Communication Conflict Resolutions Managing Stress Patterns

Stress & Mixed Messages: How to Stop the Maddening Communication from Messages that Are Inconsistent and Unclear

Hi everybody! Sylvia Lafair here.

Today, I’d like to talk about stress and mixed messages. When stress gets high, mixed messages get even higher, and I was thinking about when I was raising my daughters, and you know, I did mix messages. I’m sure most of you can relate to this one. I’d say, ‘Go to your room and stay there for the rest of the day,” just ready to tear my hair out. Anyway, about an hour later, I’m yelling up, ‘Come down here! Dinner’s ready!’

So, what do you do with that? You come down and eat, but these mixed messages jungle and jangle and make us always feeling a little crazed, and in the past week, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from clients, and here are a few of what they’ve been saying: one said, “I handed in a proposal that we’re getting ready for the future, and I handed in a proposal and my boss said, ‘Your writing is wonderful,’ and then I got the proposal back to put in its final form. It was trashed and slashed and filled with red marks and changes.” So, what’s the message I was getting? Anyway, that’s one.

Another one said, ‘we’re getting ready to hire some new people even if it’s a difficult time, and I was told I was in line, and then I was told we’re recruiting outside.’ So, I don’t know where I stand with any of this and somebody else said, “you know, I’m going to wait to start the meeting because I said I would be a little bit late, and I’ll wait. The boss said, ‘I’ll wait to start the meeting,’ and then of course started it without me there, and I’m not sure how to handle all this.” So, I am giving right now advice to the receiver, the person who’s getting the mixed messages and it’s three simple things. Simple in words but not so simple when you want to do them.

So, it means stop, question, reboot.

Those are the three. Now, the first one is, stop when somebody is giving you mixed messages. All the time you simply have to say stop now. Stop is what we call a pattern interrupt. It’s like throwing ice water. The word stop universally means the same thing everywhere. It means exactly what it says. It means stop and it means what we’re doing isn’t working or you have to wait for something else before you can do what you want to do. What the word stop is a power word. So, please use it. The first thing you do is, say stop, and you say exactly what’s going on.
I’m getting confused. I’m getting puzzled. I’m feeling frozen. These mixed messages I’m getting are not helping. That’s one.

The next is, you ask a question. I call it an accountability question, and the question is, what do you want as an outcome from this conversation? You ask the other person, who’s been giving the mixed messages? and then you wait. You wait, you don’t answer. You don’t give them clues. You simply let them answer, and then you have to reboot, and say, I would appreciate it if we could do this differently, because when I’m getting the meeting is on in the morning, and then half hour later, the meeting is off, and then another 45 minutes later, the meeting is on, and then the meeting is off. It makes me crazy, and I need your help in this. So, you’re also offering something to the other person.

Good communication is really clear. So, that’s from the end of the person who’s receiving the mixed messages. The one who’s giving the mixed messages, you’ve got work to do. A lot of good deep powerful work to do, because what you have to keep in your mind, and I would put this on your computer, on the refrigerator, on your mirror, in your bathroom, and it’s, it says, ‘from here on, I will say what I mean and do what I say.’ That’s called consistency and and we’re looking for that. Say what I mean and do what I say, even if what you’re going to is, look I don’t have an answer for you right now. We’re going through a difficult time and I may have to pivot or change my mind or change the direction, but I will let you know and we will talk about it. So, you give people clues to this. You don’t just keep throwing out the mixed messages, and if I were raising my kids now, I would not go to that place I did, which is, go to your room for the rest of the day.

I remember once saying, ‘go to your room for the rest of the year and I think it was January 3rd. So, obviously my frustration and my stress had hit the the end point to all of us. We need to learn how to handle stress and keep it in what I call, ‘the safe stress zone in that middle zone,’ because then we’re not overreacting with lots of noise or pretending nothing’s wrong or stuffing it and keeping it in.

Now, what I would appreciate is, if you found this helpful, if you would click the like button at the bottom or at least put a response in on how you’re handling stress. That would be wonderful and look for more information about this next week.

Thank you so much. This is to your success. Thank you.

Communication Conflict Resolutions Leadership Success

How Is Good Work Measured in Most Organizations Today?

