Category Archives: How To Network

How up close and personal are you?

There’s no substitute for the ‘LIVE’ or personalised version of You

It’s easy to get lulled into this false sense of reality isn’t it?  Instead of picking up the phone to speak to someone, you drop them an email or send them a message or a text.  Instead of dropping someone a note, you can instant message, Skype message or send them an eCard.  Instead of going to a networking event, social gathering, exhibition or event, you can show up online.  All of these ways of being in touch, of showing up on the radar, are virtually instant and take very little effort.  They work too, to an extent.  There’s also a darker side too, a sense of disconnectedness.

What I also know to be true is this.  There is nothing like being there in-person, in-the-room and pressing the flesh with other people.  The energy, the sense of connectedness, the opportunity to take yourself out of your environment and put yourself in another, all adds to the mix and what comes out of that is so very different than being ‘virtual’.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m the first to enjoy, leverage and actively revel in all the gizmos and ways of working with people virtually.  It’s something I’ve come to love about working in this ‘small world’ way.  What is often underestimated though is how disconnected we can feel and be perceived, when we take ourselves,  our personalised selves, out of the mix – often without necessarily being conscious of it.

Let me ask you a few quick questions.

  • Have you ever emailed someone who’s in the same room/office as you because you can’t face or make time to go across and speak to them?
  • Have you ever emailed someone instead of calling them as an easy ‘get out’?
  • Have you ever texted someone a Thank You note instead of either calling or writing them a personal note?
  • Do you find yourself sending an ‘Apologies’ meeting alert rather than calling the person to say you can’t attend?
  • Have you ever wished you’d met up with someone in person sooner rather than wasting time going back/forth on email?

I know, like me, some – or all – of your answers will be a ‘Yes’.  I ask myself, just before sending an email or text, is this the best way to be in touch today?  Clients constantly tell me that they can’t “get people to do what they want them to” or  they struggle to get people to respond to them.  When pressed, it’s often because they lack connection with the other person/s.  That’s where the secret of ‘pressing the flesh’ or personalising can change things in an instant.

You don’t have to spend your life bouncing around the world on planes or being so busy going to meetings or writing notes you never give yourself time to implement or think.  No, of course not.

Here are 5 starters for you if you decide to show up ‘personally’ more than you are.

  1. When you go to email someone, pick up the phone and call instead.  Even if you leave a voicemail and send an email afterwards, you connected, you made the effort.  They hear your ‘real life’ voice.  It means something, to them.
  2. Instead of sending an RSVP by email – call or drop a personal, hand-written note instead.  Your voice, your writing all counts more as you being ‘in person’.
  3. When you look at an invitation and think “No, too busy” – just ask yourself “How can I make it work so I can go?” so you let people see you and be with you, as you with them.
  4. When you do decide to show up in person, instead of hanging with people you know, challenge yourself to meet and greet at least 5 people you’ve never met before.  You only have to be open to asking them a few questions and, off you go!
  5. When you’re with other people, be more interested in them, rather than being interested in them being interested in you.  That’s where the true magic is – they magically become more interested in you anyway – aha!

Daniel Goleman who wrote the transformational – and much quoted – book  ‘Emotional Intelligence’ says “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large.  But when we focus on others, our world expands.  Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  I believe he’s right.

A big piece of that is coming forward to make a personalised – not impersonalised – connection.  Go on, I dare you.

5 Ps to Position And Own Your Value

Attract People, Business and Opportunity To You

When push-comes-to-shove, it’s a word few people are able to actually define. The word ‘positioning’ is one we hear a lot. When push-comes-to-shove, few people really are able to actually define.  I define positioning, in everyday language, as putting things in the right place for people.  In a place useful for them and, at the same time, is useful and helpful for you.   

If you think about positioning a picture at home, for example, you’re placing it where it’s accessible and can be seen, it looks good in the light and yet it fits with the décor of the room.  You think about the angles and you position it accordingly.  Positioning your skills, what they do and your value, it’s the same principle.

