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Tag Archives: credible communication

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

Don’t inadvertently send mixed messages!

MixedMessageLast fall, my column for Profit Magazine on the five-step method for crystal-clear communication focused on how to give directions to employees in a way that they understood and acted – the first time. In today’s post, I decided to talk about why employees might not understand and act in the first place, specifically about the confusion that arises from mixed messages.

A mixed message is a cavernous disconnect between what you say and what you do, and quite frankly, it confuses your people. And when your people are confused, your credibility drops like a rock. An example is the manager who says “Don’t be afraid to tell me when something goes wrong” but then has a minor meltdown when an employee does exactly that. The poor confused employee doesn’t know whether it’s okay to tell his supervisor when something goes wrong, or whether he should keep quiet. And the manager loses credibility in the eyes of the employee. Mixed messages happen amongst peers as well. Have you ever met the co-worker who says “I’m open to feedback” but then gets silent and morose for the rest of the day when you offer her some advice? Does she really want feedback, or are you better off keeping your advice to yourself? Mixed messages are confusing! Continue reading

Taking PowerPoint presentations from hell to heaven!

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I’ve said this before – people judge you based on your writing skills. Turns out they judge you based on your PowerPoint presentations as well! If you’ve ever sat through the PowerPoint presentation from hell (and we’ve all been there), then you’re going to love today’s guest blogger! Dave Paradi is a presentation expert who helps professionals and executives turn confusing, overloaded PowerPoint presentations into ones with a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals. And (fortunately for all of us) he’s my friend. Which is why he has very graciously agreed to author today’s instalment on the blog by asking (and answering) this key question: “When asking your staff to prepare slides for you, which type of leader are you?” And here is his response.

When it comes to requesting slides from their staff on different topics, I see two types of leaders in the work that I do with organizations: the typical leader and the top performing leader. Here are the differences. Think about where you are and what you can do in order to move from typical to top performing. Continue reading

What does it take to become more persuasive?

Okay, I’m super pumped! Today marks my first column for, the online version of Profit Magazine, a Canadian business magazine aimed at entrepreneurs, focusing on how to find opportunity and seize it, management practices, case studies and access to peer groups. Today’s column is titled How to become a persuasive triple-threat and explores what it takes to get more people to buy your ideas.

ProfitGuide Continue reading

One phrase that can sabotage your credibility

ThumbsDownI’ve blogged previously about how we sometimes use phrases that cause us to be viewed by others as tentative, unsure, and hesitant, and thus inadvertently minimize our power, credibility and impact. See Phrases that diminish your power of persuasion. I heard another one recently – “This won’t take more than just a minute.”

It was said by someone who intended to be helpful, but I observed how this seemingly innocuous phrase not only set the stage for failure, but also diminished the value of what this person was offering. Continue reading

Use this phrase for more effective communication

Two irrefutable truths about effective communication:

  1. Effective communication involves both speaking and listening, preferably equably between two parties.
  2. When it’s your turn to speak, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that the message is heard and received by the other person.

Red Flashing LightLet’s look at #2 more closely.  Despite the fact that it happens often, ensuring that the message is heard and received by someone else does NOT involve speaking louder and faster!  Instead, it’s about setting the stage so that your listener is willing to hear what you have to say, and to be open-minded enough to consider your point of view.  In previous blog posts, I’ve written about not making people defensive and focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want, both approaches to increase the likelihood that the other person will hear and act on what you have to say.

Another tactic to improve another person’s listening ability is to prepare him/her – give him/her notice about what’s coming up – by using the phrase “Let me tell you why that is important.”  This is akin to putting a flashing light in the middle of a conversation.  Perhaps the person you are speaking to has drifted away and isn’t listening carefully.  By using this phrase, you are letting him/her know that they need to check back in and pay attention. Continue reading

How to persuade and influence senior management

CFMD_OctNov2013As your skills as an exceptional leader and communicator grow, your level of interaction with your organization’s senior management will increase as well.  You’ll find yourself in situations where your ability to persuade and influence others will stand you in good stead.  For continued success, it’s important to realize that how and what you communicate needs to adapt to fit differing audiences.  Specifically, you need to adjust your message and method of delivery so that it’s relevant and meaningful for an audience of senior managers.  And this is exactly the subject of an article I was recently invited to write for the Canadian Facility Management and Design Magazine.

Selling to Senior Executives was penned as part of the magazine’s regular Management Memo column, and in it, I offer four suggestions to significantly increase the likelihood that a facility manager’s message is heard, respected and acted upon.  Continue reading

Phrases that diminish your power of persuasion

PersuasionAre you inadvertently sabotaging your power of persuasion by using words that make you seem unsure, hesitant, tentative, or unassertive?  You might be.  Here are some phrases that you should never have in your business vocabulary:

  • I might be wrong but …: the moment you utter this, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to listen to the rest of what you have to say.  If you might be wrong, then there’s no point in bothering to pay attention, is there?!
  • You know … (as in We need to, you know, report the safety violation): it either gets perceived as you seeking approval, or it comes across as superior and lecturing.  Either way, not an outcome you want. Continue reading

Do you have a leadership brand?

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about “brand” – what message do you communicate about the product or service you deliver, and what makes it different and distinctive from that of your competitors? It got me thinking about whether there is such a thing as a leadership brand, and I rapidly came to a clear and unequivocal conclusion – yes! The message you communicate about yourself – what you do and what you stand for – is your leadership brand. It tells others what they can expect from you, and what makes you distinctive from everyone else. Can you articulate the answers to these two questions in a single sentence? I thought I’d give it a try using the following format:

I want to be known for __________ so that I can deliver ____________.

Here’s my answer:

I want to be known for giving people in organizations specific and practical tools to communicate and work more effectively with their staff and colleagues so that I can deliver on my promise to clients which is to help them become even more exceptional leaders than they already are.

So what do you want to be known for? And what visible results will you produce that will have people saying that you delivered?

P.S. Once you’ve articulated your brand, it’s worth asking your stakeholders whether it is in fact what you’re delivering.

Your credibility is created by others

About six months ago, I was asked by a senior leader at a client company to help facilitate his regular leadership team meetings.  The leader was concerned because recent meetings had not gone well, and he was troubled by his managers’ reluctance to speak up and offer insights on the different subjects under discussion.  I agreed to help, and suggested that for the next meeting, I simply attend as an observer.  Being an onlooker would give me an opportunity to watch team interactions and dynamics, and I hoped that it would give me some additional perspectives on what was going (and not going) well in the group.  I observed one particular behaviour that I wanted to share in today’s blog post.

There was one manager on the team who had only been in the organization for just under a year, and who repeatedly used phrases such as:

“I have a lot more experience about this kind of scenario than you do.”

“This is my area of expertise so …”

“That’s why I studied this subject for over six years.”

All these and similar sentiments were verbalized with one singular objective – to let his colleagues know that because of his expertise, they were obliged to defer to his opinion and agree with his recommendations.

There was only one problem – Continue reading