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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk

Show the real you

July 25th, 2011

When going for an interview, pay special attention to the grooming of your nails (irrespective of your gender). It immediately tells the Interviewer a little more about the real you. Most applicants wear nice business attire and clean shoes, but not everyone spends the extra effort on this hidden indicator.

How To Ask Your Boss For A Raise

May 21st, 2011

You know that you are definitely overworked.
You’re really good at what you do.
Everyone in the office likes you.
Clearly you should be paid more.

You walk into your Boss’ office and, after several minutes of heartfelt praise and a champagne toast, you find out that he has already prepared a check with an unexpected bonus and a big raise.

As visions of parties with Paris Hilton and large yachts dance in your head, you suddenly realize how wonderful your Supervisor truly is.

You never knew that he could be so understanding and supportive.
That hug was such a surprise.

and then, the alarm clock rings and wakes you from that wonderful dream with an icy cold slap of reality.

Hacking Verbal Dexterity

September 13th, 2009

Sorry for that previous annoyance. A hacker went in behind the curtain.
He has been dealt with appropriately.

Verbal Dexterity will resume its blogging shortly.
(We have been extraordinarily busy assisting individuals and companies across the country).

Hope that you are doing well.

Botox Your Resume & Career: How To Look Attractive In The Job Search Marketplace

February 2nd, 2009

Mid-career job hunting is like a person in their 50’s dating after a divorce: It’s hard for others to see past the wrinkles and younger alternatives are all over the place.

However, you can do a lot to re-focus their attention on you (and isn’t it always all about you?) as well as what you can bring to their table.

I know it has been awhile since you have been “in the market,” so (just between us) here are some valuable tips:

  • RE-DO YOUR RESUME NOW. Take your time and be thoughtful. This vital document needs to be young, fresh and illustrative of what you can really do. Download samples from the Net, buy a book of resumes and most importantly, have at least two business-savvy friends read it and critique it. Irrespective of their job or background, people in the business world have a good instinct in detecting value vs. bull. Use high quality paper (24 lb+) and proof-read it with others at least 4 times.
  • TAKE OUT YOUR ROLODEX. (or your Outlook/Blackberry address book or those napkins you doodled on). Grab a notepad and jot down the name of every single person that you know, have met or are aware of…and then compose a massive networking e-mail. Explain your background, strengths and goals. You want to ask people to introduce you to others and/or forward your CV. The more people that you deputize as “agents,” the greater the likelihood of a nibble. You will be amazed at how well that “six degrees of separation” concept works.
  • GO ON A DIET NOW. Sure, you are stressed out…but now is the time to make each day count. Working out and eating better gets the blood flowing and increases energy. Even if you go 4 weeks without a single job bite, you will feel better if you lost 10 lbs in the process (and you will look so much better when you get that interview).
  • REVIEW YOUR WARDROBE. When you finally get that call for an interview, you want to look your best. Clean, attractive, well-kept outfits get noticed and help you radiate confidence.
  • PRACTICE TALKING. If it’s been a long time since you have gone through an interview, you really should practice. Ask a friend to role-play with you. It’s really important to hear the timbre of your own voice. Less “uhms” and better articulation and content can make all of the difference.
  • NETWORK YOUR REAR-END OFF. Ok. you have made enough excuses. Now, you need to go out and mingle with the masses. With a set of business cards (even if they just contain your home/personal contact info) in your pocket, you need to go to community events, trade association events, lectures, chamber of commerce seminars, etc. Making a personal connection can lead to others. Goodbye shyness, hello Mr/Miss Personality!
  • RADIATE CONFIDENCE. Whether it is on the phone, in-person or even e-mail, you need to radiate self-confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, the listener sure won’t.
  • SET A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT. Job searching is its own full-time job. Set a quota for yourself regarding how many calls you will make, letters that you will send and events that you will attend for each day or week. The more you put into this (and the wider that you cast your net), the greater the likelihood of success.
  • DON’T GIVE UP. That next opportunity could show up at anytime. Always be “on” and keep your eyes and ears open. Keep at it, for as long as you can. No pity or looking backwards allowed.

  • Today’s Tip: Updating and freshening up your “employment appearance” is hard work…especially, when you have to supply your own “Botox.” There is no magic shot that will magically improve your occupational attractiveness. It’s all up to you. So? Shut-up, drink some coffee and get to work on looking for work. Transform your outward image and your resume attractiveness. It’s time. You really do need to do this. You can’t use antiquated smoke signals in a text messaging world. Time to get back in the game…but as the “new and improved” model.

    Smiling Through The Pain: How Your Workplace Attitude Can Affect Your Altitude

    January 7th, 2009

    So here we are. 2009.
    The noisemakers and party hats have been put away, the long weekend is over and, like a cold slap in the face, we are all back at our desks trying to figure out what’s next.

