Tag Archive for Communication Articles

Communication and Your Customers – 5 Tip-Top Tips

Short and sweet communication nuggets. Get into the customer communication game with these tips:

  • Business etiquette plus positive personality equals excellent customer service. Think Zappos!
  • Would you do business with you? Spend time being your customer, evaluate everything from reputation to referrals.
  • Make these ABCs essential to your business–Articulate what you do clearly and concisely, Build Rapport first, Confidence is what people notice first–own it!
  • Make listening easy for your customers–eliminate communication barriers. Take a moment to find out what might be in the way–an accent, speech pattern, distracting gestures…etc. and vow to banish it so you can be heard.
  • No matter what you are selling–ask for the sale. It’s a disservice to your customer if you don’t.

That’s today’s quick tips–add one of your own in the comments.

These tips and more like them can be found in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Pick up a copy today–you owe it to yourself. Click the book image on the right or go to Amazon.com. Don’t forget to pick up your 6 Part Audio Series, “The Power of Effective Communication” it’s FREE.

Are You a Time-Starved Communicator?

Even though we live in an age with more communication tools than ever (Facebook, email, Twitter, texting), we are not necessarily more connected with the people around us.

Many of us yearn to be more connected with our loved ones and friends. In addition, we long for more effective and efficient communication in the workplace. The amount of busyness in a person’s life can hinder their ability to communicate effectively–creating costly misunderstandings.

Here are some tips to help you if you are a time-starved communicator.

1. Make a list of the most important people in your life personally and professionally–and keep your priorities straight! Note which people you would like to connect with on a deeper level.

2. Next to each name make a note about the frequency and type of your currently communications. e.g. Boss: daily email status update and a 15 min. phone meeting once a week.

3. Notice how frequently your communication is face-to-face and how often it is electronic.  (This might an eye opener.)

4.  Now substitute one electronic communication with a face-to-face conversation. Get up and go to your boss with your update. Vow to speak with your kids for ten minutes before bedtime. Give your spouse 215-20 minutes of undivided attention nightly. If face-to-face is not an option then try a phone call over an email.

5. Be intentional about your communication–really consider how you could up level your connection with this person.

Ultimately, increasing your face-to-face communication will actually save you time by avoiding misunderstandings and  help create deeper relationships.

Get more tips on effective communication in my book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. (works at home too!) Buy it Amazon.com

Invitation for Communication

More quick tips from Misunderstood!: The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up (Volume 1)

Communication Begins Before You Start Speaking

Communication starts before you begin speaking. If you find that you’re frequently misunderstood then it’s time you take a look at yourself for the problem.

You must consider how your listener might be filtering your message. Is there a language barrier? If  your listener speaks a different language interpreting your message may lag behind the pace of your speaking.

Do you have different cultural backgrounds, religion, education or positions? These differences could color the way your message is received.

Is your listener emotionally stable or distracted by a physical ailment? He or she may find it difficult to focus on your conversation. Do you like each other? If not, everything you say may be heard in a negative light.

Practice observing your listener for signs of confusion. Check to see if your message will pass through the receiver’s filters and still be understood as you intended.  Be a responsible communicator to avoid misunderstandings.

From  my new book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up — coming soon. Watch for it. In the meantime, get your FREE 6-part audio series, The Power of Effective Communication simply by entering your name and email in the box to your right.

Effective Communication Tips from Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work

LISTENING WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH AND EMOTIONS ARE RUNNING DEEP

One if the most difficult listening skills to master is the ability to allow another to vent completely before you offer advice, coaching, solutions or comfort. 

It takes fortitude to listen to complaints and grievances. 

The last thing most people want to do is ask a distraught or upset person if there is anything more they want to say….BUT , you must!

Yikes! Who wants to hear more whining, groaning, complaining or tales of woe.  As painful as it sounds, you must take the time to ensure the emotional storm has passed.

