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Advice when you move to a new job

June 22nd, 2012 Kevin No comments

Coaching is a wonderful profession because our clients become friends.

Here is the advice I offer my friend on the way to a new job, in a new city. The person has been on the job a few days with mounting stress, concerns for not getting things right, and an awareness that failure is an option– preferably, an avoidable one! I have changed information to share this advice with a wider audience.

Perspective

Homework: please get out a dictionary, read the definition of “perspective,” and then write out five examples of how it can happen more at your office. I sense, I feel, and yearn to hear more about different perspectives in the current situation and the experiences you are facing.

Love

You have lots of love. In this instance, work love is different than romantic love. It means connecting, building rapport, earning trust, and being fair with coworkers and your boss despite the conditions. Love is really important for you in that office since the way you describe things so far, there may be a shortage of it; in other words, love may be a scarce/hidden/fleeting commodity. Your arrival means they just struck a rich vein. Spread the wealth, spread your love.

Let whatever happens be okay

That office has survived a long time without you. There is solace in that thought. You are there now and things will still work out. Remember, Rome did not get built in a 2 hour span, nor did it fall down that fast. As we discussed, since you are perfect for this job, the things that are happening sound just about right!

Your job description and its possible shift

It is unusual that the job description you were hired for shifts in the first week, usually the honeymoon period is at least two weeks these days. Oy. You told me they hired you for your experience in the job you had before graduate school. Focus in on that. By your description of the first few days, they may be expanding your role. If that is true go ahead and discuss the parameters of the change. You deserve to know what’s going on.

Bearing

From the sound of things happening in your first week on the job, you deserve to get your bearing. By this I mean check in with your toes and the balls of your feet. There is sound and solid ground in the new city you find yourself in, this I know. FEEL it. Smell the air, be in the moment. Love your job. Love your city. Good.

True or false narratives

You are a professional who offers clearly defined services. Other titles, with other service parameters including tattle tale or spy (your words not mine) seem far away from what your profession does. Feel free to drop any unhelpful narratives.

Being too nice

You mentioned a tendency to apologize for not understanding some of the new things you are learning right away. Instead of apologizing, take a long extended breath. Then review what happened and after that, thank your coworkers for their understanding of the newness of your work. Make your desire to succeed with them and for them clear to them.

Succeed

Success comes in so many colors. Each minute you are there in that office is success. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it. Success demands errorless learning. You are learning the ropes: it turns out some of them are slippery; some feel rough; and a few are quite frayed by your description of things. Success for your coworkers means that you help them. So go ahead and help them. All of them. That delivers group success. The few that cannot or will not be helped, give them up to a higher power. Help the ones that can handle help and be fair to everyone else.

Allies

Surely with that large an office you will find allies. You deserve them. So cultivate them. Friends come in many forms. Be slow, invite in relationship, and help them help you help them. Allies matter.

The First 90 Days

I attach a review of an excellent book for your situation called “The First 90 Days.” Go ahead and read it. Then apply what resonates with you.

Conclusion

I’ll summarize my advice with two words: PERSPECTIVE and BEARING. Get some! [They are like milk, and different]. You are perfect for this job and your new city is the exact right place for you to be in right now! Maybe this advice can help you along your journey in a new job, a new city, and give you new hope.

Peace, bearing, and perspective to you,

Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

www.knowledgeadvocate.com

Categories: Consulting, Thoughts Tags:

Inner speech, inner voice, and self talk: what do they all have in common?

August 27th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Before we get started, just what are inner speech, inner voice, and self talk?

These terms all refer to the same thing: that is, how we “talk” to ourselves within the privacy of our own heads. We use this kind of talk to script our stories, ask ourselves questions, answer things, and the like.

What do these terms have in common with one another?

Well, we don’t talk much about any of them. In fact, we hardly mention inner speech and inner voice at all.

What are you saying?

Well, when was the last time you told someone that you talk to yourself? Ever? Despite using inner speech daily, almost no one mentions it. We just don’t broadcast to others that we talk to ourselves.

