Personal Communication Filter

One of the definitions for the word “filter” is “a device that is used to filter out something unwanted.” You can buy a pair of sunglasses to filter out unwanted ultraviolet light. There are water purification filters, oil filters, fuel filters, air filters, pool filters, cigarette filters, coffee filters, aquarium filters, and furnace filters. You can filter emails, filter out spam, and put a filter on an internet search engine. You can even put a lens filter on a camera to reduce the amount of wrinkles people see on your face.

But, I haven’t found a filter you can buy for personal communication. There are a lot of people who have ruined their lives, be it on a personal or business basis, by saying something stupid, thoughtless, mean, malicious, despicable, inappropriate, condescending, cruel, hurtful, vicious, painful, and certainly uncalled-for. If they had just had a filter that would have removed their unacceptable statements, things would have turned out so much better for everyone.

Practicing good manners will serve as a filter, or possibly your experience will help to filter out the things you shouldn’t say. One simple way to protect yourself is to say nothing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “ Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.   Or you may want to follow the advice of the Canadian educator, Laurence J. Peter, who said, “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret”.  

Just as a water filter removes the impurities from water … I feel we all need a personal communication filter so we can filter out the impurities from our speech such as: complaining, anger, gossip, cursing, nagging, idle chatter, egotism, condescension, ridicule and hurtful criticism.  I wonder how many people you know would want to filter out certain things you say. Ask yourself this question: Do I brighten the mood of a room full of people when I enter the room or when I leave the room? Maybe you should consider filtering some of the things you are saying.

 Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.”  Since there are no personal communication filters available for sale, it is going to fall to us to filter our words. So, let me give you a few rules that might help: Only speak what you know to be true, speak with integrity, before speaking ask yourself would someone be pleased with what you are saying about them, avoid at all costs speaking when angry, and when in doubt, stay silent. My final advice is this simple poem:

Be careful of the words you say,

and keep them soft and sweet.

You’ll never know from day-to-day,

which ones you’ll have to eat.

Well … I’ll Show You

There are two sides to rejection: those who got rejected and those who did the rejecting. Instead of crawling in some hole and giving up when you get rejected, making the REJECTERS right about you, why not see it as a challenge and simply say to yourself, “I’ll show you.” There is no law that says REJECTERS are always right. In fact, there are countless examples of the REJECTERS being terribly wrong. The REJECTERS were the ones who made a HUGE mistake. The REJECTERS turned out to be the ones who were REALLY SORRY for the decision they made.

One of my favorite stories on being rejected is about the famous cartoonist, Charles Schulz, who created the world-renowned comic strip Peanuts. Charles asked his girlfriend, Donna Johnson, whom he had dated for three years, to marry him and was REJECTED. Yep. She turned him down and married a person who had a more stable job, rather than marry a cartoonist. The Peanuts comic strip went on to be published in over 70 countries and earned Mr. Schulz approximately $40 million annually. Mr. Schulz immortalized his rejecting girlfriend by creating the little red-head girl in his Peanuts strip, who always rejected Charlie Brown. Mr. Schulz … showed her.

Marilyn Monroe was REJECTED by Twentieth Century-Fox production chief, Darryl Zanuck, after just one year under contract because he thought she was unattractive. Well … Marilyn showed him. Tom Cruise was REJECTED by the casting director for the television series FAME because he wasn’t pretty enough. Well … Tom showed him. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, originally owned fifteen Ben Franklin Hardware Stores operating under the name, Walton’s Five & Dime. He went to the executives of Ben Franklin Hardware Store franchises and suggested opening discount stores in small towns. The executives rejected his idea. Well … Sam showed them.

The manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Elvis, “go back to driving a truck because you will never make it as a singer.” Barbara Walters was told by the executive producer of 60 Minutes to “stay out of television.” Jay Leno applied for a job at Woolworth’s but failed the employment test. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, took the original idea to the executives of CBS, NBC and ABC and was REJECTED by all of them. They all thought the idea of a 24 hour news network was stupid. Decca Records rejected The Beatles, saying, “We don’t like your sound, and guitar music is on the way out”. Authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who wrote, Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 134 rejections from publishers. Other famous authors such as William Faulkner, John Grisham, E.E. Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were all rejected by publishers. Well … they all showed them!

