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Are you a Donkey or a Dog?

One of the biggest problems in time management is giving your time to somebody else.  And yet, we all do it.  The consequence is that other people become adept at stealing your time.

Complicity

However, unlike your possessions, I can only steal your time with an accomplice: you!  If you want more of your own time for yourself, one answer is to understand why you sometimes find yourself complicit in giving it away.

Donkey

Donkey

Photo credit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpockele/
/ CC BY 2.0

Some of us behave like donkeys.  We don’t enjoy carrying other people’s loads for them; but we do it.  We do it because it is a habit we have got ourselves into and we have come to see it as our lot in life to be a bearer of burden.  No wonder these people look a little sad for much of the time.

You are not a beast of burden.  It is your privilege in life to make choices for yourself and to reject a burden you do not wish to carry.

Dogcrop

Dog

Photo credit: Atanas Grozdanov, www.ImagesFromBulgaria.com

Some people behave like dogs.  They will do whatever somebody asks of them because they are eager to please.  They act as if the only way to succeed is to win the approval of others.  Often they feel that they are doing everybody else’s bidding because they want to, but the truth is that they are putting their own needs and desires beneath those of the people around them.

Habitual dogs may be liked, but they are rarely respected.  They don’t achieve fulfilment, just a vague sense of having been good to other people.

Your life

You have one life; get the most from the time you have.  Sometimes choose to help out because you feel a sense of duty and not to do so will leave you feeling bad.  Sometimes lend a hand because you want to please other people.  Sometimes say ’no’ and do your own thing, because you can.  It’s your life; your choice.

Manage your time

The Time Management Pocketbook reminds us that:

To manage your time better
you’ve got to start managing yourself

TimeManagement

It is filled with great tips on managing what you do, where you work, communications, working with others and general personal effectiveness.

So here’s the deal

Don’t be a donkey or a dog all of the time.  Make your own choices and be prepared to say ‘no’ sometimes.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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The Pocketblog Guide to Exhibitions and Conferences

On 21 and 22 April 2010, Management Pocketbooks will be on stand 571 at Olympia, for the annual CIPD HRD Conference and Exhibition.

We hope to see you there.  If you are coming to this one or going to another; whether you are attending an exhibition, an exhibition and conference, or are exhibiting, here are our top tips for making the best of your networking and learning opportunities.

Tip 1: Use your time effectively

Exhibitions and conferences are exhausting and time consuming. Your reason for going may be pleasure but for most of us, it is business.  So make sure you plan to capitalise on business opportunities.

  1. Research who will be there. Are there any of your clients, suppliers or prospects? If there are, check where they will be and go prepared.
  2. If you can do so, arrange to meet people at the exhibition. You’ll both be there and both be in need of a cuppa from time to time.
  3. Tour the exhibition hall systematically. Talk to people on stands that interest you – regardless of whether you sense a business opportunity. Let random connections create unexpected opportunities from time to time.
  4. Allow time to stop and have a break. You’ll need it and it will give you the time for an unexpected conversation.
  5. Schedule any conference events into your organiser to ensure you don’t miss them.

Tip 2: Practise the art of influence

A simple way to be more influential is to be seen as an expert. To speak with real authority, find something specific you can really specialise in. Ironically, the narrower your specialism, the more you will be seen as an expert. Try it:

  • ‘I specialise in training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for SMEs’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for high tech SMEs’

While we are on the subject of authority; remember to dress the part. Rightly or wrongly, we judge each other by the clothes we wear. Dress to impress – let your clothes reinforce your authority; not undermine it.  And don’t forget a big stack of business cards – not just for the fishbowl competitions: for doing business too.

Tip 3: Make your exhibit count

Make sure you let people know in advance that you will be there, and where you will be (we’ll be on stand 571).  On your stand, it makes good sense to appoint someone to co-ordinate your activities and also direct good practice.  For example:

  • Take an interest in the people who take an interest in your stand.  Playing it cool and chatting nonchalantly with your colleagues will not impress and may intimidate.
  • Ask people question when they come onto your stand.  If you bombard them with your pitch, you have a one in a thousand chance of saying the right thing.  Questions will help you figure out what they want to know about.
  • Don’t use your mobile on the stand.  If you need to make or take a call, step away from the stand.
  • Don’t put your freebies and brochures on the edge of the stand.  If a delegate is just ‘stamp collecting’ then the give-away has no value to them or you.  If they really want what you have, making them ask will give you a chance to engage with them.

