Communication Skills Training

Top 10 Blog Posts From 2019

Happy New Year! I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to all of my subscribers. I appreciate your support, your comments, and this remarkable community of people who care about better communication and more compassion at work. In keeping with tradition, here are the most read posts from my blog in 2019. (more…)

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Top Leadership Lessons From My Podcast Guests

This year I launched my new podcast, OnCompassion with Dr. Nate. Learning leadership lessons from my guests has been so rewarding.

At the end of each episode I consolidate and share my top three takeaways. Here are several leadership lessons I thought were particularly rich.

The Action Is In The Interaction – Doug Conant

Leaders have 200-400 interactions per day of less than 2-min. Your legacy as a leader will be dependent on how you handle those interactions. Life is too fragmented and dynamic to rely on traditional approaches to communication – tomorrow’s leaders have to be fluid in the small moments.

Compassion Requires Boundaries – Laura Cole

Laura’s horse, Watson, has a habit of nibbling shirts. Yet successful executives at the top of their game allow him to bite holes in their shirts because they don’t want to be mean or don’t know how to stop it. Lack of boundaries isn’t nice. It deprives others of a more healthy way to interact with us and form a meaningful relationship. And, it invites us to form negative opinions of others who seem to disrespect our wants and needs.

Vulnerability Is A Secret Weapon – Jody Horner

With help from an executive coach, coupled with her desire to make more meaningful, positive connections with people, Jody went from believing that she needed to make sure there were no chinks in her armor – being professional to a fault – to showing more of her real self at work. What she experienced was that her credibility as a leader went through the roof.

Help get OnCompassion listed as New and Noteworthy on iTunes.

Will you help me raise awareness of OnCompassion With Dr. Nate? Subscribe, rate on iTunes, and share with your tribe. New episodes will launch every month. Thanks for your help!


Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2019
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The Gift of Listening

Last week I really messed up an opportunity to listen. My teenage daughter was asking me and my wife for ideas on places to go for a special date night with her boyfriend. I was working on my computer and heard her request in my periphery so I popped off a few of my half-baked ideas on novel locations. She was not impressed and let me know it. I made a snarky comment about how she shouldn’t have asked me if she didn’t want my ideas, and went back to my work.

An hour later I was in bed and I realized I had missed an opportunity to listen. My daughter wasn’t asking for ideas, she was sending out feelers to see if anyone cared about what mattered to her. (more…)

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Two Mistakes That Will Kill Your Employee Recognition Program

This SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that less than 30% of employees surveyed were satisfied with their organization’s recognition efforts. Among organizations who had a formal recognition program, less than 50% were satisfied.

How can it be that even among organizations who are making the effort and have good intentions, less than half of their employees are satisfied?

Two mistakes can kill even the best-intentioned recognition efforts; Focus on recognition instead of motivation, and selective hearing which leads to prejudice. (more…)

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Leadership and Manipulation: Donald Trump Case Study, Part 1

I get a lot of requests to write about Donald Trump’s personality. Let’s start with an update to two articles I wrote in 2016 during Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

Trump is good. I mean, really good. When it comes to imposing his will on others, without their awareness or permission, Trump is one of the best I’ve ever seen in this generation. Webster defines manipulation like this:

Manipulation is to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.


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It’s Not About The Billing Error

I recently accompanied my mother to a doctor’s appointment. We spent an hour in the waiting room and witnessed something that is all too common in patient care and impacts everything from satisfaction to the reputation of the practice itself.

I desperately wanted to rescue the billing representative during her interaction with a patient. If I could have slipped her a script using the ORPO template we teach in our Compassion Mindset course, it would have said,


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Mis-Communicable Diseases

Mis-communicable diseases are illnesses passed from person to person through miscommunication. That’s because miscommunication infects people with negativity; inferiority, guilt, shame, and fear. Forget the basic cases of not understanding each other. I’m talking about getting hooked, and the next thing you know, you’re under the weather. (more…)

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How to Increase Engagement With Coaching Clients: Adaptive Communication Part 1

Last Spring I attended an introductory coaching course offered by the Coactive Training Institute. The two facilitators, both experienced coaches, were extremely gifted at establishing rapport. They were able to create a safe place for the 25 plus participants to open up and explore difficult issues. And, they had something more. Both of them had an uncanny knack for adjusting the way they communicated depending on the personality of the person with whom they were interacting. I noticed one situation where one facilitator gave a participant high-five and exchanged joking banter. With another person, she sat down next to her and exchange warm, nurturing conversation.

This pattern continued through out the three days as they “read” the audience and individualized their communication and motivation for each person in the room. Furthermore, these two professionals demonstrated keen self-awareness and self-management around their own needs, preferences, and distress. Somehow they managed to be themselves by letting their personality shine through, while still adjusting to others.

Adaptive Communication and Coaching

I imagine what I experienced from these gifted coaches was an extension of the adaptive communication skills they use in their one-on-one coaching relationships.

