Within a few minutes of my article excerpt below going out through our Improvement Points service, I received Larry Beckon’s e-mail.

April 18 – Improvement Point

“There are many ways we can continually improve our verbal communication skills. These might include joining Toastmasters, taking a public speaking course, getting personal video based speaking feedback, personal coaching, participating in interpersonal skill training, getting training on facilitating meetings, taking a sales course, giving speeches at service clubs, and the like. Strong leaders, on the grow, do whatever they can to continually improve their ability to speak to groups and persuade others to follow their lead.”

– from Jim Clemmer’s article, “Inspiring and Energizing with Strong Verbal Communications
Read the full article now!

“As usual, what you have written about verbal communications is useful You might want to create or issue an article (knowing you, you may have already created such an article) about asking questions and listening. I have found that the most useful means of communicating are asking questions and listening. Doing that leads to increased understanding by all involved and also leads to bringing person together.

It is amazing to me that many persons at meetings seem to wait for “their turn” to say something that they believe will convince others that their way is “the right way”, rather than listening and learning so that all might together create a right way that is better than what any one person might create by themselves.”
Larry Beckon
Michigan Department of Transportation

Larry, thanks for your feedback, suggestions, and observation. You’re very right; questioning and listening is a powerful leadership skills. In our workshops, we teach some of this as “Ask Assertive” versus the much more common “Tell Assertive” most managers are used to using. It’s a very key element in the coaching skills development work we do.

I’d love to write something on this. However, I am finishing up my first business fable. The working title is Moose-on-the-Table: A Fable on Courageous Conversations in the Workplace. This new project – and exciting new writing approach for me – is really filling up what little creative time I have available these days.

Larry raised some excellent points and when he responded to my note he even provided a great example of common problems with team or meeting processes.

“I was at a meeting the other day, where a recommendation was made early in the meeting by Dave and then persons talked about the recommendation. As the meeting proceeded, I noticed (after about 40-50 minutes had passed) that there were several persons who made comments and then made additional comments several other times during the meeting – comments that were very similar to their original comments. I noticed that some others in the room (there were about 12-15 persons in the room) said nothing.

I said something like ‘I wonder if some persons who have not yet talked about this matter have questions or comments they would like to share. This might be a good time to share your thoughts.’ One person (I will call him Henry) commented in some detail. Another person also commented (with comments similar to Henry’s comments, but from a different viewpoint) and then a third (with comments that were different that what anyone else had said).

Later in the meeting a vote was taken. The recommendation was not approved. A few days later I was in another meeting with Dave who made the original recommendation. He was explaining to the persons in that meeting (they had not been in the earlier meeting) what had happened. He indicated that he thought the comments made by Henry were the reason why the vote turned out the way it did. This is an example of listening, asking questions, and getting new thoughts on the table that impacted the decision that was made.”