Tip 4: Get the most from the Conference

Three colleagues went to a conference.

  1. Chris thought it was just as expected: all either familiar ideas or irrelevant rubbish
  2. Vic thought it was just as expected: all the talks were interesting and everything was brilliant
  3. Sam thought it was just as expected: a lot of the speakers had one or two real nuggets to take away and think about, with a few surprising insights from unexpected places

Who got the most from the conference?

So here’s the deal

Plan your time, prepare your personal pitch, use your stand well, and tune your radar for unexpected nuggets of insight and opportunity

The Essential Conference-goers Management Pocketbook Collection

There is no Conference-goer’s Pocketbook or Exhibitor’s Pocketbook – yet.  So in the meantime, take a look at the following Pocketbooks to prepare yourself:

  1. The Influencing Pocketbook
  2. The Networking Pocketbook
  3. The Negotiator’s Pocketbook
  4. The Customer Service Pocketbook
  5. The Learner’s Pocketbook

If you don’t own any of these, you can buy them at a £1 discount on stand 571 and, if you buy five Pocketbooks you can get one free.  How about:

….…6.  The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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Come and see us next week

Management Pocketbooks are at the CIPD’s HRD Exhibition on 21 & 22 April, at Olympia.

HRD Excel 09 001571

We’d love to see you – come and visit us on stand 571.

There will be a blog soon on memory, but in the meantime, to help you remember the stand number, you can always picture Delia Smith or Sophie Dahl or Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal (pick your favourite) ‘strive to make a
heavenly
bun
.

Buy five get one free

We’ll be selling all pocketbooks at a £1 discount (at £6.99 each) and for every five books you buy, you can pick another one free.  What better time to top up your collection?

What’s New?

If you are wondering how to use this offer, why not top up with new titles that weren’t born before the last HRD:

You might also like to update to a new edition.  In the last year, Pocketbooks authors have been hard at work updating and revising:

e-Pocketbooks

PBK-e-Library DVD (RED)Carry your Pocketbooks around on your phone or iPod Touch, have them on your laptop, or have a full set on disc.  We’ll be happy to talk with you about subscriptions to our whole portfolio of e-books – our e-Library – or buying single Pocketbooks in electronic format.  e-Pocketbooks.

If you cannot wait until 21 April, see our website for more information.

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Pocketbooks Live
‘I want to give you some feedback…..’

Mike Pezet, author of the new Feedback Pocketbook, will be presenting in the Learning Arena on Thursday 22 April from 15.00 to 15:45.  His presentation is: ‘I want to give you some feedback…..’.

Mike’s presentation will demonstrate simple ways to establish effective feedback relationships and encourage acceptance; highlight some basic mistakes; describe how to avoid feedback adding to the blame culture; and show how to avoid negative feedback situations.  All in 45 minutes.

Feedback

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A Strong Authoritative Voice

Having a strong, authoritative voice will win you instant respect.  On the other hand, a weak and feeble piping speech sound will undermine your credibility.  We are programmed to hear deeper, steadier voices as more commanding.

Change your voice

Politicians hire vocal coaches to help slow their speech, lower the pitch of their voice and deal with unwanted regional accents.  Professor Yuki Sato at Hosei University in Japan has a simpler way – use software.  He has found a way to process recorded speech to make it sound different.  It’s not what you would describe as the perfect solution, but try it for yourself.  Here are two voices from his website:

The original sample of Miss Sugimoto

The sample modified to make her sound more ‘manly’

Recordings only

As New Scientist reported in a 2002 article, Sato’s work has so far only been able to modify recordings.  So this is not the solution to boost your performance in your next platform speech at your company’s annual conference.  For that, you will need to work a little harder.

Vocal Skills

An effective voice has three things, says Richard Payne, author of the Vocal Skills Pocketbook:

  1. Vitality
    How to sound really  interesting by using really good words and a varied voice to build rhythms and patterns
  2. Audibility
    Being heard.  Sorry, being heard
  3. Clarity
    Not mmmbblnnng

Hmmm, still much to learn for me then.

