Behavioral Interviewing: The Key to Hiring Success

behavioral interviewIn my last blog post, I identified reasons why traditional interviewing just doesn’t work. I also promised to share what does work, and that is behavioral interviewing.

So what is behavioral interviewing? It is a structured interview process where questions are focused on inquiring about a candidate’s past performance.


“The single best predictor of a candidate’s future job performance is his or her past job behavior.”

“How do we know this is true?  Because  it’s been proved in thousands of actual job situations for more than two decades.  Interviews that probe for past behavior have been found to be more reliable than ones that focus on personality traits, such as ‘I’m dependable,’ or ‘I’m hardworking,’ or even, ‘You can count on  me.’ And hiring decisions based on actual behavior are far more accurate than those based on gut feeling.”

“What many successful interviewers have found is that the way in which a person handled a specific situation in the past gives you valid information about how that person will approach similar situations in the future.  If a person worked well with customers in the past, he or she will most likely be effective with customers in the future.  If the person has had trouble communicating well in the past, you can predict that he or she will continue to have communication problems in the future.” 

“This is the foundation for behavior-based interviewing.  Once you understand this concept, you can plan to ask the kinds of questions that will give you the information you need to make good hiring decisions.”

– Excerpts from the video, “Interviewing: More than a Gut Feeling,” Richard S. Deems, Ph.D.

So what types of behavioral interviewing questions should you ask? It depends on the skills you’re trying to assess. However, here are some common skill sets that are important across a variety of positions and fields. These questions should give you an idea of the types of questions you should be asking to weed out that truly “great fit” candidate!


  • Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?
  • In your past interactions, how do you ensure that someone understands what you are saying?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to present complex information.
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get across an important point.

Decision Making

  • Give me an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Describe a specific problem you solved for your employer. How did you approach the problem? What role did others play? What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of when taking your time to make a decision paid off?

Planning and Organization

  • Describe a situation when you had many projects due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
  • How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give me an example.
  • We’ve all been in situations where something just “slipped through the cracks.”  Tell me about a time when this happened to you and how you handled it?


  • Describe a time where you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • Describe a time when you put your own goals aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you assist him? What was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to drop everything and focus your attention on a new task.  What did you do and how did it affect you?


  • Tell me about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
  • Give me an example of when you involved others in making a decision.
  • Think about an employee you hired for your team and tell me how you helped this person assimilate into his/her job duties and the team.

Time Management

  • Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What thing did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn?
  • Tell me about a time when you were particularly effective on prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule.


These are just sample questions you might ask. However, I hope they give you an idea of how to phrase a behavioral-based question. Now, your task is to go back and assess the position for which you’re hiring AND identify key competencies and commitment (attitude/value) elements that will ensure success, and write behavioral-based questions that will help you find that “right fit” employee!


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You’re Not the Person I Hired! Five Reasons Your Employment Interview Process Fails

princeI was facilitating an employment interviewing workshop the other day and as we were discussing why people were taking the course, one participant said,

“I want to learn why the person I hired isn’t the person who shows up on the first day of work?”

It’s all too common to have the prince or princess of the applicant world show up at the interview, but on the first day of work, a frog is napping at your front desk.


What happened?

Your employment interview process failed.

Here are five reasons why:


1. Your job description for the position you seek to fill is 20 years outdated.

Therefore, you’ve basically scammed the applicant into taking a position that doesn’t really exist and then are expecting that he or she will just go along with the “all other duties as assigned,” cop-out clause.


2. You’re still asking the same questions you’ve been asking for 20 years.

YOU: “What do you think is your greatest weakness?”

APPLICANT: “I am so dedicated to my job, I sometimes forget to go home at the end of the day.”

Guess what? EVERYONE knows the “right” answer to this question. Don’t believe me? Google it!  While you’re there, check out the right answers to these questions as well:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What’s your greatest strength?

Why do you want to work here?

Why should I hire you?

