7 Common Communication Blunders

7 Common Communication Blunders

Have you ever said something at work you wish you hadn’t? Sometimes the wrong words just blurt out to employees or with the client. The first step in fixing common communication blunders on the job is to know what those blunders are. Then you can say something the smart way and not the dumb way.  Verbal communication expert, Greg Alcorn, CEO of Global Contact Services (GCS) of Salisbury, NC, is the author of 7 Dumb Things We All Say and speaks to thousands of people each year on improving verbal communication at work.

 

BELOW, GREG HAS LISTED THE SEVEN BIGGEST BLUNDERS YOU MAY NOT HAVE USED, BUT HAVE DEFINITELY COME ACROSS!

ONE:  Using Bad Bookends. The biggest blunder is starting and ending what you say with the wrong phrasing. Conversation bookends are the small comments or questions just before or right after a full statement or request for action. Be better with your starting and ending bookends. Pre-sentence bookends as a tool can be engaging, demeaning, or distracting. Names are great bookends. Starting a sentence with the name of the person you are talking to warms that person up. “Mary, may I put you on hold?” Saying your name last in your introduction makes it easy for the person you are talking with remember your name. “This is the help line; my name is Jack.”

TWO:  Starting with Wrong First Words. Are you familiar with the adage, “Getting off on the wrong foot”? Conversations have first impressions, and they begin with your first three words. Hint: one of the words should be the other person’s name. Using names is important when speaking on the phone, especially conference calls. Conference call principle number one is if you’re going to call on somebody, start with the name. Instead of saying, “What were the metrics on our operations yesterday, Frank?” ask the right way: “Frank, what were the metrics on our operation yesterday?” If you don’t start with the name, you might catch the person by surprise. It certainly catches people’s attention when you say their name first.

THREE:  Not Choosing Your Words Well. The words you choose paint a picture for the listener. Your words express your attitude and your personality. Keep it positive. Don’t start a sentence with the word “no.” Even in introductions, you can’t go wrong with saying the person’s name first. A person’s name followed by the four words “I need your help” is a winner. “Rachel, I need your help.” This is especially powerful when it’s in a situation in which you might be the boss and the other person might be a manager, or you might be in a perceived superior position.

FOUR:  Poor Questions and Bad Listening. Meaningful questions always stay on subject, keep a conversation moving forward, and ensure the other person feels heard and understood. Becoming a better listener is easier than you might think. It starts by committing to be a great listener and making an active choice to listen. Ask good questions and really listen. This is the “You have two ears and one mouth” principle.

FIVE:  Focus-on-Me Attitude. Making it all about you is a turn off for them. This is not a technique; this is an attitude. The best way to describe a benefit is to describe the feeling received. “I came by as soon as I heard you lost the sale; I’m sad.” The fellow employee can recognize the extra effort and surely appreciates the sentiment. It’s a powerful sentence. A special visit, a sense of urgency, and a sincere feeling (sad). Empathy shows feelings.

SIX:  Wrong Tone. People feel more comfortable with pleasant, variable tone quality. Voice tone is made up of rate, pitch, and volume. Think tone and don’t drone. The tone of our voice helps others to hear our empathy. The rate, pitch, and volume of our statements of empathy helps express feelings. Usually, but not always, we hear implied empathy when somebody slows down speech and lowers the pitch and volume. Say, “I am sad to hear that you lost the supermarket account,” and I’ll bet you will automatically say it slow and low. The same with excitement at the opposite end of the spectrum. Say “Team, we won the hotel account!” You can’t help but say it fast, high, and loud. Tone expresses empathy.

SEVEN:  Not Diffusing Difficult Drama. Stressful conversations, or drama, can be avoided by mastering word selection, listening, and questioning skills. Drama can be inevitable, however. Most stressful situations can be defused when you apply the three Rs: recognize, restate, and reassure. Ask others: “What would you like to see happen?” Those are seven magic words that can defuse difficult drama: Words are just a tool, like electricity is a tool. And like any tool, they can be used for helping or for harming. Electricity can cook a person’s dinner, or it can burn a person’s dinner. Words can turn people on or turn people off.

Here is the bottom line: Nobody wants to say dumb things. But we all do. The first step towards reducing the number of dumb things you say is to know what the dumb things are. Then don’t say that, say something smarter.

 

Six Actions to Take Now to Update Your Executive Resume

Six Actions to Take Now to Update Your Executive Resume

By Lisa Rangel

The executive recruiter calls with a job that sounds as if it was written just for you.  The more the recruiter describes the position, the more excited you get. Then she ends the call with, “Great!  Send me your resume and I’ll submit it to the company.”

Duh!!!

That’s the moment you realize that you haven’t updated your resume…What do you do?