VocalSkills

I’ll try again …

  1. Vitality
    A few deep breaths before you start, regular pauses to catch your breath and create emphasis, and a well crafted script can bring your speech to life
  2. Audibility
    Good breathing and posture can help you to project your voice at the right volume.  If the room is too big for you, use a microphone.
  3. Clarity
    Taking your time and rehearsing will help you get your words and your overall message across clearly.  Practicing some of Richards Vocal Exercises will improve the way you pronounce tricky vowel or consonant combinations.

A Pocketful of help

This book really is an excellent help for anyone contemplating public speaking, with 26 speech exercises that will certainly help develop your skills.  But here are three extra tips from my experience sitting in conference rooms at break times:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

So here’s the deal

Public speaking is a challenge, so prepare for it by preparing your most important tool.  Chefs sharpen their knives, carpenters hone their chisels, and engineers calibrate their micrometers.  So too should a speaker rehearse their voice.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17523521.600-get-a-voice-to-rouse-the-masses.html
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Adapting and Innovating

Whether at work or at play, in a social setting or alone, we all have to solve problems.  As soon as we frame something as ‘a problem’ however, we create a barrier for ourselves.

How do you go about solving a problem?

To be successful, we need to remove the barrier.  We’ll look at a simple yet powerful way later.  But let’s start with the question of how you solve a problem.  Dr Michael Kirton identified a continuum of styles that people use, when tackling problems.

Kirton_A-I_Continuum

At one end of the spectrum is an Adaptive Style.  People whose preference is towards this end like a structure within which  to solve their problems.  They will favour a formal problem solving process like the Eight Disciplines, the Simplex Method or DMAIC.

Adaptive Problem Solvers

Discipline and incrementalism characterise these problem solvers.  They like to ‘do it by the book’ and avoid taking risks.  They are less likely to find the radical solution, but also less likely to crash and burn with a way out solution that fails disastrously.

Radical solutions are more likely to be found by people who favour the Innovative end of the spectrum of styles.

Innovative Problem Solvers

Innovative problem solvers like risk, experimentation and radical solutions.  A formal process will leave them feeling constrained and all they will want to do is subvert it.  They will question anything and often do things differently just for the sake of it.  Irreverence is their middle name!

Commonly, Adaptive problem solving goes along with careful attention to detail, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, an Innovative style shuns detail in favour of a wider view.

Creativity

Innovative problem solving often looks like ‘creativity’.  This is perhaps a false equation.  Styles across the whole spectrum can be creative; the continuum helps us understand the conditions that best foster that creativity for each of us.

The Best of Both Worlds

Is there a way of working on problems that can allow people who favour both Adaptive and Innovative styles to work together and thrive.  Jonne Cesarani is an expert on helping stimulate creativity and his Problem Solving Pocketbook, may well hold the answer.

ProblemSolving Throughout the book, Jonne makes good use of a very powerful approach to problem solving, called Synectics.

Developed from observation of what does and does not work in problem-solving groups, Synectics offers a clear nine-step process for solving problems that will certainly appeal to the Adaptive thinker in any of us.

But the way that it does so is to foster stages of controlled challenge and radicalism.  It offers flexibility and a variety of tools that stimulate thinking in metaphorical, absurd and imaginary ways that will also appeal to the Innovative thinker in you.

The Nine Step Model

It is well worth checking out the nine step process, which Jonne sets out and documents extremely clearly.  As a taster, there is Step 1.

Task Headline

This is an astonishingly simple way to overcome that barrier of ‘having a problem’. In Synectics, we start by re-writing our problem in the format:

‘How to …’

What this does is focus you, right from the start, on the solution, rather than the problem.  Brilliant!

So here’s the deal

Don’t force a problem solving process on people with an Innovative style, but do offer one to people who are more Adaptive.  For teams, favour an approach that allows members to combine a clear process with the freedom to subvert it.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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What is Empathy?

