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No one is listening to you. Here’s why.

Monday, April 23, 2012 3 comments

“Why aren’t they listening,” you ask? Because they want a message with purpose; something they can believe in, remember and take action on. So how do you do that?

Start by Generating a Message with Purpose

First your message must have purpose. Are you talking just to fill time or is what you have to say really going to be of importance to your audience? Be sure to consider your audience and determine if what you are about to discuss with them is really going to matter. Once you have done this it is easy to know the direction of your next steps.

“To talk or not to talk – be sure to ask the question!”

Getting their Attention

Once you have decided that your message is important enough to move forward with; how do you do it? How do you get your audience to listen? Start with something to get their attention. A riveting statement, a perplexing question, an amazing fact, a brief story; anything that will turn their head and bend their ear in your direction, just make it relevant and make it something you can circle back to in the end.

Developing your Message

Know your audience and keep your message in context. Now that you have their attention; will they understand?

Tailor your message to the level of your audience.

If you are talking to a group of children, then make it simple and easy to comprehend. If you are speaking with a group of specialists, use their language and terms they familiar with. So what is your message? What is it you want to say? What do you want them to gain from your message? Think about these points.

Include content pertinent to the idea you are trying to convey.

Create an outline formatted to help you step your audience through the message in a logical process. Point A leads to point B which leads to point C and so on. Now you have your message laid out; is it clear and easy to understand? Take a second look, take some time away and come back to it with a fresh mind and maybe even do a dry run with a peer asking them to give you some critical feedback. What’s your back-up plan? Always have Plan B in your back pocket. Get down to the brass tacks. If you had to cut your 30 minute presentation down to 10 minutes or less, what would you say? You know your speech, you know the message you want to convey and you know the key points you need to drive home with your audience. So if the unforseen happens and now you only have 10 minutes to get your message across be sure to hit on those key points. If you are compelling with the key points, your audience will come back to you for more.

Delivering your Message

Ok, you have your message ready to go. How do you get them to believe in your message? How do you get them to remember? First, you MUST exude confidence! If you don’t believe in what you are saying, why should they? Look at them in the eyes when you talk to them it builds trust with the audience and will reinforce your believability. When you talk, use clear and concise sentences; speak clearly and avoid being monotone. Keep them engaged. Whether you are delivering a speech or giving a sales pitch you can keep your audience engaged by asking questions and taking time for dramatic pauses. Ask them to visualize what you are saying, it helps with recall. Use repetition, the more you repeat it, the more likely they are to remember it. Use repetition; the more you repeat it, the more likely they are to remember it. Be passionate about the message. Deliver your vision, make it their vision, get them on board and compel them to act. When you are finished, ask yourself: Do they agree with it? Is it something they will put into action?

I get it, I agree with it, I think I can do it, I’m willing to try it.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Circle Back

Bring it full circle. You started out with something to get their attention. A riveting statement, a perplexing question, an amazing fact or a brief story; now it’s time to get back to that statement or question. This will bring relevance to that statement which got them to listen in the first place. It will help them to understand your opening statement really does relate back to the end result. Bottomline: Prepare. Be confident, clear and compelling.

What are some of your secrets to delivering a message successfully?
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What do you want from me?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: Center for Nonverbal Studies)

Living up to other peoples expectations can be difficult, especially as a remote employee your expectations can be even more elusive. So how do you get through it? How do you determine if you are doing everything anticipated of you and delivering what is expected of you?

Ask Questions
If you want to deliver on expectations, you need to know what those expectations are. Be up front and revisit expectations regularly to determine if you are on track. Discover not only what your manager expects of you, but what is expected from you by others.

Set Milestones
Setting milestones will keep you on track to achieve your goals. As you progress through your scheduled milestones communicate them, it allows others to get the sense of what you are actually accomplishing even though they cannot see you working first hand.

