Communication & Interaction

Increasing Your Influence as a Leader

A leader cannot lead without influence.  Find out two ways to increase your leadership influence here.

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Crafting an Amazing Message Your Audience Will Love and Benefit From

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How to Begin a Conversation with a Possible Mentor

Want to get a mentor but not sure how to begin?

 

The first step is to choose who could be your mentor.  Look for people who are getting results you’d like to get.  Mentors are helpful in any area of life, so the results you seek could apply to your career, income, wealth, relationships, spirituality, health, or something else.

 

Make a list of a number of people you can reach out to, because your first choice may not be available or interested in mentoring.

 

Here is an example of a conversation you can have with someone you’d like to consider as a mentor.  In it, you’ll be explaining what you are looking for and interviewing her for both her interest and her mentoring style.  After this conversation, the two of you should be able to come to a decision… move forward with the mentoring relationship or don’t.

 

Begin by scheduling a call with him or her.

Reach out and let her know you want to better understand her position and seek her advice.  Be empathetic to the fact that she is probably busy.  Make sure she understands you value her time.

 

 

Before the call, prepare a list of questions you have and a challenge or two you are facing.

 

 

Initiate the conversation.

Don’t beat around the bush.  Get straight to the point, let her know why you are calling, and ask for her permission to ask questions. Once you have permission, use the list you prepared.

 

Some good starting questions would be: 

 

“Do you currently mentor anyone?”

“Are you open to the idea of mentoring someone?” (or someone else – depending on the answer to the first question)

 

 

Be upfront.

Let her know that you called to discuss the possibility of her mentoring you.  It’s good to just be straight with her, because if it is not something she is willing to consider, then you can end the call quickly and not waste any more of her or your time.

 

If she is open to the idea, ask if you can ask a few more questions.  Once you have permission, move on to the mentor interviewing process.  The questions should help you determine if she’d be a good fit for you. 

 

 

Helpful questions for this process include:

“If I were to mentor with you, what would your expectations of me be?”  Once you have this answer, you can decide if the expectations are things you’d be willing to do.

 

“Is it okay if I share with you a challenge I am dealing with and get some advice from you?”  If she says yes, share a challenge of yours.  Once she has shared some advice regarding that challenge, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you resonate with what she had to say and if desire future conversations.

 

If you do want to pursue a mentoring relationship, ask, “Would you be willing to have a call or meet with me once or twice a month so I can pick your brain and seek advice?”

 

If yes, schedule the next call or meeting.  If she asks about a fee, share what you are willing to offer… monetary payment, time to assist her with her work similar to an intern or apprentice, or some other form of labor that she may find useful such as walking her dog, washing her car, etc.

 

 

Be confident and persistent

Sometimes someone you want to mentor you has others who want the same thing and it is impossible for him or her to say yes to everyone. So that person may test your determination in order to deem you worthy of his time.  Sometimes, he is just really busy and you are low on his priority list.  Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it is a truth you must face.

 

The point is to be persistent. Have the confidence to pursue the mentoring relationship, and if it doesn’t pan out the first time you try, reach out again.  That doesn’t mean to stalk him or be a nuisance at inappropriate times.  For example, don’t show up at a lunch meeting he is having and interrupt. 

 

I suggest you politely reach out once in a while and ask for a call or invite him to have coffee.  Years ago, when Josh asked the most successful sales rep in his company for some time, he didn’t receive a call back.  He called again.  And again.  It was after about twenty messages over the course of six months that the man decided he was displaying a high commitment level and returned his call.  The two men have been friends and colleagues ever since. 

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Don’t Be Judgmental; Be Helpful.

Mean JudgeThe elderly gentleman in the rusted, old truck next to my car had thick eyeglasses and a frown decorating his face.  He glanced at me as I left the veterinarian clinic.  Our vehicles were parked next to each other in the shopping center lot.  I put my cat, Spike, in the passenger seat of my car, and as I walked around to get in the driver seat, I heard the old man’s engine make some noise but fail to start.

I had started my car and was ready to pull away but decided to see if I could help.  After all, it was a blistering hot day.  I couldn’t imagine leaving him stranded in an old truck with no AC.

I got out of my car, walked over to him and knocked on his window.  He didn’t respond right away, so I knocked again thinking maybe he didn’t hear me the first time.  He turned and looked at me, then opened his door. 

“Do you need a jump?” I asked.

“Yes.  I think I do,” he said.  “That would be great.”

I maneuvered my car so the batteries were as close as I could get them to each other with the small space I had to work with, pulled out my cables, and gave them to him to hook to his truck battery.  It only took about 20 seconds for his truck to get enough juice to start, and his engine revved to life.