And for you contrary types, I know you’re thinking, “Sometimes people must answer truthfully.” Yes, you’re right, but not right enough to keep using these questions. Anyone dumb enough to say that his greatest weakness is his inability to get to work on time in the morning will likely weed himself out of the interview process on another question.


3. You’re asking leading questions.

YOU: “This job requires you to work every other Saturday. You don’t have a problem working every other Saturday, do you?”

APPLICANT: (Thinking. . . hmmm, I”ve got a 50/50 chance, but I’m guessing the answer she wants is NO), “Uh, no.”

If I want the job, which answer do you think I’m going to give?

And for you contrary types. . . go back and read the last paragraph of #2 above.


4. You’re asking closed questions. 

YOU: “Do you have experience working directly with customers?”


So what have you learned by the applicant’s answer? Nothing more than you will when you ask the same question to an excellent customer service provider. In fact, if you ask too many questions like this, both will appear equally qualified at the end of your process.


5. You’re asking hypothetical questions.

YOU: “Imagine you’re walking by a burning building and you see a woman on the fifth floor, leaning out the window screaming for you to save her baby, which she is holding in her arms. What would you do?”

APPLICANT: It doesn’t matter how the applicant answers!

Hypothetical questions aren’t always inappropriate. However, what would you hope to find out about the applicant for your front desk clerk position by asking this question? Even if you get the answer you’re looking for, the gap between the hypothetical and reality is often a big one. What are the odds the applicant would REALLY behave that way?

I’d much rather ask a REAL question about what the applicant REALLY did in a RELEVANT task in one of his past positions.


Now you’re saying to yourself, “Okay, so all my questions are junk. What kinds of questions should I be asking?

Be sure to check out my next blog post for the answer.



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Just Say No: Five Simple Ways to Do It

For many of us, it’s the first word we learn, thus the popularity of baby T-shirts that read, “My name is No No” on the front. We learn to use “no” first, because it’s a powerful word synonymous with taking a stand, contradicting authority, being an individual.

It was so easy to say as a child. Why do many of us stop using the word?

–From “Practical Communication: 25 Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Getting Along and Getting Things Done”
Not that it’s a new concept, but I’ve heard a lot of people over the last few weeks talk about the need to “set boundaries” with others in their lives. Although the process can be complicated, one of the first steps to setting boundaries with others is to learn how to say, “No.”

no no

However, every time I recommend this to someone, or bring it up in a workshop. I hear,

But it’s soooo HARD.”

To which I reply, “Why? It’s two simple letters, one syllable!”

Here are some common responses:

- I’ll feel guilty

- People won’t like me

- It would kill my mom if I said that to her

- I’ll seem like I’m not a team player

- I’ll get fired

The list goes on and on.

Most of these reasons people give are not really valid. Depending on how, to whom, and how often you say “no”, you may face these consequences, but when done right and for the right reasons, saying “no” to someone is unlikely to cause such negative outcomes.

What you might face is disbelief, surprise, and possibly hurt feelings on the part of the person to whom you say “no”. If that’s the case, if you’ve said “no” for a good reason, and you’re doing the right thing for yourself and for the other person, I say, let them live with it. They’ll get over it.


1. Think carefully about whether you really want to say “no,” and how willing you are to stick with it. If you’re ambivalent about the request, or are just looking for someone to beg you to do it, or you’re holding out for something better

(like a higher pay raise) then you’ve really made your choice—you’re saying yes—just making the requester work for it. If you truly want to say “no,” move on to tip 2.

2. Weigh the costs and benefits of saying “no.” What are the costs to you? Will you get fired? Will you lose a friendship? Also, ask yourself what the costs are to the other person. If you care about him or her, you may choose to do something you personally don’t want to do for the greater good of the other person or your relationship. However, weigh carefully and be realistic about the costs. Will you REALLY be fired? Will that friend REALLY disown you, or just be mad at you for a day?

3. Say “no” confidently. Look the person in the eye and say with a firm, but polite tone, “No, I can’t.”  If you want to be apologetic, then say, “I’m sorry, I  can’t” and leave it at that. This is the key to avoid being talked into doing something. If you offer rationale or explanations, people will find ways around them.

