This Is Really Awkward For Me (WT685)

This Is Really Awkward For Me (WT685)


WT 685 This is Really Awkward for Me

I’m sure at one time or another you’ve had THAT conversation with someone; a conversation that you’d rather not have. A conversation where you have to confront someone.

It could be at home with your personal relationships or at work or with your sporting team etc.

The truth is that most people would prefer not to have the conversation and many actively avoid it. However, if you avoid it, it only tends to get worse.

When I’m coaching my clients, many find that even when they resolve to have the conversation, they don’t know how to start it.

So this week, we’re going to talk about a concept called “Inoculation”, which I learned from Jennifer Elliot, creator of the Integrity and Values profile.

Inoculation as a concept for communication skills is the same as what most of us went through with getting vaccinated for Covid.

By being given a little of the virus, the aim is to lessen the effect for people who might get it and prevent as many as possible from getting sick.

When we have to have THAT conversation, we start by “inoculating” the other person so that they do not feel ambushed or blindsided.

We might start by saying something like, “This is really awkward for me. I feel uncomfortable having to have this conversation”.

This helps the initiator of the conversation to acknowledge how they feel so they can go on and also helps the person receiving the feedback to get ready for what’s about to come.

From there the feedback can be given, e.g. “It has come to my attention that one of our customers has not been invoiced for the past three months for work completed. Can you help me understand how this happened please?”

The next thing to do is to active listen the response.

The conversation can develop from there.

Inoculation gets you started. It sets the tone for how the conversation will go and reduces the potential for an argument.

Next time you have to have THAT conversation with someone, please inoculate them. You’ll find you’ll most likely get a better outcome as well as maintain a better relationship.

P.S. Our next Loyal Lieutenant masterclass series is starting in September.  Check it out here

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Are You Shirleying Me? (WT676)

Are You Shirleying Me? (WT676)


WT 676 Are you Shirleying me?

Thirteen years Lucky!

Today we celebrate 13 years of Weekly Thoughts.

I can hardly believe it myself. Cancel Cancel that negative thought.

I am so proud to say I have not missed one week in all that time and today is no exception, so here’s your thought.

I was coaching this week with a client, we’ll call him Jack, who was explaining how he did his best to reassure one of his employees that everything would be alright. The business is undergoing some changes. The client is a Coach personality and the catch phrase of the Coach is “we’ll figure it out”.

The employee is a Counsellor type personality and that phrase does not reassure them. The Counsellor wants certainty. The Counsellor wants a plan. The Counsellor wants to know it has been figured out before taking action NOT taking action and figuring it out.

I listened to Jack and when he had finished describing the situation, I reminded him that even though his intention was pure, telling a Counsellor type personality that they’d figure it out was actually a roadblock. It stops the conversation.

It didn’t come as any surprise to me that their conversation ended up with the Counsellor walking off, leaving the situation unresolved.

Fortunately, both Jack and the employee have completed my Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience, so I reminded Jack of the skill of active listening.

Jack’s eyes widened as he got the Aha. “Yes, of course. OMG! Right, active listening. I’m going back to work and I’m going to active listen”.


So we practised to refresh his skills.

A few hours later I received a text message. “Employee to Jack, ‘Are You Shirleying me here?’ Thanks. Appreciate you.”

That little text message made me so happy. It brought tears to my eyes. It’s the reason I do what I do. I want you to be able to listen to each other; to really hear and understand each other and to be able to demonstrate that to each other. I want you to be able to get what you want and to have deep meaningful relationships and conversations with each other.

My belief is that there is nothing that can’t be cleared up in conversation. It just takes you to be willing to have the conversation; to revisit the conversation and to listen; really listen to understand what’s going on for the other.

We’re all different personalities so it also helps to understand that too, both for your personality type and the other.

If you’d like to learn or improve your skills, the next Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience starts in August. Early bird discount ends 30th June. Click here for more information

I’d love for you and your team to be able to recognise and appreciate when you’re being “Shirley’d”.

And to celebrate 13 years of a weekly dose of inspiration, education and support, I am giving away a spot in our next Loyal Lieutenant Masterclass Series. Retailing at $1997, it’s a 9 week online course led by me where I teach you my methodology for streamlining operations and you practise and we debrief your work so that you are getting it done during the course.

If this is of interest to you, all you need to do is reply to this email and answer the question, “What do you get out of reading the Weekly Thoughts each week?”

The winner will be announced next week.

Thank you sooooooo much for being part of my community. I am so grateful to you because without you, there would be no-one to write for.