Lots of Pocketbooks use the word ‘empathy’.  The problem is that scientists still find it hard to properly characterise.  New Scientist magazine ran a fascinating feature article on 13 March 2010 called ’Empathy Overkill’.  In this article they studied what we can learn when our empathy systems go into overdrive.  There are some people who suffer from forms of extreme empathy, such as:

    unconsciously echoing other people actions
    …..– even inappropriate ones

    feeling the physical sensations they
    …..observe in others

Mirror Neurons

MirrorNeuronsEmpathy appears to be due to some specialised brain cells called mirror neurons that are at the top of our brains.  They activate in the same way, whether we do something or we see someone else do it.  They let us ‘try out’ other people’s movements and gestures.

It seems that some people’s mirror neurons are not inhibited enough, causing them to literally live-out the actions or sensations they observe.

Empathy and Compassion

As well as the medical implications of extreme empathy, scientists are also looking at the link between empathic responses and compassion.  Evidence suggests that an inability physically identify with other people’s pain does correlate with high self-assessed levels of ‘cold-heartedness’.

So, it is your mirror neurons that let you know how other people are feeling.  When a colleague walks into work tomorrow, they will help you know whether that colleague is feeling good or bad.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

John Mattock is passionate about the value of cross cultural empathy in business.  If you want to work with business people in another culture, being sensitive to their cultural norms and making the effort to understand them will bring you sustainable competitive advantage.  The Cross-Cultural Business Pocketbook is chock-full of great tips to build up your understanding and for how to communicate effectively across cultures.  A series of two-page mini guides to a handful of cultures on their own make this an insightful and valuable book.

CrossCulturalBusiness

So here’s the deal

If you want to read other people’s minds, let your mirror neurons tell you what’s going on.  What you choose to do with that information is up to you. If you work with people from other cultures, then your empathy skills may be stretched to their limits, but if you prime them well and are sympathetic to the emotions your mirror neurons detect, then you may just get better results for your efforts.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

If you have come across from our sister site, the Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog, or are interested in empathy in the classroom, you may like this short post.

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Be West of the Rest

Telephone conference calls are a great way for a geographically dispersed project team to stay in touch.  The biggest problem is timing.  If you are working in Britain, with colleagues in California, what time should you make the call?

A quick look at a map of time-zones reveals the problem.  At noon British Time, it is 4am in California.  Let’s say you are planning a 90 minute call.  Typically, nobody likes getting up in the early hours, so you have to either move the call back to late evening or early morning in California.  Let’s try them out:

Option A: Start at 9pm California; 5am Britain

Option B: Start at 9am California; 5pm Britain

My guess is that both parties will prefer Option B.  The British won’t have to get up unrealistically early and the American’s won’t have to stay at work late.  But this does mean that, while the Californian’s are bright as a button, the British are tired, at the end of the working day, staying on to 6:30.

The Challenges of Virtual Team

This is one tiny example of the challenges facing virtual teams – teams that do not work together physically.  They are an increasing feature of the modern workplace.  Even if your business is not a global or multi-national company, you are not immune.

Many small businesses work in complex global networks contributing products and services to international supply chains.  Even many schools are now linking up across continents to enrich pupils’ learning opportunities.

VirtualTeamsIn his Virtual Teams Pocketbook, Ian Fleming is spot on when he identifies technology as a key enabler, and also crushes the assumption that virtual teams are all about technology. What Ian does do is give practical advice about using a range of technology tools to your advantage.

It is all about Communication

Technology is an enabler for the most important part of team working: communication.  Whether your team is spread around offices across the world, or a series of local organisations, your top priority is to find the best ways to allow team members to stay in touch informally and to exchange formal information reliably.

Swift trust

In his Pocketbook, Ian Fleming describes a great process, called Swift Trust.  The idea was developed by three authors called Meyerson, Weick and Kramer in 1996.  Their thesis is that trust can be built quickly by :

  1. Presuming each team member has earned their place
  2. Trusting other people’s expertise and knowledge
  3. Creating shared goals and a shared recognition/reward scheme
  4. Defining a clear role for each person to play
  5. Focusing on tasks and actions
  6. Taking responsibility and acting responsively

Yes Please

How many groups have you worked in where one or more of these characteristics is missing.  Deep trust comes from the one thing Swift Trust is designed to do without, personal relationships.  However, surely each of the six characteristics above is essential for any team.