4. Offer an alternative. Sometimes we say “no” because the request doesn’t work with our schedule, values, or lifestyle, but we really do want to help. For example, we might not be able to take a day off from work to help at a child’s school party, but we’re willing to help in another way, like baking cookies or sending supplies. We can say, “I’m sorry I can’t attend the party, but I’d be glad to _____ instead.”

5. Use the phrase, “I have another commitment.” The word “commitment” sounds official and most people don’t question it. Your commitment is simply anything you’ve already determined you need or want to do instead of the request. In 20 years, I’ve never had someone reply, “What is it?” They just accept it and move on.


What creative ways (without telling a lie) have you found for saying “no?”

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5 Keys to a Meaningful “Thank You”

Usually, when someone provides a service, favor, or courtesy, many return the courtesy with a “thanks.” Unfortunately, there are instances when thanks is not only insufficient, but can have the exact opposite intended effect. Instead of the recipient feeling appreciated, he or she may feel unappreciated, angry, and very unwilling to do anything to help us again.

“Thanks for passing the ketchup,” works.

“Hey Bob, thanks for the kidney,” seems to fall short.

 –From “Practical Communication: 25 Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Getting Along and Getting Things Done”

I was facilitating a workshop and had just discussed the importance of showing appreciation, when we took a 10 minute break. During the break, a  senior manager approached me and said,

“I don’t see why I should thank my employees for doing what’s in their job descriptions; they’re getting paid to do the job afterall.” 

I won’t get into our discussion regarding money and motivation- I’ll save that for a future post. However, regarding appreciation, my response included the following comments:

• Everyone needs encouragement and to know that their effort is appreciated

• It doesn’t matter if it’s in their job description, good work is worthy of appreciation

• A little appreciation pays off- good work that gets noticed will likely get repeated

• It takes 30 seconds or less to make someone’s day with a meaningful “thank you”

• Appreciation given is usually reciprocated—and as we know …(repeat first bullet)



However, as the above excerpt from “Practical Communication” notes, there’s “thanks” and there’s a meaningful “thank you” and we don’t want to confuse one with the other.

“Thanks” is adequate appreciation for ketchup passed and other tasks requiring minimal effort.

However, if this is how you show all appreciation, others will feel unappreciated and possibly even angry.

Imagine how you’d feel if you worked through your lunch hour for a week to help a friend, only to have him or her just say “thanks” when you’re done? Or even better, my favorite- the “backhanded” thanks,

“Thanks. It’s about time you got this to me.”

A meaningful “thank you” is necessary for hard work, quality work, and of course, donated body parts. To show others appreciation that will make their day, follow these “5 Keys to a Meaningful Thank You.”


1. Be timely- say “thank you” right away.

2. Be specific- tell the person exactly what he or she did that you appreciate.

3. Share the impact- tell the person specifically what positive effect(s) his or her actions had on you, your family, your customers, etc.

4. Say “thank you” not “thanks,” and say it sincerely.

5. Say “thank you” in person whenever possible.

And a final tip- Be sure to provide a “thank you” in writing for those who might need it to provide their supervisors with positive material for their performance appraisals.

Remember, 30 seconds is all it takes to make someone’s day with a little appreciation. Be sure to take every opportunity every day to say “thank you” to those around you.

Have you missed opportunities already today? It’s not to late …

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50 things that life’s too short to (or not to)

“Life’s too short to drink bad coffee.”

The comment came from my Bestie Bev, who was pretty much appalled that I would reheat a cup of old coffee so as not to waste it. Although it was just a brief and not particularly profound moment in life, that statement is one I think of (and quote) often. It reminds me to keep my priorities straight and has helped me make big and little decisions in life when I struggle with choosing to take chances/risks/spend money or to play it safe and stay home.

So over the past week, I asked my Facebook friends and followers to share their beliefs about what life’s too short to, or not to, do, think, believe, etc.

Here is what they said:

Life’s too short

1.  not to laugh at yourself. Eventually, you get old. And then you know, without hesitation, that you have taken yourself far too seriously for far too many 

2.  to be someone’s option when you should be a priority. 

