No. 127 - Use These 7 Steps to Network Effectively

networking
The following post is actually several years old. I wrote it with Barry Lenson when we were asked to contribute to the then prospering Trump University newsletter. BUT upon retrieving it from my archives (well, because Trump is in the news nowadays) I was struck how it's even more relevant today to replace the crutch of "connecting" through social ...
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No. 117 – You’re In Control of What Goes On Inside Your Head

Your mind manages all of your life: your outlook, how you approach situations, and how you interact and work with others. It's a feeling of great freedom to think whatever you want. Sure, there are random thoughts that come and go that you can't do anything about. But the ones you put in and hold, you control. Outside of having brain damage, diseas...
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No. 113 – 14 Ways to Spot a Business Bully

Four out of five of us will experience a coworker who tries to bully or backstab. In all walks of life, there are people who pull time away in political maneuvering, grabbing resources, and creating distractions. These people can get your eyes watering: •  They secretly present your ideas as theirs. •  They take credit for your work to he...
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No. 107 – Virtual Meeting Prep Pays Off

Before you join in a video conference or virtual meeting of any kind, think through the ramifications of what's about to happen. Take at least a little time to create a positive impression with your visual surroundings and make the exchange productive for all. Outline your objective. Rehearse your points so that you can: • Inform and "tell, not sel...
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No. 106 - 12 Reasons Why It's Important to Ask Questions

Asking questions is a basic leadership requirement. Whether you are leading, managing, job interviewing, negotiation, selling, influencing or just engaging, your question asking is more important than your question answering.Here are some ways you can benefit from asking the right questions: Find out what the other people care about, value, like, and dislike Distinguish yourself from the know-it-alls Flatter others, and maintain their self-esteem Show interest in others rather than coming across as just trying to get what you want Get a more honest assessment of the situation Avoid jumping to conclusions and making false assumptions Help guide people to arrive at the answer you want Buy yourself time Handle surprise and attack by asking for clarification instead of jumping into a defensive mode Persuade better Reinforce, clarify, or correct what you think you know Test and verify what they know~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 105 - Communication Chaos

With all the communication tools available to us, there is still massive mutual mystification when it comes to clearly understanding each other. Many factors contribute to that, not the least being the languages people speak in our diverse workforce. A US Census report on findings from 2009-2013 found that sixty million Americans speak languages other than English at home; they speak some 300-plus different languages.For example, in:-New York = 192 different languages-San Francisco = 163 different languages-Dallas = 156 different languagesSo in addition to the more common German, French, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese, you have: Havasupi, Swahili, Onondaga, Bengali, Picuris, Hindi, Tungus, Hawaiian, Bengali, Pima, Amharic, Serbian, Tamil, Indonesian, Malayalan, Kiowa, Pidgin, Croatian, French Creole, Samoan and Mandarin — as a small sample.Even if you speak English you have to work at being understood, as writer David Burge, puts it, “Yes. English can be weird. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.”~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 98 - A Little History of Communication Platforms

With the myriad audio, video, and digital communication platforms we have today to immediately disseminate more information than ever in history, it’s kind of interesting to look back on how man achieved the same desire to share information….During an excavation of a medieval road near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian archaeologists recently unearthed a birchbark letter dating to the fourteenth century. They believe it was written by a servant to his master to describe unforeseen travel expenses on a debt collection journey.For many years I’ve collected religious artifacts. One of my most treasured items is the teachings of the Bible written in Sanskrit on banana tree leaves bound together by a cord so they can fan out and be read as a learning tool.Before the birchbark or banana leaves, the Incas in Peru encoded and recorded information with cryptic knotted strings known as khipu. Dr. Gary Urton, of Harvard, writes, “The knots appeared to be arranged in coded sequences analogous to the process of writing binary number (1/0) coded programing for computers.”And before that, there were petroglyphs etched into cave walls. Petroglyphs, then knotted strings, then birchbark and parchment were “technological” advancements in communication for their times.What will be interesting to see are the technological advances still waiting for us. An email in the future might seem as old fashioned as the birchbark.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 52 - What's Irritating To Others About Video Conferencing?

