Good Interpersonal Communication – Without It You Can’t Be Successful at Home or at Work

In reviewing my Blogs, I noticed that my post on Communication remains the most read, by a large margin, of all my Blogs.  It has been read in over 90 countries.

Here it is again for those who haven’t seen it or for those who might enjoy reading it again!  I hope these ideas lead to a happier, more fulfilling environment in your homes and workplaces and to much greater, more sustainable success!

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CommunicationTwo major life events have consumed and defined my year 2014: completion of The DNA of the Resilient Organization and the passing of my father, Robert Joseph Van Handel. They are surely the heaviest impact events of my life. In working on both areas today, I was hit by the realization that the most important factor in achieving success in both our personal and work lives is Communication.

How many people, in realizing that they are coming to the end of their lives, contemplate the relationships that could have been more fruitful and more joyous if they had taken more steps to improve Communication? Most, if not all, I am sure. My Dad certainly did. As his eldest and the one closest to him geographically and emotionally in both early and late years, I was privileged to hear and to understand that about him. He had great regrets.

As the confidante of hundreds of leaders and observer of their companies, I can attest to the heavy impact and needless damage caused by insufficient and ineffective communication among leaders and with their troops. Most leaders don’t see the cause of their internal problems as inadequate communication.

In The DNA of the Resilient Organization, I describe the Barriers to Successful Change. They are ALL related to ineffective communication.

1. People aren’t listened to (or perceive they aren’t).
2. People from diverse levels and related groups aren’t sufficiently involved in planning.
3. People don’t trust one another – because leaders don’t sufficiently exercise or promote open communication and sharing.
4. People are afraid of failure because penalties for failing are greater than the rewards for taking risk.

Those same barriers get in the way of good family relationships and lead to unresolved family differences, jealousies, and walls between one another. The greatest loss from lack of interpersonal, proactive (even occasionally confrontational) communication in both our home and work lives is the inability to build environments of joy. Effective communication leads to a happier, more fulfilling environment in homes and in workplaces.

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Gratitude and Uniqueness!

2015 was a phenomenal year for me, a year of life accomplishments and awards.  When a year like this occurs, what does it mean and how do we respond? I believe it is important to share our journey with the people we touch. We can inspire them to greater hope and faith whatever their current situation may be. Rewards for hard work and faith do come if we focus on goals and on our greater purpose.

Big Events of 2015:

  1. Teaching second year graduate students at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management was one of the most joyful, gratifying experiences of my life. The students were wonderful and the work was a stimulating challenge.

LY SS5882 Will Classroom 1The semester of teaching was also one of the most all-consuming, relentless-focus experiences of my life! 

The experience-based, exercise-focused course was based partially on my book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization and  also  on the other books which were significant inspirations for my work over the last 25 years:  The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge; A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink; Diagnostic Interviewing, John Quay; The Art of War, Sun Tsu; and Absolute Honesty, Larry Johnson and Bob Phillips

One student summarized the course with a central sentence from the book: “Successfully and sustainably accomplishing organizational change is simple – build both Ability and Desire at the same time.” The University said that my unique accomplishment with the book was that it linked two disciplines: Organization Development and Risk Management.

  1. My second major event of 2015 was a huge surprise. My 2003 article, “How to Effectively Implement Change”, was chosen by the Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance as one of the “Top Articles of All-Time” in their 30 years of publishing.  The Journal featured the article again in their “Best of” May/June 2015 Edition – #1 on the cover.

JCAF May-June 2015 Cover

The JCAF is a juried professional publication, available by subscription only. Selection of the best articles was by their Editorial Board of leaders representing national corporations, universities and libraries.

Selection of my article was based on two criteria: 1) Enduring usefulness and 2) Most accessed online.

 3. award_bigThe third 2015 honor/accomplishment was receiving the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco award: “The Ray Dezember Award for Epitomizing the Meaning of the Fed Family.” This was especially meaningful because Ray Dezember was a friend and director of the Federal Reserve Bank from Bakersfield,  the honor was given at the annual “Fed Family” meeting in San Francisco, and it was a big surprise!

 Now What?

So, my question was, what do I do with phenomenal gifts like these? How can I thank God for these incredibly wonderful events that happened all within one year?  I know the answer should be “Share” but the follow-on question is “How”?

The answer came recently with an invitation received only 10 hours before an Oregon Christian Chamber of Commerce event. I immediately accepted, partially because of the topic: Passion Drives Business: Inspiring Employees and Fostering Consumer Loyalty.

The speaker was Justine Haigh, Director of the Fulltime MBA program at George Fox University and Professor of Marketing. In her presentation I heard the answer to my question, “How?”

Justine’s message was that we can thank God and simultaneously achieve greater success and fulfillment for ourselves, our people, and our organization by sharing our unique gifts. We frequently find our uniqueness after periods of great trial, times when we are “crippled” in some way by devastating events: financial, family tragedy, debilitating illness or injury.

To use Justine’s words, really tough times “turn us inside out.” We then have two possible reactions: 1) Give up and retreat or, as Winston Churchill said, we can 2) “Never, never, ever, ever, ever give up”. We can keep going, step by step, and use the devastation to find our unique strengths and gifts. As that occurs, we build great personal passion which can inspire all those around us and lead to success we never imagined in directions we could never have anticipated.

Justine gave many examples of people who have done just that, very publicly. Here are a few:

These people found their uniqueness and took their organizations to new heights as a result of challenging life events.  They gained personal strength in tough times and developed their own unique direction, which resulted in great success for themselves and their organizations.

“Happiness is not about self-gratification.  It is about finding purpose.” — Helen Keller

“Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.  Don’t let others be your voice.” — Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech at Stanford University

“We need to develop an authentic corporate cause.” Mohan Nair

“We need to expand from our organization ‘Mission’ to develop our ‘Cause’.” Justine Haigh 

I certainly have found that an attitude of Gratitude and Hope, especially when going through tough times, will guide you to your unique self. Utilizing your unique gifts for greater good is the best way to thank God, to become more resilient, and to achieve true Joy.