41 minutes | Jun 21, 2020
My guest: Frank Garten
This is the last episode of Season 1 of Clarity in Conversations. And just like the previous episode was a special one where I interviewed co-host Els de Maeijer, for this last episode we reverse roles and Els will interview me. It's not my first move usually to put myself in the spotlight. I operate better when not all lights are shining on me, even though I know I do myself short sometimes with this modest trait. I have to admit I like this role-reversal though. Els' questions triggered me to think about my own career moves and my interests, and connect these to the experience of producing this podcast. I won't give you hints here of what we talk about: listen for yourself. This end Season 1 of Clarity in Conversations, and I have tremendously enjoyed producing, interviewing, editing and publishing this podcast 13 times. What the future will hold? I have not taken a decision yet. I will use the summer months to think about a next season. Maybe a similar set-up and format. Maybe a change to a talkshow with multiple guests. Maybe a forum where we address real-life business challenges with a panel of wild thinkers. Maybe... ?Any ideas are welcomed; great podcast ideas, offers for help and suggestions for modest sponsoring will be very welcomed to start Season 2: full of energy, after a nice and long summer break!For any feedback and responses, get in touch at email@example.com.And thanks Els: for your fantastic role in Season 1. I never thought collaborating would be so nice when we started. Not only have you made this podcast come to life various ways: you also stimulated me to put the bar higher each time, and strive for a high quality listening experience for the many listeners in 50+ different countries. Thanks so much!
43 minutes | May 26, 2020
My guest: Els de Maeijer
Els studies language. But that summary would not do justice to a full PhD with the subtitle “Languaging in industry-academia collaborations”. The main title is “Open Innovation Dynamics”, which characterizes Els’ PhD research at the universities of Eindhoven and Antwerp.Els de Maeijer has an MA in Linguistics and Literature at the University of Antwerp, she studied International Politics and works since 2010 at Fontys University of Applied Science, Industrial Engineering, Education and Management.Her research is about open innovation, based on the assumption that critical knowledge for innovation resides often outside the borders of your organization. So collaboration with external entities – or in this case between Academia and Industry – is vital.In this episode of Clarity in Conversations, I talk with Els about her research, but also about her teaching to students at Fontys University of Applied Science.Of course the episode ends with practical tips. Read more about Els de Maeijer at the website of Fontys or follow her on twitter.
63 minutes | Apr 28, 2020
Conversations in times of change
Managing change is a challenge for any leader. And helping your people through change is an essential attention area for (people) managers. But corporate change is a curious process: in spite of organizational change being thoroughly prepared, most change projects fail. “Lack of Communication” is often cited as the number one reason for big change projects to fail.I have asked all guests of this podcast so far to share their most important insights and tips for communication in times of change. Together with Els de Maeijer, we structured their insights into a few topics:The time delay effect: the leaders of the changes have been involved in designing it for a long time and fail to understand that when they start communicating the changes, it’s new for their people who need time to digest and adaptExplaining the change is not a one-time announcement, but ideally consists of a continuous dialogueBeing stuck in one conversation style: while logic and ratio work for some, other people rely more on other communication stylesListening to your people in times of change: managers often use a strategy of “talking AT the group” rather than “talking WITH the people”The head vs. the heart: emotions play a role, and ignoring these because rational argumentation is preferred is not a good ideaI like this quote by William Bridges: “Change comes more from managing the journey than from announcing the destination.”In this episode of Clarity in Conversations you will hear many practical tips for managing change in organizations.
43 minutes | Apr 6, 2020
Our distinctly different styles of communication.
