Tag Archives: communication


Your Mouth is Where the Money Is

There was a time when the answer to the question “What do you do?” was easy to answer: “I work on an assembly line.”  “I install windows.”  “I make boots.” You did something tangible, and you got paid for it.
There was a connection between the quantity you produced and the amount of money you earned. Economists refer to it as a widget economy, where a “widget” is a stand-in for some kind of commodity.
Fast-forward to the information age, and an increasing number of people are paid for their ability to communicate data and knowledge. The communicate piece is key, and where an employee’s currency truly lies.  widget-image
Today’s businesses need – and value – people who know when to speak in meetings, how to share ideas, how to persuade, and how to keep things on topic.  When an employee doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the employer isn’t getting its money’s worth.
I recognize that for the introverts among us, sharing expertise in meetings is not an easy task. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some strategies that I have developed with my clients:
  • Prior to the meeting, ask the organizer how you can best contribute and what ideas you might be able to support with your knowledge.
  •  Within the first two to five minutes of the meeting, challenge yourself to say something complimentary about the agenda: “Thank you for remembering that we need to talk about membership at this meeting.”
  • Within the first 30 minutes, vocalize your support of an idea. “I can see how that policy change would be helpful…”
  • At the end of the meeting, summarize what was agreed upon and the next steps (do this every hour in a longer meeting).
  • After the meeting, go back to the meeting organizer and ask how you can support the decisions that were made.
Still intimidated?  Then just remember this:  Your knowledge is your widget. And no one is going to invest in it if you don’t show it off!
What are some of the ways you like to contribute in a meeting?
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Blooms are not Incidental

A year ago, I needed to replace the walkway leading to my office. I called three landscapers to estimate the project. The first landscaper was affable enough, took some measurements, and left.

The second assessed the area and then turned to me and said, “What mood are you trying to create?” I had no idea, so he offered to drive me around to look at “mood.” He had me show him what I liked. When we returned, he looked at the surroundings and he explained how the atmosphere created by the path would influence how people felt when they walked into the office.walkway

As we talked more, I was excited by the possibilities, but nervous about the potential cost, which must have shown in my face. “Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll start with the walkway, and then you can do the rest of the plan in stages, if that’s what you choose. I want to give you a whole plan, so that it will all work together.”

When the third landscaper pulled out his measuring tape, I had already been won over by the second landscaper’s approach. He had created a compelling vision for the walkway and allayed my money fears.

He got my business because, unlike the other two landscapers, he was more than just an order taker.

In training programs, sometimes participants say, “Oh, I don’t need sales skills. It’s not part of my job.” Regardless of your work, it pays to be persuasive, and it’s important to have a little sales mojo.

All of us need to be able to influence, which is essentially what “sales” is. When we work with our members, patients, clients, employees, and customers, getting to know them as individuals is key. What are their goals? Concerns? Wishes?

It’s only when we know people as individuals that we can truly influence and persuade. And persuasion is something we all need to do, even if you think you’re not in sales.

You may be a doctor encouraging your patient to quit smoking, an HR manager asking an employee to fill out a timesheet – or a landscaper building a walkway.

Whatever your role, sales skills will make you more successful.

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Feedback and Recognition

A Thimble or a Beer Stein?

You’ve followed all the rules for a effective performance review with your assistant:  you found a time that works for both of you; you booked a private spot; and you made sure you wouldn’t be interrupted.  It all seemed to be going well until he suddenly turned defensive and withdrawn. What went wrong?
You may have misjudged his capacity for feedback.
I like to think of feedback as being something you pour.  Some people have a huge beer stein-sized capacity for receiving feedback and they are appreciative the more you fill their metaphorical glass (to a degree). Others have a tiny thimble – and if you overpour, all you do is make a big mess. So how do you tell whether someone is receptive to what you’re saying? It’s all in the body language.
Keep talking if:
  • they are asking questions such as, “Can you tell me more?  Can you be more specific?”
  • they thank you for sharing your insights
  • they appear relatively calm
  • they are attentive and listening
Put a cork in it if:
  •  they start giving excuses
  •  they aren’t making eye contact
  •  they appear agitated
  •  they are red in the face
  •  they tell you why they did what they did
The key is to not let the session turn into an argument, or even a milder form of disagreement…
You’re going to lose their respect and it won’t be a productive dialog.
Understanding a person’s ability to handle feedback is a valuable tool for productivity, retention, and the bottom line.  In fact, it’s so pivotal – and so hard to get right – that we offer training on the art of giving feedback.
When have you been on the receiving end of positive feedback?   How has someone enhanced your career by sharing their observations and suggestions?  Feedback really can be a gift.
I would love to hear your experience.
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