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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Persuasion

Archive for the ‘Persuasion’ 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!

  • “You May Love Me Tonight But Will You Give Me Carfare In The Morning”–The Art Of Following Up

    Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

    In the demanding world of business, it’s actually easier to make the call or have the meeting than it is to engage in that awkward, dreaded, painful, time-consuming process known as “The Follow-Up.”

    Unfortunately, most people fail to realize that it’s just as (or more) important than the initial contact.

    Very few people make a meaningful and lasting first impression (just ask your very first girlfriend what she remembers about you).

    To maximize your effectiveness and to remain “top of mind,” you really do need to remind the person that you spoke with that you still exist and what it is that you can specifically do for them.

    Here are some suggestions:

  • Send a prospective employer/client that you have interviewed with, a note, 24-36 hours after you have met with them. Sooner than that seems desperate; later than that and they won’t remember your face.
  • If, during your call/meeting, an inanimate object or theme was alluded to (e.g. a CD, going to the Bahamas, eating a quince, a sought after toy for their kids, etc.) –send something related thereto, ASAP, to the decision-maker. They will appreciate the attention and be impressed that you listened and acted so quickly.
  • As time goes by, send your “target” relevant newspaper/magazine/journal articles with a Post-it that says “saw this and thought of you.” Demonstrating that they are always on your mind is very flattering to them and will always be looked at in a positive light.
  • If any questions or issues developed during your initial meeting/pitch, send a timely follow-up memo specifically addressing their concerns. The quicker and the more precise, the better.
  • Do not call back on the same afternoon. No one likes a “stalker.”
  • If they mentioned that they were going to patronize a restaurant on a particular date, call and make arrangements to send over a bottle of wine. You will definitely get a call from them thanking you.
  • Send a note to all meeting participants (or at least the contributors) thanking them for their participation. Everyone loves to get confirmation that they were noticed and appreciated.
  • Never ask for business or make a call to action in the 1st follow-up…just focus on pleasantries and humility.
  • You can send a 2nd follow-up after, at least, 2 weeks have passed.
  • Today’s Tip: It’s great to meet, talk and make a “connection.” Everyone tries to do at least that. However, not many people spend the time or energy to “follow-up.” It is a very effective way to show your intended audience that you remember them, that you care about them and that you are there if they need you. Sometimes, doing something “after the fact” can make all the difference. Follow-up.

    Summary Of All Tips: The Best In Verbal Dexterity (So Far)…

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

    To get your full dose of Verbal Dexterity,
    please visit us at www.verbal-dexterity.com/blog or our website at www.verbal-dexterity.com

    The Art Of The Business Handshake: Yes. In business, you will have to “Shake” your moneymaker. Like a tie, pin or pair of shoes, how one shakes reinforces or reveals a little more about you or your counterpart. Use it as an opportunity to radiate confidence, control and deliberation. If done right, you will leave the other person in a state best described as a “James Bond Martini.”
    That’s right. “Shaken, not stirred.” (from Blog Article dated 9-2-08: “You Must Be Made Of Jelly Because Jam Don’t Shake That Way”)

    How To Get Rid Of An Annoying Caller: Telephone salespersons are people too. Treat them with respect and politeness. However, if they are not willing to stop when you say so, it’s time to be a little more aggressive. Turn the tables on them and watch how fast they run. Respect deserves respect, but abuse deserves your clever on-the-phone reaction. (from Blog Article dated 8-19-08: “Sorry Wrong Number”).

    How To Take Criticism From Your Boss: It’s hard to believe that there are others that might not recognize or appreciate the perfection that is you…but it can happen. If the Boss calls you in and criticizes you: listen, focus, react intelligently and deliberately and maintain a professional composure. How you react to criticism may leave more of an impression on your Supervisor than your screw-up. Exhale, react and move-on…and try not to let the air out of his tires tonight. (from Blog Article dated 8-12-08: “Sticks & Stones & My Performance Bonus”).

    The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible : Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us. We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak. (from Blog Article dated 8-5-08: “Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak”).

    Knowing How To Make A Good Mistake: NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: The worst mistake that you can make is to make the “wrong” kind of mistake. Take a shot and go face this week’s challenge on your own: just be thoughtful, flexible and responsible. Remember, a baseball team can still win the game with a couple of errors.
    Just make the right kind of errors. (from Blog Article dated 7-29-08: “The Error Of Your Ways”).

