Exactly what I always advise the younger executives on brushing up communicating skills:
1. Talk to strangers. Strike up conversations in elevators, at the cashiers, with the cafe barista. There’s so much to gain, aside from feeling happy.
2. Connect with relationships. Touching about something personal in the other persons, as well as sharing something personal with your own self, builds trust, and creates a connection. Be genuine, though.
3. Be generous in compliments. Everyone loves to be complimented. You’ll be amazed how good you feel yourself, when you take the effort to notice something good at the person, and compliment it. Like that beautiful shawl that brings out the colour of her dress, or the smooth way he answered during the Q&A session in the presentation.
What if one (or more) of this is not meeting our requirements? Find another job? What if it doesn’t work in the new place either?
As career people, we need to determine our worth, and our wants. If we love doing our job, and the boss is good, but the environment is not so healthy, we need to work on that. Finding a new job is not the answer to everything. Fight for what you want.
I once had to negotiate with my former boss about my job scope.
Some of the tasks I was supposed to do, were continuously being done by my Senior Manager, and so I didn’t have the chance to learn how to do it by myself. That made me feel useless, especially since I was already promoted as Manager for quite a while but was still doing Senior Engineer’s jobs.
I decided to have a discussion with my former boss (his boss).
What I did was:
Approached him and tell him verbally that I would like to request some time to talk privately. That should warn him that I have something serious to talk about.
We booked a meeting room and used a time when we are both normally calmer from daily hectic times. Avoid mornings when everyone is busy.
I prepared my points in a bullets, so I can work my story correctly, and don’t leave important parts. I needed to be precise, remove any emotional matters, keep positive, and connect with my suggestions.
These are 4 important tips that you must remember when negotiating something with your boss.
He doesn’t have the time to listen to your lengthy complaints, so keep it short.
Making an emotional burst (of anger, or tears of sadness, etc) will make you look weak and, well, emotional.
Use positive words, avoid negative words (I will touch on that in other posts), because language indicates your mind and attitude.
And finally, prepare your suggestions. You’re not there to just say your complaints. Be prepared to answer when your boss asks, “So, what should we do?”. Your proposals can be one or a few, in case he doesn’t agree with them. Don’t worry if he doesn’t, keep negotiating until both parties are happy.
When I talked with him, I showed him what I wrote, even though they were just simple notes. This is to show him that I took the time to think this through, and that I am serious, and that I hope this would work out for both of us – it is not just a complaint and I’m off.
Suffice to say, our discussion worked out well, and I later got what I wanted.
As a Manager, I have held one-to-one sessions half-yearly with everyone, to make sure I am able to
Communicate the management’s expectation.
Receive formal feedbacks from my team.
Having these discussions with everyone takes a lot of effort than you may think. Here’s behind the scenes of what managers do for one-to-one sessions.
As preparation, I would list down the issues, questions to ponder. Sometimes I let my team know the points to think about prior to attending the one-to-one sessions, so they can prepare their ideas.
During the session, I needed to stay focused on my customer in front of me. That meant, completing my own tasks before I can attend my sessions. Usually, my sessions took 10-15 minutes per person, so, to complete my team, it took about 2 – 3 days, depending on situations.
I needed to attend sessions emotionally neutral, and unbiased. That is so that I can receive feedbacks as open and positively as possible, and so that we can come up with solutions healthily together. Active listening is very important, because only by asking the right questions, can we point out the root cause of a problem together, and think of a solution correctly together. Key word here is, together, because my job as a manager is not to generate answers and just pass to my team, but to round up a doable solution from them, in order to encourage ownership, and satisfaction.
We also discussed each individual KPIs, and see what’s not on schedule, and why, and if there’s anything I can do to help. I also had to bring about any issues to improve the staff’s performance. Again, here, I needed to listen actively and be open, because there is always a reason why a staff drops in performance. And then again, we come to discuss how together we can improve the situation and set a goal for his/her improvement.