Though the entire process didn’t take very long, it was hot enough that we were both sweating.  Since I had a cat and groceries in the car, I wasted no time bidding him a friendly farewell.  He said thank you more than once as I placed the cables back in my trunk.

With a “you’re welcome,” I turned to get back in my car, and I noticed a gentleman working in one of the stores watching us and smiling.  I smiled back, and as I drove away, a few thoughts ran through my head.

How long would he have sat there, stranded, before asking someone for help? 

He looked at me before I knew he was having trouble, but he didn’t stop me to ask if I had cables.  Maybe I didn’t look like the type of person who would have an emergency car kit in my trunk - prepared for a break down.  It reminds me not to judge people on appearance alone.  I learned that lesson years ago when I was a new sales rep.  You never know who is going to buy and who isn’t.  You should do your best job, treat everyone great, and let the customer decide.  I had many clients surprise me when they bought larger orders than I would have expected based on appearance alone.  I also had clients that appeared to be very well off not buy at all.  A purchase is usually not about money; it’s about the value one places in a product or service, so do a great job and don’t judge prospects.  The elderly man should have just asked me if I had jumper cables.  If I didn’t, he’d have been no worse off.  If I did, he would have found his solution.

Help others, even if when it’s not super convenient for you.

It was not an ideal time for me to be out in the sun on a hot day.  I wasn’t dressed for it, since I had thrown jeans on that morning, which were sticking to me by the end of our rendezvous.  I had groceries in the car that needed to be refrigerated.  My cat, who hates riding in the car, was meowing a storm of protests.  Also, since I hadn’t eaten much yet that day, I was hungry and low on energy.  However, when I heard his truck not turning over, none of that mattered.  If you’ve been stranded in a broken-down vehicle before, you know that it is worse than any of the smaller discomforts I had from not getting home sooner.  Giving up a few minutes of my time, and giving up being dry, was a small price to pay to save an older man from possibly hours of misery.

DOING good makes you FEEL good. 

I know I didn’t do much.  I’m not expecting a medal of valor for giving someone’s dead battery some vigor.  I hesitated to even write about it, because it’s barely noteworthy.   It does remind me, though, how good it feels to help another person.  I left with a smile and a lighter heart, and that is noteworthy.  I didn’t ask his name.  I didn’t give him mine.  He can’t even give me credit when sharing the experience with others, because he doesn’t know who I am.  The only benefit to me is knowing in a world of good and bad, I put a put a grain of sand on the good side of the scales today.   And that is enough. 

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Keys To Scheduling Appointments Via Phone

Whether it is you who schedules your appointments with your prospects or an assistant of yours who makes the calls, it is important you know how to be effective on the phone.  Who is better to teach your assistant how to be an effective phone communicator than you?   After all, if you have a level of customer service you want to uphold, a type of experience you want your prospects to have when communicating with your company, or a conversion ratio you will use as a measurement of success, then it’s a good idea to be able to set the example.

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Keys to success while phoning your prospects

 

Always share your golden points

There are things that make you unique or different than your competitors, and those are your golden points.  Make sure you are mentioning them to your prospects.  If your sales call is quicker than most, share that.  If your appointment will be personalized and fun, it’s good to let them know.  If your prospect was referred to you, it’s important to explain that.  If there is a benefit to seeing you regardless of whether or not they decide to invest in your product or service, communicate that.  When I was a college student with a direct sales position, I let my prospects know that I was a student and that just by seeing me and giving me their feedback would help me, since I still had a lot of room for growth.  For two semesters, I received internship credit for my direct sales work, and I made sure every prospect knew it.  When explaining that I received credit just to do the work, regardless of sales, my conversion of prospect to appointment was over 95%.

 

Use your voice effectively

Smile and dial.  When I was taught to smile while on the phone, because my prospect would be able to tell, I thought that sounded silly.  How could they tell?  Then a good friend of mine got a tongue piercing.  For a few days, every time she laughed, she’d beg while she chuckled, “Don’t make me laugh, it hurts my tongue.”  I realized, if smiling affected the muscles in the tongue – one of the main tools used in speech – it probably does make a difference in the sound over the phone.  In any case, it can’t hurt to smile while on the phone, so you may as well do it.

 

Use inflection and make it conversational.  Basically, you want to sound like a normal person having a conversation with a friend.  One of the reasons telemarketers are so easy to distinguish is because once they start talking, they don’t take normal pauses.  We don’t speak that way when talking to a friend.  So vary your tone when it makes sense to do so, and pause and let them speak too.

 

Watch your speed.  You don’t want to speak so quickly that it is difficult for them to understand.  Since you are on the phone, they can’t use body language cues to help them comprehend, so you’ll need to be clear.  Enunciate your words and avoid mumbling.  Match your prospect’s energy.  If they speak a little quicker, try to match their speed.  If they speak more slowly, rein your speed back a notch.