How is good work measured in most organizations today?

It’s no longer about longevity and loyalty. It’s no longer about being first one in the office and last one out (to show how hard you work). It’s not enough to say ‘yes’ to each and every project, no matter how overwhelmed you become.

What should be front and foremost in leadership development programs to stay up to date?

Let’s drill down to what makes the biggest difference.

A look back first: we have moved from the industrial age, through the information age into the knowledge age and are on the brink of entering the wisdom age.

Big leaps in short amounts of time.

What, in heaven’s name, is the wisdom age?

Wisdom is not simply sitting on the top of a mountain and meditating. Nor is wisdom simply spouting out lots of facts and statistics.

It’s the ability to prepare. In today’s world, it’s easy to get the facts and stats to make good decisions. We have more quick routes to information than ever before on our planet.

Along with the rational reasons for making decisions, it’s also vital to understand the motivations and emotional reactions people have to the facts and stats.

Blending emotional intelligence with rational perspectives is the heart and soul of the wisdom age.

Here are the key elements for leaders and emerging leaders who are ready and willing to take on the challenge of bringing wisdom thinking to work:

  • Purpose: Everyone in the organization has a strong vision of what they are doing for company success. There is a clear path that includes contributing to the community in which they live.
  • Openness: Employees feel free enough to speak up and be heard rather than just sit on the sidelines. There is a sense of confidence that they are being treated like adults who can help solve problems and contribute in a creative manner.
  • Compensation: There are no hidden agendas that keep employees feeling they are being exploited or ignored. They feel empowered to ask for a just and fair wage. There are sites like to keep this emotionally laden subject open for healthy communication.
  • Excellence: Everyone is given opportunities to take on-line courses, such as GUTSY WOMEN LEAD to enhance leadership development. And senior leaders are committed to their own continued growth.

This push into the future, to becoming wise, is not without its challenges.

This requires a new way of thinking about organizational culture and individual accomplishments.

It’s not enough to have a “tune up” at work and offer a course on conflict resolution or gender equity and call it a day.

It’s about visioning a place where everyone is valued and respected. Where people learn the best communication skills and ways to handle the discomfort of conflict without creating a huge ‘us vs. them’ divide.

The world is poised for positive change right now, if we take steps in the right direction. Communication skills can be enhanced and that is a good place to focus.

Let’s grow wise together.

Let’s make it happen.

Get a copy of 79 Power Sentences that offers some good tips for how to talk with each other effectively.

Want more about communication and power?

I would love to offer you a FREE copy of my book “79 Power Sentences.” Find out the one word that changes minds quickly.

power sentences


Communication Leadership Leadership Strategies

Getting the Rebels Who Challenge Everything You Do to Comply

You have the skills to be a leader. You are given great feedback about how well you communicate.

So, why is it still a struggle to get some of the rebels who challenge everything you do to comply with what you want done?

You question yourself all the time, wondering if you must always fire and hire to get rid of the troublemakers.

And yet, even with new hires you can’t be right all the time.

Lately, do you question yourself?

Maybe, just maybe, it could be in the way you handle the rebels.

Here is what Matt wrote, bet you can relate:

Dear Dr. Lafair: In reading your book “Don’t Bring It To Work” I began to realize that frustration and conflict at work is a two-way street. Until now, I always viewed the ‘troublemaker’ rebel at work as THE PROBLEM.

I would tell HR to get them out of the place as fast as possible.

This is what I learned from understanding the basic patterns that come from how we were raised and how we bring those behaviors to work.

Wish I had learned this in my leadership development program years ago.

However, glad I know this now.


The rebel I’m talking about is Marcy. She is so skilled at her sales job I don’t want to fire her. However, she is a pain in the ass!

She is always rebelling against authority and then she spreads the seeds of antagonism to others on her team (her team is MY team).

She is always making me wrong or undermining me and telling folks that I must be stupid.

My colleagues said, “Just fire her.” My mind kept saying, “There has to be another way.


Marcy sees me as the angry parent. She told HR that she thinks I am always judging her, that I scold her, raise my voice to her (so she said). She said that I give her more work than the others on the team (not true).