    The Office Romance: Let’s be careful out there. At the end of the day, co-workers should share a vision, not a bed. Don’t dip your pen where the Company keeps its ink. It’s messy, unpredictable and really hard to get out the stains. (from Blog Article dated 7-20-08: “Love On The Photocopier”).

    How To Deal With The Pain-In-The-Ass Client: You can’t turn an Asshole into a Princess…but you can avoid making things worse. Understand your P-I-T-A’s personality, hobbies, preferences and never let them see you sweat. In the long run, preparation, stoicism and successful execution can tame and impress that difficult client. (from Blog Article dated 7-8-08: “If You Weren’t Paying Us I’d Kill You”).

    How To Pitch An Idea To Your Supervisor: Don’t just blurt out ideas to your Boss. Prepare and strategize. Treat it like a negotiation. Know their concerns and their next question…and be ready to persuade them. You have a great idea, so go for it and share it with your Supervisor. Clearly, you should Speak Up! (from Blog Article dated 7-1-08: “Speaking Upwards”).

    How To Change Your Speech in Mid-Stream: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn! (from Blog Article dated 6-25-08: “Making A Sharp Left Turn”).

    Who Can Put The Point In Power Point : Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen. (from Blog Article dated 6-18-08: “Hiding Behind The Slides”).

    Incentives & Discipline In The Workplace: Only the enlightened Employer can properly decide how to serve the “carrots” or throw the “sticks.” Just make sure that each is serving its purpose (it’s hard to throw a carrot and no one likes to eat a stick). (from Blog Article dated 6-11-08: “Don’t Like Carrots, Not Afraid Of Sticks”).

    Using Your Hands While You Speak: Your hands can help or hinder your oral effectiveness. Words and gestures should complement, not conflict with, one another. Clever use of your hands will get you the handshake that you are looking for. (from Blog Article dated 6-3-08: “These Hands Were Made For Talking”).

    Returning To Work After A Vacation: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella. (from Blog Article dated 5-27-08: “Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go”).

    The Over-prioritization Of Work In Your Life: You need to be focused and driven to succeed in today’s business world. The pace is relentless…but can come at a real cost: to your spouse, your kids and your health. Just remember that if you actually win the “rat race,” you are nothing more than the best rat. (from Blog Article dated 5-14-08: “Praying To The Work Deity”).

    Humor In The Workplace: Everyone wants to make their colleagues laugh. The real question is: What is the cost of a workplace guffaw? People love when others are made fun of (it eases tension and keeps attention away from them) but always remember when they were the butt of the joke. So, be funny, respectful and make sure that your next “punch-line” doesn’t knock you out. (from Blog Article dated 5-6-08: “Your Boss Slips On A Banana, Crashes Into A Stack of Dishes and Gets His Tie Stuck in The Shredder”).

    Differentiation: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success! (from Blog Article dated 4-28-08; “Viva La Difference!! -Differentiation In The Market Place”).

    Bargaining For Everything: Consider all purchases to be subject to negotiation. Sellers want to sell and buyers want a bargain. Try to find the secret middle ground (4-23-08: “Bargaining For Bread, CDs and Carpet”).

    Feeling Sick At Work: Getting sick on the Big Day is a prescription for disaster if not handled properly. Don’t let your ego get in the way of the correct remedy. Take two minutes to assess…and call me in the morning (4-18-08; “Getting Sick On The Big Day”).

    Being On Time: Lateness does not reflect well on you or your troops. “Watch” the clock, manage your calendar, take control of meetings and try to beat deadlines. Anything less is going to “tick” someone off (4-10-08; “Johnny Come Lately -Timely Advice To Beat The Clock”).

    How To Pitch A Prospective Client: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch (4-7-08; “How To Pitch Business Like A Pro”).

    Real Teamwork: A Team needs to be nurtured, trimmed, fed and cared for. Don’t just bring strangers together and hope. Help create the proper “chemistry” and watch the Team flourish (3-26-08; “There Is No Jerk In “T E A M” ).

    Trade Show Success: Trade shows can be wonderful opportunities to meet fellow specialists, network, to learn or to drive new business. Be polite, aware, aggressive, strategic and always be ready to put on your Spock ears (3-24-08; “Who Put The Swag in Swagger-Trade Show Strategies”).

    Good E-Mailing: Write your business e-mails in a pithy, spare manner and think about who really needs to be a (cc: or bcc:) recipient. Before sending out an enraged diatribe, take a couple of hours to cool down and assess. You can never delete a bad impression (3-17-08; “Mail Pattern Boldness -The Secrets to Good Business E-Mailing”).