So here’s the deal

Whether your team is virtual or sitting around the same table, day after day, tailor your communications to build trust.  Focus on the checklist above, and then look for ways to build personal relationships too.

Other management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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Put Yourself on Display

Just last month, the CIPD’s People Management magazine reported that one of the big audit firms has resumed its full graduate recruitment programme.  Perhaps this is a sign that the professional and managerial job market is on the move again.

If this is true, we will start to see more work going into running assessment centres.  John Sponton and Stewart Wright identify three purposes for assessment centres in their Managing Assessment Centres Pocketbook:

  1. Recruitment
    Finding the best candidates
  2. Promotion
    Evaluating readiness and skill sets objectively
  3. Restructuring
    When job roles and responsibilities are changing

ManAssessmentCtrs

More than just efficient

If you are designing an assessment centre, you have a big job.  You need to create exercises, schedule activities, secure and brief assessors and do a raft of other tasks.  These are well set out in the Pocketbook.

In all of your focus on efficiency, one thing is easily overlooked: the messages you give the candidates.  A good assessment centre will not only allow you to assess the candidates, it will allow the candidates to assess your organisation and the role you want to fill.  Everything you organise will tell them about your organisation.

So how can you design your assessment centre to fully reflect the values, culture and priorities of your organisation?  This has to be more than a few opening remarks and some posters.  Your exercises and the way that you evaluate them must be linked not just to the job requirements, but to the way you want the successful candidate to act, once in post.  Here are two examples.

School Head Teacher

In recruiting a head teacher, many schools include observations of how candidates interact with pupils in formal and informal settings.  Assessors are looking for a style that accords with their school’s values.  Many will even include pupils in the assessment process and, when they do, they typically find pupils’ comments insightful and often in accord with the far longer observations of the governors.

Management Consultants

Professional services firms take in large numbers of new graduates and all are competing for the brightest.  However, academic talent is only a starting point.  Consultancies look for a complex combination of team and leadership skills, and the ability to follow a lead, whilst also thinking independently.  Consequently they provide complex team activities with multiple observers.

AssessmentCentre

What about Being a Candidate?

Whilst you can expect interviews and formal reasoning tests at many assessment centres, there is often little you can do to prepare for the assessment itself.  The following are important:

  • Practise your interview techniques and think about answers to the obvious questions
  • Make sure you have researched your prospective employer
  • Think about what questions you have for the assessors
  • Get your travel plans right

Sometimes you will be asked to prepare something specific.  If you are, you can be sure that this will be important to the assessors, so don’t leave it to last minute and then rush it.  Remember that this is your chance to really distinguish you from other candidates.

Perhaps what is most important for you is what is most important for the assessment centre.  The organisation wants to show you its values, culture and priorities.  You should aim to show assessors yours.  If they cannot see a fit then, no matter how well qualified you are, you will not get hired.  And if there is no fit, then why would you want the job anyway?  Within months, you would be unhappy.

So, here’s the deal

Assessment centres are good for candidates and good for employers.  When they are well designed, they give employers the best possible insight into candidates’ performance under realistic conditions, and they give candidates the best possible idea of what it would be like to work in the organisation.

Given the cost of recruitment, promotion or redeployment, it is best to invest a little more to get it right.

Other Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

As employer …

As candidate …

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Time to Plan

Whatever business you are in, and whatever level you occupy, now is the time to be planning for your next financial year.

Start with a Strategy

Every business needs to know where it is heading, and if you don’t choose that direction, it will be chosen for you by circumstances: your market, your competitors, and events.  You can better generate sustainable profits when you choose your market.

On the 24th January 1848, while building a sawmill for wealthy landowner John Sutter, John Marshall bent down and picked up a shining object from the river. It was gold! Then he found another, and then another.

Stories of the gold soon got round but there was no gold rush. Nobody believed the stories. So an enterprising San Francisco merchant, Sam Brannan, decided to capitalise on the find by spreading the word.  Consequently, the Gold Rush made Sam Brannan the richest man in California.

What was Sam Brennan’s strategy for getting so rich?
He sold shovels and pick-axes!