People need to understand what you’re going to be able to do for them,find a use for it in their world (not just in yours) and these 7 P words which will make positioning yourself, your skills and your value easy for you:

  1. Partner – your thinking comes from the angle of partnering with your client, your colleague, your boss.  How you can help and support them with what they’re trying to achieve.  An easy question to ask to get this clear for yourself is ‘what’s your biggest challenge at the moment?’  You, as their partner, helping to solve or master this immediately positions you as someone on their side and not just someone ‘out to get ahead’.  Using words like ‘we, together, our, your’ positions you in a partnership role and using their language, their abbreviations, their interests as examples, you become their partner.  Subtle and simple.
  2. Powers ­– from the word go, you’ve thought about your own particular skill set.  Of course you have.  What it is you do naturally and easily and you’ve asked other people about it – literally, that question.  ‘What is it that I seem to do naturally and easily?’ and then you own those skills.  They’re part of your power.  Your ‘Jedi skills’ if you will.  Once you’ve jotted down some of your natural skills you then make them super-powerful.  Look at those skills and ask yourself ‘What do those skills do for other people?’  For example a skill is “I’m great with numbers”.  Well, whoopy do. What does that do?  Positioning that as valuable is being able to then say, for example “I can see angles where clients are losing money and help them stop it and save thousands per month.”   Same thing, good with numbers, huge difference in positioning the value
  3. Possible – if you’re positioning your skills, always come from the angle of what’s possible.  Not, as so many people do, what’s impossible.  “Well, I can do XYZ but I can’t do ABC” or “well I only learnt that recently so I can’t do it very well”. Of course you don’t over blow what you can do but what you do is really hone in and focus on what you can do and – if you’ve got gaps – focus on what you can do about them  “and I can learn that” or “and we can immediately bring in someone to fix that” – always angling your nose to the ‘what’s possible’ with what you’re offering, what you’re able to do.  Let people ask you questions, avoid laying it all out there with your fears about your gaps.  You can fill them or find out how to.
  4. Poise –  that quiet, inner composure that gives people a sense of you without you ‘hosing them down’ with facts, compliments and information.  It’s something we all strive for at times.  When you’re seeking to attract business, clients, an employer – to make an impression, to be remembered and understood and to do it in a way that means you’re engaging too, is to hold yourself upright, to offer a firm handshake, to smile and connect and, at the same time, know that if what you’re offering isn’t a fit in this instance, it will be somewhere else.  That inner composure, inner resolve gives you poise.  Just like in the dating game, the subtle dance isn’t about being proposed to on the first date, it’s more about a drink, a chat and then deciding if you both want to have dinner…. 
  5. Present – listen and keep listening, bounce back what you’ve heard, question what you’ve heard in a curious way. Stay present.  That voice – the one we all have – that’s saying things like “oh, what are you going to say now?” or “whoopee, I can fix that” – a powerful way you can quieten that voice is by repeating exactly what the person is saying to you in your head.  What you find is you have to stay present with them. As you do you’ll naturally find out what they want, what they’re struggling with and what it is you can do about it.  If it makes sense, you’re then able to comfortably fit your own skills, thoughts, offer right in. Rather than racing off to ‘fix’, you stay in their world –  so rather than ‘pick me, pick me’ it becomes more ‘hmm, I hear you, I think we could come up wi th something together.  How about….’ 

If you use that word ‘position’ as you prepare for your meetings, interviews, presentations you’ll always be more valuable and interesting than the ‘gung-ho’, seat-of-my-pants kind of person who goes in thinking all about what they want, what’s going on with them and ‘what’s in it for me?’ and tries to ram that home.  Good luck!

John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School and prolific author, says it perfectly (another P word): “Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning.  They understand the people they’re trying to reach and what they can and can’t hear.  They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall.”  That’s my position too; over to you for yours now.

