When we talk, listen, read or write email, read or write memos or reports, or when we leave or listen to voice mail messages, we’re communicating person-to-person. And whenever we communicate person-to-person, we take risks.
We risk being misunderstood, offending others, feeling hurt, and being confused. There are so many ways for things to go wrong that we could never learn how to fix all the problems after the damage is done – there’s just too much to know. And when things do go wrong, the personal and organizational costs can be unbearable. Careers can founder; new products can be too little too late; companies can fail.
A more effective approach avoids problems altogether, or at least minimizes their occurrence. If everyone in the group understands how interpersonal communications can fail, they can frame their communications to avoid problems.
Participants in this program learn a model of interpersonal communications that can help them stay out of the ditches. Virginia Satir, a pioneering family therapist who applied systems thinking to the study of human relationships, originated the model. It provides a new understanding of how communications can go wrong and how to keep them right.
Understanding, though, is not enough. We must have access to what we know in the moment, when we’re deeply involved intellectually and emotionally. In those moments of intense involvement, we’re most likely to slip, and least likely to remember what we’ve learned. That’s why we use an interactive learning model in this program. We emphasize communication under stress, where the most expensive failures occur. We’ll learn to appreciate that it’s far easier to avoid damage than to repair it once it’s done.
Of all the stressful situations we encounter at work, one of the most difficult is saying no to power. We’ll show how to apply the models and techniques we learn to that very tricky class of situations.
Our approach is unusual. Far from the dry, laptop-driven format of most corporate presentations these days, the program is highly interactive and experiential. Not only is the method effective as a training tool, it’s lively and fun.
Check out PMI-NEFL's Jack Molisano interviewing Rick Brenner, who will lead the discussion "Person to Person Communications" at our Jan. 15th dinner meeting. https://youtu.be/dP_XGCj2ZRo
Rick Brenner is principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting. He works with people in dynamic problem-solving organizations that are making products so novel or complex that they need state-of-the-art teamwork and stronger relationships among their people. In his 30 years as a software developer, project manager, software development manager, entrepreneur, consultant, and coach, he has developed valuable insights into the interactions between people in complex dynamic environments, and between people and the media in which they work.
As a coach, he works with managers at all levels, emphasizing development of interpersonal skills, especially in fluid, high-stress contexts, such as organizations that are moving from a strict operational orientation to one in which ongoing operations must compete for resources with special enterprise-scale projects. Such a mixed environment creates organizational stresses that leaders must understand, not only because of the change-related issues that arise, but also because of the challenges to managers that they create, even when equilibrium is attained.
Over a period of seven years, he attended or assisted in numerous workshops under Jerry Weinberg, Dani Weinberg, and Jean McLendon. It was during this period that he acquired his skills in designing and facilitating experiential education. He was a founding member of the AYE Conference.
Mr. Brenner has held positions at Symbolics, Inc., and at Draper Laboratory, both of Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Symbolics, he was responsible for development of products based on Macsyma, a computer algebra system. At Draper, he was a principal investigator in a DARPA program, the Evolutionary Design of Complex Software, where he conducted research into advanced concepts for software development environments based on dynamic object-oriented programming languages. From 1993 to 2014, he taught Spreadsheet Models for Managers, a course he devised, at the Harvard University Extension School.
He serves as the facilitator and group administrator for a discussion group he created at LinkedIn.com: Office Politics, Workplace Politics, and Organizational Politics. Discussions there are energetic and enlightening. The group now has over 900 members.
Mr. Brenner holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Boston Software Process Improvement Network, and the Agile New England Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has served in various leadership roles ranging from board member to vice president to chair (president) in local chapters of these societies. He was selected Chapter Member of the Year for NSA New England in 2001 and 2007. He is a member of the Project Management Institute.
His current interests focus on improving personal and organizational effectiveness in abnormal situations, such as dramatic change, enterprise emergencies, and high-pressure project environments. He has written a number of essays on these subjects, available at his Web site, http://www.ChacoCanyon.com/, and writes and publishes a free weekly email newsletter, Point Lookout, which now has just over 3,000 subscribers.