Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

Increase Your Influence – Before the Meeting Even Starts!

Pamela Jett, CSP

Slide1Would you like to be taken more seriously by your leader?  Are you looking to enhance your influence and make a bigger impact on your organization’s goals and objectives?  Are you seeking to attain the attention, authority, and respect you have earned? Would you like others. especially your leaders, to see you as a motivated, engaged, and high-value team player who is ready to take on even more opportunities?

If so, meetings and other group conversations present a fabulous opportunity to shine.  Chances are, you are doing the basics:

  • You are well prepared.
  • You participate readily and with confidence.
  • You follow-up on your action items.
  • You are supportive and open-minded to the contributions of others.
  • You stay focused on the subject at hand and don’t engage in disruptive behaviors.

However, are you making the most of the opportunity to shine even before the meeting starts? Here are some powerful strategies to leverage.

  • Words to choose and words to lose. Stop using the phrase “I have to go to a meeting” and change it to “I get to go to a meeting.”  When you use the phase “have to” it makes it sound like it is something you don’t want to do.  It can give the impression that others choose for you and you are not empowered or in charge of your own choices.  It might even signal to some that you have a “victim mentality.”  When you make the small change and start to say “I get to” you send a message that you are excited and are glad to be part of the meeting.  You sound empowered, positive, and engaged.  This is a small change that can make a big difference in how you are perceived by others.  Be intentional in your word choice because words matter.
  • Get on the agenda.  Not every meeting or conversation has an agenda (although most meetings ought to if they want to be effective.)  When there is an agenda, maximize that opportunity.  If you have a proposal you want to make, a question you would like to pose, or solution to a problem, or any other meaningful contribution you want to make during the meeting, contact the person running that meeting and ask for some agenda time.  They may not give it to you. However, simply asking shows that you are engaged and ready to participate proactively.  This is especially important if the person running the meeting is your leader.  Don’t wait for them to assign you something.  Be proactive.  Ask yourself, “what meaningful contribution to this meeting can I make?”  And, ask for agenda time if appropriate.  Even if you opt not to ask for agenda time, asking yourself “what meaningful contribution can I make?” can help position you to participate in a meaningful and impactful ways. When I work with executives who are looking for their team members to enhance their communication skills, one of the #1 requests is “please help my team members take more initiative, take more ownership, be more proactive.”  Get on the agenda and you will be demonstrating leadership abilities and be seen as more proactive and engaged.
  • Arrive early.  There are many good reasons to be slightly early to every meeting.  You minimize the risk of arriving late due to be waylaid in the hallways.  You increase the chances of getting a good seat in the room. You will be seen as reliable, respectful, and engaged.  And, you can leverage those few minutes to your advantage.  Put away the cell phones (even if you are standing in the hall waiting for the conference room to be vacated by the previous occupants) and engage in conversation with others who have arrived.  Stop texting and introduce yourself to people you may not know.  Ask a colleague how a project is progressing.  Make small talk.  Look people in the eye.  Smile. Be friendly.  Be professional. Be present.  You will create a memorable impression by having short conversations with those around you. Building your professional network is important and meetings are a great place to do so.  Get to know people and you can easily do that in 5 minutes or so when you arrive early.

Meetings present a tremendous opportunity for you to shine.  Make the most of the opportunities you have to communicate in a confident, professional, and engaged fashion.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

 

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Help Your Team “Manage Up”

Slide1We’ve all heard the phrase “manage up.”  It’s an easy way of referring to how professionals communicate and interact with their leader for maximum effectiveness.  When I conduct leadership training sessions or workshops, one of the most popular discussions often revolves around how to more effectively “manage up.” For example, leaders are eager to discover ways to deliver information to their leaders that increase the chance of a favorable response.  Professionals are constantly seeking guidance on how to more effectively gain their leader’s support and confidence.

There is a great opportunity here for us, as leaders, to help our team members “manage up” or to more effectively communicate with us.  When was the last time you shared with your team members how you would like them to manage you? When was the last time you shared with them how you like information to be conveyed to you? Have you taken the time to evaluate how you want people to approach you and have you shared that insight with your team members? Are you aware of your idiosyncrasies or pet peeves and have you made your team members aware of those?

