Soft Skills Notes

Page Contents


A very nice example on how re-wording can really change the tone of something from this SO thread.

Change Had you looked at the error console, it would have informed you what the issue was, to If you look at the error console, it can tell you what the issue is, really does make a super difference! Use of present tense.

Subtle Questions That May Or May Not Have Subtext

Hold and maintain yourself - breath and put on 2% of a smile to soften jaw and shoulders.

"How hard can it be?"

Go to the asker - accept the question and address it with the road blocks you've had. For example:

Thank you [and mean it]. Okay, so, how hard can it be? There were a few blockers that made it harder than it first appeared. The plumbus seemed simple at first, but what I found was that the dinglebop didn't smooth out correctly using the standard process and blah blah blah ... Did that help?

The idea is to accept and build on the question/statemtn. Use "yes and..." and not a "not, but...". Try to view it as a gift even if it a seamingly nasty question.

Treat it is TRACT:

  • Thank you.
  • Repeat. This gives you time to think and also allows the asker to hear how they asked the question. It can also open the question up to the rest of the room and prevent you getting into a 1-to-1 if in a group setting.
  • Answer factually.
  • Check back and clarify.
  • Thank you.

"You're working on something I didn't know you were working on?"

Just answer it - why are your working on it? Answer with and stick to facts and tread the question as a fact. The questioner just didn't what you were working on. For example:

Yes, you're right, you might not have known, let me explain The reason I'm working on it is that whilst working on my last couple pieces of work I found that it was hard to push the dinglebop through the grumbo and came up with this solution to do it. I think it will save us time, blah blah blah...


If someone uses inflammatory language, you can reframe it. For example, if someone said,

John that useless d@$khead from Gazorpazorp didn't add the f'ing schleem to the dinglebob!

You can reframe it and repeat it back to the person.

John didn't add the schleem to the dinglebob?

It's a suble clue that their language is inappropriate and implicitly states how they should have said it.

However, if John was in the room at the time, this may not, however be appropriate as it could be construed by John as allowing such language to be acceptable. If that was the case then using a model like WISH/SBI/LAP would be a stronger choice.

Feedback Models

Feedback tends to be in the space between nice and nasty: it's not nice, and importantly its not nasty! Its important to note that bumps in the road of a relationship that are properly sorted out can build a stronger relationship as participants will have the confidence that difficult things can be talked about without risking the relationship.

OSB - Observe / Suggest / Benefit

I just heard you use the phase "how hard can it be".... could we use different lanuage? The benefit is that.....

WISH - What / Impact / Silence / How

This model is very similar to ones like Sitation/Behavior/Impact (SBI) and Action/Impact/Desired behvior (AID).

The WISH model can be used for either good or bad news.

  • What:
    • Evidence based - you have seen and heard as specifically and forensically as possible!
    • Data driven.
    • E.g. "I saw you being angry" is not a fact. "Angry" is your own interpretation of what you saw. Remove this type of emotional labelling.
      • Short and sharp summary
  • Impact:
    • This is the impact your observed on the receiver and observers. It could also include the giver.
    • Your expression of the impact must still remail specific and factual I.e., data.
  • Silence:
    • Give the feedback receiver room to speak their piece.
    • They need to digest it and you might need a pause to chill too.
      • You dont change me - I change me - this tends to take place in silence
  • How:
    • How do we go forward or do differently.

LAP - Listen / Agree / Pause

  • Listen:
    • Let go of the need to win. Listen for a common ground: this changes the quality of listening.
  • Agree
    • Listen for something I can agree with - rarely are we 100% in opposition - that 2% whatever that we share.
  • Pause
    • Time to think and to digest message

Calling Out The Behaviour

  • Factual description about the observed behavior.
  • Can be about yourself and whats going on for you then and there.
  • Can we reset this somehow? What was the common goal again?

HEAT - Hear / Empathy / Ask / Take Action

This is good when the conversation is nearer "nasty" than "nice" on the not-nasty, not-nice spectrum. * Hear them out - however they want to say it. * Emphathy - I care about your needs - this is safety for them. * Ask Questions - Offer up summary of what you've heard forward /rewind / repeat -- UNDERSTAND. * Take action - Look at solutions

Misc Coaching

  • Am I reacting or am I responding?
  • Assertiveness - Acknowledging and respecting the rights and needs of others whilst your maintain your own.
  • Actions based on small data sets.
  • Whats at stake - gain or loss - makes it high stakes. Ego, identity, pride?
  • Shared goal - client focussed - whats the person Im talking to focussed on.
    • Mirror their focus/feelings/needs
    • How much do you care about my needs/wants/rights/desires.
      • Even if I am a "difficult person"
      • How aware are you of them!!
      • Only when sense youre aware are I likely o comms coop etc.
      • ASK questions - how to know whats driving Bob!!
  • Language pretty accurately, I think so, I beleive. Wishy washy to Bob Lacks certainty - which Bob might like.
  • How can you come in with a grater level of certainty around your plan and why is it good news?
    • More certain planning
    • Your objective for the meeting and some prep FROM THE OUTSET LOOK AT IT AS POSITIVE - Not that you're break bad news - breaking the GOOD news of how to server the client - Sell the upside. Work out what Bob wants Work out what do I want What does good look like What are some bullets I can use why this is good for the client and good for bob Gets away from the "I think" language.
  • Threat scenario - layoffs GET CURIOUS - AS QUESTIONS - FIND OUT WHY / DRIVERS / NEEDS to address them.
  • PLAN YOUR OBJECTIVES for conversation
    • Upside / downside that I can articulate.
    • now we're talking aout the stakes
    • Advocacy v.s. enquirey Blind men holding elephant example - if i dont have all the answers ASK
    • Play with metaphores they give or offer it up yourself.
  • QAQA - Take an answer and next question based on that - NEXT NATURAL QUESTION Get the beginning middle and and end. The whos the wheres and the whys So everyoone has a narative what is Bob carrying around with him.
    • I can just rewind to this moment... theres something you said that I neec calirty on. Can you talk me through it again
    • Could you tell me again a little bit more aout the pressures your under so we can keep it in mind.
      • Advacy - just means you are sharing your statements & get understanding via enquiry.