What’s Your TACT-ometer Reading?

Copyright Judy Nelson, Used by Permission
This is a guest post by Judy Nelson. Coach Judy Nelson has golfed with presidents, been heckled by famous comedians, and researched insurance policies for riding elephants on behalf of Zsa Zsa Gábor—and those were the ordinary days! Her new book, Intentional Leadership debuts in January.

“Tact is an ability to live in the midst of ugliness without getting ugly.” –Debasish Mridha

 

What’s Your TACT-ometer Reading?

A tachometer in a car measures the rotation of the crankshaft. A TACT-ometer in a leader measures the rotation of the crankiness or degree of rudeness they reveal and inspire in others. Leaders everywhere would be wise to make sure their TACT-ometer is functioning well—or take it in for a tune-up.

In a manual transmission, the tachometer serves a significant role for the vehicle’s engine maintenance. It helps the driver select an appropriate gear for driving conditions. It denotes the maximum safe range for rotation speeds, which when exceeded are indicated in red. When a driver operates the car while the tachometer reads in the red areas, it’s called redlining the engine. Prolonged extreme redlining in the tachometer may cause less than optimum performance that could cause excessive wear and tear or permanent damage to the vehicle’s engine (And in case you were wondering if I knew all this before, I didn’t. Thank you, Wikipedia.)

A TACT-ometer is a gauge for your mouth. It serves a significant role for your team’s morale maintenance. It helps the speaker select appropriate words for working conditions. It denotes the maximum safe range for lack of tact, which when exceeded leaves the speaker’s recipient red with embarrassment (or rage). When a speaker regularly operates in the red zone, I call it redlining the team. Prolonged extreme tactlessness or extreme tact may cause less than optimum communication and conflict that could cause excessive wear or permanent damage to relationships. (Sadly, I learned this concept through experience, not Wikipedia.)

 

“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” –Isaac Newton

 

I use the Workplace Big 5 Profile 4.0™ Assessments to help my clients assess their performance on the TACT-ometer. The Workplace Big 5 Profile stimulates changes in self-awareness and identifies ways to maximize your natural talents in a manner that works with your natural energy levels.

Some people who score in the 0 to 35 range don’t believe they lack tact. In fact, the harshest person you know may think that he or she is just being direct and even kind because telling the absolute truth is the right thing to do. Who can argue that much of the time telling the absolute truth is the right thing to do?

 

“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.” –Harry Truman

 

And who can argue that there are times when it isn’t?

The definition of tact can vary depending on the area where you live. Take, for instance, the different regions of the U.S. In one part of the country, being direct (up to and including the point of being blunt) is not only accepted but also expected. In another region, extreme politeness is the norm. These expectations tend to stay with you even when you leave the area you consider “normal.” When people with different definitions of tact work together, office tension is often the result.

Copyright Judy Nelson, Used by Permission Copyright Judy Nelson, Used by Permission

Knowing your natural tendencies regarding tact could help you to choose more consciously what you say and how you say it—i.e., to manage your mouth strategically. I advise my clients to use I-messages. I-messages create responses that feel less accusatory. They demonstrate more tact when used correctly. Unlike You-messages, (e.g. “you always interrupt” or “why don’t you just…?”) I-messages focus on the feelings of the speaker rather than the person they are addressing. They provide a tactful way to deliver a direct response.

 

The Right Words Matter

When it comes to how you communicate, let’s face it: The right words matter!

Top 10 Surprises of Writing and Blogging

10 Surprises & Benefits of Blogging

My Top Surprises

I’ve been blogging now for four years. I have done some things right, but many things wrong. If you are thinking of starting a blog, I shared my advice in an earlier post.

Someone recently asked me, “What surprised you most about getting this project going?” At first, I thought about the platform I used, about the wrong advice, about the misunderstanding I had about it all. As I reflected on it further, it was even more basic.

As I think about this list, I realize that these surprises are not only for bloggers but also for authors. See if they ring true for you:

 

10. How long it takes.

When I first started, oh my word! Everything took so long. I would labor over something. I thought I was a good writer but learned how far I had to go. The formatting, the images…the everything. It just took forever even with some help. Fast forward a few years and all that has changed.

Benefit: I have a greater appreciation for digital content creation and design.

 

9. How fast you can write and produce.

Sure, I may labor on something for longer than I should, but I don’t need to anymore. I can write posts quickly. What took forever is now routine, easy, and takes little time.

Benefit: I’m now a faster, better, clearer writer. This has been a big benefit at work.

 

8. How critics emerge.

Who ARE these people? Produce free content, designed to help people whether increasing their productivity in meetings or their creativity, and you want to argue about it? Out of nowhere, people will criticize what you say, what you do, or how it looks. Look closer and you may find that these people are unhappy, unsuccessful, and unfulfilled. Don’t ignore them, but write posts to help encourage them.

Benefit: I now handle critics better than I ever did.

 

“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” -Malcolm X

 

7. How easy it is to be discouraged or stop.

I can’t tell you how many times I consider just shutting it all down. Anything worthwhile requires a commitment, so I power through those times.

Benefit: I learned to be self-motivated and find encouragement in the small things.

 

6. How disciplined you must be.

Everyone has a different process. Some people regularly get up and write a post. That’s not at all what I do. I may write numerous posts on a long international flight and then queue them up. Some of my posts that appear were written some time ago. This blog is not my main job and not my main focus, and I keep everything in perspective. But it has increased my discipline and focus in a way that I never imagined.

Benefit:   No doubt about it. I am more productive, manage my time better, and am more efficient as the result of my blogging experience.

 

5. How content does not always equal success.

Some people will tell you, “Just keep writing. Eventually, it will all come together.” Maybe that’s true. On the other hand, get crystal clear on your goals. Is it to sell something? Generate traffic? Enhance your career? Use it as a stress outlet? Great content no longer is enough. Your site must be optimized for mobile. You need social media expertise. Your design and branding have to work. And the more like-minded people you are associated with, the better your chances are for success. Great writing is not enough. You need great promotion. And you need social proof.

Benefit: I have become an online networker, met more positive, productive people due to blogging than I ever could in person. Many I now call friends.

 

“Great writing isn’t enough. You need great promotion.” -Skip Prichard