BE A S.T.A.R - WHEREVER YOU ARE


Several years ago one of our many repeat clients called asking me to once again plan on doing a workshop for his staff. As we talked about the various sessions we had already facilitated for them, he asked that since I had worked with his people many times before and had a good knowledge of their needs, would I write a session for them. I agreed and subsequently wrote a session called, “S.T.A.R.”

“S.T.A.R.” created an acrostic for the session: S=Share A Smile; T=Think before you Talk; Apply positive Action; and Reap the Rewards. Because of the nature of the group, I knew they responded well when they could be active participants in the learning session. I also knew that one of their challenges was interacting effectively with a large and ever changing internal customer population. Little did I know then that the workshop I created for them would turn out to one of our most popular workshops.

SHARE A SMILE - Some of us smile naturally and easily all of the time. Yet, for many others of us, we forget to put a smile on our face for others to see. If we are a very focused person, intent on the task at hand we don’t realize that we are not smiling. We may even show our intent focus in our facial expression leaving the person we are interacting with thinking we are frowning. Others of us, by virtue of our personality, tend to show little or no expression on our faces, leaving the other person to decide what our feelings in the matter really are. Think about it, don’t we all truly enjoy interacting with a person with a smile on their face.

THINK BEFORE YOU TALK! How many times have we all opened our mouth and later regretted it, Researchers tell us that being a good listener is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to creating effective interactions with others. Likewise, many of us are not aware of what makes us a good listener:

Looks at the other person - no matter how busy you are, how much you have on your mind, or how much you think you already know where the conversation is going, you need to look at the other person. Looking at them shows respect and says, “I’m listening.” Additionally, a large percentage of the message being conveyed is being done with body language - facial expression, eye contact, use of hands, arms, & body posture.

Ask open-ended questions - Open-ended questions are questions designed to solicit more than a one or two word response. An example might be: Can you tell me how this would affect our project? Open-ended questions can serve two functions: First, they show you have an interest in what is being said. Second, if the other person is angry or being difficult, asking them an open-ended question requires them to talk. Letting them talk allows them to vent which helps to reduce the level of hostility and anger.

APPLY POSITIVE ACTION - What can I do to make my interaction with the other person more effective? It is easy to blame the other person; we can wish they would do things differently; we can hope they will change. However, the truth is I can’t change them; I can only change the way I interact with them. Attitude is everything.

REAP THE REWARDS - I am amazed every time I do a workshop session and I ask the participants to list the rewards of dealing effectively with other people - smiling, listening, being positive, taking action -- the answers: happier; work is easier; less stress; get more done; like myself better ……

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Pat A. Bishop, People & Solutions, Inc.