Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘career’ Category

Coffee Talk with Colleagues: Loose Lips Sink Ships

In business, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, gossiping, leadership, office politics, people skills, professional behavior, professional development training, sales, training, Uncategorized on January 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

“Let’s have cawfee, we’ll tawk!”  How many of us frequently grab that cup o’ Joe with a colleague, for that quick, yet productive meeting?  A good idea unless the jazz, low lights and chocolate-y cupcakes encourage the conversation to spin out of control.

Recently, at a mid-town Starbucks, I overheard a man and woman (both of whom were wearing expensive-looking suits, holding the very latest Smartphones, and sipping double espressos) talk about the utter hatred they had for their boss, about how they weren’t earning enough commission and how when the market got better they would both look for other jobs.  She said, “Bill, I can’t believe you feel this way, too!”  He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve felt this way for years.  Maybe it’s good to finally talk about it.” I thought, the only way either of them is going to be safe sharing this information with the other is if they are siblings or spouses. But they weren’t, because the woman discussed her plans to be with her family for Easter and the guy mentioned his fiance and their upcoming wedding. Before they got up, they agreed not to share each other’s feelings, and on terms for a client meeting for which they were teaming-up.  I felt for them because the tension and strain of the work environment was affecting their morale, leading to this discussion.

Without even knowing it, this inappropriate sharing of feelings is likely to become the undoing of any real trust between them, over time.  He could become her boss, she his. They could get a new boss whom she likes but he doesn’t.  You just never know how circumstances will change.

Having a cup of coffee with a colleague can enhance a good working relationship because those few moments away from the daily numbers-crunching grind to have a rich, aromatic daily grind, can inspire open communication, information sharing and improved negotiations.  That being said, the step out of the office can also loosen one’s inhibitions and potentially jeopardize work relations.

This is why conference rooms were built. People don’t typically conspire to blow-up the boss or talk about their job interviews or affairs after a meeting has ended.  No one can fault you for wanting to be the consummate professional.  So, here are some tips to keep yourself on track and in the mind-set of doing business when out of the office:

1. Be the listener.  In case your associate is mouthing off, you can nod your head to show understanding and sympathy without engaging in the negativity.  Tell your partner that you are sorry to hear about these problems, but that you don’t feel you are in a position to discuss the situation. Suggest that an impartial, third party be consulted for support.

2. Start talking about the business at hand. Gently drive your partner back to the thing you came to discuss by asking for input and suggestions.

3. Openly watch the time.  Say something to the effect of, “I only have another 10 minutes, what haven’t we covered?”

4. Confirm your neutrality. As you are leaving, wish your associate a peaceful resolution and reaffirm your interest in working on this and future projects together.

It is so tempting to gossip when you feel you have found someone who sides with you. But there is tremendous danger in engaging in conspired negativity, and from my experience, ALL gossip leaks, even among friends.  So, take the high road; you may even encourage the gossip to end.

Happy communicating,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

You’re 50 and Your New Boss is 30. Now what?

In assertiveness, baby boomers, business, business networking, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, diversity, effective communicating, executive coaching, executives, generation x, generations in the workforce, gossiping, interpersonal skills, leadership, managing, millennials, networking, office politics, people skills, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, professional behavior, professional development, public speaking, training, Uncategorized, working with a younger boss on September 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

I’m a Baby Boomer, born in 1959, and I’ve had this experience.  I was once VP of a sales department, having been overlooked for the open SVP slot.  A woman, 10 years my junior, became my boss.  I immediately read what I thought was fear in her eyes and I did what I could to show that I supported her. For several months she kept telling me, “You’re great!  What would I do without you?” Then at around the three month mark, she fired me. Not based on my performance, not because I was acting out against her.  I asked her point blank, “Why?” and her response?  “You’re not a fit.”  You can imagine what that felt like!

Not all younger boss scenarios end badly, although they may be challenging. If you’re currently reporting to someone who’s your junior, and there’s tension around this reality, then this article’s for you.

Here you are, sharp as ever, valuable as hell, and watching your peers leave (voluntarily or by being pushed out).  Inevitably, you are wondering what’s going to happen to you and your job. Plus, you have this younger person as your boss. From your perspective, you might be tolerating what you see as the bumps and blunders your manager goes through to gain respect and be an effective leader (only to show signs of vulnerability and feelings of inadequacy). Just think of how threatening it must feel to manage someone older than yourself!