8 Key Lessons to YOUR Professional Success

Run your own race and let everyone else run theirs

Being in London and being part of the Olympics last year was such an emotional experience and taught me so much.  Truly.  Recently we celebrated the anniversary of The Games and it reminded me – all over again – of what it takes to go for – and win – GOLD.  It’s the same for your career and, especially as a professional woman, running your own race is crucial.  Let me explain.

Every race, every event and all the interviews before and after prove, without a doubt, the traits all the participants shared.  The physical fitness, age and cultural backgrounds all come in to play but I noticed, time and again, 8 clear success strategies. Ones that come in to play for us every single day in business, as in our lives.

I always listen to the words not being said as much as I listen for the words which are said?  Well, here’s what I really heard as London 2012 Olympics top takeaways and thought it was a good time to share them again with you.

  1. Commit – make a decision to do something, to be someone, to have something and commit to it.  No doubt, no waivering, no ‘faffing’. The stories of athletes moving countries away from their families to get the best training or support.  Making that level of commitment separates you from people who ‘would like to’ rather commit to.  Despite the injuries, the set backs, the personal traumas, they commit and stick to it. What are you 100% committed to and how does it separate you from the ‘well, I’d quite like to’ players?
  2. Prepare – the training, the lifestyle, the self-care, the mental game. I heard someone say they had run the race in their head so many times so when it came to it and came to winning he felt he already had. He just had to go out there and show us how he’d done it.  In business, to prepare, think through the angles, know your stuff, well it makes you able to be ‘loose’. You’re more flexible when it’s real because you’ve been through it so many times before it was. What are you preparing for and how are you running through it in advance, again and again so you can be ‘loose’ too?
  3. Respect – your competition and get to know them.  Keep an eye and an ear on what other people are doing and respect them for it. There always seemed to be a healthy regard and respect for the competing athletes.  In business, the same attitude helps. In reality no one has the same skills, the same experience, the same story as you. Rather than try to be a clone of someone else, be you and bring your own personality and pizzazz to everything you do and it will always make you special. No one else can do it like you.  What do you know makes you special and different and how could you allow yourself to stand out more for it? 
  4. Support  – take the advice and know-how of people who can see your game as you’re playing it.  Their experience and knowledge then becomes inextricably mixed with your own. Every athlete always cited their coach and mentor in their thanks because they see things you simply couldn’t. I know this to my toes in my business and bring this to my clients in theirs. Who supports you and gives you guidance and input whilst flying your flag with you? 
  5. Usain BoltBelieve – or go home!  I definitely heard that a few times. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?  Standing sure and firm in your belief in yourself isn’t about showing off and being like a peacock, it’s about self-certainty. You know you can’t control what anyone else does, says or how they play the game.   You control how you behave and how you believe and keep believing. The phrase ‘I never, never, never gave up believing’ was a London 2012 quotable. What about you – what are you standing sure and firm in yourself about?
  6. Extra – that extra 10% you don’t think you have.  When you need it, you do have it.  The stories of that extra push, that final “I just went for it” energy that somehow we have when we call it up.  So many Gold medalists and athletes getting their personal bests said “suddenly, I just found more in the tank”.  When you think of something you achieved because you found that extra 10% from somewhere, what difference did it make for you? 
  7. Celebrate – you could virtually see a switch flick.  The concentration, the mental strength, the focus.  Then, the delivery.  Then came the celebrations, the relief and the release.  It’s a true part of the process in whatever you’re setting out to achieve to allow yourself – and anyone else involved – time to celebrate and acknowledge what’s been achieved.  Too often it’s straight on to the next challenge, well have a quick look Usain Bolt’s ‘happy dance’  after winning the 100M Gold and have a smile at his moment.  What’s something coming up for you which you’ll prepare to do your ‘happy dance’ about?
  8. Run – your own race.  I heard this phrase so often.  Rather than be pushed or mind-gamed by other athletes, the press, the crowd, you stick to your plan because it is your own race.  No one else has the same cards to play with as you and no one else wants the same things as you, they’re not you.  It’s obvious and it’s easy to forget. Whose race are you running and what’s it really about for you?

