Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Our survey deadline is approaching!

Our survey deadline is 11:45 PM MST on December 3, 2010, only five days away! This is your chance to win one of three valuable prizes, and our chance to get your input for our topics and content for our 2011 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences.

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Click here for our quick ‘n’ easy survey

In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for three chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are eleven you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.

Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise! We’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

Good listening: it’s about staying “checked-in”

Interesting fact: people speak anywhere from 120-300 words per minute.

Even more interesting fact: the human brain is capable of processing information anywhere from 600-2,000 words per minute.

EarSo no matter which end of the range you select, when someone else is talking, your brain can process information about 2-7 times faster than the other person can speak.  Which suggests that while you’re participating in a conversation, you have a lot of free time! 😀  As funny as that sounds, this explains why our minds tend to wander — it’s because people can’t speak fast enough to keep our minds occupied.  I call this phenomenon “checking in and checking out.”  It’s what our brains do under normal circumstances — we “check in”, listen to a portion of the conversation, and then “check out” and go somewhere else.  We then return frequently, doing the same thing each time.  And in most situations, this constant checking-in/checking-out gives us sufficient knowledge of the topic being discussed so that we can actually participate intelligently.  However, there are times when it is essential to stay more “checked-in,” such as when the topic is important, or complicated, or tied to personal or professional goals. In future blog posts, I’ll offer some specific ideas on HOW to stay checked in.  But for now, I have a question:

What situations (personal or professional) can you think of where it is absolutely critical to stay “checked-in”?

Ineffective meetings have a bottom-line financial cost

Have you ever attended the meeting from hell? Yes, you know the one – the objectives are undefined, the meeting crawls on for hours, personalities clash, disagreements take over, and progress grinds to a halt.  In short, nothing gets accomplished.  If you’ve been to even one bad meeting, then in my opinion, that’s one meeting too many!

Have you ever stopped to consider exactly how much these non-productive meetings are costing you and your organization?  Let’s just say you have a regular weekly meeting with five attendees that runs for two hours.  At an average salary of $50,000 per year, that translates roughly to $25 per hour.  If you add in benefits, that takes you to about $35 an hour.  Five people at two hours times 50 weeks a year equals $17,500.  And this total doesn’t include any additional costs such as travel, equipment charges, and catering expenses, nor the costs of replacement coverage while people at the meeting.  Unquestionably, there is a bottom-line financial cost of ineffective meetings.

What’s happening in your organization?  Are “meetings from hell” widespread and frequent?  Or have you figured out how to avoid the meetings “trap”?  Do tell.

Help us decide, and win a prize!

We need your help! We’re developing the topics and content for our 2011 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences and in return for 5 minutes of your time, we’ll give you three chances to win!

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Just complete this quick ‘n’ easy survey

In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for three chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are eleven you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.

The deadline to enter is 11:45 PM MST Friday December 3, and we’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute. Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise!

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Click here to go to the survey.

An interesting way to improve efficiency (in traffic and in the workplace)

Earlier this year, I visited China for a speaking engagement.  As a first-time visitor to Shanghai and Beijing, the juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and ancient temples, coupled with the sheer volume of millions of inhabitants, fascinated and overwhelmed me at the same time!  Teeming masses of people, a constant military presence, and skies that never saw a ray of sunshine contrasted starkly with friendly welcoming faces, efficient subway systems and chaotic traffic that was superbly organized. Continue reading

Three great prizes up for grabs! Complete our survey for a chance to win!

We want your help in planning our 2011 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences, AND we’re giving away PRIZES in return for your help! It will take less than 5 minutes of your time!

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Click here to complete the survey

For three years now, you, our clients, have helped make our quarterly learning series hugely popular, so in return for your help, we think it’s only fair that we give you three chances to win your choice of one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. Eleven to choose from, each one offers specific, practical and hands-on skills to become a better leader. Whether it’s delegating the right way, overcoming negativity in the workplace, having difficult conversations with employees, or just learning to communicate more persuasively, each one gets right to the heart of the issue and gives you what you need to know! If you want to see what you’ll be making your prize selection from, click here.

We’ll take your responses until 11:45 PM MST Friday December 3, and then we’ll randomly draw for three winners. We’ll announce the winners here on my blog, and also in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

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Do it now – click here – and thanks for your help!

What gets measured and publicized gets acted on!

50/50 sales reported on the giant TV screen
50/50 sales reported on the giant TV screen

As a die-hard Calgary Flames fan, I was excited to be at my first National Hockey League regular season home game a few weeks ago.  It was great to partake in the usual rituals – cheers and boos, hot dogs and mini-donuts, noise-making and flag-waving.  And of course, the 50/50 draw!  This great tradition is a fund-raiser for the Flames Foundation for Life, a charitable organization that seeks to give back to the community.  For a mere $2, you can buy a ticket giving you a chance to win 50% of the total money raised that evening with the remaining 50% going to the charity.  This 50/50 draw has been running for as long as I can remember, and at every game (despite the fact that I haven’t won yet) I’ve happily forked over a few bills for a handful of tickets.  However, just in the last year, there has been a significant change in how the draw is administered.  Continue reading

Ask, don’t command!

In the workplace, you have to count on other people to help you get things done.  This is a known truth, and any one who’s ever worked in a company or organization will confirm this fact.  Which is why I am constantly astonished to see people sabotage themselves by saying and doing things that reduce the likelihood of others helping them.  Here’s one common self-sabotage: commanding or ordering people to do things, instead of asking.

Just the other day, I watched a manager say to his assistant — ” Cassie, have that report on my desk by 2:30 this afternoon,” as he sailed past her desk, went directly to his office, and got on the phone.  No doubt Cassie did exactly what he told her to!  But could it have really hurt him to ask instead of command?  What if he’d said “Cassie, can you have that report on my desk by 2:30 this afternoon?”  And then waited for a few seconds to get Cassie’s concurrence?  Do you think, just perhaps, that the second approach might have accomplished his goal AND made Cassie feel good about what she was being asked to do?

Don’t underestimate the power of words.  Even this slight change in choice of words can make a huge difference in how people respond to and act on what you say to them.

What do you think?  Is what I am describing true, or is this just another example of being hypersensitive in the workplace?

Speaking decisively and confidently improves your credibility?

car-accidentIn a classic 1978 social psychology experiment, researcher Bonnie Erickson and her colleagues had potential jurors listen to a witness give testimony about an auto accident.  Some jurors heard the witness respond in a “powerful” forthright and direct style.  Others listened to the witness provide exactly the same information, but hesitate and hedge in a “powerless” style, using frequent intensifiers, hesitation forms and questioning intonations.  Turned out that what the witnesses said was actually less important than how they said it; the confident straightforward witnesses were rated as significantly more credible and competent than the unsure indirect ones.

Huh, so people are perceived as more credible when they make eye contact and speak with confidence, no matter what they have to say?  That’s a surprise, isn’t it? 😀  But is there a lesson in there for all of us?

When you speak decisively and confidently, you are perceived to be more expert, intelligent and knowledgeable.  Is this information worth considering if you have a difficult message to convey to others?  Or is it too close to “faking” it?  What do you think?