Clear Communications
No one can see and appreciate the massive effort you are putting in so it is urgent to produce results and share your output with the team. Remember when you work remotely, no one is there to see your accomplishments first hand; the only way they will ever find out, is if you are delivering on your expectations and sharing your progress. They only know what you tell them and show them so don’t be humble, it’s not boasting, it’s communicating your progress.

Demonstrate Commitment
As with any great team loyalty and commitment  are critical. Be sure to demonstrate the attributes of a good team member:
  • On virtual team everyone works together and depends on one another so be sure to provide your team members what they need on time.
  • If there is an announcement or break through everyone could benefit from be sure the group is notified.
  • Share success stories with your team; if something worked well for you and improved a process it is likely something similar will work for others on your team and before you know it, your point of interest has become a best practice for the entire group.
  • For the most part people enjoy helping others to succeed, it makes you feel good inside when you help others in need. If someone helped you accomplish a task you could have not otherwise done your self or was just assisting you in meeting a timeline; tell the group, people appreciate the recognition and are grateful you recognize their efforts.
Sure it takes a little extra effort to keep everyone in the loop and to ensure you are living up to expectations, but in the end you will have achieved greater success through clarity and communications.
What are some best practices you have in place on your virtual team?

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“That’s Impossible!”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

(Photo: Richard.Asia)

You can’t get what you want and still make everyone happy. . . can you? Yes, it is possible! I have always been a person to find a way to get things done, a method of accomplishing the goals I wish to achieve. Maybe it started in childhood when my mother said, “no,” so I went to my father asking the same question. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the line, “What did your mother say?” Lesson learned; if it doesn’t work the first time–take a different approach. Preparation

“Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.” – Karl Albrecht

  • First you have to know exactly what you want, define it and determine acceptable variations–this will keep you focused and on track.
  • Prepare carefully and research all aspects of the deal. This will ensure you are fully prepared for any counters you may incur.
  • Negotiation is nothing personal so don’t make it a personal attack on the other party. And don’t take the other party’s actions as a personal attack upon yourself.
  • Look at the situation from the perspective of the other party and show compassion toward their situation.

Discussions

“If you can’t go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

  • Listen to the needs of the other party.
  • Be persistent.
  • Don’t expect to “win” the first time. Your first job is just to start the other person thinking.
  • Work through the terms, discussing multiple resolutions.
Can you accomplish your objectives without compromising your values? Yes!

  • Give a little to allow the other party to feel as if they gained some ground.
  • Admit, when appropriate, the validity of the other party’s arguments.
  • Avoid ultimatums and other forms of non-negotiable demands.
  • You must be fully prepared to lose a great deal in order to make a great deal.

Resolution

“The first principle of contract negotiation is don’t remind them of what you did in the past; tell them what you’re going to do in the future.” – Stan Musial

  • Work together with the other party for a common resolution.
  • Don’t be selfish; try to base a solution incorporating the needs of the other party.
  • Negotiation is always best if both parties are happy and you can develop a win-win outcome.
  • Put your bargain in terms of his or her needs, advantages, and benefits.
  • Define and set a timeline for the transaction to take place.

Negotiation can bear a negative association so be sure to take the time to fully understand the situation, be a good listener, work to develop win-win resolution and never compromise your values. So dream the impossible dream, achieve your goals and gain a new confidence in life to go out and take the world by storm!

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I’m gonna count to NOW!

Thursday, March 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(Photo: jbelluch)

Has there ever been a time where you should count to 10 and relax for a bit? Well, I’m gonna count to NOW!

Are there ever times in your life when you should take a moment, count to ten and relax? Instead, you find yourself so infuriated you can only count to NOW! Let’s face it sometimes all we need is a little lesson in patience. Perhaps we should take a couple minutes right now to explore patience, before you blow your top.

“Serenity now!” -Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)

What is Patience?
Patience is the act of remaining calm and collected during times of stress, challenges or difficult circumstances.

Determining the Cause
What caused this turmoil, why are you so upset? Take some time to reflect and become conscious of the reasons you are so irritated.

