QUICKBITES: Empathetic Communication is Powerful



Last week, while sitting at a coffee shop, I overheard a cell phone conversation. I didn’t know the man talking or to whom he was speaking –but the call provided me with a memorable lesson. 

He said into the phone, “I know you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want. I’m also frustrated because I’m not giving you what you need. Please help me out by telling me how I can help you get what you want.”

There was a silence for a couple of minutes. Then the man smiled and I overheard him reply, “I can do that. I’ll get on it right away.”

“Real communication is looking at and responding to the situation from the other person’s point of view.”
–Sam Geist



When employees determine that speaking up doesn’t pay, they stay silent. They plod along keeping their mouths shut. When leaders behave in ways that make it “unsafe” to speak up, they create all sorts of communication roadblocks that lead to poor decision-making and ultimately, failed projects.

An effective leader knows he or she must make it easy for the team to speak up. Here’s five suggestions to follow:

1. Don’t mistake silence for agreement. When you pitch ideas to people, look closely at their body language. Are they “open” to your idea, making eye contact and sitting slightly forward, or are they “closed”, looking away, doodling, or otherwise not connecting with you.

2. Learn to ask, “What am I missing?” This simple open-ended phrase will help begin a conversation and shows that you’re open to the notion that your idea may not be fully drawn.

3. Reward differing viewpoints. If someone offers a differing view, begin with, “I hadn’t thought of it that way… ” Ask follow up questions such as, “Have you considered… ” and “What has to happen in order for you to get you comfortable with this idea?”

4. Reflect on past interactions. If your team is normally forthright and now they’ve clammed up, something about the situation has changed. Reflect on how this current “silent” situation is different from times past. Is there a new dynamic that that’s causing the silence?

5. Ask for feedback. The best way to get people to open up is to ask for, and then neutrally listen to their feedback. If this is new for you, then you may need to ask several times before people will step up. Be sure to sincerely thank the first person who ventures feedback-even if it’s misguided, poorly worded, or completely irrelevant. You want to reward the act of speaking up. Later, you can work on coaching people to give constructive feedback.

–People Equation / Jennifer Miller


It’s no surprise that managers rate their top performers as their most valuable employees. This  latest research sought to measure just

how much more valuable top performers are and what they do that makes them so valuable.

  • Managers and peers say that top performers are two to three times more valuable than an average employee. And their performance is the result of working both harder and smarter-strategic efforts that not only lead to improved productivity but also reduce stress.
  • 75% of leaders and 63 percent of peers said that top performers experience less or about the same stress levels as lower- performing employees.

–GTD – VitalSmarts

Note: See first SITE SEEING seeing link to read report connected with this these stats.



Interesting report on how to change the way you engage with work and life.

An interesting report on how organizations can exercise control over proactive employees without overly constraining them.



QuickBites by Sam Geist
Sam Geist lectures, facilitates workshops and conducts training seminars on sales & marketing, the changing marketplace, leadership, differentiation, customer service and staff motivation.  His three books, “Why Should Someone Do Business With You… Rather Than Someone Else?” “Would You Work for You?” and “Execute… or Be Executed” are available in bookstores everywhere, published by Addington & Wentworth Inc.

(800) 567-1861