I took a risk and talked with her.

Now, I didn’t want to pry, or sound like a therapist. However, I did want to figure out what I could say that would give us both a new outlook on how to respond to each other.


Here is what I did and how she responded.

I used what I would always say to my kids when they were little, I used my ‘inside voice’. I am not super loud, however, when I met with Marcy, I talked just a tad slower and monitored my tone.

I noticed that she leaned toward rather than away from me.

I asked her to describe what she needed from me when we had some disagreements to discuss.

She sat up straight and sighed.

She then told me that when I talked with her in a demanding, you better do what I say, manner, it pushed her to stand up for herself.

Yikes, I had to look at myself, not just at Marcy. Yes, that two-way street of relating.

I realized that I did sound like an angry parent. I was surprised and even a bit shocked.

That was it. I did not ask her about her childhood. I did not ask her to change. I did not challenge her. I just listened and thanked her for her candor.

Fast forward a month.

I am starting to really like this woman I called a demon rebel to myself. She is more willing to have a conversation, more willing to think about what I request of her. And, is becoming the super salesperson in our group.

She jokingly told me after our last team meeting that she no longer says to herself “Dad, I wish you would just shut up.”

So, there it is. Your idea about bringing what we learned as kids into the workplace has been validated.

Now, onto the pleaser and the avoider.

I have a new leadership skill that will save me tons of aggravation and my company tons of money. I get it, when possible “Fix em, don’t fire em!”


Matt (Smarter by the Day)

Communication Conflict Resolutions

The Jerk at Work, Not Me

Hi everybody!

Well, today is one of my favorite subjects, “The Jerk at Work, Not Me”. It’s out there. It’s always out there. We’re never the jerks at work. Are we?

Well, you never know, but here’s what I’d like to do. I’m going to give you a sentence that you can use. Craft it any way of one I’m giving you the bare bones of it. So that, when you talk with that jerk at work, the one who’s driving you crazy, that person who every time you see them, your hair stands on end and your stomach starts to rumble, and you just want to either run away or fight with them or you freeze.

The three ways that we behave when we are in tough situations, we either fight it out, we run away, we flee or we freeze like the deer in the headlight. So, no more that. Let’s talk about very quickly what this sentence is now, but before that, I just want to tell you, this it’s very important. Usually, that person but jerk at work, I call them sometimes ‘the petty tyrant’ has a lesson for you, has something that is a part that you’re looking at out there, that you’ve got inside. Who knows, but it’s worth checking out.

So, there are two parts to this sentence and the first part is, the truth. You take a cup of coffee, some tea, some chai, some coke. You take whatever you want and you go and say to them, “Can we have a few minutes?” or you text them and say, “When do you have time?” However, you want to do it, you’ve got to meet someplace quietly just the two of you, and what you start with is, the truth. I know, we’ve had some difficulties and then the big word that comes in and not, “But I know we’ve had some difficulties, but blah blah blah” because when people hear that, the but stops them. I know we’ve had some difficulties and very important, and I’d like to find a way to become better colleagues or whatever you want to put there. So, let me start from, “Again, I know we’ve had some difficulties and I’d like to find a way for us to become better colleagues.”

Often, I’ll put in something like that, and then say an extra add. So, it’s not a run-on sentence, but it’s two ads in there, and who knows maybe we can become friends. The stories that have come out of people doing this have been spectacular. So, give it a shot! Remember, I said, I’m going to keep these short just a few words to it. I want you to get the but out of your yes. I want you to get the but out of your sentences. I want you to change it to and, and use the word, “Friend it takes us back to when we were little kids. We all wanted to have friends. Will you be my friend? You know, will you be my friend.” You may find that when the two of you start to talk, you will find some place, places and ways that you really can connect differently.

So, give it a shot!

Let me know how it works, and to your success.

Thanks so much.

Communication Gutsy

Communication to Captivate

Hi everyone!

I’m so glad you’re here with me today, and it’s talking about communication whichever you think of it. We will learn how to talk, It’s a little baby. You’d start with, da, da, da, da, ma, ma, ma, but somehow we started putting words together, and out of that, we created sentences. So, we all learned how to talk but big question or and big question.