3.  to worry about dog hair.

4.  to eat food you don’t like.

5.  to waste time worrying about little things.

6.  not to buy the good toilet paper.

6.  not treat yourself to a mani/pedi, sleep in when you can, and eat that really awesome dessert that looks like it was made just for you! 

7.  not to dance when you want to.

8.  to have uncomfortable shoes or an uncomfortable bed because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.

9.  to eat fat free mayo.

10. to sleep too late and miss out on life.

11. to try to be someone you’re not.

12. to argue over money.

13. to be serious all the time.

14. to waste time folding your underwear.

15. to hold a grudge.

16. to waste time matching your socks.

17. to spend time with people who steal your happiness.

18. to sweat unless you’re exercising.

19. to be petty.

20. to waste time trying to MAKE others happy, especially when they don’t want to be.

21. to be negative all the time.

22. to dwell on what you coulda, shoulda, or woulda done.

23. to waste time hating someone, you give them too much power over you.

24. to try to achieve perfection.

25. to be disappointed.

26. to focus on mistakes instead of lessons learned.

27. not to tell others what you need from them.

28. to work a job you hate.

29. to regret anything.

30. to worry, but especially about things you can’t control.

31. to care what others think more than what you think.

32. to live in the past.

33. to live someone else’s dream.

34. not to smile at strangers.

35. to stress yourself out unnecessarily

36. to be vain.

37. not to laugh out loud.

38. to keep fighting the same pointless fight.

39. not to be grateful.

40. to stand in line.

41. to be anything less than content.

42. to ignore valuable lessons.

43. to have enemies.

44. to be cranky, especially to others who aren’t.

45. to put off your dreams.

46. not to ask for help if you need it.

47. to seek stuff instead of seeking to better yourself.

48. not to tell others how you feel.

49. to give up.

50 to not remember every day how short life is and to make the most of it.



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Dealing with Difficult People: It’s All About Choices

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Published on: May 30, 2014

I facilitated a great “Dealing with Difficult People” workshop yesterday for a group of Harris County employees. The workshop was designed to help people better understand those they perceive as difficult and to share and discuss options when you have to interact with someone who you perceive as difficult.

Notice I said YOU PERCEIVE.

Difficulty, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

man strangling coworker with his own tieA person you may perceive as obnoxious, I might find quite charming. Someone you might perceive as a nitpicker, I may consider conscientious and thorough. The label we put on others is a choice we make. . . and choices are the key to dealing with” difficult people”. You basically have four and you’ll note that not one of them involves changing the other person.


Choice #1: Do Nothing

Sometimes the behavior of the difficult person just isn’t worth addressing, either because it’s infrequent, only mildly annoying, or you don’t want to lose your job because the difficult person is your boss and you just can’t figure out how to let him know you think he’s a jerk.


Choice #2: Vote with Your Feet

Voting with your feet can come in many forms, but all involve distancing yourself, temporarily or permanently, from the person you find difficult. Examples include:

– Hanging up the phone on a customer who is blasting you with profanity AFTER warning him/her that you’re going to do so if the profanity continues

– Stopping a conversation and asking that it continue at a later time (and set the time) so parties can cool off

– Having a coworker or supervisor step in to help a customer when you’re just not getting anywhere

– Stopping visits to your mother-in-law’s house (or telling her she can’t visit yours) because she undermines your parenting

– Ending a “friendship” with a toxic person


Choice #3:  Change Your Attitude About The Difficult Person

Changing your attitude generally includes empathizing with the person. For example, instead of seeing a complaining customer as being rude, imagine yourself in her situation. If you were the one with the defective product and it was one day after a store’s return policy of no more than 30 days, wouldn’t you still want to get your money back? Wouldn’t you still argue that one day shouldn’t matter? Even if you wouldn’t, can you step out of your own shoes for a minute and step into those of someone who might see one day as being no big deal? When you do, you’ll not only be better able to see things from their perspective, but you’re less likely to fall into judgmental indignation and anger- which only stresses you out and will probably escalate the situation.

