Two people discussing luck and each of them have different views. One says "Ugh they always have all the luck and I never do" and the other says, "I always seem to get lucky". Was the potential for the first person stopped because of their attitude and thinking they were unlucky? And what about person number two? Did their positive belief in thinking they always are lucky actually enable them to be lucky?
Luck is often referred to as random or by chance. But can we make luck? And if we do, is it actually considered luck?
So how does luck happen and how can someone make themselves become luckier? Together authors Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh began researching luck and the creation of luck, for their book How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life.
Kaplan offers a story of living in Manhattan and how her husband always manages to find a parking spot right in front of a theater they frequently attend, yet she never manages to get the same lucky parking spot. It'd be fair to say that her husband is being more observant watching for people going to their car and other potentially small factors that someone in a rush or not paying attention might miss.
She believes her husband makes himself lucky by being patient, observing, preparing by arriving early to have enough time to park and using his knowledge of the area to know where might be an empty spot.
This leads into Kaplan saying that to be lucky you have to know what you want before you start looking for luck. Each person is different for how they can achieve their goal.
She theorizes that luck happens at the intersection of chance, talent and hard work.
Marsh says in the book "Opportunities are all around you, and you just have to learn to see them," and goes on to say "There are ways everyone can make themselves luckier."
Luck doesn't happen for those who aren't trying to achieve a goal. Sitting around and waiting for luck to happen to you isn't going to work. You have to put in effort of some kind, which puts you in the position for luck to happen to you.
Marsh then talks about how Mother Teresa strictly flew first class and was criticized for it. But there was a reason she was buying a costly ticket considered luxurious to some. By placing herself in a position surrounded by other wealthy people in first class she was positioning herself to be lucky for raising money for her charity.
At first you think it's another example of donated dollars not going to support the people who which the money was originally raised for. But Marsh says that by buying a ticket for first class she was surrounding herself with others who could afford first class tickets and probably donate large sums of money on behalf of themselves or their company. She could raise more money that way than sitting with other individuals in coach who could spare maybe 20 dollars as a donation versus 20,000 dollars.
She was able to raise funds simply by placing herself in a seat to be lucky and talking to those around her. Mother Teresa put in effort on these flights and wasn't choosing seat 1A because of the extra leg space.
Effort and will to continue on also seems to be at play for luck. This is what people would call determination. People who are determined tend to be luckier. When you're at work and faced with a challenge, one person might look and not find what they're looking for and give up. Whereas their coworker will continue even when others have stopped to try and find a solution to the challenge and discover the answer.
Their coworker might call them lucky because they found the answer first, but it's probably because they were more determined and were being observant to the possible solutions.
What can professionals do to create luck?
I'll leave you with an example on luck. Two employees are wanting for the same position. The first goes into the meeting knowing he has a good relationship with the boss but doesn't talk about what he'd do for the company if given the new role. Employee two also has a good relationship with the boss, but talks and explains his ideas and goals he hopes to achieve for the company if given the new position. Both qualified, but one went in prepared with evidence of the effort and determination he has to have the new role. Who got the position?
"Because if you're not prepared, you're going to blow the chance you've been given." Says Marsh.
Everyone has screwed up at least one time in their life, whether it's big or little. Screwing up doesn't just stop. You can learn from what happened before, but it's likely you'll face other challenges in the future.
But the hope is that we learn from the mistakes or mess-ups that we made and learn from them. Eventually, we can take example from what happened and look towards what can be done differently.
Kristen Hadeed was inspired to write a book about her screw ups when starting her cleaning company Student Maid. Since starting her company in college, she is now asked to speak in front of audiences around the country. But she realized she had only been telling people about her success and not how she got there.
She said that she was glossing over the real hard-work she went through and the mistakes she made to get where she was. In Hadeed's book Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong, she tells readers about the screw ups and what changes she made to make her company better.
Her journey as a leader began with trial and error. What readers can learn most from her memoir-like business book is that leaders aren't perfect either and sometimes screw ups happen. She acknowledged that being a leader is hard work and requires someone to want to be better for the people she employs and her company.
Important lessons on leadership from Hadeed's "screw ups"
"Leadership isn't sitting in an air-conditioned clubhouse with your feet propped up." -Kristen Hadeed
Show by example, and prove you understand being at the bottom is tough work but you're there to support them.
Offer trust, it will give your team an energy and feeling of self-confidence. Give them the opportunity to problem solve for themselves, don't do everything for them.
Don't give a compliment sandwich, be upfront and explain how actions affect the company or you, how you feel about it and what you hope to see in the future.
Support and compliment your team but only when it's deserved and not for what is expected of their job. Share those compliments when they go above and beyond.
Connect with your employees on topics other than work. Show that you care to know them and that you care about them and are they are part of your team. You don't have to be best friends, but try to get to know them because if it seems like you care they'll feel more appreciated and encouraged to do their best.
Be present, if someone approaches you with a question, say hi or help stop what you're doing to listen. Hadeed suggests to simply ask if you can finish what you're doing, then close it up or put it aside and take a few minutes to listen to what they have to say. If someone is going to a leader it's important you're present showing that you care about what they have to say.
As a leader it's okay to say that you need help too.
These may not be perfect leadership solutions for you or your company, but take example from them and perhaps adapt from it your own lessons.
This book is an important read for leaders and individuals who may not be leaders in their company but hope to be or want to impress their leaders by doing their best. It gives a wonderful insight to how the mind of a leader works and what you should expect from a leader in your industry.
What's best is that it doesn't read like a typical analytical business book. It's a story with real-life lessons of a millennial in a leadership role that are admirable and something to respect and learn from.
"We can't just throw people in and expect they'll succeed." -Kristen Hadeed
*Disclaimer: Tero International is in no way affiliated or receives any compensation with any authors or publishers for referencing any books in the Book Of The Month blog series.
When entering the workforce, you hope you're going into a career and finding a job that makes you feel fulfilled and self-satisfied. But possibly you go into the workforce with contentment knowing you are fine where you're at but your work may not bring you much happiness.
Too often you hear the phrases "work isn't meant to be fun" or "nobody likes their job". Maybe you hear the opposite, "if you do something you love you'll never work a day in your life" or "my work doesn't seem like a job to me".
Being happy at work involves enjoying the results you're producing, culture of the company and the people you work with. Is your purpose at your job making you feel good? Are you finding anything redeeming about your work?
In the book "How To Be Happy At Work", Annie McKee goes through the different types of unhappiness at work, how it can be managed and where your unhappiness could be stemming from.
Initially McKee suggests determining if where you work is a "job", "career" or "calling". Taking this first step can lead you in the direction of how you can become happier at work.
She provides helpful tips and strategies to determine if you need a change. As much as change can be terrifying, you need to have what McKee calls a "wake-up call" to take the steps towards change. McKee mentions three ways one can experience a "wake-up call". There are physical, emotional and relational are the different types of "wake-up calls".
Throughout the book McKee offers exercises that prompt questions for you to answer. She recommends creating a personal vision for your life and work when working towards becoming happy at what you do.
Here are some of the questions from the book readers are asked to observe about themselves:
Clearly state your dream, what it is and what it means to you.
Identify two goals you hope to achieve while working towards your dream.
Make a list of intellectual, emotional, relational and other personal resources to help you achieve your goals and move towards your vision.
Even if now is not the right time for you to change your career or leave your job there are other ways to become happy there. Know that you can apply for a leadership position within your company as another option or request to join a different team or committee. Whatever reason you need to stay where you are make a point of searching for something good where you are. Focus on that and remember any positive change will make you and your personal relationships healthier overall.
And if you currently love your job and are happy look around your office and see if anyone is showing signs of unhappiness and how you can connect with them even if you might normally not. As mentioned in the book, office friendships can change attitudes and work-life experiences so it's important to cultivate those friendships.
What seems to be a common theme to happiness at work is having purpose. As long as you can find purpose and make connections you will find your work-life happiness or it will lead you to it.
Setting goals is a large part of becoming happy at work. Once you reach those goals you feel satisfied in your achievement. So what are your goals? Tero believes you should devote part of every day to activities that answer the questions, "What one thing could I be doing that will move me closer to achieving one of my goals?" Once you start answering that question you can start moving towards a happier work-life.
Are you someone who makes choices in a split-second decision, or someone who takes time and deliberates on the decision? Or perhaps you are someone who has done both? And after you've made that decision no matter which way you do it, do you think you have chosen better than if you had done it the other way?
Do you feel you are "leaping to conclusions" if you make your decision in two seconds? Malcolm Gladwell author of Blink: Power of Thinking Without Thinking tries to understand our brains when going through what he calls rapid cognition. He questions if there is a way to better use rapid cognition and use it consistently when making judgements.
"That the task requires that we acknowledge there can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis."
Ultimately the author wants readers to believe that split-second decisions can potentially have the same impact that months of choices and thought would. Hence the "blink of eye" and everything that can happen in one blink or two seconds.
Now depending on your job you may not want to make a rash decision that could jeopardize the company. Some in the workforce don't get the time you want to make decisions. For example, if your company is enacting a crisis management plan you need to be moving quickly. You don't get a week to think about a response. This is where Gladwell's belief of training the mind to think logically and deliberately comes into place.
When thinking about the first two seconds of a situation, also think about the first two seconds of any thought, action or meeting you have not just the big ones. Each small moment can determine the possible outcome of a happier work-life says Gladwell.
