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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Articles

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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.

Hacking Verbal Dexterity

Sunday, 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.

Does Your Business Have A Favorable Verbal ROI?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Every Company likes to think that it hires the right people, with the right background and attempts to provide them with the right wages, benefits and training, so that the employee will be motivated and equipped to properly serve the business.

Unfortunately, the investment made in such individuals is not always reflected in their output or effectiveness.This disconnect is most apparent in an individual’s ability to persuasively articulate the employing organization’s services or products to 3rd parties (e.g. prospective clients, current clients, colleagues, vendors and competitors).

This vital dynamic can be thought of as a Company’s verbal return on investment or “Verbal ROI.”

I continue to be amazed at how even the brightest executives, professionals and HR leaders fail to properly recognize that the ability to speak in public, present and persuade are amongst the most crucial skills that any successful employee can have.

There are basically three (4) types of organizations:

  • “Show Me The Money”- These entities feel comfortable wearing blinders and continue to look solely at raw sales numbers as the measuring stick of competency and success, and do so, in the long run, to their own detriment.
  • “The Diet Starts Tomorrow”- These organizations, with enlightened leaders, recognize the importance of persuasive and articulate employees, but never seem to get around to paying for and providing the right type of training. 
  • “I Bought The Paint Set, Now Why Can’t Anyone Around Here Paint?”- These companies have actually spent the time and money to invest in its workers’ verbal skills, but only focus on the initial purchase and implementation, not the maintenance, monitoring and continual growth and development of its team (kind of like buying the diet book but without actually cutting the calories)
  • “Putting Our Money Where Your Mouth Is”- These businesses recognize that their associates are the face and mouth of their organization…and invest time, training and follow-up in the development of speaking skills.

    Simply stated, Verbal ROI is the actual return an organization gets from the initial and continuing investment in the development of its employees’ verbal skills.

    Think of it as an equation: Verbal ROI = (Human Capital Investment + Individual Education & Experience + Provided Training & Interaction Skills) X (External Productivity) divided by Opportunities For Success.

    Clearly, this isn’t your traditional matrices, but that’s why, in today’s business world, it works so well. Verbally adept employees have better meetings, conduct more effective interviews, and have greater success with sales pitches, conversations and client interactions.

    Today’s Tip: Businesses that truly invest in their associates’ verbal skills (speaking, presenting and persuading) will see a significant and dramatic ROI.

    Giving Good Phone

    Thursday, February 28th, 2008

    While not as over-utilized as e-mails, a significant percentage of business does take place over the telephone. Good telephone skills can make a difference to a business deal, interview or social interaction (why don’t we teach this to kids in school?). Here are some basics:

    1) Make sure that your equipment is of good quality (that $3.00 knock-off you bought from someone at a Flea market may not be of the highest quality) Otherwise, this can give new meaning to the phrase that “talk is cheap.”

    2) Prepare to speak in a place where you can hear and be heard (Note to file: avoid Led Zeppelin reunion rehearsals or baby changing stations).

    3) Avoid eating or drinking during call (you don’t think that we can hear you slurping that power drink, but we can. Heck, we can almost smell that pepperoni you had for lunch!).

    4) If it’s only you and one other person on the call, avoid using the speaker-phone (you’re not impressing anyone).

    5) Have bullets points pre-written and in front of you, so that you can make sure that everything gets covered.

    6) Take notes while you are on the call. You really won’t remember a blessed thing 30 minutes from now.

    7) Never put the other party on mute while you are listening. One quick and unexpected question to you and you will be so busted (been there, done that).

    8) Have likely-to-be-referred-to materials nearby (it’s always good to avoid blurting out phrases like “hmmm… I know I put your memo somewhere in my gym bag”).

    9) Don’t have a second conversation with someone else while you are on the phone. Give the person on the other line your full attention (nothing breaks the flow of a good call quicker than one party suddenly blurting out “hold the mayo, but extra cheese on mine”).

    10)Always end with a polite and respectful sign-off and make sure that you are disconnected before you discuss the call with your associate sitting next to you (many a deal has fallen through due to comments made by one party while the other party was still on the line—a syndrome that I like to call “premature articulation”).

    Today’s Tip: Always keep all of your business contact info (telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) in at least two separate databases/locations. Otherwise, you will be only one computer meltdown away from a personal meltdown.

    Today’s Question: What is the strangest thing that you ever heard in the background of a business call?

    Your Elevator Speech: Is The Elevator Going Up or Down?

    Monday, February 25th, 2008

    Your “elevator speech” is the 30 second explanation of your business, service or product that you would presumably give to an executive or a prospective client/customer if you were riding in an elevator together. Could you do it? Go ahead. Say it aloud right now.  Come on. 

    You have 25 seconds left.  I ‘m waiting. 

    Tick tock 

    Stop.

    Times up. 

    The elevator door just opened and closed.You are still fumbling the words while your next job just left the building. OK.  Relax.  I didn’t mean to slap you around (well, maybe just a little).  The point is that it is much harder to boil down what you can do or provide to a 30 second sound bite.  But you need to.  You never know when you may meet someone at a bus stop, networking event or in an elevator.  So, exhale.