You may be observing that he or she likes to run things a bit loosely. This person is likely to want more contact via email and text and less in-person contact. Your manager might be in a state of unconscious incompetence (which is another term for, not knowing what we don’t know) and may think your view on leadership is antiquated.

The truth is, good leadership is ageless. That being said, your younger boss comes from a different era, and has generational tendencies for which you should be aware.

Here are some traits associated with our younger colleagues, the ones about whom I am referring.  They likely born after 1975 and before 1987.  (The full span of “Generation X” is 1965-1981 and of “Millennials” is 1982-2000).

Techno-literate

Grew up embracing diversity and informality

Want to achieve balance between fun and work

Self-reliant

Enjoy a lack of rigid structures

(*Source: The Generations, Gary Trotta’s Training Games, Inc.)

Some of these tendencies are a breath of fresh air! So, what to do when there’s a conflict or you feel critical of your boss’ ways? Try to see things from your boss’ perspective. Imagine you’re 30 again and people the age of your parents report to you. Threatening, maybe a little? Much to prove? There’s a really powerful interpersonal dynamic that can become an opportunity to show your ability to dance with change, with people of all ages, and with the demands of the job.

When you see them struggle, offer assistance without being obsequious, pedantic or passive-aggressive. Just be you with all of your experience and wisdom.  Ask about your manager’s vision for the department and the role he or she sees you playing in it.  Occupy your space with confidence. Show interest in your boss’ perspective and demonstrate respect.  Become curious and enthusiastic about working together.

Besides, what are the options?  Just walk away? Fight the system?  Disregard the new manager’s responsibility for you?  We Boomers have been through a lot and we know that change is inevitable.

If we can accept what’s happening, grow with it and be a role model of flexibility and integrity, we can lead our younger managers to victory.

Enjoy the ride,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher

In aggression, assertiveness, business relationships, career, communicating, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, gossiping, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Uncategorized, Winning, working with a younger boss on May 25, 2016 at 1:24 am

The most challenging people are our greatest teachers. We can use our reactions to them to start taking control of ourselves.

You’ve got a challenge in the office — that thorn in your side, or actually, more like a knife in your gut.  You dread every minute you have to interact with this person. You have dreamed about ways to get rid of him or her, coming up with some ominous fantasies that have words in it like, “extermination.”  Or, perhaps there’s such a lack of trust and respect that you believe s/he’s going to attempt to hurt your job or career.

On a day-to-day basis you find yourself snapping, yelling, arguing.  You and your enemy go at it freely. Co-workers are warning you that they’re sick of your complaining, but you’re stuck deep in the mud. When you do find someone else with whom you can commiserate, you share war stories and eat up valuable work time letting off steam behind closed doors.

Maybe you’ve even tried the exact opposite approach– showing too much appreciation, flattering him or her, praising this person to the point where you feel nauseous and certainly disingenuous. And, it’s still not working.

Good news!  You’ve been blessed by having this individual cross your path.  Let me explain.

Recently, an ambitious 20s-something, whom we’ll call Joe, told me about his boss’ executive assistant — a woman in her mid 50s (whom we’ll call Gina).  Joe was beside himself with exhaustion because Gina refused to return his work on time, or if at all, despite the fact that it’s part of her job.  Gina’s attitude is profoundly bitchy and argumentative.  It reduces Joe to arguing, yelling and then finally backing off. Since their boss won’t intervene or help Joe, Joe ends up doing the work himself.  Even worse, despite complaints about Gina by others, the company refuses to let her go or even send her to anger management courses.

Joe, being exhausted and frustrated, realized that he was about to throw away a great job for this co-worker.  Instead, he came to me to learn how to deal with Gina. Here was the process we used to help him realize he was being given a tremendous opportunity to learn from her.

1. Look at yourself through the other person’s eyes.   She is twice his age.  Been with the company for years.  She reports to Joe’s boss and yet is being asked to support Joe, who is of a lower status. This might seem unfair to her and her tenure. She doesn’t care about his success.  She’s tired of helping the young kids with their grunt work who never ask what she thinks.

The exercise of guessing of what might be on her mind opened up Joe’s mind for change. This made him more sympathetic to her. He decided that he was done screaming, fighting and seeing her as his enemy.

