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December 29, 2010 / Astor ICS

Management of Professional Relationships – What they don’t teach you

When people earn business degrees of any type, they study principles, models, case studies and any number of writing practices. But there’s a crucial topic that is never taught, discussed or mentioned; How to get along and get the most out of professional social relationships with actual human beings.

You don’t need a psychology, sociology or any other type of degree to get this. They don’t really teach it either.

I remember a time in the 1980’s when some very enlightened individuals were complaining that we are never taught how to love. I think it’s a valid point that is in the same area that professional social relationships fall into.

So picture this; you’re working for a company as a high level manager and you can’t seem to motivate you’re staff and they aren’t being creative and productive. Also, you don’t seem to be able to be compatible with your superior. So what do you do?

That’s where learning and practicing today’s best management strategies come in. They are mainly hidden among the mediocrity and general advice that floats around the internet when you begin to look.

But go back a little further in your life and many of the answers are there, just for you. Getting along with people is generally based on being a resource and a friendly ear to others. If we listen carefully the other person can literally feel it and many times will be receptive to a few probing questions that are for their benefit and in turn, they will do the same for you.

In an international setting, we may believe that the problems are cultural, but that’s not necessarily true. Cultural differences are mainly reflected in language usage, customs and communication methods. But if we scratch below the surface, it is behaviors and intent that really matter.

Look into the way you communicate and want you really want from a situation and you’ll find that getting there is much easier if you give and take. Ask people what they need from you. Also ask them how you are perceived (if you’re brave enough) and you’ll have begun a great journey to a new level of success.


December 22, 2010 / Astor ICS

Meeting People and Your Success

When meeting people for the first time, are you comfortable? You should be. This one starting event can give you a unique picture of yourself and a powerful image to develop.

How do you come across? Friendly? Sophisticated? Stand-offish? Your initial contact with someone sets the tone for the future. It’s something that we should consider and develop, if we want to be effective and position ourselves the way that could work best for us in the future.

The first meeting begins a ‘personal branding’ process. We have begun to place ourselves in the mind of the other person and whether we can move to the next level with them.

My question to you is, what do you want? By this I don’t mean what things do you want or what things to you want them to do (or not do) for you. I mean, what do you want to set up?

To create a feeling in the other person of your excellent qualities you may want to consider a powerful balance of your behavior. Having a grounded yet outreaching style can give the impression of being interesting and interested. People enjoy being intrigued by new acquaintances and that’s what leads them to more desire for further contact.

I try to consider my words and their implications when I meet new people. Since they don’t know my style yet, it’s easy for me to be misinterpreted. I met someone recently who said, ‘I moved so much that I don’t make friends anymore, just business contacts’. Now, if my understanding of the word ‘friends’ is different than that of the speaker, then I could think that they are hard, cold, indifferent and closed to all friendship possibilities. That may be true, but may not be true. I could mirror their style back at them and the whole thing could end in one very large misunderstanding.

This is just a little example, but you probably see my point. It’s easy to be misunderstood at the first meeting.

What do you do to be clearer and more effective? It may be best to have a more center of the spectrum type of approach. No heavily extreme phrases that can be misconstrued. It’s also a good idea to have an open air about you so you can give the impression of being receptive to the words of the other person. Reacting to the moment is very powerful and shows that you are with them now and not programmed to behave in a way that makes them feel generic and irrelevant.

You may want to consider your ‘kindness level’. Having a friendly attitude and a pleasant tone along with your expertise and insights will bring you closer to a better contact than most anything else.

The question comes back to, what do you want.? If you examine it closely and honestly, you may be a bit surprised to realize that you are not always projecting that.

One must be careful not to be either deceptive or self-deceptive in these issues, because it will be discovered and a possible excellent relationship can be ruined and you may create a negative reputation for yourself that will prevent you from gaining the allies, tools and space that is needed for future successes.

And not just the future, your present happiness will find its way to a more somber and negative expression.

When you meet someone, really meet them and see how big your own personal universe actually is.

Contact me at Astor ICS for any help in first encounters that you may need.


December 14, 2010 / Astor ICS

Coaching is Measurable and Specific!

I was listening to a presentation by an academician on the topic of ROI in coaching. She said that there is very little information about exact amounts and that the jury was still out (undecided) when it came to the actual and tangible evidence of increased revenue, etc.

