Anna Soo Wildermuth

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Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Voice

Doom and gloom service person

stop-panic-attacksRecently, I had a service person come in (happened to be the owner) who began to tell me what I had done wrong instead of saying there may be a problem but we will do our best to fix it. Can you imagine a consultant or coach like myself right off the bat, telling a client that s/he has tremendous problems? Or you, as a new team leader or team member telling the group: We have problems we cannot begin to solve?

I am not saying that we need to be a Pollyanna but can’t anything somehow be made better? I understand the owner might have been under tremendous pressure but if he doesn’t work for repeat customers, that pressure may just get a lot bigger and lead to more serious problems.

Conference calls – the cultural challenge

telephoneConference calls are a way of life in business, especially when dealing with global partners. Currently, many of my clients have clients who are not English speaking. We have developed a list of key points for English speaking folks to use when talking with those for whom English is not the native language, always:

1. Speak slowly.

2. Ask if he/she is the person handling this project.

3. Display patience on the conference call.

4. Repeat if there is silence after a question. (You may not have been understood.)

5. Be formal.

6. Use simple words.

7. Suggest you are following up instead of saying “We did not receive the papers.”

If possible, try to have at least one face to face meeting to get to know overseas clients. Establishing relationships is a very important lubricator for smooth business dealings, especially in the Asian culture.

 

A sense of humor

Mouthyq2beRecently, I was involved in an incident that I considered embarrassing.

I take one on one training on how to use a Mac Air (going on 15 months, now). Because I’ve been a PC user for 25 plus years, it is a completely new way for me to work on a computer.

Technicians who work with me are really very patient. They never make me feel badly when they have to continually repeat answers. So, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring a bottle of Apple Ice for my main trainer.

However, when he opened the drink, the soda fizzed all over the table, floor and chairs. Instead of being upset, he laughed and turned what I thought was a disaster into a comical situation. He even said it made his day so much better. How wonderful it is to have this sense of humor. It makes life’s little mishaps that much more tolerable and even, at times, more enjoyable.

 

Rambling – where are you going with the end result?

voiceOften, I am asked to work with folks who tend to ramble and say more than they should. The more they ramble, the less impact their message has.

A great example of this occurred today. A top candidate for a new role in a new company kept going on and on. I even interviewed him the day before and mentioned to him that he tends to go on too long, rambles and talks in circles.

He is a very qualified candidate and frankly, is the candidate of choice. In the interview, he was told what held him back was his rambling. The advice we gave him was to answer a question with a five or ten word description and then stop. Rambling indicates nervousness, lack of confidence and even a possible lack of knowledge.

If you tend to ramble, it is because you have not practiced your answers. A good way to practice is to write the answer on paper and edit it with three bullet points. This will definitely help curb your rambling.

 

Conference call etiquette

phoneIn today’s busy and virtual world, conference calls have become a must versus face to face meetings. I just completed a call that went 60 minutes (originally scheduled for 30 minutes) mainly because the group was not prepared.

They had not fully read the material and the leader had not set an agenda. Each of the participants (4) had their own set of questions and they spoke over one another. Poor reception was also a factor. (Two of the participants were in a car.)

• Always let the participants know if you are going to be in a car driving (which is a real no-no).

• If possible, be the only person on the call in your office.

• Always say your name before you speak.

• Always, after you speak, confirm everyone has heard you.

• Always agree to disagree.

• Always thank everyone when the call is finished.

• Always let everyone know your time constraints.

True etiquette is making the other person comfortable and allowing them to showcase their best.

 

Speaking Up on the Phone

phoneMost our interactions, including final business transactions, take place on the phone. Speaking clearly and succinctly is very critical for many reasons. Your tone of voice is important in showing confidence and asking the appropriate questions.

Most importantly, you need to be heard. A good way to practice is by partnering with a colleague so you can both practice a range of voices, tones and pronunciations. Your phone voice is just as important as your visual presence.

 

Speak in your own voice

Often, talented folks make the mistake of speaking in a voice and using words that are not natural to them. This becomes noticeable when they are asked to explain what they said and they get tangled up in explaining what they mean.

The late Tim Russet of Meet the Press once said that he always knew that if his father understood what he was saying then he was speaking in his own voice and words. His comments would also resonate with the rest of his audience.voice

To ensure you are speaking in your own voice, begin to practice with folks who don’t know your subject. If they understand your explanation, then you are speaking in your own voice.

 

Be yourself but make your audience feel secure

Key to LeadershipThe CEO of Redfin, an online real estate site, was interviewed by Glenn Kelman for the Office Corner in Sunday’s August 25th NY Times business section. His thoughts were that if you stay true to yourself even if you are different, that will draw people to you.

Leaders today must prove themselves not only with their performance but their people skills. Being different is important but more critical is relating seamlessly to your audience. However, I have also worked with folks whose quirkiness in an industry that is not creative might work against them. It makes people nervous and not secure.

Your goal is to ensure your audience feels secure with you.

 

Is honesty a good thing?

honestyOften, we think honesty is a good thing. However, it is only good if it leads to a solution to the issue. Many times we want situations to improve but we can’t quite pinpoint why. Honesty can be effective if you follow these guidelines:

– The opinion is based on facts not emotions

– Is this fact a new one? If it has been discussed before – what is the purpose of sharing it again?

– If it is a retread issue – do you have a solution this time around?

To help hold these and other types of serious discussions, I highly recommend the book: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition, Patterson and McMillan.

 

Ask for what you want

26447en_USI_QuestionMarkSo many times we forget to ask for what we want without sounding like we don’t deserve it or are entitled to it.

Here are some guidelines to help ensure that an outcome works in your favor:

1. Write down what you want – be specific

2. Get an outside perspective of someone you trust

3. Role play – practice

4. Do not be discouraged if the answer is no – find out why in a non-defensive way

Asking for what you want is critical to success in life. People aren’t mind readers. Often, just asking will help you get what you’re looking for.

Also, when you ask for what you want and the outcome is not what you desired, it could give you an opportunity to go a in different direction and get something better!