Big Lesson from Sherif Callie

March 3, 2016 – My daughter loves Sheriff Callie’s Wild West cartoon movie, and she will watch it every day before going to school. This morning episode told a story how Stinky farmer (*yes that is his name*) is under-threat by scary Bugs that will eat his Berry fruits to oblivion.

Sheriff Callie asked a bunch of people to help so that they can quickly harvest the berry before the bugs attack, however they could NOT agree on what is the best harvesting method.

Each “powerful” person maintains their position and strongly argue that their “way” is the best, regardless of the imminent bugs attack. They ended up debating without making much progress.
The problem is resolved when Sheriff made an passionate plea that “it is acceptable that there are more than one way to harvest Berry, what’s more important and as a priority is to harvest as soon as possible”

So – Sheriff Callie is my type of Powerful Leader! 🙂

A good Leader, does not only has the ability to speak up and defend his arguments, becoming dominant and influential, but also able to “See the Big Picture”, to understand Priorities, and to work through conflict (which sometimes unavoidable) in achieving the common goals.

Resolving Conflict – Tips and Techniques

“Choice of Words” matter – Be sensitive to it

1. Avoid “Always or Never”
When confronting someone, refrain from using the words always or never. When you say to someone: “You always…” or “You never…,” the other person is going to focus more on that one word than on the point you’re trying to make and is likely to become instantly defensive. Rarely is anything always or never.

2. Avoid “You”
The number one rule when resolving conflict is never to open a conversation with the word you. Doing so may result in anger, yelling, hurling accusations back and forth, or someone stomping off. The you word is going to immediately put the other person on the defensive.

3. Focus on the “I”
When you’re having an issue with another person and decide to discuss it with him or her, it’s difficult to have a productive conversation when you lead off with an accusatory statement or one that sounds as though you’re blaming the person for the problem. When you confront someone who’s done something that bugs you, keep the focus on “I” rather than on “you.” Think about how the person’s behavior made you feel. Open the conversation with an “I” statement describing how the event affected you, and you’ll come across in a more constructive manner. After all: “I’m” the one with the problem. “You” may not even know that what you’re doing that bugs me.

4. “I” Phrase
You don’t want your opening statement to sound like an attack the other person’s character, so always begin with an “I” phrase:
“I was hurt when you said I make too many mistakes.”
“I became upset when you took credit for my work.”
“I felt betrayed when I heard that you talked behind my back.”
“I became confused and lost focus when you interrupted me during my sales presentation.”
“I was surprised when you jumped in before I had time to finish.”
“I get frustrated every time you talk so loudly that I can’t hear my customers.”

If you don’t know how to launch into your conversation, try prefacing your “I” phrase by saying something like: “I have something I need to talk to you about” or “I have something I need to get off my chest” or “Something happened that’s been bothering me.”

“I have something I want to talk to you about. Yesterday during our meeting, I became upset when I was in the middle of my presentation and you disagreed with what I was saying. That really threw me off track for the rest of my presentation.”

5. Phrase of Understanding
Opening your conversation with “I” phrases keeps the focus on how the other person’s actions made you feel. After listening to that person’s response, it’s important to let the person know you understand that he or she may view the situation differently. By doing this, you demonstrate that you’re willing to listen to the other perspective before drawing your conclusion or assigning blame.

Offering a phrase of understanding allows you to step into the other person’s shoes for a moment. Let’s say that a coworker has been short tempered with you. It’s been bugging you because you can’t think of anything you did to cause the person to treat you this way, so you offered an “I” phrase and your coworker said he was sorry. Then you offered a phrase of understanding such as: “I realize you didn’t do that on purpose, but it made me wonder if I said or did something that bothered you.” Saying this encourages your coworker to give you more information: “No, it’s not you. My mother had a pretty serious operation and since she was released from the hospital I’ve been staying with her. I’m beyond exhausted and running on empty.” You have an aha moment. In this scenario, offering a phrase of understanding and walking in your coworker’s shoes put everything in perspective.

Example : “Look, I realize that you wouldn’t do that on purpose to upset me.” The ball is in the other person’s court now. She responded: “Of course I didn’t do it to upset you. I didn’t know if I’d have the opportunity to voice my opinion if I didn’t speak up right away.” They now have a constructive dialogue going.

6. Phrases of Apology
Saying I’m sorry doesn’t necessarily mean saying you’re wrong. Saying I’m sorry means you’re the one who’s taking responsibility for resolving the conflict and mending the relationship. You might offer an apology to explain your state of mind, how you feel about what happened, or why you felt the need to bring up the issue.