I barely know I am doing it! Say some more?

Exactly, this talk happens so naturally that we barely know that we are doing it at all.

Do you have some examples of self talk?

Sure. We ask ourselves things like: “Will I get the promotion?” Or we say: “I am not good enough,” or maybe, “I am the best.” Or, we answer a question to ourselves: “Well at least it wasn’t my fault.”

When we think (or say) these things we are using inner speech/inner voice/self talk?

You bet.

I never ever talk about this talk; I don’t want people to think I’m a mental case, you know?

I don’t know, but I do know that our self talk is critical for our mental health. When our ability to talk to ourselves stops, that is when our ability to relate to life goes way down or worse, away, if it’s really bad.

You claim we need our inner speech to think and live in a healthy way?

That’s right. Google “Jill Bolte Taylor” and learn how a stroke knocked out her ability to talk to herself. With no inner speech she lost track of things and could not think well. Her book, My Stroke of Insight, is a brilliant exploration into how she survived her stroke and recovered her inner voice. Here is a great video about her story too: http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html.

Can you summarize the point of this post for me?

Yes: inner speech is critical to how we think. We deserve to become more aware of self talk and spend time improving how we do it. It makes good sense to talk well to our brains and to work hard to get better at it.

Any other suggestions… how should I talk to my brain?

That’s a long answer. I teach a course on commanding your inner speech. You learn to use inner speech to communicate with, manage, and lead your brain. Happy to tell you more about it.

How can I contact you?

Use this email: Innerspeech@KnowledgeAdvocate.com

Thank you for your attention,

Kevin Leahy

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Brain power, Consulting, People, Thoughts Tags:

Want better questions? Practice the “play the metaphor” exercise

July 28th, 2011 Kevin No comments

What’s this blog about?

The title refers to an exercise that will help you explore the metaphors that people use. The exercise encourages you to create questions that  “play” with the language and imagery of their metaphors.

I don’t understand; what do you mean?

An example might be best.

What’s your example?

A friend recently used the term “path” to represent some work in life she is doing.

Okay, so what happened next?

Here’s the gist of what happened next, in the form of the dialogue we had as I remember it:

Q: When you mention “path,” what do you mean?

A: You know, path. Like, a path I am on and moving forward on in my life.

Q: Okay, is there a place you are heading to on it?

A: Sort of… no, not really.

Q: Is there some distance you are traveling on the path?

A: No. It’s not that way.

Q: And it is a path?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Can you gesture for me what you mean?

A: Ummmm, yes; its, you know… a “path.” [Extended gesture with hands moving up in the air].

What gesture did she use to show you what “path” meant for her?

Good question! The gesture she use was two hands that start in a clapping position and then swoop up and out to the sky. I have use this gesture to mean “flowering” or “open,” not so much for “path.”

But she did, so that’s exactly what path meant to her at that time, right?

Exactly!

Did it mean something else?

Yes. She also realized it was referring to the outpouring from a deep well. So for her, it is both a path and a gushing well. Pretty exciting stuff.

So this is how we “play” with metaphors; we ask questions to better understand them?

Right.

That’s it?

Well, there’s lots more. Metaphors burst out of the right side of the brain for most of us, they can be hard to tease out, and people are not always ready to share them. Ask with care, kindness and love.

Anything else?

Yes; exploring the imagery and sounds and emotions of the metaphor will help. Tying the metaphor to current conditions is important too. Making sure the metaphor makes sense for the person is key.

Is that it?

No. Metaphors are critical since they frame our references and inform our lives. We live with and by them. To avoid another “anything else” question, I’ll simply list some resources for you to learn more:

George Lakoff, professor and author, read his books or catch videos of him on You Tube

Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers, by Gerald and Lindsay  Zaltman; a great book that extends beyond marketing stuff

David Grove, creator of the Clean Language concept, read his work on line

William Shakespeare, for example, “the world is a stage”

Jesus, parables are extended metaphors used to help teach, like the parable of the mustard seed

Maya Angelou, her poetry is genius, filled with heart, image, and haunting beauty, so is the metaphor she borrowed for her book titled: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Thank you… this is a great start.