How many of us learned really how to communicate? And this month is dedicated to communication to captivate, and captivate means to intrigue, to get people to listen, to wanna really be with you, and I said, today I was going to just talk about four words, but I counted again after I wrote that, and it’s really five.

One word is so short. I had put it together that really make a difference when you’re talking with people, with your boss, with your colleagues, with your direct reports, with your clients, with your neighbors, with your husband or wife, with your partner, with your kids, anybody, and it has a little bit of magic to it, but the big part of it is, you have to really in here. Believe it, because we are now picking up phone, errors and fakeness all over the place. I’m not supportive.

I think what social media is in the middle of finding out what’s real, and what’s not, and we’re in the kind of in-between place. It’s, I call it, the people of the parenthesis. It’s where the old way doesn’t work anymore, and the new way hasn’t been fully created. So, we’re kind of in between that, and it’s an exciting place, because you can be creative and you can really do a lot of good things

So, I’m going to give you the words but first, I’m going to give you an example of somebody I was working with, who was really really upset, and she was telling me about a situation at work doesn’t matter what it is. It’s not the point. The point is, she was really upset and I was listening and finally, I asked her a question and she told a deeper truth, and again it doesn’t matter what the truth was. I could feel it. I could feel she was sharing something. She was being authentic. She was in words, really, really being able to be vulnerable, and as we talked, I looked at her, and then I thanked her for what she said and I used the formula, but again it has to come from here. Not just here and it was what you said means a lot to me. That’s it, “it means a lot to me.” So, it means a lot to me.

I told you five words not four. “It means a lot to me,” is a very powerful thing to say to someone.

The room got very quiet and she looked at me and she said, “Thank you for that because I was really, really feeling awkward and uncomfortable being that vulnerable.” Well, I’m used to being people being vulnerable with me all the time. I mean I was a psychologist and a family therapist, and before I moved into the business world, and even in the business world, I really help people get to the core of their own truths. Some you can say one on one, as they would do with me, and some you say in a group, and I’m always saying, be careful where you tell your truth. Somewhere you’re being vulnerable. You don’t want to make a fool out of yourself or do something that’s going to end up giving feedback to you, that you don’t like, but those words stick with people.

“It means a lot to me,” makes a difference because it goes in. It means you can hear them. They’re being heard. People are being heard and it’s a wonderful thing to do. So, I promise to keep these quicker and one sentence is all you get at a time anymore, because I know people are so busy. You can’t stay on too long. So, let me say this to end, “It means a lot to me that you’re here. It means a lot to me that you’re watching and listening. It means a lot to me that you care to make a difference in the world, and to find the best ways to communicate to captivate.

So, sign up for a strategy session. My team and I are here for you. I have some incredible coaches I’ve worked with. Most of them for many years, and they’re really solid great people.

Call me. I’d love to talk with you or email me and see if you’re in the mood to actually do something people aren’t doing much anymore. Read a book. My book “Gutsy” is great for women, and “Don’t Bring It to Work” still has major value for everybody in the workplace.

So, have a beautiful day and thanks for watching.

Communication Growth

Take Your Communications Skills Through the Roof

In this video, I share how to take your communication skills through the roof (so everyone loves your message)

Have you ever spent lots of time making sure your leadership communication is clear?

That means it’s short and to the point. Right?

And when you check what you hear is, “Yes, it’s clear and I just don’t care!”

Listen in and I share how to communicate to captivate. It’s all about clarity AND caring.

Once you combine the ingredients of clarity with the real purpose of what you want to say you have the magic of a visionary who can make things happen.

Let me know your thoughts!

Communication Confidence Leadership Leadership Strategies Leadership Styles

Gravity Statements (A New Way Of Thinking) Saves Leaders Aggravation

Today I’m discussing:

Gravity Statements (A New Way Of Thinking) Saves Leaders Aggravation.

Here is what you will learn when you listen in:

* How Gravity Impacts your conversations.
* The key to a great Gravity statement.
* Let Gravity help you get past overwhelm.

Are you ready to explore this powerful concept deeper? Sign up for a breakthrough session with me here: