Effective Business Communication – How to Eliminate the Number One Obstacle

Do you wish you had the ability to inspire people into action so they could more easily create greater success and rewarding results? Would you like to know how to foster willing [tag-tec]cooperation[/tag-tec] in ways that everyone enjoys?

Whether you already have good [tag-tec]communication skills[/tag-tec], you’re taking [tag-tec]business communication[/tag-tec] courses and are practicing what you’re learning, or if you realize it’s time to look into new business [tag-tec]communication methods[/tag-tec], this article will help you take your business communication to the next level by learning to create alignment with other people.

What do we mean by alignment, and how can you create it? Read on to find out

Alignment – It’s Not Just for Tires

If you’re like most people, it’s likely that the only time you think about alignment is during your regular car maintenance. While that’s not the “alignment” we’re talking about here, it does operate on the same principle.

In order for your car to function at its best, it’s important that your tires are aligned – that they’re all moving in the same direction. The same is true for any [tag-tec]business relationship[/tag-tec]; they’ll be at their best when the people involved are aligned and moving in the same direction toward a result that is  desired by everyone.

What we’re talking about here is not about improving your communication skills or just learning new [tag-tec]listening techniques[/tag-tec]. Establishing effective business communication, or any interaction where people need to work together to create the best outcome, begins with creating alignment.

Think about it this way: in life, we go about the activity of our lives, heading in our own directions while we’re trying to achieve our own results. At the same time, we are all inter-connected with each other. As we try to achieve the results we want, these interconnections put limits on how far we can go in our direction without the involvement of others.

However, when we have alignment with others about what we want and we start sharing the same vision, it makes it much easier to cooperate with the others involved to get our desired outcomes. Alignment opens the way for mutual satisfaction and greater success.

The First Step is Internal Alignment

Before you can create alignment with someone else, you need to identify and be able to express what’s most important to you about the outcome you want. To do this, you’ll need to identify the underlying [tag-tec]values[/tag-tec] hidden within your desired outcome.

As an example, perhaps your team tends to come lat e to meetings and this impacts your ability to accomplish the objectives of the meeting. So you want everyone in the office to show up 10 minutes before a meeting starts. When you dig down to find the hidden value, you might discover that consideration is very important to you, or you might highly value efficiency and effectiveness. Just remember, within every desired outcome there are values that motivate you to want that in the first place.

Key Points for an Alignment Conversation

Once you identify your own underlying values, it’s time to discover the values that you share within the team, partnership or group. You start this discovery process by expressing the values you’ve identified as important to you in your work environment. Then you ask if those things are also important to the others involved, and if they would be willing to explore ways to create that kind of experience.

As you start the alignment conversation, it’s important to remember to keep it as strategy-free as possible. During this beginning stage, we suggest that you make an agreement with the other person to try and identify what’s important to you about the issue at hand , such as starting meetings on time, before you figure out any strategies to get the specifics of what you want. Once you’ve agreed upon your shared vision, there will be plenty of time to move on to the specifics of how to reach your goals.

It’s also wise if you and the other person, or group, agree to avoid spending time talking about the failures of the past. (Bringing up the past can be useful, but only if it is done to understand the values that may have been missing in the past, but not to assign fault or to justify your skepticism.)

Some other things to include in the alignment conversation include:

  • A willingness to negotiate strategies that are mutually agreeable
  • A commitment to let go of judgments and criticisms
  • An agreement to celebrate all wins that come from this conversation

Putting Alignment Conversations to Work

Alignment conversations are the process of discovering your shared values and creating a shared vision. The [tag-tec]shared vision[/tag-tec] you create might be something like: having a more harmonious working relationships, being more effective, or increasing productivity.

Once you are sharing the same vision, you’re now working toward the same end result — the big picture of what you all want. This will make it easier to create situations that produce results that everyone will enjoy. Once you’ve define your shared vision, you’re ready to effectively [tag-tec]negotiate[/tag-tec] strategies to achieve your desired results.

When everyone is making agreements from a shared vision, you’ll start rolling down the road to cooperation and teamwork with far fewer bumps than you encountered before. Alignment and shared vision are the foundation of cooperation and teamwork that will increase productivity and create rewarding results for everyone involved.


What Do You Value Most, Wealth Love or Success? Choose

Tag: inspiration,Personal GrowthBeth Banning

We received this wonderful [tag-tec]inspirational story[/tag-tec] from our friend Louise and enjoyed it so much that we want to share it with you.  It focuses on your [tag-tec]values[/tag-tec] and making choices about what’s most important to you. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

A Stranger Is Just a Friend You Haven’t Met

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said “Oh dear, what are you doing in my yard, can I help you, are you hungry? Please come in and have something to eat.”

“Is everyone home that lives here?” they asked. “No,” she replied. “My husband is out.”

“Then we cannot come in”, they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.

“Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in.

“We do not go into a house together,” they replied. “Why is that?” she asked.

One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with everyone you live with which one of us you want in your home.”

Which Would You Choose?

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!” he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!”

His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success?” Their daughter jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love in? Our home will then be filled with love!” “Let us heed her advice,” said the husband to his wife. “Let’s invite Love to be our guest.”

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him.

Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, why are you coming in?” The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!”

The moral of the story… if you have love in your life all else will follow.

Self Improvement – Why Bother?

If You Value Your Time – Take Time for What You Value

Does the question ever cross your mind as you run through your very busy days, “How could I possibly bother spending the time trying to improve myself when I’ve got so much to do?”

Does it seem as if your life is so full of just trying to get things done that the ideas of acquiring [tag-tec]self help skills[/tag-tec], enhancing your [tag-tec]spiritual growth[/tag-tec], or implementing a new [tag-tec]personal development plan[/tag-tec] seems almost impossible? And yet, is there also a gnawing question that lingers in your mind, “Is this all there is?” “Am I missing out on something even with all these things on my to-do list?”

If any of this sounds familiar, then the next time you’re confronted with the hectic pace of daily life, take a moment and find the time to “bother” with your [tag-tec]personal development[/tag-tec]. Gaining a clearer understanding of ourselves always adds value to our lives and can also increase our sense of significance and purpose in those daily activities.

Finding meaning in our lives starts when we begin investigating who we are and what is going on around us. We are the only one that can say for certain what is deeply important to us, so if we get so very busy that we don’t take the time to stop and look at our life, it may fill up with things that don’t give us the kinds of joy and meaning we truly want.

Is Your Cup Overflowing?

Here’s an old [tag-tec]Zen story[/tag-tec] that speaks to the truth of this:

A university teacher visited Nan-in, a Japanese master. The professor was interested in learning about the Zen philosophy. Nan-in served the professor tea. He poured tea in the professor’s cup until it was full. But he kept on pouring.

The professor watched the tea overflow his cup until he could no longer stop himself. “My cup is overflowing,” he said, “no more will go in!”

“Like this tea cup,” Nan-in replied, “you are full of your own ideas and opinions. How can you learn about Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

To learn anything new, you need some room for it in what you already know. With life’s crazy pace, every once and awhile it’s important to invest the time, energy and attention to let in new ideas and awareness.

That was Zen – This is Now

You can begin emptying your cup by examining what you believe and what you value.

  • Do some things just seem “right or wrong”, “good or bad”, or “appropriate or inappropriate”?
  • Are your [tag-tec]beliefs[/tag-tec] broader than the set of [tag-tec]cultural beliefs[/tag-tec] permeating our lives on an unconscious level?
  • Are you easily able to recognize which [tag-tec]beliefs[/tag-tec] are motivating your actions?
  • Do you know the values that are reflected in your [tag-tec]beliefs[/tag-tec]?
  • Are you able to recognize when your [tag-tec]beliefs[/tag-tec] are not accurately reflecting your [tag-tec]core values[/tag-tec]?

Unless you occasionally take the time to consciously empty your cup of beliefs that do not fit with your [tag-tec]core values[/tag-tec], it will fill up with various cultural beliefs that come to you from the outside, which become the unconscious motivations influencing the choices you make and how you live your life.

As you empty your cup, you begin to make room in your life for the question, “Are the beliefs I hold as the truth really my own beliefs?”

Another question to ask is, “Did I knowingly choose these beliefs as my own or did I simply take them on without question?”

You answer these questions by exploring whether your beliefs support what you really value, or if they are just beliefs you learned simply because they have been part of our culture for hundreds or thousands of years.

Bother to Be – Continue to Ask – and Be Willing to Listen

To understand more about how [tag-tec]cultural beliefs[/tag-tec] might be influencing you, look at the principles you live by and rules you follow. Or consider all those little adages you were told growing up such as, life is hard, it’s a dog eat dog world, only the strong survive, etc.

Explore these for yourself. Ask, “Do I truly believe these?”  Do these principles, rules or sayings really support me in living the life I desire, one that is a reflection of what I truly value?

Here are a set of questions you can ask yourself as you go through your day that will help you figure this out for yourself:

  • What do I really desire in this area of my life?
  • What would I like to experience right here and right now?
  • What motivates the action I’m about to take?
  • Is what I’m about to do going to get me the results I really want?
  • Is what I’m doing now really what want to do?

Take pause and remember that in the process of questioning, there are no hard and fast rules, no good or bad answer, no right or wrong beliefs. The purpose is to begin taking time for your [tag-tec]self-improvement[/tag-tec] and [tag-tec]spiritual development[/tag-tec], to experience the fact that this is worth “bothering” with.

An Empty Cup Allows Room to Grow

We trust that as you uncover your own [tag-tec]personal values[/tag-tec], start developing empowering new beliefs that reflect those values, and begin taking actions that are in alignment with them, your discomfort or dissatisfaction with the hectic pace of life with begin to diminish.

