Who’s Responsible for the Toner?

When I’m standing at the copier and noticing that the black and white copies are beginning to fade into nothingness,  my first question is always, “who’s responsible for the toner?”

When I am communicating with others, guess what? I am responsible for the toner!  My vocal inflection and tone will color everything.  Even if I’m not upset specifically with the person in front of me – they may think that I am because of my tone of voice.  

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Pass the Peas, Please

CollaborationCollaboration is first experienced when that tiny spoon comes toward your face, filled with creamed peas and mashed turkey.  The spoon moves here and the mouth moves there.  Sometimes like a game and other times – just a sure miss calculation of time and space.

Well, I do have good news.

Collaboration remains as vital now as it was back then. Think about it. How many hours of our professional lives do we spend working with others in a meeting, on a project, or in a presentation? At times collaboration comes easily, and at other times … peas all over our face.

As much as we’d like to be born with it, skilled collaboration takes practice.
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Improv for Business is Like Ballet for Football – the high achievers realize they need cross training for outstanding performance.

For speakers, managers, team leads – and all who have to communicate with others – improv, or improvisational, skills are essential. And we want to make a clear distinction that improv is not simply “winging” it or “talking off the cuff”.

View our video on the “Mind the Gap” concept here

It is being present and flexible in the moment – listening and responding to the needs of the situation. Being excellent at improv takes practice.

Improv for Business GlassesWhy improvisation? Why are business schools incorporating improv into the curriculum?

In business it pays to be nimble with our thoughts, decisions and responses.

Improvisation is about learning to be in the moment, quick on the uptake, and flexible.

Business training realizes it has a great deal to learn from the arts.  Improv troupes and jazz musicians understand that improvisation is about knowing your subject so well that you can move without a script, handle variations, and play with embellishment while still having the tune recognizable.

In business, listening is absolutely essential. Improv seems like it can be all about the quick come back or retort.  Yet, phenomenal listening skills are the foundation to that response.  What do master improv actors and highly successful business people have in common? They excel at listening and observing.   (more…)

Are You Suffering From the “Bullet Point Effect”?

The need for good communication skills is heightened during the holiday season, as are the many opportunities at parties and events to show off these skills.

One holiday that I continue to love is Thanksgiving. My passion for it began as a child. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning with the aroma of pumpkin bread wafting through the house. I’d spend the morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—the signal to me that the holiday season had officially begun. Soon would come myriad parties, presents, and goodies to share with family and friends.

Bullet Point Communication Effect by ARTiculate: Real&ClearI discovered that to be well-prepared for the holiday season requires one essential ingredient: lists.

Lists of ingredients we need to bake the treats, lists of gifts to give, lists of parties to attend, guests to invite, and more.

The tradition of making lists is one that continues to be part of my everyday life, since lists are a great tool for staying on track. But what happens when we communicate like a list? Well, that’s where the fun ends.

I call this the Bullet Point Effect.

  • Here’s the issue: When we are writing an email or talking over the phone or even in person, sometimes we are moving so fast that we are only communicating the practical business of the conversation.
  • Here’s the problem: In the “Bullet Point Effect,” we jump right to the point of the conversation. We may think that we are being efficient and effective, while others are experiencing our conversation or email as disconnected and uncaring.

  Click here to watch more video tips from ARTiculate: Real&Clear

Bullet point lists can keep us on track, but they don’t foster trust. For example, I was recently talking with a client who said he wanted his new employees to feel that he was approachable. When we dove deeper into his communication style, he realized that he was an expert in bullet point communication. While he felt it was efficient, he also realized his pointed delivery didn’t allow time for any connection.

We agreed that without that essential connection, it is difficult to develop trust. And without trust, it is even harder to establish employee buy-in.