    What’s next for our country, for our Company and for our individual job security?

    Tough questions for tough times…but let’s focus on you and your current job.

    Assuming that you would like to stay where you are for now (the alternatives are for another day and post), what are the things that you can do to ensure that you will remain in the “starting line-up?”

    Here are some tips:

  • Do not become the Chicken Little (”the sky is falling”) of your office. While it’s somewhat comforting to strut around proclaiming gloom and doom (e.g. the demise of the economy, the business, the free world, etc), people tend to want to stay away from “downers.”
  • Take a minute, before you walk into your workplace, to focus and get into the proper mind-set with the appropriate demeanor.
  • Listen more to those around you. It will give you a better feel for the “pulse” of the workplace.
  • Arrive on time or early and stay late. Those who are constantly tardy are, manytimes, the first to get booted. Those that take long lunches and leave early are deemed to be more expendable.
  • Do your work on time and be extra prepared to answer your Supervisor’s questions. Now is the time to really show that you understand the business.
  • Generate a list of “best practices” and cost-savings opportunities that could be implemented to help the business survive and for your Boss to look good.
  • Do not flaunt holiday gifts or brag about vacations. Times are tough and you do not want to plant any seeds that suggest that someone else may need their job more than you.
  • Be cognizant of others who may be going through some tough economic or emotional times. Many spouses have just received layoff notices and family emotions are running high.
  • Now is not the time to bad mouth a colleague, a supervisor or the organization (no matter how much they deserve it).
  • Get all of your work in on time or early. People will notice.
  • Offer to help someone who seems to be struggling.
  • Smile. It’s contagious.
  • Today’s Tip: Times are hard. The stock market and our spirits are down. Companies are folding everyday. But, don’t let it all get to you. Stand tough and tall. Smile through the pain. Be a role model rather than a bad example. Show up, do your job, be approachable, listen and hang in there. Others will notice and it will help you get through to tomorrow.

    New Year’s Resolutions For The Successful Executive, Manager & Employee

    December 24th, 2008

    Yes, it’s that time of the year.
    The time to assess the good, the bad and that ugly sweater that, even though it was on sale, you should never have bought.
    The time to promise that we really do need to lose those extra 15 pounds, visit Tahiti and read that massively boring book that has been sitting on our shelf for months.

    Whatever your personal resolutions are, these are the ones that all ambitious and capable businesspersons need to embrace.
    Yes, that means you.

    Paste these to your fridge, observe them religiously and contact me when you get promoted or land the big deal.

    Here we go:

  • I will not use my Blackberry during a meeting, a meal or when anyone else is speaking.
  • I will memorize the names of everyone in the room and use their names when addressing them.
  • I will take that extra minute to double-check my clothing and attire for holes, stains, wear and odors BEFORE I walk out the door to start my day.
  • I will show up to meetings on time and take notes that I will actually be able to read and understand tomorrow.
  • I will not talk about others behind their back (no matter how tempting).
  • I will deliver projects on time or early.
  • I will take the blame alone, but share the credit with others.
  • I will publicly acknowledge and praise those that deserve it.
  • I will actually read resumes that get sent to me.
  • I will serve as a mentor to someone younger.
  • I will volunteer to work on a project.
  • I will work on improving my listening skills.
  • I will not agree with everything my Boss says and explain so, in respectful and persuasive language.
  • I will try to be the most prepared person in the room.
  • I will not add needless cc:s to my e-mails and will not automatically hit “Reply All.”
  • I will offer to pick up a lunch bill every once in a while.
  • I will surprise my colleagues by bringing in donuts and coffee.
  • I will arrive to work early and leave late.
  • I will develop a workable filing system and keep my desk uncluttered.
  • I will say “thank you” and “yes”more frequently and “no” less often.
  • I will zig when others zag.

    Today’s Tip: The end of a very tough year has finally arrived. 2009 will have new challenges and a new rhythm. You can’t control everything—just yourself and your approach to work. You can start by “raising your game.” Others will notice the new you…and that may make all the difference.

    Just remember, you always have Verbal Dexterity!

    Be well, be happy, be healthy and have a great 2009!

  • The Pliant Client: How To Properly Host A Client Event

    December 10th, 2008

    Everyone loves tickets to the “big event.” Think Super Bowl weekends, Broadway shows, the Circus, NASCAR, etc. It’s fun, exciting and a great milieu in which to build and enhance business relationships.

    Unfortunately, some well-intentioned Hosts don’t think things through and end up alienating, rather than astounding, their guests.

    I have been to dozens and dozens of these events and have noted what impressed and what annoyed the other invitees.