Offering a phrase of apology can go a long way in opening the lines of communication and productively moving the dialogue along. A sincere apology holds a great deal of power. It can diffuse anger, lessen pride, and soothe hurt feelings. You won’t always need to incorporate a phrase of apology into your conflict resolution conversation, but if you feel it’ll help move the dialogue along, why not? Whenever you’re at a stalemate in your discussion and the other person isn’t willing to budge or look at the situation from your perspective, offering an apology can often change a person’s disposition.

Offer a phrase of apology whenever you feel it will encourage empathy between the other person and you.
“I’m sorry if I seem overly sensitive.”
“I’m sorry if I misunderstood your intent.”
“I’m sorry that we need to have this conversation.”
“I apologize if I misunderstood what happened.”
“I regret that I have to bring this up.”
“Please forgive me for feeling this way.”

7. Phrases of Compromise

Compromise is the optimum way to resolve conflict. People are usually able to reach a compromise when they remain flexible, ask questions to gain a better understanding of the situation, listen with an open mind, look at the circumstance from the other person’s perspective, and try to find middle ground. When people who are in a conflict discussion are able to compromise, the chances of agreeing on a solution greatly increase.
Communicating phrases of compromise means that you want to negotiate fairly and find the best solution and that you’re willing to remain open as you work toward an agreement. Phrases of compromise demonstrate that you want to cooperate, listen, and find middle ground. When you’re willing to cooperate, others will be more apt to cooperate with you. When you’re open to listening, others will be more apt to listen to you. And when you’re trying to find middle ground, others will be more apt to meet you halfway. When those things occur, you’re on your way to negotiating a suitable conclusion.

When you open your conversation with an “I” phrase and offer a phrase of understanding and your colleague doesn’t take responsibility, you’ll want to add a phrase of compromise to continue the dialogue.
“Let’s talk about this. I need to know why it happened and how we can keep it from happening again.”
“Can we talk about what happened?”
“I feel that we need to talk this out so it doesn’t happen again.”
“Let’s go somewhere in private and try to resolve this.”
“Let’s talk this over and find a suitable compromise.”
“I’d like to hear how you saw the situation so that I better understand.”
During your discussion to resolve the problem, it’s important to remain flexible so you’ll want to incorporate additional phrases of compromise.
“Here’s how you see the issue: ________. And here’s how I see it: ________. Let’s see where we can come together on this.”
“Since we don’t agree why this happened, let’s lay out the facts and come up with a solution we both can live with.”
“Why don’t we each state our viewpoints? Then we’ll see if we can find common ground.”
“We need to resolve this somehow. The only way to do that is for each of us to be flexible and try to come together.”

Timing is important when you’re trying to resolve conflict of any kind, so before beginning your discussion, make sure it’s a good time. When Kate asked Emma if she had a few minutes to talk, she made sure that Emma was open to having the conversation at that time. If now isn’t a good time for the other person, ask when it will be and then schedule a time that’s agreeable to both of you.

It’s a good idea to restate the resolution just in case you misinterpreted what you and your coworker agreed to.

8. Phrases of Resolution

When each of the involved parties is able to voice their opinion, listen to each other’s perspective, compromise, and agree on a solution, everyone feels good about the outcome. That’s how many conflict resolution discussions go.

Offering a phrase of resolution is an important next step. You want to make sure that everyone truly is in agreement about the outcome and, in the event that you aren’t able to garner agreement from all the involved parties, you want to make sure that everyone understands why this is the best solution.

For example, during a discussion on the best way to resolve billing mistakes, you agree to manage it at the point of contact, but one member of your team feels that the employee who was responsible for the error should handle the problem. As the meeting winds down, you need to gain the hold-out’s agreement to the resolution by explaining why that solution was chosen: “Look, Josh, we understand that you feel differently. (understanding) But, if we turn the contact over to another employee, there’s going to be a delay in getting the problem resolved. It’ll take extra time to explain the situation. And, what if the employee’s on vacation? Since the rest of us feel this is the best way to handle these errors, can you live with our decision?” (resolution) Josh responds: “I see your point. In the past we’ve been inconsistent in handling these types of problems but as long as we’re all handling them the same way, then I’ll agree.”

