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Chapter 25. Getting Less Difficult—The W... > Hints for Improving at Cooperative C... - Pg. 273

Getting Less Difficult--The Words, Ma'am, Just the Words 273 Insider Secrets Confident managers don't feel the need to appear perfect. Most of the best managers I've ever met have no difficulty admitting when they've made a mistake and don't try to come off as perfect--which is one reason they are good managers. Being open to the possibility they may be wrong, they learn constantly and improve con- stantly. And they win over their staff, because nobody likes someone who appears arrogant or "has all the right answers." That's less likely to cause additional argument or make the speaker sound like an arrogant twit. It's a good way to say it, even if you are absolutely sure you didn't make an error (but, hmmm, are you really absolutely sure?). We can fix up the second example by sticking to the facts and focusing on problem solving. "I don't believe I misplaced the report. Maybe we can backtrack. I recall leaving it on your desk on Monday. Do you remember seeing it there? If not, maybe someone's borrowed it without letting us know." Notice that apart from avoiding the infallibility problem, it also allows the other person to save face, if in fact he or she has misplaced it. Hints for Improving at Cooperative Communication Because most of us have never been taught the ins and outs of language, all of us have some language habits that are less cooperative than they might be. Hopefully by now, you've realized that for every way of putting things in a confrontational way, there is a way of putting things in a coop- erative way. And by doing so you get better results, and are seen as more helpful and less difficult. Let's end this chapter with some suggestions so you continue to get better. First, moving to eliminate the confrontational language you use takes some time and attention, but it's not impossible. It takes perseverance and paying attention to what you're saying, particularly at the beginning. After a while you get into new and better language habits, and the better words will come out more automatically. But at the beginning, you need to pay attention to how and what you say. From the Manager's Desk The key to changing how you communicate is to do it little by little. It isn't difficult but it requires attention and perseverance. It's going to take time to change communication habits you've been using for decades. Remind yourself daily.