    Now let’s take the time to get you ready for that next magical moment. Here’s what you need to do:

    1)     Carry business cards with you at all times (on vacation, to a doctor’s appointment, when you go pick up a pizza, etc.). 2)     Write down on a piece of paper what you or your business can really do to help someone.

    3)     Why and how are you different than the 450 other people that I could use (including my cousin Ernie who is sloppy but cheap)?

    4)     Come up with a quick and memorable tag line (“I help people retire 10 years earlier than they expected to”).

    5)     Acknowledge the current market or landscape and rise above it (“I know that there are thousands of contactors out there…but I’m the one whom customers return to.”

    6)     Whittle down your comments to 2 sentences and practice saying it and hearing yourself say it out loud. 

    Ok. Now go find yourself an elevator.

    Today’s Tip:  Don’t watch the elevator doors close.  Always be ready to explain your business to others in a concise, clever and alluring manner.

    The Sweetest Whine Of All (How To Complain)

    Thursday, February 14th, 2008

    Disppointment.
    Poor service.
    Bad Surprises.

    Your connecting flight was cancelled.
    They lost your restaurant reservation.
    Your entree came late.
    The service person was rude.

    Now what?

    Yes. It is time to complain.
    But how can you do it well?

    The art of complaining is completely counter-intuitive.
    Most people make the same mistakes and end up getting nothing.

    Here are some tried and true tips:

  • never yell at the person that can help you (they didn’t cause the problem, so why take it out on them?)
  • clearly, directly and respectfully explain your expectation, the process, the result and your reaction (lead the listener down a path of logic and calm…and by the time you get to the punchline, they too will be offended). For example, don’t say “This place stinks. Our food wasn’t cooked properly. I want all of my food for free.” Instead say “we were so looking forward to coming here tonight. I picked your restaurant because we are celebrating a special event. We specifically ordered our steaks rare. The waiter even confirmed our order. Unfortunately, he brought them out well done. Mistakes happen. We understand that. But then he brought out a second batch that were even more overcooked than the first. I was hoping for a better memory of tonight than this.”
  • Always establish your realtionship to the entity (”I am a Platinum Frequent Flyer:” I have been a customer for 15 years;” ““I have always brought my clients here).”
  • The more that other disgruntled customers are yelling, the cooler and calmer you will need to be (it will be noticed by the customer service liason and will pay you big dividends).
  • Suggest the specific “remedy” that you are looking for.
  • Speak up for yourself, but never let your words or tone get out of control.
  • Try to inject a little humor into the situation.
  • Focus on the problem/issue. Refrain from personal attacks against the service provider.
  • Today’s Tip: Before you go into a stream of consciousness rage, think before you complain. Use logic, past relationships and respect to score points with the listener. Your goal is to get what you expected, not a pound of flesh.

    Today’s Question: What was the best result that you ever had to a complaint and why?

    A Font Of Information

    Monday, February 11th, 2008

    In the business world, the written reflection of yourself  is incredibly persuasive and important.

    The most common manifestation of this is your business card…and most people underestimate its importance.

    Here’s what you should know:

    1) All businesses need to watch costs, but your business card is one of the “first impressions” that a potential client, colleague or employer will use to assess who you really are (that or they can simply call up your mother).

    2) Make sure that your card is made of high quality stock with significant weight (thin is great for super-models, not business cards).

    3) Use a professional printer.  We know when you have printed yours at home.

    4) Make sure that all appropriate information is included (telephone, e-mail address, etc.) and that it is accurate and easy to read.

    5) Pick a style, color, font and shape that reflects the nature of your business. 

    6) Think about printing something on the back of the card as well.

    7) If I attended a trade conference and collected 50 business cards, would yours stand out?

    8) Contemplate having a personal (non-business related) card made as well.

    9) Always keep several cards on you at all times. You never know when and where you will meet an important contact.

    10) Treat someone else’s card with the same respect that you would expect regarding yours.

    Today’s Tip: Your business card is a reflection of you.  High quality, dependable and memorable individuals have cards of similar construction.

    Minutes To Go Before I Meet

    Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

    Why are you always running late?

    Lateness is the easiest way to kill your business reputation.

    The sad part is, you don’t even know it.

     

    Here’s what happens when you are late to a meeting (or on a project):

    1. People talk about you in a negative way (but note: it’s not really behind your back, as you are not even in the room).
    2. Those around you assume that you are overwhelmed by your current workload.
    3. You can lose the client’s respect and future business.
    4. Your competition now has an opening to walk in (and over you).
    5. You are unintentionally implying that you had something more important to do.

    So, how can you avoid being late?

    1. Buy a good wristwatch with an alarm and set it to go off in advance of your next meeting.
    2. Have all of your papers and summaries ready, well in advance (avoid that crazed “where did I put that file?” moment).
    3. Partner with a colleague to watch each other’s backs.
    4. Change your usual methodology: work harder, later and arrive earlier.
    5. End this meeting on time or else you will be late for the next one (and try not to schedule meetings back to back).

    Common sense?   Sure.  Just not so easy to apply.

    My goodness, look at the time.  Have to run to a meeting.

    Hmmm.   I wonder who will take the “minutes?”

    Today’s Tip: Schedule some unscheduled time into your workday to cover extended meetings and unexpected developments, emergencies and delays.  It will help you finish the day “on time.”