Entries by Jennifer Kammeyer

Hearing Those Who Sacrificed for Our Freedom

Reading out loud the names of fallen soldiers this Memorial Day as I walk through the cemetery, I hear the bravery of those who gave their lives for our freedom and the sorrow of those who lost their loved ones. They no longer speak, but we can still hear the meaning of their sacrifice as […]

Bearing Witness to Ease Suffering

In times of great personal and community suffering, we can ease others’ pain through listening, through bearing witness to their experience. We encounter others’ distress through social media, but we also encounter it at work as we hear stories of our colleagues going through hard times. This blog was motivated by my personal encounters of […]

Virtual Teams Require Explicit Communication

Teamwork is helpful but hard – and virtual teamwork is even harder. In an increasingly distributed work environment, more explicit communication is required in virtual teams to make up for the missing subtle communication that automatically occurs when in person. When teams are effective, the outcomes are impressive. Research shows effective teams generate better solutions […]

Creating Progress: John J. Kelly, Good Samaritan

Our world needs kind leaders who create progress, and John J. Kelly was one such leader helping people improve their lives. The recently published book, The Quintessential Good Samaritan, tells of John Kelly’s life work in making a difference in the lives of so many people. Through many engaging stories we learn of his compassionate […]

The Case for Incremental Progress

We are embarking on a new year – what kinds of goals have you set for yourself? Setting big audacious goals and expecting quick results is tempting but can cause us to fail with inaction because we become overwhelmed by the enormity of them. Breaking those goals into smaller increments – and setting the expectation […]

Presence as Presents

Oh, the joy of having somebody fully in the moment with us, hanging on every word, entirely focused. This year, we can give the ultimate gift – our time and full presence.  I am lucky to have had the most wonderful mom in the world, and one thing she is remembered for is how she […]

Small Bites of Gratitude

Often we think of expressing our gratitude in heartfelt prose, but small bites of appreciation shared frequently helps strengthen relationships and improve morale.  During this time of the Great Resignation we hear stories of people leaving their jobs because they are not happy. While pay and working conditions are at play, a sense of purpose, aligned […]

Keep It Simple: Top Three Tricks

We have all had the experience of reading or hearing something and having no idea what it means, making us either feel stupid or stop paying attention or both. Good communicators use simple language to help others understand their message, especially when communicating complex or technical topics. Just yesterday I read on my Twitter feed, […]

Getting Comfortable with Discomfort Makes us Better Communicators

Fear of public speaking, conflict avoidance, dread of delivering bad new – many communication interactions can lead us to a sense of discomfort. Handling these tough interactions skillfully requires us practicing in order to get more comfortable with the discomfort. What typically happens is that emotions arise that throw us out of our prefrontal cortex […]

Full Participation – We Get There Together

Full participation makes for better meetings – and we all want better meetings. As leaders we gain full participation by adhering to basic meeting best practices and through inclusive communication techniques; as participants we contribute more with preparation.  Inclusive Leadership To make meetings better as leaders we need to apply discipline in the basics of […]

Matching Others’ Communication Styles without Losing Our Own

We subconsciously adjust our communication styles to match the people we are around; shifting that to a conscious effort is a communication skill that improves interactions but can raise the fear of being phony. Understanding the communication tactic and being clear on our purpose helps us to match others’ styles without losing our own. Consider […]

Zoom Fatigue Solutions

Move. Look up. Focus. Acknowledge Effort. Vary Medium. Research on videoconference is rolling in from academics now that a year has passed since it became our primary means of communicating. While we’ve all learned the skills needed to do Zoom right, we now need to learn how to keep it from making us crazy. The […]

Graciously Ending Casual Conversations

In meetings we can set time limits and agendas, but in casual conversations it is much harder to know when enough is enough. Recent research is shows that we are not that good of a judge. Those who are good meeting managers know that setting an agenda in advance, having a time manager assigned, and […]

Black Women Leaders Making History

Two black women just got promoted to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies – THAT is making history! They follow the first ever black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company Ursula Burns who was CEO of Xerox from 2009-2016. The 2020 Fortune 500 list of companies has only five black men as CEOs and only […]

Language to Unify

President-elect Joe Biden’s acceptance speech used language to unite this country. We each can hone our #ListenFirst skills and use the same unifying communication to strengthen and expand our communities. Biden started with a pledge to unify: I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify.Who doesn’t see red and blue […]

Inspiring Leaders: Students’ Perspectives

We all have somebody who inspires us – to work harder, to stand up for what we believe in, to be the best versions of ourselves.  This post reveals such leaders. This October, my students in Leadership Communication at San Francisco State University created artwork to convey leaders who inspire them.  The leaders were poets, […]

