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Exceptional Leaders don’t mumble

GrumbleWe have been discussing the difference between playing big and playing small. We generally see more people playing small than playing big. Playing small is the easy way out and it handles a situation on a short-term basis. Playing big takes some dedication and it’s looking the big picture and the long-term results. Sometimes it takes courage to play big and make an impact.

A recent study released by the Center for Applied Linguistics came out with this interesting fact. Nearly two-thirds of all human speech transpires under people’s breath. I found that very interesting. Exceptional leaders don’t mumble under their breath. Researcher Erin Wightman said, “Our data indicates that, whether in the form of hushed grumbles of anger, a half delivered retort, or quiet self-berating, the majority of all spoken language is delivered in barely audible mutters.” She went on to note that a sizable quantity of human vocalizations are imperceptible insults made while walking away from an argument, a meeting with one’s supervisor, or a pleasant conversation with someone the speaker does not care for. Talk about playing small.

Do you or do you know of someone who is constantly peppering in low-volume sarcastic comments when interacting with others? Several people I’ve encountered pop into my mind as I’m writing this. And to be totally honest, I can remember when I have done my fair share of sarcastic comments while playing small. Think about how different your work, family or social environment would be if people spoke up and played big and told you what was bothering them. (What a relief not to have to try and be a mind reader!) But it takes courage to speak up and express yourself and empathize with others. It’s much easier to mutter and grumble while interacting with coworkers or family members.

Take time today to watch for people mumbling and grumbling. You’ll be surprised how many you will see. If you see someone close to you doing this, take time to talk to them and see what they may be experiencing. You can start with a simple question like, “I saw you grumbling just a moment ago, is there something you would like to share?” Then play big and listen with empathy. You may be surprised with what you hear.

Thanks for coming along.

Playing Small during difficulty and stress

cropstopplaying smallLinda sat down in her boss’s office to update her on the progress of the project.

“How is everything with the project?”  her boss, Karen asks.

“We are going to miss one of our major milestones,” Linda comments. “We have a personnel issue that I need some help with.”

“What’s going on?” Karen asks.

“Mark isn’t meeting his commitments to the project. He has been behind on every one of his deadlines and it’s causing the entire project to get behind. When I try and talk to him about his performance he gets very upset and claims he is doing all he can do. I think it would help if you talked with his boss to help get him back on track.” Linda says.

“I don’t really feel comfortable talking to his boss right now,” Karen answers. “Don’t talk to Mark directly anymore this week and we’ll see if we can figure something out.”

Linda’s e-mails and phone messages to Karen during the week go unanswered and the project gets farther behind.

Exceptional leaders play big and do the proper things with the big picture in mind. When our primitive portion of the brain, the amygdala, kicks in during difficult times, we resort to default behaviors and we wind up playing small. Karen remembered an argument she had with Mark’s boss six months ago. Her primitive brain was cautioning her not to go there again. Her playing small best leadership move at the moment was to tell Linda not to talk to Mark.

How often do you see people playing small on a daily basis in business and your personal life?  We are going to be focusing on the ability to play big during times of difficulty and stress during the next few blogs and understand what our default behaviors due to us.

Thanks for coming along.