In episode 10 of Clarity in Conversations, my guest is Geof Cox. Geof has his own consultancy company called New Directions for over 25 years now, and he is the author of two very practical books about influencing and communication skills. “Getting Results without Authority - The new rule sof organisational influence” was published in 2010, and introduces a simple yet powerful model for influencing people who use different personal communication styles. Ten years earlier, in 2000, Goes already published Ready - Aim - Fire problem solving - A strategic approach to innovative decision making. Geof is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He started his career as a line and HR manager in the oil industry with Esso Petroleum. As an independent consultant, he advises companies and facilitates workshops on management and communication skills, and designs and facilitates international leadership development programs. Geof also is a colleague of mine, with whom I’ve been in front of groups frequently. And that’s been a pleasure always. Geof succeeds to have a vast database of theoretical background and great anecdotes about company life. But he uses this knowledge in a very practical way, succeeding to give people tools they can use the next morning in the office. We’ll talk about his model for effective influence: the model he uses as the starting point for his book Getting Results without Authority. When you have to rely on personal rather than positional power when influencing somebody, you’d better recognise the preferred style of that person and then choose consciously which style to use yourself to achieve results. The four styles - ACTIONS, PROCESS, PEOPLE and IDEAS, are distinctly different. In the podcast we talk about the importance of adapting to different styles when you want to have a high quality conversation. Yes, you want to provide clarity. But for one person clarity consists of concrete actions, for another person it consists of clarifying the vision, and for someone else it’s all about giving logical and rational explanation for what you need to get done. I reflect on the interview with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els starts with a question this time, wondering how to recognise the style fo your influence target when that person doesn’t wear a sticker on her head telling you what personality type she is. And of course, the podcast concludes with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Geof Cox, visit his company website! Or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, for information about the short and condensed online versions of the mentioned workshops, especially relevant in these COVID-19 times.
40 minutes | Mar 23, 2020
The power of being brief
We all have this one particular colleague. The guy who walks in and starts rambling. Only a rude interruption or a fire alarm seems to be able to stop the sea of words. Is he effective? Not at all, as the time he needs to explain his point of view largely exceeds the average attention span of his audience.But being brief is not that easy. In this episode of Clarity in Conversations, I speak with Joe McCormack. Joe is an author, successful entrepreneur, marketing executive and founder of The Brief Lab. The Brief Lab’s mission is to help organizations master concise communication to improve operational effectiveness. Joe graduated with honors from Loyola University of Chicago, and lives in suburban Chicago and Pinehurst, NC. Joe works with managers, executives but also Special Operations forces of the US Military, to ensure their communication is spot-on.This interview largely covers the great insights I gained from Joe’s book “BRIEF. Make a bigger impact by saying less.” Not only do we talk about the need to be brief in corporate interactions, but also will we discover that there are very powerful and practical tips you can use to be brief. At the end of the interview, we speak about Joe’s new book “Noise. Living and leading when nobody can focus”. You’ll get insights into practical techniques to ensure you are known as a ‘lean communicator’. For example, Joe shares his proven “Map it. Tell it. Talk it. Show it.”-approach, which is a powerful guide to distilling the key message that your audience will remember after speaking with you.At the end of the episode, I speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on the interview and puts the insights in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Joe McCormack, check his website.
38 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
How great interviews lead to great conversations
She is the author of 2 great books, a frequently-cited TED-talk, and also radio show host, journalist and interviewer. My guest in episode 8 of Clarity in Conversations is Celeste Headlee. Celeste learned in the early stages of interviewing world leaders, plumbers, politicians and housewives that all things she learned in school did not prepare her for making great interviews.So she started finding out herself. And noticed that the conventional lessons – look at the other person, maintain eye contact, nod, summarize – did not guarantee a good conversation. Other factors however did. This research – and her own observations about interviews that went well and less well – resulted in her 2015 TED-talk “10 ways to have a better conversation”.In this episode of Clarity in Conversations, I speak with Celeste first of all about the research that led to the TED-talk and to her first book We Need To Talk – How to have conversations that matter. She argues along the way that the smarter people are, the less good they are at listening to others. A point worthwhile to explore. Further, we speak about curiosity as a necessary ingredient to make guests interesting for listeners to her radioshows and for herself. We speak about a term that not many people will know: conversational narcissism: the tendency to bring every conversation back to yourself. And we explore what led Celeste to write a new book, Do Nothing: how to break away from overworking, overdoing and underliving.I reflect on the interview with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els reflects on the effect of modern technology on our attention span, which led Celeste to write her new book. Els compares our constant attention for incoming messages through e-mail and social media with the way we addictively pull the arm of the slot machines in Las Vegas: we’re hungry for more, and forget to reflect, slow down and… have a good conversation. Like every week, the podcast ends with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Celeste Headlee, find her TED-talk, visit her personal website or find her books “We need to talk” and “Do Nothing” at your local bookstore.