You are welcome!

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Comments about metaphors? Let me know: Metaphorblog@knowledgeadvocate.com


Categories: Consulting, Questioning Tags:

Leadership tips

June 9th, 2011 Kevin No comments

Knowledge Advocate’s Top Ten Leadership Tips

#1: get a deck of index cards and write your favorite leadership hints on them. Review the deck weekly.

#2: adopt a leadership model and use it. Try out the model in the book, Primal Leadership. The authors present six types of leader. Well-balanced leaders rotate the type of leadership they use to fit the occasion.

#3: ask for help. Learn what help you seek by making your vision and needs clear first to yourself and then to those who are willing to follow you. They will help you far more when you clarify your needs and vision.

#4: know that all “reasoning” is argument. That means you, like most everyone else, will suffer from faulty reasoning from time to time. The remedy? Seek the wisdom of your crowd daily. We are smarter together.

#5: meet the needs of those who follow you. First, learn what their needs are by paying close attention and asking lots of questions. Then, meet those needs. Because expressing needs is hard work, help them do it.

#6: help people create new habits. New habits are the amazing and humane solution to constant change.

#7: help folks do things “no matter what it takes” by encouraging their true emotional commitment. Lead them to strong and sound emotional resolve. Trust, rapport, and confidence are good starters.

#8: each of us has an A-player inside. Changing people is hard work so change conditions instead. Change the environment and discover that the A-players you never dreamed of having are already there for you.

#9: from business chaos comes order. Nature teaches this truth. So when things get chaotic, accept the challenge and look hard to see the order. Use your big picture gifts. Own the moment and take charge.

#10: be generous. Offer continuous and uninterrupted energy of gratitude, appreciation, and thanks. Share these things directly and emotionally with those people who are kind enough to follow your lead.

Leadership is serious business. This is a solid list to reflect upon as you continue to honor your followers with your sincere effort, hard work, and clear vision. Help them help you.

Good luck!

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Consulting, Learning, People Tags:

Leaders and managers can meet different employee needs

June 6th, 2011 Kevin No comments

What’s this post about?

This post compares leaders versus managers. I key in on the different needs that each position fulfills. Leaders and managers deserve to meet employee needs differently because of the different roles they fill.

Why the focus on employee needs?

Needs drive behaviors. When we meet them, our behaviors work for us; when needs go unmet, our behaviors can work against us. Great leaders and managers must meet the needs demanded of them.

Are there differences between leaders and managers?

Yes.

What are they?

There are many ways to explain the differences, here’s one version:

Leaders vs.                              Managers

Show why                                   Answer how

Know what                                 Say when

Jump with passion                     Walk with intention

See the vision                             Hear the subtle differences

Smell the future                          Touch the today

How does this list relate to meeting employee needs?

Leading and managing are different. Each position can meet different employee needs too.

What employee needs can leaders meet that are different from the needs managers meet?

Leaders vs.                               Managers

Clarity                                          Well-being

Authority                                      Mastery

Purpose                                        Meaning

Confidence                                   Warmth

Belonging                                     Autonomy

Power                                           Growth

.                     and for both…

Security                                       Security

Recognition                                Recognition

Fun                                              Fun

Some of the needs listed are the same for leaders and managers; what’s up with that?

We all need security, recognition and fun. Leaders and managers that don’t get this are in big trouble.

You’re begging the question: shouldn’t leaders and managers meet all our needs?

Yes and no.

Say some more?

Consider the benefit of a confident leader versus a warm leader? Or a kind manager versus an authoritative manager? Sure one position can meet all of our needs at work, and that’s hard to do.

So I should focus on different needs leaders meet vs. the needs managers meet?

Exactly.

Then what do you want me to do with my focus?