Human-First Communication

One silver lining to our work-from-home situation is that we often hear more about the human side of our colleagues.  Taking a step back to realize that the person on video is also dealing with everything 2020 has brought helps us to see their humanity. Instead of the typical sports and weather topics that we […]

“What?” The Art of Communicating While Masked

We are masked most of the time these days, but we are still communicating with people we encounter in public, and being intentional about that makes for clearer communication and can create a sense of belonging.  Even though we have masks over our noses and mouths, we are still communicating with our upper face and […]

Team of Teams Leadership with John Kammeyer

Leadership titles line our bookshelf, but recently my husband, John Kammeyer, insisted that I immediately read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal just as he finished it because the book was so insightful for him.  After I read the book, our internal conversation inspired me to share John’s leadership perspective. Why did you insist […]

Ideate, Structure, Communicate

Adding the step of structuring your content after you create it and before you communicate it makes it much easier for the audience to understand and boosts your confidence, increasing the effectiveness of an interaction. Most of us learned the five-paragraph essay in school. When we are writing an academic paper or article we know […]

Be The Steady Hand

With a steady hand on the tiller, you can set the direction and guide the course. Leaders of the 21stcentury are frequently encountering times of uncertainty and chaos, including the current pandemic. Your leadership can be the calming factor that allows others to be their best no matter the external factors. But, conscious and centered […]

Where to Look and Other Video Conference Tips

Bringing forth our best communication skills on a video conference makes interactions much more engaging.  It is not quite in-person, but video is a much richer interaction than over the phone.  What do we need to keep in mind on video?  The question I get most often is,  ‘where do I look on the screen?’  […]

What is the Connection? Find Commonalities for Better Conversations

Conversations bring people together or drive people apart based on our perceived commonality or differences. All humans are 99% alike from a DNA perspective. What is missing from the equation for harmony is just the perception of similarity. Luckily, our perceptions can be changed. With a bit of intention and effort, we can perceive others […]

Pause. Power.

It is amazing what can change in a moment.  One pause. One breath.  Whole new perspective.  Towards the end of the year we are dealing with more than usual as we continue our typical routine but then add annual review and planning plus holiday celebration activities. The pause becomes so valuable in times of many simultaneous […]

Give the Gift of Listening

We all love to be heard. We can feel understood, validated, and truly connected in the presence of a good listener.  It is not easy to listen in our times of excessive stimuli, noisy environments, and shorter attention spans. But the benefit of human connection and deeper understanding makes it worth the effort.  What makes […]

Leadership Through Students’ Eyes

This semester, 28 leaders from 17 different fields shared what it takes to be a good leader with students in my Leadership Communication course at San Francisco State University. After hearing the stories and wisdom of all these leaders, the students reflected upon what they learned and what they valued the most. Leaders interviewed for this […]

Turn Down the Temperature in the Room (and other leadership communication advice from Ash Carter)

Ash Carter, former United States Secretary of Defense and current Director of Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, has a new book called Inside the Five-Sided Box that shares lessons from leading the largest institution in America – the Department of Defense. While the strategy is intriguing, I most appreciated the leadership communication […]

Top-5 Tips for Spokespeople

Excellent leaders are fantastic spokespeople. We see it all the time—leaders who seem to always have the right thing to say and deliver messages so naturally. While it takes practice, we all have the capacity to be great spokespeople for our organizations. Here are five tips to get you on your way with in-real-life (IRL) […]

Manage Power Dynamics with Communication

“Like energy is the basic medium in physics, power is the basic medium of human relationships,” Dacher Keltner, PhD as heard on the WorkWell podcast. It is easy to be blind to power dynamics because of our democratic-society culture.  We want to believe that all people are equal, but that delusion puts us at a […]

A 5-Minute Primer on Compassion in Leadership

Compassion in leadership is an emerging concept in corporate management, brought to the forefront by LinkedIn in CEO, Jeff Weiner.  But for most of us, the concept may be a bit fuzzy and theoretical. I was interested in learning more because I teach Leadership Communication at San Francisco State University.  At the recent Compassion in […]

The Art of Giving and Accepting Feedback: Correcting Mistakes Respectfully

“What were you thinking sending out that document without letting me review it first?”   Judgmental, emotional, imprecise, and not actionable, this type of feedback is ineffective. “I see that the document was submitted without me seeing it.  I need to review all material prior to submission to ensure consistency and accuracy.  I understand you were […]