Monday, April 04, 2005

2tqr2005 - Not Just Talk! Newsletter

2qtr2005 - Feature Article - Real v. Inferred Commitments

Some people complain because, well, they just like to. Any little thing will send them off in a rant about why this is unfair, that is not right, and everything else is just plain wrong. Complaining-for-the-sake-of-complaining (CFTSOC) has become an increasingly popular hobby for many, and an increasing irritant for those who have to listen to all that toxicity day-in/day-out.

CFTSOC aside, there are times when a complaint is perfectly justified. But complaining and complaining-so-that-something-good-happens-as-a-result-of-your-complaint are two very different things. So if you're finding that your complaints are falling on deaf ears, here are some tips on how to improve the how of how to complain:

Make sure a REAL commitment was broken.

Complaints result from broken commitments - you agreed to do something for me, you didn't do it, and now I'm complaining about it. But what most people don't realize is that there are two types of commitments - REAL commitments, and INFERRED commitments. When Mary tells Mark that he'll submit her report to him on Tuesday morning, that's a REAL commitment to submit her report to him on Tuesday morning. And if for whatever reason she does not submit her report to him on Tuesday morning, Mark has every right to complain to her about it. But consider this scenario:

Mary: I'll probably have my report completed before mid-week, Mark, and I can turn it in to you then.

Mark: Great! Because I need it by Tuesday morning.

Mary: Okay.

From this exchange, Mark has INFERRED that Mary will turn her report in to him on Tuesday morning. But did she actually commit to that? No. she hasn't. She simply said that she'll turn in her report when she completes it, which probably will be before mid-week. And she took Mark's, "Great!" to mean that he was okay with that. Her own "Okay" was meant to mean, "Okay I hear you and I'll try to finish it by then," but in no way meant "Okay, I'll be sure to get it done by then," as Mark inferred.

So, does Mark have grounds to complain if Mary doesn't submit her report on Tuesday? I don't think so. If Mark wants to complain about anything, it should be about him not getting a REAL commitment from Mary with respect to the Tuesday morning deliverable, and not about her not keeping a commitment she didn't make. And as for Mary, she knew she was being slippery, so if Mark makes a stink - even if it's for the wrong reason - she's not undeserving of it.

Complain about it effectively.

Why is it that so many people complain to everybody in the world with the exception of the one person who can actually do something about the complaint? Steve will go on and on to anyone who will listen about how his boss, Suzanne, has done him wrong, but he won't say word-one to her about what's wrong ... even when she asks him.

Most likely, it's because Steve doesn't know how to complain effectively. He'll say that it's because complaining doesn't help but, remind me, why then is he still complaining to everyone else about it?! So for Steve, and everyone like Steve, who can use a few helpful hints on how to effectively complain, here's how to do it:

  1. Explain your complaint in terms of what REAL commitment was broken.
  2. Obtain agreement that the REAL commitment was, in fact, broken. (If you can't get an agreement, it's probably because you didn't have a REAL commitment to begin with - only an INFERRED one, and INFERRED ones don't count because they're not REAL.)
  3. State what you need/want to be made whole again and brainstorm alternatives that meaningfully address your complaint until you're sufficiently satisfied.
  4. Create a REAL commitment around the agreed-upon solution, including timeframes.
  5. Let go of any residual bad feelings around your complaint.

Getting commitments to keep commitments.

The saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." So when you're interacting with someone who has a tendency to avoid making REAL commitments, or conveniently forgets the REAL commitments he or she makes, be smart about it. Make a point of confirming the commitment you're hearing to see if you've got it right. Ask if it is a REAL commitment that's being made to you, or not. The more overt you can make the commitment process, the more likely commitments made to you will be honored - and the more effective your complaints will be.


2qtr2005 - Book Review - Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End

Title: Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End
Author: Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Link to Purchase: (Don't) buy the book

From the publisher:

From the boardroom to the locker room to the living room--how winners become winners . . . and stay that way. Is success simply a matter of money and talent? Or is there another reason why some people and organizations always land on their feet, while others, equally talented, stumble again and again?

"There's a fundamental principle at work--the vital but previously unexamined factor called confidence--that permits unexpected people to achieve high levels of performance through routines that activate talent. Confidence explains:

  • Why the University of Connecticut women's basketball team continues its winning ways even though recent teams lack the talent of their predecessors

  • Why some companies are always positively perceived by employees, customers, Wall Street analysts, and the media while others are under a perpetual cloud

  • How a company like Gillette or a team like the Chicago Cubs ends a losing streak and breaks out of a circle of doom

The lessons a politician such as Nelson Mandela, who resisted the temptation to take revenge after being released from prison and assuming power, offers for leaders in both advanced democracies and trouble spots like the Middle East "From the simplest ball games to the most complicated business and political situations, the common element in winning is a basic truth about people: They rise to the occasion when leaders help them gain the confidence to do it.

"Confidence is the new theory and practice of success, explaining why success and failure are not mere episodes but self-perpetuating trajectories. Rosabeth Moss Kanter shows why organizations of all types may be brimming with talent but not be winners, and provides people in leadership positions with a practical program for either maintaining a winning streak or turning around a downward spiral.

