Finding Your Edge – The Ted Talk

Back in 1990, author Deborah Tannen published her first bestseller, “You Just Don’t Understand” and I’ve been inspired by Ms. Tannen ever since. This breakthrough book was on the NY Times best seller list for almost four years and was among the first blockbuster books on men’s and women’s communication.

Over the years, I’ve used the myriad of examples from this particular book while training attorneys in gender awareness conversations. One story in particular has stayed with me over the years. Dr. Tannen was consulting in a large corporation meeting with its CEO. There was a knock on his door and the senior VP of HR, Susan, entered his office to inform him that they had finally had to fire an employee, Tom. They tried to remediate and train Tom, but he would not change his behaviors. Susan told the CEO she was sorry. After Susan left, Deborah Tannen asked him what her apology meant. He replied, “Oh, she was apologizing for failing.”

Later that day Dr. Tannen asked Susan what she meant by her comment. Susan responded, “Oh, we all felt so sorry we couldn’t correct the behaviors Tom was exhibiting. We tried to remediate the situation and provided him with quite a bit of training but he just wouldn’t change. My apology statement simply meant that we were sorry we that we had to terminate him as he is basically a nice man with a wife and two small children.”

Eye opening how the two of them perceived the exact same comment, right? But probably not all that surprising to most of us. Hopefully we’ve moved the needle a bit since 1990.

I continue to use Dr. Tannen’s books almost thirty years later in my work as a law firm marketing consultant as the lessons are invaluable. From time to time I get asked how I wound up becoming a law firm marketing consultant so long ago. It’s a simple story, really. When I was ten years old, I went to my parents one morning and said, “When I grow up, I want to become a law firm marketing consultant”, said no one EVER! LOL

But actually, what really did happen to me when I was young was that I had to figure out and find my edge, which I did over time. It’s part of the reason I fell in love with figure skating at the age of six.

Gliding over the ice, jumping and spinning simply delighted and inspired me. But unfortunately, growing up in a world class dysfunctional family with not one, but two alcoholic parents ended that joy by the time I was twelve. Let’s just say that if the police had GPS back then, our address would have been on their speed dial!

I struggled with this loss of my love of the ice but gradually learned that something good could come out of that loss. I had to learn to accept that if I wanted something done, I would have to do it myself. I developed great coping skills like staying focused, reducing friction (peace at all costs), listening for subtle sea changes, getting it right, and oh, trying to be likable as on some level I felt responsible for what was going on at home. I was running constantly while learning these valuable life lessons though. By the time I turned fifteen, I may have been ready for my first law firm marketing job. I mean I had acquired some great skills!

Somewhere along the way, those lessons learned started to inspire rather than drag me down. I discovered how to conquer challenges. I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed helping others.

Maybe some of the kids in my class thought I was being pushy when I went over to their desks and told them what to do, but to me, I was just focused on helping them achieve their goals. Oh, misguided energy!

As I grew, well, well, I was not popular in high school, at all. I was a late bloomer and even at seventeen, I looked more like I was fourteen. It was horrible. I had this pipe dream that if I could just become a cheerleader, I would be eternally happy. I missed the squad as a junior but throughout that entire year, I literally practiced in front of my bedroom mirror every day. I visualized myself cheering at football games in my senior year. The joy I experienced when my name was finally announced as having made the squad taught me such a valuable lesson. It more than reinforced the notion that if I wanted something badly enough, I had to make it happen myself. And one of the best parts of this experience was helping another friend who also struggled to make the squad. But she made it too and we helped each other stay inspired throughout that whole year.

This was a turning point in my life, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I internalized the notion that I could find joy in pursuing goals and helping others achieve theirs along the way. Inspiration became my “why message” which has stayed with me throughout my life and invigorates me daily. One of the most watched TedX Talks of all time, given by Simon Sinek, taught us that people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. https://lnkd.in/gmfDFyN

And I realized my why was inspiring others. Along the way I replaced running on empty with a productive and balanced life filled with energy and a lot of joy. Of course, there were years of introspection, Alanon and lots of therapy involved too!

I took this passion of inspiring others into my career and continue to be motivated by helping to enthuse others. When a practice group lands a major client, or a marketing team I have been working with successfully helps its partners engage clients in conversations about creating better innovation and legal operations, well, that is just inspirational.

Moving ahead with my story, when I was in my forties, a skating rink opened in my home town. Something motivated me to buy skates and I started to take a few lessons. Before I knew it, I started to train for competitions.

Over the past 17 years I have had great fun and achieved some wonderful successes. And this year, I am proud to say I am the reigning national champion in my age group – you know – the mature women’s group! I applied my focused behavior of “getting it done”, to my training. For me, skating is pure joy and it drives me daily.

So, what have I learned from all of this? Well, it turns out there are many blessings we can experience in life including being raised by imperfect parents who did their best, learning to share our lives with a partner no more flawed than we are, and to count on a few friends who understand and accept us for who we truly are. Along the way I learned that one of the most beautiful and freeing things we can do in life is to forgive a wrong. These are life’s blessings. We should not forget to count them.

