Leadership Training

Diving Into Conflict Resolution: How To Do It Well

Date: April 14th, 2015

Blog Post by: Michelle Adams

If I am in a conflict and introducing this method to people unfamiliar with it an explanation is needed, a kind of sales pitch that could go like this: “There are three ways we could solve the problem we are having with each other.

One way is for me to come up with a solution and then try to impose it on you whether you like it or not. A second way would be for you to try to impose a solution on me. Either way, someone gets imposed upon. Or, a third way might be that I could say ‘well, I don’t want to make a big deal out of this’ and hope the problem would just go away.’

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What Power Does to Relationships

Date: April 7th, 2015

Blog Posted by: Michelle Adams (from the writings of Dr. Thomas Gordon)

An impediment to satisfying, functional relationships is an organizational form so prevalent that without thought it has been accepted, adopted, implemented and defended even though other organizational structures might be far superior.

Where did it come from? Well, more than two millennia ago, Romans devised an organizational system based on a command and control hierarchy that nowadays we call the Pyramid. As Rome grew from a city-state to a far-flung empire it became increasingly unmanageable for the simple reason that it took days then weeks or months for messages to reach the outer territories and a similar time to return. The hierarchy also structured the government, including some people and excluding others, groups who changed from time to time as Caesars and other powerful rulers came and went.

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Hey Are You Really Listening or Just Hearing?

Date: March 30th, 2015

Blog Posted by:  Michelle Adams

We all need people who will listen, who will give us what Dr. Carl Rogers referred to as minimal evaluative feedback (or Reflective Listening) and what was later named as Active Listening by Dr. Richard Farson. I doubt there is anything one can do that will build high quality relationships more rapidly or maintain them as solidly.

The big problem is that experiences, feelings, even thoughts cannot be communicated directly. I might, for instance, be sad but I can’t transmit my experience of sadness to you no matter how desperately I want to. My experiences stay inside and so do yours and everyone else’s. Let’s let the circle below represent a person in an emotional state of equilibrium. In other words, this person is experiencing no strong feelings.

Good Relationships Book graphics 1

However, if the person is frightened the illustration would look like this:

Good Relationships Book graphics 2

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How to Win the Battle of Conflicts

Date: March 23rd, 2015

Blog Posted by:  Michelle Adams

One of the outcomes of good communication is the discovery that no matter how open and honest your relationship is, there are still conflicts. We tell people “Look, no matter what you do, how loving you are, how caring, how supportive, how absolutely wonderful your relationship, you’ll have conflicts.” To many people this is terrible news, and why not, given the long, bloody and inglorious history of conflict. The dictionary says conflict means fight; battle contend; to be antagonistic; incompatible, or contradictory; be in opposition; clash. There’s more and it’s equally depressing.

Rams Battle of Conflict at Work Relationships

All anyone has to do is watch the evening news to see the dictionary definitions of conflict in action. There is no shortage of antagonism and fighting. In Africa, in the Middle East, in the House of Representatives, on the soaps.

On the SOAPS?

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Four Helpful Tips for Becoming a Better Consultant

Date: March 16th, 2015

Blog Posted by:  Michelle Adams

There are some other things I can do that may increase my influence as consultant* (whether I am in a formal or informal consulting role). For example: there are thousands and thousands of people making a living, some quite a handsome living, by sharing expertise and knowledge with those who need it. They are called consultants and I sometimes do what they do with my client base: my spouse, friends, family, co-workers, etc. However, there are some rules of the consulting game that I must follow because if they are not followed, any influence I might have had can be lost.

How to Be a Better Consultant Leadership Leader Effectiveness Training

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Are You A Good Model?

Date: March 10th, 2015

Blog Posted by:  Michelle Adams

One of the most powerful teaching tools is modeling. One of the least effective is lecturing. If I really want to influence another’s values I can’t lecture, I have to live them. If I value promptness, then I must be on time. If I value hard work, I must work hard. If I value democracy, I must be democratic. Espousing a value and not practicing it is easily seen for the sham it is.

People tend to adopt the behaviors of those they admire and respect, not those who say do as I say, not as I do. Kids watch their parents, workers watch their bosses, friends copy each other’s positive acts, and through the years spousal values tend to become more and more alike.

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Do You Think Praising Is a Good Thing?

Date: March 4th, 2015

Blog posted by:  Michelle Adams

Praise is so ingrained in us, so much a part of social fabric that we seldom, if ever consider its risks. But it does have risks, as all Roadblocks do. People erroneously assume that everyone likes to be praised. Not so. People often feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by praise. Have you ever noticed the body language of people being praised? They may blush, hang their heads, scrape their feet, or squirm. Then they may deny or discount it. Sometimes people become suspicious of the person doing the praising, questioning his or her motives. “What does she want? What is he getting at? What kind of pitch is this?”