Here are six actions you can take to update your executive resume pronto: 

  1. Ask the recruiter what are the top three achievements the prospective employer wants the next hire to do. Next be sure you have measurable achievements listed that demonstrate how you either have done these accomplishments already or show how you are positioned to do these wins as next steps in your career.  Speak to what the employer needs and what the recruiter says is important in the form of achievement-based bullets in your resume. Here are a few tips to do that include focusing on CAR or STAR formats.  CAR stands for Context, Action, Result. The objective is to introduce a problem that you solved by providing the story behind it. STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is similar in so far as you are also telling a story and highlighting how you are the hero in a situation: https://chameleonresumes.com/how-write-achievement-based-executive-resume-bullet/
  2. Make sure your contact information is updated. Current phone number (mobile) and email. You won’t need to include your physical address to send your resume to a third party recruiter in most cases. Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile vanity URL.  Here are instructions on how to create your Vanity LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87/customizing-your-public-profile-url?lang=en
  3. Ensure the target position you just discussed with the recruiter is reflected in the title of your resume.  Don’t start this summary section with the word “summary” or “objective.”  Use the title as the title. This will visually reinforce to the reader that you want to do what they need.
  4. Freshen up the font.  Gravitate towards a font more modern while still conveying an executive feel, such as Calibri or Arial Narrow.
  5. Update the visual element to your resume. Include subtle touches of color in the form of a separator line between sections. Refrain from using graphs and tables. Keep the layout simple, yet elegant, when doing your resume yourself.
  6. Employ the use of white space in your resume. Break up blocks of information and use short sentences with numeric- and results-driven content. Know that readers digest reading your resume in 6 second increments, so you want to write digestible morsels to keep them reading and motivated to call.

Ideally, you want to be ready with a resume BEFORE that recruiter call comes. But let’s face it, most of us will do it under pressure after the call comes.  So these steps above will have you updating your resume and sending it over to the recruiter in no time! Also, remember companies that specialize in executive resume writing and consulting can be a big help when it comes to updating a resume quickly.  You never have to do it alone.

ABOUT LISA RANGEL

Lisa Rangel, Founder and Managing Director of www.ChameleonResumes.com, LLC (a Forbes Top 100 Career Website), is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant & 13-year Recruiter. She’s been featured on CNN Business, Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, LinkedIn, CNBC, Time Money, BBC, Newsweek, Crain’s New York, Chicago Tribune, eFinancialCareers, CIO Magazine, Monster, US News & World Report, Good Morning America, Fox Business News, New York Post, and other reputable media outlets.

 

How to Obtain the Best Business Negotiation Results

How to Obtain the Best Business Negotiation Results

Written by Executive Leadership Coach, Denise Louise Jeffrey 

Whether pushing for promotion, bargaining for extra budget or trying to convince a client to get on board, negotiation is a necessary part of business life. Most of us aren’t born with this skill, but it’s well worth taking the time to conquer for the benefits that it can bring – from forging better business relationships to reaping great rewards… whatever they may look like for you.  With insight from Executive and Leadership Coach Denise Louise Jeffrey, here’s how to influence your way to great negotiations and seal the deal:

BE PREPARED…
One of the most important things to do when negotiating, is to put in the groundwork before anything begins. A common combination, and a vain one at that, is to be overconfident but under-prepared. Always take time to put the research in, and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you know who you’re meeting, carry out some background research, perhaps familiarizing yourself with their role and career trajectory. Also educate yourself on the project at hand, so that you’re well positioned to address any questions that may arise, and provide answers backed up by cold, hard facts.

BE ATTENTIVE…
Being attentive takes on many types of meaning in negotiations. No matter who you’re up against, always take the time to listen and show that you’re taking on board what they say. This is a two-way street, and there needs to be a mutual respect and understanding for what one another wants from the meeting. But being attentive also means being observant of their behavior, and as Denise suggests, you should use this to negotiate “with an outlook of achieving different outcomes that could be acceptable for all, depending on the style of bargaining your counterpart pursues.” Being able to pay attention to and, recognize their tactics, is key. This leads us onto the final step

BE ADAPTABLE…
As Denise tells us, negotiation isn’t a one-solution situation, and what works for one person may not work for the next. Being able to adapt based on your negotiator’s behavior is a key part in increasing your likelihood of success in the transaction. According to Denise, you can do this through noting their negotiation traits, which have been broken down into four archetypal types: The ‘My Way or the Highway’ type, the ‘Sweet Talker’ type, and the ‘Devil’s in the Details’ type and the ‘Let’s Not Rock the Boat’ type. The key is to then meet them on their level, unless – and this is one exception to the rule – they are being inappropriate or aggressive, in which case, call them out for their unprofessionalism and part ways. Denise’s recommended negotiation approaches are tailored to each category.