Another way to change your attitude is to understand common difficult behavior and where it “comes from”. For example, a Sniper– a sarcastic, passive aggressive person who takes potshots from afar and then says, “What are you talking about? I was just kidding!” or “You’re too sensitive!” is perceived as difficult by most people. However, consider where that behavior comes from– Snipers are afraid of speaking out directly. They’ve learned that you can stick it to someone and get some satisfaction, but use the “I was just kidding” defense to avoid having a real discussion about the problem and to avoid taking responsibility for what he/she said. They’re coming from a position of frustration and fear. It’s not about you, it’s about them. You should actually feel sorry for them because their momentary satisfaction received from the “jab” doesn’t equate to long-term problem solving. In fact, if you use choice #4, you’ll likely take all the fun out of their attacks and even have a chance of getting them to open up and let you know what they really think.

Choice #4: Change Your Behavior Toward the Person

Getting to know the modus operandi of the most common difficult types of people and learning some verbal and nonverbal techniques for dealing with them, can help you interact effectively with them when you can’t make choices 1 through 3 or they don’t solve the problem. For example, with Snipers, having a “comeback” for their copout of “You’re too sensitive,” and “Can’t you take a joke?” can work wonders on stopping sniping behavior. When a sniper says you’re too sensitive, say, “Yes, I’m very sensitive to what others are trying to communicate to me and I’m sensing that your comment might mean more than it seems. Can we talk about it?” When a Sniper accuses you of not being able to take a joke, say, “Yes I can take a joke. However, your comment seems to be more than a joke and I feel like you’re trying to tell me something. Let’s sit down and talk about what’s going on.”

Responding to a Sniper by letting him or her know that they’re not hidden in the weeds, that you see them and what they’re doing is going to result in one of two things:

#1- Denial on the part of the Sniper that anything is wrong, BUT he or she will think twice before sniping you again because most Snipers have no desire to have a real conversation.

#2- You may get lucky and the Sniper might actually take off the camouflage and share what’s really bothering him or her. Now the real conversation can begin!


So before you let a “difficult person” drive you crazy or make you miserable, consider all the choices you have. You may not be able to control the difficult people in your life, but the one person you have total control of is you.




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Happiness isn’t Happenstance, It’s a Choice

puppy smilingI woke up feeling happy this morning.

Yes, it was partly because my first conscious thought was, “I have the day off  today!” However, it was also because I chose to be happy–

despite the fact that my cat woke me up sharpening her dagger claws on my hip,

despite the puppy pee I had to clean up from my foster puppy, and

despite the fact that I burned my breakfast. . . twice, because I have “shiny thing syndrome” and kept getting distracted.

We all have the ability to be happy.

You may have seen a television commercial featuring a mother who is beaming over the fact that her son is using his straw to blow bubbles in his chocolate milk, causing it to overflow the glass and spill on the table. When I first saw this commercial, I thought, “What a joke, I’d be ticked off if my kid did that.” In fact, the first several times I saw the commercial I made negative, inappropriate comments about that mother.

However, looking at the commercial again this morning, in my already established state of happiness, I chose to see it differently. The mother wasn’t happy about the spill, but about the fact that older son was bringing joy to his baby brother, who was joyfully laughing at the bubbles. Of course, this is a scripted commercial, but it reminded me that we can look at a situation and see it negatively, and therefore feel angry, upset, or frustrated, or we can look at the same situation positively and find humor and happiness.

Happiness is a choice.

Since we can choose our own thoughts, which are where happiness originates, we can choose to be happy. Below is a short documentary film entitled, “Seeking Happiness”. The filmmaker, Ariel Lepito, made the film as part of her senior mastery project last year. This insightful film is one I continue to watch to remind me that happiness can be found in many places, if we just choose to look for it.

Enjoy! (BTW, Julia and Sophia are my nieces and Ariel is their cousin!)

