When You Give Feedback, Do You Listen, Too?

When You Give Feedback, Do You Listen, Too?

Communication, Featured
Very often it falls on us to offer feedback to a co-worker, partner, or subordinate. If you want people to really hear what you’re saying, you need to listen, too. Research suggests a manager’s attentive, nonjudgmental listening makes an employee more relaxed, more self-aware, and less defensive. The next time you’re coaching someone, listen carefully and thoughtfully to everything they say. Don’t jump to conclusions or interrupt. Give the person space to express themselves, and ask good questions to encourage them to keep talking. When people sense that others are truly hearing them, they’re much more likely to open up. Use eye contact and body language to signal that you’re focused on your employee and want to hear their thoughts. And refrain from suggesting solutions to problems. Even with feedback,…
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Keep a Difficult Conversation on Track

Keep a Difficult Conversation on Track

Communication, Featured
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, a difficult conversation veers off course. Maybe your counterpart’s emotions are making progress hard, or the conversation keeps drifting away from the topic at hand. Assess the situation by taking a deep breath, mentally popping out of the conversation — as if you’re a fly on the wall — and objectively looking at what’s happening. You might even describe it to yourself (in your head): “Every time I bring up the sales numbers, he raises his voice.” Next, state what you’re observing in a calm tone: “It seems as though whenever the sales numbers come up, you raise your voice. Can you help me understand why?” Then suggest a new approach: “If we put our heads together, we could probably come up with a way…
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The Most Valuable Real Estate In The World

The Most Valuable Real Estate In The World

Communication, Featured
We all know the old adage: the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. For many businesses the location of a store or office has been the difference between success and failure. Business has changed in recent years. According to Warren Buffett you need to be on the most valuable piece of real estate in the world. That real estate isn't a physical location. It's the screen on your customers' phones. The phone has become crucial to every business. People are spending more time on the phone. Your competition is no further than the phone. If you haven't staked out your piece of real estate there, you are being left behind. So how can you be present on that real estate? Mobile Website: It's not enough…
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Write a Speech, Not an Essay

Write a Speech, Not an Essay

Communication, Featured
There’s a huge difference between crafting a speech and writing an essay, yet too many people approach them in the same way. The average adult can read 300 words per minute, but can only follow a speech at half that rate. So speeches require you to simplify. To make sure your audience stays with you, state your thesis and lay out the structure of your speech first. Then, let listeners know where you are with signpost words (“second,” “finally,” etc.). Lead or end an argument with statistics, but don’t fall into reciting strings of numbers or citations. The human brain is wired for narrative, so focus on telling a compelling story. And remember that when delivering a speech, you are your punctuation. Use your voice, hand gestures, pacing, and your…
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When You Can’t Hit Unsend

When You Can’t Hit Unsend

Communication, Featured
Most people have made the mistake of hitting “reply all” on a private email or sending an insensitive message to the wrong person. After the panic sets in, you need to own the mistake. Approach the offended colleague quickly and apologize: “I’m sorry I did it and even more sorry that I hurt/showed disrespect for you.” Seek forgiveness: “I wrote without thinking, and if I could take it back I would. I can only ask you to forgive me.” Avoid insincere language like: “mistakes were made” or “I'm sorry if you were offended.” Apologize in person or by phone – you don’t want to risk getting it wrong again via email. And as awful as it feels having to make an apology, recognize that you may have done real damage.…
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Tech Only Matters If It Affects The Customer

Tech Only Matters If It Affects The Customer

Communication, Customer, Featured
A few years ago I attended an event in which most of the attendees were programmers. As everyone introduced themselves they talked about what programming language they used and why it was the best. When it came to my turn I told them something none of them wanted to hear. I said, "Your customers don't care what programming language you use. They have a problem and all they care about is that it is solved." Several years have passed since that meeting and I still meet web developers who insist their websites are the best because of the tech they use. Technical people fail to understand that the end user isn't impressed by the technical specs. They are impressed by how much easier something makes their lives. If your technology…
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Is Personalization Limiting Choice?

Is Personalization Limiting Choice?

Communication, Customer, Featured
Go online and very often you'll see a note that says something like, "You may also like..." recommending another article or item to buy. That recommendation comes from sites tracking your activity, collecting your data and making recommendations based on it. The drawback is that the "personalized" recommendations are also based on what people who the algorithm thinks are like you have done. What the personalization is also doing is steering you in a specific direction. By sticking to that direction, you are missing out on other options. If you're using these personalization tools in your business, they are useful for focusing your customer where you want them go. Connecting your customers to content and products that you want them to see is useful. However, what you (and the algorithms)…
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During Your Next Presentation, Use Your Hands to Project Confidence

During Your Next Presentation, Use Your Hands to Project Confidence

Communication, Featured
When you’re in front of an audience, you want to project confidence. But when you’re nervous, your hands often flit about and fidget. Use one of these positions to keep your hands still. Practice in front of a mirror, then with friends, until it feels natural. Hold the ball. Gesture as if you are holding a basketball between your hands. This movement, a Steve Jobs favorite, displays confidence and control, as if you have the facts at your fingertips. Palms up. Turning your hands up indicates openness and honesty, and it shows that you’re willing to connect with the people you’re speaking to, whether it’s one person or a crowd of thousands. Pyramid. Keep your hands still by clasping them together in a relaxed pyramid. Beware of overusing this position…
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Tell Your Customer’s Story

Tell Your Customer’s Story

Communication, Featured
One of the most important elements to attracting potential clients is that they understand what you are offering. If they don't have a clear idea of what you can do for them they won't know why they should use your service or product. For complicated services, one of the best ways to convey what you do is to tell a story about one of your customers. To craft your story, keep it simple. Your story should tell what the customer's problem was, what you did to solve it, and what the result was. Stay away from jargon and buzzwords. If what you do is very complicated or unusual, use an analogy to compare it to something your audience is familiar with. Telling a story can make explaining your business much…
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