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Tag Archives: credible communication

The Importance of Powerful Positive Phrasing

positive-phrasing-in-communication

There are many different things which can get in the way of employees acting on a message.

And if you’re struggling with trying to get your employees to act on a message, you’ve reached the right place.

Today, I’ll be talking about the one, most important thing you should be doing to get your employees to do what you ask of them – the one thing that can really get them acting.

Can you guess what it is? Continue reading

Communicating upward? Think bullet points

I’ve written in the past about how it’s important to modify your approach when you’re communicating upward, including in this column – How to persuade and influence senior management – that I wrote for CFM&D Magazine.  I was reminded of it recently when I overheard a leader in a client organization giving advice to one of his staff.  He said:

“When a senior manager asks you the time, don’t describe how a watch works”.  

I chuckled to myself because it was such an apt description for the deep pit that so many subject matter experts stumble into.

Don’t “vomit data”

As managers rise in the leadership ranks in organizations, by necessity, they need to focus more on strategic issues and less on the minutiae.  So they count on the subject matter experts around them to study the details and make recommendations.  Continue reading

To make the sale, show value to your buyer

What does it take to make the sale?  I’ve always believed that if you want people to buy — buy your product, or your service, or even you — then you need to show them, clearly, in brilliant technicolour, the compelling value that you have to offer.  Which means that you do whatever it takes to help them see, first-hand, what it is that you or your product or your service does to meet their needs or make their lives easier.  If you want to make the sale to me, then you need to show me what value I receive.  Yet I come across so many people who don’t get this!  A few years ago, I blogged about the leasing agent to tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to rent an apartment without letting me see it.  She was too lazy to even let me see the inside of an apartment that she wanted me to lease; apparently the photos she posted on the Internet should have been sufficient.

She wanted me to buy without telling me what I was going to receive!

ETA words in thought cloud over man or person thinking of estimaWell a few weeks ago, I came across a similar situation, this time with Dell, the computer folks.  My hard drive failed (a story in itself) and in order to restore my system we had to contact Dell to get them to send the USB recovery key.

“It will cost $27” said the unhelpful lady on the phone.

“Okay, when can I expect to receive it?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you until you pay for it.”

“If I can’t get it in a couple of day, tops, then I’ll go in another direction.  So I need to know the expected delivery date in order to make my decision as to whether to get it or not” Continue reading

Self-awareness: yet another inadvertent action that can jeopardize your credibility

Portrait Of A Bored Young Businesswoman At WorkLast week I blogged about self-awareness, and shared one example (glancing at the clock while talking to someone) of how your inadvertent actions can send a wrong message.  I had promised to give you one more and here it is – slouching.  Slouching is a sign of disrespect.  It doesn’t matter if your intentions are the polar opposite; the message it communicates (right or wrong) is that you’re bored and have no desire to be there.  When you slouch, your body tells the world that you’re apathetic and couldn’t care less.  And if that’s not what you really meant, your lack of self-awareness has just jeopardized your working relationship with your employee, your co-worker, or even worse, your boss. Continue reading

Self-awareness: realizing that your inadvertent actions can send a wrong message

Office worker looking at a wall clockSelf-confidence is a critical component of emotional intelligence, and leaders need to always have the self-awareness to walk a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  But there are many other aspects to self-awareness as well, and a very important one is being alert to how your unintentional actions or behaviour can communicate a message you never intended.

Here’s one – have you ever glanced at your watch or at the clock during a conversation with someone else?  Chances are you meant no harm, you were just checking to make sure that you weren’t late for another meeting, or perhaps you just wanted to know how long before lunch.  But the inadvertent message you are sending, loud and clear, is that you have better things to do than talk to the person you are with, and that you are anxious to leave and get on with something else.  Continue reading

When you set people up to fail, the pain lasts longer than you might think

Last month I got pulled over by local law enforcement and was issued a $310 ticket and a summons to appear in court.  The ticket was legitimate; after all I was (unbeknownst to me) driving around town with an expired registration.  But the whole mess caused me to ask the question: Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?  My premise was that the province of Alberta made a unilateral change in its procedures earlier this year without notifying those who were directly affected.  And that’s a sure-fire recipe for setting people up to fail!  The change: vehicle owners would no longer receive a reminder that their registration was expiring; it was now their responsibility to track expiry dates and renew accordingly.  And, you might ask, how were people to become aware of this change?  The assumption was that people would find out through announcements in traditional and social media.  Unfortunately, and to my bad luck, I was traveling out of the country during the “media blitz” and was blissfully unaware of the change … until of course I got pulled over by one of the boys in blue.