SynchroWith all the highs and lows, the twists and turns of our own day-to-day work, rest and play time, I believe Baz Luhrmann, the film director hits it squarely on the nose.

It’s as true for you as a career women as it is for an Olympian athlete.

“Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.  The race is long, but in the end it’s only with yourself.”

I always remind clients when they come to choice points  “You’re playing with your own hand of cards.  They’re different from everyone else’s.  Play yours.”

Connect and Compel As You Write

Write to engage and keep people’s attention – so many people do the opposite!

Think about how you write? Think about how you think about other people as you write – if you think about other people as you write?

It’s one of the easiest things to do – just quickly type or write what you ‘think’ needs to be said and give a ‘shoot from your fingertip’ response and assume that the other person/s will work it out. Well they may – and they may also get confused, upset, hurt or just ignore your message.

As successful professionals, everyday we’re writing – emails / promotional material / website updates / reports / executive summaries / slides / letters.

I’ve noticed something which really jumps out and it’s something you can easily take notice of as you write. People think that because they’re writing something it has to be written in a more formal, often ‘wooden’ style just because it’s in writing. Well it does – and it doesn’t.

Context is everything – most of the things we send out day-to-day can be written in a style closer to how you speak. Now you may speak in a “To Whom It May Concern” and “Notwithstanding the aforementioned” kind-of way. Well good luck if you do. I also understand that we still need to be respectful and make sure all the ‘meaty’ information is in there.

Most of the time, if you write letters, emails, website and marketing documents in this style then you’ve lost the reader at ‘Hello – or, if that’s your style, then you’ve lost them at “To Whom It May Concern”. You’d lose me, that’s for sure.

Something happens when someone starts to write, that often sends them in to using ‘you are’ instead of ‘you’re” and ‘we’re’ becomes ‘we are’ – it becomes more formal and less compelling because of it. Also, the crucial connecting words of you, your, our, suddenly turn into me, my, I, us and ‘we’. The readers feel excluded or talked-down-to or bored (or all three!)

I put it to you, if you can hold a conversation, if you can get your point across as you speak, chat – then you can write in the same way, there’s a style you have that’s yours and that’s how you can write. It is far more compelling to your reader than all the ‘stuffy’ stuff.

Warren BuffetHow can you do this easily? Here’s how:

The great investor Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway is renowned (apart from his billions of dollars) for putting together Annual Reports for his company investors which are easy to read and easy to understand.

There has to be formal layout in certain sections but in the parts where he tells the reader about developments, he writes as if he’s speaking to his sisters. He says they’re intelligent but are no experts in finance or accounting – “I don’t need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform.”

  • Who can you use in your head to speak to as you write? A client you know well, a friend of yours who’s interested in what you do, your partner or sibling? Just write it out as if you were chatting to them so you get it out of your head, then you can tweak and adjust to make sure you’ve got your point across. The key is to get it out of your head in a conversational way first
  • Think about what you’d want to read and the way you’d like to read it as if you were on the receiving end – what’s the difference?
  • Watch out for too many I, me, my – notice how you can flip them and make them your, you, you’re, our. It’s far more engaging to read and it helps you get into that crucial groove of thinking about the other person and what it is they want. Less about you, more about them.

Notice how you’re drawn in to certain people’s writing or companies’ websites and the effects they have on you; writing more like you speak and less like a competitor for the Formal Writing Trials is a skill. A skill which will mean more people read and connect with what you write and, the crucial bit, respond to you and what you want. Write on.

How often are you up close – and personal?

There’s no substitute for the ‘LIVE’ or personalised version of You

It’s easy to get lulled into this false sense of reality isn’t it?  Instead of picking up the phone to speak to someone, you drop them an email or send them a message or a text.  Instead of dropping someone a note, you can instant message, Skype message or send them an eCard.  Instead of going to a networking event, social gathering, exhibition or event, you can show up online.  All of these ways of being in touch, of showing up on the radar, are virtually instant and take very little effort.  They work too, to an extent.  There’s also a darker side too, a sense of disconnectedness.

