Posts Tagged ‘John Gray’

New Generation Of Venusian has Arrived

Monday, August 27th, 2012

My dear readers, this article is dedicated to today’s women. In the last few years of my life, I have seen how a new generation of

I can take that mountain!

I can take that mountain!

women is standing out in the crowd. I have to admit that I have become one of these women, and I am proud now that I understand what kind of women we are. With Mars Venus by our side,we are more evolved and more independent than the women before our time. If our husbands do not meet our expectations, even if they have sexual prowess in the bedroom, we are not afraid to divorce them, even though most of us were raised up with the absurd mind set of “until death do us apart.” This new generation of women is not afraid to say “next!” Mars Venus has taught us not afraid to be alone rather than bear the emotional burden of a relationship that is not working.

Mars Venus considers these women “Warriors”, and they are a new generation of successful womenwho: solve problems; work outside the home; who are always moving forward; they raise their children; deal with criticism from their exes who constantly question their maternal skills and/or try their patience; they are responsible for paying their bills; dealing with men in the workplace who seem to think they know it all; they are available to listen to their friend who will not move on with her life and keeps reminiscing about the boyfriend who left her so long ago; she takes the time to arrange a surgery vacation for herself for a “breast augmentation” or a “retouch” somewhere on her body to keep her looks up to standard; and she sadly watches her neighbor hiding their gay son or daughter because she only cares about what society will think … Ah! and last, but not least, she still has time to sexually please her partner for a “quickie,” that more often than not, does not satisfy her own needs. OMG! Just reading this paragraph gets me all stressed out!  But this is how it is today … Today’s women, today’s “warriors,” can successfully manage many things all at once in their lives with grace, poise and determination.

Mars Venus sees today’s woman dealing with the stress and frustration of having to kiss many wrong frogs in hopes of finding her prince, or “the right man.” One of my roles as a “Mars Venus Coach” is to guide people, especially couples, towards a successful relationship.  When I see that a person, or couple, is wasting their time with one another, I am the first to tell them that although they may in fact be in  love with their mate, that person may not be the RIGHT ONE for them. The basis of my success is that I understand that people come into our lives to fulfill a cycle. They are in your life to teach you, to guide you, and to help you grow.

If the time has come to end a relationship, we must accept that the relationship no longer works, for whatever reason, and understand that it is time to close the cycle with this person. This allows us to move on, and to be available for a new relationship that will eventually bring us closer to the right person for us.

In our next article, we will discuss what skills the Successful Women of Our Generation needs to develop in order to find, and preserve a relationship with her perfect mate.

Mernela Anez

Certified Business Coach

Mars Venus Coaching

 

Mars Venus Increases Women’s Status using Gender Intelligent Communication, Part 1

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Whenever I ask people if they are familiar with the term men are from Mars, women are from Venus, there tends to be an instant lighting up of the eyes, and intake of breath. This term coined by Dr. John Gray when he wrote his best-selling book of that title back in 1992 is now considered to be part our society’s vernacular. However, when is the last time you’ve picked up any of Dr. Gray’s books? There are now too many books (16 and counting) for a high-level executive, or really anyone for that matter who has both a career and family to tend to sit down and devote good chunks of time to read and assimilate the information. Instead of reading all of the literature, the following is a quick synopsis of why implementing this quick fix is imperative, not only for women to remain and ascend in the corporate world, but also why it needs to be done in order to re-balance and give quality of life back to everyone in this fast-paced, high-tech world.

Back in 1992 Dr. Gray provided an easy way to understand the fact that men and women communicate differently, and if we want better relationships, we have to learn the other’s dialect so we can speak the same language. Now, in 2012, we understand the research behind why we communicate differently, and the message is now more urgent than ever, because not only are women not climbing in corporate, but we’re doing irreversible damage to our bodies, and the families we are currently growing. It is imperative that the culture in corporate shift for good now that we understand the revolution of men and women are created equal to be an unexamined assumption and unrealistic expectation. Based on John Gray’s book, Mars Venus Coaching teaches, men and women are uniquely different genders, and the latest research is showing how our unique natures and physiology are meant to complement the other gender.

So to get back to the point we must saturate the “market” by doing just this: while at work teach how men and women communicate differently in workshops. It is imperative, because right now women are up against a brick wall when it comes to fitting into a culture that disregards their unique gender-based contributions of working and relating to others. Stand by for part two about why teaching workshops on gender intelligent communication is the common sense approach and quick fix for a long term solution.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Corporate Media Relations

Mars Venus Coaching

 

Mars Venus on Gender Intelligent Communication

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

For anyone attending recent women’s business conferences or reading the latest articles devoted to the lack of women in the executive ranks, Mars Venus Coaching asks you to open your mind to the possibility of a quick, yet long-term fix to increase the status of women in the corporate world. There is an undercurrent of paranoia and frustration about why numbers are not equalizing among the sexes at the top of the leadership pyramid. These feelings of uneasiness are in response to being run ragged by constant low-grade stress. Whenever we ask people if they are familiar with the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, there tends to be an instant lighting up of the eyes, and an intake of breath. This term coined by Dr. John Gray when he wrote his best-selling book of that title back in 1992 is now considered to be part of our society’s vernacular. Dr. John Gray has written many books relating to the Mars Venus dynamic (16 and counting). Instead of reading the research and literature, the following is a quick synopsis of why implementing this quick fix is imperative. It’s important not only for women to remain in and ascend the corporate ladder, but also to re-balance and give quality of life back to everyone in this fast-paced, high-tech world. The solution Mars Venus refers to is introducing gender intelligent communication into professional development training.