1903776139The Strategy Pocketbook gives you a wealth of tools to understand your business and its marketplace.

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Next, you need a plan

By this time of the year, most businesses with a 31 March year end are well into their business planning.  One aspect of the process many of us forget – or feel more comfortable putting to one side – is disaster planning.  Whether you are a sole trader, an SME, or a global player, two things are true:

  1. You are not immune to disaster
  2. You won’t know how well prepared you are until you test your plans.  Don’t wait for nature to set up the test!

The start of your disaster planning process is to identify the threats to your business.  The new edition of the Business Planning Pocketbook offers you three broad categories of disaster to consider, when identifying your risks:

BusinessPlanning

  1. Manmade Disasters
  2. Technological Disasters
  3. Natural Disasters

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If you are fortunate enough to own both Strategy and Business Planning Pocketbooks, you can find some nice overlaps.  For example, you could apply PESTLE analysis (in the Strategy Pocketbook) to your disaster identification, to give you not three, but six categories of disaster:

  1. Political
    Okay, so calling the outcome of the next election a ‘disaster’ may be a bit much, but it could have significant implications for your business.
  2. Economic
    Arguably, we are on the way out of this economic disaster, but who knows?  Double-dip anyone?
  3. Social/Cultural
    Demographic trends and changes in the way people buy can destroy businesses – just ask the folk at Readers’ Digest.
  4. Technological
    Thankfully, the new models of computers and software never go wron&.  Bu£ let”s 7u$t t@ke a lo0k a! Toyota.
  5. Legislative
    How can changes in regulation and legislation affect your business?  Large additional costs can be de-stabilising.
  6. Environmental
    Mother nature has a way of hitting us back when we least expect it – and it is frequently below the belt!

So here’s the deal

Start planning for disasters today.  If you have a plan then test it – tomorrow.  And set aside time at least twice a year to get a range of people from within and outside your organisation around a table, to peer round the next bend to spot more possible futures.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

Figuring your way through the planning process …

And when it comes to implementation …

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The Power of Silence

‘Silence is a powerful, ambiguous medium of communication’ says Seán Mistéil in the new edition of the Communicator’s Pocketbook.

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It is well worth looking at how to use silence to your benefit.  For a little fun, let’s start with its ambiguity.

A Man for All Seasons

If you haven’t seen the play or the excellent 1966 movie with Paul Schofield and Robert Shaw, then it is well worth looking out for.  At the trial of Sir Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell is prosecuting:

Cromwell: Now, Sir Thomas, you stand on your silence.

More: I do.

Cromwell: But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple.

But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it, and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence.
That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak! …

More: …  the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”.
If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened,
you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it?
Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?

More: The world must construe according to its wits;
this court must construe according to the law.

This edited extract from the wonderful text by Robert Bolt shows just how slippery silence is.  And powerful: in this trial, More’s life is at stake.

Use the Power of Silence

When I speak, do you listen?  I mean, do you really listen?  What most of us do is half listen; part of me is listening to you, while the other part is listening to myself, as I plan out what I am going to say next.

If we are arguing, I may not even hear your point; as I decide how I am going to respond to what I expected you would say in response to my point.  If we are chatting, I don’t really listen to your story of how upsetting yesterday was, because I am deciding whether to start my story with today’s journey to work, or yesterday’s argument in the supermarket.

Instead, take the time to really listen.  The risk we feel is that if we don’t plan our next comment, the other person will think us slow, dim-witted, weak in argument.

I suggest that this is not so.  What does that silence betoken?  Perhaps it says:

  • I really listened and am thinking about what you said
  • Your comment was profound enough for me to have to think about my reply
  • I am a thoughtful person

And if I am comfortable with silence, and you are not, who will fill that silence with more words?  You will.  In a debate, this will be when you weaken your argument, in a sales call this will be where you give something away, in an argument this will be when you start to feel you are losing.

So here’s the deal

Practise listening with 100% attention

Practise holding your silence

Practise setting aside your prejudices about what my silence may mean.  It may not mean I am angry, or I am confused, or I am deaf, or I am day-dreaming, or I am upset.

It may just be silence pure and simple.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

And coming soon:

  • Body Language
  • Handling Resistance
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