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This Ain’t McTraining—It’s Gonna Take Some Practice—But It’s Worth It

Date: February 24th, 2015

Blog posted by: Michelle Adams

Question:  How long does it take for people to learn and use the skills of listening and I-language? Are there any shortcuts?

Answer: We’ll use the famous non-answer answer:  it depends. It’s a matter of breaking habits, biting one’s tongue, stopping and starting over when you catch yourself repeating old patterns. I don’t know any shortcuts unless it would be checking your Leadership training learning stages skillsintentions as you go about your life. Knowing what you intend, it seems to me, pushes you in that direction. If you intend to understand what people say you may be able to transcend technique.  If you intend to take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings you’ll express them in I-language (read “I-Messages”).

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Life Skills You Really Ought to Have at Work

Date: February 18th, 2015

Blog Posted by: Michelle Adams (excerpted from Be Your Best)

Effective self-disclosure involves knowing what you value, need and want, appropriately telling others about your thoughts and feelings, and initiating action to get your needs met. You act assertively by communicating and acting honestly and directly in a way that does not violate the rights of others or block them from meeting their needs.

Assertive messages are referred to (in Gordon Model land) as l-Messages*. An I-Message is a communication which describes you. It expresses your feelings and experience, not your judgment, evaluation or interpretation of others.

An I-Message is authentic, honest, and congruent. It reflects the actual strength of your thoughts and feelings. It is clear, understandable, and to the point, not masked in indirect or vague language.

What we teach in our workshops, will help you develop your skill in communicating four types of I-Messages — each appropriate for a different purpose and context. These self-disclosing messages are:

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The Revolution of Human Relationships at Work

Date: February 10th, 2015

Blog posted by:  Michelle Adams (excerpted from the L.E.T. book by Dr. Thomas Gordon)

No person who has kept abreast of what is happening in organizations and institutions in our society can escape the conclusion that a revolution has started—a human relations revolution of great significance. People want to be treated with respect and with dignity; people are demanding to have a strong voice in their own working lives; people are less willing to be coerced and exploited; people want the right to achieve ­self-­respect in their work and have work that is meaningful and rewarding; people are rebelling against inhuman working environments in very human ways—by ­job-­hopping, absenteeism, apathetic attitudes, antagonism, and malicious mischief.

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On Loons and Leadership

Date: February 3rd, 2015

Blog Post by: Sheryl Wilde

A soft, swirling mist lingered over the lake. A gentle breeze whispered, only to me, its secrets from ages past. Then, I heard it – echoing eerily through the pre-dawn stillness – the long, mournful wail of a Great Northern Loon. It was a sound felt as much as heard. A sound my soul has never forgotten.

As a child, I spent a lot of time by myself exploring the shores of Blue Waters Lake in Minnesota. It was a more innocent time then, a time when a young girl could venture off on her own without the fears of today.

I often walked the narrow, rock-strewn path down to the lake to watch the sunrise. I loved to sit on the beach in the early morning hours and just listen to the sound of the world before mankind made its imprint on the new day.

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Who Should Be On Your Team?

Date: January 27th, 2015

Blog Posted by: Michelle Adams

If you are going to build a team and use it to help you manage and solve problems, it is important for you to decide who is to be on the team and, equally important, for them to know, too.

Often the answer is determined simply by the organizational chart—all those for whom you are directly responsible, your total work group.

Some leaders, however, have been assigned additional people who perform certain “staff” functions, as opposed to “line” functions—administrative assistants, H.R. directors, legal advisors, staff assistants.

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Addicted To Power: Why Bad Leadership Habits Are Hard To Break

Date: January 20th, 2015

Blog Post By: William D. Stinnett, Ph.D.

“Every time I go to my boss with a new idea, she interrupts me with a reason why it won’t work. She never hears the whole idea. Why bother?” Just about every member of this manager’s team relayed some version of the same story. When confronted with the feedback from her team members, she responded that she had heard the same complaint during her last feedback session and had tried really hard to change her behavior. “I don’t want to be that kind of boss. I want to listen to my team members. I want to hear their ideas. I know it is frustrating for them but it is frustrating for me too.” I believed her.

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What To Do When Emotions Run High

Date: January 12th, 2015

Blog Post by:  Dr. Thomas Gordon (from his L.E.T. textbook)

When conflicts arise in human relationships, emotions often reach a high level and angry feelings are exchanged. During this stage, no one is in the proper mood for constructive problem-solving; they’re too wrapped up in feeling and ca’t do the kind of thinking required for effective problem-solving. This is when Active Listening is very useful—helping people get ther feelings off their chest, paving the way for subsequent problem-solving.

article-new_ds-photo_getty_article_41_168_78428666_XS_dropshadowWhen people are angry or upset, they want it to be known—as if to say, “You must understand how very angry or upset I am before I’m willing to try to solve the problem that made me upset.” Often people want to punish: “Look how angry or upset you’ve made me! Now aren’t you sorry?” Still another reason why people ventilate strong feelings in a conflict is to scare the other person into meeting all their demands: “If I show enough anger and yell loud enough, maybe I’ll get what I want.” This is not unlike a child’s temper tantrum, and, as parents know full well, the best strategy is to wait for the feelings to dissipate.

