Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

Help Me Understand

How you handle awkward moments can say a lot about how well you manage people. Let’s take one example.

People do a poor job communicating from time to time. Mitch offers an idea without have given it much thought. Jackie explains things poorly. Roberta wanders off subject. Mike speaks over the level of a listener’s comprehension. Jennifer makes her point but keeps on talking. Kent uses too much jargon. The list goes on and on. 

In short, people miscommunicate all the time.

Sometimes they realize they’re failing, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, when it’s happening, it feels awkward. 

When it happens during your staff meeting, or during a coaching conversation, or when someone is responding to your presentation, it can catch you off guard. What to do? 

Hit the pause button.

When this happens, you should have two thoughts in mind – how do I get this cleared up, and how do I prevent the communicator (the sender) from becoming embarrassed. You might have an impulse to say something like this: 

  • “You willing to put that in English?”
  • “And what’s the point you’re trying to make?” 
  • “Are you really that stupid?” 

If so, resist that impulse! There’s a far better response: 

  • “Help me understand…”

Let’s unpack this. Saying “Help me understand…” takes the psychological ownership of the issue from the sender and puts it on you. It lets the sender know that something’s not coming across but does not lay guilt or blame on the sender. It neutralizes the feedback and takes away the sting. 

Further, it’s an invitation for the sender to assist you, and most folks like to be helpful when there’s an opportunity. After this moment has passed, the sender may reflect on their communication mistake and take a lesson from it. But in the present, what’s important is clarifying the communication and moving on. 

“Help me understand…” is putting it on you and taking it off them. They can pivot from being embarrassed to being helpful. Others in the room who share your experience of the communication as a blunder will also learn that you’ve chosen to take the high road. 

That’s what good leaders do – they take the high road. 

A little practice and you’ll soon be adept at handling these awkward moments. Good luck!

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.