Tag Archives: communications

Gut Feelings, Not Emotions, Rule Communications Today

By Pat HeydlauffPat Heydlauff

Communications are becoming exponentially more complex and instantaneous with each passing day. In fact, information about an event such as an Olympic Gold Medal win in London reaches Beijing, Los Angeles, Sydney, Miami and Branson, Missouri simultaneously. There is zero time delay between continents as the information, good and bad, swiftly passes through the electronic communications universe and social media.

Some might say communication today is all about speed, perhaps even warp speed, but that is far from the truth when communicating a specific message to your workforce. A new aspect of communications is being overlooked in the workplace – feeling. Feeling is not to be confused with the traditionally accepted definition of feelings such as happy or sad, but rather it is about listening to your gut feeling, personal intuition or internal knowingness.

On the surface, it is easy to confuse gut feeling with feelings when communicating, but it’s critical to understand the differences. You can no longer tell the 21st Century worker everything is going to be okay when they can feel internally that something is wrong. You can no longer use platitudes and flowery talking points to drive home a message when their instincts and surrounding circumstances are internally screaming just the opposite.

With the phenomenon of the social media explosion has come the blessings of speed and instantaneous access to information. It is the speed of the information that also contains the curse. For example: is the information true or deliberately deception? Is it a proper representation of fact, a deliberate deception or simply an uninformed opinion?

Once social media entered the communication equation all rules changed.  Unknown to most, two major communication influencers appeared – brevity and discernment. Every communication and marketing plan in the world needs to adapt to these two important shifts or be left floundering and gasping to be heard in the morass of the social media clutter.

Brevity – If you cannot tweet every major message you wish to convey to your workforce in 140 characters or less, it is too long. If what you’ve tweeted cannot be re-tweeted as you’ve presented it without misinterpretation then don’t send out the original tweet. The new communication rule is – people hear in sound bites and tweet-able statements. Anything longer gets lost in the morass of information clutter.

Also, tweet your information before it becomes a rumor. Most people will believe the first tweet they receive about a subject and the follow up re-tweets rather than checking on its authenticity and legitimacy. Be first, say what you mean and be brief.

Discernment – Because of all the identity theft threats, password warnings, computer viruses, painful social media attacks and online scams, people have become much more discerning and wary. They tend to use their internal knowingness to evaluate whether they are being scammed or being told the truth. They have developed their sixth sense so to speak, that uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs that tells them something is wrong or don’t believe what is said. It kicks in that intuitive trigger to fight or flee.

This is a very different kind of “feeling” from that of being happy, sad, angry or satisfied. Your workforce can feel if you are telling them the truth, whether you are rolling out a new plan that will be successful or asking for their help in making the company grow. They can also tell whether you are being sincere or just giving them an empty pep talk to get them to do more with less.

Social media’s blessing is that the recipient of the information is much savvier and is receptive to receiving it if presented in understandable small sound bites and will happily share it with others if they believe it to be true. Social media’s curse is that the same message can be rapidly disbursed in a negative way if it was not clear, concise or believable.

These new rules of engagement must be incorporated into any company’s communication and marketing plan. The 21st Century workforce has an internal feeling compass that you can no longer ignore. The more important the message, the shorter and more concise it must be.

All messages can be followed up and expanded upon in face-to-face meetings, teleconferences and a myriad of other electronic forms of communication. However, your initial message must be brief, accurate and truthful to be effective, engaging and most importantly, result in the outcome you desire.

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.

The Rule of Thirds: How to Truly Listen

By Jeff BealsJeff Beals

“Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage,” wrote Publilius Syrus more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome. Such wise advice from ages ago has never been more relevant. In the modern professional world, we are suffering from a listening crisis. Actually, it’s a “lack-of-listening” crisis.

Whether your role is executive, managerial, sales, customer service or anything else, it is critically important to your success that you listen.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” wrote Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Too often we get that order mixed up. We focus on being understood as opposed to understanding those with whom we live and work.

Ask any of the greatest salespersons or sales trainers what it takes to succeed. Chances are that “ability to listen” will be at or near the top of the list. Success in sales requires you to understand your prospective client before you can do any sort of pitching, convincing or persuading. The smart salesperson asks carefully crafted questions designed to drill as deep as necessary to find out what makes the prospect tick. Truly listening to those answers allows a salesperson to customize, or at least portray, the product or service in such a way that creates maximum appeal.

By the way, “truly listening” doesn’t mean you act like you’re in one of those cheesy “active-listening” workshops. Many people who have completed such workshops look like they are listening actively – they have an intense look on their faces, nod their heads and occasionally paraphrase what the person is saying – but they still don’t retain any of it. Active listening is much more about understanding than it is about facial expressions and head-nodding.

Super executive Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler, once said, “I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”

Iacocca’s statement reminds me of the old saying, “God gave you one mouth and two ears; use them proportionately.” In other words, we should listen twice as much as we talk. I call it the “Rule of Thirds.” Two-thirds of the time you spend talking with a colleague, client or a prospect should be focused on the other person. One-third of the time is focused on yourself.

“No man ever listened himself out of a job,” said former U.S. president Calvin Coolidge. Simply put, listening is one of the top skills required for professional success. But be careful you don’t over-do it. Some people become so committed to good listening, that they become 100 percent “interpersonal givers.” In other words, they spend three-thirds of their time listening to other people. If you do this, people will tend to like you, because you allowed them to talk about themselves. However, if you fail to reserve your third, they won’t know anything about you or how your business can help them. Listen twice as much as you talk but don’t forget to pitch something about yourself.

