Why people resent your help [new post]

Helping others succeed in their jobs requires more than generosity. You need to understand what matters to them. For example, have you ever started counseling a direct report about his career and then noticed that he wanted to bolt the room? Or given a peer resources for her big project, then found yourself on the receiving end of a stiff arm?

That’s not fun. Surely, there is better way to give people the help they actually want. What is it?

The Case of the Runny Nose

I got a clue to this mystery a few months ago with my then four-year-old son. His nose was running, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. Like a good parent, I grabbed a Kleenex and gently wiped his nose. Easy peasy, right?

Not according to my son.

“Daddy, I want my mucus back.”

Ugh.

“It’s in the tissue.” I opened it up to show him.

“No, Daddy. I want my mucus back in my nose!”

That’s a new one, I thought. How do you get mucus back in the nose? I starting racking my brain for possible methods.

“Daddy you are stupid!”

Could you simmer down? I’m trying to figure out a way to defeat gravity and reverse your body’s natural physiological processes?

“Daddy why are you so stupid?

“Look, Z, I know you’re upset. Give me a minute.” Doesn’t he know that I’m working hard on his original request? I don’t have time for new questions. Plus, I haven’t yet figured out why I am so stupid.

“Daddy why are you a butt face?”

“Z, you know that in our family that’s not how we talk about people.” This isn’t going well. And I’ve lost my train of thought.

“Daddy I don’t like you.”

No good deed goes unpunished. 

I grabbed the Kleenex, marched into the kitchen, and threw it into the trash can.

Surely there is a better way to give people the help they want.

My mistake in this situation (one of many) was to wipe my son’s nose without first asking him. I acted physically without first making an offer. My son had no opportunity to signal whether or not he wanted my help. Because I didn’t make an offer, he had no freedom to accept my offer, decline it, or make a counteroffer (“Hand me the tissue. I’ll wipe it myself”). He experienced me as acting on him unilaterally rather than with him in a spirit of mutuality.

Lessons

I was reminded of five principles of helping people through offers.
  1. People like to choose whether or not to receive help.
  2. Making an offer gives them an opportunity to choose.
  3. To make an offer powerful, ground it in what matters to them—something they actually want or care about.
  4. There is no promise without an acceptance. Offer + Acceptance = Promise
  5. The other person has four legitimate ways to respond to your offer: accept, decline, counteroffer (a different What and/or When), and promise to reply later.

So the next time you are tempted to counsel someone about their career—or wipe their nose—ask yourself: what is a powerful offer I could make right now, and do I think they will be open to it?

Episode 68: Timeless Wisdom For Men With Sean LeClaire [The Amiel Show]

Men, this episode is for you.

Executive coach and author Sean Casey LeClaire joins me to describe his remarkable journey from a rough-and-tumble working poor hometown through flirtation with a professional sports career toward early success as an advertising executive and then discovery of what he calls “timeless wisdom.” This interview is filled with heartfelt stories about aspiration, loss, anger, challenge, and the still, graceful space within each of us.

Sean’s autobiographical tale provides the emotional core of my emerging series on Men in Leadership. It joins past conversations with Robert Augustus Masters about true masculine power, Janet Crawford on being a good guy and breaking with the bro code, and Keith Witt on men’s sexual shadow at work, as well as a Jedi Leadership Trick I call The Manly Apology.

Listen in, and send me an email to tell me which story resonated with you the most.

Highlights

  • 9:00 Growing up with sports, violence, and poetry
  • 14:00 Putting on a mask to stay alive
  • 16:00 Rick, Jim, and the power of a gentle challenge
  • 24:00 Anger and archetypal gestures
  • 27:30 The story of hugging an angry man
  • 34:30 A friend’s suicide and discovering yoga
  • 37:00 Sean reads his poem “If I stopped”
  • 45:30 When people think Sean is crazy or arrogant
  • 49:00 When coaches get co-opted by sickness in corporations
  • 53:30 Sean reads his poem “Parts”
  • 58:00 Sean’s son champions him through the frustrating construction of a Darth Vader scooter

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Episode 53: Talking To Irrational People With Dr. Mark Goulston [The Amiel Show]

MarkGoulston-P2

“Mark’s clarity is uncommonly illuminating, sometimes painful, but always helpful.”

That’s what the late leadership thinker Warren Bennis said about this week’s guest on the podcast, Dr. Mark Goulston.

The word that comes to my mind in describing Dr. G is chutzpah, a Yiddish terms for audacity or fearlessness.

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Now, here’s the thing about chutzpah: it’s an amoral concept. You can use it for good or for ill.

Dr. G uses it for good. After two decades as a crisis psychiatrist, he now advises leaders on how to get through to people, trains police and FBI hostage negotiators, co-hosts (as “Whitey Locks”) an all-Black radio show, is the Resident Big Brother at Business Women Rising, and was the subject of a PBS special, “Just Listen with Dr. Mark Goulston.”

This is a man you want on your side.

Think of Dr. G as the Harry Houdini of relationships. Houdini specialized in sensational escapes from insanely challenging physical situations. Dr. G can help you escape from insanely challenging emotional and political situations.

And, even better than Houdini, he can help you avoid many tricky situations to begin with.

Join me as we have a rich conversation about his latest book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.