43 minutes | Feb 19, 2020
From vulnerable positions to courageous conversations
When we feel uncertain at work about our actions or we’re not sure how others will react, these feelings are real. Yet we often pretend these feelings are not there, because we don’t feel comfortable with the feeling. We certainly don’t want others to see our vulnerabilities. We have all kind of stories in our head about what would happen if we would really open up.But avoiding those conversations also limits us from asking for help or sharing our doubts about this new project. We’re not really showing ourselves, we play a kind of theater, pretending all is fine. In courageous conversations however, we open up and accept the discomfort that comes with showing our true selves.In this episode of Clarity in Conversations, I speak with Mieke Coupé. Mieke helps leaders and teams to have courageous conversations, and to lead and communicate with courage, and purposefully work on creating safe company cultures. Mieke is a facilitator of the well-known Dare To Lead program, and worked with Brené Brown to get fully certified to help individuals and teams with this material. Mieke talks about the feelings of shame we can have when finding ourselves in a vulnerable position. Openly addressing uncertainty and doubt in many office environments is not done, and for us individually it would also be a big leap outside our comfort zone. Mieke stresses that these feelings of discomfort are natural and will not go away. But we can definitely learn to better deal with those feelings and even embrace them to engage in courageous conversations. I reflect on the interview with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els reflects on expressing vulnerability in the office and makes a link with the concepts of ‘competence trust’ and ‘goodwill trust’. Like every week, the podcast ends with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Mieke Coupé and her work, check her website!
40 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
Making Difficult Conversations Less Hard
We often talk about ‘difficult conversations”, but maybe ‘difficult’ is not the right words. When we should speak to a co-worker about a mistake she made. When we want to give our boss some negative feedback. When we need to resolve a conflict with a rather assertive person. In all these situations we feel uncomfortable and for that reason speak about ‘difficult conversations’.In this episode I speak with Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Franklin Covey, and author of the book Management Mess to Leadership Success, 30 challenges to become the leader you would follow. Scott has a 23-year career at Franklin Covey, and studied effective leadership consistently during that time. His book is very clear, to-the-point, outspoken, no-nonsense and practical. Reason enough to invite Scott in Clarity in Conversations to speak about ‘difficult conversations’.Scott will give examples of his own “Management Messes” and how he learned from these to become an effective leader. In several role-plays he gives examples of difficult conversations, and the various techniques you can use to make these less difficult. Next to a lot of practical advice, Scott has valuable lessons about promotions into leadership positions, and how we are often insufficiently prepared for such a move.I reflect back on the dialogue with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els reflects on the various role-plays Scott included, and how this left her with many questions she would love to ask Scott. Like every week, the podcast ends with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Scott Miller, check the Franklin Covey website. More information about the book Management Mess to Leadership Success can be found here.
43 minutes | Jan 19, 2020
Socratic Dialogues: Conversations that matter
Many conversations we have are just casual. A chat at the coffee machine, a gossip about the mistakes of a colleague, an exchange about a customer project with your manager… But some conversations require a bit more attention and depth: difficult dilemma’s, strategic choices that have to be made, or conversations to clarity why we’re doing certain things. In this episode I speak with Erik Boers. Erik is a philosopher who helps companies and organizations to have deeper conversations about topics that matter. He owns his own company Het Nieuwe Trivium to facilitate deeper dialogues in organizations, and he educates other professionals in this ‘art’. Erik is a colleague of mine, with whom I work already for many years. His interventions in teams, boardrooms and the public space are very powerful, and in this episode we will learn more about his field of work. We will speak about why we find it so difficult to have a good conversation, and why good conversations are an art that requires purposeful attention. Erik will share how he ensures teams are prepared to go in-depth and spend time on so-called Socratic dialogues, while many business professionals will initially be skeptical about anything that costs valuable time. Also, Erik will reflect on dialogues in the public space, to which he switched his attention recently. Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, reflects on the interview with Erik Boers, and gives some further thoughts about the “old school” model of communication (sender-receiver) versus the current view of conversations: meaning only is created in interaction. Like every week, the podcast ends with some practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Erik Boers, check his company website.
33 minutes | Jan 5, 2020
How "Yes, but..." can kill a conversation
One of the most frustrating things in conversations when you are enthusiastic about something. You do a proposal, and the other person says: “Yes, but…” and then shares his own ideas. It feels like your idea was rejected. In a polite and friendly way, but still… rejected. In this episode I speak with Renita Kalhorn. Renita is an executive coach, working with leaders and their teams to perform on top of their game. She is based in New York and Paris and works with top-level companies to strengthen their leadership. She also works with Special Ops and Navy SEAL candidates, strengthening their mental toughness and leadership skills. Renita has an MBA from INSEAD, is a trained concert pianist, speaks fluent Japanese and holds a martial arts black belt. I read an article from Renita on the “Yes, but…” response and decided to try to get her on this podcast, as her observations were spot-on. We speak about what happens in our brain when somebody responds with “Yes, but…”, and explore the effect this response has on the other person. More importantly, we explore what alternative responses can be used to be more effective in our conversations, and how improving our listening strategies can be key to build more meaningful interactions with others. At the end of the episode I speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on the interview and puts the insights in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Renita Kalhorn, check her website.