This month practice improving your two-second judgements. Start with simple choices, like looking at a menu at a restaurant, and see what happens. As the month continues on, use the two-second decision on bigger choices and see if you find your snap judgements to be better than if you had taken a longer amount of time to think about them.
Let's looks at this from a different perspective. We often pull in a statistic in our workshops from Harvard University. The statistic says we form an opinion about a person in about two seconds which is exactly what Malcom is referring to and in this case, could be affecting a person's overall impression of you.
In our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop, participants not only improve verbal communication, but also their non-verbal communication. This is because our visual messages precede anything we say or do. Think about the next time you are about to give a presentation, attend a networking function, grab coffee with a potential client. These people are going to make snap judgments in a 'blink' and form an impression in only two seconds, and it is those two seconds that can determine your success and impact.
Being conscious of this information is key because you do not have control over whether or not someone will make a snap judgment of you - it's human nature. Focus on what you can control (appearance, energy level, etc.) and you will have the ability to tip the scale in your favor.
This month's book blog is going to have a different take to it. Instead of focusing on a subject specific to your work I'm going to focus on you and the food changes you can make to be better at work.
It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it keeps you motivated throughout the day, helps with weight loss etc. etc. But that shouldn't mean that the other meals shouldn't be as important.
Staying productive at work helps the day go quicker, impresses your boss, shows your hard work ethic and maybe could get you a promotion. But often productivity can lack and start to slow and you may find yourself staring at your computer screen.
Eating enough food and the right amount of foods gives you the energy needed to make it through any busy schedule says Giada. She recommends choosing Low-GI foods because they are absorbed more slowly making your energy goes longer. High sugar foods like white bread will give you ups and downs of energy throughout the day so be mindful of what you intake.
In What You Eat Affects Your Productivity by Ron Friedman, believes food factors into workplace performance. Like De Laurentiis, he also believes that Low-GI foods are a better option for more productivity.
Friedman describes some food as being mentally draining and only giving you short bursts of energy. These foods could be anything from pasta to cheeseburgers. Different types of food can make your digestive system work harder, giving your brain less oxygen therefore making you feel groggy.
Cost of meals often affects what one chooses for lunch while at work. Friedman suggests thinking about your meal beforehand.
He says it's easier to resist unhealthier options when you think about what to eat in the morning instead of ordering in the moment.Plan how much you're willing to spend on healthy meals and look to see what's available in your area where you work.
Both De Laurentiis and Friedman agree not to wait to be hungry for lunch but instead snack throughout the day to keep energy levels and productivity higher. De Laurentiis recommends five smaller meals rather than three big. This helps balance out energy levels in your day.
For someone hoping to thrive throughout the day and not hit the mid-afternoon slump should reconsider their meal choices. Making small changes to what you put in your body could drastically change your work life.
I know healthy eating can sound like boring food, but what and how you make it determines that. Giada offers lots of recipes in her cookbook that are better alternatives to fast food or processed sugary foods. Friedman says eat foods like fruit and vegetables that contain nutrients that help curiosity, motivation and engagement.
On Giada's website she offers a variety of meals you can prepare and have as meals or save for snacks at a later time. Click to find a recipe for lunch or a snack that provides the energy you need to get through the workday.
Take the time to plan out a few meals and see what differences they make for you at work.
Civility in the digital age: How companies and people can triumph over haters, trolls bullies and other jerks by Andrea Weckerle, explores the actions to maintaining a professional online presence.
It's likely that at some point online you will encounter "trolls". Trolls according to Weckerle are "attack others online for fun and sport, and sockpuppets, who assume fake identities with the intention of misleading others."
There are several types of trolls that can be identified. Some of them include Psycho Trolls, Hit-and-runner, Tactical Trolls, Spamming Troll and more that can be found in the book.
It's suggested in the book to disempower the trolls. Take the conversation back into your control. This can be done by removing the comments or blocking accounts. Be careful though, you can't block everyone who doesn't like you and delete comments you don't care for. Deciding what to do must be fair, but if what is said doesn't add value to the conversation then its likely okay to block the account.
If you're a large company and someone is making a complaint online there are many ways of handling it, but beware that they're not a troll.
Maintaining an online presence is almost required in today's connecting world. You want to be reachable to your audience, but have to be prepared for any type of encounter.
Networking events often times end in Linkedin requests or visits to your company's website and possibly even a search for you on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure you come off online how you would want to in person.
Professional vs. Personal profiles represents a lot of what people will come to think of you.
Create new accounts.
At Tero, participants learn in our UPLOAD coaching to keep online profiles separate. If you want to have a personal profile keep work out of it and vice versa. Maintain separate pages to keep your professional presence on. This is especially helpful when you have one-on-one conflict online with someone you know.
As mentioned before there are people or trolls as they're called, who roam the internet to cause trouble. Don't engage. Never feel like you can't defend yourself online if you feel that the comments being said to you cross the line. However, going back and forth won't solve much when the person is hiding behind a screen. Engage with comments or people who aren't there just to stir up trouble.
Prepare for conflict ahead of time.
If you have a plan organized managing conflict through your social channels might not be as stressful. For companies who have crisis management plans social media should be part of this. You never know which channel might be targeted, so be prepared.
Keep disputes private.
"Sub-tweeting" or not so cryptic online commenting about someone could be harmful to your professional presence. It's best to not say anything at all whether it's about a coworker, business partner or competitor. Even if you don't say the person's name you are referring to in your online comments, it's possible those aware of the situation will be able to deduce who you are talking about.
Try to take the problem offline
If it's a problem from a customer or user that as a company you feel important to solve try to take it offline. Weckerle suggests commenting back to them with apologizing or asking them to email, direct message or call them so they can help. And end with how that person is a valued customer. Relationships matter and you don't want to burn bridges with customers who are watching the interaction online.
How much do first impressions actually matter? Could your first impression be a make or break moment for you?
When I first meet someone there are three things I notice almost immediately; teeth, height and facial expression.
In the book First Impressions: What You Don't Know About How Others See You by Ann Demarais and Valerie White is an instructional and educational tool to help you redefine the first impression you give.
Often first impressions are how we decide what we think of someone. For example, if someone has had a wonderful day and they banter back and forth with you, you may think them to be kind and friendly.
Now that same person has had a horrible day and when you meet them they give one word responses and have a closed posture. You will think of them as cranky or perhaps rude when they're really not.
The feelings you give off are likely to be projected back towards you according to the book and stick as a lasting memory in the persons mind. Impressions are memorable and the person might not forget it.
"An impression is important in the sense that there is a retained remembrance."
First impressions also include the attitude or personality that comes across when meeting someone. But let's not forget about the first impression you leave to others.
Interactions can be affected by four different types of emotions according to White and Demarais:
When evaluating yourself and the impression you leave, authors Demarais and White suggest thinking about this question. How are you presenting yourself to be to everyone you meet?
In business those impressions can come from the conversation after the hello, the type of handshake you use or even if you're smiling.
Identify your behaviors and if they need to be changed to improve your lasting impressions. Don't let something small ruin a networking event, sale or even business partnership.
You have the tools to create the best first impression.
Ultimately, think of your first impression as a mirror. What you give will be reflected back at you, and you never forget a bad impression like you never forget a bad hair day.
Alarm sounds. Wake up. Get ready. Repeat. This may be a simple routine in your daily life but it's a routine you're accustomed to.
You do the simplest tasks day in and day out because it's what you know to do and what your brain is programmed to do. This is also as Charles Duhigg describes in his book, The Power of Habit, as a cue, routine and reward - making it a cycle or a habit.
But what about those work habits that seem as if they make sense, but could be done a better, more efficient way? How easy will it be to break the routine or habit that you know works?
In chapter three of The Power of Habit, Duhigg tells a story about NFL coach, Tom Dungy, who continuously was passed over for several NFL head coach positions.
Why? It was because he believed the players weren't extraordinary but followed habits they had learned. He wanted to change those habits rather than create new ones to achieve better outcomes.
Dungy followed one rule when changing habits which was to keep the cue and reward the same. All he said that needed to be done was to shift or change the habit. By keeping the trigger and reward, he was able to produce better results.
When you go into work next, sit down at your desk and think about those habits you've formed pertaining to your job. Are they accomplishing the goals you want in the best possible way? Now think about how those habits can be changed for the better.
If you're a leader at your work, think about the habits of those you supervise and if they're positive or negative. If they're negative, how can you change them to be positive?
Not all habits are good or bad. But revisit those habits and consider how you could change the routine to get an outcome you want.
At Tero, we often site Maslow's 4-stages we go through when changing habits. Stage one is unconsciously incompetent where we don't know what we don't know. Stage two is consciously incompetent where you discover there is a better way and want to change a habit. Stage three is consciously competent where the habit is formed but you still have to actively remember to exemplify it. The final stage is unconsciously competent. This is like brushing your teeth in the morning. You don't have to think about the action to do it effectively. The more you work on changing habits, the closer you will move to stage four where you are exemplifying good habits without thinking.
Pat your head while rubbing your stomach at the same time. Try it right now.
It's not easy is it? You may have had to think hard and focus on what you were doing. The keyword there is focus. Really concentrate to do both tasks at the same time, and even then you may not have been able to do it properly. What you're doing is trying to multi-task and your brain wants to focus on one thing rather than both.