Here are a few areas where giving your team members insight into how to manage you can be helpful:

  • Do you prefer electronic or face-to-face communication?
  • Is that preference the same across all types of situations or do you prefer urgent issues to be managed differently?
  • Do you want a high-level overview of a topic first or do you prefer people to dive into the details right away?
  • Do you typically need time to ponder things or are you quick to come to a decision?
  • How do you like people to take initiative? Do you want them to act and then review with you or come up with a plan you can preview?
  • How do you like to handle questions/interruptions?  Do you want them one at a time or have people “batch” things for a longer conversation?
  • Do you need a few minutes when you arrive every morning to get settled or can you dive right in?
  • Do you want people to schedule time with you or try to catch you on the fly?
  • When a problem happens, how do you want to be informed?
  • How much information do you need when you ask someone to “keep you in the loop?”

This is a “starter” list of issues to consider.  I am confident you will come up with many others.

Help your team members succeed with you by helping them learn what you prefer. Don’t make them guess or have to discover the answer by trial and error. Practice assertive communication and let them know how to effectively manage you.

How else can you help your team manage you? If you have any other areas where insight would be helpful, share them in the comments section.

 

If you could benefit from learning more communication skills like these to be a better leader, team member, and top performer, join us for a webinar on Best Kept Communication Secrets August 18th.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

You might also enjoy:

5 Signs You’re a High Caliber Communicator

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Are You Driving Your Leader Crazy?

 

stressed leaderIn my work with C-Suite level executives and other leaders I often have candid conversations about what they appreciate in their employees and what drives them a bit crazy about their employees. Here is a quick look at a few of the “crazy makers.”

  • Not getting to the point fast enough. While most leaders genuinely want to listen to their employees and sincerely care about their employee’s opinions and ideas, they are also typically pressed for time and need employees to make it quick. You might be driving your boss crazy if you are not focused, if you beat around the bush, or give too much irrelevant (from the boss’s perspective) detail. Get to the point. Be direct and focused on sharing key points. That will get you heard.
  • Not having “enterprise” perspective. Perspective matters. Do you view things simply through the lens of your own experience? Do you tend to view things solely through the lens of your current position or job description? If so, you might be driving your boss crazy due to lack of “enterprise” perspective. While good leaders understand that you might not have access to all the information and details they have and that you might not have the same “enterprise” level perspective they do, leaders are looking for people who can see beyond their own job titles or experiences. They value employees who think and communicate about things that make a difference to the big picture – enterprise level thinking. If you can tie your contributions to big picture goals or enterprise level thinking, you will gain more attention, authority, and respect.
  • Not having confidence. Hesitation when you speak (including “ums” and “ahs”), hedges such as “kind of” and “sort of,” and/or constantly asking for permission or approval instead of taking initiative can give the impression that you are not confident. You might be driving your boss crazy if you use a weak or approval seeking communication style. Great leaders are always looking for those they can groom or those who are ready to take the next step. Don’t sabotage your success simply by not communicating in a confident manner. Purge your communication of weak or wishy-washy language and be seen as someone with tremendous potential.

Avoiding these “crazy makers” can lead to greater success at work and a leader who views you as a confident, business savvy, and effective communicator.

For more powerful communication resources, visit Pamela’s success store.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

You might also enjoy:

Boost Leadership and Communication Skills with the Power of Perspective

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Trigger Understanding – Not Defensiveness

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Want to Be a Better Leader? Stop Solving Problems.

team problem solvingDo you want to be a better leader? Would you like to be the kind of leader that others like to work with and for? Do you want to lead a team that is engaged and collaborative? Are you looking to enhance buy-in and commitment to projects? If so, here is a rather counterintuitive recommendation.

Stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver and start being a problem giver.

Great leaders know that people are more committed to solutions and plans when they have an active role in creating them. Great leaders know that people like their own ideas the most and strive to let team members participate in problem solving as much as possible. There is wisdom in sharing with your team the problem as you perceive it and turning them loose to come up with creative and insightful solutions.

Obviously, this approach requires trust in your team. The good news is that when you turn problems over to your team, they will feel that trust and often rise to the occasion.  This approach also requires that you are able to instill critical thinking skills within your team so that the solutions they present are realistic and take into account constraints such as budgets, time, policies, etc….

