Creating Connections: Part 1 – Opening the Door

Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 in Business, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

Creating Connections is a three-part blog series. Part 1 explores how employers speak with their employees about utilizing our services.    A business owner emailed me last week with a frequently asked question. “What’s the best way to tell my employee that I’m hiring you to work with her?” While some of our clients are direct connections—a person calls our company and we provide training to that person—most of our clients are part of a business triangle. The sponsor is at one point of the triangle, and pays for the training. The person who receives the training, known as the client, is at the second point of the triangle. Our company completes the third point by providing training to the client and receiving payment from the sponsor. It is a relatively simple design when all points are on the same page and communicating well. Yet, challenges with communication are often what lead people to seek out our services in the first place. In this blog, the first in a series of three, we’ll provide sponsors with tips and strategies to begin the conversation with employees who would benefit from working with our company. In part two, we’ll address how prospective clients can approach their employers with a request to work with our company. In the third part of the series, we’ll share a few of the behind-the-scenes reasons people choose to engage with Express Yourself Write. Okay sponsors–this part is for you. No matter how confident or oblivious your employee may seem, if you see a problem in your employee’s written or spoken communication, chances are high that your employee is struggling, albeit quietly, with this same issue. Even the most competent writers and speakers experience challenges with writing and would gladly accept help from someone who promises to make the process easier. The language you choose to open the conversation determines how the conversation will go. Before you say anything, get clear on what your employees’ ‘pain points’ are. Do they have a hard time completing long reports? Do they freeze when you ask them to do a particular task? What do they see as the most painful part of their job? Tell your employee how much value they bring to your organization by acknowledging several of the things they are doing well. Be sincere, and tell them why you are invested in their professional development. Focus on the opportunity for growth rather than what you hope to fix. Invite the employee into the process. You might say, “This company has a great track record with (insert the solution to their pain point here). I thought of you and wondered if you might be interested in seeing what...

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Crockpot Relationships

Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Business, Relationships | 1 comment

Are you using a flash-fryer or a crockpot to connect with people? If you don’t know the difference, you might have difficulty enjoying the meals—and the kinds of relationships—you really want in your life. Let’s be clear. French fries and pot roasts are both delicious, but they are not the same. If you say you are looking for pot roast style connections in your life, but you keep driving through McDonald’s to order fries, you might find yourself eating an extra helping of frustration. This is not rocket science. If you throw all the pieces of your meal in a large frying pan with a quart of oil and cook it on high for ten minutes, do not expect to sit down to the equivalent of a savory pot roast at the end. In most areas of life, the richness of flavor emerges over time. In our culture the golden arches get more visibility than the crockpots. Turn on the television near any major holiday, and you’ll see advertisements for match.com, eharmony.com, howaboutwe.com nearly as often as the ads for McDonald’s and Burger King. Yet when was the last time you saw a commercial for a crockpot? In the business world too, marketing language is designed to drive you to make money overnight, triple your client base in ninety days, or get paid to speak by next week. Deep fryers at a deep discount. People buy because people want results, and we want them fast. There is nothing wrong with this, per se. The challenge is what we do when we find that the French fries in life aren’t actually what we want. They taste good, but they still don’t fill us up. What do we do when we decide we actually do want the good stuff and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it? Dust off the crockpot, friends, and remember everything you know about how you formed the deep, meaningful relationships that are already in your life. I met one of my dearest friends in a required college astronomy class. We exchanged little comments and jokes for weeks before we connected for a cup of tea and conversation. Even when we did start chatting as friends, we continued living our lives with other friends for months before we started hanging out more regularly. Our friendship began slowly, first by getting to know each other and then by discovering alignment over time. From this foundation, we created over twenty years of a friendship that we still enjoy. Creating meaningful, lasting relationships is much like making crockpot meals. Spend time in your favorite grocery stores that stock the best ingredients. Select ingredients with time and...

