What is Communication?

What is Communication?

What is communication?  You would think that this would be a fairly straightforward thing to define, but alas, it is not.  I recently reviewed a number of my old books from college and found that there was little  agreement on a definition.  The good news is that several of the scholars mentioned that there is little agreement among themselves.  The funny thing, as usual, is that scholars have to mention that their isn’t agreement!

At any rate, a useful definition can take us a long way down the road in the pursuit of becoming effective communicators.  Here’s the definition I’m inviting you to consider adopting:




Notice a few key features:

1.  It leaves room for a variety of mechanisms (processes)

2.  It stays on human communication (people)

3.  It includes the visual (see) with the other-than-visual (implied)

4.  It DOES NOT include agreement

The last point about agreement turns out to be crucial.  Why?  Well, communication has clearly happened when someone says, “I get it!” (and he / she really does).  Saying, “I agree” is an entirely different creature.

And yet, think about how much time you spend trying to convince or be convinced about the other view.  When someone thinks she must convince you or you haven’t yet communicated…well, as they say, good luck with that!

It is far more elegant to simply focus on first becoming convinced that you really see what the other person sees.  It is at that moment communication has happened and the opportunity to agree is next to consider.

Try on this question in your next exchange:

“I want to see what you see here…… is it _____________?

(fill in your understanding so far in the conversation)

Now, keep repeating it until the other person declares, “That’s it!”

You are on course…I’d love to hear your thoughts,

Fred Ray Lybrand



Does Executive Coaching Make a Difference?

Does Executive Coaching Make a Difference?

Thoughts on Executive Coaching

Top 5 personal coaching myths


YES…this is my family (see below).  Yes, they are all a little older now.  Of course offer them as the evidence of what coaching can really do.

Let’s move from left to right

Holmes: Self taught music man, personable-if-not charming, Eagle Scout, and is in the Honors program a the University of North Texas.

Forrest: Writer (completing his 4th novel), Sophomore at The University of Texas (Austin) studying English Literature.

Tripp: Graduate of The University of Texas (Austin) in Studio Art, married, just finished the manuscript of a book on relationships for Christian men, specialist in systems mapping, and is growing to be a principal player in the Business Strategy world.  See him at www.business-laboratory.com

Me: pass

Brooks: A leader, talented math student, Eagle Scout, musician, finishing a book on making youth groups great (from a members’s perspective). Just finished writing a book on becoming a great member of a classy youth group.

Jody: Mom of all these homeschooled from birth-to-college kids, masters in education, truly has no natural enemies, devoted wife for 30 years.

Laura: One of the most personable individuals you will ever meet.  Graduate of Abilene Christian University, currently works for the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Can you have a better test than your own family?  They aren’t perfect, but they are some of the most teachable and steady-learning folks I’ve ever known.  Honestly, any one of them could help you work through just about any decsion you face.  Why?  Because they grew up in a home committed to the power of mentoring.

The best news…they’ve actually forgiven us!



Is coaching really worth the 2.5 – 4.5 billion dollars spent on it each year?

It amazes us how resistant many people are to the idea of having a coach.  Despite the fact that we have all (almost all of us) had a coach or two who helped us in often dramatic ways, we also somehow think sports is different than life / managing others / personal productivity, etc.

Truly Odd.

When millions of dollars are on the line with football (for instance), teams spend money on

  • Receiver coaches
  • Defensive coaches
  • Linemen coaches
  • Kicking coaches
  • Special teams coaches
  • Etc.

Why?  Well, it is because they know that a coach offers objectivity and insight to the player.  They also know that a 10% improvement is the difference between winning and losing.  And, it doesn’t stop there!  They want the best of all these coaches, because, quite frankly, some coaches are better than others.

YET — an OK coach is far better than no coach at all.

So, since you are engaged in managing and leading…doesn’t it stand to reason that a coach could help you improve just as dramatically?  Even an OK coach is better than not having one at all.

So, do you have a coach?  We don’t mean your beer-friend who you can talk a few things over with from time to time.  We also don’t mean a mentor (which is great to have) who can help you think about your broader life issues.  We mean someone with interpersonal skills, a logical mind, and a good bit of experience in your world to help you skip ahead in the learning curve.