At work today, meet the different needs of your employees depending on whether you are a leader or a manager. Figure out which needs you can meet due to your position… and go meet them.

Why should I meet the needs of my employees?

Simple: they will work better for you… here’s what happens to folks who get their needs met:

They have a better understanding of things and are okay with them;

The will forgive themselves for little foibles and big gaffs too;

They’ll get real real fast and be authentic, trusting, and trustworthy;

They will start to focus on solutions more than problems;

They’ll need less (as odd as that sounds filling needs reduces needs);

You will see them grow and develop faster;

They will be more enjoyable and they’ll enjoy more things too;

They will connect and relate better with their coworkers;

And as a bonus, you will get more creative and innovative employees.

That’s it, that’s the end of your post?

Yes.

Have fun,

Kevin Leahy, founder

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Categories: Consulting, People Tags:

A useful talk tool: redirecting in a conversation

April 23rd, 2011 Kevin No comments

Interruptions are natural, happen daily, and no one recommends them or teaches how to use them well.

What’s this post about?

It’s about redirecting, a nicer and more effective talk tool than interrupting. Redirecting helps us stay on point, or to move along, modify, amplify, or clarify things being said. Redirects are very valuable.

Why are you talking about redirecting?

A client requested I do so for a recent communication training. We called it interrupting at first. That word and sentiment is not very useful. With the client’s help we stumbled onto redirecting. Better sentiment!

What’s the sentiment behind redirecting?

The sentiment: work together towards a mutual end goal. A redirect can happen when we sense that another way to speak or think of something will be helpful. A generous intent behind the redirect is key.

And you think redirecting is better than interrupting?

Yes.

Examples?

There are two main forms, verbal and non-verbal. Verbal: “Oh…,” “Excuse me,” or “Hold a moment.” Non-verbal: hand raise, head pulled back, a quick look away, or quickly opening eyes wider.

Say some more, redirects seem to be a whole lot like interrupts to me?

You make a good point. However, think of interruptions with a much better intent, that’s a redirect.

Aren’t you just playing with words then, what’s the idea behind a redirect?

The idea is to kindly offer an abrupt change from the rhythm of the conversation. This is why redirects are hard. You may benefit from thinking of a tactic that can help you redirect things well.

Okay, what’s the tactic?

The tactic is a formula. Note that listening well is very important! Here’s the formula:

Step one: listen intently to what is being said and what is meant by it

Step two: redirect with a verbal or non-verbal cue (see above examples, there are many more)

Step three: repeat what the other person expresses (could be a concept, emotion, fact, etc.)

Step four: redirect to an end goal (clarifying, modifying, amplifying, moving on, to a mutual goal)

It seems like this is conversation bullying?

You may say that, which is what interrupting feels like to me. The difference: state of mind. If the goal is fair, the other person will expressly or by quiet consent realize the redirect makes good sense.

Does anyone do this well?

Yes. Good teachers do this, smart, heart-focused politicians do it, and friends we trust are good at it.

Your point is that we should consider redirecting more, instead of interrupting?

Exactly.

Give it a go, let me know how it goes: Redirecting@Knowledgeadvocate.com

Thank you!

Kevin Leahy

Categories: Consulting, People Tags:

The power of wondering and pondering in business

November 29th, 2010 Kevin No comments

Wonder and Ponder in Business Models

There are many models that describe how business works. There is the Deming cycle (plan, do, check, act); Lean; Agile; Benchmarking; Just in Time; Theory of Constraints; Total Quality Management; Six Sigma; Voice of Customer; the list continues.

Two verbs underlie all business models: wonder and ponder.

Wondering and pondering underlie all business cycles?

Yes. Our ability to wonder and ponder as we plan and act is critical for our business success. Improving our business efforts demands a comparison: wondering and pondering provide it.

Say some more?

One of the unique things that separates humans from other animals is our pre-frontal cortex. It’s that part that lets us wonder before we act and ponder as we act and after we act too.

