The Receiving End of Criticism

By Susan de la Vergne
Leadership gurus and guidebooks dispense a lot of advice about how to deliver feedback to employees, especially when “feedback” really means criticism. But they rarely say much about how to receive criticism. That’s because, while delivering criticism is hard, receiving it is harder.

You Can’t Communicate If You’re Talking

By Susan de la Vergne
In the 1960’s, the brilliant and sarcastic mathematician-turned-comedian, Tom Lehrer, once went off on a short tirade about interpersonal communication. Yes, it was as hot a topic 45 years ago as it is now. In his rant Mr. Lehrer observed, “One problem that recurs more and more frequently these days in books and plays and movies is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love—husbands and wives who can’t communicate, children who can’t communicate with their parents, and so on.”

Mediocre to Masterful: Three Tips for Meeting Leaders

By Susan de la Vergne
My boss several years ago was a masterful meeting leader. Even when he wasn’t officially leading the meeting, he was good at it. What was his secret? He did his homework. He prepared. He had not only completed whatever assignment he had, but he’d also gauged the situation and participants beforehand.

Leadership Communication – Delivering Bad News

By Susan de la Vergne
Phil is a manager at a biotech company in Colorado that’s been acquired by an even larger one in Texas. The acquisition has been a rough ride so far. People in the acquired company don’t like the new management, and the new management hasn’t made any effort to improve that opinion.

Technical Presentations: Slides That Don’t Cut It

By Susan de la Vergne
Brace yourself. I’m going to make a shocking recommendation about how to prepare slides for technical presentations. Here goes: Don’t use design templates. Ever. You know the ones I mean, those decorative templates in PowerPoint and other slide products with the colored frames, borders and bars, and the dots and doodads in the corner. They’re a terrible idea! Why? Because design templates detract from your presentation rather than improve it.

Ho-hum. Another Project Status Meeting

By Susan de la Vergne
Ho-hum. Another project status meeting. “Wake me up when it’s over,” your co-worker says, only half kidding. The project manager greets the room and fires up the first slide. It’s part of a template, of course, which takes everyone straight to the quantifiable stuff—budget, deadlines, milestones met and missed.