Taking notes is a must. Because the actual job begins after the session. I would summarize the points from everyone. There are many tasks as a manager that I needed to do, in order to help my team, achieve our goals. Sometimes, I needed to find ways to create a better, less quarrelling environment with another department. Sometimes, I needed to discuss with Training team to allocate a budget for a particular training for my whole team. Sometimes, I needed to address a specific team member about his unmanageable attitude. This is where my job as a manager is – to help my customer, my team, and make them happy. All to achieve the organizational goal.
Do you enjoy one-to-one sessions? Tell us in the comments, what was good for you, and what you think needed to improve.
Everyone will face conflicts in one time or the other.
Many people try to avoid conflicts, not having the energy or skill to manage them.
However, sometimes, conflicts should be taken heads on, because more often than not, conflicts arise from solid reasons.
It is how we react from it that matters. Here are 4 important points one must remember when dealing with conflicts.
Communicate openly and compromise
The key to resolving key is to communicate about it. That means to talk about it, and listen to what the other party has to say for himself. He most likely has a good reason of creating the conflict. It is vital to discuss it with an open mind. Sometimes, you may need to compromise your own beliefs, in order to successfully resolve the conflict and achieve a solution.
Focus on final aim
Managing conflicts is never about winning. It is basically a road to go through, in order to achieve a mutual understanding, and agreeing to proceed with further steps. Sometimes, you may be right, sometimes the other party may be right and not you. Be ready to listen to the other party’s concerns – you might even find a richer solution after considering his thoughts!
Also, sometimes discussions go off track, especially when things get emotional, or upsetting pasts are being brought up. In such cases, steer back to the right direction, ignore irrelevant issues or pasts, and focus the time and energy on how we can accomplish results.
Keep calm and stay positive
Discussions may switch to quarrels, when blaming or anger arises. Remind yourself (and the other person, if you can) to stay calm, and stay positive. Find a good time and place to do your battle (read: discuss). Don’t approach someone when he is busy, or tired, or hungry, even. If the discussion is moving towards a heated direction, call for a break, and come back when you’re both more rational.
Try to empathize
Conflicts arise when two (or more) different parties have different concerns. Each member would feel that their own concern is the more important one. During discussions, listen actively, and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoe. Create a comfortable discussion – listen actively, ask open questions and opinion, and do not interrupt. Find the best way to meet each parties’ concern, if they are valid.
In your daily life, and in work, influencing people is a must-have skill.
Influencing is an art of effecting how others think (and finally act) towards a particular purpose. Influencing can be when you are at home, getting your spouse to agree on a particular purchase, or getting the children to complete their project. At work, influencing is like the number one task – selling products to potential customers, getting the boss to approve that big project of yours, and even negotiating team mates on a favor on a particular task.
Most importantly, influencing is done without authority. That means, you make someone believe that what you are saying is right, hence he should do as you suggest. You are not influencing when you are giving instructions (read: boss, parent, senior in the job).
The most important party to consider when you are planning to influence is – the other party. What YOU think, is not as important as what HE thinks. Because the aim, is to change how HE thinks. Try to look from his point of view, and answer this question “What’s in it for me?”. “Me” here, as in, “him”, of course. Think about what benefits he will get, if he does agree with you. If you can show that to him, influencing can be very easy.
Here I share 3 tips on influencing people.
1. Build relationships.
You want to influence someone without using authority, so the first thing you need to do is, build a good relationship.
Generally, building relationships is easy, when you are interested in someone, and expresses that interest to him. That involves active listening, asking good, open questions, and relating to what he is thinking. When someone feels that you have interest in him, he will be more open, and keener to create a connection with you, ready to hear your thoughts.
Also, use common courtesy. Be polite, sociable and friendly. Smile.
Other ways to build relationships include:
Notice positive behaviours or changes in the other person – comment on that
Give compliments and praises
Read their body language and adapt how you speak
Build rapport and make him feel a connection to you. Do this genuinely, because everyone has his own story to tell, and his side of the story is important too.