It looks like, to me, that when you are rejected you have now joined a pretty elite group of people … if you decide to prove the REJECTER wrong. Yes, the chronicles of world history are littered with REJECTED people, ideas, concepts, manuscripts, songs, paintings, and patents that later turned out to be someone or something special. So, if you want to take it to the next level, put three words in your arsenal that will dispel all failures, ridicule, mockery and rejectionI’ll Show You.

Just imagine a convention where all the STUPID REJECTERS in the world showed up and you got to meet them. You probably wouldn’t remember their names, only the fact that they were the ones who REJECTED Elvis, or Marilyn or, The Beatles. Those REJECTERS are all kicking themselves in the butt because “the rejected” proved them wrong. Elvis sold over 1 billion records with eighteen #1 hits … we are all glad he didn’t go back to driving a truck.

The famous movie actor, Sylvester Stallone, once said, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” Take rejection as a wake-up call … someone sounding the alarm for you to recommit yourself to prove them wrong.

Detractors, Critics, and Rejecters are Only Right

If You Let Them

Ride For The Brand

A few weeks ago I asked you all to send me in your favorite quotes and the response was overwhelming. While I’m deciding how I am going to use all this great material, I thought I would share one quote that really stood out to me, because:

  • I had never heard it before  
  • I didn’t know what it meant and  
  • When I found out what it meant, I really liked it.

Sam Bertelsen, sent me the quote, who had it passed on to him by his Dad. Sam describes the company that he works for as … a small, fly-by-night company, called FedEx.  Sam is a real character, who lives in Montana and is fan of cowboy traditions and that is where the quote he sent me came from. The quote was, “Ride for the Brand.” It is an expression of loyalty to a cowboy’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. I was now very intrigued about the expression, so I did some more research.

Most cattle on a cattle ranch are given a brand, a unique mark burned into the tough hide on the backside of the cow; it means that cow belongs to that ranch. But the expression, Ride for the Brand,” was more than just a mark that determined ownership of a cow. It became a symbol for those who lived and worked for the ranch and was a visual representation of the values and principles that ranch stood for. Cowboys were expected to dedicate themselves to the boss and the group of cowboys who worked for the ranch. The cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. I was really liking what my research was turning up, so I kept digging.

I then came across … Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West – by James P. Owens. Mr. Owens listed these points to follow:

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start 
  4. Do what has to be done 
  5. Be tough, but fair. 
  6. When you make a promise, keep it.
  7. Ride for your brand 
  8. Talk less and say more 
  9. Remember some things aren’t for sale 
  10. Know where to draw the line

Mr. Owens even notedRide for your Brand”, in his list. The reason why I share the quote with you is I think it is as fitting today as it was in the old west. Loyalty to your company should be a given. The company you are working for deserves your best, all the time. Sam said his father also told him  … to work every day hard and ask yourself would your company hire you again tomorrow based on your performance today?  I suggest you use that quote to measure your performance every day!

If you want to advance your career with your company, then Ride for YOUR Brand.”  People will sense the pride you have for your company and the appreciation you have for working there. Remember, the cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. If I was your boss and knew that was the way you felt about our company, wild horses couldn’t pull you away from me. I would do everything I could to keep you. But, for you bosses out there, you need to understand that employee loyalty comes from employer loyalty. If your employees are delivering for you, you need to always have their back, be in their corner and singing their praises.

Being Loyal Gains Loyalty

Ride For YOUR Brand

Don’t Confuse Them

Your boss uses the following words in a meeting: sanction and temper. Did you raise your hand and ask, “Excuse me, but I am confused about your sanction comment; does that mean you approve of it or we are to boycott it? And then you told us to temper our comments, so do you want us to soften them or strengthen them?” Or, did you think to yourself:

  • No way am I going to risk advancing my career by questioning my boss.
  • I am going to let someone else fall on the sword and ask the questions.
  • Hey, I’ll find out later what my boss really meant.
  • Not a chance in the world will I ever point out to my boss they just used a two words that have totally opposite meanings.

How employees handle this dilemma is a very telling sign as to the leadership qualities of their boss. I believe if no one says a word, then we are dealing with a difficult person to work for; a boss who might be best described as a mean, belittling, oppressive, and over-bearing person. If that is the case, a roomful of employees just walked out of the meeting having no idea which definitions they should use.