Can you put wondering and pondering in the context of business models?

Sure. Most business models create a plan as the first step.

PLAN

The process of creating a plan deserves to be full of wonder, in a word, wonderful. Here are some wonder-full questions:

Where are we?

Where do we need to go?

How will we get there, with what, and when?

When and how will we check in on our progress?

How will we know we’ve arrived?

That’s planning. The next step in many models involves analyzing the pros and cons.

ANALYZE

The act of analyzing prevents failure and promotes success. This step deserves to be “ponderful,” or full of ponder. Here are a few ponder-full questions:

What benefits will the plan provide?

What outcomes will it deliver?

Have similar plans been successful?

Have similar plans failed?

What are the plan’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities?

What assumptions have we made?

After planning and analyzing, most business models encourage that we take action.

ACT

As we take action our efforts benefit from an intact sense of wonder and willingness to ponder. We keep track of what is happening and what to make of it. Here are a few questions:

What’s happening right now?

What affect does it have?

What’s working?

What needs to stop?

What questions go unanswered?

What must get answered as we go on?

What results are we getting?

What do they mean?

After we take action, we leave room for feedback and follow up. There are many different terms for this stage, although “review” works as well as most of them.

REVIEW

During the review stage we ask questions filled with wonder to help our team imagine how we can refine efforts and make success happen. Here are a few wonder-full review questions:

How will we compile the results we have so far?

What are our learning points?

What will we reframe or reappraise?

What stays the same?

What has caused uncertainty?

What obstacles showed up?

How can we manage things better?

Who else needs to be involved?

What will benefit from further consideration?

What can we use to benchmark our performance?

What new targets are obtainable; which ones are a stretch?

After the review period, most business models have one final step: improve efforts!

IMPROVE

To improve we must bring all the power of pondering into focus. We can benchmark our progress and consider what we need to change. Here are some questions:

What is our standard for performance?

What are we comparing our level of performance with or to?

What room for improvement stands out?

What training will improve our results?

What knowledge needs to flow better?

What management steps will lead to further success?

Where can we loosen control to increase efficiencies?

What new definitions and rules will help existing processes?

What new processes will work better?

Is the structure we have chosen working well?

BENEFITS

The good news is that organized business models bring solid benefits. Here are a few of them:

get team members on the same page;

focus on the customer;

improve efficiencies;

save time and money;

avoid reinventing things;

access out-of-the-box thinking;

make change an active part of the business cycle;

stretch and modify goals;

honor the roll of urgency in successful business outcomes.

Whichever business model you use, wonder and ponder how it works for you!

Categories: Consulting, Questioning Tags:

Why teams fail.

October 27th, 2010 Kevin No comments

What is this post about?

This post is about how to make teams succeed. One way to benchmark your team’s success is by clearly knowing what to avoid. So the question is, why do teams fail?

You know why teams fail.

There are ten solid reasons:

1. no clear purpose;

2. lack of trust (in self, purpose, team, organization, etc.)

3. failure to get buy-in (or worse, disengaged workers ready to sabotage efforts);

4. leadership in doubt (not clear, inability to decide, too democratic, or too new);

5. unclear roles and responsibilities (or worse, infighting for power positions);

6. lack of follow up and accountability;

7. conflicting instructions (or worse, changing requirements);

8. weak support from the sponsor;

9. failure to connect to each person’s “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM);

10. uncertain deliverables.

That’s it. Those are 10 reasons why teams fail.

So how do I make my team succeed?

Teams succeed that monitor and conscientiously avoid the ten reasons for failure. They:

Have a clear purpose;

Build trust;

Earn buy-in;

Clarify who is in charge;

Know what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are;

Follow up with everyone and hold them accountable;

Use clear instructions;

Get strong support from their sponsor;

connect with everyone’s WIIFM; and

Deliver as promised.

Next time you want a great team effort review the 10 reasons teams fail and don’t do that.

Categories: Consulting, People Tags:

Need solutions? Create new habits.