What I also know to be true is this.  There is nothing like being there in-person, in-the-room and pressing the flesh with other people.  The energy, the sense of connectedness, the opportunity to take yourself out of your environment and put yourself in another, all adds to the mix and what comes out of that is so very different than being ‘virtual’.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m the first to enjoy, leverage and actively revel in all the gizmos and ways of working with people virtually.  It’s something I’ve come to love about working in this ‘small world’ way.  What is often underestimated though is how disconnected we can feel and be perceived, when we take ourselves,  our personalised selves, out of the mix – often without necessarily being conscious of it.

Let me ask you a few quick questions.

  • Have you ever emailed someone who’s in the same room/office as you because you can’t face or make time to go across and speak to them?
  • Have you ever emailed someone instead of calling them as an easy ‘get out’?
  • Have you ever texted someone a Thank You note instead of either calling or writing them a personal note?
  • Do you find yourself sending an ‘Apologies’ meeting alert rather than calling the person to say you can’t attend?
  • Have you ever wished you’d met up with someone in person sooner rather than wasting time going back/forth on email?

I know, like me, some – or all – of your answers will be a ‘Yes’.  I ask myself, just before sending an email or text, is this the best way to be in touch today?  Clients constantly tell me that they can’t “get people to do what they want them to” or  they struggle to get people to respond to them.  When pressed, it’s often because they lack connection with the other person/s.  That’s where the secret of ‘pressing the flesh’ or personalising can change things in an instant.

You don’t have to spend your life bouncing around the world on planes or being so busy going to meetings or writing notes you never give yourself time to implement or think.  No, of course not.

Here are a few starters for you if you decide to show up ‘personally’ more than you are.

  • When you go to email someone, pick up the phone and call instead.  Even if you leave a voicemail and send an email afterwards, you connected, you made the effort.  They hear your ‘real life’ voice.  It means something, to them.
  • Instead of sending an RSVP by email – call or drop a personal, hand-written note instead.  Your voice, your writing all counts more as you being ‘in person’.
  • When you look at an invitation and think “No, too busy” – just ask yourself “How can I make it work so I can go?” so you let people see you and be with you, as you with them.
  • When you do decide to show up in person, instead of hanging with people you know, challenge yourself to meet and greet at least 5 people you’ve never met before.  You only have to be open to asking them a few questions and, off you go!
  • When you’re with other people, be more interested in them, rather than being interested in them being interested in you.  That’s where the true magic is – they magically become more interested in you anyway – aha!

Daniel Goleman who wrote the transformational – and much quoted – book  ‘Emotional Intelligence’ says “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large.  But when we focus on others, our world expands.  Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  I believe he’s right.  A big piece of that is coming forward to make a personalised – not impersonalised – connection.  Go on, I dare you!

How To Get Your Message Across with a Story

A Simple Question to Ask Yourself

Think of any film you’ve seen that grabbed you.  What about a TV series you follow, or a book you read and re-read or share?  They’ll all have grabbed your attention and kept it with a story.  The story that’s threaded and woven throughout any attention-grabbing book or film is what we remember, long after the titles and credits.

Stories have the power to move us and make us act.  We all tell stories – to ourselves, to our friends and families and to our clients, customers and colleagues.  That phrase “so what’s the story on that?” – we want to know the story.  The facts are just that, basically a list of details or information.  The story is what makes the difference, how the facts are all pulled together and the ‘meaning’.  It sways people and is often the turning point as to if – and how – they take on and accept your message.

When you work with clients, customers or colleagues, or when you’re simply chatting with friends we’re always looking for stories to be able to use to convey a message.

Here’s a key question to ask yourself which helps pull out a story to use. ‘If you had to compare your message to something you’ve done in life, what’s it like?’  An analogy  – ‘a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification’ is a great way to start to build a story.  Always ask yourself “what’s this like?” and up will come the potential for your story.