Think about the effort you used to do both of those actions at the same time. Now think about doing two things at once while at work. That extra effort you're using to do both things at one time could be used towards doing one at a time with better results.
According to Rowena Crosbie and Deborah Rinner, authors of Your Invisible Toolbox, millennials are extreme multi-taskers and are coveted in the workplace. But is multi-tasking something that should be praised at while working? Not necessarily.
I know I can multi-task and can accomplish several tasks at once. However, it can be overwhelming and not my best work. Even though it's done, how I feel, and how I feel about my work might not be positive.
Working at full speed and doing several things at once is something I've often prided myself on. I think, "Wow look at everything I'm getting done, I'll be able to work on the next project sooner than I expected!"
Rinner and Crosbie mention in their book that your brain is meant to focus specifically on one thing at a time. They cite a study by Clifford Nass, which showed high multi-taskers were outperformed when compared to low multi-taskers.
It could be that people multi-task because they want to be the most impressive or they don't want to disappoint. But Your Invisible Toolbox says that there aren't any benefits, in fact it could hurt your productivity instead.
What can suffer from multi-tasking?
Multi-tasking may be right for you in the moment, but think about the big picture and how you want you and your hard work remembered. Do you want to be remembered as someone who gets it done or someone who outperformed and went above and beyond?
When two activities demand your complete attention, choose one. The next time you find yourself reading an e-mail while talking on the phone, texting while driving, checking your device in a meeting, completing a puzzle while interacting with your kids, reading PowerPoint slide while listening to a speaker, pause and remind yourself to focus on one task at a time.
Glossophobia. Also known as the fear of public speaking. And many of us are deathly afraid of facing this crippling fear. Through our careers or even personal lives, we require having an ability to speak in front of people.
Let's face it, we are filled with nerves worrying about how we sound and look. Will I stutter? Trip over myself? Does my audience care about what I have to say? If I make a mistake, will they remember?
It's hard to put yourself out there. And when we do, we want to be seen in the best light possible. You will want to control as much as possible before and during a presentation to make sure things run smoothly. One thing that you shouldn't overlook, is your appearance. For those that want to be perceived as a polished professional for their next presentation, we have a great checklist for you.
This checklist comes from a book by Mary-Ellen Drummond called, Fearless and Flawless Public Speaking. The book helps people overcome unnecessary fears of speaking in public. Bring this checklist to your closet and determine a few outfits to knock your next presentation out of the park:
You might think that content is the most important attribute when it comes to public speaking. In reality, it only accounts for 7% of the messages you are sending. Only 7%. The other 93% comes from your vocal and visual properties.
Vocal is your volume, pace and expression you project. Visual is your eye movement, posture and body movement, gestures and facial expression. This is also where your appearance and what you are wearing comes into play. Visual is the biggest portion of the messages you are sending - a whopping 55%.
It makes sense to get that nailed down right. An easy way to increase your visuals is by thoroughly walking through the checklist above.
It isn't easy being faced with adversity and breaking through to do something incredible. Like they always say, "if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." And not everyone is doing it. To accomplish great things, you don't need to necessarily possess natural gifts. Sure, we can't all be Einstein, Michael Jordan or Elvis Presley. But we can be some pretty amazing things by following some guiding principles.
Co-authors Foster Hibbard and Dan S. Kennedy, in their book, Secrets To Guaranteed Goal Achievement, describe 17 powerful steps to achieving great results. We've picked out a few that we wanted to share. Although they may seem obvious, they are not to be taken lightly.
Make Things Happen
Take yourself out of a comfortable place. Comfort is not where you will achieve extraordinary results. There are three types of people:
Most people are not willing to make things happen. If you are somebody that can push through that barrier, you set yourself ahead of 95% of people.
As the great Napolean Hill says, "concentration is the highest form of self-discipline. In today's world, it is easy to bounce around and split our attention with all of the shiny objects floating around. And we aren't just talking about smartphones. Those who choose to harness the power of unwavering focus, will truly excel. It is the key to getting what you want.
Think about some of the greats: Andrew Carnegie concentrated on the steel industry. Henry Ford concentrated on the automobile industry. Steve Jobs concentrated on changing the personal computer.
Ask yourself, "What should I be concentrating on?"
Enthusiasm. What do you have if you aren't enthusiastic about something? A product that is flat, uninspired and tired. The hardest thing to force is enthusiasm. Hard work and focus come easier and more naturally with enthusiasm. Here are a list of bullets that Hibberd and Kennedy note as benefits of enthusiasm:
You can force enthusiasm to some degree. Being truly enthusiastic about something? That's unbeatable.
Most things are attainable with the right discipline. We often think, "I wish that could be me" or, "They are so lucky because..."
It isn't always a smooth, straight path to achieving what you want. Often there are bumps and turns along the way. Those that can harness laser-focus, enthusiasm and the ability to take action, will truly accomplish memorable things.
Have a plan, stick to the plan, and enjoy the ride.
How good are you at making first impressions? We often assume that if we are having a good time that the person with us must be enjoying themselves too. That's because, when you meet someone for the first time, you often focus on what you say and what you talk about.
In the book, First Impressions, by Ann Demarais and Valerie White, they say that, "how you come across to others is less about what you say or how you feel and more about how you make people feel about themselves in your presence."
Demarais and White explain there is a simple way to look at the four different emotions involved in an interaction. Mastering the art of balancing these four emotions will make any interaction successful.
1. How You Feel About Yourself
This is usually the first place we go in new situations. You talk to someone at a party or a meeting, and you are mostly concerned with how you feel - whether you are comfortable, engaged, tired, nervous, and so on. It guides how you interact with people, what situations you seek out, and whom you choose to associate with.
2. How You Feel About The Other Person
Once you feel comfortable with a new situation and a new person, you relax your self-focus and turn your emotional attention to how you feel about the other party. You evaluate others based on how they respond to you and what they say and do. You make quick decisions about their personality and how much you like them.
3. How The Other Person Feels About You
Making good impressions means making someone feel positively about you - so how the other person feels about you is an important focus. And it usually is when you are in situations in which you consciously want to impress someone or know you are being evaluated. During the interaction, you may notice whether the other person smiles and pays attention to you, laughs at your jokes, and seem engaged.
4. How The Other Person Feels About Him Or Herself
You may not realize how powerfully you can affect how others feel and, especially how they feel about themselves. You surely know that you can entertain or bore someone, but do you think about how you can make that person feel proud or insightful? How people feel about themselves after interacting with you will impact how they feel about you. This is often the most neglected of the four emotional focuses.
Now, with all that being said, it might make sense to spend all your energy on the other person and making them feel good. But you might also might be thinking, "what about me?" How can you be sure you get what you want? You probably have a feeling of what you would like to get out of another person. You may like to be around people who make you laugh. You might like to share a lot about yourself because it makes you feel understood, or you may enjoy talking about your work because it allows you to feel talented. How do you balance getting what you want while focusing your energy on others?
The quickest route to getting what you want is to give to others first (what a paradox). The more you listen and connect, the more likely it is that others will return the attention. Begin from a position of generosity, and meet others' needs and lay the groundwork for getting reciprocal fulfillment.
We are quick to talk about ourselves because who knows us better than us? We want the other person to know who we are, what we do and why they should be interested to talk to us. But, think about the person who is quick to talk about themselves, compared to the person who is quick to ask about you? Which person would you rather talk to again? We don't need to answer that one.
This applies to all situations. Talking to a new client, your significant other, your kids, your neighbors, Joe from that Italian restaurant you go to on Tuesday's. Everyone is out seeking to be heard and understood. It's what makes humans, human. The greater importance you put on understanding everyone else, the more they will reciprocate and ultimately, create better connections for everyone.
Have you ever been to a new city or maybe even a restaurant where you felt left out? As if it was an entirely new world where people dressed differently, talked differently, and acted differently. A different culture than where you came from. In those instances, it is tough to blend in unless you adapt to the environment to fit in. It was Charles Darwin who said this famous quote:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
This quote, along with the scenario described above, can be liked to our position as a leader, manager, salesperson, and really anyone and everyone. We need to adapt to our environment. Let's talk about that in terms of leading a group of employees or making a tough sale to a new client.
Someone who is having a tough time relating to their employee or client will have an infinitely more difficult time influencing an action and being understood. There is an invisible barrier between the two parties. Almost as if they are speaking a different language.
In Stephen Young's book, Micro Messaging, he talks about what it looks like to "speak the language" to be respectfully heard, valued, and taken seriously. Young talks about the research behind Neurolinguistic programming or simply NLP. The NLP process starts with teaching the skill to analyze the communication styles and behaviors of others. Then the process develops one's skill to effectively replicate selected traits of the other person.
This doesn't mean you should copy someone step-by-step and mimic everything they do. It is a subtle art of throwing in a similar gesture here, maybe a change in vocal pace there. Whatever can be done without completely changing who you are and your values.
Young adds that, "Effective use of NLP sets a stage of comfort and relaxation for the other person. The normal protective barriers get lowered, and you are more likely welcomed in."
Often times, we are quick to point out differences. How we walk different, talk different than someone. We will have a lot more success in our conversations with people by finding common ground and where we overlap.