Turning a problem over to your team doesn’t mean that you abandon your leadership role. Your role will be to guide. Ask open-ended questions such as, “How will you handle x?” or, “What’s the timeline look like?”  Asking smart questions of your team members and allowing them to answer, instead of answering those questions for them, allows your team members to develop their critical thinking skills. This will help them grow and develop as professionals.

When you stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver and start being a problem giver you also increase your return on talent investment. Each team member has unique strengths, talents, insights, experiences that they can put to good use in your organization if given a chance.  They will come up with powerful solutions that may never have crossed your mind. And, they will be more committed to implementing those solutions.

What problem are you currently facing that you could turn over to your team or a team member? Start small if this is a new approach for you.  Build trust as you build skills.  Give your team members a chance to be the problem solvers and experience greater buy-in, commitment and employee engagement.

For more powerful communication resources, visit Pamela’s success store.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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A Powerful Assertiveness Secret

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Are You Sabotaging Your Business Presentations?

Slide1Delivering a presentation can be a pivotal career opportunity.  It is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and value to your organization.  It can improve visibility, providing exposure to key decision makers and influencers within and without your organization. It is an opportunity most professionals want to maximize. We want to do everything we can to increase our likelihood of success and to avoid those things that can sabotage our success.

In the over 20 years I’ve been a keynote speaker and communication skills expert, I have had the opportunity to conduct numerous presentation skills workshops for organizations around the globe. Here are four things that you might be doing with your presentations that might be sabotaging or limiting your success.  Take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I sabotaging my business presentations?”

  • Starting with creating your slide deck.  This is a mistake.  Slides are visual aids or visual support for the content of your presentation.  They are NOT the presentation.  Many professionals sit down to create a presentation and open up their slide creation software right away. They have NO IDEA what their main points will be. They have NO CONCEPT of the order in which to present those main points.  Expert presenters take the time to outline their presentation before creating slides.  They are then able to use the slides strategically as support for their content.
  • Only reviewing slides on your computer.  This can completely destroy your credibility during a presentation. Take the time to actually project your slides (preferably in the room in which you will be presenting.)  It is amazing how font size that looks perfectly reasonable when you view it from your computer screen is COMPLETELY UNREADABLE when people try to view it sitting around the boardroom table.  Color and contrast that looks reasonable on your computer can completely fail when projected.  Check your slides as they will be viewed, not just on your computer.
  • Confusing review with practice. This is a very common error.  Reviewing your presentation is great, but it doesn’t replace practice. Review happens when you sit at your desk and go over your slides and think about what you will say in your mind. Review happens when you go over your presentation in your head on your commute. Review is helpful. And, review is NOT practice. Practice is when you actually speak, out loud. When you stand up and deliver, out loud, the content you have created and reviewed. The best presenters try to practice in the room (or similar) to where they will be presenting.  Nothing replaces practice. It is during practice that you may realize your presentation is too long or too short. It is during practice that you might discover that some words and phrases that flow when written down are difficult to say out loud. It is during practice that you can become so familiar with your material that you can confidently present it when the time comes. There is no substitute for practice.
  • Reading from your slides. This sends a message that you are not prepared. That you are not an expert. That you don’t value your audience’s time. Practice and stop being slide-dependent.
  • Too much text on slides. Are your slides so text-heavy that they can’t be read?  Are your slides so jammed with content that nothing stands out? Remember, slides are not the presentation. Not everything you say needs to be on a slide. Slides are support for the presentation. More pictures, less text, is a good guideline.  If you MUST deliver lots of text, data, or information in your slides because your audience expects to have them as reference, consider having a “presentation deck” and a “reference deck.” You can give the audience the reference deck and present from the presentation deck.
  • Winging it. This is often the challenge of the over-confident.  Some professionals will be tasked with giving a “10 minute update” or some other short presentation and will think it is fine to simply wing it.  This is a poor choice. I’ve seen top level executives ramble or go on forever without a focus or a key message in front of several hundred of their employees.  This is the one of the pitfalls of thinking “I don’t need to really prepare – I know what I’m talking about.” Your audience can always tell if you are winging it and often feels like you have wasted their time. Professionals prepare, practice, and present with confidence.

