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Brief and Factual: How to Approach a Difficult Exchange

Brief and Factual: How to Approach a Difficult Exchange

Suraj and I broadcast a podcast on Difficult Conversations a few days ago and we asked participants for ideas on best practices. “Focus on the problem” was suggested and the person who’d suggested this explained: when confronting someone , talk about the issue and...

Leading Difficult Conversations with Adjusted Intentions

Leading Difficult Conversations with Adjusted Intentions

My customer brings up supply chain issues again, just as they did last meeting and the one before, and for as long as I can remember now. As usual, this is done just when I’m getting to topics that are important to me and the question is accompanied by an agonized,...

Reconciling Difficult Exchanges: Taming the Troll

Reconciling Difficult Exchanges: Taming the Troll

If a conversation is a bridge and a particularly difficult part of that conversation a troll, then what does the troll represent? It is certainly NOT the person I am dealing with. Imagining my boss, my colleague, my customer or anyone else as a troll may be tempting...

Difficult Conversations: Bridges with Trolls

Difficult Conversations: Bridges with Trolls

Trolls are trouble when you want to cross a bridge. Especially when the bridge in question is slippery and swaying.  They can takes ages to deal with and, of course, trolls present a health and safety hazard. A Difficult Conversation is like crossing a troll bridge. ...

Possible Postures for Managing Up

Possible Postures for Managing Up

Possible Postures for Managing Up Here’s some good news about diverse communication skills, applicable to any context: if you question professional people about this topic today, you’ll get some excellent answers – significantly better, I believe, than what you could...

Learning Objectives Enable Flexibility in STMicroelectronics Training

Learning Objectives Enable Flexibility in STMicroelectronics Training

It may seem, when searching for training solutions, that the options are either Do It Yourself, represented here as Bleriot crossing the Channel in his own machine, or a low-risk, catalog-based solution - the P&O Ferry. Mega exciting on the one hand , but will it...

Why it’s hardest to communicate when it matters most

Why it’s hardest to communicate when it matters most

See also this video. Communication has special challenges when it comes to science and technology. Have you ever noticed that when you are burning to explain …when it seems really important to convince other people that you know what you’re talking about …then this is...

Do Your Best Thinking!

Do Your Best Thinking!

If you are trying to solve tough problems at the moment, then be careful not to let your mind brood or worry. Brooding is where you get stuck in the past, ruminating, kicking yourself for not buying Zoom shares in January, for example. Worrying is letting fear take a...

Half and half

Half and half

Anita Roddick* once said: If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room The corona virus seems to have taken the place of the mosquito 😉 So, making a virtue out of different necessities, my colleagues and I delivered...

NewsletterQ1-20

NewsletterQ1-20

Three easy-to-read items to keep in sync with you ...

Bees and FAEs

Bees and FAEs

At the start of a recent training course, each person introduced themselves by citing an animal that could do their job, then explaining why. One of the Field Application Engineers (FAEs) in the audience put forward a bee, saying that they buzzed around busily,...

A Goal Setting Tail

A Goal Setting Tail

Don't worry, this isn’t the old story about the insecure dyslexic, insomniac atheist who lays awake at night wondering if there really is a Dog. It's about the strange but ultimately effective path that my dog takes when I call him and why this could be a valuable...

The Hurry Monster, RIP

The Hurry Monster, RIP

Apparently, I suffer from an affliction which most people manage to avoid. A weird mixture of intellectual laziness and hyperactivity, it once led me to attempt the reduction of German grammar to a handful of equations. Preferably to one equation. Einstein had managed...

A Problem-Solving Experience

A Problem-Solving Experience

Cycling quite fast down a narrow mountain road, I met a lorry coming up it. The result was eight broken ribs on one side, a broken shoulder on the other and a huge problem with getting out of bed. Problem-solving methodologies can be usefully classified as either...

Anna Karenina and Client Encounters

Anna Karenina and Client Encounters

Anna Karenina and Client Encounters All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This, the first phrase of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, is remarkable for how it sticks in the memory. In complex relationships such as with families or...

Best practices Exchange for Engineering Team Leaders

Best practices Exchange for Engineering Team Leaders

I recently setup a Best Practices Exchange (BPXchange) as an experiment in learning through sharing for busy Engineering Team Leaders working in different companies. The challenge was to find a format that would allow added-value exchanges in a reasonable time, taking...

Best Practice Exchange outcomes

Best Practice Exchange outcomes

The rubber duck image is inspired by a software development "best practice" of sharing difficult problems with a rubber duck. The act of explaining brings clarity and so this technique accelerates software debug. It also follows that a rubber duck learns many best...

Engineering Support Beyond Do, Doc, Done

Engineering Support Beyond Do, Doc, Done

Do, Doc, Done captures a way of working that is popular among support engineers and which often works well. For example : a case comes my way in the issue tracking system. I fix it (Do), send an email or write a comment when I close the case (Doc)...