We are ethnocentrically biased and believe how we behave is how everyone should behave. The more we can take a step back and bring our ego down a couple notches, the more successful we will become in our personal and professionals lives.
Why do we say we will "do it later"? Whatever 'it' may be. It might be a new workout program, starting a new business, or following up with a client. We all do it. In many cases, the thing we say we will do, never gets done - and we know it won't get done from the beginning.
What would it mean to our success if we would just take action immediately?
Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts is a book written by Peter McWilliams and talks about how individuals can stop procrastinating and to take more action.
McWilliams says that if you can do something about the 'it' now, do it. And if it can't be done now, (a) decide if it is going to get done. If yes, (b) choose when it will get done.
By having a plan and giving yourself a specific deadline (i.e. next week) to accomplish the task, you will have a greater probability to get it done. That way, you can make the task more tangible and hold yourself accountable.
We are always developing habits - for good or for bad. If we continue to push things off as they come, we are hardwiring ourselves to be procrastinators. McWilliams has a great point when it comes to getting in the habit of taking action:
"Getting in the habit of doing what needs to be done as it presents itself to be done - whether it needs to be done in that moment or not - creates an inner freedom for the next moment, the next activity."
We look at procrastination in terms of our communication. Having a tough conversation with an employee. Or preparing to give a presentation for a new strategy that could save the company thousands.
In many cases, we are scared to step out of our comfort zone. But, as we know, our comfort zone is not where growth happens.
The easiest time to take care of something is right away. It will only get harder from there. The longer we wait, the more daunting the task will be - it is as if the task is growing bigger and more terrifying by the day.
Don't wait for the perfect moment. There is no better time than right away.
"To survive and thrive, every human being and every organization needs to be able to say No to anything that threatens their safety, dignity, and integrity."
Saying "no" defines who you are. We all can think of a time when we wanted to say no, but couldn't because we didn't have the courage to. Often times it might be the word "no" that is hard to say.
Think about a time recently or forecast a future event where you had to (or will have to) say "no". Whether it is your boss, a client or even a friend. We often think that by saying no, we will ruin the relationship. No is a very strong word to most people. However, in many cases, you can say no without saying no to lessen the burden. Bear with us.
In the book, The Power of A Positive No, William Ury explains how to accomplish just that: say no without saying no. The author asks to consider the following examples as you start to frame your mindset to this type of communicating:
As you can see in these examples, the speaker didn't verbally say "no", but the no was implied. As long as the intention is defined and clearly spoken, we need not always say the word.
Being aware of the feelings of others is critical to success in the workplace and our personal lives. Although some of us feel comfortable being stern and firm, it might come off hurtful to the listener.
As with anything, there is always a balance. We don't want to be too soft to the point where the listener feels we are sending confusing messages, or too hard where we might harm the relationship.
If used right, this is a good practice to apply in a variety of situations, without harming the relationship.
If you have been to a Tero workshop, or heard research on what makes one person more successful than the next, you know that communication matters. Not email communication, or chatting on FB, Twitter, Snapchat or another social media. We are talking about face-to-face meaningful conversations. As our world becomes more digital, our need to become a better listener, influencer, conflict-resolver or connector - is even greater.
Human interaction cannot be replaced and is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is what makes humans, humans. You are certainly someone who cares about bettering your ability to communicate because you chose to read this blog.
We want to give a few quick takeaways that you can add today, to have more success in your relationships - both current and potential. Just read a book called, How To Talk To Anyone by Leil Lowndes. Interesting book by the way if you are looking for a quick, valuable read.
Think about this quote for a minute:
Those who walk into a room and say,
"Well, here I am!"
And those who walk in and say,
"Ahh, there you are."
How often do we forget this philosophy in our networking, conversations with clients, friends or family? We would be 100x more successful focusing and enjoying the other person, over trying to impress and inflate our own ego and agendas.
Here are a few more tips you can start using today from the book, How To Talk To Anyone:
*Click here for more tips on how to ask open-ended questions.
There are a lot of small tweaks to how we interact with people. Tweaks that will make us more likeable, more engaging, successful or memorable. To be the person you wish you were, you must put in the effort and seek knowledge to close the gap.
Tero prides ourselves on putting together leading research to take people from where they are at to where they want to go as a communicator. But, the person needs to take the research and do the heavy lifting to transform.
Seek out the best knowledge, and put it into action immediately, and you will find yourself becoming the person everyone admires.
It's interesting to think about all of the choices we have nowadays. We can hop in a car and get (virtually) any type of food we want in a reasonable time. We spend hours perusing cell phone stores to get the perfect phone, with the right data package to fit our needs. Of course, that is after we spent hours at home doing research and checking reviews.
Years ago we didn't have any options. We had what we had. The same is true about our lives ages ago compared to now. I was reading the book, Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker and he said something that brought all of this into perspective:
Throughout history, people had little need to know their strengths. A person was born into a position and a line of work: The peasant's son would also be a peasant; the artisan's daughter, an artisan's wife; and so on. But now people have choices. We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong.
Think about that for a moment. And think about if you can confidently say you know exactly what you are good at and should be doing. Most of us (as Drucker mentions above) are wrong. We don't know where our strengths lie.
So how do we find out what we are good at? Feedback analysis. Which, a portion should come from other people. Unfortunately, most people are not honest enough with us in an attempt to avoid conflict.
What Drucker suggests is that whenever we make a key decision or action, we write down what we expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with expectations. Doing this consistently will begin to reveal what we are good (and not so good) at. It might sound simple (and a bit elementary) but it is a good barometer to get our thinking started.
Knowing yourself is critical to personal and professional success. It is perhaps one of the most difficult task any of us faces. We at Tero like to use an assessment you may have taken - the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is used to understand our naturally tendencies - which we use in a program we call Self-Knowledge and Self-Awareness.
The MBTI helps us begin gaining knowledge of self, to help us start building on our strengths, while recognizing that strength done to excess can become a weakness, and begin developing a plan of action to address skill gaps.
"In today's world, people are the product and information is the currency."
Connections are what makes the world go round. Many might say the more connections we make, the more successful we become - both in our career and personal lives. The quote above becomes more relevant by the day. We are walking, talking brands - for the better or worse. Accompanied with brands being everywhere, is information. We want to be entertained, we want to be inspired, we want to learn something new. We are consumers.
As brands, it is in our best interest to do just that - entertain, inspire, be a source for insight. It makes for better small talk and is an often overlooked key ingredient for developing connections.
How You Can Make Better Small Talk
In the book, Great Connections by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon, is a great comparison on improving our small talk. We all want to come across as interesting and they have come up with a perspective you should consider to accomplish that.
Baber and Waymon approach small talk like the news. Here are several bullets on what makes news stories interesting:
Timeliness (When did it happen? This is the "new" in newsworthy.)
Proximity (How close is it? Look for local angle and whether it affects your interests.)
Impact (How will it affect you?)
Consequence (How big will the results be? What will happen next?)
Oddity or Unusualness (How strange or out-of-the-ordinary is it?)
Emotion/Sex/Instincts (Does it relate to basic human needs?)
Conflict (Does it involve opposing forces, different points of view?)
Progress (Does it indicate that things have changed?)
Prominence (Does it involve well-known people or places?)
Think about the last article, podcast, video, blog or another media piece that you can remember. Why do you remember it? Do you see any similarities with the points above?
It doesn't require finding something that fits into all of the above categories. Your topics will be interesting if you involve one or two of the news values.
Connecting with anyone is about finding common ground. Finding something you both share and is a unique conversation only you two can have. Focusing on the other person, asking them open-ended questions and being naturally curious about who they are should be your main focus.
With that being said, when it is your turn to talk, tying in a "news report" strategy is a great element to make all your interactions and conversations more interesting and better remembered.
If you are looking for more tips on being a successful and polished networker, click the button below for a video we produced on the properly planning for a networking event.
You might be getting in the way of your own success. You might be getting in the way of overcoming fears. You might be creating barriers that may not even exist.
How many times have you said, "I can't"?
Probably more than you can take the time to count. Sometimes this is an automatic response to facing our fears. Think of your biggest fear. If someone was to ask you to conquer it, would you say you couldn't? Is it impossible? Or is it something you will simply not attempt?
Where Our Fears Stem From
We have all heard the fight or flight response before. It's a hard-wired, chemical reaction we have when faced with a life-threatening scenario. The most amazing part is it is triggered in social situations as well. We feel our life is in danger when we are about to give a presentation, lead a meeting, and call a potential client. The thought of failing in these situations is everything in our worst nightmares.
We all have those types of fears, holding us back because we sway towards the "flight" side of the spectrum. And, like anything, the more we say we cannot do something, the greater, more intimidating those fears become. Our thoughts have a very powerful impact on our body, mind, and emotions.
In the book, You Can't Afford The Luxury Of a Negative Thought, Author Peter McWilliams says, "For many, negative thinking is a habit which, over time, becomes an addiction. It's a disease, like alcoholism, compulsive overeating, or drug abuse."
Think about that for a moment. Negative thinking can become an addiction. And, like an addiction, we need to first acknowledge that it is a problem:
"I know I should present this new, fresh idea to my team, but I am afraid they won't like it or my presenting abilities will be ridiculed."
Many people know what they should be doing, and it is the crippling fear that refrains them from taking action and executing.
Can a Fear Be Broken Down?
