Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Networking skills EMPOWER you!

Whether you're looking to find your first job, or change the one you have, you need to network. Effective networking skills are skills that empower you. They enable you to access and share information, resources and support, in a manner that achieves goals and purposes. How are your people skills? Check the statements that apply to you:
  • I'm not easily intimidated.
  • I can express myself easily.
  • I ask for help when I need it.
  • I look for the "good" in people.
  • When I talk, people listen.
  • People don't think I'm boring.
  • I strike up conversations with people.
  • I listen to others' viewpoints.
  • I have skills that are valuable.
How did you do? Did you check off many statements or did you look at them and think, "I need to work on that."

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Monday, December 28, 2009

How it's "heard"

A man went to work out at the health club.  As he entered the locker room, he noticed the janitor was washing the floor. The janitor could not see the potential danger; the man could.

The man went through his routine and gave thought to addressing this with the manager. He had negative experiences with the club, so he did not believe it was worth it.

His  conscience won out. He asked the manager if there was a set time to wash the floor. The manager asked "why?" The man reported what he saw. The manager replied, "this is our down time." The man brought up the possibility  of an injury and subsequent lawsuit. The manager replied, "I'll have to tell him to use less water."

The man left frustrated. Although he recognized the importance of addressing the situation, he also recognized how the manager "heard" him. What can you learn from this? Effective listening precedes effective communication.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Listening and Filters

Two people may hear information and process it differently. One may be emotionally involved; another may be unmoved. One may  make a decision to support a point; a second may decide against it. Both emotional and intellectual functioning depend on a listener’s previous experiences. People build up a background of information; likes and dislikes, beliefs, biases, and prejudices that act as filters through which impressions are processed. As a result, each person approaches human interaction with a unique mental filter that affects the way he or she handles messages. 

Therefore, a part of listening should focus on identification of likes, biases, and ignorances that have an impact on listening reactions: “Why do I react in the way that I do? Does my reaction take into account everything I know about the situation? Under what conditions am I open to new ideas?”

A perceptive listener senses when others  feel comfortable, tense, angry, or anxious. They know when someone is crying to speak if their presence has been ignored. Sensitivity to verbal and nonverbal messages is the essence of good listening since feelings are expressed through body language and vocal intonations.

John Gray, in his book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, discusses that this skill requires practice. It gets easier with time. Some days will be better than others.

Trust your instincts! If your intuition says pursue the discussion more than once, do it. A favorable resolution rests with what you perceive on a verbal and nonverbal level.  Remember to “talk out the details.”

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have You Heard "It?"

An essential skill for communication is listening. It is a part of nonverbal communication. As an employer, you may be faced with conflict management issues or staff who need guidance. Being the “boss” and exerting authority is not enough. The flip side is submission, or knowing you don’t have all the answers. In many situations, if an employer can sit back and “listen,” things are resolved. Let’s say that you want to have a better relationship with your spouse or your friends. You want to be a better friend or partner. You hear comments that you don’t know how to listen. Well, in order to accomplish this, your listening skills need to change.

There is a catch. It’s not easy. It takes practice, and it doesn’t happen overnight. In the long run, mastering it will provide enhanced understanding and empathy. But before we get into the process; it’s important to explain the process of hearing. Your hearing involves nerves and muscles.

On the other hand, listening is learned. It is a mental process that involves hearing, attending, discriminating, understanding and remembering information. It can be described as passive, but actually involves deeper thinking and interpretation. Some people may have difficulty due to the following: 1) Short attention span -- they may be unable to remember anything within a short duration of time. 2) Auditory vs. visual learner -- they may learn better through seeing rather than hearing information. 3) Shutting down -- they may be unable to hear sounds, accents, dialects and shut down. 4) Unable to relate to feelings -- For many, a person’s feelings need identification or verification before a difficult situation can be resolved. 