Our current expectations and assumption men and women are equal, and therefore must be treated the same is both an unrealistic expectation and an unexamined assumption. To address reality, the solution is to address the real issue, and that is the current state of men’s communication style being preferred, while disregarding how women communicate. The solution then is to teach how men and women communicate differently in workshops at work. Women are up against a brick wall when it comes to fitting into a culture that disregards their unique gender-based contributions of working and relating to others. The solution of teaching gender intelligent communication implements a culture shift at corporate to equally embrace and respect men and women’s unique gender contributions. Continuing to force women to assimilate to a male created work climate is unwise. Now we are armed with information regarding why and how it damages both our bodies (health and wellness wise) and our relationships (at work and at home).

The latest research shows how men and women’s interaction with stress is different in three ways. The first is how the chemicals in our brain respond differently to stress. The second way we’re different is we produce different stress-reducing hormones. Men reduce stress by producing testosterone, and women reduce stress by producing oxytocin. And the third is the way we reduce our stress. How we produce the stress-reducing hormone based on our gender, actually increases the other gender’s stress! The research is good to understand the why’s behind the way we behave, and more importantly why we communicate differently the way we do with one another; however, what is more germane to this discussion is the quickest way to balance men and women in the workplace. The easy answer is we do this through gender intelligent communication workshops.

The culture needs to change, and the quickest way is to train people in the ways men and women communicate differently. The first level of learning is awareness. The second level is putting it into practice. Previous solutions offered saved face. This “lip service” backfired with more misunderstanding and disgruntled employees. This solution does not promote women being promoted without hard work or merit. The companies which accept and respect women’s unique penchant for attention to detail while they incorporate everyone into the decision-making process at the same time as when they identify emotional consequences are the companies gaining recognition for success and increased quality of life for its employees and customers. This solution is not lip service, because it requires an immediate call to action to train people how to effectively communicate.

When the two different gender styles of communication are both given credit for their strengths and weaknesses, then the playing field is leveled, because our unique ways of relating to one another are understood, respected, and embraced. Changing the way we talk to one another, in essence, is the fundamental first step that has heretofore been missing. A culture shift occurs when we are able to open our hearts and minds to understand the other person’s way of communicating as being a slight variation in dialect. The modus operandi of male communication patterns or else is outdated. Running a balanced work world embracing both men and women’s unique contributions acknowledges everyone’s gifts. In turn this makes the workplace more productive and conducive to both new growth and change as the workforce assimilates cultural awareness. There will be equal numbers of men and women in and at the top in the corporate world once everyone is respected for their method of communicating. Lucky for us the by-product is lower stress levels for all. This goes a long way for our economic, health, and marriage crisis; which would be easier to handle if our relationships were open, honest, healthier, and a source of comfort both at work and at home.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Corporate Media Relations

Mars Venus Coaching

 

 

One Easy Way To Reduce Workplace Stress And Enhance Productivity

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Victor Lipman, Contributor Forbes 6/5/12

It’s always pleasant (if rare) to find a management tactic that works well and is also easy and even fun. Over the course of my career – both as an employee and a manager – the best way I found to reduce stress and improve productivity was simple: to exercise at midday.

Everyone has his or her own biorhythms, but I found and observed energy and concentration often flagging toward midday. And also noted considerably renewed energy and productivity following a lunchtime workout.

These aren’t simply my own idiosyncratic observations. Numerous studies link exercise to mood elevation and productivity enhancement, as well as more collaborative and tolerant behavior. The benefits of exercise are copiously well documented; the trick is effectively integrating a regular exercise program into a conservative or restrictive work environment.

What form of exercise works best? My answer’s simple: Whatever you like and can easily do in or near the workplace. For me it was usually a 3-mile run. All I needed was a change of clothes and a shower. Many I managed liked weightlifting, walking, aerobics classes, yoga, Spinning and so on. (Personal aside: The only form of exercise that was clearly not for me was Spinning. First, it looks wicked hard. Second, I exercised at least partly to take a break from people barking at me, so the last thing I wanted while taking a break from people barking at me was other people barking at me.)

Here are six common reasons why people can’t or don’t exercise at work, and ways to easily overcome them.
I don’t have time. Sure you do. It may take you 15 minutes longer than a normal lunch hour (maybe even 30 if you have to go a little farther to get to a facility), so work 15 (or 30) minutes later. Chances are in those extra 15 minutes you’ll be more energized and productive than if you hadn’t exercised in the first place.
My boss won’t let me. Tell him or her (nicely) to get with the program. Note info above – data shows exercise enhances productivity, reduces stress, and improves collaboration. Ask for a chance to demonstrate the results, and be sure to over-deliver when providing them.