  • Generate an awareness of what brought you to this level of impatience.
  • Are there any triggers prompting your irritation?
  • Be conscious of reoccurring patterns causing your patience to be tested.

Counteracting Your Impatience
When you feel the tension of intolerance building here are some things you can do:

  • Determine what got you to this point.
  • Visualize what the appropriate action should be instead of loosing your patience.
  • Exercise or perform a physical activity to exert energy and release the tension.
  • Take slow deep breaths.
  • Listen to some relaxing music to calm yourself.
  • View calming photos which bring you fortitude (i.e. sunset, water, landscapes, etc.)
  • Do nothing; take a moment clear your mind, relax and meditate.
  • Remove yourself from the emotion of the moment; if possible take an hour and come back calm and relaxed.
  • Enjoy the moment and smile clandestinely knowing you will get through this.

Stop Your Frustration BEFORE it Happens
What preemptive measures can you take to dissipate the emotion and ensure they don’t reoccur moving forward?

“Good things come to those who wait.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Slow down there is no need for immediate gratification, in fact most successes are achieved over time.
  • If the situation is beyond your control; then why worry about it? There is no sense getting worked up about conditions you cannot influence, just take proper steps to prepare for the results.
  • Expect the unexpected; quite frequently events will not go as anticipated the first time around.
  • It is appropriate to have high ambitions, but stop holding yourself and the world around you to unreachable standards.
  • Get organized everything runs smoother when you are prepared.

What to do in the Future
Take it each day as it comes with a vision for the future. To succeed you need to prepare a well thought out plan with a clear vision.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius

  • Research and exude positive convictions sharing your optimism with others. Doing so will generate confidence among the group.
  • Remember what is important to you by having clearly defined objectives.
  • Convey gratitude for the gifts you have in your life and career; be it your family, friends, employment, customers, etc.
  • Act in a mature manner. Outrage is not the way to impress others.
  • Understand and accept; what is the worst thing that could happen? Most times if you center in on the worst case scenario, it is not as bad as you first made it out to be.

Patience is an important factor to a well-balanced and harmonious life. As you progress through your life and excel in your career there will be times of great stress. Take the time to be patient and make calm rational decisions rather than quick disorganized reactions.

What are some tips you have for patience?

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Facebook as a Workplace Tool?

Thursday, February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

(Photo: Robert S. Donovan)

Can Facebook really be used as a serious workplace tool? The answer may surprise you…
With so many virtual teams scattered and far flung around the globe we need to find a way to cultivate the team bonding experience achieved in an office. In today’s mobile workforce the sense of presence is limited which in turn decreases the opportunity for team bonding, communication and trust. Sure we all have email, phones and other means of communication; but what opportunity do we have to really get to know each other? What can be done to stifle the disconnect and bring people closer together? The answer is…Facebook.

Why Facebook?
What’s lacking in the virtual workforce is the personal bonding which typically occurs when colleagues work side-by-side day after day. Relationships develop; people learn about one another, hear about family life and gain perspective of each others personal interests. A bond is a close personal relationship that forms between people working toward shared goals using collaborative efforts. So how do you duplicate this in a virtual team environment?

How Do I Get Started?
Start by creating a Facebook group for your team. If you company is large make sure you pare it down to only include the members of your team directly. Be sure to incorporate your team identity and include basic information to the group such as:

  • Links to company site and other team sites.
  • Newsletter.
  • Upcoming events including: Webinars, conferences and other programs where someone from your team will be present.
  • Update your group or fan page on a regular basis with helpful information.
  • Answer FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions).

What Should Each Team Member Post?
Now you have your group set up and you are ready for your team to join the group and start posting. If any of your team members are new to Facebook here are some guidelines to assist them in determining the content they should share:

  • Individual bio’s
  • Background
  • Education
  • Work history
  • Areas of expertise
  • Certifications
  • Training
  • Work Goals
  • Family happenings
  • Personal Interests
  • Pictures
  • Personal Goals
  • _
    At first they may be apprehensive about contributing personal information to the group, let’s face it many people are a little uneasy about tipping their cards. Make clear to them you would not expect them to share any information they would not otherwise discuss if they were in an office setting. Explain to them you are working to create a more personal, humanizing dimension to people who are otherwise perceived as distant and unconnected. It is also significant to note to your virtual team there are many security settings on Facebook allowing them to pare down the information they choose to share with the group.

