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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Corporate Communication

Archive for the ‘Corporate Communication’ Category

How To Ask Your Boss For A Raise

Saturday, 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.

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

Wednesday, 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

    Wednesday, 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

    Wednesday, 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

    Thursday, 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.

    There’s Always Time For Thanksgiving

    Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

    As Turkey Day approaches, it seems like a good idea to stop and smell the stuffing.

    Sure, economic pillars are crumbling all around us, consumer spending is at record lows, unemployment is at a 10 year high, your raise may turn into a layoff notice and your 401 K is worth less than a giblet…but, one should be optimistic and recognize those things around us that are worth giving thanks for:

  • Customer service numbers that actually connect you to a live, knowledgeable person that speaks English.
  • Kids that say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Friends that put away their Blackberrys while talking with you.
  • Spouses that lavish you with praise rather than criticism.
  • Bosses that stop, look you in the eyes and say “great job.”
  • Waiters that don’t ask you if you want the imported Vatican bottled water with your hamburger.
  • Supervisors that give you honest feedback during your end-of-year performance review.
  • Taxi drivers that bathe on a regular basis.
  • Colleagues that refuse to pass on the latest rumor that they have heard.
  • Meetings that stay on schedule and only deal with relevant topics.
  • Applicants that actually know the products and services your company provides.
  • HR managers that actually disclose what really is going on.
  • E-mail writers that don’t cc: half of North America every time they inhale.
  • Pens that don’t leak on your new, crisp white shirt.
  • Direct reports that volunteer to take on extra assignments.
  • Speakers that make their topic interesting and stimulating.
  • News outlets that report events without any leanings or bias.
  • Commercials that recognize that you really do have an IQ higher than a parrot.
  • Real cashmere sweaters.
  • Chicken wings from Duff’s in Buffalo.
  • Your team coming from behind to win.
  • A baby’s smile.
  • A movie with an ending that you just didn’t see coming.
  • People that you meet at a networking event who actually call back.
  • A quick and witty rejoinder.
  • A really comfortable pair of shoes.
  • A 1997 bottle of Solaia wine.
  • A pen that always writes smoothly.
  • A good friend that you can always count on.
  • A Blog that respects you.
  • Today’s Tip: This Thursday, stop and take a minute to tell those around you how much they mean to you and how glad you are to have them in your life. Then, while they are distracted and bathing in the glow of your praise, grab that big drumstick and the last piece of sweet potato pie.

    HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

    Recession, Repression & Reinvention: How To Survive The Upcoming Downsizings

    Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

    Can the daily economic news get any more depressing?

    As layoffs and bankruptcies start spreading like the plague, you need to properly prepare to protect yourself inside and outside of the building…because

    Yes, it can happen to you!

    Here are some tips:

  • Read as much as you can about your company every day (e.g., check the internet, the corporate website and chat rooms).
  • Become a far more attentive listener. Listen to the gossips and water cooler chat. Other people may see or hear things that you didn’t (just don’t take it all as the gospel).
  • Sometimes, upper level management foreshadows events with their behavior or their inflections. Note unusual meeting cancellations or groupings of leaders.
  • Start making a list of all of your successes (especially those that resulted in savings) as well as a list of additional duties that you could readily take on, if asked. You want to be able to show, on instantaneous demand, your past, current and future financial value.
  • Make a concerted effort to get your office straightened up, files in order and projects on schedule.
  • Avoid latenesses and absences as much as possible. You want to be seen and valued as much as possible.
  • Attempt to resolve any outstanding feuds with co-workers.
  • Volunteer to take on more work and responsibilities (when the Boss asks for help, your hand should be the first one up).
  • and while all of that is going on internally…

  • Get your old resume updated and in order.
  • Start scanning job websites (e.g., Monster, CareerBuilder, Hot Jobs, etc.).
  • Talk with a headhunter/recruiter.
  • Start (confidentially) applying for some appropriate and appealing positions.
  • Recognize that finding a new job takes about 9-12 months…so start now.
  • Start to inquire about possible opportunities and connections through your friends.
  • Make lawful copies of your work product and records and bring them home now. You may not get the chance later.

  • Today’s Tip: Don’t be naive. In this economy, you need to be aggressive inside and outside of your workplace. Maximize your value to your Boss, your colleagues and to the company…while preparing for a safe landing (elsewhere) just in case you have to hit the “Ejector Seat” button (or if someone hits it for you).

    The Buck Stops Here (assuming that you have a buck): Dealing with your employees during tough economic times

    Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

    The stock market is down, houses are in foreclosure, companies are laying off thousands or in bankruptcy and your quarterly numbers look like an airplane that just lost its wings..and its engine.

    Yikes!

    With all of that going on, December only 3 weeks away and raises, performance reviews and bonuses on the immediate horizon–what’s a Boss to do?

    How do you deal with associates during such tense & economically challenging times?

    Here are some thoughts:

  • Recognize that the grapevine has been going full throttle (with rumors ranging from the pending sale to aliens to mutterings that the office will be bulldozed to make room for condos)…so you need to clear the air, limit the speculation and get people on the right track.
  • Handle layoffs discretely and with dignity.
  • Make you office’s Holiday celebration consistent with the tenor of the other messages that you are delivering (e.g., avoid holding a black tie dinner with shrimp cocktails in the same month that you will be firing 50% of your staff).
  • Desperately search for a “good news” spin. Small bonuses are better than none; no raises are better than pay cuts and wage reductions are better than terminations.
  • Avoid conspicuous spending (redecorating your office now won’t win you any new friends).
  • Encourage “pot-luck” lunches to save money and build morale.
  • Offer financial incentives to employees whom can generate significant cost-savings ideas.
  • Avoid bragging about any new or conspicuous expenditures.
  • Reward employees daily with little things like gold stars, happy face stickers or a piece of candy (they will truly appreciate being recognized and continue to vie for your approval).
  • Instead of a more formally catered meeting or lunch out, bring in some pizzas.
  • Give your workers a choice in what they may have to give up (e.g., free coffee vs. buying their own bottled water).
  • Encourage the office to make bulk supply purchases from a big box warehouse.
  • Encourage everyone to contact their vendors and extract some cost reductions (you could even make it a contest).
  • Acknowledge anyone that is contributing and performing above expectations (even if you just say “atta boy/girl”).
  • Allow your workers more time to vent with you and each other.
  • Be a really good and empathetic listener.
  • Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve. Nervousness and fear are toxic and contagious.
  • Recognize that even your most innocent comments will be analyzed and dissected by your team, so think twice before you blurt something.
  • Today’s Tip: Tough financial times cannot be ignored by leaders. Associates can get easily rattled and distracted. Speak prudently, listen well and be creative. Employees will always appreciate acknowledgment, compliments, sensitivity and candor. In challenging economic times, you, as the Boss, need to serve as role model, parent, therapist and motivator.

    Stressed employees don’t need you to bet your bottom dollar…just give them your two cents.

    Penny for your thoughts?