We don’t have a Fitness Center. It’s great if your company has one, but no knockout if you don’t. Sometimes all you need is a shower. Or you can go to a nearby gym or club. Often your company can get a corporate discount, a trade that helps both teams.
I won’t have time to eat lunch. Nonsense. Eat lunch at your desk while working following your workout. I did it productively for decades. I ate a cheese sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich (fortunately I have a limitless capacity for monk-like culinary boredom), plus an apple or an orange. The main criterion for my lunch was that it could be prepared literally within one minute – no kidding – at about 9 p.m. the night before.

My hair will be a mess. Don’t be too hard enough on yourself. I’m sure your hair actually looks a lot better than you think it does. Note to employees: Of course you’ll use common sense here – no triathlon workouts right before Board presentations. Note to managers: Offer (as appropriate to your environment) flexibility of casual dress and appearance. Your employees will appreciate you for it and likely reward you with loyalty and diligence.

My CEO doesn’t believe in exercise in the workplace. Hey, this is 2012. I’m as old school and dinosaurish as they come and I’ve been exercising at work since the 1970s. Note to CEOs: You’ll gain in employee engagement. You’ll gain in recruiting. You may gain in reduced absenteeism and health care costs (though that’s usually harder to document). Plus, dedicated exercisers/athletes tend to be highly disciplined individuals and fine employees. It’ll make your company a cooler happier place.

One final thought: The ability to exercise at work is a benefit and privilege, so you can’t abuse it – all expected work still has to get done. Otherwise, any straight-thinking manager will – and should – pull the plug quickly. But it shouldn’t come to that. Well-managed exercise programs improve the quality of worklife for employees and management alike. And that’s the bottom line. I’d write more, but I’ve got to go for a run.

Courageous Leaders Don’t Make Excuses…They Apologize

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Erika Andersen, Contributor Forbes 6/5/12

I’ve been thinking about the power of apology lately. I’ve been noticing that the people for whom I have the most respect don’t hesitate to say “I was wrong,” or “I’m sorry I…” On the other hand, the people I have the hardest time respecting seem constitutionally unable to take responsibility for their own mistakes. Even when they try, it comes out sounding like “I may have been partly at fault, but…” or “It may seem that I was wrong, but…” They just can’t do it.

Apologizing freely requires a good deal of courage. It’s not comfortable for any of us to admit an error, or to acknowledge that something we’ve done has caused others harm or inconvenience. So when someone truly apologizes, we know he or she is putting honesty and honor above personal comfort or self-protection. It’s inspiring, and it feels brave.

I just today read a great article here on Forbes about this very topic called Creative Leadership: Humility and Being Wrong. The authors, Doug Guthrie and Sudhir Venkatesh, make a really clear and well-reasoned case for the positive power of admitting and apologizing for one’s mistakes. At one point in the article, they note that:

“We are frequently taught that leaders, especially aspiring leaders, should hide weaknesses and mistakes. This view is flawed. It is not only good to admit you are wrong when you are; but also it can also be a powerful tool for leaders—actually increasing legitimacy and, when practiced regularly, can help to build a culture that actually increases solidarity, innovation, openness to change and many other positive features of organizational life.”

I couldn’t agree more. Followers look to see whether a leader is courageous before they’ll fully accept that person’s leadership. If they see courage (and taking full responsibility for actions and admitting and apologizing for mistakes are two of the five key indicators of courage), it feels safe to ‘sign up.’ People need courageous leaders in order to feel there’s someone to make the tough calls and to take responsibility for them – they need to know that the buck truly does stop with the leader. With a courageous leader, people feel protected – not that they’re helpless, but they know the person in charge really has their back.

And courage begets courage: your followers are more likely to make their own tough decisions and to take responsibility for them when you model that behavior. You have their backs – so they’re much more likely to have yours.

Because so many of us have a hard time apologizing, I thought it might be helpful to have an ‘apology primer.’ Here you go:

  • I’m sorry: this is the core of a genuine apology. “I’m sorry.” or “I apologize.” It’s the stake in the ground to communicate that you truly regret your behavior and wish you had acted differently. No apology is complete without this.
  • Stay in the first person: Many, perhaps most, apologies run off the rails at this point, when the apologizer shifts into the second person, e.g., “I’m sorry….you didn’t understand me.” Or “I’m sorry….you feel that way.” Suddenly, you’re no longer apologizing for your actions; you’re telling the other person that you regret their actions or feelings. A true apology sounds like, “I’m sorry I….” or “I’m sorry we…”
  • Don’t equivocate: Once you said what you regret about your actions or words, don’t water it down with excuses. That can blow the whole thing. The former manager of my apartment building once said to me, “I’m sorry we haven’t gotten back to you about your security deposit, but you have to understand we’ve got hundreds of tenants.” I definitely didn’t feel apologized to – in fact, I felt he was telling me I was being inconsiderate to hold him accountable! Just let the apology stand on its own. “I’m sorry we haven’t gotten back to you about your security deposit.
  • Say how you’ll fix it. This seals the deal. If you genuinely regret your words or actions, you’ll to commit to changing. This needs to be simple, feasible and specific. “I’m sorry we haven’t gotten back to you about your security deposit. We’ll have an answer to you by this Friday.”
  • Do it. I know some people who don’t have a hard time apologizing, but seem to have a hard time following through on their apologies. If you apologize and say you’re going to behave differently, and then don’t – it’s actually worse than not having apologized in the first place. When you don’t follow through, people question not only your courage, but also your trustworthiness.