This is completely baseless, ignorant and more importantly misleading. In fact, the average ROI from coaching is five or six to one.

Let’s examine the process and the facts. A coach (ICF certified and extremely familiar with the industry) begins by speaking to the client, assessing their circle of people, discusses the findings with the client and then the measures and metrics begin. The coach creates a plan with targeted issues that are to be accomplished within a specific timeframe and monitors the implemetation.

This is where coaching is so powerful. The needs of each client are many times unique and special and a customized set of metrics are always needed to be put in place. It could be; increase profitability by 3% in one quarter, help me move up the organization, make the team function more efficiently, how to raise capital, increase employee engagement and mobilization. You get the picture. This is coaching; specific needs addressed in a timely and measurable manner that succeed in accomplishing the goal(s).

The concept of do-it-yourself all the way, everyday is noble but can be too slow, not wide enough and limited. The coach has powerful tools to enhance and bring out the talents of the client while offering perspective that helps eliminate blind spots and miscalculations. Managers and executives have very deep knowledge of their fields of expertise, but many times lack the single-handed abilities to carry them through in social and strategic settings.

We do everything from vision and mission to implementation and monitoring. To measure the great variety of coaching settings is truly difficult and that’s way there are so many fields within this industry, but to say that it is not possible to measure ROI is the sign of someone living in an academic bubble, supported by the fear of their students and needing to be the center of all knowledge. It sounds like that person needs coaching to get their perceptions into perspective and learn how to do better research without their ego getting in the way.

visit Astor ICS for more information on what coaching can do for you.


December 6, 2010 / Astor ICS

Communicating Strategy and Getting Out of Your Cave

Communicating strategy and realizing it have never been more essential in the dynamic international playing field. If you keep strategy hidden on a need to know basis, you run the risk of derailing the process by blind spots and unexpected events.

‘We’re living in a bubble full of trouble’, so the line from the reggae artists, Steel Pulse says, and it’s true. When we remain in our own world of thought, plans and directives, we are vulnerable to…..reality.

It sounds so easy but it’s very common. Choices are made and people are affected without careful group decision-making. It is essential to get people into the loop and keep them there. There are a host of issues that creep up and bite you if you don’t.  To be certain that the people who surround you are the ones you need, take a step back and look at the productivity level and the reached target percentage.

Is it them, or your strategy? If it’s not them, strategy inclusion procedures may be the answer.  Get their opinions, ask for suggestions and know what they’re best at. If you don’t know their strengths, you are wise to find out fast.

The resources of a knowledge worker (that’s what managers and executives are) come in many forms and abilities. You can see it in their natural personality and their tastes and preferences. They’re on the surface. What’s beneath is what you need to mine: the talents that they possess and are not using. Mine those talents and you will find jewels.

By including your circle in your situation assessment, strategy planning and the monitoring of implementation you will find that they begin to develop a profound understanding of you, their own abilities and the direction that their career will take. It brings with it retention of talent, development for the future and self-satisfaction. You should be confident in bringing them into your process and also for you to not go it alone.

Contact me at Astor ICS and


November 29, 2010 / Astor ICS

Conditioning and International Communication

Many Europeans have understood the idea of Europe for a very long time, and there are more and more people who are joining the choir. These days, the Europeans I meet in Brussels are all very excited about working around other Europeans. They have a sense of difference that brings a piece of the group to discussions, negotiations, etc.


A piece of the group, like a member of an orchestra or a member of a sport’s team plays a specific role while contributing to the whole.


If we consider the entire international business world, we can see that more and more, we are joining together for hopeful, calculated and planned success. That taken into account, let’s consider widening the range for a moment and realize that if a transnational organization were to send someone from the home country to your country’s office as the highest level manager, how would you react?


Many people don’t realize it but they would most definitely not like it. This is not from nationalism or racism or even xenophobia, but from a fear of the true future that we are about to enter that is very different from what one has been taught.


Conditioning is much more powerful than we can ever realize, because we are deeply part of it ourselves, and when there is a conflict in that conditioning in the real world, our shock, fear and rejection is merely a survival tactic of the conditioning itself. It’s actually not ‘real’, but fabricated by the past.


If you separate yourself from this for a moment and consider it intellectually, it would be fascinating, new and highly educating to be able to work with a boss from the home office’s country and a great way to move up in an organization, not to mention the wonderful cultural and communication lessons that can be learned.