You’ll start clearly recognizing which of your daily activities reflect what you value and experience an increased sense of significance and purpose in these. You’ll also start easily pruning away the clutter in your life as you get more clarity about what is important you and what is not.

As your life becomes more meaningful, taking the time for [tag-tec]self-improvement[/tag-tec] will not only be worth bothering with, you will welcome it because you know you have plenty of room for it in your cup!

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Do You Value the Quality of Your Relationships?

Building a Foundation for Success

We believe that the quality of our [tag-tec]relationships[/tag-tec] creates the quality of our lives. If this is true then it’s vital to know how to effectively align your needs and desires with the needs and desires of the people in your life. Without this ability, it can be difficult to maintain the quality of relationships essential for creating the kind of life you truly want.

How can you know if someone in your life is on the same page as you? Are the same things important to both of you? Do you want similar results?

Establishing alignment is an essential ingredient for successful co-creation. In life, we often go about our own business trying to achieve our own [tag-tec]goals[/tag-tec], yet we are all still interconnected. These connections put limits on how far we can get in achieving our own results without cooperation.

The process of creating genuine co-operation starts with alignment. This is a process of getting clear about what is important to everyone involved at the deepest level of their [tag-tec]core values[/tag-tec]. When you start building the alignment process on this foundation of shared values there’s less room for disconnection and disagreement.

This means making sure you establish alignment at a values level before you begin to create strategies for getting what you want.

When You Put the Cart Before the Horse

We often see people get stuck when they try to gain someone’s cooperation and they start the conversation by offering or asking for strategies. The trouble with this is that people usually have different ideas about which strategies would work best. It’s easy for disagreements about the strategies to end up sounding like judgments and justifications.

As an example, say you work in a very small office and a coworker at the next desk speaks louder than allows you to easily concentrate.

If you walked over to their desk with a strategy already in mind–such them keeping their voice down while they’re on the phone–the first thing you might hear is disagreement about how loud they are speaking or some kind of justification about why it’s important to speak with a confident tone of voice.

It’s possible to avoid the back-and-forth that is bound to ensue if you begin the conversation with a deeper level of understanding and connection. You can much more easily create the cooperation you want when you start by creating alignment around what you each value.

Why? Because at a core level we all share the same set of values and beginning a conversation by focusing our attention on these values stimulates our natural tendency for empathy and compassion.

Aligning with Success

Think about it. In this situation, wouldn’t each person want to experience consideration?

Would understanding be important to them?

Would they like to be free to make their own choices?

Do you think they’d like to be comfortable, relaxed, and free to express themselves?

Yes, of course they would, and so does everyone else.

So in this work situation, imagine having the intention to start your conversation:

  • with no agenda other than cooperating so that everyone gets what’s most important to them,
  • with an intention to first create understanding and alignment about what you each value in your ideal work situation,
  • and without attachment to any particular strategies.

If this was your intention, you might start by letting them know there is something you’d like to get on the same page about.  Then request to have a conversation where you can discuss what’s most important to each of you about your work environment and relationships with your coworkers.

In that conversation, you might explore the value you place on being able to concentrate while working and their desire to be effective during their phone calls.

When Issues Become Opportunities

The volume they use while on the phone, and your desire for concentration, can become an opportunity to get more connected and aware of each other’s values.

This quality of sharing paves the way for you to co-create strategies for working together that ensure everyone experiences more of what they want.

This is how to begin co-creating a shared vision of success. Alignment paves the way for easy agreements and satisfying results that produces far greater enjoyment for everyone involved.

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Are You Doing the “Right” Things for the “Wrong” Reasons?

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Do you ever stop to think about why you do the things you do? Are you making [tag-tec]conscious choices[/tag-tec], or are you just retracing the same patterns of behavior you learned a long time ago. Do you think you might make better choices, or be a happier person, if you knew the reasons behind your actions?

Most people learn how to “behave” at a very young age. In fact, there is a [tag-tec]self help[/tag-tec] book by author Robert Fulghum called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The point of the book is that the things we learned in kindergarten–share, play fair, clean up your own mess, etc.–are still applicable in our adult lives. Seems pretty simple, right?

Not exactly…

The problem is that, although we learned these lessons, we were never taught the reasons why these things are important. For example, instead of being asked how we feel when someone shares with us, we’re told to share or else we’ll get in trouble. Because we learned to see the world through the perception of right and wrong or good and bad, we have problems as adults identifying the values that motivate our actions and behaviors. Not knowing what we value makes us vulnerable to the fear of judgment and to acting judgmentally toward others.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Consciously identifying the [tag-tec]values[/tag-tec] we hold makes it easier for us to understand where we are coming from and allows us to behave in harmony with those values.

This week, identify one thing you can do in relation to this awareness and take action. If you need support figuring out what actions you can take, click the link below.

Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

Until next time…

Beth and Neill

To discover more about consciously identifying your [tag-tec]core values[/tag-tec], begin by downloading our complimentary values exercise.

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