No Drama

This may surprise a great many of you, but Special Operators in the military gossip more than the fine ladies who host ABC’s “The View”.

We call it “RUMINT” which stands for “Rumor Intelligence”.

Where are we deploying and when?  For how long?  Who got promoted?  Did you hear what happened to Bob?   Why is he in charge?  Jerry missed the run this morning, again…

If not controlled RUMINT will derail a unit’s motivation.  I wish I was joking, but sadly, it happens more than I’d like to admit.

Thankfully, in hindsight, I can now see what a great job my old team leader, Pete, did to stamp out RUMINT from our team.  His standards and professionalism were a major factor in making our team as strong as it was.  Pete knew workplace drama has an adverse affect on his team’s productivity.

If you don’t control workplace drama it will kill your company. It will also kill the motivation of your team.

KNOW THE “FIVE C’s”

“It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenseless one. Only the ignorant and narrow-minded gossip, for they speaks of persons instead of things.” Lawrence G. Lovasik

The “Five C’s” of workplace drama are: the Complainer, the Cynic, the Caregiver, Mr./Mrs. Confrontational, and last but certainly not least the Control Freak.

The Complainer is never happy no matter what you do.  You can never do enough to make them happy.  It may seem innocuous at first, but over time the toll with show on others who work in proximity to them.

You can tell The Cynic by their cutting and sarcastic remarks that undermine the motivation of others.  Cynics are usually very bright and like to show off their knowledge to those they consider beneath them.

The Caregiver is too concerned with everyone else to get their work done.  Caregivers feel they do nothing wrong, but often these people are the very epicenter of workplace gossip. The main problem with the Caregiver is they often inadvertently invite gossip from other employees.

Mr./Mrs. Confrontational puts everyone on edge the moment they walk into the room. You can count on them to start trouble.  Sometimes they double as a cynic. Trust me when I tell you they take great pride and enjoyment in knowing the havoc they wreak upon the organization.

The Control Freak is a one person show.  These people distrust their coworkers and often secretly harbor resentment of others they can’t trust. Often Control Freaks are the subject of much workplace drama and gossip.

STAMP IT OUT

“Gossip is a very dangerous tool. We should be more wary of the gossiper, and not the gossip they’re trying to relay to you.” John Lydon

In EntreLeadership Dave Ramsey lays out five things that will kill your company.  They are: 1. Lack of intention and thoroughness about communication.  2. Lack of intention and thoroughness about goal setting and shared purpose.  3. Gossip. 4. Unresolved Disagreements. 5. Sanctioned Incompetence.

Look at that closely for a moment.  Two of the five things Dave lists as organization killers are issues of workplace drama.

But he also has a solution.  Dave tells us later in the book that he will fire an employee after a single warning for gossip.  Yes, you read that correctly, a SINGLE warning before termination.

Now, everyone, that is exactly how you enforce a no drama policy at the office.

The Lampo Group, Dave Ramsey’s company, is so intent on keeping the company culture intact and comfortable for all employees that they fire people who gossip.  I understand this is a harsh policy, but the rules are clearly communicated throughout the company.  It’s a hard ugly truth, but sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of “the one.”

TAKE A HARD LOOK INSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION

“Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of Gossip.” Richard Steele

Be honest with yourself and you’ll admit no one enjoys working in a gossip-laden environment.

What steps are you taking to ensure all employees are engaging in productive work and not in mindless gossip? Enforce standards of professionalism and maintain those standards.

If firing an employee seems harsh you can still counsel them and let them know gossip won’t be tolerated.

Don’t let RUMINT derail your organization, because if you allow it to run free it will.

Intelligent Nonverbal Communication

I occasionally provide color commentary for the Mentors for Military podcast (mentorsformilitary.com) and on the last podcast we were talking about “communication” and how it positively and negatively affects transitioning military personnel during interviews.

Life presents us with many situations and sometimes we get our butts handed to us but don’t know why.  We ask ourselves questions like: “What did I do wrong?” “Why didn’t that go better?” I thought I had this one???”

Odds are it’s because you did something wrong and didn’t even realize it. Ignorance on how you present yourself to others is not bliss and the quicker you realize this – the better off you will be during your transition.  And in life in general.

There are so many myths and misperceptions about “body language” out there it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction.  I can tell you one thing, though, with absolute certainty: most of us really suck in our efforts at communicating nonverbally.  But, now that I’ve labeled the obvious, what are we going to do about it? As anyone who knows me will tell you – I can’t stand identifying problems without identifying possible solutions (otherwise it’s just called “whining”).