P.P. S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to

P.S. Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience starts Thursday 3rd August. Save $1,000. Early bird discount ends 30th June. Thursdays, 3rd, 17th, 24th and 31st August. Find out more here

Me Too Is A Roadblock (WT672)

Me Too Is A Roadblock (WT672)


WT 672 Me too, is a roadblock

Ever have one of those conversations where you regret not listening more?

That happened to me this week.

I was on a call with a colleague and I asked how she was.

“I’m feeling quite overwhelmed today”, she said with a sigh.

“Oh, tell me about it”, I jumped in. “Me too.”

The conversation moved on to other topics.

We hung up.

I heard this voice in my head, “Me too is a roadblock.”

O.M.G. I then spent the rest of the day belting myself up for not doing the one thing I am supposed to be good at and that I teach and that is, active listen.

Without thinking I used a roadblock.

A roadblock stops the flow of conversation.

It doesn’t help anyone.

It doesn’t help the relationship either.

According to Gordon International Training, there are 12 different types of roadblocks.

“Me too” could be classed as “Reassuring or Sympathising” which is one of the 12.

It’s important to understand that sympathising, praising, agreeing, changing topics etc. whilst we mean well, are not helpful when people are experiencing challenges and what they need is someone to listen to them.

One of the best things I learned when I did my Lifeline Telephone Counselling training was that the person with the problem is the best person to solve it because they know all the reasons why your solution won’t work.

Please use today’s thought as a reminder to listen more; to be present and give your attention to others.

Saying “Me too” is a roadblock.

P.S. Our next Loyal Lieutenant Masterclass Series starts on Thursday 1st June. Reply to this email if you’d like more information or to register your interest. It’s conducted online for 90 mins each week and is practical and experiential. At the end of the 9 weeks you’ll have created a workflow for your business, a special type of job description to make it easy to supervise and drafted well written procedures. If you, your section or business needs streamlining and improving efficiency and productivity, this is the course for you.

P.P. S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to

You Don’t Need To Say That (WT666)

You Don’t Need To Say That (WT666)


WT 666 You don't need to say that

Have you ever noticed that the words we choose and how we say things can have a remarkable effect on others?

I was just typing an email to a client and I started to type, “I called you yesterday and left a message”.

As soon as I typed it, I realised, I don’t need to say that.

The effect of saying that could make the receiver feel bad. She might feel guilty because she didn’t call me back. She might feel annoyed and frustrated because I reminded her that she didn’t do something. She might be angry with me for being passive aggressive and making her wrong.

By typing that, I ran the risk of harming the relationship.

The other thing to note is that including those words and especially starting with them, was not necessary.

Start with something positive. Start with something uplifting.

John Maxwell talks about what he calls “The 30 Second Rule”.  In the first 30 seconds of coming into contact with someone, find something to appreciate about them or to compliment them. Of course, it must be genuine.

When you do this, you make people feel good and if they feel good around you, they are more likely to want to hang out with you and help you.

So, back to the email.

Backspace, backspace, backspace. I coached myself. “You don’t need to say that”.

Instead, I wrote, “Hey Mary, I hear you’re doing great things in your new role”, (which is true), then I went on to write the message to let her know about the next Loyal Lieutenant’s class and how her boss has approved her to do it, if she’d like to join in.

I don’t always get it right however, I constantly assess my words, especially in written communication because I have the opportunity to think about the potential effect of what I write on the other person.

How about you?

Do you think about your words and your communication and how it may land for the other person or do you simply blurt things out and then find yourself having to clean up?

Far better to check yourself in the first place.

There are many situations where we don’t need to say that.

P.S. Our next Leading Yourself and Leading Others experience starts Wednesday 10th May in Newcastle. Early Bird Discount ends 10th April, saving $1000. If you’re looking for leadership skills and personal growth and development, then this is the experience for you. It’s practical. No academic assignments. What you learn will last a lifetime and can be used in all situations with all people. For more info go to

P.P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to

The Goldilocks Zone (WT665)

The Goldilocks Zone (WT665)


WT 665 The Goldilocks Zone

I love it when my peeps embody what they have learned.

By embody, I mean they live it; they act it as opposed to having what we call “propositional” knowledge, where we think we “know” something but aren’t yet doing it. They actually do something with the knowledge.

For the sake of privacy, we’ll use the names Jim and Jane.

Jim and Jane work together. Both are leaders and managers.

Jim is an Advisor personality. Jim is a great risk mitigator because he considers all the information and ramifications of different scenarios.