2. Analyze the lesson. What did Joe learn?  That Gina was his Guru.  She was the impetus for him to become more self-aware and aware of others. She helped to prepare him for dealing with difficult people in the workplace and it got him to pursue skill development. Gina was Joe’s mirror. The reflection showed him just how bad his behavior could become in the face of an opposing force, and he didn’t like himself for it one bit.

3. Accept what we cannot change. Joe’s plan was to continue seeking Gina’s assistance, as it was his right and her job. If she said no, he would accept it and move on.  Because he was done fighting with her, he was willing to do the work himself without getting into a verbal brawl.  Joe’s self-esteem rose for having the control to accept what he couldn’t change.

Think of your challenging person as your greatest teacher. Whatever negativity he or she is bringing up in you, IS IN YOU to begin with, and is merely having an outlet.  The question is — what about you is being reflected back?

If you’ve become someone you can’t respect as a result of someone else’s behavior, you are being given a golden opportunity to grow, without ever trying to win or change the other person.  We can only ever control what we say and do anyway, so might as well use the situation to teach us how to detach enough to control ourselves.

These ‘difficult’ people are catalysts for our transformation. They may initially bring us to our proverbial knees, but we can choose to get back on our feet.  Thank these “villians” my friends, they are our greatest allies.

Enjoy the lesson!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You’re Dead to Us: Getting Edged out of a Job

In career, career change, career opportunities, Compassionate universe, create a new career, discover your passion, Getting Edged out of a Job, getting fired, getting laid off, keep negativity to yourself, leadership, life changes, life mirrors our inner beliefs, live your passion, living a dream, mission, moving forward in life, Mr. Wonderful, opportunity for change, Shark Tank, You're Dead to Me, You're Dead to Us on February 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Many professionals hit a certain point in their careers when suddenly they are fired or laid off (aka FIRED) or (and this is the sneakier one) moved from leadership positions to those of ‘special projects directors.’ This former non-position; now a quasi-unspecified position, is a little closer to the door — but management chose to sit you by the door rather than push you out of it.  They’re 1. Hoping you will find a new job and resign, or 2. Just resign, or 3. Waiting until some HR time-frame comes into play to actually cut you loose.

There are many ways we can find ourselves being pushed out. We are not invited to key meetings.  Our opinions are no longer being requested.  We are offered less and less opportunities to generate some form of work or income.  This is especially hard when we’re not told anything, rather just that the changes are being made and we find ourselves in a career and/or financial crisis.

So, as someone who has experienced the “You’re Dead to Us” phenomenon in 35 years of professional life, I thought I’d share how I made it beyond this type of situation to thrive, hoping this will help those who are going through what feels insulting, denigrating and unjust.

1. Curse!  Cursing is hugely cathartic. Cry. Mourn. Be enraged. Do this for as long as you need (this stage will end, by the way).  HOWEVER, do not display this behavior or say anything negative or share your personal feelings with any of your colleagues!  This is a private matter! Stay neutral around people and show that you’re going with the flow, outwardly.

2. Actions to take (with options):  a. If you can trust your boss, ask him/her “Why the changes? and “What caused these changes?” (NOT, “What did I do wrong?”).  You may receive information that will help you gain some valuable insight, or sadly, to use for legal action. b. If you do not trust your boss, you can go to HR, but they will report your query back to your boss. c. This is really really really really really really really hard to do, but this is the one I recommend: Ask yourself how moving on will support your vision for your career and life.

3. Life mirrors our inner beliefs. I have a theory that when things fall away (like jobs or relationships) it’s a signal that the little gnawing whisper in our heads that has been begging us to listen to it, is actually getting its secret wish, despite our mental control to stay put.  Ever hear yourself say, “Geez, I want to be a pirate, if only…” or “I want to discover the first sponges that don’t smell!” or “My passion isn’t here, it’s in rescuing elephants and I want to be in Africa doing that right now!”  So, if you’re being pushed out, you must ask, “Why is this happening now and how does this SUPPORT me?”

4. Create an interim plan of action.  This might mean going to recruiters or taking a job at Starbucks (actually that could be a cool job!) while you go back to school, or begin marketing a consultancy and get busy on social media looking for freelance work. Ask friends for leads. Or, take that vacation and luxuriate on the Riviera! It’s rare that we feel we are in our dream job when it falls away.  There is usually a dream yet unfulfilled.  The key is to remember that what is happening is meant to cut the apron strings so we are free to move forward.

