For Resolving the Conflicts That Can Derail Your Career Success, This Works Like Crazy

Carol Hansen is one of my Facebook friends.  She posted a great little acronym the other day “T H I N K Before You Speak.”

T Is it True?
H Is it Helpful?
I Is it Inspiring?
N Is it Necessary?
K Is it Kind?

This is great career advice and it will help you build and maintain the solid, long lasting relationships you need to create your life and career success.  When it comes to building strong, lasting relationships I give my career success coach clients three bits of common sense advice…

  1. Get to know yourself.  Use this self-knowledge to better understand others and adapt your communication style to them.
  2. Pay it forward.  Do for others without waiting for them to do for you.
  3. Resolve conflict in a manner that will strengthen – not weaken – your relationships.

The third point is where Carol’s acronym comes in handy.  In conflict situations we often say things that we wish we could take back later.  Unfortunately, once something is said, it’s said.  Carol’s advice – think before you speak – can help you from saying something that can harm your relationships.

When you speak the objective truth about the situation – something on which you and the other person can agree – you’re unlikely to run into a problem.

When you are helpful – suggesting ways to resolve the conflict in a mutually agreeable manner – you will be strengthening your relationship.

When you are inspiring – looking for something that can uplift you both – you can use the disagreement to help you both move forward to your goals.

When you say only what is necessary – not all the extraneous stuff you might be feeling, or want to say to get in a dig – you are bringing the issue into a clear focus instead of muddying the waters.

When you are kind – not hurtful – in your words, you are showing a genuine concern for the other person.  You are treating him or her with the dignity and respect he or she deserves as a fellow human being.  No matter how contentious the situation, this is always a great way to strengthen your relationship with him or her.

A couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to preview a great DVD on relationship building called, Little Things Mean a Lot.  The DVD is based on the work of Brigid Moynahan, founder of The Next level Inc.  She is a well-known and highly recognized speaker and trainer.

Ms. Moynahan says that when it comes to relationships, it’s important to sweat the small stuff.  She says that we send micro-messages in all of our interactions with other people.  Micro-messages are the signals we send to one another through our behavior.  While micro-messages are often small, their impact can be enormous.

Micro-messages can help or hinder your relationship-building efforts.  Micro-affirmations help you build and maintain strong relationships.  Micro-inequities hinder your ability to build and maintain strong relationships.  When you T H I N K before you speak – especially in conflict situations– you are my likely to send micro-affirmations and avoid micro-inequities.

To be clear, micro-affirmations are messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel valued, included, or encouraged.  Micro-inequities are messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel devalued, slighted, discouraged or excluded.

Ms. Moynahan puts a diversity spin on her work.  While I agree that moving from an organizational culture based on micro-inequities to one based on micro-affirmations will build a more inclusive – and thereby productive and profitable – organization, I also believe there are life and career success lessons to be learned here.

Ask yourself, “When do I feel excluded, disrespected and devalued?”  In most of these cases, you have been the recipient of a micro-inequity.  The way you feel when you experience a micro-inequity is the way others are likely to feel when you engage in micro-inequity behavior.  That means you should refrain from using these behaviors in your interactions with others.

Then do just the opposite.  Ask yourself, “When do I feel included, respected and valued?”  In most of these cases, you will have been the recipient of a micro-affirmation.  Work hard to incorporate behaviors that are micro-affirmations into your daily interactions with others.

In short, when you focus on sending micro-affirmations and avoiding micro-inequities — when you T H I N K before you speak — you will be better able to resolve conflict positively and build solid, lasting relationships with the people in your life.  And strong relationships are an important key to your personal and professional success.

The common sense career success point here is simple.  Successful people follow the career advice in Tweet 123 in Success Tweets.  “Use every social interaction to build and strengthen relationships.  Strong relationships are your ticket to success.”  Build and strengthen relationships by sweating the small stuff.  T H I N K before you speak.  Focus sending positive micro messages – the small things that show another person that you value him or her.  Avoid “micro-inequities” – behaviors that demean people in small ways.  Instead, focus on “micro-affirmations” – behaviors that encourage others and build their self-esteem.

That’s my career advice based on Carol Hansen’s acronym “T H I N K before you speak.”  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I really appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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