So there you have it. Next time you’re clearly in the wrong, take deep breath, put aside your self-justification, your excuses, your blame, your defensiveness, and simply apologize. Being courageous in this way is generally scary in anticipation. But it feels great once you’ve done it….to you, and to those you lead.

Why Incentives Help You Achieve Your Goals

Friday, July 6th, 2012

When it comes to making goals, we often forget an important aspect: the reward. You can argue that achieving the goal in and of itself is the reward, and in most cases, I’d agree. However, there are some goals where having an additional incentive may encourage you to stick it out longer, than if you were doing it just for the goal achievement itself.

If the goal is going to take time and focused effort to achieve, then setting incremental benchmarks can be useful. The concept is similar to how you create your 90 Day Plan, and in fact compliments your endeavors. Identify your long-term goal, and then figure out what you can do in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Then choose things from your bucket list (i.e. fun things you desire to do/see, but you never seem to have the time to do) that would match the effort it is going to take for you to reach each of the milestones.

For example, getting a promotion at work that you know you should go for soon, but that you are not that motivated to try right now. True the benefit is a pay raise, but if you are holding yourself back, because you are listening to negative tapes in your head telling you that you are not good at test taking, studying, or paperwork, then an outside incentive linked to something you very much want to do or have may help you achieve this goal. And, achieve it sooner, rather than later.

So, in this promotion example, as you identify if you have the pre-requisites and find out what training you will need to take, link a reward to passing the tests or the actual promotion itself. If you’ve always wanted to go scuba diving, spend a day at a spa, or ride a dirt bike, then promise yourself that you will do it once you’ve achieved your goal.

The key is to plan out how long it will take you to achieve your goal. If it is going to take longer than a week or even 3 months, then it is a good idea to celebrate your small victories along the way as well. So, for example, if it is a big step for you to approach your boss and let her or him know you’re interested in more responsibility, then celebrate on a smaller scale after you’ve sat down with your boss—buy a snorkel, get the helmet, or pick out what treatments you want to get done at the spa. Just remember, if the step that you need to take needs external motivation to get you started, then attach a reward to that step.

Pasting visual pictures of what your goal will look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like once you’ve achieved it—right next to the picture of you on the dirt bike or at the spa can help you on the rough days when you don’t feel like going after your goal. When you’re tired of being just outside of your comfort zone, and are happy to slide back into what you had been doing—look and visualize what you have to gain.

And, by all means, when you’ve hit the milestones, don’t forget to cash in on your reward. Celebrate. If you keep plodding on to the finish line without picking up energy boosts, then it may seem a lot further to go than the actual distance you have left to achieve success.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Mike Myatt, Contributor Forbes 4/4/12

It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. I hope you noticed the previous sentence didn’t refer to being a great talker – big difference. The key to becoming a skillful communicator is rarely found in what has been taught in the world of academia. From our earliest days in the classroom we are trained to focus on enunciation, vocabulary, presence, delivery, grammar, syntax and the like. In other words, we are taught to focus on ourselves. While I don’t mean to belittle these things as they’re important to learn, it’s the more subtle elements of communication rarely taught in the classroom (the elements that focus on others), which leaders desperately need to learn. It is the ability to develop a keen external awareness that separates the truly great communicators from those who muddle through their interactions with others. In today’s column I’ll share a few of the communication traits, which if used consistently, will help you achieve better communication results.

I don’t believe it comes as any great surprise that most leaders spend the overwhelming majority of their time each day in some type of an interpersonal situation. I also don’t believe it comes as a great shock that a large number of organizational problems occur as a result of poor communications. It is precisely this paradox that underscores the need for leaders to focus on becoming great communicators. Effective communication is an essential component of professional success whether it is at the interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group, organizational, or external level. While developing an understanding of great communication skills is easier than one might think, being able to appropriately draw upon said skills when the chips are down is not always as easy as one might hope for.

Skills acquired and/or knowledge gained are only valuable to the extent they can be practically applied when called for. The number one thing great communicators have in common is they possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness. The best communicators are great listeners and astute in their observations. Great communicators are skilled at reading a person/group by sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those being communicated with. Not only do they read their environment well, but they possess the uncanny ability to adapt their messaging to said environment without missing a beat. The message is not about the messenger; it has nothing to do with messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.

So, how do you know when your skills have matured to the point that you’ve become an excellent communicator? The answer is you’ll have reached the point where your interactions with others consistently use the following ten principles:

 

1. Speak not with a forked tongue: In most cases, people just won’t open up those they don’t trust. When people have a sense a leader is worthy of their trust they will invest time and take risks in ways they would not if their leader had a reputation built upon poor character or lack of integrity. While you can attempt to demand trust, it rarely works. Trust is best created by earning it with right acting, thinking, and decisioning. Keep in mind that people will forgive many things where trust exists, but will rarely forgive anything where trust is absent.

2. Get personal: There is great truth in the axiom that states: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Classic business theory tells leaders to stay at arms length. I say stay at arm’s length if you want to remain in the dark receiving only highly sanitized versions of the truth. If you don’t develop meaningful relationships with people you’ll never know what’s really on their mind until it’s too late to do anything about it.

