Need It Most

I’m so sick of some people dismissing blog posts, talks or trainings on the so-called “soft skills” as simply “common sense.” Just because you may have read a few books or articles on communication and listening skills, or even attended a seminar or two over the years hardly qualifies you (or me, or anyone) as an expert on these all-important topics. If this information was so “common sensical,” then communication breakdowns would occur far less often than they do.

Question: What do you call common sense not applied? Answer: All-too-common.

In fact, I propose that those who are quickest to side-step this stuff (I call them the Tools) are those who need it most

Just because some content may seem to contain “nothing new under the sun” in your tiny world-view doesn’t mean the information is any less valuable or necessary. In fact, by directly saying, or implying that you “already know all this stuff” is evidence of the contrary. Truly skilled communicators would NEVER imply they know it all. In fact, they know the opposite. These are the 5%.

Great communicators never have to tell anyone that they are a great communicator… think about that. It’s unnecessary because it’s EVIDENT in their actions, words, and nonverbals.

Great communicators know how to deliver and receive bad news in a way that yields the best reception from their audience. The “my-way-or-the-highway” false bravado bullshit many spew is tired and transparent. There may well be “nothing new under the sun,” but this also includes those smug-asshat-types who bash and bemoan everything just to have an unoriginal voice.

The originality lies in the delivery; in the unique presentation of said information.

Is there anything that someone can possibly offer up that someone, somewhere else doesn’t already know? Probably not. So for all of you “it’s all just common sense” flag-wavers… please do the rest of us a favor and shut the hell up. Your pessimism contributes nothing, and therefore your opinion doesn’t matter. Your negative spew demonstrates both a lack of, and therefore a real need for the exact type of information that’s being presented.

You’ll never see it that way though. You’ll never admit it. You can’t. You’re incapable of the type of humility and honesty necessary for authentic self-reflection. You think that because you “tell it like it is” or “pull no punches” that your edginess is your greatness. It’s not. Or that you’re somehow more enlightened than everyone else. You’re not. You’re actually less so. This tough and gruff, unfiltered demeanor demonstrates a large lack of quality communication and listening skills at best, or a large lack of self-esteem and self-worth at worst. I’m betting on both in most cases.

Now, some of you will say: “I don’t give a shit what you think.” Those who continually claim to “not give a shit” – often give a shit the most. Why else waste time proclaiming it? To feel compelled to let others know that you “don’t give a shit” proves that you do. Because if you truly “don’t give a shit,” then you wouldn’t give a shit if anyone knew that fact or not.

To clarify: I love (helpful) people who say it like it is, and speak their truth. But then again, I hate (hurtful) people who do this at the same time…  So what’s the difference? I believe it comes down to one’s intentions; the motives underneath the behavior. This difference is THE difference. If the intent is to burn someone or something at the stake simply for sport, or because you’re threatened or disagreed with, then you’re a dick. You suck, and your outspokenness is hurtful and bad. These types are the ones who hide behind their rancor and their rants out of fear. If however your intent is to empower and embolden because you desire to make a difference and contribute, then you rock and your veracity is helpful and good. The difference is whether the endgame is adding positive, or adding negative into the world.

Defensive you say? Damn right I’m defensive, but not in the way you think…

I’m defending my right to speak my mind as well, and to call out the other side of this subject. The side that says you “know-it-all” types are the least knowing of all. I’m defending a position that few take, but needs to be taken more seriously, more often.

If you really think you’re a great communicator and don’t need to sharpen your human relations skills then DEMONSTRATE it by effectively communicating without alienating negatively. Can you do it? I don’t think so… but, I’ve always been an optimist so perhaps there’s still hope for you. Hell, maybe another “how-to” resource is right around the corner that will be just what the doctor ordered to enlighten you?

You see, I really do give a shit…

Stay tuned-in…


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The “Common Sense” Defense

Sooooo often… sooooo unbelievably often… I hear some variation of the following statement while out training, teaching, or speaking:

“I already ‘know’ all of this stuff; it’s all just ‘common sense‘…”

Really? Give me a break… It’s a BIG, ballsy statement if you really think about it.

Someone is basically saying: “There’s nothing you have to offer here that I’ve not already learned, been exposed to, or already mastered. Your entire life, life experiences, and acquired education can offer me nothing new and useful to apply to my life because I ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING.”

Wow! Read it again and SAY it out loud this time; hear just how ridiculous this claim actually is…

CSD

By even making this assertion, you’re demonstrating the exact opposite of what you’re claiming. <Strike 1>. This supposed knowing indirectly asserts that the information is somehow less valuable because it’s “common” and therefore a commodity.

