Category Archives: Communication

Psychological Safety

Have you ever evaluated the level of psychological safety in your team?

Is it okay to challenge the status quo? Can people discuss behaviors that bother them? Is it acceptable to challenge a supervisor when they don’t show up on time or blame a subordinate when they forgot to do something? >

Rule changes

Watching the World Cup Final between Croatia and France, I was thinking about the rules. About offsides, how high was that kick, did it hit his arm? Was that guy really hurt or is he just dragging out the clock. >

Civil Discourse

I have not seen the United States of America, the land I love, so torn up since the late 60’s. The name-calling, the divisions, the neighbor pitted against neighbor….the lack of civil discourse. If this has been planted by the Russians, as they have been accused of doing, then they are winning and we, the people, are losing. >


Do you find that holding people accountable makes you uncomfortable? Oh, you start out fired up to hold people to their commitments. You ask clearly. You get them to restate the request. You set a date and time for completion…..and then they don’t come through.

Wait, you did everything you were supposed to do, now what? First of all, congratulations! Most people don’t create such excellent and clear accountability. You are probably really upset, angry or dismissive of that other person right about now. And, may I suggest uncomfortable with taking the next step.

Why is that ?  Do you see it as you will have to become “the enforcer” or the “bad guy”. Do you begin to doubt your right to get what you asked for?

This is the tricky part. Mike Scott* says this is the time when you don’t ask why – Don’t ask why they didn’t do it. Ask them to identify their next step. Ask for a recommitment with a new time/date. Further, you ask:  “Can I count on you for that?” That puts it back on the other person. Okay, how uncomfortable will it be to ask?

Let me guess you might be squirming all over the place thinking about asking for a commitment. Why? You are totally committed. Perhaps because in our society, we don’t like people who call us out, who make us look bad. We know the likable person is the one who lets it go. And, maybe, subconsciously, we want to be liked. In business, we can’t excel if we don’t do the hard stuff. That includes being uncomfortable in service of our mission.

So, think about your mission. You really want to succeed. Completing this request is part of it. In the context of serving the mission, you may find you are okay with having the difficult conversations needed to hold people accountable. You might want to repeat the goal to them as you ask for the renewed commitment. Don’t make it punitive, don’t make it personal, make it about the mission. You can do this.

This week initiate one difficult conversation about accountability that you have been putting off having. Work through the discomfort. It will be easier next time.

*Mike Scott

Interested in Vistage?


Image courtesy of Performance Based Results. Survey done by HBR


A term for confusing communication that tries to sound smart, yet has obscure meaning, was just introduced to me. The term is biz-blab. I immediately was captivated. >

Change it up

As much as I advocate getting into good habits and routines to be more effective at work, I notice that creativity comes when I change it up. Is that true for you, too? >

Are you wrong?

Elon Musk of Tesla  gave an interview in 2014 where he said “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”*

As a business leader, people who report to you must always consider how far they are willing to go to be honest versus how much does keeping their job mean to them. Haha, you say, not my team. Perhaps that is true. Assume it is not for this discussion.

Your good friends may also know where you could improve, yet they want to stay friends so they encourage you. They mask direct suggestions in words like “have you ever considered?” or “what would happen if this scenario occurred….”. When you swat that away, they change the conversation to sports or the movie they just saw.

If you see yourself even the slightest bit here, I suggest that you change the way you bring ideas to the team. In his book, Conversational Capacity,  Craig Weber suggests that when you float a new idea, you ask your team to give you 3 reasons why it won’t work. Get the objections out on the floor immediately. You will retrain your team over time to have a more robust discussion of ideas. Better results will likely follow.

As for your friends, ask for one thing you could do better, then work on it and report back. Just a slight change to your golf swing, or your position on the ski slope can make a huge difference. Why aren’t we doing it at work?

This week ask for one suggestion from someone whose opinion you value and then work on it. Assume you are wrong. Wouldn’t that be different?


*Inc interview with Elon Musk

Interested in Vistage?

Who challenges your thinking?

Who do you look forward to seeing who consistently challenges your thinking?

While celebrating my nieces wedding on the Oregon Coast, I was able to be with my extended family, the grooms family from Texas and my niece’s friends.  So many different ways we live our lives, yet the conversations were warm, open and exploratory.

As the groom’s brother and I made fruit salad, he told me about life on his ranch outside of Austin. Every weekend his family members compete in horse shows. This includes one of his older daughters who has graduated out of 4H competitions continues to participate as a coach. As anyone knows who has horses, two kids had to stay back to run the ranch while the rest of the family flew to Oregon for the wedding.

The bride and groom shared their experiences of attending Burning Man. The bride described the gifting culture and how people give coffee or art classes or play the piano and get food and drink from others. In a desert where the super fine dust coats them and everything around them, everyone builds their housing creating villages and art installations that are torn down or burned at the end of the week. They are fascinated by the creativity, art and alternative way of living and the temporality of it all.  This year, there were 75,000 people in the desert for a week. It is one of the largest cities in Nevada for that week.

Family can be the best place to learn and to challenge your thinking yet for some it too often turns into angry disagreement and disrespect. You know who to talk to and who to avoid.  Yet when you hold the intention to appreciate and learn, it can be a wonderful place to work on being curious.  Try it at your next family gathering or even at home today.

After all these years, how do I change my name?

Like many of you, I’ve called myself one thing for all of my existence. Now, after being a Member of a Vistage group for 4 years and a Vistage Chair for over 17 years, Vistage is changing the name from a Vistage Group to a Vistage Peer Advisory Board. We shall call it a “Board” for short.

Just like young woman practicing saying “Nora Franco”, or “Nora Washington”, or “Nora Thomas”, instead of Nora Paller, I am now trying to say “Vistage Board”.

I pace around the house repeating phrases like:

Take that to your “Board.”

Our “Board” decided to have the retreat in October.

Who is on your “Board?” Some of your fellow “Board Members” did not agree with you on that issue.

Mind you, I think the new languaging more accurately represents the value the Members are getting out of the Group, oops, I mean “the Board”. It better communicates why high performing executives spend all of one day each month with their peers.

It connotes accountability and attention to results. We do all that.

I just keep going around the house mumbling phrases like “in my board meeting the other day”, my “Board Member” told me that, “Ed is a Member of my Vistage Board.”

Sigh. It will take some practice. If you are a Vistage Member, join me. Let go of your Group and embrace your Peer Advisory Board. What do you think? Doesn’t it make you just stand up a little straighter?


image courtesy of

What is not said with words?

Do you ever walk into a room and see someone slouching in a chair looking defeated? As a coach, that is the first thing I notice. I am there to talk with your true heart and your real soul. I look for what is not said with words.

If you think that is hard to do, turn off the sound on a movie and just watch.I bet you will get most of the plot without the words.

My guess is that we try not to tune into other people’s body language because it is often so negative. It is enough to cope with our own negativity, we don’t want any more dumped on us.

Yet, we know people we look forward to being with because they are pleasant or positive or their energy is up. They seem to have taken care of their “stuff” before we met up with them.


Here are some of the things we see them do:

Stand up straight

Look us in the eyes.

Smile encouragingly.


Here are some of the things they don’t do:

Roll their eyes and sigh,

Jump in with a smart remark before you’ve finished your sentence.

Look bored and start texting.


I think we are all tired of the quick judgments.

Watch a few people around you and observe how they are communicating. Then take a look at your own posture. You can put on your phone camera and see how you show up in a meeting. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Just straighten up and be a little more encouraging. See if your conversations change.