31 minutes | Dec 15, 2019
Why it’s so hard to listen to others
You think you’re a good listener? There’s a high chance you answered this question with some form of ‘Yes’. We all think we are good listeners. A study among 8.000 American professionals revealed that almost everybody thinks their listening skills are better-than-average. Sure.In this episode, my guest is Laura Janusik. Laura (Ph.D., M.B.A, CLP) is professor of communication at Rockhurst University, Kansas, Missouri. She works as a trainer, researcher, speaker and business consultant. Laura also used to be chair of the International Listening Association and has published a lot of research and insights internationally. She is a certified listening professional since 2010, and researches all topics related to listening skills in various contexts. Her motto is: “Helping the World to Listen: One Person at a Time...!”.In my interview with Laura, we speak about listening skills. And then discover that listening not so much relies on ‘skills’, but that listening is more of a strategy. Something you set out and choose to do deliberately, rather than something you’re just good at or not. So, you may be a very skillful listener, yet hardly ever decide to deliberately use the skill in daily work. Recognise this?Laura goes into the different styles of listening, and explains that these particular listening strategies are also the cornerstones of the ECHO instrument for listening (learn more at http://listeningtochange.com/). The difference between sensory and cognitive listening is explored, and Laura explains the best strategies we can use to ensure we really listen actively to what others tell us. Also, we will recall what Caroline Webb taught us in the previous episode: when we listen and we hear things that are identified as a threat in our brain, we switch off and go into survival mode. Exit listening. Els de Maeijer (Fontys University of Applied Science) reflects on how context-dependent our listening is. The way we listen depends to a large extent on the context we find ourselves in. We end this episode of Clarity in Conversations with 3 concrete and practical tips to improve your listening strategies, in the office and at home.For more information about the work of Laura Janusik, go to http://listeningtochange.com/, or visit her page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurajanusikphd/.
34 minutes | Dec 1, 2019
When we get defensive in conversations
Ever wondered why conversations can unexpectedly go downhill and become unfriendly, toxic encounters instead of productive dialogue? It’s our brain – equipped with survival mechanisms that were built in when we were still hunters and collectors – that responds defensively. I speak with Caroline Webb, author of the best-selling book How To Have A Good Day. Caroline worked for 30 years as an economist at the Bank of England, and as a Partner at McKinsey and Company. Today she is an executive coach and speaker and runs her own business. Caroline published her book How To Have a Good Day in 2016. Published in 60 countries and translated into the most common languages in the world, How to Have a Good Day covers insights from economics, behavioural psychology and neuroscience, and translates these into practical advice to improve working lifeIn this episode, we speak about what causes defensive responses in the workplace. Simple, innocent events can cause unexpectedly strong reactions in our brain. This response – triggered by the amygdala – comes at the same moment our ‘thinking brain’ goes off-line and is no longer available for rational thinking and dealing with emotions. Especially, we speak about what managers can do to respond more constructively to circumstances that trigger our defenses. Caroline shares some of her most powerful tips and insights.Like every week I also speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on each episode and puts the insights in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Caroline Webb's book How To Have A Good Day, check her facebook (facebook.com/CarolineWebbAuthor) or twitter (caroline_webb_) feeds.
29 minutes | Nov 7, 2019
Clear Conversations in Aviation
In the airline industry, clear conversations are vital. One mistake, and people can lose their lives. Pilots learn communication protocols that are strictly reinforced: anything is done to reduce ambiguity and unclarity to an absolute minimum.I speak with Dr. Steven Mark Sachs. Dr. Sachs has a doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and holds a Masters in Psychology from California State University. He has taught business communication, and was Chair of the Business Department at LA Trade-Technical College. Dr. Sachs also is a certified instructor and pilot by the Federal Aviation Association in the US, and has published many articles about communication in aviation. In the airline industry, the specific context dictates the strict rule for communication, and these rules cannot directly be transferred to offices around the work. Nevertheless, there are many lessons we can learn in the business world from the Aviation Industry. These lessons are discussed in this podcast episode. I also speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on each episode and puts these lessons in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.