Sometimes our fears have gotten so big, it feels impossible to try and tackle. The best way to take action right away is by taking a series of small steps. This will lead to momentum that will propel you into facing your fear head-on. In this presenting scenario, you might try to pitch the idea in the comfort of your own home. Then to a close friend or family member. Then try pitching to a stranger. Once you start feeling more comfortable, you will start to switch from the mindset of, "I can't", to "I might", to "I can".
Small actions, lead to small wins, which starts re-hardwiring your brain to think positively that what you are about to attempt is, in fact, possible.
There is always going to be something we fear and causes discomfort to even think about. There is a quote online that goes, "A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." More often than not (at least in terms of your career) this feeling of discomfort means you should be taking it on - whatever that may be.
We cannot count how many people have come through our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop nervous, and deathly afraid. And, the same amount of people left feeling empowered and confident in themselves and their ability to present more effectively. It is safe to say, the more you face your fears, the greater the comfort you will feel in the long-term.
If you want to prevent memory loss and increase your mental fitness, this blog is for you. Start by thinking about how much of your life is a fixed routine. Your commute to work, lunch appointments, meetings, your weekend plans. Can you put a percentage on it? Presumably high.
Let's preface this by saying routines are not necessarily bad. Routines provide predictability and structure to our lives. But, when almost everything is routine, we are not providing enough brain exercise. Which is essentially killing your brain.
An Active Brain is a Healthy Brain
By doing what is called Neurobics, we can exercise our brain much like we do by going to the gym for our bodies. Here is the best part: it doesn't need to take much of your time and can be incorporated into your day quite easily. Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, authors of Keep Your Brain Alive, define Neurobics as:
"A scientifically based program that helps you modify your behavior by introducing the unexpected to your brain and enlisting the aid of all your senses as you go through your day."
The book, Keep Your Brain Alive, walks through 83 Neurobic exercises. Here are 5 you can start today:
#1. Brushing Roulette
Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. You can substitute any morning activity as well - styling your hair, shaving, applying makeup, buttoning clothes, eating, or even texting.
This exercise requires you to use the opposite side of your brain. The brain areas involved in using your dominant hand are inactive, while their counterparts on the other side of your brain are suddenly required to direct a set of behaviors which they usually don't participate.
#2. Blaze New Trails
Take a different route to work. If you're driving, open the windows to help construct a new mental map. If you walk to work, the Neurobic possibilities are even greater.
On your routine commute, the brain goes on automatic pilot and gets little stimulation or exercise. An unfamiliar route activates the cortex and hippocampus to integrate novel sights, smells, and sounds you encounter into a new brain map.
#3. Be Social
Building off the last point, don't miss opportunities to be social on your commute. Need gas? Pay the cashier at the counter rather than swiping your credit card at the pump. Stop at a new place for coffee. While you're getting coffee, strike up a conversation with someone.
Scientific research has repeatedly proved that social deprivation has severe negative effects on overall cognitive abilities.
#4. Take Brain Breaks
Coffee and lunch breaks give you time for mental stretching. And social interaction. Try a fifteen-minute walk outside. It will invigorate your body, clear your mind, and open doors to real-world sensory stimulation. Even better would be to have a coworker tag along.
#5. Start A New Hobby
The best hobbies use several different senses in non-routine ways. Here are a couple examples of how to accomplish that:
Most of our lives are spent being unconscious to many things. Just going with the flow. We need to get out of our comfort zones to keep us fresh and sharp. We speak to a similar point when developing interpersonal skills. While it is sometimes hard to learn new things, they don't have to take up a lot of our time. Consistently making small tweaks, leads to a big pay-off.
We have all heard the phrase, "teamwork makes the dream work" coined by John C. Maxwell back in 2002. We have seen the automobile industry boom because of specialized machines working together in harmony, leading to higher productivity and quality. We have functional teams, cross-functional teams, leadership teams, virtual teams, strategic teams. There are teams for just about anything and everything.
Our perception of teams (or at least our hope), is by pooling together individuals with a variety of ideas, expertise, experience and personality - we can produce at a higher level than the individuals alone. In other words, 1 + 1 = 3. We hope.
In reality, teams might not be as high-performing as we desire. Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, authors of Top Dog, report,
"Teams are not automatically better than the sum of their parts. They are often worse. This is termed as 'collaborative inhibition' or 'process loss'. Sixty-two percent of software projects are delivered late. Forty-nine percent are over budget." They go on to cite more research on the subject, "According to University of North Carolina professor Brad Staats, productivity per person can drop 40% even on a small team."
Why Are Teams Not Effective?
Most workers are on multiple teams at once. Workers have several projects fighting for their attention. They also chew up time by meeting too much, and for too long. On the other hand, the rise of virtual teams has created too little meetings and lacks structure and team relationships. Here are more reasons teams struggle:
What Makes a Successful Team?
There is a certain chemistry. Every team member knows what to do, how to do it, and is focused on a singular, defined objective agreed upon by the team. Each member is able to predict the moves of the other members without being told. They are on the same wave-length. Successful teams also:
There are a variety of complexities that need to be figured out to make a team run. You are battling with a variety of personality types, ways of doing things, expectations, and how they view deadlines. Without chemistry and having everyone on the same "page" - it is easy to see why teams waste valuable time. Time we cannot get back.
How many meetings have you been in today? What would it mean for your time and team's success if you could cut meetings in half and get twice the value? (Here is a link on 10 guidelines for improving meeting effectiveness.)
While there are a number of complexities to creating an exceptional team (none of which we have time to touch on) - one quick fix to implement today is the process of how meetings are held. Make the most of your time, it is limited.
"We live in a fast-paced, digital world that bombards us with information. Our in-boxes are a constant procession of new and old names demanding our attention. Our brains are in constant overdrive trying to keep track of all the bits and bytes and names that cross our desk each and every day."
This is a snippet from Keith Ferrazi's New York Times Bestselling Book, Never Eat Alone. We are reminded of how quickly our world is changing. We are also reminded of how many things there are to keep track of. People, meetings, passwords, bills to pay. We are training ourselves to become machines. Efficient machines at that.
Why are we not machines when it comes to following-up? Think about how many people you've met in the past month and how many of those you could see developing into a business relationship? A personal relationship? Surely more than a handful. Now, how many of those individuals did you follow up with? Most likely less than a handful.
Let's take a look from the other side. How many of those potential contacts followed up with you? Probably less than a handful. What would it mean for your network of connections if you were the person to follow-up? It would instantly set you apart from 95 percent of people by sending a simple email the next day or within 48 hours.
Being a person who follows up will help you succeed in any field. While we would suggest using a handwritten letter, an email is a whole lot better than nothing at all.
What Should Be Included In a Follow-up?
Ferrazi suggests some great reminders for a successful follow-up:
We reiterate the importance of following up. It is amazing how many people we meet in a day and seem to forget the follwing next day. Following-up provides an opportunity to connect on a deeper level and will get passed the (sometimes) superficial stage. Connecting after an event or even after a person you met at a local coffee shop will show you are a true professional and will help you stand out from the majority.
We created a short video on how you can connect and present yourself professionally in the networking arena. If you can connect better at the event, the other person will be more willing to meet up with you after an initial follow-up. Good luck!
Standing on the far end of a 20' x 12' foot hardwood platform, gazing out into dozens of piercing bright lights, you start to make out hundreds of unfamiliar faces and anticipatory looks. As the introducer calls your name and signals your appearance, you walk slowly (yet confidently) towards center and prepare yourself for a performance.
Is this your idea of a presentation? Maybe it is, maybe you have a variation of this idea in your head of what a presentation feels like in your world.
What if we were to tell you that you make a presentation every day? Would you believe us? It isn't uncommon for people to believe that the only presentations they will give are formal ones like the description above. It isn't uncommon for people to believe there needs to be a date, time, location and PowerPoint deck for a presentation. And it isn't uncommon for people to believe their job position doesn't require them to give "presentations".
What You Should Believe
You should believe that at any moment in the day, you might be giving a presentation. That an informal conversation with your boss, attending a luncheon, or helping a client solve a problem, require you to present.
An interesting snippet from the book Talk Like Ted, by Carmine Gallo will illustrate this point further:
"You might never see a TED stage, but you're selling yourself all the time. If you're an entrepreneur pitching investors or a software vendor pitching yourself in a trade-show booth, you're giving a presentation. If you're a job candidate pitching yourself to a recruiter or a CEO pitching a new product to customers, you're giving a presentation. A TED talk can be the presentation of a life-time for many people, but your daily business presentations are often just as important for your career or company."
The way you hold yourself, how much eye contact you make, using gestures - it is important at any given point in the day and no matter the situation.
We have long tried to show people how skills learned in the IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop are transferable to much more than formal presentations. There is calibration moving from a formal presentation to a planning meeting at a table. For example, we wouldn't want to use large, exaggerating gestures, but to calibrate using smaller, abbreviated gestures. Learning and harnessing effective body language techniques are crucial to everyone's career and success.
You might be interested in a short video we did on keeping people engaged for your next "presentation".
It seems so simple, yet we often forget. Why is it that we talk so much of ourselves? On and on we go about all the great things we have done, or are about to do. Our house, our cars, our vacations, our kids, our weekend plans. As Carnegie says in How To Win Friends & Influence People, "people are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems."
