Free Tips!

Below you will find free tips on general business practices and personal development.

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Speak another person’s language

Have you ever taken one of the popular personality assessment tests like DISC® or Meyers Briggs? If so, you know that people generally relate to one of four main communication styles. By learning how to share ideas in a variety of styles (not necessarily your own), your effectiveness increases. Include something for each group if presenting to a large and diverse group of people.

  • Drivers: the “Type A’s” of the bunch: they like facts quickly stated and action words. Please, please, do not bore them with tons of detail! Only give it if they ask. Focus on what’s next.
  • Social butterflies: they love to talk and interact with others! These are the “life of the party” types, and often influence and connect others. Include them with lots of questions and chance for interaction. Be careful of time, though! It’s easy to get caught up in charm and fun. Follow-up is critical with this group. Establish specific deadlines and calls-to-action, get their buy-in up front.
  • Detail lovers: this group is all about the data, quality and structure. Can you support everything with numbers? Measure their decision and results? Add data points and metrics to add credibility, and answer with specifics. Do NOT put slides and handouts with all of your data, however, because this group will lose their attention on you and dive into the numbers. (You may also be challenged on accuracy.)
  • Steady types: this group brings calm to the room, and add stability to every organization. They don’t like a lot of change, unless it is planned and deliberate. Show them that what you have is well thought out and has durability and steadiness.

Recognize that we all have our communication and personality styles, and each of us likes to be included and heard. Organizations need all types, because each brings a different strength. By including communications for each type, your communication results will improve.


How to deliver bad news

Delivering bad news rarely inspires enthusiasm and eager anticipation. Yet, most of us will need to deliver hard news many times in our professional and personal lives. Here are some tips and guidelines to deliver the news with confidence and grace.

Its all in the deliveryConfidence, empathy when delivering bad news

The two most important qualities for delivering tough news are: confidence and empathy. Confidence lets the other person know that there is strength and firmness in the message. They will rely on your strength to get through some bewilderment. Empathy shows that you care about them as a person, and understand this news may cause them pain. Keep in mind: empathy differs from sympathy. Be clear about understanding that the situation hurts, but step back from pitying. Two very different dynamics.

Tip: Practice feeling empathy – then sympathy – as you sit down, and then standing. Notice how your body shifts for each one. How do you hold your shoulders? Is your breathing steady or shallow? Note the difference between the two. Understanding how your body feels in each state will give you valuable information as you deliver the news. Be mindful of how you feel. In this way, your body will cue you if you’ve moved from empathy to sympathy and you can adjust.

Prepare yourself in advance

Confidence, strength, empathy – all take a mindset. Take time to prepare yourself as an athlete would. Visualize the sequence of events several times, and imagine a smooth outcome. Your energy will set the tone, and practicing in advance gives strength, just as lifting weights builds muscle.

Focus on your breathing. If stress amps up, slow your breath. Practice this in advance. Here’s one way: get a one minute timer. Count your breaths for one minute. If you are like many, you probably counted 12-15 breaths. Now try again, this time breath six times. Feel the difference? Practice this until you can easily say to yourself: six! And slow to that. This will give you a touch point in stressful situations, and help keep you calm.

Delivery: open with directness

Open the conversation with directness. It’s okay to acknowledge the difficulty right up front, and even touch on how this is hard for you as well. Some opening statements may sound like this:

I have some hard news to deliver to you this morning. This is difficult, and I want you to know I’ve given great thought with how to say it.

We have had to make an incredibly difficult and painful decision to downsize this division. I am sad to have to deliver this news to you – and would like to have had a different outcome. However, with the change in our strategic direction, we have to shut this plant down.

Directly getting to the point spares the person receiving the news any confusion, and let’s them spend time processing it.

Pause for processing

Give them a moment or two to absorb the shock, then move quickly to the next steps and what they can expect. Also, reiterate throughout that they may have questions later, since this is likely unexpected, and offer a way for them to follow-up.

Should the other person “get emotional”, allow for some venting and surprise. Short of a violent outburst, give a moment to absorb the information. After all, this news is likely a shock to them.

Move quickly to the next steps

Quickly move to outlining next steps, and what they can expect. By clearly describing what will happen next, you will blunt the fear of unknowns. This also moves the focus from the bad news to the action of what to do next. Knowing this action to expect, and what to do, instills a sense of moving forward. It also outlines to the person things they will have control over, and defines their role. Both of these will alleviate fear.

