As I’ve been writing about the past couple of weeks, the allostatic load of the extraordinarily stressful period we’re living, working and leading through demands that we be more mindful about the routines that can help us be both effective and healthy. I’ve already written about physical and mental routines. This week, I want to talk about relational routines; the ones that address our basic need for love and belonging and that also help keep us alive.

From a purely utilitarian standpoint, it’s fairly obvious that if you want to get positive results over the long-run, you need to invest in positive relationships. They’re essential to getting things done. From a humanistic standpoint, positive relationships make life more fun, strengthen your immune system (kind of important during a global pandemic), and increase your life expectancy by reducing the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, strokes and Alzheimer’s. As this article that summarizes the ground breaking research of UCLA professor Steve Cole states, “our bodies see loneliness as a mortal threat.” From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re wired to intuit loneliness and isolation as a threat to our survival because it’s easier for a group to fend off a saber tooth tiger than it is for an individual. The sense of isolation that working from home can bring prompts us to seek out connection with others. That’s why you’ve been doing all of those virtual happy hours and meet-ups. That’s a good thing because it’s helping you get out of the chronic state of fight or flight that both reduces your performance and your health and well-being.

As many of us will continue to work from home and maintain physical distance for the foreseeable future, here are a few things to consider incorporating into your virtual relationships as well the ones you have with the people you live with.

Include Transformational Listening In Your Mix – As I wrote about in my book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, there are three basic kinds of listening – transient, transactional and transformational. As the accompanying chart makes clear, all of us engage in transient listening where we’re so distracted with our own agenda and thoughts that we don’t actually listen. Transactional listening is focused on solving a problem or identifying a next step and is much higher value-added. We’re all seeing and doing a lot of that on work-related Zooms but if we stop at transactional listening, we miss out on the opportunities for deeper relationships. That’s where transformational listening comes in – listening with no other purpose than to connect and learn more about the other person or people. Open-ended questions that spark warm memories, a sense of fun, reflections on gratitude or hope for the future are a great way to set up transformational conversations. This blog post I wrote a few years ago has a list of those kinds of questions. Why not ask one or two of those in your next team Zoom meeting or casual conversation with a friend or family member?

Three Styles of Listening, The Eblin Group

Make the Time and Take the Time – Do your best to pay attention to how you’re allocating your conversational time. What percentage of it is focused on more transactional conversations? If more than 80 percent are focused on human “do-ings”, make and take some regular time to focus on the human beings through transformational conversations.

Variety is the Spice of Life – Routines and patterns are useful in life because they help us get things done without having to start from scratch every time we do them. The weekly staff meeting, the rotation of shirts you’re wearing on Zoom and the walk you go on after lunch are all examples of routines that are helpful until they’re not. They’re not when they get you into a rut of not noticing when you’re repeating yourself without looking for opportunities for deeper connection with colleagues, friends and family. Variety is the spice of life. Spark new connections by changing up your meetings and routines and inviting others into a different mix that brings fresh energy by shaking things up. A little creativity in a pandemic never hurt anyone!

Strong, healthy relationships are vital to both productivity and health and well-being. What have you been doing to deepen yours during the pandemic?

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Read more: eblingroup.com

Are You Hearing or Listening?

One of the things I’ve said for a long-time as an executive coach is that if
you get colleague feedback that you need to be a better listener, take the
feedback and start working on it. The positive leadership ripple effects from
doing a better job of listening are enormous and wide-spread. Problem-solving,
team-engagement, relationships and results all improve when leaders listen
better.

I was reminded of this again a few weeks ago when conducting
colleague feedback interviews for a new coaching client. (This is the time of
year when I usually take on a few new clients.) One of the colleagues made an
interesting distinction between hearing and listening as in, “I think he hears
me, but I’m not always sure he’s listening to me.” That distinction between
hearing and listening is a simple one but yields a big difference in outcomes.

Hearing is really just sound waves landing on your ear
drums. When it stops there, it’s what I call transient listening. You’re on
your way to someplace else – physically, mentally or both. You’re basically in
transit and not present. How do you know when you’re just hearing and not
really listening? Some of the warning signs include:

Your focus is on you.Your goal is to wrap up and move on.You feel distracted or impatient.You interrupt to tell your thoughts.

Listening, on the other hand, involves a lot more than your
ear drums. When you’re really listening, you’re engaging your brain and the
other party’s brain. That’s how you build both connection and value.

From my point of view, there are two basic styles of
value-added listening – transactional and transformational. You see a lot of
transactional listening at work because it’s the kind of listening that’s best
suited to solve a problem or identify a next step. Here are some of the
signs that you’re engaging in transactional listening:

Your focus is on the other party.Your goal is to move things forward.You feel purposeful and focused.You ask open-ended questions and clarify
timelines.

In most organizations, you don’t see a lot of
transformational listening. That’s too bad, because it’s the kind of listening
that creates the most long-term value. Transformational listening not only
engages the brains in the conversation, it quite often engages the hearts. It’s
listening with the primary agenda to connect with the other person. Connection
builds trust and trust yields results. Here are some of the signs that
you’re engaging in transformational listening:

Your focus is on the connection between you and
the other party.Your goal is to learn more about the other party
– what they think, what they value and how they feel.You feel creative, connected and relaxed.You observe with your eyes and are comfortable
with silence and build on what’s said.

So, what do you think? Have you been hearing more or
listening more lately? If it’s more on the hearing side, I’d suggest you pick
one or two of the signs of transactional listening to focus on in your
conversations in the coming weeks. If you think you’re already doing a great
job on transactional listening, why not look for or create some opportunities
for transformational listening in the next few weeks? Based on what my clients
have told me over the years about what happens when they engage in
transformational listening, I can practically guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

If you liked what you read here, subscribe here to get my latest ideas on how to lead and live at your best.