2. Social proof.
This is where we use others’ acts to influence people.
“Others” here may mean those familiar to someone, or those he feels similar to him. Or someone he respects.
For example, when seeing an expensive product on your own (alone), you may not feel the urgency to buy it. But if a few respected colleagues, or someone close to you just bought it too, that curiosity to purchase it may grow.
That’s why we see “Other people also likes…” columns while shopping online. These suggestions (exists with the social media algorithm) appear to you, to utilize the power of social proof, and influence your buying.
So, when you want to influence someone, pay attention to what his surrounding people are doing too. You could use that someone’s influence towards him.
3. Credibility and reputation.
As said earlier, influencing does not involve the use of authority.
However, using credibility and reputation is something else. People can be influenced by experts, believing his words and suggestions.
There are many experiments of changing people’s mindsets by experts, influencing their behaviours and ultimately effecting the results. A good example is the placebo effect, where medical patients are given something like a “real” medical treatment — but in actual, does not contain an active substance meant to affect health, like a dummy treatment. Researchers use placebos during studies to help them understand what effect a new drug or some other treatment might have on a particular condition. Around one third of the patients taking a placebo may get better. Believing in experts, it shows even the body’s chemistry can create effects similar to medication. A classic case of mind over matter.
So, as an influencer, having credibility and good reputation is important, too. Where can you find your own credibility? Look at your qualifications, your educational background, expertise, or experience.
So those were 3 tips on influencing people. Different situations will require different methods of influencing. We’ll look at more influencing methods later.
So much time is spent on holding meetings. While the employer is not paying us for having meetings, some formal discussions and announcements are necessary in order to make a certain decision.
Many executives fall into the trap of furiously preparing for a meeting, yet become frustrated when the whole presentation or proposal is totally rejected after presenting in a meeting.
This is because they make the mistake of believing that a meeting is a platform to discuss.
The truth is, no one likes to make decisions after a one hour bombardment of information from another party.
Decision making is comfortably done when a person has enough information and time to weigh the advantage and risks.
This is why, the real negotiation and discussions, are done prior to meetings. The more experienced executives and leader know, that the most guaranteed way to receive a greenlight to their proposal in a meeting is, to discuss with the concerned parties in advance, separately if needed. Details are laid over before the real meeting, and concerns are reviewed in advance. The official meeting only works as an official one hour with all parties, to go through all information together, and officially make the decision.
So the next time you have that brilliant idea to share in a meeting, don’t spend your precious time in preparing the slides. Instead, approach the concerned parties in advance, discuss and negotiate concerns before you step into the meeting. You’ll find the next 1 hour presentation and discussion a real breeze.
“Ohhh it’s Monday already? I want to go back to sleep…”
The Monday blues – the feeling of not wanting to go to work after a weekend.
It’s a normal feeling for everyone, but when every morning is a suffer to get up to work, and the 20-minutes drive to work seems so heavy, and the 9 (or what, 14?) hours at work is dreadful, and then even after coming home from work you can’t function after feeling exhausted physically and emotionally – it’s a job burnout.
A job burnout is an overloaded (or sometimes under loaded) feeling at work, which causes fatigue, first physically, and ultimately emotionally. Left untreated, it can cause exhaustion and the sense of overwhelming, loss in productivity, create a toll in relationships, and finally demolish mental health.
A job burnout does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process, with the causes accumulating the stress, until one day one feels overwhelmed and that none of their efforts seem worthy.
It is important to detect the signs of burnout and take actions to steer away from it. In this post, I will share the signs and stages of burnout. See if you have any.
Remember those days back in school where we had storytelling competitions?
You had to stand in front of everyone on the stage, and tell that “Hare and Tortoise” story with those props – a rabbit stuffed doll and a tortoise figure.
Oh how we hated the sickening butterflies fluttering in our stomach. No one said there was going to be so many people in the audience. How we practiced and rehearsed until Mommy too remembers the whole story.