Are you sabotaging your presentations? Do any of these issues resonate with you? What will you do differently in the future? Delivering presentations effectively is a skill that can be improved. Take the time to prepare and practice and you can present like a pro.

 

For valuable tips on leadership communication, register for one of these webinars.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Snap Out of It!

SnapOutOfIt10BB_CvrsV2.inddHave you ever been in a bad mood?  Of course you have! Even the most positive and productive business professionals can have those moments (ok, even days) when motivation is low and stress is high. Or, when attitudes are negative and even toxic.  Because we know how damaging a bad attitude can be to our communication and our leadership presence, these are the times we might say to ourselves, “I just need to snap out of it!” Or, “I need an attitude adjustment!”

Of course, that is easier said than done.  Here are a few quick, easy, and somewhat unusual tools to help you adjust your own attitude and be a more positive and productive leader, team member, and professional.

  • Inhale Joy and Exhale Fear – If possible, do this outside with some fresh air. Or, stand by a window and look outside. Take a few deep breathes and while you breathe, imagine that the air you inhale contains peace, joy, energy – anything positive.  And, when you exhale imagine expelling fear and anger – all the negative.  About five breaths can make a positive difference.
  • Hydrate – Seems obvious, right? However, we sometimes forget our moods can be a reflection of our physical state.  Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, and slower response times. And did you know that if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated? Take a mini-break from your tasks and drink some water. Imagine that water washing away the crankiness and imbuing you with peace.  Sound silly? Maybe. But, it works!
  • Say “Thank You” – It is always smart to practice basic good manners. When you are not the best version of yourself, it can be powerful to unleash the power of a “thank you” above and beyond basic good manners.  Ask yourself, “Who has helped me recently?” Or, “Who has gone the extra mile?” Think about things people do that often go unappreciated and then take action. Send a quick email.  Write a note. Stop by their work area and say “thank you.”

Engaging in these easy practices can go a long way towards helping you to Snap Out of It! For more ideas, click here or listen to our Snap Out of It Webinar.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Boost Leadership and Communication Skills with the Power of Perspective

Snipers, Steamrollers, and Chronic Complainers

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3 Keys to High Caliber Communication – Are You Using Them?

words_have power_SQHave you ever noticed that some people seem to naturally communicate in a confident and engaging way without coming on too strong or being a pushover? Do you know professionals who are able to present their ideas and solutions in ways that get attention, authority and respect while others seem to flounder or fail to persuade?

Would you, or members of your team, like to  communicate in a more compelling fashion for greater credibility, influence, and impact?  If so, the upcoming webinar “High Caliber Communication” is a fast-paced and content-rich program you can easily access.

The live broadcast is on February 18, 2016 at 12:00 PT (1:00 MT, 2:00 CT, 3:00 ET.)  Every registration comes with a complimentary downloadable version of the live event, so no need to fret if the live broadcast time doesn’t work for you.  You can learn (and review) at a time that is convenient for you!

In this hour-long event, we will discuss 3 very important things high caliber communicators do differently from average communicators.

High caliber communication is:

  1. Positive
  2. Future focused
  3. Specific

Learn how to integrate these 3 key factors into all types of communication.

Boost your communication effectiveness and drive results

  • Discover the words to choose and the words to lose to give more effective directions, instructions, and delegation for enhanced results.
  • Master the art of feedback that moves people, even poor performers, to behavior change and improved performance.
  • Enhance your ability to ask high caliber questions that uncover hidden barriers to success and high performance.

Leverage High Caliber Communication for Enhanced Leadership and Career Success

  • Learn what high caliber leaders and communicators know about the relationship dimension of communication and make that insight work to boost employee engagement no matter your job description or title.
  • Uncover 5 communication bad habits that might be sabotaging your leadership and credibility.
  • Discover how to effectively communicate your value to your organization, without being pushy.

Pump up personal and team productivity with high caliber communication.

  • Stop the tyranny of the trivial. Master the art of setting limits and boundaries to focus on strategic goals and objectives.
  • Enhance your critical thinking and decision-making skills and start getting (more) credit for contributions.
  • Keep teams on track and on target with better communication during meetings and group conversations.