If you are a bullet point person and communicate in lists, try shifting your approach:

  • Be friendly. A warm greeting is always beneficial, whether in person, over the phone, or in email. Connect on a personal level beyond the business topic at hand. If you aren’t good at making small talk, practice this with friends or a coach.
  • Approach gently. Once a connection is established, guide listeners to the topic of the conversation with ease. For instance, you could say something like this: “I know that you have been working hard on project X, and I’d appreciate hearing your findings.”
  • Be transparent. If you know that your communication style is “bulleted,” let others know that you are aware this is your style—and that your intent is not to put them off. Give them permission to tell you if they need more details or guidance around projects. You don’t have to change your style, but you do need to acknowledge that others communicate differently and may need more connection.
  • Remember, communication is about making a connection. And connections create trust so that others are willing to follow where you are trying to go—ultimately, to a place that is mutually beneficial. When you are clear about your intentions, it allows others to approach you comfortably when they have a question or a problem that needs your input.

The Bottom Line

While our bulleted lists may give all the information that we need to move forward, they may not provide all the detail that others need to understand our goals.

Filling in the spaces or expanding bullet point conversations will make it more likely that what you say is heard, and that will benefit you, your team, and your organization as a whole.

So this holiday season, if you are bullet point person, get into the holiday spirit and try something new. When you do, I’m confident that the project, interaction, and goal of your conversations will turn out like my grandmother’s Cherry Chocolate Cake, which I bake each Christmas—delicious, beautiful to look at, and everyone comes back for seconds.

By Robin A. Miller, PhD, COO/Lead Coach, with Hilary Blair, Head ARTiculator and Lead Coach

This article was originally posted on BeInkandescent.com in December 2014.

Stand Up, Take a Deep Breath, and Develop Your Public Speaking Potential

Close your eyes and imagine:

  • You are a fabulous speaker and communicator.
  • You love sharing who you are and your ideas.
  • You can feel the audience “with” you when you speak.
  • You can feel the meeting going really well.
  • You can feel the agreement from the whole room as you finish speaking.

Now open your eyes. Was that all just a dream? Yes—and no.

  • Yes, it may be in your imagination.
  • And no, because you truly have access to it.
  • This is your potential.

Develop Your Potential by ARTiculate: Real&ClearHere’s why.

I’m a coach. Developing the potential in my clients is what I do on a daily basis. As a result, when I look into someone’s eyes, I don’t just see what is before me. I see all that they can be. In fact, I see them already being exactly where they are going to end up. Pretty cool, right?

Case in point: I recently worked with a client who came to me with solid confidence, but underdeveloped speaking skills. She could sense a disconnect between what she was doing and what she could be doing. It was invigorating to give her specific suggestions to guide her. It didn’t take long for her ability to communicate clearly to skyrocket. We both knew she had potential. Now, she’s living up to it.

What do you do if you don’t have access to a public speaking coach?

Coaches come in all forms, and many people who know and love you can help you find ways to communicate more clearly.

Public speaking is an exercise that is part mental and part physical. Athletes know that to improve their performance they have to cultivate the right attitude, and reinforce it by practicing and ratcheting up the reps.

The same is true for those who aspire to improve their public speaking abilities. The idea to keep in mind is this: You gotta think it, and you gotta practice it, so you that good communication skills become part of your muscle memory.

Remember this: Don’t let anyone psyche you out. It continues to amaze and sadden me how severely others can tear us apart and shut us down. Sometimes we may not even realize that subtle negativity has seeped in and eaten away at our confidence.

  Click here to watch more video tips from ARTiculate: Real&Clear

The first step is to realize how phenomenal you already are!

Now stand up, take a deep breath, and unlock your potential:

  • Identify someone who sees your potential. It could be you, a friend, a professional coach—or all three! Be really sure they are on your side—ask them what they see in you, and if you agree, enlist their guidance.
  • Identify and reinforce the skills you have. You will need a lot of practice and repetition to reinforce what is working.
  • Leave behind old ideas of who or what you thought you should be. Shed those restrictions and step into who you know you are. Some of those restrictions could be in the form of rules around how to speak, what to speak about, and whom to speak to. They might even be constraining your notion of what you should wear.
  • Now, find a “sandbox,” any place you feel comfortable, and practice your speaking skills. Play, build, knock it down, and play again.

Your potential is right there waiting for you to develop it. Make room in your heart, mind, and life to be the best you possible.

Now go back to the top of this article and read those five affirmations again. It’s not just a dream. It’s your future self.

By Hilary Blair, Head ARTiculator and Lead Coach, with Robin A. Miller, PhD, COO/Lead Coach

This article was originally posted on BeInkandescent.com in October 2014.

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