Recently I polled a number of people and asked, “What’s irritating about video conferencing?”  They told me it's irritating when people: Don’t acknowledge others on the other side of the monitor Constantly look bored or continuously check their cell phones Don’t speak up Use a cell phone for the call, which is usually a poorer connection Join in late Don’t set up pre-call arrangements, and end up having to spend call time dealing with equipment or call setup issues Invite too many people to get on the video Have poor backlighting and contrast Talk louder than necessary Are not aware of their body language Don’t smile Have a background that is too busy or distracting On the other end start multi-tasking Talk over others Don’t mute their phone when appropriate Move excessively in and out of view Make statements like, “I know you probably can’t see this…” and then explain a graph or picture without giving details along with the point, i.e. “As you see here, the numbers are…” Summarize instead, i.e., “This graph shows a 30% growth rate.” Don’t pay attention, fidget with laptop and cell phones Only speak to folks in the room, not the people on the other side of the monitor, too Talk all over each other because of time delay Are obviously having private side conversations Don’t look at the camera; act stiffly around it Shuffle papers noisily Do not pay attention to personal appearance Don’t operate the data systems correctly Eat or drink while on the call Use excessive hand gesturingSo now that you are reminded, it helps your communication if you refrain from doing those things.~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 21 - Be Your Own PowerPoint Instead of Using It

When I start a speech, generally after every other speaker has used a number of slides, I explain to the audience, "You'll find that I don't use PowerPoint. There is a reason for that. I believe you have to be your own PowerPoint in life. You can't walk around with a group of slides over your shoulder explaining what you want people to remember. You have to live, breathe, show, and emote the effect you want to have on people."That's taking nothing away from those who effectively use the technology. I just chose another approach in presentations so that I:

1) differentiate myself from others2) rely on my physicality, choice of words, and mindset to communicate3) practice what I preach (i.e. professional presence and executive effectiveness)

Next time you present, try it without any props except your own preparation and brilliance. You might find out that you explain yourself better than any technology can add to your speech.- DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 20 - Tell People What You Feel

Standing outside a seaside restaurant in Malaga, Spain was an older woman dressed head to toe in a perfectly tailored aqua colored pantsuit apparently waiting for someone to join her. Sunglasses on her head and (likely) an Hermes scarf draped across one shoulder.To this awkward-feeling college girl on Spring break, she looked the epitome of grace, confidence, and comfortableness with her happy facial expression, erect posture, and poised demeanor. After patiently waiting, an equally dapper young man joined her (I’m assuming her son) and gentlemanly escorted her to their table. She listened to him earnestly, touched his arm occasionally, spoke with enthusiasm, and laughed easily. I thought to myself, "that's what I want to be like when I get older."Today, I am that older woman. Sometimes young women in my audience come up after a speech and say, "I hope I look like you when I'm your age." It makes me feel good. And then I feel regret that I did not compliment that woman I saw in Malaga those many years ago. I was seated right beside her; I could have leaned over and said, "You're a striking woman. You're what I want to look like when I get older."Today if I see someone who makes me want to compliment him or her, I do it immediately and clearly because I don't want to miss the chance to make someone feel good. It takes such little effort to maintain someone's self esteem, and the payoff is so great for both of you.- DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 9 - Clear Thinking Becomes Clear Writing

Whether writing an email, a proposal, an article, or a book, my writing mentors have taught me a simple 3-step test to ask myself. It’s a must after each completed piece, but equally important after each paragraph, even each sentence:

1.  What am I trying to say?

2.  Have I said it?

3.  Is it clear to someone reading it for the first time?

Following that simple test, I’ve found that my writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things I keep out that shouldn’t be there.I’ve added one more question to the test:

4.  Why should the reader care; what’s in it for them?

This last question is to nudge the reader’s curiosity along to continue reading. The author of On Writing Well, William Zinsser, says #4 is to cajole with freshness, or novelty, or paradox, or humor, or purpose -- with an unusual idea, an interesting fact, or a question -- something to make the reader smile and linger on what you wrote.So this blog is a reminder to try and write even the most mundane message in a clear and direct way without being pompous or pretentiousness. That’s where your humanity and warmth will cause people to always want to read what you wrote and be more likely to positively respond.- DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.Photo by Mark Hunter
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