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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » 2008 »

Archive for September, 2008

The “Get Out Of Jail” Kit: How To Prepare For The Inevitable Office Emergency

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Sometimes the workplace can provide more adventure than you bargained for.

Files go missing, drinks get spilled, heels break, seams rip and clients show up early. It’s enough to make you feel like a character in a British farce (anyone remember “Noises Off?”). So, other than running away or drinking heavily, what can you do to prepare yourself for that office emergency?

Here are some items that you should keep in your office to help get you through an “obstacle course” kind of day:

  • Crazy glue and duct tape: Why? Because they can solve 90% of all emergencies.
  • Dental floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash: Sure, no one thought that your primary client would show up just as you returned from “all you can eat garlic bread day” at the local pizza joint…but you need to freshen up quickly. Excuse yourself and get that breath minty fresh.
  • Clean underwear, a dress shirt/blouse and a blazer/sport jacket: When, out of the blue, the Boss wants you to accompany him to an “event” because his wife bailed at the last minute, you need to be ready to go. Keep this on a hangar behind your desk in a suit bag. It’s time will come.
  • A spare set of glasses or contact lenses: Squinting during your big presentation (because you lost a lens or your glasses broke) is neither endearing nor persuasive.
  • Extra cash: Find a good hiding place and keep some petty cash around for the next emergency. You can’t schmear a restaurant Maitre’D with a credit card.
  • A small toilet kit with deoderant, cologne and a hair brush: Because you were just informed that YOU will be entertaining that opposite-sex client who is in from out-of-town and anticipating a nice dinner. It doesn’t matter who you are– at 6:00 PM, everyone’s personal hygiene could use a little “freshening up.”
  • Band-aids and bactene: That paper cut is more serious than you thought and none of us want to watch you bleed on the McGregor file.
  • Instant stain remover: It only takes one leaky pen or one messy pasta lunch, to turn that crisp white shirt into an ink blot. Get one of those portable stain removers and keep it in your desk.
  • Aspirin and cold medicine: No one cares if you have a headache or a cold. Shut-up and make the presentation without sneezing all over us.
  • A nail-clipper: No one is impressed with a nail-biter and no one cares if you just ripped a nail. You do not have time to go to a drugstore. Be prepared to trim as needed.
  • Some bottled water and some food that can last awhile (nuts, crackers, chocolate, etc): Hey, the 4-year analysis is suddenly due tomorrow and there’s no one delivering take-out at this hour…so this is your dinner tonight. Bon appetit!
  • Today’s Tip: Perhaps the Boy Scouts have it right…”Be prepared.”
    You never really know where your workday will take you: surprise client visits, demands from the Boss, new projects, re-jiggered analyses, corporate turmoil…and on and on. The key is that while you can’t prepare for everything, you can prepare for most office emergencies. That’s why when the sh_t hits the fan, I am coming to your office.

    “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.”