5. Be excited! The use of our energy at this critical time will produce what happens next.  Yes, if you feel immobilized you must get help – go see a counselor, therapist or coach.  But once you can move through the pain, it’s so important to use your creativity and positivity to define a mission for your career and take the very next step towards that. After all, in the big picture of life, it’s never about defining who we are based on the job, but rather, on what we do with our dreams.

My belief is that the Universe is compassionate and that it juggles us around to put us on the right paths. Many spiritual teachers talk about how true compassion is ruthless. Is Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank”) compassionate when he says, “You’re dead to me?”  Was Tony Soprano?  Well, maybe not.  But I wouldn’t exactly consider them spiritual teachers! The bottom line is that it’s our job to look at the big picture when we are being edged out and perhaps say (silently) to the boss:  “Thanks for setting me free.”

 

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your Reputation. Is it Built on Character or Personality?

In business relationships, career, career coaching, character, character vs. personality, communicating, communication, communication skills, Dale Carnegie, effective communicating, executive coaching, How to Win Friends and Influence People, human relations, human relations principles, leadership, Michael Fertik, people skills, personal development, personal growth, personality, professional behavior, professional development, Professional Reputation, Reputation, self-help, Susan Cain, Uncategorized, Warren Susman on September 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm

If you think about the concept of professional reputation, when was the last time you wondered:  do my colleagues see how honorable, compassionate and humble I am? We generally don’t lose any sleep over this. There’s no cultural need to compete when it comes to character.  Now, that’s not true when it comes to personality. Have you ever felt competitive or even inadequate around others whom you see as being more charismatic, dynamic and magnetic than you?

Traits associated with character: integrity, compassion, generosity, humility, fairness, etc.  Traits associated with personality: charisma, dynamism, poise, magnetism, attractive, etc.  The questions are: which one creates the right reputation, and which one will help us move ahead in our chosen professions?

I came upon an interesting article written by Reputation.com’s CEO, Michael Fertik, entitled, “We Just Hired a Chief People Officer (Why you should too).” In it he describes the importance of the move to drive the values of the company through its people. I love this idea because it’s a charge he’s putting upon his employees to sustain a ‘culture of character’.

Susan Cain, in her book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” spends a full chapter on “The Rise of the Mighty Likable Fellow,” which delves into the shift in the late 1800s from a “Culture of Character” (a term coined by cultural historian, Warren Susman) to an early 20th century, “Culture of Personality.”

Ms. Cain’s book discusses how the industrial revolution caused the shift in ideology as a result of people moving from quiet country-life into growing cities at the turn of the 20th century.  To find work, they had to compete.  They had to stand out.  And so, who among the great heroes should emerge out of this shift? Mr. Dale Carnegie. He became the expert in how to be liked, how to persuade, how to gain the attention of others; to thrive in urban life. Timing being perfect for such skills, Mr. Carnegie launched his first public speaking course in 1912 at the YMCA in Harlem, New York!

Susan Cain writes that Mr. Carnegie was a self-help “Culture of Personality” guru, and I can understand why that is true.  As an emerging leader of methods that helped people compete, get jobs, keep up with the Joneses, they needed winning personalities.  I am also compelled to add that he was a very powerful proponent of the importance of  character.  His book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” was a user’s manual and the title fulfills its promise. However, if you carefully read his 30 Human Relations Principles, (the foundation for the book’s material) they speak to character. Here’s a sampling:

Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

Give honest, sincere appreciation.

Show genuine interest in others.

Respect the other person’s opinion.

Let the other person save face.

These principles are about humility, compassion and gratitude.  Mr. Carnegie never lost sight of his own small-town upbringing and the importance of building a reputation based on being humanitarian.  103 years later, his work is still teaching us about the importance of character and how to build the characteristics associated with likable personalities.

So, what does reputation hinge upon?  I’d say that we should follow Mr. Carnegie’s thinking:  we need to have likable personalities that grow through skill-development (such as communicating well, presenting ourselves with confidence, etc.) in order to compete in this “Culture of Personality.” We should also remember that the constancy and source of our humanity – the foundation our personalities are built upon, flows out of true character.