    What Should Each Team Member Avoid?
    How do you know what is appropriate? Of course it is imperative for people to know the boundaries of acceptable material. Set specific guidelines and add to them as needed, to start…

    • All information should be non-proprietary.
    • Be respectful of the company, brand, and reputation.
    • Avoid rumors and gossip.
    • Steer clear of stories or photos which may seem provocative or make others in the group uncomfortable.
    • Set guidelines for the amount of time spent online.

    Why Incorporate Facebook at All?

    “We think it could be valuable when used in an appropriate way.” – Haydn Long, spokesperson for Flight Centre

    Employers are embracing Facebook and believe it can help build a sense of community amongst employees and help foster bonds with clients. A spokesperson for Facebook stated, “Facebook is an incredibly efficient way for people with real-world connections to share information and communicate, including among people who work together.” Among other things Facebook is a good way to…

    • Increase trust: Colleagues get to know one another, then like each other and when they like each other they trust each other.
    • Immerse a new employee into the group by getting to know the interests of their counterparts.
    • Have long term employees gain further insight to their colleagues.
    • Allow for a connection and create a sense of presence you would otherwise find in an office environment.
    • Stay up-to-date as people’s interests change.

    Let’s face it remote employees are spread far and wide across the globe today and if you are looking to bolster loyalty to the company and generate a team atmosphere it is crucial you embrace the technologies available to your workforce. Rather than forbidding these tools as many employers do find ways to utilize them as functional workplace mechanisms.

    Can Facebook really be used as a serious workplace tool; what are your thoughts?

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    Team Bonding with a Virtual Workforce

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 3 comments

    (Image: Jason Christensen – Created in PowerPoint)

    A growing number of companies are instituting virtual workforces allowing the employees to be closer to their customers and working in a remote environment. These remote employees work distantly from the members of their team and may rarely have in person contact. As a manager you soon learn you can set up a group of employees to work as a team, but that doesn’t mean they will feel like a team.

    What’s lacking is the personal bonding. In an office, personal bonding usually occurs with colleagues working side-by-side day after day. Relationships develop; people learn about one another, understand each other’s skill sets, hear about family life and gain perspective of each others personal interests. With so many virtual teams spread far and wide across the globe today; can you still cultivate the bonding experience achieved in an office?

    The answer is “yes,” but it is not going to be without challenge, effort and proper systems set in place.

    A bond is a close personal relationship that forms between people working toward shared goals using collaborative efforts. So how do you duplicate this in a virtual team environment?

    “When everyone works together, things start getting done and the nearly impossible tasks are accomplished.”

    Where to Begin

    Start with a group meeting in person, if possible. Miscommunication and conflicting expectations often arise early in the project. This formal gathering will allow you to:

    • Set goals and objectives as a group.
    • Define team roles.
    • Establish relationships amongst team members.
    • Construct a team identity.
    • Build a foundation for trust.

    If you are not able to bring everyone together in person, create a virtual environment where the team can gather to collaborate on these objectives. It may not be as effective, but it will begin the process and allow your remote employees to interact on a more personal basis.

    Developing Team Goals

    The entire team needs to have a clear understanding of their purpose and what they are looking to accomplish. Through collaboration a team can develop the goals and the processes needed to achieve their objectives. As the leader it is important you guide the team making sure their action plan is (SMART):

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Timed

    By allowing the team to set the goals for themselves it gives them ownership in the process knowing they had a part in the decision making.

    Defining Team Roles

    The process of team bonding encourages team members to learn how to manage conflict, evaluate group performance, and provide feedback and support encouraging each member to reach their highest potential. In a team-oriented environment, every member contributes to the overall success of the organization. While each person may have a specific job function, everyone is unified to accomplish the overall objective.