 

Build rapport and make them laugh. 

If you can get them smiling and feeling comfortable with you, you are more likely to get the appointment.  When it fits into the conversation, ask them questions about themselves.  If the person who referred you told you they were moms of kids on the same soccer team, it’s as simple as saying, “Susan mentioned your kids play soccer together.  How is their season going?”  This question isn’t too personal but shows you have interest in them.

 

Handle any objections or questions with confidence. 

If they are leaning toward not giving you the appointment and you do not try to handle their concern, you will not get the appointment.  You’d be no better off than before the objection.  If you try to handle the objection and they still say no, you are no worse off.  You didn’t have the appointment anyway.  If you try to handle their objection, the new information changes their mind and they set the appointment, you have just improved your situation.  Therefore, you will never be worse off for handling an objection.  You can only improve your situation or it will stay the same.  You can’t lose.

 

Everyone is busy.  We can all fill our days with very little effort in finding things to fill them with.   Asking someone for an appointment is asking for some of one’s precious time.  That means you need to win their priority over other things they could do.  You do this by sharing how you are unique, the benefit of scheduling with you, building rapport, using your voice effectively and handling any of their concerns.

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Nonverbal Communication

Of the three areas that make up our communication (words, vocal qualities, and physiology), many believe the last is the most important.  They say your body language, facial expressions and gestures express more meaning than your words.

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Professionals who read nonverbal communication regularly to enhance their understanding of people include law enforcement agents, counselors, jury selection consultants and speech analysis technicians.  However, you don’t have to be in one of those careers to have a grasp on the basics of body language.  Recognizing a few fundamentals will help you in reading people as well as effectively projecting your desired message to others.

 

Confidence:

Standing or sitting with shoulders back and chin up is the most confident posture.  Slouching, tucking your fists into crossed arms, or fidgeting are signs of unease.  While standing, keep your hands out of your pockets and your legs apart a bit.  It is good to steeple your hands where your fingers are touching at the tips but are not crossed over each other.  

 

When meeting someone, convey confidence by giving a good handshake.  Your hand should be sideways – not one top of theirs or under theirs.  Give their hand a squeeze – enough that they can feel your grip, but not so much you are crushing them or causing pain.  A limp or soft handshake gives the impression of low confidence, not physical weakness.  Other confidence builders are a smile and eye contact. They not only show you are self-assured, they also aid in expressing honesty. 

 

Honesty:

Vocally, keep your tone steady.  Usually, voices rise when someone is being dishonest.   Research suggests that when someone is lying, they’ll cross their fingers or touch their face or nose – usually with their left hand .  Sometimes, they’ll fidget which could include actions such as playing with their jewelry - spinning their ring or adjusting their watch - or picking at their fingernails.

 

Expressing interest:

There are a few obvious ways people express boredom: checking one’s watch, resting one’s chin on one’s hand, and looking around the room rather than at the person speaking.  Avoid all of those when communicating with someone.  To express interest (and this will help for you singles in the dating world), position your face and body toward the person in which you are interested.  Lean toward them and keep your arms uncrossed. 

 

In addition, using mirroring and matching is a way to send subconscious signals that you are similar to them.  It assists in building a bond and understanding.  When someone says, “I like him.  I’m not sure why; I just get a good vibe.”  They are referring to this synchronous behavior and are not consciously aware of it.

 

Gestures go a long way in aiding understanding.  Don’t be afraid to use your hands to assist you when speaking to a person, a group, or via electronic media.  Facial expressions should match the message you are conveying.  If you are expressing happiness, smile so your face matches your mood.  People get confused when we tell them we are not angry but we clench our teeth or fists, stick out our bottom jaw, squint our eyes or pinch our lips together.   For the highest level of communication success, you want your words and your physiology to be synonymous.

 

Avoid distractions:

They take away from your communication.   You could stand straight, hold good eye contact and speak confidently, but if you are distracting them in some other way, the things you are doing well could be irrelevant.

 

Good hygiene is helpful.  If someone is distracted by foul smelling breath or B.O., everything else could take a back seat while your lack of hygiene chauffeurs his or her impression of you.   If bad breath is a common challenge for you, carry breath-mints or gum for when you need them.

 

Fidgeting of any sort will be a distraction (and sometimes a sign of dishonesty).  Avoid tapping your foot, shaking your leg, playing with your hair, clicking or tapping your pen, scratching your head and pacing.  Fidgeting gives the impression of nervousness, though many times it is really just an outward display of pent up energy.  If fidgeting is an issue for you, here are a couple of simple things you can try:  lessen your intake of caffeine and/or sugar and exercise to expend some of that energy.