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30 Customer Service Mistakes that Will Cost You Business

For the past 30 days, I’ve been keeping track of customer service flaws, mistakes, errors, and omissions I’ve experienced. Since I’ve always considered myself an equal-opportunity critic, I’ve also taken note of my own mistakes as a customer service provider to my clients.

When I first started this “project,” my goal was to identify an error each day that would likely cause a customer to either stop doing business with an organization, or at least consider it.

In the end, I easily averaged three to four customer service mistakes each day. After eliminating “repeat” errors, here are my top 30 mistakes accumulated in only 30 days.

Which customer service mistakes will you admit to, and more importantly, what are you going to do to avoid them in the future so you keep your customers?

1. Not returning calls at all

2. Not returning calls when your voicemail SAYS you will (by close of business, within 24 hours, etc.)

3. Not keeping promises or commitments

4. Making promises you KNOW you can’t keep

5. Trying to justify or rationalized poor service to your customer

6. Hiring (and/or keeping) staff with bad attitudes or poor service skills

7. Blaming the customer

8. Being inaccessible to your customers

9. Responding to complaints with excuses

10. Placing “policy” before “service”

11. Waiting until after a deadline or commitment date has passed to let your customer know there’s a problem or delay

12. Not following up

13. Not treating all customers equally (cost of services, adherence to policies/procedures, etc.)

14. Failing to listen

15. Skipping basic, common courtesies such as “please,” “thank you,” etc.

16. Blaming a coworker or employee to avoid taking responsibility for a mistake

17. Poor product or service knowledge

18. Poor eye contact

19. Bringing your “baggage” with you to work (fight with spouse translates to rudeness with customers)

20. Hitting customers over the head with baggage you’ve carried over from a previous customer interaction

21. Employees socializing with each other and ignoring customers

22. Inconsistency in any aspect of business

23. Keeping callers on hold for more than 60 seconds

24. Multiple telephone transfers

25. Criticizing or reprimanding employees in front of customers

26. Calling a customer, “Hun,” “Sweetie,” or another “term of endearment”

27. Holding an in-depth conversation with “sir,” or “ma’am” and not bothering to ask (and use) the person’s name

28. Presuming to call a customer by his or her first name

29. Having a long voicemail greeting or an automated, multi-optioned phone answering system

30. Having a long, automated, multi-optioned phone answering system that either disconnects the call when the caller presses zero or starts the whole announcement over again

If you have any other customer service mistakes you’d like to add to this list- comment and let me know!


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4 Easy Steps for Expressing Your Feelings

When you were a child and were angry, upset, hurt, or frustrated, you probably didn’t have the words to express how you felt. It’s a rare three-year-old who can say,

“Mother, I’m infuriated and disillusioned with your decision to deny me that chocolate torte for my midday repast.”

angry kidInstead, a child will huff and puff, scream, cry, throw things, and otherwise have a temper tantrum.

So now that you’re an adult and have the vocabulary to express yourself, are you doing so, or are you still acting like a three-year-old?

Most of us don’t have full-blown temper tantrums, but we’re still using some of the same techniques we’ve used since we were children:

angry man. – Screaming and yelling

– Sarcasm

– Name-calling

– Dropping hints

– The “silent treatment”

None of these methods usually result in a positive outcome.

Those who don’t use any of the above methods and instead just let things go, or keep feelings bottled-up inside, still end up with less-than-desirable results.

It’s time to stop acting out our feelings or supressing them and start expressing them appropriately.

Using a four-step “I Language” statement allows us to communicate how we feel in a way that is clear, specific, and non-defensive. It’s the best chance we have for letting others really know how we feel and for getting an appropriate response from them.

To deliver an effective “I Language” statement, we should:

1. Describe the other person’s behavior.

2. Express your feelings about the behavior.

3. Explain the behavior’s consequences.

4. Make a request for future behavior.


1. Describe the other person’s behavior.

When describing the person’s behavior, be sure to specifically describe the behavior and leave out judgments and evaluations.

“You’ve been fifteen minutes late three times this week.” This statement is specific and factual—assuming you’re telling the truth.

“You’re a slacker and aren’t doing your fair share.” This statement is nonspecific and judgmental.