Gratefully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Make a Positive, Succinct Point When Presenting

In business, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, leadership, messages, people skills, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, sales, selling, speech preparation, speech writing, training on September 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Remember the end of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech?   “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Imagine if he’d said it like this:  “Don’t misunderstand the role of being an American citizen. You can’t sit back while your government works to make you secure.   You have to step up to the plate, be proactive and support the whole.  We’re counting on you, and we’re in this together….or else.”

Not so good. Right? Certainly no one would be quoting it nearly 50 years later.  His actual words inspired and challenged people — giving them a fine reputation to live up to and a good cause to work towards.  A winning speech!

This is a great example of delivering a compelling point while conveying a positive message. It must be memorable and give listeners something to respond to; an action with an inherent value to them for taking that action.  We want to get buy-in and be perceived as leaders, too.

Generally, people absorb messages when they’re short.    Here’s the difference:

a. Don’t smoke — you’ll die too young from a devastating cancer of the mouth, tongue, lungs or brain. You’ll shorten your life, you’ll contaminate the air and give others health problems from second hand smoke.

b. Avoid getting cancer. Don’t smoke! You can live a long, healthy life.

Which message would you be able to quote?  Isn’t that what you would want your listeners to be able to do with your message?

Here are a few steps in preparing your positive, succinct point:

1. Identify the point of your message. This is frequently something you’d like your listeners to do, change, or follow-up on. Do you want them to take your advice, remember something you said or take on a challenge? Write that one thing down.  Make it ONE thing only.  The action you want them to take is the point of your speech.

2. Use this core point to gather information such as, facts, personal examples, anecdotes, to reinforce your point. Use this information to enhance and drive home your message.

3. Create a value proposition.  Your point must have a value to the audience or you will lose your ability to make impact.

When you deliver your message, here’s the order for making a succinct point:

a. Share your examples, anecdotes, facts, etc., rich with detail that ties your point to your message.

b.  State your point.

c. Make it clear to the listener that there’s a value to him/her for doing what you suggest.

Think not what your audience can do for you, but what you can do for your audience!

Go get ’em!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Are You Striving to Get Yourself Back on Top?

In career, career challenges, career path, career transition, Dr. Robin Smith, get back on top, job titles, life changes, looking backwards, Oprah Winfrey, personal power, professional development, salaries, second career, striving forward, Super Soul Sunday on August 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Yesterday, I caught an interview with Dr. Robin Smith on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and was absolutely struck by a part of the conversation that referred to the demise of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.  Dr. Smith spoke about how they died as a result of being completely obsessed with getting back to the top of their games.  For Whitney Houston it was, ‘hitting that note’ again, and with Michael Jackson it was creating something bigger than “Thriller.”

How many of us professionals, those in career transition, and those who lost titles and high salaries to the economic downturn, are in a spin to GET BACK TO THE TOP?

The obsession to re-experience a high from the past, compounded with a lack of acceptance that life has changed, that those were exceptional moments of their own time and circumstance, drive us to self-destruct.

This idea resonates greatly with me as I’m now 10 years into my second career (from advertising sales to professional development) and have a constant nagger (my ego) worrying about how I will be able to get back to the top of my earnings again.  My top was at the height of the Internet boom, where I was so perfectly situated, in the late 90s and early 2000s.  Of course, I was already nearing 20 years into my sales career when this hit and I’m only 10 years into this career (that in general isn’t known to be the money-maker that sales is) BUT, the point is that the way I’ve been evaluating my success, which is to GET BACK TO THE TOP, is my real problem.

The thinking itself is a set-up for feeling like a failure!  I was on a different path, I had different personal goals, I was a different person and life presented me with different options. Plus, I would never, ever want to go back into that career  and walk away from the very thing that has fueled me with purpose, joy and feelings of fulfillment.

And, even though I have a rich life with a loving husband, good health, great friends and family, and kick-ass skills to do my work at high levels, I recognize that the obsession to have what I had is a self-destructive thought.  Embracing the path I’m on now is the key to moving forward.

I believe in my ability to bring in that bounty and to prosper as I look toward the future.  The difference is I’m not going to continue striving backward, I’m now striving forward.  The freedom from comparison of a past situation is the clarity I needed in order to feel optimistic.

So, dear colleagues: STOP IT.  Stop working to get back on top. Stop comparing your life now to back then. Instead, look for the direction your life is taking and say yes to what feels right, right NOW, because it will lead to the best opportunities that can present themselves to you.  It will lead you to a new future.  And that future may be more dear to you than title and money, and/or that future may include a better title and even more money! Who knows?