3 quick examples for you:

  • A career – it’s like a journey – if you know where you’re going when you start out, it’s easier to get there.  If you just set off in any-old-direction, who knows where you’ll end up?
  • Running a business – it’s like bringing up a child – it’s a creation of your very own and you invest passion and love, boundaries and rules into the relationship.  You nurture it and want it to flourish and yet be independent of it sometimes too.
  • Preparing a presentation – it’s like putting on a show – a clear message and a purpose must be brought out quickly, the audience needs to be attracted to that message and know what’s in it for them and they want to be entertained by you.

Using stories to describe a message, to help people understand is one of the most time-tested ways of engaging others.  The facts stick and become more powerful when they’re used in a story. If you think about the audience and what you know about them, then express yourself with the “it’s like when you….” using something you know they do or experience, then you’re always going to be more engaging, memorable and influential than the person who lists a load of facts.

Think how as children we loved being told stories, ‘read me a story’ ‘tell me a story please’ – if you have children they probably ask you that now and remembering being a child, you’ll have loved hearing, reading and learning stories.  Why stop?  In truth, if you think about it, we still love being told a story and so does everyone else too.

So, what story do you have about telling stories?

Can you get to the point?

Keep attention, say your piece. Be clear.

We’ve all been there haven’t we?  Sat in meetings, in presentations, at lunches when someone has been rambling on or pontificating about something and we’ve asked ourselves ‘what’s your point?’ or ‘I wonder what the point is here?’  Well if you ever wonder that, everyone else does too – if, indeed, they’re still listening long enough to be wondering.

Do you find you ask someone a question and they explain and explain and tell you too much of the story?  In fact, they never answer the question. They often end up confusing themselves or forgetting what the question was in the first place.  They’ll also, most likely, lose your attention.  Well, if this sounds familiar to you as something you either experience or even do too, then I have a simple question for you to ask and a helpful, assertive way to ask it.  It’s a bit like a key which unlocks the point from the story.

It’s just the same if you ask someone something yourself.  If you come out with the actual question fairly quickly then the other person knows where you’re coming from.  They don’t have to sit wondering, with the twists and turns of your explanation, what your actual point is.   In the fast-paced world in which we live, now more so than ever, it’s easy to lose people’s attention.

Sometimes it really helps to ask yourself a question first – before you ask or approach anyone else.  The question you ask yourself is “In one sentence, what’s my point?” with the key part being ‘in one sentence’.  It enables you to grab, from all the stuff swimming about in your head, >> the point << .

We always know what it is when pressed like that and it’s a relief.  We say ‘well, I suppose it’s XYZ’ or ‘gosh, one sentence?  Well, it’s XYZ’.   That’s when we get what the point actually is, with no frills, no explanation or justification.  It’s then, with this in mind, we can approach what we want to say, ask, find out.

You can really save yourself a lot of time and help other people to ‘get to the point’ by asking them the same question; the difference being your approach.  You want to avoid closing them down by coming across as blunt or rude.  You need a few sparkly verbal garnishes or accessories, if you will, to ease the question across.

“Hey there Kristin, just so I can get clear with you what we’re thinking about, what’s the point please – in just one sentence?  It’ll help me to know if and how I can help you more quickly.”

3 key things to remember here:

  1. Position it as being helpful to you both “what we’re thinking about”
  2. Use their name and keep your tone light and friendly
  3. Your intention is to clarify, not to say “yes” or “no”, just to get clear

Ah, now we have it.  Now we can start to line up and sort – like a computer does – for what’s actually going on.

If you’re going too far into the story and explanation before you’ve got to your point and the fire alarm goes off or the phone rings, will people know what the point was of what you were saying?  That’s my point.

Let me know if and how this lands for you – in one sentence.Can’t wait to hear from you.