3. Get specific: Specificity is better than Ambiguity 11 times out of 10: Learn to communicate with clarity. Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing. Time has never been a more precious commodity than it is in today’s marketplace. It is critical you know how to cut to the chase and hit the high points, and that you expect the same from others. Without understanding the value of brevity and clarity it is unlikely that you’ll ever be afforded the opportunity to get to the granular level as people will tune you out long before you ever get there. Your goal is to weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.

4. Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways: The best communicators are not only skilled at learning and gathering information while communicating, they are also adept at transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading their vision. The key is to approach each interaction with a servant’s heart. When you truly focus on contributing more than receiving you will have accomplished the goal. Even though this may seem counter-intuitive, by intensely focusing on the other party’s wants, needs & desires, you’ll learn far more than you ever would by focusing on your agenda.

5. Have an open mind: I’ve often said that the rigidity of a closed mind is the single greatest limiting factor of new opportunities. A leader takes their game to a whole new level the minute they willingly seek out those who hold dissenting opinions and opposing positions with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what’s on their mind. I’m always amazed at how many people are truly fearful of opposing views, when what they should be is genuinely curious and interested. Open dialogs with those who confront you, challenge you, stretch you, and develop you. Remember that it’s not the opinion that matters, but rather the willingness to discuss it with an open mind and learn.

6. Shut-up and listen: Great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off (mostly down and off). Simply broadcasting your message ad nauseum will not have the same result as engaging in meaningful conversation, but this assumes that you understand that the greatest form of discourse takes place within a conversation, and not a lecture or a monologue. When you reach that point in your life where the light bulb goes off, and you begin to understand that knowledge is not gained by flapping your lips, but by removing your ear wax, you have taken the first step to becoming a skilled communicator.

7. Replace ego with empathy: I have long advised leaders not to let their ego write checks that their talent can’t cash. When candor is communicated with empathy & caring and not the prideful arrogance of an over inflated ego good things begin to happen. Empathetic communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency that is not present with those who choose to communicate behind the carefully crafted facade propped-up by a very fragile ego. Understanding the this communication principle is what helps turn anger into respect and doubt into trust.

8. Read between the lines: Take a moment and reflect back on any great leader that comes to mind… you’ll find they are very adept at reading between the lines. They have the uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, or heard. Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know that there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by filibustering. In this age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind that they fail to realize everything to be gained from the minds of others. Keep your eyes & ears open and your mouth shut and you’ll be amazed at how your level or organizational awareness is raised.

9. When you speak, know what you’re talking about: Develop a technical command over your subject matter. If you don’t possess subject matter expertise, few people will give you the time of day. Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic, but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. The fake it until you make it days have long since passed, and for most people I know fast and slick equals not credible. You’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters,” and while there is surely an element of truth in that statement, I’m here to tell you that it matters very much what you say. Good communicators address both the “what” and “how” aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance.

10. Speak to groups as individuals: Leaders don’t always have the luxury of speaking to individuals in an intimate setting. Great communicators can tailor a message such that they can speak to 10 people in a conference room or 10,000 people in an auditorium and have them feel as if they were speaking directly to each one of them as an individual. Knowing how to work a room and establish credibility, trust, and rapport are keys to successful interactions.

11. Bonus – Be prepared to change the message if needed: Another component of communications strategy that is rarely discussed is how to prevent a message from going bad, and what to do when does. It’s called being prepared and developing a contingency plan. Again, you must keep in mind that for successful interactions to occur, your objective must be in alignment with those you are communicating with. If your expertise, empathy, clarity, etc. don’t have the desired effect, which by the way is very rare, you need to be able to make an impact by changing things up on the fly. Use great questions, humor, stories, analogies, relevant data, and where needed, bold statements to help connect and engender the confidence and trust that it takes for people to want to engage. While it is sometimes necessary to “Shock and Awe” this tactic should be reserved as a last resort.

Don’t assume someone is ready to have a particular conversation with you just because you’re ready to have the conversation with them. Spending time paving the way for a productive conversation is far better than coming off as the proverbial bull in a china shop. Furthermore, you cannot assume anyone knows where you’re coming from if you don’t tell them. I never ceased to be amazed at how many people assume everyone knows what they want to occur without ever finding it necessary to communicate their objective. If you fail to justify your message with knowledge, business logic, reason, empathy etc., you will find that said message will likely fall on deaf ears needing reinforcement or clarification afterward.

Bottom line – The leadership lesson here is whenever you have a message to communicate (either directly, or indirectly through a third party) make sure said message is true & correct, well reasoned, and substantiated by solid business logic that is specific, consistent, clear and accurate. Spending a little extra time on the front-end of the messaging curve will likely save you from considerable aggravation and brain damage on the back-end. Most importantly of all, keep in mind that communication is not about you, your opinions, your positions or your circumstances. It’s about helping others by meeting their needs, understanding their concerns, and adding value to their world. Do these things and you’ll drastically reduce the number of communications problems you’ll experience moving forward.

 

 

9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence at Work

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Daily Muse,  Contributor,   ForbesWoman 11/02/2011

I recently started my own freelance writing business, so, in fact, I no longer answer to a “boss.”

But, for nearly two decades, I did—and I had bosses that intimidated me to the core, I held positions in which I questioned my skills almost daily, and I took on responsibilities that I was certain would expose me as a neophyte.

