predictable, firm handshake is an important tool in business, in fact, in life, in general.  A handshake is over in a few seconds yet it helps us reach a number of conclusions about the other person.  We tend to take our own personal handshake style for granted, not giving it much thought.  Yet surveys of thousands students attending Solid Thinking’s Concept Development and Project Dominance courses over the years paint a very different story:  About a third of the handshakes we have experienced from course attendees since 2004 are … well… odd.  They are memorable, which is not good.  You do not want your handshake to be remembered by the people you meet.  Your handshake is part of the entire impression that others get when you meet them.  It is part of a person’s overall impression of you and you do not want it to be remembered any more than your teeth, body odor, hairstyle, tie color, cut of your suit or anything else.  In our courses we critique each attendee’s handshake style, what it “says” about them, and then we correct it as needed.  (And we do it in such a way as to be non-threatening and without causing embarrassment).

People draw several conclusions about you just from a brief handshake:

  • Too strong a grip is often interpreted as you trying to prove your strength.  Savvy business people also recognize that a too-strong grip can mean just the opposite as well: a weak person disguising their weakness behind an artificially strong grip in a handshake.  So a weak handshake can signal either of two things, both opposites and both bad.
  • Too weak a grip (offering the limp-fingered “fish” handshake or not wrapping your fingers completely around the other person’s hand) indicates you are a weak person.  In the US, Western Europe and the Middle East, this weakness can be perceived of men or women, young or old, from any culture.  And don’t think that appearing weak is just a good negotiating ploy, encouraging the other person to underestimate you.  It doesn’t work – - – the impressions a handshake provides are often subliminal.  People don’t even realize why they have a certain impression of a person after the handshake, just that they do.  Don’t risk being labeled weak or ineffectual from a limp handshake.  (More on the woman’s handshake, both giving and receiving, a bit later).
  • A handshake that lasts too long is interpreted as a sign the person will be “clingy” in any upcoming relationship (business or personal).  When you feel the other person let go, let go.
  • A handshake that is too brief often says the person isn’t interested in a relationship with me (wants out of here).  People expect a handshake to last a minimum of 3 seconds unless there are several people shaking hands in which case 2-3 seconds is acceptable.
  • A person who rotates his hand over mine, with both our hands going from vertical to horizontal, is saying that he is probably going to be difficult to deal with (at best overly dominant and aggressive and at worst pathological)

We want a “normal”, predictable handshake because that tells others they will be dealing with a normal, predictable person:  a firm handshake is perceived as belonging to a reliable person who “offers no surprises”; the right duration (3-5 seconds) tells us the person is interested in us but not overly so; direct eye contact means the person is more likely than not to be honest and sincere; and a sincere smile indicates a friendly person.

In the next post we will describe the eight simple parts of a solid, professional handshake and how to fine-tune yours.  We will also talk about hugging and cheek-kissing in place of handshakes, including when (and how) to do them without embarrassing yourself; the special rules for shaking hands with ladies and much more.  After reading the upcoming second half of this article you will have much greater confidence when meeting people and, with just a little practice, you’ll have a new tool in your social skills toolbox!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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Forget Project management. Let’s talk Project leadership!

by Himanshu Jhamb on September 10, 2010

I equate managing to something that is not fully expressed. It leaves out that something, that edge that is needed for getting you across the finish line. The difference in what you do is simple, the result is transformational.

There is a difference between managing the project versus leading the project. Leadership is out there… it screams responsibility and accountability. It is about reaching out and getting what you need to get the job done, fearlessly. Management usually turns out to be working with what you have and making the best out of it (whatever that means!). Leadership is about creating solutions, management is about figuring out solutions. The difference is simple, the result is transformational.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not going all critical on project management. After all, it wouldn’t do me much good if I criticize my own bread and butter, now would it! My point is simply that project managers need to essentially become project leaders. Once you get that distinction, the landscape of what needs to be done suddenly transforms (and so do the results). From personal experience, I spent the first few years of my project management….errr… managing projects. Then, I realized that what I was doing was not doing full justice to me or my client(s)… that realization was the starting point for me to take action so that I lead my projects and not only manage them.

That introduction brings us to the purpose and genesis of this series. Over the subsequent posts, I will share my journey of how I transformed the way I did things in various areas… and I will share the challenges, the fears & the situations I had to face and how I overcame them (some successfully, some not so successfully) with personal examples. Like any other sharing, the real fun and value lies in engagement. The real learning will BEGIN only when you participate in this conversation. So, if you like (or for that matter, dislike) what I write, I invite you to participate, regardless.

To give you a little preview, here are the topics I plan on touching in this series. I will keep adding more depending on what comes to my mind and the level of engagement we reach.

  1. Unforgettable Kickoffs
  2. Relentless Planning
  3. Courage vs. Stupidity: The thin line
  4. Bidirectional trust
  5. Community of Help
  6. Anticipating Change
  7. Kick Panic
  8. Fearless Negotiating
  9. Improve your Improvisation skills
  10. Navigate like the conductor

Enjoy the posts!

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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