Its not personal

By preparing in advance, delivering news quickly with confidence and empathy, you set the tone for moving forward. Your confidence and strength will give the recipient strength to draw on as they absorb the information. And quickly moving to the next steps helps everyone focus on the future, moving away from any shock.


How to hear people when you are really tired

Active listening takes energy. Lots of energy. Have you ever found your attention wandering off in a meeting, or even a social event? Sometimes chanting “focus, focus” doesn’t quite do the trick. For those times, these improv tips may come in handy:

Stay Involved and Alert in Meetings
Don’t be this guy.

Tip #1: Participate with last word, first word: make the last word of a persons sentence the first word of your next sentence.

Tip #2: Breathe! Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. Do this 3 times, and energy may amp up.

Tip #3: Repeat back: ask a clarifying question. For example: “I want to make certain I understand correctly, did you mean…..?” This has the double advantage of involvement (to create focus) and letting the speaker know you truly value what they say.

These tips mean physically participating – speaking or breathing – and change the energy pattern. Also, by creating a challenge to yourself with asking questions or remembering one word to repeat back, your mind then takes on the challenge of performance and participation.


Leaders inspire confidence by being confident

Be confident!Of all the traits of leadership, inspiring confidence in others by showing your confidence has to top the list. But what to do on days you’re not exactly feeling like leading the way up the proverbial mountain?

Here are 3 tips:

  • Close your eyes and remember a time when you were on top of your game. Stand the way you stood at that moment, breathe in like you did at that moment, hold your head the way you did at that moment. Remember every detail you can, replicate it, then open your eyes. Voila! Confidence!
  • Look at photos of top performing athletes at the moment of a win, or anyone who inspires you as showing confidence. Replicate their pose and imagine what that feels like.
  • Listen to recordings of leaders in difficult times as they rallied the troops to victory. Be inspired and imagine your team being inspired.

Confidence, like all emotional states, have physical expression. Think of how each affects your body, and study them one by one. If you can imagine and feel how each affects your posture, voice, and breathing, then you can replicate them and change your state at will. (Note: for more tips on this subject, read our post 3 quick ways to build confidence below.)


3 quick ways to build confidence

In every workshop we do, the most common objective is “I want to be confident.”  People respond to confidence, we are drawn to it because it conveys some certainty in an uncertain world. Yet, most of us struggle with our own levels of confidence.

Here are 3 quick ways to re-establish confidence when you need it. (e.g. before a big meeting, presentation or sales call)

1) Remember. Everyone has a memory of a time when you owned the moment. You did well. You performed at your best. You OWNED the moment. Top of your game. Remember that moment. Close your eyes and remember every single detail and what it felt like in your body and mind. How did you stand? Where were your shoulders? What did your face feel like? Remember how you breathed, how you stood, what your cheekbones felt like. Every single detail. Replicate it as you remember. Feeling the physicality of confidence in YOUR body is what will carry you forward.

2) Visualize. Now that you know exactly how you feel when you are confident, keep your body in that state as you imagine the new event unfolding perfectly. See in your mind how you stand and speak and perform. Know it. Own it. And repeat this “film reel” in your mind over and over. Trust me, this works. Olympic athletes run through their events like this. Airline pilots rely on flight simulators. See yourself as confident and successful. Imagine the compliments and congratulations you receive and how that feels in your body.

3) Energize! This one amps up your physical energy and really gets the endorphins working in your favor. Run in place, close your eyes, recall your vision and repeat out loud: “confidence, confidence, confidence. I AM confident!” Then run the visualization through your head again as you do this. Finish by standing tall, taking a deep breath, and telling yourself “I can do this!” Then square your shoulders and get out there!

Follow these three as many times as you can. Do them regularly and it becomes second nature. Your confidence will grow with each success.

And, please, let us know your successes! We’d love to share them.


Brainstorm without conflict

Ever been in a meeting where new ideas die fast from conflict? Here’s a great way to get everyone on board: we call it “yes and”. This improv game can get the creative juices flowing for every meeting – and even diffuse some buyer resistance in a sales call!

Here’s how: require every participant to build on to the previous idea by beginning their next sentence with “Yes! And…..”

For example:

Bob: “I’d like to see the Texas sales area offer more new services to our customers.”

Susan: “Yes, and we can offer them as an additional sale.”

Buck: “Yes, and our inside sales team can use the offering as a reason to contact  existing customers, and keep us “top of mind”.”

Using “Yes, and” leads to some great ideas by establishing a positive (and safe) environment for you and your team to explore new ideas.