In addition, listening occurs in a variety of ways. One does not always listen for knowledge but may listen because it is pleasing to hear. Think of the first time you heard a foreign speaker. Were you caught off guard? If you were, you may have lost the communication intent. Once you understood their pronunciation patterns, you would be apt to understand more. Foreign or dialectical speakers are prime  examples of how we may lose our ability to listen when we are engaged in hearing them talk. As a result, people try to listen but not understand. They may miss sound  differences or listen without evaluating what they hear.

Listening involves a variety of skills and levels. People should be aware of various listening levels: 1) Becoming aware that sound is present. 2) Sequencing and organizing what is heard. 3) Responding to what is said.

For listeners to process messages, they must be able to receive the multitude of sense impressions that are basic components of it. They must be able to hear the sounds of the language, and see images that are part of body language. Impressions received, must be processed and thought about. The listeners must go on to:
  • comprehend the factual content; in short, get the facts straight;
  • think of other points and ideas not mentioned but related to what was said;
  • determine how the speaker feels about the facts;
  • formulate a personal opinion on the topic and develop reasons to support the opinion;
  • evaluate aspects of communication, specifically the facts and ideas. 
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Monday, December 21, 2009

5 Tips on Being Assertive

Tips on being self-assertive:

  1. Take responsibility for what you want.
  2. Don't apologize when you need help.
  3. Offer help when you see a need.
  4. Don't compare yourself to others.
  5. Always look your best (It breeds confidence!).
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Friday, December 18, 2009

3 Tips on Asking Questions

A good network comes from asking good questions. When you ask good questions, you're searching for people and the information to meet your needs. Many people don't get what they need, because they don't ask the right questions. Here are 3 tips:

  • Formulate your questions ahead of time.
  • Open ended questions that use the words "How" or "Why"  get to the heart of things and keep conversations going.
  • Questions that use the words, "Who, when, where and what" get you more direct and factual information.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

5 Tips for Listening

More than seventy five percent of networking requires you to listen for information and the answers related to it. This is called "active listening." It requires you to be in the moment, and to listen  to the total person. Tips for listening:

  • "Commit" to listen and concentrate on the speaker.
  • Observe body language for emotions and unspoken meanings.
  • Keep your mind "open"  to what is said.
  • Listen for topics that are of mutual interest.
  • Give feedback  through smiling, eye-contact and asking questions.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

"Show" Your Knowledge!

Being viewed as skillful or proficient in  certain areas is important for your self-esteem. Having special skills and knowledge goes along with it, is attractive, and empowers people. This helps you to develop and maintain your network (and includes the network of others). Others will want that you have.

Tips on "showing" knowledge and skills:
  • Identify a skill you want to be better at
  • Make a plan for strengthening it
  • Share this knowledge with others
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Network and Empowerment!

An effective networker empowers others. When you empower, you display a genuine interest and a helpful attitude. When you empower others, you multiply their efforts and lead them.

Tips on empowering:

  • People want to be valued. When you see something of value, tell the person.
  • When you listen, you communicate value. 
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Matter of Trust!

Delegation of authority requires a tremendous amount of trust. Maybe that is why there are so many confused employees, because there are so many fearful people at the top! When leaders operate from a base of fear, they can't delegate. A leader who does not delegate will end up with a group of yes people. Leaders must share information. When they can do this, they empower other people!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Ethical Shortcuts

People with integrity have firm footing. Taking a "short cut" in life (or business) is not always the best way to approach situations. The shortest distance to a goal is not a straight line. Don't be tempted to cut corners in order to speed things up. Ethical shortcuts will always come back to bother you.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

It's About Success!

Successful people have a common trait: personal discipline. They are willing
to do things that other people don't want to do. They master their self-discipline in the following ways:
  • They live by their commitments.
  • They watch their words.
  • They restrain their reactions.
  • They stick to a schedule.
Can you relate?

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stop the Excuses!

Does this sound familiar? "I'll start  early next time." "I've got to start this project soon." "There is still time to do it."

Procrastination does damage to yourself and colleagues. It causes pressure and
problems. It wastes time, energy and money.

Stop making excuses! Whatever you need to get done, do it now!

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