Little did we know that that story telling competition is one of the most crucial skills we need to learn to be a grown up. Here are three reasons why.
And not just own it, but to communicate it well enough to bring those ideas to life.
Persuading others of your notions can be tough.
A lot of people have ideas, but find difficulty to explain, and convincing others. Finally, what may be bright proposals, get ignored, and eventually dismissed. This is a waste of potential, and can dull motivation.
Let’s take a look at an old persuasion secret from the famous philosopher, Aristotle.
Aristotle said there are 3 tested and proven modes to persuade an idea.
This means credibility, trust.
In many occasions, people tend to trust something they already know the value of. Typical examples are the power of brand.
Just by the name of BMW, one can imagine the sheer driving pleasure. BMW is a brand well known for the ultimate driving experience. For a business person, driving a BMW may lend an impression of others that their business is good, which indicates investing with them, or purchasing something from them, may be secure. This is an example of persuasion with ethos.
To use ethos at work, we often see names of experts being quoted to strengthen the case. Here, people’s trust to the expert’s judgement is used to convince that our ideas are strong.
Or, the person himself, has a certain charisma, authority, or credibility that people look up to. Perhaps because of his past experience, or knowledge, or skills, or even integrity. With this advantage, whatever he says seem intelligent, and the audience is convinced easily. This is an example of ethos of oneself.
The next time you have a proposal to share, think how you can relate with something, or someone people trust. Or better, build your own credibility by strengthening your value, and one day, you’ll find anything you say is easily persuasive.
This is the persuasion mode using logic.
It means, to convince people, using facts, numbers, data.
Take below for an example.
You should take your medicine daily to avoid stroke.
If you skip your medicines, there is 80% likelihood that you will get a stroke and from there, 60% chances of losing your mobility.
This example shows how numbers can strengthen your argument and make your reasoning more persuasive.
At work, we use numbers you validate proposals, especially when it comes to money. No one wants to lose money, so the next time you have a proposal, convert the impact of your ideas into cash – you’ll have higher chances of getting people’s attention.
The last but surely not least mode of persuasion is, emotion.
Most of the time, playing people’s emotions can give them a strong reason to care, and is the stronger mode of persuasion.
Children are natural at persuading with emotions. They cry and make you feel guilty for not buying them that toy the other kids have. They smile ever-so-sweetly when they want that ice cream they love.
At work, sometimes, when ethos and logos don’t seem to work, it is advisable to take out that pathos secret weapon. Hit that person at their most endearing spot, their concerns. If the Production department would not allow downtime for Engineering to perform a certain recipe change, point out the risk of not doing it, towards major machine breakdown and emphasize that it is their own decision and risk to bear by not approving the activity.
Yes, it sounds like blackmail, but it works.
Emotion can be many – happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, pity, respect.
Find a way to use maneuver these emotions of the audience in order to make your mark.
A word of caution – too frequent use of ethos may indicate that you are unprofessional, and have no other strengths, so only use it when necessary.
Commercials are easy practice to distinguish which of the three modes are being used to convince the audience. Some times you may even see all three modes in one advertisement. Watch how persuasion is being carried out in advertisements and practice it in real life. You’ll see how much more persuasive you can be.
This video is a well known example of all three modes being applied. Look for when is ethos, logos and pathos come in, and prepare to be mesmerized. Enjoy!
There are many reasons employees quit their jobs, but none more than due to disappointment with The Boss. If an employee is not satisfied with the pay, or the job scope, there’s higher chances that he would find a way to solve it or get by, than if he is not in good terms with The Boss – he’ll find a way to move out, even if the pay is good, or the job scope satisfies him.
Unless you’re the company’s founder, or the management, you’re bound to be working for someone – The Boss. Understanding him is crucial for both parties to cooperate in order to achieve a common goal, if not to at least make your 9 hours spent at work less painstaking. To accomplish this, one must find a way to click with his Boss, to find that certain chemistry.