"Confidence is based on an extraordinary investigation of success and failure in companies such as Continental Airlines, Seagate, and Verizon and sports teams such as the University of North Carolina women's soccer team, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as schools, health care, and politics."

The book was filled with a surprising number of case studies. Each one focused on a particular company and how its leadership addressed its problems. Many were absolutely fascinating and I liked how examples of failed turnarounds were also included to help add richness and depth to the materials.

Too, her central theme was a good one - that rebuilding people's confidence in each other is an essential step in ending a team's or an organization's losing streak. So was her discussion of the Three Cornerstones of Confidence, her methodology for enabling such a transition:

  1. Facing Facts and Reinforcing Responsibility,

  2. Cultivating Collaboration, and

  3. Inspiring Initiative and Innovation.

And in what was, perhaps, the most important paragraph in the whole book - Chapter 1; Page 7 - Dr. Kanter succinctly addressed what confidence is, what it influences, and what it is influenced by:

Confidence consists of positive expectations for favorable outcomes. Confidence influences the willingness to invest - to commit money, time, reputation, emotional energy, or other resources - or to withhold, or hedge investment. This investment, or its absence, shapes the ability to perform.

Yet on the whole, I found the book to be a very long, difficult, and only somewhat rewarding read. The author took almost 200 pages to set-up her discussion on the Cornerstones, something her editor could have better addressed. Too, there were so many richly-detailed case studies that I found myself skipping over many of them just so I wouldn't lose the point the author was trying to make by including them. And, while Dr. Kanter has much to be proud of, I found her style to be unflatteringly self-aggrandizing. So it's good I read the book so you don't have to!

The important thing to remember about Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End is that if you're looking to build confidence in your team, in your team members, or in yourself, you must be willing to invest an appropriate amount of money, time, reputation, emotional energy, and other resources. That idea is definitely a keeper.


2qtr2005 - Great Things I Didn't Say!

  • "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." - Frank Zappa
  • "Too many people think they are wonderful in business because they talk well. They don't realize that being wonderful in business means "listening well." - Peter Drucker
  • "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin
  • "Like a ten-speed bike, most of us have gears we do not use." - Charles Schulz
  • "Things turn out the best for people who make the best of the way things turn out." - John Wooden
  • "Consider the postage stamp: Its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there." - Josh Billings


2qtr2005 - What's News at GottaGettaCoach!?

  • Barry Zweibel was asked to write an article for the Wellness column of the quarterly newsletter for Interline Brands.
  • GottaGettaCoach! donated one month of free life coaching to St. Ignatius College Prep School as an item to be auctioned at their upcoming fundraising event.
  • Barry Zweibel was accepted into the 2005-2006 edition of the National Register's Who's Who for executives and professionals.
  • "How to F.R.A.M.E. the Coaching Conversation: Tips for New and Aspiring Coaches," an article written by Barry Zweibel, was published by the American Society of Training & Development in OD/Leadership Network News, an ASTD newsletter where OD and leadership experts provide insight and knowledge on current issues and trends.
  • information from the GGCI leadership coach page


2qtr2005 - New Product Notice - Rainy Day Wisdom

Rainy Day Wisdom – Find out what the rain has to say about dreariness, exuberance, and getting yourself going again – especially on those days when you just don't feel like it – in this fun, new, e-book written by Barry Zweibel. Order your downloadable copy today!

And don't forget to visit our updated on-line Store.


2qtr2005 - GottaGettaBlog! Weblog Highlights

I've been using GottaGettaBlog! as a vehicle to capture news, notes, and musings about coaching, mentoring, and getting more from YOUR Untapped Potential - along with whatever other stuff I happen to find amusing and/or thought-provoking - since June of 2003. Highlighted postings from last quarter include:

From January 2004

From February 2004

From March 2004

For the last few years, I’ve been using the robot to notify subscribers of updates to my GottaGettaBlog! web log. With recent changes they've enacted, I’m now in the process of migrating away from that system. To avoid getting duplicate notices, you’ll need to cancel your monitoring of To do so, simply click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the next email you receive from " robot []."

If you'd like to sign up for the new notification system, update your subscription here.

2qtr2005 - 3-Click Challenge

Congratulations to Cari McClurkin. She's won the 3-Click Challenge and has earned one month of coaching at no charge to her!

2qtr2005 - Administrivia

This edition of Not Just Talk! was written and created by Barry Zweibel, professional certified life coach, certified executive coach, and president of GottaGettaCoach! Incorporated.

GottaGettaCoach! specializes in helping executives - and managers aspiring to be executives - think more strategically and creatively about what's most important to them, and provides life coaching and career coaching services to those looking to make good things happen sooner in their lives. For information on how GottaGettaCoach! can help you - or your organization - please contact Barry directly at 847.291.9735,, or via

PRIVACY POLICY: GottaGettaCoach!, Incorporated values your subscription and respects your privacy. As such GGCI will not rent, sell, or lend, any subscriber information to any 3rd party without your express permission – permission we are NOT asking for at this time. GGCI is proud to be a member in good standing with The Better Business Bureau.