Adaptive communication is the ability to recognize individual differences in personality and communication and adapt our approach accordingly.

Some people are naturally good at it. Some develop it through experience. The rest of us can either wing it and take our chances, or learn how to do it. Ideally, coaches could fast-track their skills in this area since it is fundamental to developing rapport and nurturing an effective coaching alliance.

Adaptive communication does not depend on a formal profile on the other person, although these can be incredibly helpful to the coaching process.

Adaptive communication requires the ability to assess and decode verbal and nonverbal communication and discern patterns correlating with someone’s personality structure.

From here, a coach can adapt how he/she connects, motivates, and proactively deals with distress behavior. This skill goes far beyond rapport, and helps coaches create a strong, trusting, working relationship that greatly improves the chances of helping clients achieve their goals. As it was with my coach trainers, it also helps coaches with their own self-care and self-management, a critical component of healthy, ethical coaching.

PCM: A Framework for Adaptive Communication in Coaching

Using the framework of Process Communication Model (PCM®), a behavior-based model of personality and communication, coaches can predict with high-levels of accuracy how to individualize their approach in order to quickly build rapport, enhance communication, properly motivate clients, and anticipate and respond proactively to sabotage behavior.

There are six different personality types that a coach might encounter. For each, I’ll outline how to quickly establish rapport, how to motivate them towards positive behavior change, what types of sabotage behavior is most likely, and how to respond positively. I will also include comments on self-care if this happens to be the coach’s personality preference. I’ll introduce two of the six types in this article, the other four will be covered in the follow-up article.

CAVEAT: Before reading further, I want to caution that none of the six types explained below exist in isolation. We all have all six within us, arranged in a preferred, set order. And, we all have types that are more developed, more primary, and a stronger driver of our behavior. As a coach, you will likely experience one predominant type, and one or two other secondary types displayed in coaching. The predominant type will come into the foreground especially when personal/professional motivation is in focus and during distress.

Every coach has a sweet spot and a blind spot. Sweet spots are where a coach can leverage their own strengths, but can also unconsciously assume that others see and experience with world that same way. Blind spots are where a coach can’t relate to a personality type that’s less developed in themselves, so they unconsciously have negative bias.

PCM represents personality like a six-floor condominium, with a preferred base floor, and five other floors arranged in a preferred, set order. Each floor has corresponding communication, motivation, and distress patterns. These are evident by decoding language structure and nonverbal communication. Connecting with, and leveraging a person’s communication profile can greatly enhance rapport, motivation, and success in coaching.


Logical, responsible, and organized, Thinkers want data and facts so that they can form logical conclusions. Logic is their communication currency. Small-talk, sharing feelings, and playful exchanges are aversive because they want a structured, linear flow that connects the dots. In distress they will disrupt by over controlling, dominating conversation with excessive over-explaining, and criticizing the logic of the coach’s and others’ ideas. Motivate them towards positive behavior by acknowledging their hard work and respect the value of their time. If you are a Thinker coach, be careful of imposing your need for structure on other personality types. Take time every day to make note of your accomplishments. Respect your own time and don’t over-commit.


Compassionate, sensitive, and warm, Harmonizers seek harmony. They embrace relationships and anything that will help people get along better. Compassion is their communication currency. They love intimate environments where they feel safe to speak up. In distress they can interfere with the coaching process by losing assertiveness, not asking for what they want, and avoiding conflict. Motivate them towards positive behavior by affirming them as a person, attending to creature comforts, and showing you care about them unconditionally. If this is you, give yourself permission to take elegant care of you and hold firm to boundaries. Be careful not to take things to personally, and practice leaving your clients’ problems at the door.

Tune in to Part 2 to learn about the other four Kahler Types and how to adapt your communication for better engagement in coaching.

Develop your adaptive communication skills for coaching and beyond by attending our PCM seminars or getting certified as a PCM provider or coach.

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What Is The Secret Chemistry Of High-Performing Teams?

I am reposting this article because it’s as true today as it was three and a half years ago when it originally posted. Last week our team had a mini retreat to step back and reflect on how we were functioning as a team. As we evolve and grow it’s important that we tend to the team dynamics so critical to our success. What we realized again is that what really keeps us happy and productive isn’t the content of what we are doing, but how we are with each other while doing it.


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7 Reasons Why Personality Matters in Patient Care

Did you know that one patient represents about $200,000 in lifetime income for a typical practice? Because medical care is more and more customer driven, the patient experience is one of the most important factors in attracting and keeping patients, and to your survival as a healthcare organization.

Every component of the patient journey matters, including patient outreach, pre-visit interactions with providers and staff, and post-visit follow-up. Your ability to deliver the best possible experience at every touch point determines whether or not patients show up for their visits, and whether they keep coming back.

Leading hospitals are growing profitability not by cutting costs, but by excelling in the patient experience.

Personality has a huge impact on the patient experience.  (more…)

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