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Are These Two Behaviors Killing Your Credibility?

With so many challenges in the workplace, we certainly don’t need any help creating more trials for ourselves. But often, that’s exactly the problem: Through our behaviors, we often add to our own burdens, instead of making our work lives less stressful.

Here’s a great example: In a presentation I recently attended, a woman in the audience said that when she has a question for a speaker, she usually prefaces it with something like, “Are you taking stupid questions?” While that type of comment may make her feel better about asking what she thinks is a dumb question, it actually undermines her intelligence and professionalism to her colleagues and peers—probably not the intended result.

Think about ways in which you’ve done this, too: Have you ever been given an assignment and sheepishly responsded with, “Sure I’ll do that, but I’ll probably screw it up?” Or when it’s suggested you take a course at a prestigious institution, you say, “Oh, I never do well in school.” This kind of verbal self-sabotage can seriously hurt your confidence and negatively impact the way others perceive you.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to improve your confidence, perceived competence, and the belief others have in you, start by pinpointing and fixing these two common credibility-killing behaviors.

Killer #1: Using Negative Self-Talk

Your meeting with the boss’ boss takes an unexpected turn. A co-worker pops in to ask for an analysis that you totally forgot about. Your customer is ticked off about a shipment that arrived late because you forgot to overnight it.

Do any of the following responses sound familiar?

I’m such an idiot.

I can’t believe I forgot that!

I knew I didn’t belong in this job.

Sometimes you mutter these things only to yourself. More often, to let people know how sorry you are for the incident, you say them aloud—as if publicly berating yourself demonstrates the sincerity of your remorse for a task gone wrong.

When you dip into negative self-talk, however, you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re admitting that there’s no solution and accepting defeat. Even worse, you’re telling those around you the same. Think about a time when you’ve heard someone say harsh and negative things about himself. Do you have confidence in his work? Can you depend on him? Is he someone you want to see promoted or rewarded? I suspect not.

How to Course-Correct

When you make a mistake—as everyone inevitably does—suspend the need to judge or criticize yourself. Instead, acknowledge the situation to yourself (and others, if necessary), and identify a corrective path.

I didn’t handle that meeting very well. I’d like to get some feedback and ideas on what I can do better next time.

Jason, I completely missed the analysis deadline. I’ll get started immediately and have it to you by 5 PM.

Mr. Shockey, it was my responsibility to get you the shipment on time. It didn’t happen this time, but here’s what I’ll do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid dealing with mistakes or shortcomings. But instead of berating yourself, focus on taking ownership of the situation, designing a solution to correct the issue, and making sure it doesn’t happen again. You’ll show others that you’re going to own your work—the good, the bad, and the ugly. And when it is ugly, you won’t whine, look for a scapegoat, or play the blame game.

Killer #2: Compulsively Apologizing

You’re in a meeting. Someone asks you to pass the binder, but you fumble it, and it falls on the table. “Oh, sorry!”

You’re sending the final draft of a report to your boss, 15 minutes later than you said you would. You begin the email with, “Sorry I’m sending this so late.”

Sure, there are certainly times in life—and your career—when apologies are warranted, necessary, and meaningful. But there are also the compulsive apologies that we say for insignificant mishaps, when no apology is truly necessary.

You may think apologies are a good way to build relationship and express concern for another’s well-being, but they can actually undermine your professional demeanor. In her book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Lois Frankel posits, “Apologizing for unintentional, low-profile, non-egregious errors erodes our self-confidence, and in turn, the confidence others have in us.”

(And yes, research shows this is more an issue for women than men. Men are just as likely as women to apologize for something they did wrong, but they have a different idea of what defines “wrong.” Women are apt to apologize for more trivial matters.)

How to Course-Correct

The best way to change a behavior is to notice how often you do it. I encourage my clients to spend about two weeks actively noting how often they apologize. Once you become aware of how frequently (and often, how unintentionally) you’re doing it, you can start changing your behavior.

For example, stop beginning emails with, “Sorry for….” As soon as you type the word “sorry,” backspace right over it and continue with your sentence.

If your boss disagrees with the way you handled a customer problem, don’t apologize for doing it wrong. Rather, explain the logic you used to get to the solution, so that she can understand your thinking—then ask for feedback: “Based on the customer feedback, I thought we took the right action on this. Tell me more about what your expectation was so that we can be more aligned next time.”