Do you really think a few hundred bucks a month (or even a few thousand) wouldn’t easily pay for itself in reduced stress, more money, and noticeable-and-rapid progress?

If you think you can do it all on your own just as well as with some ‘help’—well, then you’d never have made it in the NFL.


Fred Lybrand


“Employers are shocked at how high their ROI numbers are for coaching.” Alastair Robertson, Manager of worldwide leadership development, Accenture

“Many of the World’s most admired corporations, from GE to Goldman Sachs, invest in coaching. Annual spending on coaching in the US is estimated at roughtly $1 Billion Dollars.” Harvard Business Review – est 2004

“In one study, executive coaching at Booz Allen Hamilton returned $7.90 for every $1 the firm spent on coaching.” MetrixGlobal LLC

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” Bob Nardelli, former CEO, Home Depot

“I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.” Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, Pepsico, Inc.

“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.” John Russell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Europe Ltd.

“In research conducted over the past three years we’ve found that leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.” VP of Global Executive & Organizational Development at IBM

“The business demand for coaching is nearly doubling each year. Out of the $80 billion being currently spent on corporate education, FLI Research estimates that $2 billion is spent on executive coaching at senior executive levels in Fortune 500 companies.” Business Wire

“Even modest improvements can justify hiring a coach. An investment of $30,000 or so in an executive who has responsibility for tens of millions of dollars is a rounding error.” Jerome Abarbanel, VP of Executive Resources, Citibank





Here’s a Re-post of an excellent article on Coaching from the Chicago Tribune:

Top 5 personal coaching myths

Robert Pagliarini

Personal coaching is all the rage. Harvard Business Review reports that coaching is a $1 billion a year industry, but just what is a personal coach, professional coach or life coach, and why are so many executives and individuals using them to catapult their careers, to break free from 9-to-5 jobs and to create better, more fulfilling, richer lives?

First, what is a professional coach? The International Coach Federation (ICF) — the leading global coaching organization and professional association for coaches — defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Second, who’s using coaches? In a 2009 study of the professional coaching industry by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), they found that coaching was used by 90 percent of organizations surveyed, and that, even in the economic downturn, 70 percent report that they are increasing or maintaining their commitment to coaching. Coaching is clearly popular, but what does a professional coach do?

As with any growing profession, there can be a lot of confusion. To help distinguish fact from fiction, here are the top 5 personal coaching myths:

Myth #1: Personal coaches are professionals who can help you achieve your goals.

Fact: Some, but certainly not all, coaches are professionals who can help you reach your goals. One of the problems in the coaching industry is that anyone can call themselves a professional coach, life coach, personal coach, etc. Jennifer Corbin, the president of Coach U, one of the largest and oldest coach training organizations in the world, said, “Technically, anyone can hang up a shingle as coaching is not regulated. Many people ‘coaching’ have no idea what coaching is as they haven’t been trained or haven’t been coached by a professionally trained and credentialed coach. There are ‘schools’ that will offer a credential after three hours of training, and people read a book or watch a TV program and decide, ‘I’m a coach!'” As a result, the quality of coaches varies dramatically. I strongly suggest working with a coach that has been accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). The ICF provides independent certification that is the benchmark for the professional coaching industry.

Myth 2: Coaching is a nice employment perk.

Fact: Coaching is as much a perk to your employees as their computers are. Employees may view coaching as a value-added benefit, but successful organizations see coaching as something much more than a perk. Done right, professional coaching can drive sales, employee engagement, creativity, workplace satisfaction and bottom-line results. Wellness programs have been shown to provide approximately a 300 percent return on investment (ROI). In other words, companies who spend $1 in a wellness program (e.g., exercise clubs, personal trainers, smoking cessation workshops) earn $3 as a result of decreased turnover, fewer sick days, reduced health insurance costs, etc. It’s no wonder wellness programs have experienced such tremendous growth — it makes financial sense!

The ROI from professional coaching is even more astonishing. According to a Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives, the Economic Times reports “coaching resulted in a ROI of almost six times the program cost as well as a 77 percent improvement in relationships, 67 percent improvement in teamwork, 61 percent improvement in job satisfaction and 48 percent improvement in quality.” Additionally, a study of Fortune 500 telecommunications companies by MatrixGlobal found executive coaching resulted in a 529 percent ROI.