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Writer’s Block

Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in Business, Education, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

I wish I could talk to all the people who are afraid to speak their truth, or who are stuck in the mud of writer’s block, or overwhelmed with the fog of “I don’t know.” I wish I could tell them that is doesn’t matter what they say; they just need to say something to get started. That would be easier, right? If I told myself, “Anything is fine!” one would think that I would have an easier time of settling in and writing through writer’s block. Unfortunately, this advice is hogwash. We’re too smart. We know that ‘anything’ is not actually fine. Some writing stinks, and some speeches waste people’s time or do more harm than good. With all the other things I love to do in life, I am mindful of how I want to use my time—and other people’s time as well. Telling myself that it doesn’t matter what I write as long as I am writing is like my telling the taxi driver it doesn’t matter where we go as long as you keep driving me around. Sure, I might see some interesting sights, but it’s not how I want to spend this particular day. If I’m going to bother to show up, and put pen to paper and all that, it does need to matter. I’m willing to bet you have some experience with writer’s block. Most people I know have had a moment when they showed up to write something and discovered either their brain was blank or their ideas felt way too inadequate to bother writing out for anyone else to see. When I have nothing to write, or I’m shooting down my ideas faster than I can list them, I take a moment to think of you, my readers. I actually greet you in my head. “Hey, good morning. How’s it going? How are you feeling today? What’s up in your world?” I see you sitting there, with coffee or tea in hand. I see your pajamas. I see your business suit. I allow myself a moment to connect with what we have in common—you and I. Once you are here, in my writing room with me, I think about what I could do that might brighten your day. Bring you a little hope. Add a laugh or two to your morning. What do I have in my heart that might make you feel a little lighter or a little less stuck? When we choose to speak, and when we write, we are giving a gift of ourselves to others. Of course we want them to like our gift! Of course we want our gift to reflect the thought and care...

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The Three Bears Go to Work

Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Business, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

Once upon a time, in a far off galaxy…wait a minute. Wrong story. Once upon a time, in woods near your home, Goldilocks spent a good deal of time with her friends, the three bears. Everyone had chosen to take the high road years ago. The bears had chosen to forgive the whole entering and breaking thing, and Goldilocks figured out that Papa Bear’s bite wasn’t as bad as his roar. On this particular winter morning, Goldilocks was excited to share her newly finished Power Point with the Bear family. She had finished it in record time, and was proud of what she had completed. The bears gathered in their repaired hard and soft rocking chairs and watched the slides projected onto the living room wall of their humble cabin. In the second slide, Mama Bear caught the first typo. She said nothing and let it go; after all, humans make mistakes. In the fourth slide, there were more egregious errors. “Oh my,” thought Mama Bear. “Did she not have anyone proof this?”  Oblivious to the errors lurking on the wall behind her, Goldilocks continued. By the end of the presentation, Mama Bear had counted a total of nine typos, misspellings, and word usage errors. She had no idea what Goldilocks had said throughout the presentation. The errors had been too distracting. “Besides,” Mama Bear thought, “how much of an expert can she be if this is the kind of work she produces!” Baby Bear, having matured into the family diplomat, congratulated Goldilocks for getting the presentation done and for inviting them to her first rehearsal. Then he invited her into the kitchen for a bowl of oatmeal and a private consult. “Look, Goldi,” he explained, “you can’t go out there and impress people with your content and message if it looks like you threw it all together at the last minute!” “But I didn’t,” balked Goldilocks. “I worked hard on those slides last week. I chose a lovely template and chopped out many of my bullets to make sure it would be just right for my audience.” “Spectacular, Goldi, but there are errors throughout. That just doesn’t fly in the big leagues.” “Let me have a second chance,” Goldi pleaded. Baby Bear and his parents agreed to a second review the following week. Goldilocks went upstairs to work on her laptop from whichever bed was available. She no longer cared about hard, soft, or lumpy. She was on a mission to have the perfect presentation. The next Saturday, at 10 a.m., the bears gathered again in their rocking chairs. “Where’s Goldilocks?” father bellowed in his deep bear voice. “Check your iPhone, Papa,” Baby Bear responded. There, in all...

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