Ultimately, the most valuable skill a negotiator can possess is “being able to adapt and negotiate in all styles – not just the one you are most comfortable with.” Being prepared, attentive, altering your behavior based on theirs, and adapting accordingly on the day, is what will give you the highest chance of the best possible outcome.

 

The One Form of Marketing That ALWAYS Works

The One Form of Marketing That ALWAYS Works

By Ted Janusz

Can you relate to this?  John Wannamaker, the Philadelphia department store magnate, said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”   But there is one form of marketing, that ALWAYS works … what is it?

WORD OF MOUTH!

Of course, now with the internet and social media, you could call it WORLD of mouth marketing.  People are six times more likely to rely on the word of other people when making a buying decision rather than advertising.

In fact, 80% of consumer buying decisions are based on personal recommendations.  Here’s why it works …

The average American adult knows 400 people … people you work with, went to school with, or people you know socially.  If you assume each of those 400 people know 400 others (of course, there will be some overlap – but let’s keep it simple), you now have an immediate network of 140,000 people.

And if you assume those 140,000 people know 400 others, you are up to one-third of the US population.  And what will people spread about your business, good news or bad? Right! Bad news!

Your average satisfied customer will tell 5 to 8 others. But your average upset customer (if you have any) will 10 to 16. In fact, one in five will tell 20 people how upset you have made them.

In their book Creating Customer Evangelists, authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba say, “Competition for entertainment dollars – where Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he competes – is fierce. To succeed, he must continually focus on increasing the average lifetime value of a Mavs season ticket holder. In 2002, that figure was $300,000, according to Cuban. “The Chicago Cubs, you’ve got to wait in line to get your season tickets,” he says. “That’s the goal … then I don’t have to spend lots of money on salespeople and all kinds of support efforts – I’ve just got to keep [customers] happy. It’s a lot easier to keep ‘em happy than to go out and get new ones to replace ‘em.”

Now the lifetime value of one of your customers may not be $300,000 like it is for the Dallas Mavericks. But once you determine what that value is for you, you’ll realize how important to keep those customers happy – since they, bar none, are your best source of marketing.

Ted Janusz, MBA, CSP is a Certified Speaking Professional who has delighted audiences for more than 5,000 hours, in 49 of the 50 United States, in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, in Australia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.januspresentations.com.

 

How to be Successful as a Woman in Business

How to be Successful as a Woman in Business

At one time or another, we have all questioned whether we have what it takes to make it in business. There are countless checklists and personality assessments available online to supposedly help you determine your natual business aptitude. They can be fun, thought-provoking, and interesting, but it would be best to ignore the results. Most of these tests ask questions like “are you an optimist?” or, “are you a good leader?” They pose the cliché and superficial questions “are you creative?” and “do you work well with people?”

No one is an optimist all of the time and being overly optimistic at the wrong time can actually lead to making poor business decisions. A successful businesswoman often needs to be a team player—or serve as an inspiration—and not insist on always being in the lead. Having an open mind is far more important than being a “creative” person and rather than claiming to be a people person, it is much more useful to have a good understanding of the people you will be working with.

All people cannot be lumped into one category, so being a “people person” is not a requirement in business. More important is the ability to put your personal feelings aside to make logical, fact-based business decisions—not emotional decisions to please other people.

Three Qualities to Develop

There are three very simple qualities entrepreneurs should have—or be willing to develop—that are meaningful assets for starting and running a business successfully. Notice the key word here is “develop,” not “already have”—the desire, willingness, and ability to learn new skills and habits can contribute to any businesswoman’s success.

One of these qualities is an attitude you can adopt, one is a skill that can be easily learned, and the third is a personality trait few of us come by naturally but which can be mastered with a little practice.
  1. Best Business Attitude: A refusal to quit when things get tough.
  2. Most Valuable Skill: Networking. Networking. Networking.
  3. Strongest Personality Trait: Having thick skin (being objective).
Business Attitude

An optimist might look at the bright side of things and serve as an inspiration to keep pressing forward, but a pessimist may assess things more realistically and make less risky decisions. Either way, it is not necessarily how you see a situation, but how you respond to a situation that will either hinder or facilitate your success in business. A true entrepreneurial attitude requires refusing to quit when things get tough.

Even the most successful entrepreneurs have to do things that they are not happy about in the short-term but are glad they did in the long-run. In fact, some people who see an accomplishment as less than ideal may work harder to achieve even better results. Refusing to give up on something should not be confused with just being stubborn—the key difference between being stubborn and being tenacious is that stubbornness stands in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change, while a “can do” attitude works through problems by considering a variety of solutions.
Business Skill

Few things will help you establish and grow your business faster than a creating a strong network. No one person knows it all or can do it all, so if you isolate yourself and your thoughts, you isolate your business as well. Having access to a variety of resources can increase your efficiency and knowledge, your business’ publicity, and your chances of succeeding.