Jumping in to speak (even if there has been a long pause), before the last bit of sticky trash has come unstuck from the bottom of the barrel ensures you won’t be heard.  It’s  akin to  pouring clean water atop a thin layer of mud and expecting it to remain clean and  pristine. Not going to happen.

So you must ask, “Is there anything more?”  And if there is, you must listen and then ask again. Not until the answer is a resounding (even if whispered), “no–that’s it” can you offer your thoughts.

Try it. It works.

Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up is now available at Amazon. Pick up a copy and get your bonuses–today! In the meantime, get your FREE 6-part audio series, The Power of Effective Communication simply by entering your name and email in the box to your right.

Communication Skills – Keep Cool Under Pressure

Feedback–How to Provide Positive Gift-Giving Phrases

Sometimes giving positive feedback is as challenging as giving negative feedback. The difficulty is sounding positive and specific not just enthusiastic and generic.  Everyone is in the position to offer “gift-giving phrases”–boss to employee, co-worker to co-worker, salesperson to customer, parent to child, spouses, partners and so on.

Here are a few gift-giving phrases: (be specific with the details)

  • You really made a difference by ___( sharing your expertise, pitching in to help…)
  • I’m impressed with your____( ability to handle angry customers, insight into this project…)
  • You got my attention with___( your interpretation of the research…)
  • You can be proud of yourself for___(handling that misunderstanding with diplomacy….)
  • One of the things I enjoy most about you is___(your ability to make others feel good…)

Share your own gift-giving phrases below.

Want more communication tips you can use immediately? First, put your name and email in the boxes in the upper right and get your Free 6 part audio series on communication. Second, pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Lastly, give someone a gift today by using one of the phrases above. You’ll make the world a better place.

Communication– The “Keep Your Cool” Formula – 3 Easy Steps

Sometimes it helps to have a quick formula that’s easy to remember, easy to post where you can see it and easy to implement. In touchy communication situations when emotions might thwart clear thinking try these 3 steps:

1. Observation – Observe the pace, voice, eye-contact and posture of your listener. Pay attention to emotions, intentions, and any mental or physical distractions. Match and step it down if emotions are high.

2. Adaptation – Shift your style to communicate in the way your listener likes to communicate. A small adjustment now saves time, money and effort later.

3. Confirmation – Verify that the translation and comprehension of your message matches your intention. (and be honest about your intention-is it aligned to your highest self?)

Ready for more tips you can use? Just enter your name and email in the boxes to your upper right and get FREE Instant Access to your 6-Part Audio Series – The Power of Effective Communication now. Go. 6 short audios that can change the way you communicate. or CLICK HERE

Embarrassing Conversations-Handle with Creative, Empathic Solutions

Difficult conversations come in all shapes and sizes. Handling them effectively means you will need an arsenal of clever, creative, and direct solutions. The most challenging conversations seem to be the ones involving personal habits. Handling poor performance, unacceptable behavior or a firing are often easier than handling conversations about inappropriate clothing, bad breath or body odor. These conversations tend to go one of two ways-both come with the possibility of embarrassment for both parties.

The first response from the offender upon notification is gratitude. Clueless to their own awareness, your conversation suddenly creates an epiphany about their affect on others. The change is made and no further conversations are required. The alternate response is denial, defense and anger. The key is to keep a neutral, non-judgemental but empathic voice focused on the desired change. Refrain from downplaying or diluting the offense as this may appear as a reprieve. Allow some venting, request the change, repeat if necessary, and name the consequence if the change does not occur.

Challenging as these conversations are with co-workers they leap into another stratosphere when they involve customers. While managing an upscale home furnishings store in the south, it was not uncommon for customers to shop in casual, warm-weather clothing. On this particular day a woman came in and explained that her mother and aunt were going to stay outside and enjoy the sun while she shopped. What she failed to explain was that her elderly and obese relatives had stripped down to bikini tops and short-shorts and plopped themselves down on the curb blocking the walkway to the entrance. I mean no disrespect to the weight and chronologically challenged as this behavior would be just as unacceptable even for nubile teens. But the grey hair and rubbery rolls of exposed and sweat-glistened flesh created a visual assault seemingly offensive to some of our regular design clients, whom voiced their displeasure at having to view and alter their path to get around the sun bunnies.