    Hope that these tips help:

  • The little things matter: splurging for a big ticket but not taking care of incidental matters like transportation & parking can annoy your guests.
  • Don’t just give them a seat: if you want to really do it right, have a gift bag waiting for them and take care of their food & drink during the spectacle.
  • Family Affairs: don’t limit the guest-list to the big shots. Invite their families and you will be on the right path to winning them over (just ask any Executive parent that has heard their kid say “Mommy, that was soooooo much fun”).
  • Have name badges available so that your other clients can identify and talk to each other.
  • Never put a Host employee in better seats than a client. Never.
  • Make sure that all invitees clearly understand start times, locations and agenda…and remind them just before the event.
  • If you are going to provide food (e.g. in a corporate tent or Executive Suite) make sure that most dietary preferences are covered and that the food is consistent with the message that you are trying to convey. Also, make sure that you never run out of food. Nothing screams “cheapskate” like an empty sterno tray.
  • Every item served should reflect a consistent message. For example, don’t serve lobster and lamb chops and then cheap out on the wine.
  • The food should also mirror the event: items should be on the same level (hot dogs and soda are a fine match for a ball game but not for the Opera).
  • Have representatives in user-friendly locations to provide directions and assistance to your attendees.
  • Always provide a memento or “souvenir” that reflects their attendance and will remind them of you and your company (e.g., binoculars with the corporate logo).

  • Today’s Tip: The rule is simple. If you are going to spend the time. effort and money to host a client event—do it right. Make it fun, festive and with lots of good quality food and drink. Also spend lots of time thinking about every aspect of your guest’s experience (from initial arrival to final departure). It will make all the difference.

    Your Mont Blanc Pen Says “Yes”, But Your Eyes Say “Get Me Out Of Here”–How To Recognize A Disinterested Audience

    December 4th, 2008

    We all tend to believe that we are worth listening to. Unfortunately, we are not all correct. There are some business leaders and speakers out there (and they may not know whom they are) that just drone on and on and on.

    For some reason, I tend to have lots of meetings with these individuals.

    While they are numbing their audience into submission (be it in a small meeting or at a large conference), their listeners are completing their “chores to do” list and trying to draw a doodle that looks like Obama. During a one-on-one meeting or interview these oblivious “babbling brooks” (think 1950’s insurance salesman) have no clue that their prospective client has mentally checked out of the conversation minutes or even hours ago.

    So, what are the signs to look for that can give you, future speaker, insight into where your audience’s head and ears are?

    Here are some tips:

  • Work on developing great peripheral vision. You need to engage and include all listeners in your speech and notice and account for their reactions as well.
  • Observe their body posture. A slanted or slumped body means disinterest, disrespect or boredom.
  • Focus on the listener’s eyes. It will be hard for them to not look at you while you are looking at them. Their indirect eye contact, even for a few milliseconds, may reflect their desire to find a literal and figurative “exit.”
  • A listener’s lips can also unconsciously reveal anger, interest or faked neutrality. People show teeth and subtle smile lines when they are engaged.
  • If you are close enough, listen to their exhalations. Slow exhaling through their nose or more audible releases through their mouth can demonstrate a lack of patience with the speaker or the topic.
  • Excessive self-caressing (rubbing hair or arms) by the listener signals uncomfortability.
  • Numerous leg crosses reveals nervousness or a desire to change the topic.
  • Arms folded is a conspicuousious gesture that screams “keep your distance, buddy!”
  • Audience members looking at their wrist watch are not hoping that you will talk longer.
  • Attendees spending most of their time looking at their Blackberry instead of you are not thinking about giving you a standing ovation.
  • Ok. So your audience is about to fall asleep. What can you do?

  • Vary your voice volume, inflection, speed and pentameter. If your voice bounces, so will your audience.
  • Move around while you speak. If the audience has to follow you, they won’t zone out.
  • Don’t make it a one-way communication. Engage the listener. Ask personal questions and opinions. People love to talk about themselves.
  • In the middle of your spiel, clap your hands or purposely drop something on the table. The noise will jolt them out of submission.
  • Have chocolate or coffee nearby. Caffeine always helps.
  • Have a humorous anecdote or joke at the ready. Laughter improves blood flow and keeps the audience on your side.
  • Give the audience an exercise to complete or participate in. Physical and mental stimulation can keep their juices flowing.
  • Have something interesting to say, with great transitions.

  • Today’s Tip: Don’t just talk in a vacuum. Pay really close attention to your audience and their eyes, body language and gestures. They are giving you instantaneous feedback on how you are doing. Sure, they can fake it here and there, but not during your entire speech. If and when you see that you are losing them, shake things up with your voice, body and, of course, really good content.