Every one of us has had to overcome challenges in our lives. We all know it was not just me! But I also know that everyone has a gift, a talent, a place in which they find inspiration. And don’t most of us feel our best when we have helped to inspire a win for a client, a co-worker, for friends or family? So, what is your gift? Your why message? What is your cause? What gets you out of bed each morning other than a paycheck and perhaps some strong coffee?

FINDING MY EDGE

I challenge you to Find Your Edge, hone your gifts. I promise you it’s there. Finding and continuing to refine your talents is your edge in life. This will not only continue to inspire you, but it will help you to inspire others along the way. After all, finding that edge is all about inspiration.

I believe this quote from C.S. Lewis sums things up very well, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

I-SPEAK Your Language: A Communications Style Training Program

Helping professionals, managers and staff increase communication effectiveness.

Why is it that at times we easily resonate with certain individuals while at other times we find ourselves frustrated with others? Quite obviously we may be speaking different “languages.” Communication style or “language” often has a great impact on how effectively we work together and on what we can accomplish with others.

Learning about personal styles will help you get a deeper understanding of your own preferred style of communication. But it will also help you understand other’s best communication style. This will improve your ability to more meaningfully interact with colleagues and clients and will positively influence how they perceive what you are asking them to do.

The I-SPEAK Communications Style program explores four styles, helps professionals discover their own personal style and teaches new ways to communicate with others. The I-Speak goal is to develop greater awareness of other styles and create more productive, effective working relationships. The bottom line: Increase your communication effectiveness in a shorter amount of time.

The program is based on these premises:

  1. People have recognizable and preferred communication styles.
  2. It is possible, after relatively short exposure to a person, to identify his/her style.
  3. People communicate most effectively with individuals whose styles are similar to their own, and they have greater difficulty with people who exhibit dissimilar communications styles.
  4. People can modify their styles to “speak the language” of others.

I-SPEAK teaches how to determine communication styles (both their own and those of others) and helps them to use this knowledge to foster enhanced communications. These skills are readily applied to improving internal communication within our organization as well as other professionals you whom you communicate.

Imagine how thrilled a client would be if you offered this program to better increase communication and productive outcomes while working together.

Each of the four personality styles has unique strengths and qualities as well as potential weaknesses and “blind spots.” No particular style is “good” or “bad.”

Can you recognize your primary style of communication?

Style                          

INTUITOR

Conceptual, synthesizer, idea people, problem solvers, leaders and long- range thinkers. Intuitors derive great satisfaction from considering the world of possibilities. Often their input serves as a catalyst for those around them. They assume others see things as they do, they expect their actions and communication to be self-evident and understood by most.

(Intuitors intuitively make leaps of logic that others may find difficult to follow.)

THINKER

Analyzer, systematic, logical, step by step, concrete and sequential. Thinkers place high value in objectivity and orderly inquiry. They are disciplined and deliberate decision makers. They assume others see things as they do.

(Thinkers are results oriented individuals and value thoughtful examination.)

FEELER

Perceptive, facilitative, responsive to others, big hearted, supportive. Feelers enjoy personal relationships and are responsive to the needs of others. They are keenly attuned to subtle changes in other’s moods and are astute in “reading between the lines.”

(Feeler types place great value on the personal experience and want harmony.)    

SENSER

Concrete, pragmatic, detail oriented, realistic, quick to put into action. They are here-and-now oriented and thrive on getting things done in the present moment without time-consuming deliberations. They are known for their ability to get things done and are likely to express a direct and energetic approach to work and life.

(Sensers enjoy making things happen and want concrete and immediate feedback.)

As individuals come to recognize and acknowledge the influence of their own style on their thoughts and actions, each begins to appreciate the importance that other people’s styles hold for them. This understanding improves the ability to more meaningfully interact with others, and will positively influence how others perceive you.

Interestingly enough we all tend to alter our communication style a bit when under stress. So do your co-workers and clients! Think of the advantage you can have if you know how to best take in information during heightened and more stressful times. The I-Speak program offers a 15-minute self-assessment which will determine, with great accuracy, an individual’s specific day-to-day communication style and their style when under stress. Consider the advantages for both you, your staff and clients.

____________________________________________________________________________

Merry Neitlich, managing principal of EM Consulting is an approved I-Speak trainer. Depending on your needs, we can provide test administration and results interpretation during a 2-hour interactive engaging program.

For questions or to take the I-SPEAK Personal Styles Inventory please contact Merry at merry@EMconsults.org    www.EMconsults.org

 

 

Teaming and Collaboration: The Reality Behind Creating Real Change in Law Firms

 

As law firms start to fully embrace collaboration as their way into the future, the Music Man, played by Robert Preston, uses the “Think Method” to teach his young band members how to play – just think the minuet in E minor and you can play it! However, in reality this strategy does not play too well when working to effect real change. This article explains how.

#Change  #Innovation

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2016 Annual Social Media Survey Released

This is our fourth annual social media survey of small to mid-size law firms in Orange County, California. There’s no denying that social media usage has surpassed the tipping point in 2016. 84% of responding firms selected visibility raising as the number one reason for engaging in social media. Thought leadership was another important reason to engage. Only 17% of firms do not actively post fresh content on their website or social media platforms. Continue reading 2016 Annual Social Media Survey Released