Horrified, my staff paged me and pleaded for immediate action. I must admit I was a bit stumped as to how to best approach this situation. I could invite them inside to enjoy the air conditioning but on second thought, did I really want to showcase this spectacle sitting on a four-thousand dollar loveseat? No-I needed to come up with another solution. My staff was now staring at me wondering how exactly I was going to approach our sun-bathing beauties. I took a deep breath, put on a big smile and walked towards the curb squatters, still not quite sure what was going to come out of my mouth.

“Hello, ladies. I see you’re enjoying the sunshine and I wish I could join you. But, I can’t imagine this curb is too comfortable so I’m going to suggest you enjoy the lovely picnic table our neighbor has put out for his customers to enjoy. Let me give you a hand getting up.”

It worked like a charm and they were grateful for my extended hospitality. Lucky for us the neighbor location was fifty feet away on the other side of a slight ravine. Problem solved. Back inside the store my staff, whom had watched in amazement as I dislodged the offenders, begged me to tell them what I said. I told them. The lesson here is to keep smiling, align yourself in a relatable way (“wish I could join you”) and have a solution that suits everyone.

Post your funny, embarrassing story and solution.

Download your Free 6-part Audio Series – The Power of Effective Communication now.  Just enter your email  in the box to your upper right or go to http://www.communicationskillssuccess.com

Workplace Communication—7 Steps to Turn Resistance into Cooperation and Gain Respect

Employee resistance to change in the workplace is nothing new. Leaders and managers accept the pushback that comes when rolling out new procedures, changes in operations, shifts in hours, status, or even the loss of a prime parking space. How you deal with resistance makes the difference between gaining cooperation and respect and being viewed as an uninvolved, autocratic administrator.

Whether the resistance comes from a single dissenter or an entire department, use the following steps to gain cooperation:

Step1. Clearly state what you want, when you want it and how it will affect individual jobs. Use a firm but neutral or positive tone of voice. Refrain from conveying disappointment, anger or defeat. Your particular situation or location will dictate the appropriate vocal expression.

Step2. Decide beforehand how much time you will allot to objections, groaning and griping. Inform the person or team you are addressing about the time limit. Let them vent.

Step 3. Listen to understand concerns. What underlying emotions are behind the complaints? What are the real fears behind the protests? Often the real fears will not be voiced in the initial session and until further questioning your understanding may be based on false assumptions.

Step 4. Check your perceptions by reflecting back your understanding of the concerns. Do not allow another round of protests, rather simply check for confirmation.

Step 5. If appropriate, ask for suggestions. Not every circumstance will allow for this but to the degree that employees feel engaged in the process the quicker the cooperation. Once again, do not allow suggestions to go on forever and keep the conversation on suggestions only—not grousing. Be involved. Listen and list possibilities without judging. Put it all down. Be open to viable proposals.

Step 6. Suggest a review or an opportunity to revisit the impact of the change after a test run or implementation. This is a good practice to put into place whenever a new procedure or shift has taken place, regardless of the initial response. Small changes made at this re-visit may prevent a complete breakdown if left unchecked. This is also an excellent opportunity to increase face-time, engage employees and learn something new.

Step 7. If these steps fail, explain the costs of noncooperation. Change is what makes an organization stay competitive, robust and profitable. Dissenters may be in the wrong position or job so act accordingly.

Cooperation comes when people know and feel they are part of something bigger. Employees know that changes occur but welcome the opportunity to influence the outcome and success. However, just because you communicate openly and involve employees by asking for suggestions, does not mean they make the final decision. Be a leader—listen, learn and them implement.

Now get your FREE 6-Part Audio Series – The Power of Effective Communication.  For more tips like the ones above pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. People love the insights and easy to apply techniques.