Forge ahead!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your Audience Always Wants to Know, “What’s in it for me?”

In business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, leadership, managing, people skills, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, sales, selling, training, Uncategorized on January 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm

WIIFM.  You know, the radio station, what’s in it for me?  That’s precisely what audiences are thinking when they have to listen to a presentation. One of my most trusted mentors once said, “No one comes to hear a presentation wondering if the speaker slept well the night before, had an easy commute and a good cup of coffee. Audiences are thinking about themselves.  Not you.  So stop thinking, worrying and focusing on yourself.” I repeat his words with great compassion for you!

To effectively sell your idea, concept, product, or service, you must get buy-in — and that only happens when your audience understands how your point relates to them. With this in mind, be careful not to stand in the way of communicating your point.

A. Don’t Seek Sympathy

Listen to how often speakers stand before audiences and introduce their presentations with a self-deprecating remark, such as, “My computer was down all last week and I didn’t have the chance to practice as much as I’d hoped so I’m not as sharp as I’d wish to be,” or “I’ve just gotten over a cold and am not fully myself yet,”  etc…. NEVER APOLOGIZE to an audience before you start you presentation, folks!  1. You are calling attention to you and away from them.  2. You are giving them permission to look for your flaws.  3. You are asking for sympathy:  they are not going to give you the latitude to be less informative and entertaining. So, please, NEVER APOLOGIZE before, during or after a presentation. Remember: they are thinking of themselves, not you.

B. Take Yourself Out of the Equation

Your point has to benefit your audience, so every time you insert yourself, your needs, your wishes, you lose a connection.  Every word and concept is on behalf of their interests. I have heard many presenters make statements that are ‘me’ based and not ‘you’ based, like:  I want your attention, I need you to follow my direction, my goal is for everyone of you to buy my product.  You get the idea.  Your goals are irrelevant and what you want is pointless.  (The only time a speaker can state what he wants is when he is in a leadership role and has already gotten buy-in and approval.  What he really means is, ‘what we all want.’)  No speaker is spared the burden of proving a benefit. The reasons people are texting, snoring, looking at the floor, whispering to the person sitting next to them, and pretending to listen (you know, eyes are fixed on you the whole time but are unresponsive) is because:  1. They are thinking of themselves. 2. The speaker has failed to prove the ability to meet their objectives, or solve their problems.  3.  The point to them has been lost or hasn’t been made clear.   So, think you vs. me when you speak.

C. Don’t Let Fear or Pride Isolate You

Please don’t let the fear of looking silly stop you from using a wide emotional range that can be playful, humorous, mournful, soulful — whatever makes sense — it reveals the essence and humanity of who you are.  An audience’s quest for WIIFM is the command they have on the speaker to be entertaining as well as informative.  As a trainer and coach I know that the people who do not improve on their presentations are ones that refuse to budge on this; they remain uninteresting, unapproachable and isolated from their listeners. People don’t trust emotionally withholding speakers. Dare to put your own brand of sparkle into it! Dramatic execution helps people understand the point and see its worth.  When you insert natural, human emotion into your presentations people appreciate you and relate to you.  That’s how you build value. If you can look at yourself as the delivery system for your presentation, it might make it easier to realize that your personal needs can not be packaged into your material. This might be hard, especially if you’re already a bit stressed or worried about your presentation skills. You are more likely to get the result you want if you think solely about benefitting your audience than making it more comfortable for yourself.

Happy presenting!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc.,  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Professional Women, Please Stop Trying to Fit In!

In business relationships, career, career challenges, career-related problems, communicating, communication, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, Detach and Breathe, empowerment, enlightenment, executive coaching, female discrimination, Gurus, handling tough boss, human relations, interpersonal skills, jobs, leadership, leaning in, life skills, manage stress at work, managing conflict, office politics, personal development, personal growth, professional behavior, professional development, professional women, self-esteem, self-help, self-image, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth, transformation, Uncategorized, women, women in the workplace, work culture, work-related problems on January 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I am decidedly a professional woman.  In my 30+ year career, of which there are actually two paths taken (one in media sales, one in professional development), I have felt discriminated against because I am a woman.  I have been sexualized, objectified, diminished, loathed.  I have been given opportunities, I’m sure, because someone thought I was pretty. Both men and women have said and done things to me that where abhorrent.  “Go make curtains,”  one male boss had said to me, in front of male peers, tossing me out of a meeting.  “What’s your favorite position?” a manager asked me after I had inquired about applying for a management position.  Oh, I’ve been there.