When you think of your clients, when you think of your employees, when you think of strangers, acquaintances, relatives, the cashier - are you quick to talk about yourselves? And slow to understand the other person?
Some people think that they are charismatic enough, interesting enough to 'win' over the attention of someone else - with a detailed story or a witty remark. Surely that could work. But why would you always play against the odds? If people are a hundred times more interested in themselves, it is in your best interest to give them exactly what they want.
It might sound counterintuitive, but (in most cases) the less you talk, the more another person is engaged.
We cover much of this in our selling programs illustrating the traditional salesperson who is focused on, 'sell, sell, sell' and not enough on what a potential (or current) client wants. We fail to (fully) understand the client's wants and often results in an unsuccessful relationship. We like how Carnegie puts this principle, "Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves."
Unfortunately being an effective listener isn't something they taught us in school. We created a video on how you can become an effective listener that ties well with this discussion.
We have countless opportunities to be powerful. Equally, we have countless opportunities to be powerless. It is in our hands which side of the coin we choose. Feeling powerful is uplifting, energizing, bold - it will make you feel bigger than life. Powerless can make you feel defeated, inferior, demoralized.
We probably couldn't name a person that wants to feel demoralized over the feeling of being bigger than life. That is a given.
It isn't that we choose to be powerless, we just don't always know how to get to a position of power. We would like to share some research introduced by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, on the topic of power and small tweaks you can make to increase your confidence in situations where you might come out deflated, anxious, nervous, or flat out scared.
Cuddy has one of the most viewed and recommended TED Talks and wrote a book titled, Presence. Her research looks at how our body language influences our mindset.
Our Bodies Tell Us How To Think and Feel
In Presence, the research is concerned with the idea of how our thoughts and bodies are connected. Specifically, can our body language influence our thoughts?
We believe that how we feel mentally or emotionally, impacts our body language. If we are sad, we close up and make ourselves smaller. If we are happy, we open our body language up and show vulnerability because we are secure. Does having strong body language when we don't feel strong, impact our feelings?
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of all the studies conducted and in simple terms: yes, we can. We are able to influence how we feel simply by our posture. Interesting research, right?
Faking Your Way To Feeling Powerful
There are a lot of places that will put us into a powerless position: an interview, meeting, a presentation, networking, cold calling, first day on a new job.
Here is a simple, yet powerful way to become just that: powerful. Cuddy calls these 'power poses' and they can give you a quick boost of confidence. Power poses are about opening your body up as much as you can. Here are a few poses you might try before you need to be more powerful:
The general rule of thumb is to make yourself as big as possible. You can do these poses anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. These poses will increase testosterone (be more assertive) and decrease cortisol (be less stressed).
Many people don't feel confident enough to contribute in meetings, which is a shame because they may have great ideas nobody will ever hear. The same goes with networking. We might be able to help someone out or have a great conversation, but we shy away because we lose confidence. Same goes with a hundred other situations in our personal and professional lives. Tero helps individuals have a strong voice and presence once they are in these situations. Amy Cuddy's 'power poses' are a great way to get you into the situation first.
Everyone wants to be magnetic. Everyone wants to be charismatic. We want to walk into a room full of strangers and leave with a hundred new friends. Some people seem to "have" it. Others don't.
While being charismatic might seem a natural ability, it isn't necessarily. Think of the most charismatic people you know personally. Sure, some may be natural, but I bet there are a handful of cases where the person worked and molded themselves into the peacock you now see today.
The best news is you too can become that peacock. While this blog won't instantly put you in a magnetic position instantly, it should serve as a base to start and to illustrate that charisma is a learned skill.
Olivia Fox Cabane lays out the basic principles or charismatic behaviors in her book, The Charisma Myth. These behaviors fall into three areas: presence, power and warmth.
This one seems to be among the hardest for most. Presence is the act of being present. Meaning, when you are talking to someone, you are fully engaged. No texting, avoid scanning the room, refrain from listening to internal conversations you are thinking about.
One of the main reasons we are distracted is because of our ancestors. Being aware of everything around us at all times was important to our survival. The other reason we are distracted is because of society and the advent of technology. We won't get into that here.
To be charismatic, you must be in the moment and actively listening to what the other person is saying.
Being seen as someone who has influence can attract a variety of people. Think of celebrities, politicians, business leaders. Power makes people listen. Where do we look for clues of power? Research says it comes from someone's appearance, in others' reaction to this person, and, most importantly, in the person's body language.
This is the stereotypical grandma greeting you with chocolate cookies. The friendly neighbor you would trust babysitting your house while you are out on vacation. Cabane says being seen as warm comes from any of the following: benevolent, altruistic, caring, or willing to impact our world in a positive way.
People determine how strong you are in each of these three categories very quickly. Instantly. This means you need to pay close attention to your body language because it bears a majority of the weight when being charismatic. Here is a snippet from The Charisma Myth you will want to remember:
"In the scope of human evolution, language is a relatively recent invention. But we've been interacting well before this through nonverbal modes of communication. As a result, nonverbal communication is hardwired into our brains, much deeper than the more recent language-processing abilities. This is why nonverbal communication has a far greater impact."
We are very much concerned with what we say verbally. We should focus more on what our bodies are saying because they speak the loudest.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 in your presence, power and warmth. Which areas are you strong in? Where can you improve?
In our workshops, we talk about the first step as being unconsciously incompetent or not being aware you cannot do something. This is much the case when it comes to having a strong and favorable body language for most people. As we become aware and practice a skill, we move into unconsciously competent and the behavior is automatic without thinking. This is where many of the charismatic people you listed earlier most likely are at. It requires both the knowledge and action to make a change and is exactly why our programs are structured with hands-on learning.
We are now a full month into our New Year's Resolutions. What are you working on this year? Better spending habits? Working less and finding more family time? It's likely you are part of the "get in better shape" club.
Whatever it is, you might be interested in hearing research on willpower. Willpower is your greatest asset in your journey to meet all of your goals this year. Willpower is the "voice" in your head telling you after a 14-hour work day that you still have time to get on the treadmill before calling it a night. The person holding you back from eating a snickers bar after lunch. Willpower is the reason you bought only one pair of shoes instead of two - even though they were "such a good deal".
We want to bring to light two important research findings about willpower. These two findings are cited in Roy Baumeister and John Tierney's conveniently titled book, Willpower.
Willpower is finite
You can think of your willpower like a tank of gas. Every time you "will" yourself to do something (or not do something) you are burning some of your gas. When you drop down to "e", this is what psychologists call ego-depleted. When you are ego-depleted, it is incredibly hard to say no to your urges.
You have a single tank for all tasks
You might think you have a tank for eating, a tank for exercise, a tank for work, a tank for (fill the blank). This isn't the case. Your one tank encompasses all of those categories. So, if you are telling yourself throughout the day not to eat a handful of M&M's from the jar in the kitchen, you've spent a portion of your gas and have made it harder for yourself to workout tonight.
What this all means in terms of your resolutions
The research suggests we only focus on one big change (in this case resolution) at a time. If you are doing too many things, they will compete with one another - making it harder to commit to all of them. Once one change has become a habit, exercising for instance, then you can move on to learning to ski.
As a training organization, we focus on changing habits - or rewiring. Much of what is practiced in our workshops is difficult because we ask you to adjust natural tendencies you've had for longer than you can remember. Although they will make you more effective, in the beginning they can be overwhelming and draining. We tell people to focus on one thing at a time. Once you are comfortable with that one thing, focus on the next item to improve. It is easy to give up all-together if you are working on changing 5 things at the same time.
What would you do to become more persuasive? It is required of us on a daily basis and some people are more persuasive than others. Chances are that we all have room to increase our persuasion skills.
Luckily research proves that persuasion is a science. There are guidelines, principles that will make you a more effective. Russell H. Granger provides 7 proven ways you can become more persuasive in his book The 7 Triggers To Yes.
Try incorporating these 7 triggers into your interactions:
Having an ability to persuade (or influence) is a powerful skill to have. We focus on using persuasion to get to a win/win outcome where both parties benefit. In addition to using these 7 triggers above, you should also spend great efforts on effective listening. We are often times too quick to jump to talking, and fail to understand where the other party's interests lie. Always keep in mind that persuasion is a two-way interaction.
Humans have proportionately the biggest brains in the entire animal kingdom. We have about 11.5 billion neurons in our brains. One would be smart to point out that our brains have evolved to solve complex problems to enable us to survive. There is another primary driver with increasing evidence to explain our enlarged brains: to facilitate our social cognitive skills.
Matthew D. Lieberman, Professor at the University of California and author of the book, Social, has studied and found groundbreaking research in social neuroscience. Here is a profound statement from Lieberman's book:
All these years, we've assumed the smartest among us have particularly strong analytical skills. But from an evolutionary perspective, perhaps the smartest among us are actually those with the best social skills
A lot of Lieberman's book discusses why our brain are wired to connect. Even an introverted person needs to have social interaction to survive. Another interesting point that we might not usually think of is how our social network affects our health. Consider this point from Lieberman:
Having a poor social network is literally as bad for your health as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day
Wow. That has incredible implications for us. Another finding is the heavily talked about discussion. Does money make us happy? Probably a better question might be: does being social make us happier than money? Let's look at both of these questions in order.
Does money make us happy?