The BIG question you should be asking yourself: “Is this knowledge I claim to have evident in my actions?” If the answer is ‘No’ it doesn’t matter how much you ‘Know.’ It quickly becomes knowledge that is worth… less. Not worthless, just less valuable. <Strike 2>.

Knowledge is good. Acquire all you can. Learn, and then learn some more. Read and research ’til your heart’s content. But KNOW this: Knowing and doing are completely different. We all “know” lots of things. It doesn’t mean we consistently apply what we know. It’s not enough to know about something or to simply talk about something. We have to DO something and make things happen for the common to become uncommon. Recognizing this distinction and putting good knowledge into action to produce real, tangible results is rare.

Uncommon success in any area of life requires taking common sense on the road so-to-speak.

Those who are unable to bridge this knowledge-to-action gap (either because of oblivion or obstinance), are likely suffering from what I call the “Common Sense” Defense. This is a conscious and/or subconscious defense mechanism people use to manage their disappointment around their lack of progress or production in certain areas. This technique shields a person from the discomfort associated with facing themselves up-close-and-personal. This is so uncomfortable for many, that any method to avoid it will be employed. The most common tactic is to claim “common sense.”

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.” ~ Albert Einstein

Smoking is an obvious, yet powerful example. No one will argue that smoking is hazardous for the health of the human body. People die from it every day. We can call this common sense because everybody knows it. Yet millions still smoke despite this common knowledge. History proves that the most profound wisdom and universal truths are simple to understand, yet often difficult to implement.

If your supposed knowledge is not evident in your actions; if I cannot “see” it demonstrated in your behavior, then this “knowledge” you claim is compromised, therefore inconsequential.

the shiFt:

Instead of proclaiming what you supposedly “know,” start demonstrating it in what you DO, everyday, in every way. Of course what some call common sense, others call crazy. It becomes a matter of perspective based on one’s social, cultural and educational background.

Soooo, to all of the “know-it-alls” out there, keep reading, listening, and watching here, there, and everywhere because YOU are the ones who likely Need It Most… If not, <Strike 3>…

Stay tuned-in…


Please share and click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!


 

The Hard Way

the-hard-way-vertical

  • Pointing fingers and shirking responsibility.
  • Defensiveness.
  • Denial.
  • Avoidance.
  • Resisting change.
  • Being self-centered vs. selfless.
  • Taking vs. giving.
  • Telling vs. listening.
  • Condescension.
  • Intolerance.
  • Arrogance.
  • Insensitivity.

These are the paths of least resistance. The easier things to do. The most predictable ways to behave. The ways most choose to take. These are the easy ways…

Why? You already know. Because it’s less painful. It’s less work. It requires less effort. But the easy way only works for the short-term. And the long-term consequences are much more painful.

So common is the choice to avoid the hard way.

The hard way is the road less travelled. Those who have the courage to choose this way, lead the way and end up way ahead.

It’s a small population that most think they’re included in, but few actually are in reality. It’s a group that only those committed and capable of beating down their own self-deception and biases can truly be a part of. All are invited and welcome, but only a few elect to do the work necessary for inclusion.

It’s one of the most slippery slopes there is. Ask most about the “hard way” and you’ll usually get proud and puffed-up replies that strongly confirm that of course they’re part of this rare group. In many cases, the mere questioning of this will often be met with the aforementioned defensiveness and condescension which is evidence of the opposite.

Recently I sat across the table from a trusted female colleague who was telling me in her words “what was what” about me and some recent personal issues I chose to share with her. The leveling of my pride, and willingness to endure (yes, at times it required great endurance), the litany of hard truths she was sharing with me was anything but easy.

The difficulty wasn’t that I disagreed with what she was saying; the difficulty was my acceptance that she was right.

Much of what she was objectively sharing with me was spot-on. It was the truth, and at times, very hard to hear. But I chose to listen, and to truly consider her perspective and point-of-view. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what she said, and this experience continues to contribute positively to my life as I work at initiating changes in my behavior that influence better outcomes for me, and anyone I interact with in my life personally and professionally.

This is an example of the hard way. It was hard to sit there and listen to someone point out where you’re fucked up. It was hard to not get defensive or even offended at times. It was hard not to deflect responsibility. It was hard to entertain my blind spots (we all have them). It was hard not to deny, rationalize, and justify some of my behavior in an attempt to assuage the pain and make myself feel better. It was all hard… very hard.

The shiFt:

It’s this type of willingness to be challenged and to learn that’s vital to producing individual growth. Real growth often comes with pain and a price. It’s about seeking differences instead of only similarities. It’s got to be more than just lip-service, and sound bytes. As I’ve always told my son: “saying and doing are two completely different things.” A lot of well-intentioned people are quick to say the right things, and give good speeches, but quit when it comes to actually doing what they say.

Evidence is in one’s behavior, not their banter.

Stay tuned-in…