What if you are a global company, with multiple languages being used to communicate. The “context” of what was said (or written) can easily get lost in translation. The next thing you know you have employees moving in opposite directions all thinking they are doing the right thing, which is a true formula for disaster.

Our English language is riddled with puzzling words that are potential traps for confusion that can lead to problems. The examples I used in the first paragraph, sanction and temper, are called “Contronyms”, which are words that have contradictory meanings. Another area of confusion can stem from the use of “Homophones”. A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot. Other examples are … break / brake … blew / blue … by / bye / buy …fair / fare … hear / here … witch / which … and … would / wood. In fact, the list of homophones is quite extensive. So, for you scholars out there, I have a short quiz for you; all the answers are homophones so let’s see which ones you can answer.

Example:   If four couples went to a restaurant, how many people dined?  

Answer :   eight ate.

  • 1. What would we do if we found bad plants spoiling our lawn?
  • 2. What would you say in the evening to a soldier in shining armor?
  • 3. What are groups of sailors on an ocean pleasure trip?
  • 4. What is a group of musicians that isn’t allowed to play?
  • 5. If they are not here, where are they?
  • 6. What is the name for a weird street of shops that sell incredible things?
  • 7. What do you call a bucket that has seen a ghost?
  • 8. If a devil is completely sinful, what is an angel? 

Can’t you sea that the answers to these questions are as plane as the knows on yore face.

In a world of global communication, when a click sends a message for all the world to see,

may I suggest you choose your words wisely, or what a fool you could appear to be.

 Leaders who confuse people, aren’t Leaders for long.


Homophone Answers

“That’s Not My Job”

I find many people fail to advance within a company because they don’t take responsibility for the overall success of the company.  It is as if they perform their job with blinders on; ignoring anything that is going on around them. They have decided that they are ONLY responsible for their job, function, task, assignment, or duty and nothing else. Now, I am not suggesting that you should mettle in other people’s jobs. But, when you see a problem or mistake getting ready to happen that could be avoided if you just took a moment to bring it to their attention, I think you should speak up; especially if it is going to cost the company money or the loss of a customer.

Years ago I came across a wonderful explanation of what I am suggesting. I think when you read it you will better understand the point I am trying to make.    (the author is unknown)

This is a story about four people named,

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done,

and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.

Somebody got angry about that,

because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it,

but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody

when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

I know successful companies are looking for people who are willing to take the initiative; people willing to do something even if they haven’t been asked to do it. If you want to advance in your company, I suggest that when you see a problem, take the initiative to fix it without waiting for a directive to come down from your boss. You can focus on just your job or you can also be concerned about helping to make your company be successful. Personally, if I was putting together a team of people for a major project, I want people who are both FOCUSED and CONCERNED.

It is as simple as oiling a door that has squeaky hinges. Every time Somebody opens that door it makes an annoying, squeaky noise that bothers Everybody in the room. Anybody could have taken the initiative to oil the hinges, but Nobody did. Everybody thought Somebody would eventually oil the hinges … but you guessed it … Nobody did it. If you were working for me and I found that your “REAL” attitude was … that is not my job, I wasn’t hired to do that, or that is beneath my job title … you soon wouldn’t be working for me. Start being the Somebody who does what Anybody could have done, but Nobody took the initiative to do. Because if you do, Everybody is going to want you on their team.

What Do Initiative and Success Have In Common ?

Everything !

Adjust vs. Change

Unexpected things happen all the time which we have to deal with, whether we want to or not. We can adjust to the circumstances or resist them. I find the people who adjust are a great deal more successful than the ones who don’t. It is one thing to be stubborn to your convictions, it is entirely different thing to be unaccepting to the new circumstances that have just occurred. Instead of looking at things under the painful guise of “Having to Change,” I think it is more effective to say, “It’s time to adjust.”

I would say it is definitely time to adjust when your company decides to let you go. Oh, they can say it in so many different ways; they can tell you they are retrenching, downsizing, rightsizing, re-purposing or re-aligning staff. I had one client call it a “RIF.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym “RIF” … it stands for “Reduction in Force.” I guess you might say that is a nice way to tell people, if there is such a way, they have been laid off. But in your eyes, you see it as being canned, kicked to the curb, booted out, terminated, shown the door, sacked, discharged, axed, let go, dumped, ditched, dismissed, pink-slipped, issued your walking papers … or in the simplest of terms … FIRED. I heard one person say they had been issued their “DCM” notice, which stands for “Don’t Come Monday.”