    Each team member should have a definite role as part of the group and every member of the team needs to be aware of each associates function and responsibility. Having clearly defined roles enhances the understanding of the workflow and increases productivity. Thereby each member of the team understands what the next person in the process needs to complete their task and can be sure to provide them all the facets needed to do their job properly.

    Getting to Know Each Other

    In your initial gathering you should allow time for people to get to know one another. You should have a round table where each team member takes a few minutes to talk about:

    • Who they are.
    • Where they came from.
    • Family.
    • Their interests.
    • Life experiences.
    • Personal goals.
    • Professional background.
    • Their role on the team.
    • What they are looking to achieve in their career.

    These types of discussion will open doors for common bonds between the members of the team allowing them to take interest in one another.

    Following these discussions the information should be gathered and posted to a team site. As time goes by people lose track of the information shared and interests change so the site should be easily updatable by each member of the team. A good online forum readily available is Facebook where private groups can be created. This forum also allows each person to upload pictures and other information about themselves creating a more personal, humanizing dimension to people who are otherwise perceived as distant and unconnected.

    Building a Team Identity

    A common feeling of identity is a vital part of taking your group from solitude to companionship. People have an inherent interest in feeling part of something special. During your initial assembly allow the team to work together in developing a distinctive individuality.

    Once developed, use this identity on all project documents, presentations, team sites, and related materials; it will further strengthen the character of the group

    Trust Building

    Cohesive teams cannot be built without trust. Each member of the group needs to have full faith in the other members knowing each team members is skilled and dependable in his area of expertise. However, trust takes time to grow and mature; so how do you cultivate trust?

    If you have implemented the recommendations above you have already taken great strides in laying the foundation for strong trusting relationships. To further nurture the process below are a few ideas which have been used successfully:

    • Start a buddy system, a first source of information. Each team member is a assigned a buddy, preferably one who compliments the others skills and abilities, carefully chosen to be a mentor to one another. This unit relies on each other for answers to questions, advice and general commentary. When the group members utilize the expertise each offers, they understand the value of their counterparts in their roles and enhances their confidence in the group.
    • Assign group projects. On a rotating basis pull together members of the team to complete goal related projects impelling them to work closely with one another gaining knowledge of the other team members capabilities and strengths.
    • As a manager knowing the strengths of your team gives you the ability to build the bench strength by delegating. By knowing the strengths of your team, when approached for assistance, you have the ability to ask them to utilize a particular team member who may be stronger than you in the particular area. Essentially you are assigning “go to” guys for particular areas where a member of your team is strong. Not only does this free some of your time, it is also an exercise in building bench strength and most of all it enhances team members confidence in one another.
    • Injecting humor, at the expense of yourself helps to break down barriers and creates an understanding with your team you are regular person
    • Willful collaboration among team members and sharing information to assist each other in achieving goals is a key attribute to encourage within a team.

    As the trust expands through the group, the team members will start support the other members of the team and pick each other up if they start to tumble.

    Enhancing Communication

    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

    Communication amongst a virtual team enhances the fellowship of the group and should be made as easy as walking over to the water cooler. There are many possibilities to augment a virtual community:

    • Shared virtual workspace.
    • Online forum such as Facebook.
    • SharePoint site to store team files.
    • Instant messaging program.
    • Weekly conference calls.
    • Web Conferences.
    • Virtual conference rooms.
    • And believe it or not — the telephone!

    Celebrate Accomplishments

    Nothing is worse than working so hard to achieve greatness and no one ever finds out. It is important to celebrate the wins on a team and send a flag up the virtual flag pole staking your claim. As a leader it is your duty to communicate these wins to everyone who will listen and reward the members of your team for their accomplishments. Congratulatory compliments are a vital part of bonding people on a team. Make the announcements personal and call on the individual(s) responsible to “toot their own horn” in a group setting explaining what they did and how they did it.