Why is focusing on the other person so important? The answer is simple: most people are rather self-absorbed. Want proof? Here it is: I am my most favorite subject. My friend is his most favorite subject. You are probably your most favorite subject.

Saying “I am my favorite subject” sounds awful, but it is not necessarily a selfish or narcissistic thing to say. After all, I spend a lot of time working on my favorite subject. I have invested much in my favorite subject. The success or failure of my favorite subject determines the direction of my life and has a big impact on the people I care about. I sometimes lay awake at night worrying about the things my favorite subject has screwed up. Most people are the same way.

If you show earnest, sincere interest in my favorite subject, I can’t help but like you. I can’t help but feel some sort of connection with you. Showing sincere interest by truly listening disarms colleagues and clients and paves the way for your success.

You might be wondering to whom you should listen. Who is worthy of your attention? Who deserves your best listening skills? That’s easy: everyone. You never know who has the right information for you or knows just the right person you need to meet.

Sam Walton, the late founder of Wal-Mart, once said, “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stock boys.”

When it comes to listening, remember to do it sincerely and remember that everyone counts.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.

How to Communicate Your Business Objectives

By Pat HeydlauffPat Heydlauff

According to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, “Great leaders are great communicators. It’s not a matter of memorizing and repeating the right words, but of developing the ability to speak directly to other people’s spirits.”

He believes that money does not go to businesses with the best products or services but rather it flows to ones with the best leaders. He went on to say, “When I find a business that is struggling financially, it is often because the leader of that business cannot communicate the company’s vision.”

As Kiyosaki points out, there is a natural flow of communication from leadership and management to the workforce.  The questions to consider are: Is leadership and management inspiring the workforce and developing a relationship built on trust? Is it circular communication? Does your workforce, through their performance and productivity, demonstrate their understanding of your vision and business objectives?

Communication, much like focus, flows throughout the workforce in a circular motion. Not only from the top down but also the bottom up and inside out. Are you always beating the competition or are you left wondering why things do not get done in a timely fashion? Do your production levels fail to meet the standards you’ve set or are deadlines rarely met?

According to HR industry analysis, 95 percent of an average company’s workforce is unaware of their company’s objectives and what role their job plays in accomplishing that objective. The root cause of this is communication. Can you really expect your workforce to deliver maximum productivity when they don’t understand how they fit into the objective equation and have no roadmap to get there? The workforce wants to be included, wants to trust leadership and needs job satisfaction to maximize productivity.

Communication Reigns: It’s all about communication. It no longer serves leadership and management to communicate their message one time, in the same format. That would be like viewing the movies, television and the Internet in black and white when bold cinematic HD color is available.

Most employees listen in 30-second sound bites — and expect life to move on every 30 minutes like their favorite sitcom. In addition, the average American is bombarded with at least 600 advertisements and more than 3,000 messages per day in the form of emails, telephone calls, cell phone calls, texts, radio ads, television ads, Internet ads, etc.

All of these compete directly with the message your leaders are presenting to the workforce. Leadership must learn to compete the same way media does – by utilizing different forms of audio, visual and kinesthetic communication to connect with the workforce, and by repeating that message to influence their productivity.

Communication Rules: In order for your workforce to deliver maximum productivity they need to have a roadmap. In addition, leadership needs to know they understand and can follow that roadmap. Communicating your roadmap and the “why” is critical.

Mental communications this is the way it’s been for the last twenty years. Leadership gives the workforce information in the form of generalities and expects them to perform. Today, the workforce needs to have specifics; they want to know that their contribution will make a difference in the outcome.

When communicating, remember the 30-second sound bite. Distill everything you say and write into short three- to five-word phrases. Communicate the message often and in all forms; audibly, visually and kinesthetically.

Emotional Communicationsfocus on the workforce. They want to know the why. How do they fit into the grand scheme of things and what are their benefits in relation to increased productivity? They want to be more than a number in a human resources file.

Learn to incorporate the word “feel” into your communications so you can encourage them to express their feelings in return. One of the reasons social media is so popular is that it is a two-way communication form, unlike television which is strictly one-way. Tap into their need for two-way contact and you will connect on a level that results in elevated productivity.

Create as many communication vehicles as possible, such as inner-office Facebook and Twitter connections to make two-way communications easy. And don’t forget face-to-face conversations and hand-written notes – both carry great connection power.

Physical Communications consider is the silent communications emitted by your workplace environment. What message are you sending? Is the workplace dirty, overcrowded and cluttered? Are the walls still painted that drab green of the 80s and are workers still imprisoned in cubicles? 

The workplace environment plays a huge role in the performance and productivity of your workforce. There is a flow to the focus of your workforce just as there is a flow to your communications. When the natural flow of focus is no longer obstructed by clutter and walls or stagnant due to improper placement of offices, productivity will dramatically increase.

Spiritual Communications leadership in a media-savvy world must connect with their workforce, not just be in contact. The workforce wants to know that their leaders and managers care about them before they will buy in to the business vision.

They need to know leadership cares about them as a person, their families and hardships. When they know that, they will respond positively to encouragement and correction when necessary. They will also give you that much-needed circular feedback, which is so critical to the flow of communication.

Kiyosaki once said that the problem with many specialists or small business owners who seek growth is the lack of leadership communication skills. “No one wants to follow them. Their employees do not trust them, are not inspired by them … they cannot communicate with others.”

By finding different ways to communicate your leadership message to the workforce, you can enhance the productivity and profitability of your company.

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.