Tweak 2 letters and change everything

Plan 2013 for where you are and what you want now

Resolutions“Mind your Language” is a great piece of advice, truly mind it.  Think about the effect it has on you and then on those around you as you use it.  It’s one of my passions for my clients that they really “get” how important the words and phrases are they choose and then use.   If you have a sense though that you could be more influential, more engaging and inspiring to other people, then changing and updating your ‘script’ transforms the way you connect with people.  It’s like adding sparkly accessories to your message.

A few years ago, I read an article by John La Valle http://www.purenlp.com/ and John is, I believe, a true word-nerd.  A real wizard with the use of language and the difference it makes.  He wrote an article about changing our New Year’s Resolutions and swapping them for New Year’s Evolutions. 

Every year when someone asks me “so Kay, are you making any New Year’s Resolutions?” I take John’s advice and tell them “yes, but I make New Year’s Evolutions”.

Think about the word Resolution – looking in my trusty dictionary, it means “a firm decision to do or not to do something.  The action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter.”

When you pull it apart, re-solution becomes a solution, redone.  You know when you say it there’s a bit of resistance there.  Something you should be doing as opposed to something you want to do.  Something you’ve tried to do before and are trying to do again.

It’s so common to make a resolution to eat less, exercise more, spend less, save more, work less, be with family more – or sometimes the opposite!  You get the idea, though.

Now, think about the word Evolution – When you think of planning and committing to New Year’s Evolutions, there’s a different feel, a different energy about them with that word.  Again, from my trusty dictionary “Evolution – the gradual development of something.  Current senses stem from a notion of ‘opening out’ and ‘unfolding’ giving a rise to a general sense of development”.

2013Now with the word Evolution (remember, we only tweaked 2 letters) there’s a more forward motion to it, more of a sense of “Ok, for where I am now and for how I’ve developed now and what I want in my life now, this is what I want for 2013”.

Try putting down 5 New Year’s Evolutions for yourself and before you do, take a moment with these 5 steps to think about how you are “opening out”, “unfolding” and “developing”.

  1. Think about how your life was 2 years ago – at the beginning of 2011 – then think about what’s going on now and how things have evolved for you.
  2. What are the major changes that have happened? (pssst – there will be some major changes, I promise you.  It’s one of the few things we can guarantee in life, that things change.  We choose how we respond to those changes.)
  3. Next, consider what’s happening in each of these areas of your life – home / work / relationships /career / finances and ask yourself “what do I want to have more of AND less of in these areas now?”
  4. Here’s where your “New Year’s Evolutions” start to form. From where you are now, for the person you are now, for what you’re doing now.
  5. Put down the following words and then finish the sentence at least 5 times “For what I want now, in 2013 I will….”.

So, with two letters tweaked your Resolutions have become your 2013 Evolutions.

Interestingly, popping an R in front of them will change them even more dramatically- but that’s a whole other story, isn’t it?  Let me know what your Evolutions are if you’d like to – I’d love to hear from you and, I’ll respond with a couple of mine!

Move On When You’re Ready

How to avoid being stuck in a conversation

We’ve all been there haven’t we? You’re at a social function, a networking event, a business conference and your intention is to circulate, meet new people, catch up with colleagues and friends – and then you get stuck.

What started off as an exchange of ideas can then turn into a one-way or dead end street where someone goes from being interesting and helpful, for example, to dull and droning on.

Maybe they don’t value their time; they certainly don’t value yours. It’s an interesting conundrum. If you know you’re ready to move on and it’s time to get going, how do you politely, assertively and intentionally wind up that conversation and move on to your next one?

Firstly I put to you, there’s the ‘mind’ piece. If you know your intention is to meet people, to find out how people are doing, to contribute where you can and to show up in a way that means people remember you were there, well then that’s the first thing to keep in mind. You can also assume other people will have a positive intention similar to that. No-one’s ever going to say to you “Oh no, I only came here to bang on about myself, to tell people how great I think I am, try and sell everyone something and then to leave having met as few people as possible” – they just won’t ever say that, even if it is their intention. Unfortunately, some people, unconsciously or otherwise, do have that very intention and when you find yourself stuck it can be really tricky to move on without being rude or finding yourself apologizing.

