The 4 secrets to listening I learned From Columbo, The Master Detective

One of the most effective skills you can learn in managing and building your business is complimenting and asking questions whenever possible. Sometimes this can be a real challenge, especially if you’re the type of business owner who feels this is too touchy feely or might give your team the wrong idea about you. You want to be seen as strong and in charge, the alpha female or alpha male. But statistics show that the way of the totalitarian is out dated and over. The day of cooperation and collaboration is in.

Who is Columbo?

Columbo was a TV show I watched with my brothers and sister about a dis-shoveled, seemingly disorganized police detective of Italian descent named, Columbo. He was friendly and from the working-class whose trademarks included wearing a rumpled, beige raincoat over his suit, and smoking a cigar. He was consistently underestimated by his suspects, who were initially reassured and distracted by his constant talking then increasingly annoyed by his pestering behavior. Despite his unassuming appearance and apparent absentmindedness, he shrewdly solved all of his cases and secured all evidence needed for a conviction.


My invitation to you is to become a shrewd detective who searches for opportunities to give your employees, the suspects, genuine and personalized compliments and appreciation. Here are 4 secrets to help you find these remarkable opportunities

Hidden Talents Anyone?

The days of an employee only being good at the one thing you hired them for is over. Today’s employees have amazing talents and skills. I’m positive you have no idea where else they can contribute to if you don’t put on your detective hat and find out.

Negative Self Talkers

It’s hard to know if someone is really working or if they’re checked out and disconnected.  Interrupting negative self-talk with words of appreciation and acknowledgment help you see more into the true nature of an employee. Be on the lookout for someone who avoids eye contact with you and other employees, maybe they have their head buried in their phone, or they just look like they’re having a bad day. When you deliver  a compliment or ask an interesting question, it’s fun to watch the surprise on their face and see them come to life as they surge with confidence telling you all about a topic they know well.

The Experience Of An Attitude Adjustment

The healing power of giving genuine compliments and appreciation will show up in ways you can’t even image yet. The ripple effect at its best. The experiential piece here is to create an operative practice to remind yourself to pay someone a compliment whenever you see something that strikes you in a positive way. Instead of just thinking it, create that practice so you get present and in the moment and share it with the person!

Smoke Out The Jealous With a Friendlier Game

Being a detective is one of the best ways I know to deal with comparison and jealousy in the work place.  As the boss it can seem harmless to point out the good things one employee does over another or create competition between different divisions; it’s this type of “friendly competition” that only succeeds in creating envy. Friendly competition between divisions works best when the group as a whole is working on the same project but different parts. Start genuinely complimenting and asking better questions of your employees if you’re looking to gel. When the CEO gets in the game and is the example, people will follow. Lead by example and be present in the now. By creating that good vibe in the work place you let others recognize their own unique beauty, worth and gifts.


The trade mark of Columbo was not only his formidable eye for detail and relentless dedicated approach, (which was apparent to the viewer but only became clear to the suspect late in the story line), but in a cool twist to storytelling, the plot revolved around how a suspect, whose identity is already known to the audience will finally be caught and exposed (which the show’s writers called a “howcatchem”, rather than a “whodunit”).

Perhaps you could seek out the suspects in your office and expose them for the good guys they truly are.

Communicating from the heart,

Sharon Kay


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