Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beware the Shiny Objects

Does the grass always look greener...I had a lot of fun this week at a business event watching people who were fully engaged in conversation with a great contact one minute, lose focus when a suspected good contact walked by.

Maybe it is like texting and driving, with short attention spans the temptation to be distracted is large.

Respecting the person that you’re with and keeping your attention front and center is very important when networking. Your considerate focus communicates volumes about your committed interest. Additionally, the better your attention to this conversation the quicker you can move on to the next.

Avoid striking out, keep your eye on the ball, not the shiny objects!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are You Being Heard? Choosing How to Communicate

Do you remember the kid’s game Telephone? By playing Telephone we learned that the more removed the receiver is from the communicator the more the story changes. Like Telephone, filtered or distant communication can often leave the receiver with a different view than was intended by the sender. These misunderstandings can inadvertently cause relational stress and reduced trust.

Every study of non-verbal communication since the 1960’s has validated the importance of tone and body language over the spoken or written words used when accurate communication is important.

Based on this, when we’re aiming to build relationships the most preferred modes of communication are:

  1. In person, face-to-face
  2. Via video with sound - use tools like Skype or Google Hangout
  3. Audio - use the phone or voice-mail
  4. And lastly, via text - such as email and memo

Email is a great tool for saying “yes” or “no,” but when you’re looking to be understood nothing comes close to the effectiveness of face-to-face.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Cost of Assuming Wrong

Has anyone ever responded in a aggravated way to you without knowing all of the facts? Sure it’s happened to all of us. Maybe they misunderstood what was to be delivered, maybe they didn't see the extra services that you performed, or maybe they got their information 2nd or 3rd hand. In any regard they made an incorrect assumption and as a consequence they blamed you.

Have you ever assumed incorrectly in a similar way and blamed someone else? Our court system is filled with people who have assumed wrong. It is almost impossible not too...I am not proud to say this, but I know I’ve assumed wrong and laid blame prematurely many times.

In our fast paced world the speed at which we are being required to make decisions continues to accelerate. Through this process, it is sometimes just easiest to assume the worst of someone.

This ready, fire, aim reaction when we assume has a dramatic effect on relationships and trust. Our aggressive and ego centered communication builds walls where we should be building bridges.

Take a moment and imagine the last time that you thought the worst about someone. You now see them somehow messing up and you see the challenge that it causes you. Even if you have all of the facts, do you think they started their day by saying “I am going to really mess up today and cause challenge for someone important to me”?

What would change if we assumed that the people around us have the best intent not the worst? Would our relationships improve? Would we build trust? It would be nice to find out wouldn’t it? We’re not going to perfect, but let’s do a lot better.

For more information on building trust read Elements of Building Trust or When Trust Breaks Down There are 5 Rules.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Playing Hurt

Presenteeism is a new term created by human resource professionals to describe individuals who are physically present at work, but because of some personal issue such as sickness or family distraction they are not mentally attentive at work.

While “showing up” at networking events is the first step to success, making sure that you aren’t just present will significantly improve your results when it is your turn to play hurt. Do these three things to give yourself a quick attitude adjustment before entering the meeting:

  • Identify who you want to meet by name or discipline
  • Rehearse how you’re going to introduce yourself at least twice
  • Take three relaxing deep breaths and get in the game

When you are meeting new people you want your “A” game and sometime that requires playing hurt. When you have time to reflect, after the event, you’ll be very glad that you made the extra effort.