If you won the lottery today, how would your life change? It would probably change considerably because you'll do all the things you have wanted to do: dig your way out of debt, buy a new house/car, take a trip around the world - anything you can think of is probably possible.
It's true. You would be able to do all these great things and probably wouldn't have to work ever again if you were smart with your winnings. Hedonic adaptation would like to point out that we as humans, have the tendency to adapt to new circumstances, whether good or bad. Meaning, you might have a spike of happiness from winning the lottery, but eventually it will fade away and become normal for you. The excitement doesn't last forever.
This is not to say money doesn't play a major factor in our happiness - it does. But it is to a certain point, then we need more than what money can buy. Which leads us to our second question.
Does being social make us happier than money?
It is only fair to bring these two in an apples to apples comparison. Multiple studies have actually been able to put a dollar value on how much our social aspects are worth in terms of our well-being. Take a look:
I think you get the point. We are wired to connect and be around people. What is one thing you can do this week to feed the social part of your brain?
The heart of our business is teaching how to effectively communicate and connect with others. Technology is making it harder to make effective and frequent communication happen. Sometimes we forget it should be human to human interaction. Our world is becoming a human to technology interaction instead. Research is clear that communicating with others is important for success in life, we must also remember it is important for our well-being.
We often times let other's determine what we can and cannot accomplish. We believe that what they are saying is fact. This will get our little voice in our head saying things like, "Maybe I won't be able to get that promotion this year" or "I'm terrible at small talk. I should avoid networking opportunities." Sometimes you even fabricate these thoughts yourself, without anyone coming out and saying it. All this leads to demotivation to challenge yourself and succeed.
Michael Hyter, Former Chairman and CEO at PepsiCo, refutes this thinking:
You are capable of learning whatever is necessary to achieve your goals. You are capable of becoming the person you dream to be.
I'm sure you are weary to believe this statement to be entirely true. But, it is true. Everyone has their doubts in their own abilities. Even as a seasoned professional and are very confident in what they can do. But, those that succeed make progress through the right strategy, persistency, and self-belief.
Let's go back to Michael Hyter for a deeper understanding. In his book, The Power of Choice, Hyter illustrates this model:
The Fixed-Capacity Mindset
Our society has a belief that some people have "it". They are born to be a leader, salesperson, engineer, designer, teacher, and on and on. To some extent, that may be somewhat true that certain people are born with distinct traits that make them better off in a certain environment.
In the fixed-capacity mindset, professionals with a high IQ will be able to master the increasingly complex demands of their careers. Individuals with less capacity will reach their "level of incompetence" - they will give up because they find it difficult or impossible to develop the expertise to accomplish these complex goals.
In short, with fixed-capacity mindset, failure is viewed as evidence that the job or task is beyond our ability.
The Capacity-Building Mindset
Research confirms the capacity-building mindset is more accurate. We as humans are not fixed. Most people can develop new skills and capabilities and can learn to be highly effective at a variety of challenging new tasks.
Everyone can learn, if they apply effective effort.
Effective effort is about working hard, EFFECTIVELY. Meaning, you will need to be strategic in your hard work.
Here are Hyter's three characteristics to effective effort:
You are capable of learning whatever is necessary to achieve your goals. You are capable of becoming the person you dream to be.
This book really hits home with what we believe at Tero. We take people at whatever level they are presently at in presenting, negotiating, networking, etc. and guide them through relevant researched skills to become better. An important part to developing a strategy around using critical soft skills is knowing what to work on. Practicing the wrong thing, over and over, will only solidify bad habits. Effective effort is in knowing and practicing the 'right' thing. Pairing consistency with strategy and the appropriate skills, you will be able to exceed your present level and succeed.
"If I only have one pop this week, it won't kill me. As long as it is in moderation, right?" It always seems to start with you telling yourself this. Then, the following week you say, "Ok, I'm going to drink a pop at lunch because I want to treat myself for being productive every morning." Soon you will be drinking a pop in the morning AND lunch for one reason or the other and eventually having several a day without even noticing. How many times has this happened to you? Maybe not with pop specifically, but we'll let you fill in the blank.
It always seems to start small, and before we realize it, we quickly jump to the other extreme. To understand why we do what we do, it is important to first look at how habits are formed and what exactly is going on in our brain. This process of forming habits is described well in Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit.
There is a three part process to forming habits: cue, routine, reward. Let's use the pop analogy as an example in this case.
This would be something that initiates or triggers your brain to jump into automatic mode and decides what habit to use. A trigger in this example might be that we need a spike of energy to finish out the last hour of the work day.
The routine can be physical, mental or emotional. Because you we need a spike of energy, we know that caffeine and sugar can help. So, we go to the fridge and grab a pop.
There has to be a reward, otherwise we wouldn't continue and form any habits. The reward helps our brain determine if the loop is worth remembering for future situations.
As you can see, if the pop helped our productivity and pushed us through the last hour of the day, we might try the same thing tomorrow. Eventually, the loop of going through cue (I need energy), to routine (drink pop) and then we receive a reward of boosted productivity, we will continue this trend over and over again. The more we perform this habit, the more habitual it becomes and the less we realize we are even doing it.
Our brain is using this hardwired process to make our lives easier. Sometimes it isn't always for the better and we may be creating toxic habits hurting our finances, productivity, relationships and health. Next week we will look at how to identify these toxic habits and steps you can take to eliminate them.
Do you ever feel you will like someone the instant you meet them? Why is that? This person may have only said a few words, maybe none, and you are already making a decision about their personality, character, intellect, and even compassion all in a snap judgment. We are making snap judgments and decisions every day. What we will wear, eat for lunch to even who we hire on our team for high budget projects.
We make a lot of decisions on our "gut feeling". Which is good, because we don't have all day to evaluate options for hours when we should make a decision in a matter of minutes. Like the list of items you will accomplish today or what you plan to do tonight.
The reason we are able to make these quick judgments and decisions are the "behind-the-scenes" work of our unconscious. Malcom Gladwell talks about this rapid cognition in a booked called Blink. The premise of the book is around what he calls "Thin-slicing."
In Gladwell's definition, "Thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience." Gladwell goes on to say, "we thin-slice because we have to, and we come to rely on that ability because there are lots of hidden fists out there, lots of situations where careful attention to the details of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot."
What does this knowledge mean for you in your profession? Think about your day to day and how this affects peoples' perspectives of you - your boss, coworkers, clients, etc. If someone were to make a snap judgment of who you are (and they will), what would they think? Is this person professional? Reliable? Trustworthy? Are they worth my time?
Being conscious of this information is key because you do not have control over whether or not someone will make a snap judgment of you - it's human nature. Focus on what you can control (appearance, energy level, etc.) and you will have the ability to tip the scale in your favor.
We often pull in a related statistic in our workshops from Harvard University. The statistic says we form an opinion about a person in about two seconds. Just two seconds. In our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop, participants not only improve verbal communication, but also their non-verbal communication. This is because our visual messages precede anything we say or do. Think about the next time you are about to give a presentation, attend a networking function, grab coffee with a potential client. These people are going to form an impression in only two seconds, and it is those two seconds that can determine your success and impact.
Introverts have long been given a bad rap. They are the personality type to be quiet, shy and emotionless. Our society has created "The Extrovert Ideal", where talkative people are seen as smarter, more interesting and desirable as friends and co-workers. We should be reminded of some of the greatest thinkers and innovators were introverts: Steve Wozniak (Apple Co-founder), Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet and many more.
These individuals certainly needed to find solitude to "recharge" their energy and some were reclusive, but it doesn't mean they could not "hold their own" in a social setting. Introverted people can be great in sales, networking, speaking to groups and even acting. In a book by Susan Cain called Quiet, Cain talks about the "rubber band theory". Meaning, we can stretch our personalities, but only to a point. Introverted people can put on an extroverted persona at a dinner party, but eventually they will be starving for energy; needing to find a quiet place alone.
We want to focus on one specific area where Introvert's will need to put on an extrovert mask: introverted people and giving presentations. Cain offers 8 great tips if you are an introvert and are preparing to give a presentation.
#1 Preparation is key:
Take your time crafting your speech so that it flows logically and is illustrated with stories and examples. Practice it out loud, until you're comfortable. If it's an important speech, videotape yourself.
#2 Think about what your particular audience wants to hear:
Are they craving new information? Insights? What problem do they hope to solve? Give them what they want and need. It's about them, not you.
#3 If you haven't spoken publicly in a while and feel rusty, watch videos of speakers that have shot's taken from the speaker's vantage point:
As you watch, pretend you are the speaker. Get used to what it feels like to have all eyes on you.
#4 If you can, visit the room where you'll be speaking:
Practice standing on the stage and looking out at the crowd.
#5 When you listen to a great speaker or hear someone mention one, get a transcript of the speech:
Study it. How was it constructed? What kind of opening and closing were used? How did the speaker engage, inspire, and educate the audience?
#6 Know your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker, and accentuate the positive:
If you have a great sense of humor, use it. If you're not a natural cut-up, don't try to be. Instead, focus on what you do best. Do you have a great story to tell? An interesting idea your audience hasn't considered? Information they need to hear? Frame your speech around your message - and around who you are as a person.
#7 Public speaking is a performance, and that's a good thing, even if you're not a natural actor:
Have you ever enjoyed why people enjoy costume parties? It's because they feel liberated when interacting from behind a mask, from within a role. Think of your onstage persona the same way.