The next time your reactions grab you into thinking that a new business experience is threatening you and your security, try to put into the function of what is in the previous paragraph and you may be enlightened to find out that you are about to be an integral part of the constructive, unifying and transnational future.

Visit my websites ASTORICS or ASTORCOM

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November 22, 2010 / Astor ICS

The Limits To Communicating Internationally: Illusions

If you have travelled outside of your home country for any length of time, you may have realized that many people are not so different than you are and although places may look different and cultures behave differently, we can be understood. Now, it is essential to find a common language to communicate in, but once you do that, you are building possibilities and alliances that help you to be understood and appreciated.

We have been conditioned to believe many truths which are mostly true in our own home country. Things that separate us and place us on a higher level than other people and culture are not only unproductive and problematic for conducting business, they are illusions. They really don’t exist. Let’s take a look at a few.

We are the best. This is a big obstacle to overcome for real communication. In reality, we are not the best, we are just a little different and have special qualities that can add to the global collection of talents. Even the greatest artists and statesmen believe that their greatness is contributing rather than separating. If you are the best then someone is below. If they feel that they are not below, they won’t want to communicate with you. Thus, no deal, no agreements, no no no.

Our tradition keeps us on top. Tradition is in the past and in a dynamic environment where the landscape can dramatically change and the players become more aggressive and assertive, vulnerabilities lie everywhere. If you don’t ry to stay ahead of the competition through innovations and management adjustments, the illusion of the past will replace your hunger for the future. There’s nothing as susceptible as sedentary attitudes and denial of the present.

I do things my way and they do things their way. By separating the mental images and practices of other cultures, businesses and approaches into us and them, we distance our whole attitude towards possible international communication and successes. If you think you will merely beat them to a certain goal and you will win, you’re wrong. You may win the battle but you’ll lose an ally. In business, you have just eliminated possible customers and you never ever want to do that. Finding the bridges to different styles can bring together opposites to share contrasting styles and merge them into a stronger and more complete one that can be well positioned for successes.

The idea that illusions of our uniqueness keep us on top is a dangerous one to pursue. Before women had the right to vote (not that long ago), they were just second class citizens and you can see that keeping men in charge and on top was a dangerous weapon that imploded (and rightfully so) into many problems for men’s attitudes in the workplace that constantly had to change to be accepted. The same holds true with our international colleagues and citizens. If we are in front of the curve on drawing them together by mutual understanding and benefits, we will broaden our base, build lasting bonds and create innovation foundations for the future.

November 12, 2010 / Astor ICS

The Desire To Communicate Trumps Apathy

To communicate for efficiency, productivity and effectiveness, you first need to have that desire. You need to have the courage to say to yourself, ‘I can, I must and I need to increase my abilities in such a way that I am better at my work’.

You must remember that we are all, works in progress. This will be true, as long as you are alive. It’s never over until you say it is and that is too soon.

If you are engaged in your own life and well being, you always have an eye open to bettering your abilities and your expertise. No matter if you are in school or getting ready to ‘retire’, you should feel that pull to bettering yourself.

Right there, that sense of complacency or ego or fatigue or whatever the excuse is to rest on your own accomplishments is merely an illusion that the quick fix and immediate gratification instills in us.Today’s world has a double-edged sword of googles of information coupled with it being delivered without any effort.

This is the key to begin and begin again; desire to grow. You may have a quick and cynical wit that impresses people, or some talent that gains you some attention. But those things are momentary spectacles that rarely carry through to a fulfilling existence.

In an international business setting you will be engaged and mobilized in communication if you,

1. Speak the truth in such a way as to build relationships and create a results driven environment.

2. Try to give real and honest feedback and feedforward about performance and don’t be afraid to disagree when necessary.

3. Back up what you say with some facts and come with suggestions on how to progress and move forward.

It sounds like simple material, but you should realize that to communicate well, you need to be prepared to fill up the balloon of your opinions and your directives with solid information and well thought-out scenarios and implementations. this will gain you a tremendous amount of respect and help you to build stronger relationships with your reports, colleagues, superiors and customers.

There are many aspects to communication but the desire can help you be truthful for long-term success and that what gets the engine rolling.

Please visit my website Astor ICS for more information.