And you likely have experienced all that too. But this message isn’t about how to get along as a woman, or about leaning in or out, or about being assertive, or vulnerable, or how to navigate corporate male hierarchies. I’m not here to review the research that proves how ambitious women are seen as bitches while male counterparts are admired for their leadership qualities.

No, I’m writing to say to all of us women: please stop obsessing about being a certain way in order to move up the corporate ladder.

Here’s why:  despite working to create the right perception (by behaving in a way that will yield the best results), small-minded associates who are in emotional pain, regardless of their gender, will see us through their own damaged lenses.  They will have their biases. Their dysfunctional views of the world will be there ANYWAY.  Unless people are aware of the feelings of others, and care about developing themselves at higher levels, they will box you in like miniature chocolates molded into their casings.

Yes, it might mean you are seen as the power-hungry-bitch with 38DDs.  It might mean your high-intelligence is so threatening that you are passed over for a promotion to someone whom your manager feels he can control.  Disappointing, yet with a great blessing:  You have been hired by your Guru so that you can work on YOU.

Business settings are like Gurus or teachers. Work presents us with the most difficult, challenging and sometimes downright painful interactions that feel AWFUL.  These occurrences actually give us the opportunity to become enlightened; to make choices, to build skills, to detach from any personal need to have the boss (or colleague) fulfill a longing and need in us to be accepted, approved of, etc… They are playing an unexpected role — to push those old buttons so we can evolve.  My advice: use these nasty lessons to learn how to step-up into YOU, and don’t worry about who they are.

When I came up with my mantra, DETACH AND BREATHE, it was to deal with a boss who had been actively trying to sabotage me so he could replace me with a guy he liked for my job.  I had been reacting by shutting him out of my work and trying to take control of things without consulting him. The minute I allowed him to manage me, forgot about trying to be right, and went with the fact that our hierarchy gave him authority, HE RELAXED around me, and the threat actually went away.  By the time I quit, it was purely on my terms.  He was my Guru, helping me understand what it means to let go, to stop needing to control, to accept what is.

The freer you are — the more objective and the more accepting of others’ limitations — the better you will feel about yourself and your work.  So, you may be overlooked for a promotion or even get fired.  Sadly, you may have to deal with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Don’t allow regret to eclipse the power of the lesson. The right opportunities lie ahead. You can live out your purpose, carve out your path.  This will happen as a result of your enlightenment and enrichment from these horrific experiences.  Plus, there are always good people around who want to help.  It’s focusing energy on what’s possible, not on conforming to a culture that cannot bring your dreams to fruition.

Professionally and respectfully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bully for You; How to Stop Being an Office Bully’s Target

In aggression, assertiveness, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, business relationships, career, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, NeuroLeadership Group, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Psychology Today, self-esteem, Uncategorized on January 6, 2014 at 1:55 am

If I may be so bold, unless you wish to be, you are not in your job to be anyone’s “punching bag” or the butt of sadistic manuevers to undermine you or your work.

If you’ve been spending countless nights worrying about how to deal with your bully, or asking yourself what you did to deserve this creep in your life and are experiencing a downturn in your productivity and/or desire to stay in your job, you may be interested to know that there is actually something you can do that is neither vengeful nor in any way harmful to any party (I know, revenge would feel so sweet!) and in fact can be a nice boost to your self-confidence.

First, let’s take a look at bullying.  According to Psychology Today, “Bullies couldn’t exist without victims, and they don’t pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear….” Does this sound like you?  But, you may ask, “Yeah, but I’ve still done nothing to deserve this.” Psychology today states that, “Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn’t handled well.”

Sadly, you are dealing with a person who is emotionally stalled and you are simply playing in the wrong sandbox.