And even now, as a brand-new entrepreneur with new clients, prospecting targets, and niche markets that are altogether unfamiliar, I still sometimes deal with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of confidence on the job.

And I know I’m not so unusual: For many women, feeling insecure at work is a constant struggle. But, it’s also a major obstacle to achieving our professional dreams and realizing our full potential. So, ladies, we’ve got to get over it.

The good news is, it’s possible. If you need a confidence boost in your day-to-day routine, check out these tried-and-true tips. You’ll bolster your sense of assurance, come off more poised, and kick some butt in the workplace, too.

1. Ask Questions

Not knowing everything—whether that’s because you’re new on the job or have incomplete information—can make you feel insecure and lead to a lack confidence. But remember that (no matter what stage you’re at in your career) you’re never going to have all the answers. So don’t be shy about asking questions, especially when you’re feeling uncertain or insecure. Instead, arm yourself with the information you need to do your job well by asking for it.

2. Be Curious

Curiosity not only sends the message that you’re ambitious and eager to learn, it also positions you well to interface with more people and take on new projects. So don’t just do the work that comes easily. Try something new, something that scares you just a wee bit—whether that’s asking your boss to lead the next client meeting or learning HTML. You’ll emerge more confident and empowered than if you stick to what you already know.

3. Accept that Everyone Makes Mistakes

If you always need to be perfect, you’ll always feel inadequate: that standard is wholly unattainable. Everyone makes mistakes on the job. You will too, and that’s okay—you’ll learn from them, and you’ll move on. Plus, once you let go of the need to be perfect, you free yourself to take risks and take on new responsibilities.

4. Go Above and Beyond

With each new assignment, think of ways you can knock the ball out of the park. Can you suggest new ideas, clients, or products? Make a process easier or more streamlined? Or even just get the report on your boss’ desk three days early? You’ll feel better about yourself if you go the extra mile—and you’ll probably get some good feedback from others, too.

5. Ask for Feedback

Don’t wait to be told that your work stinks or shines—ask for feedback along the way. Doing so demonstrates that you care about your work and want to succeed in your job. Plus, instead of anxiously wondering what you’re doing wrong, you’ll gain a better sense of your performance, your strengths, and your areas for improvement.

6. Find Supportive Allies

Seek out positive co-workers and mentors who support you, who boost you up when you’re feeling down, and who can help you succeed in your job and within the company. There are always naysayers and jealous types who want to see you fail, but if you reach out to enough people, you’re sure to find a critical mass who have your back.

7. Look the Part

Turns out, there’s some truth to the old adage, “fake it until you make it.” Dressing well, having good posture, being friendly, and making eye contact with people will all give the impression that you’re confident and in control. And when the rest of the world thinks you’re self-assured, you’ll start believing it, too. So smile, stand up straight, and yeah, go ahead and treat yourself to that new blazer.

8. Trust Your Gut

If you feel that you work isn’t getting you where you want to go, it’s sure to impact your frame of mind and sense of confidence. So be really honest with yourself about your personal goals and expectations, and make sure that you’re being true to them. If you find that you’re not able to use your talents to their fullest or your job isn’t putting you on the right track for your career, think about how to change your situation—whether it’s having a discussion with your boss or looking for a new gig.

9. Celebrate Your Achievements

If you’ve received an amazing performance review or nailed the client meeting you’ve been stressing over, celebrate—you deserve it! Acknowledging those successes and rewarding yourself will remind you how great you really are—and there’s no greater confidence boost than a job well done.

10 Steps To Happiness At Work

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff 7/27/2011

Here’s a pop quiz for anyone who’s miserable at work. Which action has the biggest chance of improving your happiness? (A) Getting a promotion, (B) seeing your professional nemesis move to the Mongolia office, (C) focusing on the positive aspects of your job and trying to ignore the negative or (D) quitting in a fit of anger and landing your dream job elsewhere?

Sorry, says Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work. The answer is none of the above. To achieve greater happiness on the job, you don’t need your boss to stop calling you at night. You don’t need to make more money. You don’t need to follow your dream of being a sommelier, or running a B&B in Vermont.

“The exact attributes of what you are looking for do not exist in any job,” says Rao, who taught “Creativity and Personal Mastery,” one of the most sought after courses at Columbia Business School.

He believes that the single biggest obstacle to workplace happiness is the belief that we are prisoners of circumstance, powerless before the things that happen to us. To change your job, he says, you must change the way you think about it. “We create our own experience,” he insists. He relies heavily on Eastern spirituality and draws from many wisdom traditions. “The knowledge that we are responsible for living the life we have is our most powerful tool.”

Rather than encourage people to focus on “positive thinking,” Rao wants to banish the whole notion of good and bad events. “‘When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade’ assumes that you have been given a lemon and that a lemon is bad for you,” he says. “I’m saying, first of all, if you’ve been given a lemon, is that a bad thing? You can train yourself to say, ‘OK, this happened,’ rather than label it as bad.” If you think of events that occurred 10 years ago and seemed bad at the time, he says, you’ll realize that many of those events led to something positive. He recalls a former student who was fired from his job and received a healthy severance deal. Six months later the company ran into trouble and all the remaining staffers lost their jobs without receiving a dime. The fired employee actually came out ahead.