    Attaining A Verbal Return-On-Investment: Businesses that truly invest in their associates’ verbal skills (speaking, presenting and persuading) will see a significant and dramatic ROI (3-11-08; “Does Your Business Have A Favorable Verbal ROI?”).

    Improved Sales: Sales don’t improve because they need to. They improve because the pitch, the execution and the follow-up are thoughtful, honest and energized. Clients (new and old) are magnetically drawn to superior fundamentals (3-4-08; “How To Triple Your Sales In 5 Minutes”).

    Tele-communications & You: 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 2-28-08; “Giving Good Phone”).

    Summarizing You & Your Business: Don’t watch the elevator doors close. Always be ready to explain your business to others in a concise, clever and alluring manner (2-25-08; “Your Elevator Speech: Is The Elevator Going Up or Down?”).

    Corporate Jargon: Don’t fall into the corp-speak trap. Use clear, concise language to direct others or ask your leader to clarify. Nodding your head to phrases that are meaningless WILL come back to haunt you. You can bet your evolving paradigm on it! (2-21-08; “Drilling Down To The Synergies Of Leveraged Empowerment Opportunities…or Does Anyone Speak Plain English In Corporate America Anymore?”).

    Complaining: 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(2-14-08; “The Sweetest Whine Of All”).

    Networking: Your business card is a reflection of you.
    High quality, dependable and memorable individuals have cards of similar construction (2-11-08; “A Font Of Information”).

    Meetings: 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” (2-6-08; “Minutes To Go Before I Meet”).

    The Business Meal: A business meal is not a relaxing event. You need to be “on” from beginning to end and very aware of your manners.
    Others may judge your credibility and competence by your table behavior (2-4-08; “Some Things Are Hard To Swallow”).

    Conducting An Interview: An interview is like a first date. Your candidate will never look, sound or act better.
    Develop your interviewing X-ray vision and figure out exactly who the person across from you really is (1-31-08; “How To Interview Applicants With X-ray Vision”).

    Standing In Front Of A Room: Don’t let an upcoming speech stress you out. Forget the imaginary naked people in the audience
    Believe in yourself, ooze self-confidence and never let them see you sweat (1-28-08; “The Naked Truth”).

    Eye Contact: In any business context, eye contact can make or break you (1-25-08; “The Eyes Are The Window To The Goal”).

    Public Speaking: If you shake it up by changing your speaking location, voice and presentation, your audience will follow (from Article dated 1-23-08; “Is This Mike On”).

    To read the full content of our Blogs,
    please visit us at www.verbal-dexterity.com/blog.
    To visit our web site, please go to www.verbal-dexterity.com

    You Must Be Made Of Jelly Because Jam Don’t Shake That Way: The Art Of The Business Handshake

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

    The handshake is one of those anachronistic traditions that has survived wars, technology and bad plaid suits. True, you can’t shake someone’s hand in an e-mail, but for in-person meetings (remember those?) it still can make a difference.

    How you shake someone’s hand (or how they shake yours) says far more than anticipated.

    The key is to know what kind of “shaker” you/they are:

  • The Football Linebacker: This individual likes to shake it “old school” style. They grab quick, hard and firm and try to squeeze the stuffings out of their fellow shaker. They intend to demonstrate strength, but in reality, they are predictable, traditional and like to be the one in charge.
  • The Empath: This person goes to shake with one hand and then caresses with the other as well (so it’s their two vs. your one). This is an emotional message of caring, desired closeness and sensitivity.
  • The Jiver: This character has seen too many 70’s movies and is trying to be just a little too casual for most business situations. It may work well with your buds on the basketball court…but don’t try this one with your CFO that just flew in from Cleveland.
  • The Limpster: Strength and dominance is not their thing. They meekly grab your hand with a weak and clammy gesture that screams “Can I please have my hand back!” They won’t be running the innovation committee soon.
  • The Water Pump: This person wants to show you how enthusiastic they are by moving your hand up and down multiple times. Thirty more seconds of this and you may feel compelled to buy a Timeshare. The initiator of this handshake assumes that the more they pump the more you will like them and listen to their message.
  • The Fist Knocker: Another Frat boy greeting that involves two equally immature partners desirous of a quick bonding moment. Each participant makes a fist and the two players tap their knuckes together. If done without missing a beat, you do not have to go through the entire hazing process.
  • The Solid Jab: Dry, forceful and parallel to the ground, this confident and worldly shaker knows when to get in and when to get out. “Can I give you my business now or do we have to go through the entire meeting?” Think Don Draper from “Mad Men.”