If you’re delivering something late, indicate, “I appreciate your patience,” and if you bump into someone, simply say, “Excuse me.”

Don’t get me wrong: If there’s something that earnestly deserves an apology, apologize. Do it quickly and only once, then move on to developing a solution.

When you take responsibility for your language, your self-talk, and the way you interact with others, you’ll feel more confident. And, as a result, others will have more confidence in you, too.

Have you noticed these behaviors in your language? How has it affected your credibility? Leave your comments below.

By Lea McLeod MA

Meetings come in all shapes and sizes. There are board meetings, stakeholder meetings, staff meetings, sales meetings — the list is endless. But no matter the purpose, every meeting has one thing in common: how clients, customers and stakeholders perceive you can directly determine the outcome.

Months of hard work and tireless effort could all go to waste if you aren’t able to pitch an audience your company’s latest idea, project or venture. Here are five ways to run a successful business meeting and ensure you always leave a positive impression.

1. Measure the mood. If you want your meeting attendees to leave impressed, make sure you exceed their expectations. One way of going above and beyond — without anyone even realizing it — is to take a mental note of the mood of each person as they arrive and sit down. Use a basic scale of 1–10; the lower the number, the more unhappy or irritated the person appears. Then use that information to tailor your actions throughout the meeting. If someone was caught in traffic on the way over or appears to be agitated, give them some space or treat them with extra compassion. Know your audience. When you go out of your way to lighten the mood and make everyone feel comfortable, attendees begin to relax and focus on the topic at hand.

2. Remove distractions. Try to limit or remove those items that can cause distraction. Whenever possible, ask your attendees to silence their cell phones, put them aside, or step outside to take a call. An agenda can also be a distraction. Why? It’s easy for someone to review the agenda and skip ahead in their mind. When a person anticipates a topic of discussion, he may be more focused on his response or input than what you have to say. If it’s important to deliver specific details or facts and figures to those who attend your meeting, hand out a report or packet when you get to that topic.

3. Build rapport. The first few minutes of a meeting usually involve some level of chitchat. As people arrive and sit down, it’s typical to talk about the weather, traffic or current events. If most of the people in the room know each other, personal questions about family, vacation and hobbies are also common. Small talk helps build camaraderie, however, not everyone enjoys idle chit-chat. If everyone agrees to start on a positive note, go around the room and ask if anyone has some good news to share or something they want to celebrate. Limit the social time and then focus on the business at hand. The last thing you want to do is waste everyone’s time.

4. Open with a question. The type of question will depend on the reason for your meeting. For a sales meeting or a product pitch, ask your customers about the pain points or challenges they experience. For a stakeholder meeting, ask what threats or challenges they’re most concerned about as they look at the next quarter. The question will help you hone in on what matters most to the group. Once everyone’s concerns and personal motivations are addressed, you’ll be able to focus on running an efficient and productive meeting.

5. Show them why they should care. Passion is contagious. Entrepreneurs usually become excited by new ideas, projects and goals. If you tell someone your plans and they don’t seem as enthusiastic as you are, don’t become frustrated because they don’t “get it.” It’s unfair to expect those who attend a meeting about your company’s next big project to be as excited as you. Instead, demonstrate why the idea is important, relevant and profitable. The most successful meetings focus on the big picture and do much more than relay facts and figures. Tell the story of your concept. How did you get the idea? Was there a particular catalyst? The more personal the story, the better.

How do you keep people motivated during your meeting? Share your tips in the comment section below.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

I started in the business world when I left the Marines in 1968. Since then I’ve learned a lot. Here are three things I wish I had learned sooner.

How to Balance People Concerns and Productivity

The Marines taught me that a leader’s job is to accomplish the mission and care for the people. I got that. What I had to learn was how to do it.

Most of us naturally gravitate to one or the other: people or productivity. For me, it’s productivity. I’ll pay attention to helping the team be productive naturally. But I had to work at giving time and attention to the people and relationships. That’s still a challenge today.

I’ve learned that I need reminders and checklists and developed habits to help me give enough attention to relationships. My advice: figure out which you do naturally and develop systems so you do the other well. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

The Importance of Sleep and Recovery Time

I’ve been blessed with a strong constitution and relatively high energy levels. I was able to get the job done even when I was tired. I thought that because I could get by on very little rest and sleep, that it was it a good idea. It wasn’t.

I learned that I do more good work more easily when I’m fit and getting enough rest. I learned that it’s a good idea to allow time for recovery after a period of intense work. My advice: get enough sleep and allow time to recover after an intense period of work. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

How to Keep Routine Things from Becoming Emergencies

I’m good at paying attention to “the important stuff.” But, I often did that by letting routine things slide. Bad idea. For years there were cycles where I let routine things go until they turned into a crisis.

I learned that it’s important to get the routine things done routinely. My advice: set up systems so you do all those recurring and routine things on a regular basis. You can let them slip a little, but not much. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

Now It’s Your Turn

What things have you learned in your life that you wish you had learned sooner?

By Wally Bock

Networking has delivered more return on investment than any other tool in my business. Both financially and in non-monetary terms, my network has delivered so much value that I can not imagine what my situation would be like without it. If there is one thing that I could suggest that would be guaranteed to boost any business, networking would be it.

The problem is, everyone who believes in networking recommends it the same way.
“It works, try it!”. But how does it deliver value exactly? Lewis and I are about to run the training class for Shy Networking tomorrow. One of the most surprising questions I have seen over and over during our launch has been people asking how they might benefit.

You see, networking takes time. It is not an instant gratification thing very often. OK, so we have all experienced that chance meeting where everything clicks and we come away with a brilliant, but random contact. That’s not the norm. We are talking about human relationships, and they are not always fast burning things.

People are asking if they should devote time to networking over, say, SEO, blogging or social media. I have to tell you, being so close to things it took me a while to articulate. It’s like explaining why we need to breathe, drink and eat – my network is like food, but the other tactics are like water and oxygen to my business. It’s not either-or, it’s and. So if you are crunched for time, why should you add networking to your mix?
Of course you wouldn’t be reading this article if I hadn’t managed to give you concrete reasons why you should invest your time in networking, so here they are.

Networking ROI

There are many benefits to networking but you have to remember that we are dealing with people. You have to keep that in mind. Going out with a “what can I get?” attitude is going to sink your efforts before you begin. But, of course you need to know what return you are going to get before you invest, so here is what you can expect:

1. Friendship Benefits

I wanted to start with a benefit that does not necessarily convert to Dollars, Pounds or Euros. Do not overlook the simple benefit of having friends in the business with no strings attached. We need to know someone has our back, that we have people who are there for us. It can be lonely when you work alone, with only a monitor light to keep you company. Having someone who understands is extremely valuable on a psychological and emotional level. Your friends can chat to keep you motivated and cheery, are a sounding board for ideas, or will listen to you moan when you need it. When Sonia, Jon and I get together on Skype an hour can go by in a flash, I am not always sure if we actually do solve the world’s problems, but those conversations are something I look forward to each week.

When you are in a strange town it is nice to have company even just for meals. Deb NG, Becky McCray and Andy Hayes keep me safe on the mean streets of the USA, help me dodge my diet, and stop my ego getting out of control. Now I am feeling guilty for not listing all the other people who have kept me company, fed me, or joined me in friendship and conversation over the years. Hopefully you will forgive me for not linking you up this once, I will buy you a drink next time we meet while you tell me what a horrible friend I am. Deal? My point is people need people.

2. Opportunities

Now to contrast with the touch-feely first benefit, here is where the big bang of ROI kicks in. The most significant monetary benefit my network has brought me, and we are talking six figures from just one contact, is the opportunities they expose me to or introduce me to. If you are not getting enough opportunities, then you need to build your network. Opportunities like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing gigs, businesses or assets bought and sold … you name it. All the best opportunities are shared person to person in back channels. Everything from prime domain sales through to employment opportunities. If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like and trust. A lot of the time even when the person you like is less qualified. Getting passed over for plum gigs? This is why. This one networking benefit alone has to be worth an astronomical amount.

There are two problems that stop people thinking of this benefit, though:

A. People do not give credit to their network when opportunities arise. They either think “Of course I got this opportunity, I am awesome” or
they think they were just lucky.

B. Bad networking leads to a lack of opportunity, and can actually damage your ability to attract the best opportunities. It is better for nobody
to know who you are, rather than be known as a jerk. Sorry, it is a simple truth.

3. Advice

We all like to give friends advice, and sometimes they even ask for it! There are some things The Google can’t tell you. If I had gotten all the free advice I have received over the years from paid consultants then … well, I would have a massive deficit in my bank account or wouldn’t be writing this to you now. We rely on our networks to advise us and keep us on track, and we give back to our networks in return. Give a lot and you have credit in the bank when you need to make a withdrawal. The better your network the more knowledge you can tap into. Just in the world of SEO, people like Aaron Wall, Dave Naylor, Doug Scott, Jason Duke, Michael Gray, Rae Hoffman, Joost DeValk, a certain Google employee, and numerous others have given me golden tips over the years. They have kept me from making dumb moves, and have put me right when I have been confused (ok, that happens more times than I like to admit). When people confuse me with being a search engine expert I tell them I am not but I know plenty who are the real deal. It would be impossible to get this much expertise on the payroll, the only way to have contact with this much awesome is to try to be worthy of their friendship. There are informal advice channels like those, and there are formal arrangements such as consulting swaps or masterminds. I am doing a consulting swap with a self-development expert, he is fixing my brain and I am helping him with online marketing. Masterminds are where a group of people with common goals and values get together to push, encourage and advise each other.

If you only get occasional advice from your network then you are in significant net profit from your efforts.

4. Assistance

Someone once told me the definition of a friend is someone who will help you move house with no notice and no expectation of payment. I’m not sure about that but I think mutual help is definitely part of the definition, and one of the ways you can benefit from networking. Not the house thing, the helping part.

• Promotion – Giving you a boost in traffic, reputation, or sales
• Community – Helping you build conversation and community
• Links – Links in terms of Google juice, or sharing news and info from their networks
• Introductions – Connecting you to people you would like to meet or who they think are awesome
• Getting you out of a hole – Fixing dodgy code, giving you a heads up when you goof, or having your back when someone attacks

5. Positive Influence

You become who you associate with. This works in the negative, as any parent will have thought about while considering who their kids friends are or will be. It also works in the positive, if you surround yourself with the right people then the attitudes, habits, world view, and associations will rub off.

Apparently there is some scientific basis for this, but I have seen it enough in my own life to know it is true. I grew up in a place where success and wealth were considered wrong. If you had nice things then you must be a bad person. You can see all around you what that does to a community. So I gravitated towards people with a more positive mindset, who shared my goals and values. If nothing else I am happier for having motivating influences rather than depressing ones.

Modeling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance, what better than to be able to model people up close and personal?
The tribe you select will have a profound impact on your work and life, so choose well.

Summary

One of the worries with an article like this is that people will focus on the “bragging” or “name dropping” rather than on the message. Thank you in advance for pointing out what a jerk I am, and you are welcome.

The fact is I owe a great deal to my friends, contacts and extended network. If you get anything out of this article I want you to understand that every single new friend or contact you make is worth their weight in gold.
There is a danger that some people will take from this that they should go out with a gimme gimme frame of mind. That’s not what I am talking about. My hope is that you will see that while the impact might not be immediate, the compound effects of networking are significant and long lasting.
Originally posted on www.chrisg.com

By Chris Garrett

In one week, I’ve dramatically improved my professional communication skills.
Yes, I know, that’s a big claim—but it’s true. And the best part is that the changes I made were simple. I cut three words from my vocabulary: “actually,” “sorry,” and “me.”

1. Actually

My inspiration for getting rid of “actually” was Carolyn Kopprasch, Chief Happiness Officer at Buffer, who wrote a great blog post on the word.
Turns out that when I use “actually,” it’s usually because I’m correcting someone. The proof is in a recent email I sent to my editor.

Erin: That wording felt a little misleading, so I changed it.
Me: Actually, I pulled that sentence from the [company] website!
It’s not an awful response, but a better one would’ve been:
Thanks for your feedback! I used that sentence because I found it on their site.
The second communicates the same info while sounding more respectful and friendly.
“Actually” Alternatives: Definitely, got it, I see, great point, makes sense, understandable

2. Sorry

I try to stay away from saying ”sorry” in situations that don’t merit it: when I make a tiny mistake, when I state my opinion, or when someone points out something I missed. However, now I’m not even using “sorry” during those times I’ve truly messed up. Instead, I’m saying, “I apologize.”
Because “sorry” is so overused, it tends to feel flippant and non-genuine. “I apologize,” on the other hand, is said rarely enough that it still carries a lot of weight. When I use it, people know what I’m saying is heartfelt.

Last week, I blanked on an important meeting. When my boss asked what happened, I didn’t say, “Sorry, I forgot!” I said, “I apologize—it totally slipped my mind. From now on, I’ll check my Google Calendar as soon as I get to my desk in the morning so that doesn’t happen again.”
Note: I didn’t just apologize, but I laid out my plan for avoiding making the same mistake again in the future. It goes a lot further than just, “Sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“Sorry” Alternatives: You’re right, I apologize, Going forward I will…, I understand why you’re upset

3. Me

It’s not just the word “me” I wanted to avoid. It was everything “me” represents—being internally focused, rather than concentrating on how I can help the people I interact with every day.

Here’s an email I was going to send, before I realized it had the off-limits word:

Hi Sean,
When you have a moment, could you please send me the info on next Wednesday’s campaign launch? I want to double-check a couple details before it goes live.

Thanks,
Aja

Here’s the re-written version:

Hi Sean,
When you have a moment, could you please send over next Wednesday’s campaign info? Double-checking a couple details before it goes live to make sure the client is happy!

Thanks,
Aja

While editing this message, I got rid of “I” as well. Reducing my use of “me” words forces me to focus on how what I’m doing is benefiting our mission and company as a whole, which ultimately makes my communication more effective (and the person receiving it more receptive). “Me/myself/I” Alternatives: You, us, we, the team, our company, our department. How difficult would it be for you to remove “actually”, “sorry” and “me” from your emails?

Let us know how you are handling it. Leave your comments below.

As a busy entrepreneur, the time, money, and energy you put into your business is a precious investment. As a result, it’s important that you get a payoff from your business commensurate with your investment.

As a strategic business coach, one area that I’ve noticed most entrepreneurs fail to strategically plan for is networking. Consequently, networking becomes a frustrating “should” in the business and fails to produce the desired results.

Whether your networking activities take you online or offline, it important – and possible – to get the results you’re after. Plus, if your business is in stage one of growth and development, networking is a vital lead generation tactic for your enterprise.

Before making any significant networking investment, here are four must-do steps to ensure a networking ROI:

1. Determine your networking budget. There are hard and soft costs related to networking. Hard costs include the event registration or subscription fee. Your time makes up the soft costs. (Most entrepreneurs fail to include soft costs in networking budgets.) What can you afford – financially and physically – to invest?

2. Establish your networking objectives. What do you want to achieve with your networking investment? What does your investment need to produce? Do you want to generate leads? Build your brand? Increase your visibility? Having a clearly defined outcome makes your networking efforts purposeful.

3. Decide your networking timeline. Developing productive relationships, establishing trust, and building credibility among your peers takes time. You want to know, on the front end, how long you’ll need to commit to a networking activity or group to achieve your intended outcomes.

4. Develop your plan. Based on your investment and intended outcomes, what activities will help to achieve your objective? If your networking is offline, this includes the groups or organizations you may join and/or events you’ll attend. Networking online incorporates the tools or sites you plan to make use of, such as Linkedin, Focus, or the myriad of other online networking sites where your target audience hangs out. It also includes how you will use these various tools. (More of that to following in future blogs).

Don’t let your online or offline networking become an unnecessary source of frustration and stress for you. You’ve got bigger, and better, uses for your energy.

Originally published on www.synnovatia.com

by: Jackie Nagel

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The people of TEAM are a positive group of like-minded business professionals that understand the dynamic power of referral and relationship marketing. Their referral network provides businesses the opportunity to build and grow. They believe that when people work as a TEAM…Together Everyone Achieves More”. Make sure to come by TEAM’s Networking Lounge to mix and mingle with many of the TEAM members.

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