Bullies are not exempt from feeling threatened. In fact, self-esteem and status are directly linked to behaviors that make people react as both threatening and threatened and this type of reaction mainly comes from a perceived loss of status.  David Rock, author of “How the Brain Works,” and “Quiet Leadership” describes that, “Status means we are always positioned in relation to those around us:  literally, where we are in the ‘pecking order.'” Dr. Rock, CEO and owner of the NeuroLeadership Group and co-founder and executive director of the Neuroleadership Institute, is a pioneer of brain-based research and its application for creating positive, organizational change. His work has proven that as social beings, we react to social threat as if we are experiencing physical threat; as if our survival is at risk.  He has identified the five core areas that trigger unconscious threat reactions and shows us that through awareness and a mindful approach, that we can shift from threat to what he calls ‘a reward state.’

These five areas are:  Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  (Dr. Rock has many published articles that are worth reading on the subject.  I recommend, “SCARF:  a Brain-Based Model for Collaborating with and Influencing Others.” ) But, for the purposes of helping you with your bully, here’s what I think you should know:  you can raise your own perceived status without lowering your bully’s, and in doing so, create a more peaceful dynamic.

1. Align and Engage. You must stop making yourself right and the bully wrong.  By focusing on what makes you different you are causing yourself to feel more isolated. Part of Dr. Rock’s SCARF model is that Relatedness has much to do with feeling good. Allow yourself to tell your bully that you can see his/her point of view and can even agree to it (only if this is the case – don’t be fake!).  This may trigger the sensation that you are lowering your own status, but you aren’t.  You are showing how BIG you really are.

2. Keep Your Feelings to Yourself.  There are times when transparency is very important to the health of a good working relationship.  This is not one of those times. Empower yourself with this mindful and silent phrase, “My feelings are none of his/her business.”  This means that if you are feeling panicked and want to cry out in the name of unfairness, stop! Even the slightest comment from someone who’s not a bully (but is playing with status as a high card) can make us feel bullied.  There is a senior member of a team that I’m on who was assigned a huge project (working with a previous employer of mine) and I was not included on the project.  When I suggested that I could offer history and help he said, “No, they only want to work with me.”  I was enraged and felt my status drop with blunt force.  It felt blindingly unfair. I almost told him to…well you know what that is…how unfair this was, blah blah blah.  Instead, I said to myself, Jackie, these feelings are none of his business. I detached immediately, feeling empowered by my self-control. I said, “I’m happy for the team and I know you’ll do a great job.”  He smiled and thanked me.  Most importantly, I took the high road.

3. Get Mindful.  Ask yourself what is it that kicks you in your pants around status, or any of these other social factors.  What kind of conditioning do you have that is still plaguing you?  It’s your job to discover what makes you tick and where you need to grow. Read about it.  Talk with a professional.  Ask for support. Stop blaming the bully and start taking responsibility for the victim, that is, you.

4. Become Influential. Pretend you are there to cultivate the talents of this bully (not by offering any feedback or advice; as per Dr. Rock, this could trigger a status alert and backfire!).  I mean to support this person in becoming more productive and create a window for his person to behave in a way that will accelerate his/her career.   For example, congratulate your bully on something well done. Do it publicly. Be specific.  Acknowledge what is good.  There’s a chance that this bully is starved for recognition.  This is not about ingratiating yourself as a lowly servant begging for a crumb!  Imagine feeding a starving child something nutritious.  You have the power!

5. Value The Lesson. I’ve written about this very topic before. That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher!  How do you use this situation to propel yourself forward? What is your strategy from here?  It’s really in your control, having nothing to do with controlling another person.

6. Do Right.  You are a player in a hierarchical structure that is designed for its own survival, not yours. Fairness is one of the five social factors that Dr. Rock describes and it can kick us in our proverbial pants when we feel things aren’t fair. We’ve all seen it; huge salary vs. experience discrepancies, nepotism, lay-offs, closed-door policies, etc.  It’s the inherent dysfunction that ravages every organization where leaders lack self-awareness and actual leadership skills.  So you learn what it is to engage others, to raise the morale, to play fair and to be a good team-leader.  It’s a phenomenal opportunity to leverage your autonomy, and create rewarding outcomes.

I know…none of this is easy.  But as my Popop used to say to the very aggressive, sometimes bullying little ten-year old me, “The first one who yells loses.”  Your bully is losing whether you join in or not, so really there’s no threat to you.  Just focus on the greatness in you both and the rewards will follow.

Happy Connecting!

Jackie

(Note:  if you are experiencing any form of severe bullying, that is, being threatened, harrassed, and intimidated, you must report this to your management and to your human resources department.  Please use your best judgment and stay safe.)

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.