 

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Vocal Qualities For Effective Communication

multi conversationsThe communication we have with others is made of three components:  word choice, vocal qualities, and physiology.  The order of importance has been debated throughout the years, but one thing is agreed upon – each of the three plays a role.

Word choice: 

  • Be concise.
  • Be clear by articulating.
  • Choose words your audience will understand.

Physiology:

  • Be mindful of your facial expressions, gesture, and body language.
  • Minimize nervous ticks or distracting physical habits.
  • Remember the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”  If you are using happy words, but your face looks angry or your posture looks sad, your joyful verbiage is likely to be dismissed.

 

Vocal qualities include tone, word emphasis, speed and volume. 

You’ve heard people use tone to help make their point. Think of any time your parent, significant other, or teacher said your name – probably your full name, and said it with a strong, loud tone.  How did you interpret that?  It’s likely you were in trouble or weren’t giving them the attention they required.  We learn to try to prevent that type of tone being used on us.

There are many vocal tones.   We use tone to convey different emotions such as sadness, anger, and surprise.  Our tone combined with other vocal qualities gives others the impression we are weak or strong, happy or sad, confident or confused, bored or excited and so on.  

Word emphasis conveys meaning more than word choice in many cases.  Take the example:  I didn’t say he at a cookie.  Let’s look at the different meanings people are likely to infer based on the word we emphasize. (emphasized word underlined)

 

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (Someone else said it)

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (I implied it, but I didn’t say it)

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (Someone else ate it)

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (He did something else with it other than eating it)

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (He at many cookies)

I didn’t say he ate a cookie.  (He ate something, but it wasn’t a cookie)

 

Emphasis matters!  Even when the meaning we are conveying is clear, emphasizing a particular word can add affect.  If I were to say, “I climbed from the very lowest of the socioeconomic classes to the highest,” and really emphasized “lowest”, my audience is more likely to understand my emotional state coming from having been in the bottom class.  In all of the years I’ve been speaking from stage, I feel emphasis is one of the most useful tools for conveying an emotion.  A fun exercise is to watch people communicate – whether it’s someone formally speaking to a group, friends just hanging out and talking, or a conversation you’re having one-on-one with another.  See if you can catch their tone and emphasis, and be aware of how it affects your understanding of what they are saying.

Speed and volume also affect how well others understand you.  Toastmasters suggest the most effective speaking rate is 120 – 160 words per minute.  Speaking fast can help convey excitement or express humor, but you don’t want to speak so quickly that your audience can’t keep up or process your information.  Volume can be used to convey emotions similar to emphasis.  Overall, speak with enough volume to be heard and not so loudly that it is painful to listen to. 

The most important aspect of speed, volume, and tone is that you vary them.  Inflection is a key to being interesting.  Mixing different speeds, tones, and volumes minimizes or eliminates monotony.

Though the jury is still out on which area of communication is most important – words, voice, or physiology – one thing is certain; Using all three is the best approach.  If you’d like to make a clear point, be sure your words, vocal qualities, and physiology are all expressing the same message. 

 

 

 

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Make People Feel Good

Begin With Making Them Feel Good

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While in a parking lot, walking from my car to the grocery store, I was approached by an elderly woman.  She was standing at her open trunk with her grocery cart parked right behind her car.

“You look strong.”  She said to me.  “Could you help me put this watermelon in my car?”

I was happy to oblige.  After getting her groceries nestled in her trunk, I bid her farewell and headed into the store.  I couldn’t help but think of her approach as I shopped.

 

Start with a compliment.

 

Before I ran into her, I can’t remember a time when someone’s very first words to me included a compliment.  Even before I knew what was happening, I felt good, was smiling, and was happy to help before she even asked.  What a brilliant approach, I thought.  Make someone feel good right away.

How will you make people in your life feel good today?  This week?  This month?  There are unlimited ways to do so.  Here are the five listed in the book The Five Love Languages:

  •      Act of Service – Do something nice for someone else.  Clean something they normally clean so they don’t have to, make them a meal, run an errand that will put a check mark on their to do list, hold a door open, etc..
  •      Words of Affirmation – This is what the lady did for me.  Make someone feel good by telling them what you like about them, how you feel about them, etc..
  •      Gifts – The price isn’t the determining factor for success here.  The fact that you were thinking about them and wanted to give them something is enough.
  •      Quality Time – Spend time with them.  That doesn’t mean you have to spend an entire day.  It’s more important that the time you spend is quality (no distractions like cell phones, emails, etc.).   Give them your full attention, even if it’s only for 20 minutes.
  •     Touch – Rub his/her sore shoulders, hold his/her hand, give hugs, and when appropriate… kisses.

 

To create an amazing world, make everyone feel good not just the people closest to you.  Be mindful of your interactive impact on strangers, service providers, fellow drivers, and anyone else with which you come into contact.

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