Rao believes that in order to be happy in the workplace, you need to move from personal ambition to “greater vision” ambition. “Personal ambition is ‘I want to be CEO,’” he says. “Greater vision ambition is, ‘I want to lead this company so that people want to work here.’” He says that ambition hinders happiness as long as people employ an “if/then” model: If I get the promotion, then I will be happy. Rao says that a healthier and happier perspective is to think “I have a grand vision and I will try my best to make it work. If I succeed, wonderful. If not, wonderful. My purpose is to give it the best I’ve got.’”

If happiness comes only from within, then how can you tell if you really are in a legitimately bad situation, as opposed just needing to reframe the way you look at it? Rao says it’s better to make a change from a positive place than from a point of anger. “You should make a change from the place of being grateful for your experience but ready to make a change and continue to grow.”

Even in corporate America, where so much of work is every man for him or herself, Rao advocates inhabiting an “other-centered universe.” If the nice guy gets passed over for a promotion, he still may succeed in less tangible ways or land an even better job down the road. “They may rise later in the shootout,” says Rao. “I’m challenging the assumption that you need to be a dog-eat-dog person to survive in a corporate environment.”

To achieve greater happiness at work, you don’t need your boss to stop calling you at night. You don’t need to make more money. You don’t need to follow your dream of being a sommelier, or running a B&B in Vermont. So says Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work. The biggest obstacle to happiness is simply your belief that you’re the prisoner of circumstance, powerless before the things that happen to you, he says. “We create our own experience,” he adds. Here are 10 steps to happiness at work, drawn from his recommendations.

Avoid “good” and “bad” labels

When something bad happens, don’t beat yourself up, says Rao. Instead, when you make an error, be aware of it without passing judgment. “Do what you have to do, but don’t surrender your calmness and sense of peace.”

Practice “extreme resilience”

Rao defines “extreme resilience” as the ability to recover fast from adversity. “You spend much time in needless, fruitless self-recrimination and blaming others,” he writes. “You go on pointless guilt trips and make excuses that you know are fatuous. If you’re resilient, you recover and go on to do great things.” (He also says that if you fully take his advice to avoid “bad thing” labels, you don’t have to practice resilience at all.)

Let go of grudges

Rao says that a key to being happy at work is to let go of grudges. “Consciously drop the past,” he writes. “It’s hard, but with practice you will get the hang of it.”

Don’t waste time being jealous

“When you’re jealous you’re saying that the universe is limited and there’s not enough success in it for me,” says Rao. “Instead, be happy, because whatever happened to him will happen to you in your current job or at another company.”

Find passion in you, not in your job

Sure, you can fantasize about a dream job that pays you well and allows you to do some kind of social good, work with brilliant and likable colleagues and still be home in time for dinner. But Rao warns against searching for that perfect position, or even believing that it exists. Instead, he advocates changing how you think about your current situation. For example, instead of thinking of yourself as a human resources manager at a bank, identify yourself as someone who helps other bank employees provide for their families, take advantage of their benefits and save for the future.

Picture yourself 10 years ago and 10 years from now

“Most problems that kept you awake ten years ago have disappeared,” says Rao. “Much of what troubles you today will also vanish. Realizing this truth will help you gain perspective.”

Banish the “if/then” model of happiness

Rao says that many of us rely on a flawed “if/then” model for happiness. If we become CEO, then we’ll be happy. If we make a six-figure salary, then we’ll be happy. “There is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy,” he writes.

Invest in the process, not the outcome

“Outcomes are totally beyond your control,” Rao writes. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment if you focus too much on what you hope to achieve rather than how you plan to get there.

Think about other people

Even in corporate America, where so much of work is every man for him or herself, Rao advocates inhabiting an “other-centered universe.” If the nice guy gets passed over for a promotion, he may still succeed in less tangible ways. “He may rise later in the shootout,” Rao says. “I’m challenging the assumption that you need to be a dog-eat-dog person to survive in a corporate environment.”

Swap multitasking for mindfulness

Rao thinks that multitasking gets in the way of happiness. “Multitasking simply means that you do many things badly and take much more time at it,” he writes. He recommends instead working on tasks for 20-minute intervals that you gradually increase to two-hour spans. Turn off any electronic gadgets that can be a distraction. He claims that with practice, you’ll be able to accomplish much more and with less effort.

The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
My Say , Contributor, Forbes Entrepreneurs, 1/26/2012

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon. No longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe.

“Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

To save you from yourself (and to keep your colleagues and customers from strangling you), we have assembled a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid.

We also assembled a “Jargon Madness” bracket—similar to the NCAA college basketball tournament—featuring 32 abominable expressions. Each day, for 32 days, readers will get to vote, via Twitter, on one matchup. The goal: to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it and all of those other ridiculous terms, too.

Core Competency

This awful expression refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength—even though that’s not what the word “competent” means. “This bothers me because it is just a silly phrase when you think about it,” says Bruce Barry, professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business. “Do people talk about peripheral competency? Being competent is not the standard we’re seeking. It’s like core mediocrity.”

Buy-In

This means agreement on a course of action, if the most disingenuous kind. Notes David Logan, professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business: “Asking for someone’s ‘buy-in’ says, ‘I have an idea. I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you. I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning, because that would make me feel really good.’”