Highlights

  • 10:00 Mammals get stress ulcers. Reptiles don’t.
  • 13:30 Identifying people who suck the energy out of you
  • 18:00 Dr. G “listens into” Amiel
  • 23:00 Bullies and Dr. G’s tense encounter with F. Lee Bailey during the O.J. Simpson trial
  • 33:30 Warren Bennis on being a “first class noticer”
  • 41:00 Important, critical, urgent
  • 43:30 Handling “toxic deflectors”
  • 49:30 Putting irrational people in charge–the road rage incident
  • 52:30 Getting out of impasses: tips for Feel-Do and Think-Do people

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Never expect people who suck the energy out of you to not do that

–Dr. Mark Goulston  Tweet this quote

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Episode 52: The Rise And Fall Of Blackberry With Jacquie McNish [The Amiel Show]

Jackie McNish

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On Tuesday Blackberry announced it was discontinuing the Blackberry Classic smartphone.

I never owned a Blackberry, but my wife did when I first met her 13 years ago. Although she never treated it as a Crackberry, it did seem to follow her everywhere.

The Blackberry ruled the universe for many years. And then one day Apple released the iPhone. The world hasn’t been the same since.

But what really happened at this upstart Canadian company based in the small town of Waterloo, Ontario? Who were the people behind the company’s atmospheric rise and ultimate fall? What choices did they make? How did they relate as leaders and human beings?

This is the subject of last year’s highly touted book, Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry.

Jacquie McNish, one of the book’s coauthors and an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, joins me this week to talk about the amazing human story behind Blackberry.

Highlights

  • 7:00  Who were the two CEOs–and how did they come together?
  • 14:15 Inspired by the Art of War
  • 19:30 A revelation about technology while holding a screaming baby
  • 22:45 Refusing to play the Wall Street and Silicon Valley games
  • 28:30  Dinner with Palm’s CEO, “Topper”
  • 32:45 A patent battle stresses the CEO’s relationship
  • 36:20 A devastating trauma and betrayal
  • 42:45 The Apple/AT&T agreement changes the rules of the game
  • 53:45 Waterloo, Ontario: a tech startup ecosystem

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Blackberry’s CEOs were connected at the hip in business dealings.

–Jacquie McNish Tweet this quote

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Episode 50: Chris Chittenden on Real Accountability [The Amiel Show]

Think that accountability is just about the organizational structure–about who reports to whom?

Think again.

CCBW

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This is a key message of Chris Chittenden, my guest this week on the podcast.

When you look at how work actually gets done, it lives in the conversations between people.

  • If you’re upset at someone for not carrying out a promise, consider this: did they make a promise in the first place?
  • If somebody asks you to do something, are you aware that a negotiation has just begun–even if that person is your boss?
  • Have you ever noticed that the reason breakdowns happen is that others see the world differently from you?

Chris is a master ontological coach based in Australia. I’ve admired his writings for years and enjoyed this opportunity to dig in and ask: what does true accountability look like?

I think you’ll find this interview to have immediate practical impact. Please share with your friends.

Highlights

  • 15:30 What’s missing in traditional leadership programs
  • 20:00 Accountability is about the interactions between people
  • 24:00 What kind of conversation are you in?
  • 29:00 Amiel’s confusion in high school about fuzzy promises
  • 32:00 The ways we respond to requests–most are unclear!
  • 39:30 Making effective offers in the workplace
  • 42:30 Why people give feedback
  • 46:30 Other people have different interests and interpretations from you!
  • 56:00 People send email requests with the assumption they’ve been accepted
  • 1:00:00 It’s also about managing risks
  • 1:04:00 Four ways you can respond to a request
  • 1:07:30 Managing promises is about creating points of choice
  • 1:13:30 How to create a proactive day

 

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“People send email requests assuming they’ve been accepted.”

–Chris Chittenden   Tweet this quote

“Promises underpin the relationships we have with others.”

–Chris Chittenden  Tweet this quote

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Episode 42: Lisa Marshall On Exiting, Firing, and Burnout Nation [The Amiel Show]

Sometimes it takes a wise voice unperturbed by convention to make us radically rethink everyday acts. Consider these questions:

  • How do you lay someone off?
  • How can you exit an organization gracefully?
  • What does it take to make meetings juicier?

Lisa Marshall wants you to consider these questions with greater maturity, clarity, and thoughtfulness. That way, in the very act of doing what you’re paid to do, you can grow into a leader others want to hire, partner with, and follow.

Listen in as this seasoned leadership coach and author breathes new life into old questions.

Lisa Photo 2

Highlights

  • 5:00  We still live in Burnout Nation
  • 13:30 Why Lisa insists on putting her coachee’s interests first
  • 16:15 Meaningless meetings vs environments rich in stories of helping customers
  • 22:30 Why the juiciest subjects belong at the start of meetings
  • 25:30 Body language tells you whether a “yes” is genuine
  • 32:30 How to tell someone they’ve been laid off
  • 38:00 Leaders hold the walls of the container
  • 49:30 How to leave an organization gracefully
  • 1:00:00 Saying “I’m sorry” before you leave the organization
  • 1:07:30 Why maturity matters
  • 1:11:30 Why Lisa gardens

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Any meeting without an agenda is almost by definition a waste of time.

–Lisa Marshall  Tweet this quote

‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ are the two key elements of completion.

–Lisa Marshall  Tweet this quote

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