Read more: eblingroup.com

As I’ve written here before, effective leadership communications involves two distinct activities – transmitting and receiving. You can think of it like a two-way radio or a smartphone. They only work when they both transmit and receive. For your leadership communications to be inspirational and influential, you need to do both as well.

Too many people in leadership roles overemphasize the transmission and underemphasize the reception. These folks equate leadership with giving inspirational speeches or pep talks. Before you can have the inspiration, you’ve got to have the conversation. To inspire and influence others to action, you have to know and address what they care about.

To do that, you need to be super-intentional about putting yourself in reception mode. An easy and proven way to do that is to conduct a Listening Tour. I talk at some length about how to stage an effective Listening Tour in chapter 8 of The Next Level but, for now, here are some tips for getting started.

Identify Representative Stakeholders: The groups of people you’re trying to inspire or influence are made up of real human beings with hopes, fears, wants and needs. They’re all people who have a stake in the movement you’re trying to lead or the outcome you’re trying to create. Go have conversations with a representative sample of them. Note that I said “have conversations” instead of “talk with.” The distinction turns on transmitting vs. receiving. “Talking with” is usually transmission-oriented; “having a conversation” is usually reception-oriented. You want more of the latter and less of the former.

Start with Open-Ended Questions: Once you’ve figured out who you’re going to listen to on your tour, develop a list of open-ended questions that will help you learn more about them. Some of my road-tested favorites include:

What will make this a great year for you?
What difference would that make for you?
What’s helping you accomplish your goals?
What’s getting in the way?
What’s going on that has you excited?
What’s going on that has you concerned?
What kind of help do you need to be successful?
What can I do to help?

Compare and Contrast: Take notes during or immediately after each of your Listening Tour conversations and then compare and contrast. What similarities do you see across the conversations? What differences do you see? How do the dots connect into a bigger picture that could give you guidance on how you should lead and communicate?

Spending some quality time in receiving mode will make you much more effective in transmitting mode. Get the balance right and you’ll be a more inspiring and influential leader.

If you liked what you read here, subscribe here to get my latest ideas on how to lead and live at your best.

Read more: eblingroup.com

What one thing do Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz, and Warren Buffet all have in common? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not being billionaires or CEOs. Besides being 3 of the most successful (and richest) men of all time, these 3 men all started their careers in sales.

In fact, more billionaires started in sales than in any other profession. From Samuel Palmisano at IBM to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, According to a study done by recruitment agency Aaron Wallis, of the 53 billionaires who did not inherit their wealth, 10 of them or around 20% started in sales. As sales move more and more online and Amazon eats everything, salesmen are being replaced more and more by deal closing computers.  

Take a second to think about the last time you went to a store and dealt with a salesperson? My guess is it’s been awhile. And it looks more and more likely that most of the next generation will not get the chance to do real face-to-face “Look em in the eye” sales.

While the sales process is changing and moving online, I think it’s important to continue to pass on some of the lessons that one would learn in face to face sales. These are lessons that will ultimately make you successful in life whether you decide to build the next Facebook or just run your own landscaping business.

Here are 3 Lessons From Sales That Will Make You A Success in Life:
1. Grit

One of the harsh truths about life is that rejection happens. It happens in business, it happens in dating and it happens socially.

Grit, as popularized by the book of the same title by Penn professor Angela Duckworth, is courage and resolve of character. Until rather recently many believed that grit was a trait you either had or didn’t have, but Duckworth’s book showed how that sort of tenacity can be actively cultivated.

I can almost guarantee that no successful salesman has ever read Grit. They don’t need to because sales forces you to develop tough skin and persistence. Salespeople face rejection about 90% of the time. Even the best “closers” in the world still only make a sale about a third of the time. That means they fail 66% of the time. Another way to say it is that sales forces you to become gritty.

“Learn to keep going even when things are difficult, even when we have our doubts. At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” – Angela Duckworth

2. Listening

When most people think of a salesman, they conjure an image of a fast-talking smooth schmoozer. But that image is only one type of salesman and often an ineffective one at that. The best salesmen in the world are amazing listeners. But listening doesn’t just make you an incredible salesman, there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest it also makes you a more effective leader as well.

Listening makes people feel cared about and valuable. It also helps you focus in on what they REALLY want and how you can help them get it. Whether you want to solve conflicts with your significant other or rise up the corporate ladder, listening will get you there faster than talking.

3. Being Internally Motivated

Another common misconception about successful salesmen is that they are motivated by things like bonuses, competition, and money. While there are some sales professionals who need a contest or $100 bonus at the end of the day to get themselves jacked up, the best salesmen (and women) I ever worked with were internally motivated.

As I mentioned earlier, rejection happens to salespeople a lot. Those that are externally motivated are going to do great when things are going well. But when they are in the midst of no sales after making 100 calls, they would have trouble finding the motivation to pick up the phone. On the other hand, the best salespeople I worked with were always motivated because they found motivation not in the success of a sales call but internally.

“I think true success is intrinsic… It’s love. It’s kindness. It’s community.” – Tom Shadyac

They found ways to be motivated to take action even when they didn’t feel like it. Whether they’re making 100 calls in a day or working on your social media marketing, they have to find it within themselves to keep on pushing forward.

A sales career has laid the foundation for success for countless men and women across the globe. These days fewer and fewer things are sold in person, we’re pretty much down to cars and houses and even those sales processes have changed entirely due to the internet.

It’s not hard to imagine a future without salespeople, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t benefit from the 3 timeless success lessons presented here today.

Which one of these 3 lessons resonated with you most? Let us know below!

Read more: addicted2success.com