#8 Smile at your audience as they enter the room, and smile at them when you begin speaking:
This will make you feel relaxed, confident and connected.
Being true to your natural personality tendencies is important to avoid burning yourself out. However, it is advantageous to step out of your comfort zone and will result in personal and professional growth (what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger). You might be someone who is deathly afraid of public speaking, and you certainly are not alone.
At Tero, we always say, "We don't care how you feel" in our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop. It doesn't matter how you feel, it matters how your audience feels. If you appear confident, poised and knowledgeable, but don't feel that way inside, not a problem. Always focus on the messages your audience is receiving.
One more thing: there is a saying that says, "don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong." - knowing your material is one of the biggest confidence boosters and cuts down your anxiety.
How do you get a variety of perspectives to move towards the same goal? How do you avoid stagnation? How can we get people moving, driving and conquering? What empowers people? When someone feels lost, defeated and ready to give up, where will they find the strength to push forward?
To be an effective, competing organization, there must be leaders; effective ones at that. Some people might say that leadership is inherent. It is important to understand leadership is a skill which can be learned. Leadership certainly isn't something that can be learned overnight, but requires considerable knowledge and practice.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner bring to the surface the The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in their book Leadership Challenge. They say when leaders make extraordinary things happen within an organization, they are using these five practices:
The premise of The Leadership Challenge defines these five practices and is filled with examples of successes. By the end of the book you will have an idea of how you can incorporate these items as a foundation to build from with your unique leadership style.
One interesting point brought up in the book is around asking for feedback. Kouzes and Posner found something profound in their studies using the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree feedback instrument which assesses the frequency on people engaging in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Through the LPI assessment, where people received the lowest rating, from leaders and their constituents is, "Asks for feedback on how his/her actions affect other people's performance".
To put it a different way, leaders are not asking how they can improve. How is one to know if they are an effective leader? Without polling, people most likely won't tell you. Feedback is a key tool to improvement. Ask and you shall receive. Feedback must also follow the following criteria to be effective:
Think about the last time you asked for feedback. How did the feedback size up compared to the above criteria? If you do not seek feedback already, start incorporating today. The Leadership Challenge, Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership will help anyone interested in leadership know not only what they will want to develop in themselves, but what they will want others to see in them and give feedback on.
There are many choices when it comes to books on leadership. Tero uses The Leadership Challenge, Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as the basis for leadership development because the practices identified in the book and examined on the accompanying assessment, the Leadership Practices Inventory, are grounded in the extensive global research conducted by the authors Kouzes and Posner. The context of leadership is continually changing, yet the content of what it takes to be an effective leader has endured through time and is clearly reflected in the five leadership practices. Tero has used this book and the LPI assessment to assist leaders in identifying their strength areas as well as areas of development. By learning to utilize authentic 360 degree feedback directly relating to the leadership practices, leaders can measure their effectiveness, set goals, demonstrate the discrete competencies reflected in the practices, and evolve to lead in ways they otherwise may have never realized.
Being an effective networker, presenter, coach, sales person, customer service rep, parent, leader, nurse, dietician, electrician or anything else that requires you to communicate with another individual, requires this crucial detail. Without it, you might not be listened to or liked. You probably will not be influential, trustworthy or engaging.
We are talking about connecting. Surely everyone has heard the word used before, but not everyone possesses the knowledge or skills to make it happen. It isn't something that will happen overnight and it certainly is something you will need to practice consistently, day by day to be an expert, much like with anything.
If you haven't yet read the John Maxwell book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, we recommend you pick it up today. Maxwell says it quite simply: if you want to succeed in life, you must learn to connect with people.
As we mention often in Tero workshops, you don't know what you don't know. Once you know why you are not connecting and understand how to fix it, you can start to move forward in the development process. Without knowing, you may be developing the wrong habits and will take a lot more undoing to get back on track. Are you following?
We want you to be on the right track as soon as possible and are providing a snippet from Everyone Communicates Few Connect to get you started today. Maxwell has an entire section dedicated to common ground and says it is vital to be an effective connector. He says that if he had to pick a first rule of communication, the one that opens the door to connection, would be to look for common ground.
A great quote from this chapter is, "It's difficult to find common ground with others when the only person you're focused on is yourself!"
Maxwell goes on to talk about several barriers to common ground, as well as how to cultivate a common ground mindset. Below are highlights from the discussion.
Barriers To Finding Common Ground
1. Assumption - "I already know what others know, feel, and want"
2. Arrogance - "I don't need to know what others know, feel, or want"
3. Indifference - "I don't care to know what others know, feel or want"
4. Control - "I don't want others to know what I know, feel or want"
Barriers To Finding Common Ground
1. Availability - "I will choose to spend time with others"
2. Listening - "I will listen my way to common ground"
3. Questions - "I will be interested enough in others to ask questions"
4. Thoughtfulness - "I will think of others and look for ways to thank them"
5. Openness - "I will let people into my life"
6. Likability - "I will care about people"
7. Humility - "I will think of myself less so I can think of others more"
8. Adaptability - "I will move from my world to theirs"
The value of making meaningful connections with others and finding common ground goes beyond building a professional network. This interpersonal skill is explored in several Tero workshops. The most skilled negotiators, influencers and sales professionals credit the ability to connect with others and acknowledge common ground as one of their top skills. While all professionals understandably spend more time focusing on areas of difference than on areas of common ground in complex negotiations and sales meetings, research reveals that those who are most successful in delivering positive outcomes spend more than three times as much time on areas of common ground than their average counterparts. Commenting on common ground is a differentiator for business professionals across every discipline and in every industry. It is in all our interests to acquire the uncommon skill of acknowledging common ground so that we can better connect with others.
Everyone nowadays is trying to develop strong, long-term relationships, especially in sales. Nowadays, sales people are trying to be "customer-centric" and always put the customer first. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in the book The Challenger Sale explain why building this relationship is important, but there are times when you are being too accommodating and perhaps skimping on profitability - there is a better way.
An example would be that you are so focused and determined to get business from a potential buyer, you end up offering discounts and other incentives that will hurt your companies bottom-line, when you should really stand your ground.
Research Points to a Winning Selling Type
The Challenger Sale surveyed 6,000 sales reps representing every major industry and geography around the world, asking thorough questions on forty-four different attributes related to high-performing sales individuals. In short, they identified five categories or types of sales people: The Lone Wolf, The Hard Worker, The Reactive Problem Solver, The Relationship Builder and what they call The Challenger.
While we will not go into detail about these different types, we will point out which type is among the majority of high performing sales people and provide a brief description on why that is the case - and we are almost certain it isn't the type you think.
The research found that among all of these profiles, the Relationship Builder; categorized as building strong advocates in customer organizations, generous in giving time to help others and getting along with everyone, is dead last in performance. Really? Yes, The Relationship Builder only makes up 7% of high performers in a given organization and represents over a quarter of all sales people.
Which type represents the largest percentage of high performers you ask? As we may have hinted at earlier in this blog - The Challenger. The Challenger represents 39% of high performers in an organization and accounts for less than a quarter of sales people. That is an astounding statistic and trumps all other types by at least 14%.
Who is The Challenger?
The Challenger possesses the ability to accomplish three things - teach, tailor and take control. We will focus on one of the three and suggest you read the book, as there is a lot more valuable information and details to be found.
One of the big take-aways is the idea of teaching the customer. We always assume the customer knows what they want and we are trying to mine those wants and needs out, so we can provide the appropriate solution. Instead, we should be challenging the customer to think differently, to think about questions and ideas they haven't considered. What we are trying to do, is collaborate and participate with the customer on their journey for a solution - not only listen, but contribute. Then, of course, find the appropriate solution.
This is an example shortened down from The Challenger Sale and provides an idea of what we are getting at.
A rep was struggling to gain traction with a prospective customer. The customer just built a new headquarters and their competitor was selected to furnish the facility (how unfortunate). But, the rep still saw an opportunity to get in the door. After multiple attempts, she was able to set up a meeting with the company's head of real estate and facilities.
She found that the company wanted to create collaborative spaces for employees to effectively interact. The rep looked at the designs and was able to conclude, "data indicates that collaboration doesn't happen in groups of eights. It happens in twos and threes. You may be building the wrong size conference rooms." The customer responded with, "That's great to know, but the conference rooms have already been built."
The rep leveraged her product knowledge and explained how they should put up a movable wall in the middle of the conference rooms, to create two rooms that would fit smaller groups of three and four. She also mentioned a product the company offers to help facilitate collaboration for them. She was able to change the whole direction of the account by teaching the customer about a problem they didn't realize they had.
It's not only about being nice and accommodating that will get you the bid, you also need to challenge the customer, ask the tough questions, do what you can to have them thinking about items they didn't consider, then tying it back to how your offering will help.
At Tero, we couldn't agree more. Our Outcome-Driven Selling: A Consultative Approach to Sales workshop addresses these topics and approaches.
Thanks to the internet and its search engines, blogs and social media sites, customers today are more informed, better prepared and are more demanding when shopping for products and services. To respond, sales professionals need to acquire skills beyond product knowledge and customer service. They need to go beyond mere relationship-building and master the skills to become a trusted partner to a customer. That means becoming skilled in how to challenge the customer without being challenging.