Problem Solving and Decision-Making with Six Thinking Hats


Problem-solving is naturally part of our everyday’s Life. No matter where you are, and what you do, sooner or later you will encounter an issue. From trivial issues like hunger, fixing make-ups, or perhaps you feel that the weather is a bit hot, up to the more complex and critical issues – like car problem, resolving a system down situation, or need to take decision related to multi-millions budget. This article is intended to address business or technical-related issues.

Logically, the next question is, how do we resolve the issues, or taking the correct decision, in the most effective and efficient way, with time-constraint?

We are going to talk about Six Thinking Hats. It’s a “simple” methodology which will ask you to look at decisions from multiple perspectives. Six Thinking Hats will force you to move outside your habitual thinking style, and helps you to get a more rounded view of a situation.

Bottom line? Think in parallel! There are 6 different point of view, which is conveniently described as “wearing Six different Hat” as follow :

1. White Hat 

  • White Hat is about data and information
  • Used to record information that is currently available and to identify further information that may be needed
  • Questions to be asked:
    • What information is available
    • What information do we need
    • How are we going to get the missing information
  • Stay focused on Facts and Data only

2. Red Hat 

  • Red Hat is associated with feelings, intuition and emotion
  • Allows people to put forward feelings without justification or prejudice
  • Questions to ask:
    • What are my feelings right now
    • What does my intuition tell me
    • What is my gut reaction
  • Instinct-based, avoid logic

3. Black Hat 

  • Black Hat relates to caution
  • Used for critical judgment, sometimes black hat is overused
  • Questions to ask:
    • What are some possible problems
    • What difficulties could we encounter
    • What are points for caution
    • What are the risks
    • Why it won’t work
  • Suitable for Contingency Plan, Damage Control

4. Yellow Hat 

  • Yellow Hat is for a positive, optimistic view of things
  • Looks for the benefits in a situation
  • Encourage positive view even in people who are critical
  • Questions to be asked:
    • What are the benefits
    • What are the positives
    • What are the values
    • Can this be made to work
  • Optimistic view
  • Helps keep going when things are looking bleak
  • Logical, positive approach

5. Green Hat 

  • Green Hat is for creative thinking and generating new ideas
  • Questions to ask:
    • What creative ideas do we have (to approach the issue)
    • What are the alternatives
    • How can we overcome the black hat difficulties
  • Innovation, Brainstorming

6. Blue Hat

  • Blue Hat is about process control
  • Ask for summaries, conclusions and decisions
  • Questions to be asked:
    • Where should we start
    • What is the agenda
    • What are the objectives
    • Which hats should we use
    • How can we summarize
    • What should we do next
  • Control, thinking process
  • Overall framework

In a team meeting, you need to ask everyone to wear the same hat at the same time for a period of time. Everybody to contribute. Do not label anybody with certain hat characteristic.

Benefits and advantage of using this methodology:

  1. Allows us to say things without RISK – all kind of thoughts will always correlate to one of the “Hat”
  2. Prevent silence in the group
  3. Simple to use, basically temporary thinking focus
  4. Covering end to end, all aspects of problem

Real-life Implementation in a 30 minute meeting:

  • First 2 minutes – Blue Hat – define purpose of meeting and expected outcome
  • Then 10 minutes – White Hat – present the facts, discuss information
  • 3 min – Green Hat – to generate new ideas
  • 5-10 sec – Red Hat – intuition, gut feelings, we do not want to let logic taking over in this short phase
  • 3 min – Yellow Hat  – pros
  • 3 min – Black Hat – cons
  • 5-10 sec – Red Hat  – what decision need to be taken? Which option?
  • Green Hat to address risks
  • Ending – Blue Hat – summary

Well, that’s simple isn’t it? Probably not quite so – and it will take some willingness, passion and interest to follow the method – until it becomes a habit. Hope you find this article enjoyable and useful! 🙂

Quick and Easy Tips on Telephone Communication

Customer Support

The main idea to have a great telephone communication is to Give the right impression right from the first few seconds when you answer a call. Here are some suggestions on how we can achieve that goal :

  1. Answers call promptly, ideally on the second or third tone/ring.
  2. Quickly introduce yourself “Hello, this is A from X company”
  3. Greet the person
  4. Smile when you are having a phone call. Yes, smile will cause your voice to be a little bit more energetic and warmer
  5. Use a “telephone voice” – clearly and slowly, neutral tome, measured pace
  6. Ask how you can help – makes Customer or Colleague feels they are important to you. This gesture will also send “a message” that the Caller’s concerns are your priority
  7. Politely ask the Caller’s name, record it and then Use the name in the conversation. It will show that you are taking an interest in the Caller.
  8. Practice Listening Skills – listen to what the Caller is saying attentively, write down key points, verify your understanding by paraphrasing the Caller’s statement with your own words.
  9. Be enthusiastic and show respect to the Caller. Practice it over and over again until it becomes a habit/attitude.