If you do not have much face-to-face contact with others in your field, you can still work on building a business network in other ways. Start by joining professional groups online, developing press releases, brochures, and other written communications.
Another great way to build networks is to simply participate in forums, e-mail discussion lists, and chat rooms that somehow relate to your business or the type of customer you want to attract. Use personal and other social opportunities to network yourself and your business and always have a business card handy when an opportunity to make business connections presents itself.

Personality Trait

If you take everything personally you will have a much harder time accepting ideas and change, and you will never get the most out of your business or your employees. Having a thick skin is crucial to success, as you will need to be willing to listen to new ideas and actively solicit the opinions of others. Always treasure new ideas and opposing opinions, don’t rebuke them.

The ability to accept constructive criticism will help your business stay on the cutting edge and avoid potential problems you might not be able to see on your own. By showing that you value the opinions and advice of others, you will appear more approachable to your peers, employees, and customers.
Even if you do not actually follow others’ suggestions, the more you ask what they think, the more valued they will feel and the more loyalty they will have to you and your business. In other words, simply by soliciting input from other people you create a positive mini-public relations network. People will talk about you and how your business is run so you should help them find positive things to talk about.

Getting Started

  • Networking Beginnings: Ask others about their challenges, successes, and if they have any advice about your own business ideas. This is the first step to begin building your network.
  • Do Not Give Up: When they say you are crazy, listen to their concerns, but don’t just give up on your idea. Instead, reassess its value from other points of view.
To evaluate if you have what it takes to make it in business you do not need to answer questions in self-assessment quizzes; instead, you should be asking your own questions. Talk to other business women, peers, colleagues, family, and friends—anyone you might be able to learn from. Just be sure to listen to the answers with more than just your ears and remember, it helps to have a thick skin.
Four Technical Skills Marketers Should Learn

Four Technical Skills Marketers Should Learn

By Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital

The marketing landscape is nothing near what it was 10 years ago, or even 5. As technology continues to evolve and expand its capabilities, marketing has transformed into an industry that requires constant learning and adaptability. It demands an increased aptitude for technical skills, so it’s vital that marketing professionals hone their technical skill set. TEKsystems Digital reports however, that 95 percent of surveyed marketing leaders have been negatively impacted by the lack of qualified talent.

With technology advancing at rapid speeds, it might seem like there’s a lot to master— but there are also some great ways to get your technical expertise up to speed quickly. Here are four of the top technical skills that marketers need to learn.

1.  DATABASE QUERYING 

Learning how to run database queries is one of the most important technical skills a marketer today can have, as it enables them to understand how customers and prospects are behaving. Most companies use SQL-based databases, which are used to query, insert, update and modify data. For example, if a marketer wants to know the average transaction value within a certain time frame for a user within a certain demographic, having the ability to perform database queries means they can answer these questions on their own.

Learning to query a database independently means that marketers can consistently understand how their customers are changing and reacting to a product. It allows marketers to make data-driven decisions, make decisions faster and unpack key insights that lead to more efficient and effective marketing.

2. HTML

As digital marketing tactics become more prominent, marketers can benefit from learning some coding basics. HTML provides the structure of a web page and outlines the elements each page will contain. For example, HTML might specify that a web page contains a site title, navigation bar, sidebar and content in the form of page copy or a blogroll.

Whether it be writing blog posts or designing a new product page, many marketing roles involve a great deal of online content creation. Learning HTML will expedite the process of getting that content set up correctly, and looking good. You no longer need to wait for a developer to tweak an email template, format your landing page or make an important update on your website. Even if your role never requires you to write code, being familiar with HTML, at the very least, can make cross-team communication much easier.

3. MOBILE VIDEO PRODUCTION

Online video marketing has grown significantly in 2018, as it’s been popular for both consumers and brands alike. As social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube expand their features for livestream and short-form video, many brands have recognized and capitalized on its potential to boost consumer engagement. As Amber van Moessner, Director of Content at Livestream, states, “Audiences spend more time with live video, and are willing to show up, participate, and join the conversation on social media more so than with VOD (video on demand) or blog content.”

Marketers that master video production for mobile platforms can ensure that these videos are as polished and compelling as possible. Learning how to produce this style of content can put brands ahead of their competitors and capture the attention of today’s mobile-focused consumer.

4. SEO

While you don’t have to be an SEO (search engine optimization) profesional, it’s important to have a general knowledge about how SEO operates and how it relates to marketing. Organic search results have the potential to be much more powerful than paid ads, especially if they make it to the first page. This is vital for marketers to improve their brand recognition or generate leads. In fact, 57 percent of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative.

Best practices for SEO are constantly evolving, so this is one skill that might require consistent refining. Marketers who do understand SEO best practices however, can create content that increase engagement, site traffic and sales conversions.