In my course, Intelligent Nonverbal Communication I’ve attempted to make it as simple as possible.  As the ancient Greek philosopher, Thales, said “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”  So, look at yourself and your “elevator eyes” (looking at a stranger from top to bottom to identify a possible threat), owning the room, language, idioms, and overall threat posture (do you need to be hyper-alert and aggressive at Starbucks waiting for coffee?).  Now think of how you look to outsiders.  Outsiders and those evil people you are forced to deal with each and every day: the civilians at your wife’s Christmas party, her coworkers with different political opinions, neighbors, baristas, job interviewers… But I digress.

These outsiders, much like a job interviewer, are viewing you in a certain way – which may or may not help your successful transition.  So what’s the solution?

My advice is to remember this: intelligent nonverbal communication is about YOU.  (Yourself, Others, and Utilities at your disposal.)

YOURSELF.

Self awareness is a major part of success in life.  It allows us to know and do what we do well and pass that which we don’t do well on to others in our “team.”  One area in which we are amazingly unaware, though, is in how we present ourselves to outsiders.  This is often disguised as “being true” to ourselves or some other nonsense, when in reality we are just lazy and apathetic.  Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg get to wear hoodies at work and board meetings because, well, because they are Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.  I’m guessing if you are reading this article you aren’t in the same league as them (yet).

OTHERS.

It’s sad but true that others and outsiders judge us based upon their own prejudices, histories, and expectations.  That’s a fact and we can’t change it no matter how hard we want or try.  But, that’s not always a bad thing.  Once you know to be aware of what others are “expecting” things change for you and you change the rules of the game to suit what best serves you.  You can’t control everyone’s view of you, but you can manipulate the situation to put you in the best possible to be viewed positively.  YOU are in control.

UTILITIES.

This is where we all go wrong, in my opinion.   “Utilities” serve us and they serve to ruin us equally.  I’ve never been a member of the fashion police, nor do I intend to be, but we need be aware that who we are and what we are really only matter to… well, us.  What you wear, the colors in your PowerPoint presentation, the type of pen you use to take notes, your haircut (or lack of one), your punctuality, the choice of phone you use, etc.  All these things speak troves about who you are to the person you are meeting.

You can learn to use these things to your advantage or you can keep doing things incorrectly – the choice is yours.

SO…

William Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”  If so, then you need realize that life is, indeed, a game, and you need learn how to play.  Learn to play the game.  Learn to play it well and learn to use your skills to your advantage.  Or, you can choose to stay the course you are on and be an innocent bystander and watch life pass you by.

And it will – but I’m sure it will wave to you somehow (which is a nonverbal message, just so you know…)

So, ask yourself, are you intelligently communicating or are you non-intelligently communicating.  The choice is yours, but are you making a good one?

Passion

You hear it in their voice and you can feel it when you’re around them. So much so you can almost taste it.  It’s palpable.

When you meet a person who loves their job – you know it.

Better yet, they aren’t ashamed to let you know it and their job, amazingly, is all they want to talk about.

I love meeting people from corporate cultures like this.  There is no meekness to them, it’s as if they’re serving a higher calling.

Yet, they run the sales department. Or they are a teacher.  A counselor. A lawyer.  Wal-Mart greeter.  Butcher.

Anything you can imagine – and they love it.

IT FEELS GOOD TO BE PASSIONATE

“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

We spend much of our lives at the office.  I heard someone just the other day refer to it as his first home and his neglected apartment a distant second.  It was said in jest, but it’s almost true.

For the vast majority of people I know 40 hour workweeks are minimal.  Additionally, commutes are long, and getting longer, and the deluge of emails and other communications ends long after you arrive home.

It’s difficult to get energized about the future when you miss key family events and feel you spend your life commuting to the office to do nothing but sit in worthless meetings or work on completing mindless tasks.

Sadly, it’s this lack of energy, and the feeling of obligatory commitment, that sap your passion more than anything else.

GO BIG OR GO HOME

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

I advise you to find what it is at work you truly enjoy and embrace that portion. This will help renew your energy and realign your perspective.

Perspective is key – negative attitudes are cancerous to productivity.  Focus on the positive, make a list of the things you are passionate about and work to put them back in prioritized order.

There are lots of things you have forgotten about your job that you like and enjoy.  The people, the culture, the hours, the location, etc – and yet we’ll let a bad supervisor, coworker, or boss absolutely ruin our lives.

HELP YOURSELF

“You are never too old. You are never the wrong color. You are never too disabled. You are never the wrong political party. There is never a big enough obstacle to keep a person with passion operating in a higher calling from winning.” – Dave Ramsey

Passionate people are work horses.  They slay the tasks that are given them and they do it with a smile on their face.  No job is too big for these people and no task too small.