Whether you are a seasoned leader or a team member looking for enhanced career success, high caliber communication skills can be your ticket to success! Join us February 18, 2016.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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3 Easy Phrases to Use in 2016 to Communicate More Effectively

What Not to Say: A Guide to Keeping Your Foot Out of Your Mouth – Webinar!

Leader’s Toolkit for Difficult and Disciplinary Conversations – Webinar

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Wet Blanket Negativists and the Art of the Question

protect your enthusiasmby Pamela Jett, CSP

You  know the type, Don’t you? The person who makes blanket statements such as “that won’t work” or “it will take too much time” or  “that will cost too much money” in response to every new idea or proposal? These people are what I call Wet Blanket Negativists. They want to squash any new idea or put out the fire of energy around new proposals. Here are a few facts about them:

 

  • Their behavior is (typically) motivated out of fear.
  • They rarely (if ever) come up with their own ideas or solutions.
  • They typically can’t back up their negative statements with real reasons.

The high-caliber leader knows how to respond to those smothering statements. They use the art of the question. The next time a Wet Blanket Negativist tries that on you or a member of your team, try asking questions such as:

  • What part, specifically, do you think won’t work?
  • How much time is too much time and what would be a better amount?
  • How much money do you think ought to be spent?

Remember, they won’t likely have an answer. They will back-pedal or give some sort of vague “It’s just won’t work” reiteration. When they do, let them off the hook gently.

However, the next time they try to smother an idea with their wet blanket statement, they will think twice about it because they know you will ask them to back it up.

Enjoy this technique? If so, you can find more like it at my up-coming webinar “Snipers, Steamrollers, and Chronic Complainers.” More information can be found at http://JettWebinars.com.

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Is Lack of Conflict Stalling Your Career?

by Pamela Jett, CSP

Conflict is inevitable in even the best workplaces. When people see things differently, have competing agendas, or are not in total accord regard decisions, conflict occurs.  While conflict inevitable, it is not necessarily bad. Healthy conflict can create better outcomes, more productive business practices, and even stronger relationships.

tug of warThe key term is “healthy.” When conflict is not handled appropriately, we can experience negative outcomes both organizationally and relationally. It is the fear of negative outcomes that can keep some professionals in conflict “avoidance” mode. They seek to placate or to create peace at any price. Or, they will avoid conflict all together or stay silent while others engage. While choosing your battles carefully is sound career advice, it can be a poor choice to rarely (or even never) engage in constructive or healthily conflict.

You might be stalling your career success if you rarely speak up or defend your point of view. Here are some of the possible consequences for choosing to rarely (on never) rock the boat or engage in conflict:

  •  You may be seen as lacking backbone and not ready to take on more responsibility.
  •  You may be viewed as someone who is not engaged or doesn’t really care.
  •  Your co-workers may resent that you don’t seem to care or are not committed.
  •  Your leader may assume you can’t see the big picture and are not ready to be promoted.
  •  Your reputation as someone who is weak or a pushover may may it harder to accomplish tasks.
  •  You may be viewed as someone who is not a team player.
  •  You might seethe with inner resentment that can come out passive-aggressivley and damage your career.
  •  Crucial issues, problems, or situations may be ignored and you may be held accountable.

These are just some of the negative consequences. Feel free to leave others in the comments.

Savvy professionals know that some things are worth engaging in conflict over. And, they hone their assertive conflict management skills to make engaging in healthy conflict easier and more productive. Remember, choose your battles wisely AND be willing to engage when it is worth it!

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When Name Calling Works: Tips For Better Self-Talk (part 3 of 3)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

Keys for Better Self-Talk During Emotionally Charged Situations

Key#3 (part 3 of 3)

Have you ever tried to calm yourself down in an emotionally charged situation by using self-talk such as “I am calm” or “I am patient?” If so, great job! That means you are using key #1 (desired behavior) and key #2 (present tense.)

child yellingHere is key #3. Call yourself by name! The latest research shows that if you call yourself by name, such as “Pamela, you are calm” Your self-talk is even more effective. Case study after case study shows that superstars in sports, business, and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner (Malala) call themselves by name when trying to stay calm, cool, and collected. Try it!

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