He needs to research and think about things before making a decision.

The root meaning of decide is to “cut off all options”. It’s not until we move or take action that we have actually decided, so Jim can be a little slow to act.

Jane on the other hand is right on the line between Driver and Coach personality. In the REACH profiling system, Drivers and Coaches are on the action side of the matrix.

Jane wants action. “Come on, let’s go. What’s the hold up?”

Their basic differences in personality, which remember, is simply a habit of how we think, feel and act, can cause frustration between them.

One pushes, one pushes back.

Here’s the gold – pardon the pun.

Jim, being aware of his personality style sought Jane’s assistance to help keep him accountable and get into action.

Jim calls it “The Goldilocks Zone”. I love it. He said, “Working together with Jane should produce the sweet spot, in other words the happy medium between Jane pushing too much and me not taking action quick enough.”

Oh, music to my ears.

Someone who gets it.

Someone who embraces the learning.

Someone who can see how different personalities can actually work together for greater results.

We call this “synergy”, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Thank you Jim, for sharing this insight.

Now it’s your turn.

What’s your personality type?

What are the personality types that press your buttons and how can you find a way to use the differences to help you achieve better results?

Let me know. I’d love to see how you are embodying the knowledge you have.

P.S. Our next Loyal Lieutenant Masterclass Series starts next week, Thursday 30th March 9:30am-11:00am. For more information or to enrol go to

P.P.S. Our next Leading Yourself and Leading Others experience starts Wednesday 10th May in Newcastle. Early Bird Discount ends 10th April, saving $1000. If you’re looking for leadership skills and personal growth and development, then this is the experience for you. It’s practical. No academic assignments. What you learn will last a lifetime and can be used in all situations with all people. For more info go to

P.P.P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to

How It Lands (WT660)

How It Lands (WT660)


WT 660 How It Lands

How often do you give feedback to someone about something you’re not happy with and end up in a big argument?

Until I learned some amazingly simple communication skills, that’s what used to happen to me.

Not backward in coming forward, I often expressed how I felt.

Nothing wrong with that and in fact, we encourage you to share how you’re feeling and what’s going on.

What was wrong with it was the way I expressed it; the language I used and we’re not necessarily talking about swearing.

“Why didn’t you put the butter back in the fridge?”

“You did a terrible job of typing that document.”

“Great job! Woohoo, well done, NOT.”

You can imagine that being on the end of remarks like this wouldn’t make you feel good.

In fact, you’d probably feel resentful and possibly even look for an opportunity to take revenge in some form or other.

If you choose your words carefully when giving negative feedback, your message will “land” better for the other person.

They will be more likely to hear what you have to say and make any changes.

For example, “I didn’t see the homework in my inbox” versus “You haven’t submitted your homework”.

“I’d really appreciate it if you could put the butter back in the fridge when you’ve finished with it please.”

“I have a number of comments and changes to make to the document please.”

“I think we can improve on how we do this. Let’s work together to streamline the process and make it more accurate.”

Did you notice that all four examples above started with “I”?

We call these I-Messages or I-Statements.

With I-Messages we take responsibility for the message. We are sharing how it is for us so others cannot argue that what we’re saying isn’t right. They might not like hearing the feedback, however they can’t dispute that’s what you think or how you feel.

In our Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience we spend a couple of days learning how to communicate better; learning how to word things so the feedback lands better for the recipient.

There’s a saying that “People react to the manner rather than the message” reminding us not to yell and scream and be overly dramatic, however people do also react to the words you use.

Next time you have some negative feedback to give someone, think about how your words will land.

Have a go at using an I-Message and describing the situation without looking to blame or make up a story about what you think happened and why.

And on “why”. Don’t use that word if you want to gain more information from someone.

For many, the word “why” feels like a judgement or an interrogation.

“Why didn’t you leave earlier than that?”

The implied meaning is that “I should have left earlier. I am wrong. I am bad. I am in trouble.”

This language can cause us to become defensive and hostile.

Even if you are annoyed that you have been kept waiting, you can assert yourself using language that will be more easily received, e.g. “I was expecting you to leave at 9:00am to arrive at my place at 9:30am this morning. I’m curious as to what happened causing the delay.” 

Give it a go. Change your language and see how it lands.

The last thing you want is a crash landing.

Let me know how you go.

P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to

P.P.S. Claim the date. Our next Loyal Lieutenant Masterclass Series starts Thursday 30th March 9:30am Sydney time for 9 weeks. Hands on training, creating and streamlining systems and processes for your team and organisation.

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