October 12th, 2010 Kevin No comments

If you keep doing what you’re doing what will you keep getting?

More of the same.

If you try something new, then what can happen?

Then there is a good chance something new will happen.

Isn’t it hard to change what you’ve been doing?

Sure it is.

And that’s because old habits are hard to change?

Absolutely.

What about the new habits, are they hard to make?

No, not really. New habits are fun to start if you have a reason for them.

So if you want something new to happen, just create a new habit for it?

Yes, as long as you have a reason for the new habit that makes sense.

Hey: what’s the point of this post, anyway?

It turns out that to get new things to happen we often must change what we have been doing. That means we usually will have to move on from the old habits that helped us get things to happen in the first place. In other words, we have to move on from the old habits to get the new things to happen, and usually, that will take a lot of energy.

Is that because moving on from old habits is real hard?

Exactly. So, instead of focusing on the old habit and stopping it or moving away from it, do something else instead.

Okay smarty pants, what do you suggest?

I suggest creating a new habit that will help you get the new thing you want. For example, start a new habit that will become a solution to an existing problem you have. Because your problem arose due in part to your old habits, a solution for that problem will require some new things, including new habits.

Are you suggesting I create new habits to solve existing problems?

Exactly. Go ahead and create new habits to solve your old problems. That way, you’ll have no need to get rid of the old habits that got you into the problem in the first place. Simply move on from the old habits and the problems they caused by focusing more of your attention on the new habit instead.

That’s it?

Yes, that’s all there is to it. Let me know how it goes.

Categories: Brain power, Consulting Tags:

What trial law teaches a communications consultant

May 11th, 2010 Kevin No comments

I left my law firm this month after ten years. The process of saying goodbye has been harder on me than I had imagined. Here are some musings about my path from law to business.

What’s different about trial work and business consulting?

The difference between law and business? Not much, in terms of outcome. Litigators use communication skills to discover, uncover, filter and focus. Those verbs help process what people have to say when stories conflict. In court, witnesses share facts and opinions. That’s evidence that helps juries right wrongs. The best lawyers help juries see, hear and feel the story that makes the most sense for them. Juries then act on that knowing to make the hard decisions that end lawsuits.

So, what’s the same about law and business communication skills?

Like business consultants, trial lawyers are facilitators and moderators. They have one basic job: help decision makers make the right decisions by making sure the flow of information is clear and compelling. When trial lawyers manage that flow well, they drive smart decisions. Lawyers unclog the flow, improve it, and condense it down so that the jury can decide things with the right evidence in mind.

Juries and leaders all make better decisions when the right evidence appears at the right time. They all benefit from access to a free flow of relevant information. Finally, great outcomes happen when the information flow is swift and smart because that’s when the best choices become obvious, even under hard conditions.

So, what has trial law taught you about communications consulting?

This post offers some personal reflections about the practice of law as I consider my transformation from trial work to business consulting. I hope the post offers you some helpful insights that can aid your own journey. Below are five key learnings, my top take-aways from law as I head further into the field of communications work. I hope these learnings trigger some useful thoughts for you.

1) It’s all about the story

Great litigators tell stories and stories win lawsuits. Litigators rely on three basic elements of great story telling: hooks; headlines; and burning questions. They set those out in themes, introduce actors, define settings, and keep things moving along without giving away too much at one time.

Juries want to know how to help and need the context for doing so. Stories let juries learn better because they connect past experiences to the current facts of the case. Juries tend to see things in the story like they’ve seen things in the past (visual learners), or heard (auditory learners), or felt (kinesthetic learners). How juries learn helps them know from “inside out” what really happened to cause the lawsuit.

Business can miss story lines, neglect engaging hooks, and get off track from burning questions in the pursuit of ROI, quarterly returns, and office politics. Business benefits from powerful stories that, when told, drive smart outcomes based on filling in the story line. Business fills the story in with evidence that proves which next steps make the most sense and why. Well told stories frame the stout proof that delivers business success.