    Virtual Gathering

    One of the greatest challenges with a virtual team is the social solitude people feel outside of an office environment. To offset this seclusion you can coordinate activities which build identity, unity and a competitive spirit within your entire team.

    • Hold an online poker tournament.
    • Depending on the group, a combat game might be of interest.
    • Host a Second Life event.
    • Participate in a virtual team farming exercise.

    There are many games and social events to take part in over the internet or through electronic gaming devices; pick something fitting of your team which allows them to accomplish a common goal.

    Todays virtual environment can be taxing and as a leader you must work hard to unite your group. Personal bonding in a virtual environment is going to be challenging, but the more you can do to develop this connection between group members; the more productive they will be, greater motivation they will have, morale will increase , retention rates will be greater and you will have a strongly bonded team.

    What are some methods you have seen used in a virtual workforce situation?

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    “No, no way, uh-uh, forget it!”

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

    (Photo: massdistraction)

    We are pulled in many different directions in life, be it a project at work, a bake sale for school, a volunteer opportunity, you name it. So how do you find time to participate in everything and still find time for yourself and for your family? The answer….you don’t! It is time to just say, “NO!”

    It Hurts to Say No

    It is not so easy to say, “no.” The word “no” carries with it:

    • Guilt associated with not being able to help.
    • A struggle against peer pressure and others impression of you.
    • Feelings of failure not being able to do all the things you may want.

    Let’s face it, You can’t do it all!

    Why say, “no?”

    We all have goals in life and hopefully you are focused on what you really want. If so, the answer should be an easy one, however saying, “no” is the difficult part. Remember every time you say, “yes” you are taking time from your schedule and essentially saying, “no” to something else in your life. So don’t feel bad saying, “no,” it allows you to have time to concentrate on what is really important to you and…

    • Keeps you from burnout.
    • Lowers your stress level.
    • Allows you more time for other things.

    When should I say yes?

    Before you can even think about getting good at saying “no,” get clear on what to say, “yes” to in life. If your yes is more time with your family it will mean turning down obligations keeping you away from home. If it’s yes to better health, you’ll need to say, “no” to late nights at work that keep you from the gym. “The firmer your foundation and connection to your yes,” says William Ury, Ph.D., author of The Power of a Positive No, “the less difficult it will be to say no.”

    Are there some times you should say, “Yes?” Of course, but before you do, ask yourself:

    How to say, “no.”

    You have come to the decision to say, “No,” because is does not fit what you are looking for in life; so how do you do it?

    1. Show sincerity. – People appreciate a genuine response.
    2. Be direct and don’t elaborate. – No one wants to hear excuses.
    3. Be convincing and exude confidence by being firm. – If your answer is no, say, “no,” and mean it.

    “Avoid burdening the other person with unnecessary or elaborate excuses. You run the risk of the other person trying to fix the situation. Plus, the more drawn-out the excuse, the less authentic it sounds — and, in the end, it’s really no one else’s business.”

    Here are some examples of  ways to say, “no” and why they work:

    • “Thank you, I already have something going on at that time.” – Tell them you already have plans for that time.
    • “Thank you for the offer, but I am committed to another project.” – Let’s them know you appreciate the offer, but you are committed to something else (ie. Church, charity, school, family, etc,)
    • “I’d really love to, but it just does not fit my schedule.” – Shows interest, but let’s the other party know the timing does not work for you.
    • “Not at this time.” – Leaves the door open for them to ask you at another time.
    • “I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well.” – This is a yes to higher standards.
    • Say “no” by saying “yes.” – Lessens the feeling of conflict.

    Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty about saying, “no.” Take pride in knowing you are remaining committed to your values and are doing what is important to you and your family. You’ll be stronger for it. Even better, you’ll be a more focused contributor to the people and things that matter to you most.

    What are some other ways to say no?
    Do you think you should ever say, “no?”

    Article Title Source: Parents Just Don’t Understand DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

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