S.W.A.T. Team

In law enforcement, this term refers to teams of fit men and women who put themselves in danger to keep people safe. “In business, it means a group of ‘experts’ (often fat guys in suits) assembled to solve a problem or tackle an opportunity” says USC’s Logan. An apt comparison, if you’re a fat guy in a suit.

Empower

This is what someone above your pay grade does when, apparently, they would like you to do a job of some importance. It’s also called “the most condescending transitive verb ever.” Says Chatman: “It suggests that ‘You can do a little bit of this, but I’m still in charge here. I am empowering you.’”

Open the Kimono

“Some people use this instead of ‘revealing information,’” says Barry. “It’s kind of creepy.” Just keep your kimono snugly fastened.

Bleeding Edge

Someone decided that his product or service was so cutting-edge that a new term needed to be created. It did not. Unless you are inventing a revolutionary bladed weapon, leave this one alone.

Lots of Moving Parts

Pinball machines have lots of moving parts. Many of them buzz and clank and induce migraine headaches. Do you want your business to run, or even appear to run, like a pinball machine? Then do not say it involves lots of moving parts.

Corporate Values

This expression is so phony it churns the stomach. Corporations don’t have values, the people who run them do.

Make Hay

This is jargon for being productive or successful in a short period of time. The phrase ‘to make hay’ is short for ‘make hay while the sun shines’, which can be traced to John Heyward’s The Proverbs, Epigrams and Miscellanies of John Heywood (circa 1562). A handy nugget for cocktail conversation, but that’s it.

Scalable

A scalable business or activity refers to one that requires little additional effort or cost for each additional unit of output. Example: Making software is a scalable business (building it requires lots of effort up front, while distributing a million copies over the Web is relatively painless). Venture capitalists crave scalable businesses. They crave them so much that the term now has become more annoying than the media’s obsession with celebrity diets.

Best Practice

This refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared with other methods and techniques. It is also perhaps the single most pompous confection the consulting industry has ever dreamed up.

Think Outside the Box

This tired turn of phrase means to approach a business problem in an unconventional fashion. Kudos to a Forbes.com reader who suggested: “Forget the box, just think.”

Solution

This word has come to mean everything from the traditional way to solve a mathematical proof to a suite of efficiency-enhancing software–and it is the epitome of lingual laziness. Says Glen Turpin, a communications consultant: “It usually refers to a collection of technologies too abstract or complex to describe in a way that anyone would care about if they were explained in plain English.”

Leverage

Meet the granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs. ‘Leverage’ is mercilessly used to describe how a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled. Leverage should remain a noun, as in “to apply leverage,” not as a pseudo-verb, as in “we are leveraging our assets.”

Vertical

This painful expression refers to a specific area of expertise. For example, if you make project-management software for the manufacturing industry (as opposed to the retail industry), you might say, “We serve the manufacturing vertical.” In so saying, you would make everyone around you flee the conversation.

Over the Wall

If you’re not wielding a grappling hook, avoid this meaningless expression. Katie Clark, an account executive at Allison & Partners, a San Francisco public relations firm, got a request from her boss to send a document “over the wall.” Did he want her to print out the document, make it into a paper airplane and send it whooshing across the office? Finally she asked for clarification. “It apparently means to send something to the client,” she says. “Absurd!”

Robust

This otherwise harmless adjective has come to suggest a product or service with a virtually endless capacity to please. A cup of good coffee is robust. A software program is not.

Learnings

Like most educated people, Michael Travis, an executive search consultant, knows how to conjugate a verb. That’s why he cringes when his colleagues use the word “learning” as a noun. As in: “I had a critical learning from that project,” or “We documented the team’s learnings.” Whatever happened to simply saying: “I learned a lesson from that project?” Says Travis: “Aspiring managers would do well to remember that if you can’t express your idea without buzzwords, there may not be an idea there at all.”

Boil the Ocean

This means to waste time. The thinking here, we suppose, is that boiling the ocean would take a long time. It would also take a long time to fly to Jupiter, but we don’t say that. Nor should we boil oceans, even the Arctic, which is the smallest. It would be a waste of time.

Reach Out

Jargon for “let’s set up a meeting” or “let’s contact this person.” Just say that—and unless you want the Human Relations department breathing down your neck, please don’t reach out unless clearly invited.

Punt

In football, to punt means to willingly (if regretfully) kick the ball to the other team to control your team’s position on the field. In business it means to give up on an idea, or to make it less of a priority at the moment. In language as in life, punt too often and you’ll never score.

Impact

This wannabe verb came to prominence, says Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, because most people don’t understand the difference between the words “affect” and “effect.” Rather than risk mixing them up, they say, “We will impact our competitor’s sales with this new product.” A tip: “Affect” is most commonly a verb, “effect” a noun. For instance: When you affect my thinking, you may have an effect on my actions.

Giving 110%

The nice thing about effort, in terms of measuring it, is that the most you can give is everything—and everything equals 100%. You can’t give more than that, unless you can make two or more of yourself on the spot, in which case you have a very interesting talent indeed. To tell someone to give more than 100% is to also tell them that you failed second-grade math.

Take It To The Next Level

In theory this means to make something better. In practice, it means nothing, mainly because nobody knows what the next level actually looks like and thus whether or not they’ve reached it.

It Is What It Is

Thanks. Idiot.