To respectfully and assertively steer yourself away – and this works just as well socially as it does professionally – you need to be able to say a couple of things really clearly. So, I’ve chosen, from my extensive ‘treasure chest’ of ways and words, a simple example you can use straight away. Plus of course, the behind-the-curtain thinking in saying it.

It goes like this:

“Well, it’s been great chatting with you Jane/John and I know you’ll be wanting to chat with other people too so I won’t monopolise you any more and ABC etc.”

Behind-the-curtain thinking:

  • The word ‘Well’ immediately implies a change in rhythm or tempo is about to occur.
  • “It’s been great chatting with you” – you’re firmly putting it in the past tense.
  • “I know you’ll be wanting” tells the other person what you assume to be true and you’re presuming that their intention is to “chat with other people too”.
  • “I won’t monopolise you anymore” – this is where you take the responsibility for what could be happening but in reality, you’re ready to disengage. It’s both assertive and self-deprecating at the same time. A simple, savvy combination.
  • “and ABC…” is where you say what happens next – if anything. “and I’ll call you next week” or “and thanks for your advice” or “and enjoy the rest of your evening too”.

Well, now we can just move on. Bye.

Being Persuasive with your Pillow Talk

Be clear about what you say – people will love you for it

LightsIt’s so easy to lose your message, your audience, their attention, their trust by using ‘weasel’ words.  By using ‘gobbledeegook’ if you will – and it’s everywhere, like an epidemic.

With the pace of information being shared, the cultures which must be crossed and included in our messages, and the turbulent times we’re navigating at the moment, the need to be as clear as possible is more vital than ever.

Think about it for a moment.  When did you last say to your partner, as you were either in bed or getting ready for bed “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there”?  Well, I put it to you, in general, most partners would cross their eyes, turn over and wonder what language you’re suddenly speaking.

To use a lot of ‘corporate’ lingo, especially in times when people are concerned about what’s really going on, is a recipe for confusion, mistrust and – often – for being ignored.  It’s ironic really, people tend to use this sort of language to try to sound more knowledgeable, more ‘clever’ if you will. The opposite happens though.  People tune out, think about something else entirely, resent you for confusing them or making them feel ‘dumb’ – or are so busy trying to translate what’s being said they miss your point anyway.

Clapping PeepsIt’s a great way to translate some of the corporate gobbledegook you come across by asking yourself “What would I say to my partner/husband/wife about this?”

What you’ll find is that you naturally choose other words, more accessible, more everyday words.  Try a bit of  “Pillow Talk” with your team, with your marketing, when you’re making presentations or proposals.

You’ll be heard more easily and people will trust you and thank you for it.

3 ‘Quick & Dirty’ examples for you:

  1. “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there” becomes “we’ve got to get everyone meeting their targets so we can make the best of what’s happening in the market”
  2. “by the end of the next quarter the upsurge in uptake will maximise our position” becomes “with all these buyers, by the end of December we should be in a great position”
  3. “so to keep optimising the market diffusion we must keep thinking outside of the box to leverage this” becomes “hey, there’s a lot activity in our market, let’s keep our minds open and meet as often as we can to make the most of it”

Sometimes, we all have to use the ‘gobbledeegook’ or the Corporate-sounding name of something or expressions being used around us.  It’s a big part of being heard.  I worked on a project in my own corporate career called GROPE.  Enough said for a confusing, mixed message-style name which no one really understood!

What you can do as well to make sure you’re understood at the same time is to use these 3 simple and subtle expressions to make sure the point gets across and translates the ‘blah’ language into your Pillow Talk:

  1. “and by that I mean….”
  2. “or in other words….”
  3. “but you could also say …..”

They’re simple, savvy, subtle and they work.

Let me know your thoughts about this tricky old subject below. I’d love to hear from you.