  • Today’s Tip: Yes. In business, you will have to “Shake” your moneymaker. Like a tie, pin or pair of shoes, how one shakes reinforces or reveals a little more about you or your counterpart. Use it as an opportunity to radiate confidence, control and deliberation. If done right, you will leave the other person in a state best described as a “James Bond Martini.”
    That’s right.
    “Shaken, not stirred.”

    If You Weren’t Paying Us I’d Kill You: How To Deal With The Pain-In-The-Ass Client

    Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

    Yes, what the say about assholes is true: Everybody has one.

    Unfortunately, all of us, at one point in our career, have had the unique thrill and challenge of dealing with an arrogant, ungrateful, egotistical, unappreciative, pig-headed, demanding, naive, offensive, short-sighted, unrealistic, boorish, schizophrenic, lost in the weeds, unreliable, two-faced, unpredictable, unlikable, incomprehensible, pain-in-the-ass (”P-I-T-A”) client.

    How do you deal with a P-I-T-A?

    I know. Your first instinct is to yell, bang your head and throw something. But that’s not realistic.

    Neither is homicide.

    So what can you do?

    Here are some tips:

  • Immediately do the math–do you need them more than they need you? If so, you have to find a way to keep them as a client. If not, Au Revoir/Sayonara/See Ya Later!
  • Exert the effort to find something (anything) that is redeeming or tolerable about them and make that a diversionary subject of conversation when you interact
  • Consistently send them confirming notes/memos so that you have some type of record when they pull a “Crazy Ivan” (Russian submarine captain’s unexpected u-turn) on you
  • Attempt to meet/speak with them with your colleagues present. It’s always good to have a witness to the madness
  • Always be more prepared for a meeting than they are. The more you can eliminate potential areas for criticism, the better
  • Always have a second approach (in your back pocket), ready to be shared
  • No matter how tempting, don’t become a “Yes Man.” In the long run, such butt-kissers are never valued or respected
  • Think of ways to appeal to their vanity
  • Try to figure out a way to make them look good
  • In the face of a success, always refer to your relationship as a “partnership” and a “team effort”
  • Take their venting and disgust with a smile (think “The Devil Wears Prada”)
  • Never yell, scream or accuse back. You will never win if they are paying you
  • Today”s Tip: You can’t turn an Asshole into a Princess…but you can avoid making things worse. Understand your P-I-T-A’s personality, hobbies, preferences and never let them see you sweat. In the long run, preparation, stoicism and successful execution can tame and impress that difficult client.

    Making A Sharp Left Turn (How To Change Your Speech In Mid-Stream)

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

    You did the prep.
    You wrote out your entire presentation.
    You have practiced in the shower.
    Your shampoo and conditioner were paying rapt attention.
    Even your dog seemed intrigued by your transitions.

    You are ready to go.
    The big day is here.
    The audience is primed and anticipating.

    As you finish your first 15 minutes, you notice something slightly different about your listeners.

    It’s a nuance.
    A subtlety.
    What is it?

    Oh yes.

    THEY ARE BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS!!!!

    …and you still have 45 minutes to go.

    You have 3 choices:
    1) Punt immediately and run out of the room in shame. If they are really that bored, they may not notice that you have left until after you have driven away in a disguise.
    2) Be stubborn and naive and keep plodding ahead. Obviously, it’s their fault, not yours.
    3) Show some Verbal Dexterity and get this presentation kicking!

    Here are some things that you can do to re-invigorate that corpse of a speech:

  • Immediately stop talking. Let the silence be noticed. Then change your voice quality dramatically (volume, tone, inflection, pentameter)
  • Be self-deprecating: acknowledge that even you were bored by what you just said (and follow this with something exciting)
  • Change you location. For example, sit down in the middle of the audience and conduct your presentation from there
  • Shut off the projector and talk personally and candidly to your audience
  • Start talking about something personal that all will find interesting
  • Have an interactive “game” ready to go
  • Ask the audience to move around (change seats, clap their hands, repeat phrases after you (increased blood flow always helps)
  • Always have 2 back-up topics/points ready to go just in case
  • Ask the audience what is their top priority and address in a casual/free exchange manner
  • Today’s Tip: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn!