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Monday, September 29, 2014

The Communication That God Hates

     The book of Proverbs describes six things that are detestable to God.  Right off the bat it lists "haughty eyes" (arrogance) and a lying tongue.  Farther down lying is mentioned again in the list so that it looks like there are seven things.  But actually, it is reiterated that God hates lying.  Verse 19 says, "a false witness who pours out lies..."  Apparently, God abhors lying so much it has to be mentioned twice.
     Well, I'm willing to bet that you don't have to be a Christian to detest lying also.  If you've ever been the target of someone's lies or witnessed someone intentionally deceiving someone, you know how hurtful it can be.  I remember when elders used to say if you lie, you steal; if you steal, you kill.  Meaning, one bad action leads to a worse action.  Since I blog about communications, this is one pitfall in our conversations that should not be overlooked.  Is it common sense to say don't lie because it's wrong?  It would seem so, but unfortunately, people do it anyway.  It is estimated that we are lied to as many as 200 times a day.  Several surveys have been conducted asking people how often they lie.  But the numbers often come back low enough that researchers think the participants were lying about lying.
     Of course, people have all sorts of reasons for lying.  Some feel they are justified because they are trying to protect someone else in some way.  Others feel the small ones they tell are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  Still some feel it's okay because they're telling a partial truth.  Regardless of the reasons why people lie, the fact remains that they do.  We have to find a better way to communicate so that we maintain our integrity.  I'm willing to bet that most of the lies we tell are for selfish reasons.  Unless you don't care if your credibility is busted, you should be trying to protect your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy person.  To be thought otherwise compromises your ability to lead and serve.  Who wants to follow a liar?  Who would trust a liar to deliver on his promises?  Who would believe a gossip or busybody?  Who would trust their heart to a deceiver in a romantic relationship?
     Lying hurts feelings and futures.  Lying destroys reputations and lives.  Lying fuels hate and more lies.  Whether a victim of falsehoods or a perpetrator of them, there is no good thing in lying.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sharing Is Not Just for Social Media

I recently sent a proposal to a client and awaited her response on a tight deadline.  I didn't impose the deadline; she did.  Her situation was at crisis level, and she needed my help with some staff issues.  She also said she needed me there in a matter of days.  My proposal included a longer-term fix to the acute situation and would require more than a day in the office with her team.  After about a week, I contacted her back by email to follow-up on whether she had approved the proposal.  She replied promptly stating she was still working on getting signatures from other persons in the office.  Another week went by and still no word.  At this point was the time at which she'd requested I be there.  I sent her another email checking on the status of the approval.  She did not respond.  I let two days lapse, and I sent another email.  No response.  Finally two days more, and I placed a phone call.  I got her voicemail and left a message.  Days passed and no response.
     At this point, I assumed she'd changed her mind about using my services and had chosen to go with another training and coaching company.  I decided not to make a nuisance of myself (after five attempts at getting an answer you become a pest) so I abandoned pursuit and left the matter alone.  Then abruptly about a week later she has her assistant call me to work out the dates for my impending arrival the following week.  I was confused.  I wasn't planning on coming out there.  What was she talking about?  The assistant went on about modifying some of the dates in the proposal and asked if I could extend my stay on the first trip and if I could meet them at their downtown office rather than the satellite office and so on and so on.  She spoke as if we'd been talking about this all along, and we were just tidying up the details.  I informed her that I had no idea what she was talking about because this was the first I'd heard that I was going to be working with them.
     This isn't the first time the company has operated in this manner with me.  I presume they tend to operate this way with most of the business they do.  Much is last minute, and there is a scarcity of communications going on in the course of planning.  My schedule did not permit me to show up at the time I had originally proposed because they were past the deadline, and there was too little follow-up on their part to have me reserve the time.  We eventually worked it out, and I was able to accommodate them.  But limited or no communication poses a challenge for everyone involved, especially those who have responsibilities in the situation.  Like too much communication can be overkill, not enough can create craters in productivity and progress.  People have to know what's going on.  It is important to keep every pertinent person in the loop on what's important to them and the entire department and/or organization.  Neglecting to respond to emails, requests, deadlines, and other correspondence is not only rude and unprofessional, but it keeps others in the dark when they need to be included.  Ask yourself:  are you communicating enough?  If you're not sure, keep these three things in mind:
     1.  Always ask:  Who needs to know?  Who needs to be in on this?
     2.  Prioritize what you need to respond to so that you're responsive to the most important issues first.  But remember this doesn't give you a pass to ignore all other contacts made to you.
     3.  Then ask:  What needs to be conveyed?  What's important enough that it has to be shared?
     These aren't the only steps, but they're a good start.  Begin here and watch how much more informed you will be as well.