Zombie Communications

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The focus of this post is on communications or the lack thereof. One of the definitions of “communicate” is

to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc.
Team communicating before zombie attack

Team communicating before zombie attack

When dealing with people, regardless if its your customer or your team, you have to communicate.  This involves, in one fashion or another, speaking and listening.  I’ve written about how I feel speech can be presented different ways.  I know my wife is going to call me a hypocrite but you really need to stop….listen….stop…talk.

First, you have to be in agreement as to when, where, and how you’re going to communicate with each other.  Once you get that out of the way, the things you say and the things people hear are not always the same thing.  You can’t have agreement until the thing you say and the thing someone hears are the exact same thing.  So, what is a way to help ensure someone hears what you intended them to hear?  You need to ask questions.  The next time you are talking with someone, ask questions so you feel completely confident they heard exactly what you wanted them to hear.  Once you make it past that, things should go much smoother because you’ll both be seeing eye-to-eye. (Thank you Simon Sinik for that)

Above you see a very simple graphic.

A is doing all of the talking

Notice that he is facing the listeners.  He’s engaging them.  He’s talking but is he listening?  Is he asking any questions?

B are doing all of the listening

Notice how engaged these two look.  They must really be listening to what A has to say.  Unfortunately, they are not reciprocating.  They should inform A that his brain is about to be eaten.  Granted, they may have said something like “You need to watch your back”.  If A doesn’t ask “when”  or “what do you mean” he needs to watch his back, he’s going to be zombified.

C is a zombie

Zombies are not good communicators.  They don’t speak, other than an occasional moan.  They don’t listen, unless you’re crying for help.  In that case, they come and eat your brain.  For example, I can scream “Don’t eat my brain, don’t eat my brain!”  Will a zombie listen?  No, they’ll eat your brain because all they hear is “brain”.  Note to self:  Zombies are not team players and they are also poor communicators.

Team did not listen

This is what happens when people don’t listen.  The zombie attacked A, who was doing all of the talking.  Both A and C zombified B.  This is what you get if you’re not a good listener.  Perhaps this would not have happened if they were reading each other’s body language.  But that will be left for another post.

Like the images?  Find them at Pictofigo

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The Critical Path Week Ending February 13

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January 28 through February 5This week we dealt with the great blizzard of 2010.  It provided me extra time to write.  Then again, it took that extra time I thought I was going to spend on vacation.  My wife thinks I live in a world where everything is related to project management.   I go on a little rant about treating your customers right and then also lend an ear to my colleagues.  Read how I handle being both the sponsor and the project manager on a project.

2/7/2010

Snow Removal From an Agile PM Perspective

With our home getting hit with over 30 inches of snow in one weekend, I compared our HOA and the snow removal team to an Agile team.  Read how they went from failure to success, in one customer’s eyes…

2/8/2010

My Big Fat Greek Project

My wife compares me to the father on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  I’m no Gus Portokalos, but give me a word, any word, and I will show you that the root of that word is Greek.  Actually, show me a scenario, any scenario, and I will show you how it can be related back to Project Management.  If that doesn’t do it for you, just put some Windex on it…

2/9/2010

The FedGov Fail Day 3

Jhaymee (@TheGreenPM) Wilson inspired this post.  I was frustrated the Federal Government would be closed for 3 days in a row.  I believed we could all be working, at least in a limited capacity, from home.  If the Federal Government could have a plan in place for H1N1, why the hell couldn’t plan for snow?…

2/10/2010

MS Project Task Types – Fixed Work – Units – Duration

Upon reviewing a vendor’s Integrated Master Schedule, created in MS Project, I noticed something very peculiar. Where some tasks could clearly be marked as Fixed Duration, everything was Fixed Units.  In the post, I include a YouTube video to help you understand the difference between Fixed Work, Fixed Units, and Fixed Duration…

THE most important thing is the customer

…You’re welcome?  Did I say thank you? No, I didn’t.  I offered a pleasantry. Just have a nice day.  Goodbye, our business relationship has completed.  Have a nice life…Listen to them.  Be polite.  Deliver value.

2/11/2010

How Do You Know Your Metrics Are Worth It

So you want to create some metrics.  More importantly, someone has told you that you need to create some metrics.  How do you know if you’re just making work for yourself or if you’re just putting a spin on the same old data?…

2/12/2010

Sometimes It Is Best To Just Listen

It was the first day our team had been together in a week.  The DC FedGov closures have really rattled people.  As contractors and consultants, we are not Government employees.  We play by different rules.  Depending on your contract, if the FedGov is closed, you may not get paid…

2/13/2010

The Difficult Task of Managing My Logo Selection Project

Using 99Designs has allowed me to crowd source a design.  I listed the price I was willing to pay, the duration of the contest and provided as much background information as possible to enable designers to provide me with quality submissions.  We immediately entered a rapid prototyping stage…

THE most important thing is the customer

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Remember the last time you were at the grocery store and the clerk responded by saying something unrelated to what you asked? This cashier is focused on ringing up your items.  They don’t engage you at all.  No hello; no how are you; no did you find everything.  He or she finishes ringing up all of your items and you forward a have a nice day and they respond with something canned like you’re welcome. You’re welcome?  Did I say thank you? No, I didn’t.  I offered a pleasantry. Just have a nice day.  Goodbye, our business relationship has completed.  Have a nice life.

This is just simple and common courtesy.  It is being polite.  Your parents should have taught you these things as a child.  If you want something, say please. If someone holds the door for you, you damn well better say thank you…and if someone thanks you, say you’re welcome.

So, why do so many people forget this in business?  I understand some customers can be difficult.  I understand user expectations can sometimes be unrealistic.  But let me say this.  Take a minute to listen to what your customer is saying.  You should be polite and courteous to them as often as you wash your hands after going to the bathroom.  If you don’t do that 100% of the time, you have more problems then being polite.  But I digress.

Your customer is THE most important thing in your job.  It’s not the process you follow.  It’s not the product or service you offer.  It’s the customer. Wait, did I say that?  Let me say it again. THE most important thing is the customer.  Listen to them.  Be polite.  Deliver value.

(image from sft.edu)
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