Myth 3: Personal coaches can only help you reach personal goals; professional coaches can only help you reach business goals.

Fact: A good coach is someone who is an expert at helping others create positive change in their lives. For some clients, the positive change they most want may be focused on personal goals such as relationships, time management, work-life balance, stress reduction, simplification or health, but other clients may be more interested in professional or business goals such as leadership, getting a promotion, starting a business, etc. An effective coach works with the client to help them live a better, richer life — regardless of their specific types of goals.

Myth 4: Coaching is for “problem” employees.

Fact: Coaching used to be a euphemism for, “you’re doing lousy work, but, before we can fire you, we need to show that we’ve done everything we can to support you so we don’t get hit with an employment lawsuit.” No mas. According to Paul Michelman, editor of Harvard Business School’s Management Update, “Whereas coaching was once viewed by many as a tool to help correct underperformance, today it is becoming much more widely used in supporting top producers. In fact, in a 2004 survey by Right Management Consultants, 86 percent of companies said they used coaching to sharpen the skills of individuals who have been identified as future organizational leaders.”

Good coaching focuses on an individual’s strengths and aims to help the client achieve what they want more of in life and at work. The goal? To help the client identify and achieve their greater goals and to help them live a better life. A good coach isn’t there to “fix” anyone, but to help the client navigate toward a more engaged and compelling future.

Myth 5: Personal coaching takes too much time.

Fact: Professional coaching is a high-leverage activity. Clients can achieve remarkable progress toward their desired future in less than an hour per month of coaching. There is a wide spectrum of how coaching is delivered. Some coaches prefer to meet one-on-one with clients in an office, but most recommend telephone sessions for the ease of use, minimization of distractions, better privacy, greater efficiency, and for (yes, apparently) better connection to the client. Best practices in coaching call for between two and four sessions per month that last at least 20 minutes and up to 60 minutes. A sweet spot for many coaches and clients seems to be three sessions per month for 20 to 45 minutes a session — a miniscule investment of time for the results achieved.

(Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of “The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose” and the national best-seller “The Six Day Financial Makeover.”


How to Teach Kids to Write

How to Teach Kids to Write

Is your student excited to write?  How about at least OK with it?
Do you know how to teach kids to write?

I’m writing to offer you (or someone you know and send this to) a DEAL.  I haven’t spent much time pouring over it.  In fact, I just sat down and typed it out.  I’ll read over it once for good measure when I’m finished.

I’ve been focus on how to teach kids and adults for a long, long, time— And I’ve learned a pretty simple truth:



That is exactly what sets The Writing Course apart from your current curriculum.  If it is teaching your student how to ‘write right’, then more cheers for you!  They might even notice that I used ‘they’ instead of him or her.  However, the question I have is, “Does your student really understanding the writing process?”



Practical Communicology?

Practical Communicology?

Communicology is the science of human communication. So, PRACTICAL Communicology is the APPLIED science of human communication.  We are used to psychology and sociology, why not Communicology   Even as I type these words the spell-check highlights the word with a red ‘misspelled’ mark…but happily only because I didn’t capitalize it! In the early 1980’s I was on a committee at the University of Alabama to select a new textbook for the Introduction to Speech Communication class.  Personally, I was very fond of “Communicology” by DeVito.  I didn’t win out, but the word did.  We often think of speech and communication as a ‘throw away’ course curriculum, while at the same time seeing that those who communicate better, succeed more often. Warren Buffett makes the point by stressing that his Dale Carnegie (Speaking) Diploma is the only one in his office (not his college diplomas).  The reason?  It changed his life:

  Communicology makes so much sense that The University of Hawaii changed the name of the Speech department to Communicology.  Here’s a brief intro from them:


So, imagine what it would be like to have someone show up who really knows about message processing, relational communication, social influence, and intercultural communication (for starters).  What could that mean to your organization, business, or personal relationships?

You seek an accountant for accounting and a doctor for surgery, but you think there is nothing to learn about communication? This is the heart of what we care about the most:




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Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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