Whatever a company wants to call being “laid-off,” the reality is you now have to ADJUST to this new situation. I really prefer using the word ADJUST rather than CHANGE, because it seems easier, in context, to do.

The weather changes and you ADJUST what you are wearing.

The economy changes and you ADJUST your spending habits.

Traffic is bad and you ADJUST your route.

Sales are down so you must ADJUST advertising or prospecting activity.

Production is down so you must investigate the cause and ADJUST.

Your health changes and you ADJUST your exercise and eating habits.

Your boss changes and you ADJUST to their style of management.

You have a newborn baby and you ADJUST your sleeping habits.

You get married and you ADJUST from an “I “ to a “We” way of thinking.

In business you have to ADJUST to competition, technology, economic issues, healthcare issues, rising expenses, changes in media advertising, changing demographics of customers, and availability of workforce … to name just a few. So, instead of using that painful word “CHANGE,” may I suggest you start looking at approaching things with an ADJUSTMENT mentality.

People have a real tendency to resist change, but they do seem more accepting of ADJUSTING to the circumstances. Sometimes it is just the perspective of how we are going to address a situation/problem that will help people buy into doing what is necessary to fix it. Most of the time you don’t have to change everything to fix a problem; you just need to make some ADJUSTMENTS. Would you rather someone say to you, “You have to CHANGE what you did.” … or … “With a few minor adjustments, what you did is going to work great.”?

Our world is constantly changing … so your life is in a constant state of adjustment. Always remember, there are things you can’t change so you must ADJUST or you will not succeed.

Successful people know that

if they aren’t reaching their goals

it is time to ADJUST their actions.


The Amazing Power of Four Words

Some say the four most powerful words in coaching are, “I believe in you.” I think we need to expand that to teaching, mentoring, management, leadership, parenting, and relationships. What a wonderful thing to tell somebody, “I believe in you.” Think of how it made you feel when it was last said to you. Oh, there’s the problem … are you having trouble remembering when someone last said it to you. That is truly a shame, because the words are SO POWERFUL and have a way to motivate, inspire, and encourage us all. But the flip side of this is, when was the last time you told somebody those words? Are you having trouble remembering when? That is a shame as well.

In our personal lives, so many times we take for granted the ones we love the most and give them the fewest compliments. Oh sure, they know we love them, they know we think they are really talented, they know we appreciate the little and big things they do for us, they know we feel we can always count on them … sure … they know. Right? A compliment not given is no compliment at all. Inspiring words not shared are not inspiring at all. Don’t assume people know how they are doing, when your mouth never utters a word.

In our business lives, we also take people for granted. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 46% of the people who quit their jobs, did so, because they didn’t feel appreciated. WOW! We spent the money to find them and train them, but we can’t utter a few words every so often to let them know they are doing a good job. The words are free … they cost you nothing … but not saying them can end up costing you a lot.

I have had bad teachers and good teachers, bad coaches and good coaches and bad bosses along with some good bosses. I can’t ever remember any bad teacher, coach or boss being a positive person. NOT ONE. But, I can remember the good teachers, coaches and bosses who all had a positive side to them. I wanted to do more for them and not let them down. I would never want to disappointment them because THEY BELIEVED IN ME and told me so.

What a wonderful thing it would be to have someone say … “Because of you, I succeeded.” “Because of you, I didn’t give up!” We all need affirmation; some of us need it more than others. If you want people to produce more, raise their level of competence, perform at a higher level, and deliver more than expected, then let the following four word phrases become part of your everyday life. Great teachers, managers, coaches, and bosses all know they should …

Show them the way                 Help them keep trying             Make them feel special

Help them learn more             Show faith in them                    Prepare them to win

Inspire them to succeed         Be a confidence builder           Be there for them

You will be amazed what a positive effect the phrases “I believe in you!” or “You can do this!” can have on people. If you don’t believe me, just give it a try. It sure can’t hurt to try and it costs you nothing to do it … but it could be costing a lot … to stay silent.




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