When we’re specific and nonjudgmental in describing people’s behavior, it’s difficult for them to argue or get defensive about something that’s true. When we use nonspecific or judgmental language, the conversation is likely to deteriorate, because when judged, most people become angry and defensive.

2. Express your feelings about the behavior.

When expressing feelings, we should begin with, “I am …” or “I feel …” and not “You make me …”

Taking responsibility for our feelings is also less likely to create a defensive response than blaming others for making us feel a certain way.

3. Explain the behavior’s consequences.

It’s important that people know the consequences of their behavior for themselves, you, the organization, customers, or others. Negative consequences can be a strong motivator for changing poor behavior. There may be instances in which a person’s behavior has several consequences. We don’t need to list them all, but we should be sure to list the ones that are most important or relevant to the situation.

4. Make a request for future behavior.

When making a request, be specific in describing the desired future behavior. In some instances, the request is implied. However, more often than not, we need to let people clearly know exactly what we need from them in the future. If the person already knew what was appropriate or what we needed, he or she would likely already be doing it. Sometimes we just need to spell it out.


“When you drive 75 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone (behavior), I get frightened (feeling), because we could get into an accident (consequences), I need you to either slow down, or please let me drive (request).”

“You’ve been fifteen minutes late three times this week.(behavior) I’m frustrated(feelings) about having to answer two phones, and I’m worried (feelings) that you’re going to get into trouble with the boss because she came by looking for you this morning.(consequences) I covered for you today, but I need you to be here at eight o’clock from now on, because I can’t continue to cover for you. (request)”

Notice the second example includes two expressions of emotions, because there are times when we may have several emotions about a situation; we could be both angry with someone and worried about the consequences. We can reveal one or several emotions based on what we feel the other person needs to know.


talk w friendThe beauty of “I Language” is its clarity.

There’s no need to scream it, hint it, or use sarcasm to get it across. For those who would suppress their feelings because they don’t know how to express them, “I Language” provides a simple formula for emotional expression.

When you state your feelings calmly, but seriously, using “I Language,” the person with whom you’re sharing your feelings will truly be able to hear them, because they won’t be distracted by your delivery, or defensive because you’ve “attacked” him or her.


Using “I Language” to assert our emotions can help in numerous interpersonal situations: from sending back a meal at a restaurant, to communicating with a spouse; from dealing with a customer service provider over the phone, to interacting with coworkers.

Being specific about the problem, clearly expressing our own feelings, and calmly explaining the potential undesired results helps to create better communication and more ownership of a solution from both parties.

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This Year, Resolve to Remove These Filler Words From Your Communication

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Published on: January 5, 2014

Being concise and to the point helps improve the quality of your communication, whether in writing, on the phone, or in person.

Working with college-bound students forced to write within specific word limits on their applications has shown me how easy it is to “say it” in 5 words instead of 25.

Additionally, many words and phrases have snuck into our language that are completely unnecessary (Hah! There’s one!)

Here are just a few of these words/phrases, also known as “Pleonasms,” that I’ve heard or read in the past few weeks.

Although omitting these words might sound short or abrupt at first, be assured, you can eliminate them from your communication without any negative impact to your message.

Phrase (Becomes)

Absolutely necessary (Necessary)

A.M. in the morning (A.M.)

At a later time (Later)

Close proximity (Close)

Desirable benefits (Benefits)

During the course of (During)

Each and every (Each, Every)

Eliminate altogether (Eliminate)

Estimate about (Estimate)

First and Foremost (First)

Future recurrence (Recurrence)

Independent of each other (Independent)

In order to (To)

Joint collaboration (Collaboration)

Might possibly (Might)

My personal opinion (My opinion)

New innovation (Innovation)

Originally created (Created)

Plan ahead (Plan)

Reply back to me (Reply)

Same exact (Same)

Still persists (Persists)

Truly sincere (Sincere)

Ultimate goal (Goal)

Vascillate back and forth (Vascillate)

Whether or not (Whether)

Can you think of others?


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