So on July 20th I made my way down to the local provincial courthouse to do as the ticket had commanded – present myself to a Justice of the Peace to make my case, and if I was not successful, to pay the fine.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  When I arrived, there were approximately 75 people in line ahead of me, many of whom were there for exactly the same violation.  Continue reading

If you discourage honest and open communication, you may get a Potemkin village!

As leaders, it is critical that we foster an environment that encourages and supports honest and open communication between team members.  And creating the right workplace atmosphere that encourages these types of behaviours starts with us.  I’ve blogged previously about how sometimes leaders send mixed messages, the cavernous disconnect between what you say and what you do, which quite frankly confuses our people.  But continued mixed messages can also result in Potemkin villages.

PotemkinVillageA Potemkin village is a term commonly used in economics and politics to describe a literal or figurative construction that is created solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is.  The term comes from the tale of fake portable villages that were built only to impress Empress Catherine II and her entourage during her journey to Crimea in 1787.  The story is that after the Russian annexation of Crimea from the Ottoman Empire in 1783, Grigory Potemkin was appointed governor of the region with a goal to rebuild the devastated area and bring in Russian settlers, something he was not able to achieve.  But in 1787, as a new war was about to break out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, Catherine II made a trip to the area with several of Russia’s allies.  Since it was crucial to impress the allies, Potemkin set up “mobile villages fronts” on the banks of the Dnieper River. As soon as the barge carrying the Empress and ambassadors arrived, Potemkin’s men, dressed as peasants, populated the village. Once the barge left, the village was disassembled, then rebuilt downstream overnight. Continue reading

Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?

Police_Giving_TicketSo I got pulled by a police officer the other day; and got a first-hand experience of what it takes to set people up to fail.  Turns out my vehicle registration had expired on April 30, and apparently I have been driving with expired plates for over six weeks.  Twenty minutes and a $310 fine later, I made my way to the vehicle registration office to renew the offending document.  Now you might ask why I was driving with an expired certificate (the officer did).  My answer – I didn’t know that it had expired!  You see, for the last more than 30 years, I have always received a notice in the mail a few weeks before the registration was due to expire, which was my reminder to make a visit to the renewals office.  This year though, there has been a change in procedures in the province of Alberta.  The applicable government agency made a decision in March of this year that effective April 1, they would no longer send out renewal notices via mail, a move designed to save the province (and taxpayers) roughly $3 million per year.  Instead, drivers are expected to go online and sign up for email notifications.  Hey, I’m all for saving money, but wouldn’t it have been more intelligent to send out one last notice in the mail advising people that the province was switching to email notifications only?  I get that email notifications are a more cost-effective solution, but how exactly was I supposed to know that I needed to sign up for this?  Making a unilateral change without a reasonable effort to advise those affected is inherently designed to set people up to fail! (See Are you guilty of setting your employees up to fail?)

Sure, the penalty is legitimate (I was driving with expired plates after all) and I’ll pay it.  Continue reading

I versus We – both are powerful in different situations

IVsWeIn my leadership and communication programs, I often teach how to use “I” language to reduce defensiveness in others, particularly when trying to convey a message that may be perceived as negative.   “I” language is a very powerful communication tool in certain situations, but I am often asked – Why not “we”?  Good question!  So let me answer this question of “I versus We” in today’s blog post.

“We” has an important place for leaders in a business environment, specifically at its most effective when being used to take credit.  “We beat this quarter’s sales targets” or “We achieved 99% customer satisfaction ratings in April” are great situations in which to use “we”.  It builds team spirit and morale, creates positive energy, and as an extra bonus – makes you come across as a graceful leader.  This is true even if it was one person that contributed the most to the great result, because there is nothing stopping you from following up the initial statement with more detail about individual performance.  In contrast, Continue reading

Become more persuasive by applying the action story-telling technique

DramaTriangleI often write in the blog about what it takes to become more persuasive in the workplace (including this column I wrote last year for Profit Magazine).  A few weeks ago, one of my professional colleagues offered me a perspective I’ve never considered before, one that caught my attention enough that I want to share it with you.  She said that when you seek to influence others, you can make your message more persuasive simply by adapting the classic villain-victim-hero action story-telling technique.  Let me explain.

The customary formula for writing an action story requires that you have at least one villain, one victim and one hero.  And you can do the same for the business world.  But when you adapt this formula for the workplace, Continue reading