We celebrate the passion others display yet we fail to enact the necessary changes to renew our  individual passions.

We celebrate examples of people escaping horrendous situations yet we fail focus on ways in which we could improve our individual situations.

We idly watch people drop lower and lower into despair because we don’t help them renew that which they are passionate about.

It’s inexcusable and the only reason for it is laziness.

Start by helping create an amazing organizational culture.  Educate and empower your employees then watch them start to prioritize your organizational mission.

It’s fantastic to see organizations filled with passionate team members (not disinterested employees) who have the organization’s best interest at heart.

If you don’t have it – you’re missing out.  But you can change, it isn’t too late.

Stop complaining and start being passionate about what you do.

Trust me, it feels great.

Quiet Professionals

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 

We all know that person at work who has all sorts of great ideas.  Great ideas, I may add, that never get past being just that: ideas.

In Special Forces we called these people the “Good Idea Fairy” or “GIF”.  The GIF is the person who has ideas of how to do things “better” – but they are incapable of identifying the action items or next steps necessary to implement those ideas.

They’re also the people who love to offer opinions and gossip about alternatives to a chosen course of action but never seem able to offer any viable solutions or inputs.

Sadly, the GIF is never alone, where there’s a GIF you’ll always find his great friend the “Triple P” – Problem-Problem-Person.  Triple P’s love to bring problems to the table – seemingly just to watch the drama unfold.

They are easily distinguishable from their opposites – “Problem-Solution-People” – the ones who, upon identifying problems, have proactively developed quality ideas on how to correct them.

If you don’t know how to figure out the difference I can tell you this: Problem-Solution-People are easy to identify.  They are the people at work who help solve problems and are proactive and cooperative team players when doing so.   They are far less concerned with the problem than with correcting it.

They are the people you enjoy working with.

BUT THAT’S JUST THE WAY THEY ARE…

“Focus 90% of your time on solutions and 10% of your time on problems.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

Every organization has its fair share of Good Idea Fairies.

Think back to a meeting that went on far too long because the Triple P wouldn’t stop offering suggestions or the most recent time an entire new project was dumped on you because the GIF planted a seed in the boss’s brain?

Sometimes, sadly, your boss is the GIF and even worse is when your boss is a combination GIF/Triple P.

It happens more than you think and is disastrous for the organization.

IT DOESN”T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.” Bill Gates

The ability to identify problems resides in each of us.  It’s part of our limbic brain and drives us to survive.

Rare though, is the individual born with the inherent ability (and desire) to quietly and proactively solve problems – prior to and without burdening others with them.

Even more rare is the organization filled with these proactive problem solvers – the people who engage targets and put out fires before others even smell the smoke.

This ability doesn’t come naturally to most people, you have to select, educate, and empower them.

By selecting the correct people then educating and empowering them you’ll see your organization start to transform.  You’ll start to accomplish things previously unimagined and you’ll do so with less drama and strife than ever thought possible.

When your organization is filled with the right people who are energetic, educated, and empowered it is unbelievable what you can accomplish.  You’ll accomplish things daily that others can’t, or won’t, in a month.

QUIET PROFESSIONALS

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

In my opinion, the best examples of Quiet Professionals are the Army Special Forces, or Green Berets.  We call ourselves “Quiet Professionals”, and we mean it.

Sure, we have our fair share of braggarts in our ranks, but I’ll argue they don’t occupy positions of importance.

Army Special Forces are taught to think unconventionally, to master the basics, and are encouraged at every level to creatively solve problems.  We collectively embrace learning and strive to be the best at what we can be.  We’re assessed and selected on our ability to solve problems and through training our problem solving ability is honed to a weaponized edge.

Problem-Problem-People are anathema to us and we avoid them like the plague.  Oh yeah, and whenever possible we box up the Good Idea Fairies and put them on the shelf.

We don’t seek recognition and are unconventional, cooperative, yet disruptive team players.

We know Quiet Professionals DO the job – no matter what that job may be.  We put fingers to keyboard and produce products. We pick up the phone and make sales.  We lead energetic and professional organizations with little to no drama.

Even when it’s neither pretty nor enjoyable.

We win both the battles and the war.  We don’t talk endlessly about it because we don’t need to. As Nike says –we “Just do it.”   We solve problems.

Dizzy Dean, the great baseball player, said it best – “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”  Have you been bragging or are you truly doing it?

Quit bragging and be a problem solver.  Be a Quiet Professional.