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What Can You Win with the No Lose Method?

Date: January 5th, 2015

Blog post by:  Excerpted from L.E.T. book by Dr. Thomas Gordon

What ARE the Benefits of the No-Lose Method?

Understandably, leaders want to know the benefits of the No-Lose Method before they make the effort to learn how to use it effectively. At the outset, I must emphasize that this method involves trade-offs: while it is easy enough to conceptualize, it is not easy to acquire competence in applying this method; it often takes more time to apply than the two win-lose methods; and there are special problems leaders will encounter when they use it. I will deal with these problems shortly. What about the benefits of the No-Lose Method?

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  • Increased Commitment to Carry Out the Decision

Listening to The Sound of Silence

Date: December 16th, 2014

Blog post by: Sheryl Wilde

quiet silence listening active listening“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices
Never shared and no one dared…”

~From the Sound of Silence, by Simon and Garfunkel

Over the past few years, as I’ve cared for my aging parents in my home, I’ve learned a lot about listening. And here’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned:

Sometimes feelings run so deep, there are no words to describe them – and these are often the times we most desperately need to be heard.

One evening, not long ago, I received a call from a distant relative. They had called to tell me my father’s last living sister had died. His other sister had died less than a month before, and his only brother, his identical twin, had died several months before that.

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How Do Leaders Get Followers

Date: December 9th, 2014

Posted by: Michelle Adams, written by Dr. Thomas Gordon

1. To survive, every person is engaged in a continuous struggle to satisfy needs or relieve tension.

2. Some means is required to satisfy a need (tools, food, money, physical strength, knowledge, etc.).

3. Most needs of individuals are satisfied in relationships with people or groups, so people and groups become the means we rely on most heavily for the satisfaction of our needs. (We do not grow our own food, make our own clothes, get our education by ourselves, etc.).

4. People actively seek out those relationships in which the other person is seen as having the means for satisfying their needs.

5. People join groups, then, because they hope that membership will offer them the means for satisfying their needs.Conversely, they leave groups when they no longer get their needs satisfied.

(image source)

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Everything You Need to Know About Confrontive I-Messages

Date: November 17th, 2014

Blog post by: Michelle Adams

confrontation confrontive i message leadership skills

When sending Confrontive I-Messages*, you DO want to:

1. Tell the other person why they’re causing you a problem, not what they should do to solve it. Give them a chance to be a helper for you.

2. Practice getting in touch with your real feelings. (Yes, feelings. They’re there and they influence how you make decisions, so you might as well get to know them, right?) If your I-Messages are usually angry, you probably don’t know the real feelings you’re experiencing when you have a problem. Ask yourself, “What do I fear?” or “Why am I annoyed?” or “What’s going on with me?” because lots of times the behavior that you find unacceptable threatens the loss of something you need.

3. Try a second I-Message that is stronger when you’ve not been responded to or if the first I-Message doesn’t work.

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What Kind of Organization Do You Want?

Date: November 11th, 2014

Blog post by: Michelle Adams

In choosing a leadership style, leaders cannot avoid facing another issue: what kind of organizations are we to have in our society? Organizations, after all, are made up of people whose leadership style will determine the psychological climate of the total organization. Repressive leaders make repressive organizations.

What kind of leadership style is required so all members of the organization feel their needs are respected? It is inconsistent with the philosophy of leadership advocated in our leadership training program that an organization exists solely for the realization of the needs and goals of its leaders. So leaders must find ways to enlist the participation of group members in making decisions that will result in mutual need satisfaction of management and employees, leaders and group members.

Businesswoman Addressing Multi-Cultural Office Staff Meeting

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Improve Your Active Listening By Avoiding These Common Errors

Date: October 28th, 2014

Blog post by: Michelle Adams

conversation of two businesspeopleActive Listening was a term coined by Dr. Richard Farson—the concept of Active Listening was created by Dr. Carl Rogers and finally, it was popularized and brought into the main stream by Dr. Thomas Gordon.

What IS Active Listening? It is your verbal feedback to the sender of the message–of your understanding of what the sender said and how they felt about it, taking into account their non-verbal cues as well (body language, tone of voice, etc.). Period. Nothin’ else.

Okay, so here are the following eight mistakes that result from the listener’s failing to stay in touch with the sender’s feelings or the inability to keep the listener’s own feelings out of the listening process.


Sender: “I’m pretty upset with my neighbors about the weeds and junk in their yard.”

Here are the eight common listening faults (within two categories) to try and stay away from when Active Listening:

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