2) Edges of knowledge are as important as the centers

I learned a painful lesson in law school over a footnote. The footnote was hidden deep inside a judge’s opinion so I missed it. That one footnote made all the difference in the opinion’s outcome. That day my reading style changed and so did my daily fact gathering, including how I question others.

Everything matters until we know better. Because that’s true, lawyers tend to leave few stones unturned, few footnotes unread, and few talks undiscovered. That’s not always so in business. Leaders can say, “Don’t tell me what I need to know, tell me what I want to hear!” Tell it to me in 60 seconds, they say, give me the top three bullet points.

It would be nice to get things done without having to hear and see the important stuff. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. Bullet points and elevator pitches can neglect small, really important facts. Law taught me to explore the deepest areas of what we know at the edges of our knowledge. Business can benefit from this lesson too. No surprise to me: solutions often live near the outer limits of what we know.

3) Question more, answer less

The number one tool of trial lawyers is the question. With it, they can understand what witnesses say on direct examination and cross. Questions also help them pick jurors during jury selection, frame issues during opening statements, and clear things up during closing statements.

Questions are so powerful, in fact, that the law restricts their use with lots of rules. Those rules let adversary lawyers object to questions as they desperately emote and seek to confuse the questioner. Sometimes the judge sustains the objection and rejects the question. This process can be humiliating the first couple of times you experience it!

That’s why trial lawyers get great at asking tough questions. Practice makes perfect and lawyers ask folks a lot of questions under terrible conditions. Where else does another professional get paid to interrupt the questions and needle the questioner about language form and content? And another thing, the adversary lawyer also “prepares the witness in advance.” This is lawyer code for creating a deviously unhelpful witness whose practiced answers do nothing for the other side’s case.

By contrast, when folks are not obstructed and interrupted, questions help the flow of information move fast to get things said with best choices in mind. Questions serve another purpose too, they make things stick. That’s because folks who answer for themselves own those answers and adopt them faster then when the same things are told to them without their independent consideration. Law teaches that when it comes to conversation choice: ask don’t tell.

4) Match word choice and body language for one complete message

Trial work is performance art. As a young lawyer, my mentors instructed me to stop fumbling with my notes, calm my expressions down, and look presentable. “We’ve got the ‘looking good defense’ going,” my law partner would point out. Most lawyers don’t study body language; they do, however, practice it and get better at it through trial and error.

The outcome of matching words with body language is powerful because it forms a complete message that is more authentic. That type of message influences others without the extra noise of mixed-messages. Business works better when it combines body language with word choice to form one authentic, complete message. The best communicators combine non-verbal cues with their words to form one message.

5) Knowledge is a flow and a place; it’s more flow than place

When I would return from a bad day at trial I would sometimes feel like everything was lost. Bad evidence came in, an argument failed, or some other calamity struck. Here’s the good news: one bad day, one unfortunate “place” of knowledge, almost never completely sways the flow of knowledge on its path to the logical outcome.

We win or lose over a period of time because of the power or weakness of the flow of information, not because of any one bad day. Great litigators know that it’s better to honor the flow even when it takes unsuspecting turns. The best at business also respect the information flow and treat knowledge more as a flow than a place. With practice and patience the flow of information will always drive the best available outcomes.

Next steps for my work

I conclude this post with a pledge. I commit to continue my path toward better communication through training and practice. I will devote massive energy and resources to improve the flow of information in the hallways and conference rooms of our businesses. Technology, science, and new understandings frame our opportunities and light our path in new and unsuspecting ways. We are in exciting times and I am honored to be part of the new knowledge advocacy. I will continue to heartily advocate for the flow of knowledge that surrounds us all.

Lastly, a thank you.

I end with a special offer of thanks to all the friends and colleagues who have been here for me and who join with me along this exploration of knowledge as a flow. Their companionship continues to be invaluable during this period of transition. They are my wellspring of creativity and the source from which my own energy renews. I thank them for their aid, assistance, and friendship.