I hope the tips help you on your daily business activities. Practice makes it perfect! 🙂


5 Tips on How to Deal with Difficult People

1. Control your emotions. Remain in control regardless the other party’s behavior. Control your voice, body and facial expressions. Don’t loose your Cool, Don’t Overreact, Stay focused on your goal. When the signs of stress are coming, acknowledge them. These skills are easier said than done, but mastering it would be well-worth it and rewarding.

Look for more great tips here :

2. Build empathy. Try to understand the cause of the other Person’s concerns. Listen carefully without interruption (to save the other person’s face). Ask clarifying questions. Repeat the Person’s concerns with your own words – sometimes several times. You need to make sure that he feels that you are listening and understands what he’s trying to convey. By repeating, the other Person will hear his own words being said to him, and that can lead to a positive chain reaction within his/her thoughts.

3. Use Assertive, Gentle Confrontation/Approach. Explain the negative effect they cause to the negotiation/communication. Focus on behavior, not the Person. Do not insult the other Person. Do not lecture, just be straightforward. Tell how you expect behavior to change. Name the difficult behavior and state what you want it replaced with. Let them know what will happen if they continue with their behavior. Ask for agreement.

For example: “Mr. A, I understand that this situation is very frustrating. I understand that the expectation is to have permanent resolution. Let’s continue our conversation with calm, focus on the issues, try to move forward. Yelling and swearing will only increase anxiety and everyone can become nervous. We can reconvene again when all of us are ready to discuss this issue in a calm and respectful way.”

4. Seek for Alternatives. Ask the other party to suggest for alternatives. It shows that you are reasonable, and will enhance your credibility. It’s even better if you are prepared with alternatives before negotiation/communication starts.

5. Use breaks/create distractions to redirect attention and improve the overall atmosphere. Tell joke or funny story. Timing is essential, otherwise it’s going to have a reserve-impact.

Do You Think You Know Everything About Effective Email?

Writing Effective Email Messages

Hi Guys, this is my second article about a very basic communication tools that most of us are well aware of : EMAIL.

OK – so you have been using emails for years and so far you may think that your style of writing has never caused any issues. That’s fine. You can skip this article 🙂 However, if you are willing to spend just a little bit time to read, please go ahead and see if following information is useful !

Why do you need to care about How to Write an Effective Email?
Well, here’s an easy answer : Email messages illustrate your professionalism and would enhance your credibility.

Basic understanding : Email is one of the method to deliver of information, and it can be regarded as fast way to communicate as well. The word “fast” can be relative and subjective here, according to the importance level and priority.

That being said, If you need fast response from someone who may not be accessing email at that time, a quick phone call, or even a quick meeting at the person desk can be more productive.

When “Writing Email” as a way to communicate can be considered inappropriate:
1. When you are delivering bad news
2. When you’d like to share confidential information
3. When you are want to convey warnings and reprimands
4. When you absolutely need fast/immediate response
5. When you think that written format might be misunderstood

As a general rule, it is definitely necessary for you to read and consider email before sending. Here are the questions that you should be asking to yourself (and try to imprint it on your mind so that it becomes a reflex) :

1. Is the email easy to read? did you have to re-read any sentences to grasp their meaning?
2. Would you be annoyed or offended by the email message. Is the tone courteous? are you angry? Do not offend the intended reader.
3. Is the message too impersonal or too familiar.
4. Is it junk mail.
5. Make sure that spelling, punctuation, grammar are correct.
6. Make sure that the message is going only to the intended reader.
7. Include all the details your reader needs.
8. Avoid terminology that might cause confusion. Provide description as necessary.
9. Make the message as easy to read and understand as you possibly can.

Personally, when I need to write an important email (for example : to Customer, or Senior Management, to technical team, or to provide feedback to someone) – I really take my time in writing it. Develop a draft, and then re-read it. I will try to review the draft based on the above 9 questions and see if I can further improve my wording.

Hope this is useful 🙂

April 21, 2010

October 20, 2009

May 11, 2008