Bouncing Back for Professional Success

Most of us think of resilience in the context of serious life challenges, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or catastrophic medical diagnosis.

However, sometimes everyday stresses such as big projects, or demanding 

academic or professional requirements can cause us to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. Even if no significant life-altering event is involved, we occasionally need strategies to “bounce-back in order just to get things done.

What are some tips that can help you recover during stressful times?

  1. Lean on your support network: If certain people in your circle are not supportive of your efforts, look elsewhere. Find another relative, friend, or co-worker who can help you stay positive, and give you a little boost when things aren’t going well. We all need a confidante who can reassure us that things will be okay!
  2. Keep things in perspective: You may not have given the best presentation of your life, but there will be many more future opportunities for you to impress your boss. Once you identify an area of need, seek professional support to hone your skills. With a little coaching, you public speaking skills will improve, and your confidence will get a leg up as well. 
  3. Trust your gut: When you have encountered a set-back, it is easy to doubt your instincts and ability to solve problems. However, you got where you are because of your unique talents, and they will serve you well again, once you get over this little bump in the road
  4. Re-frame your thinking: Negative thoughts are not helpful. I had a client who was writing a college essay about his experience in an international competition. He originally wrote, “Although I only got Honorable Mention....”  Following a brief discussion of what an honor it was to get any recognition, I was able to get him to edit his sentence to: “I was proud to receive an Honorable Mention acknowledgment....”  Changing his attitude about his award increased his confidence, and shaped the way he described it to others.
  5. Take care of yourself: This may sound trite, but when you are feeling down, it is important to do whatever you can to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Be sure to eat nutritious foods, grant yourself a little “me-time,” to do what you enjoy, and ensure that you get adequate rest. It is hard to “get back on your feet,” when you are not taking care of yourself. 

As they say, Life Happens!  Learning how to keep a positive outlook will help you move on quickly and successfullly from whatever challenges come your way.

If you need help with professional writing, public speaking, or speech and communication challenges, contact us at: wg@prospeech.com.  We can help remove some of the roadblocks in your way.

Let my people speak!

Let my people speak!

How to engage team members in meetings

 

Business meetings can run the gamut from a group of dynamic, engaged participants to a sullen, disengaged assembly of humans. 

If your organization has more of the latter, what can you do to get your workforce checked back in?

Things can go south even if someone is clearly in charge, the agenda has been disseminated ahead of time, specific time parameters have been set, and other key meeting facilitation techniques have been utilized. 

There may be understandable reasons for team members to be on the bench such as:

  1. Having nothing relevant to add to the discussion.
  2. Not being up to speed on the topic of conversation.
  3. Lacking familiarity with the organization or department.
  4. Being shy and/or uncomfortable speaking up in group settings.
  5. Having cultural beliefs, traditions or customs that inhibit them from speaking unless called upon, or confronting authority figures with a dissenting opinion.

There may also be undesirable reasons for team members to sit on the sidelines such as: 

  1. Feeling hurt because they have not received an engraved invitation to talk. 
  2. Being bored, disengaged, or disinterested in the discussion.  
  3. Acting self-conscious about their accent or other communication issues.
  4. Lacking confidence, and/or worried that their input will be ignored or discredited. 

What can be done to bring these employees back into the fold?

Solicit input directly

Some people prefer to be asked directly for their input vs. initiating a comment on their own. Make sure the question is sincere, and the intention is perceived as calling on someone for ideas vs.calling them out to embarrass them.  For example, “Zoe, what can you share about the new marketing direction?”

Seek input indirectly

Sometimes you can tell that team members want to contribute, but they can’t seem to find the right moment to get a word in edgewise. By offering numerous opportunities to participate, reluctant speakers may be more inclined to comment. For example, “We have heard from the same folks all morning. I would like to get some additional perspectives on this. Would anyone else care to jump in?”

Ask open-ended questions

Wh-questions typically lead to more discussion. “What did you learn at the training session,” will elicit more discussion than, “Did the training session go well?”

React to the passivity

If body language and facial expressions are signaling boredom, try changing your speaking style, getting up and moving, or saying something unexpected to shake things up.

Be patient and specific when repairing communication breakdowns

If you have a diverse team, an accent issue may complicate the free flow of information. It is best to be direct, and offer some suggestions that might facilitate better understanding. “I am sorry, Na. I didn’t quite understand what you said. Would you mind repeating your question a little slower/louder? I would really like to understand your thoughts on this project.”

Be open and understanding, even if you disagree

Thanks for your feedback, John. I am not sure that is the best way to proceed, but at this point, everything is on the table.”

Be gracious and grateful

By praising those team members who actively participate in the discussion, you send the message that engagement is valued and expected.

So elevate your team and your professional profile at the same time! Get in the game!

The Silent Leader

The Silent Leader

How the sounds of silence can build effective teams

Like most people in the Northeast, I spent the day sequestered indoors, watching the snow fall silently, with the occasional horizontal gust blasting past my window.

For the longest time, I didn’t hear any cars or buses rambling down the street. I didn’t hear the groan of plows trying to do their jobs, or even detect the presence of screeching kids willing to go outside to brave the piercing wind.

All was quiet. And....I appreciated the peace. I felt calm. I was able to slow down the usual racing thoughts in my head. I got to let go of my never ending To Do List, and JUST BE.

It made me think that sometimes being quiet is a good thing. Even at work. What are the advantages of a little self-imposed gag order? Here are a few things that come to mind.

Empower colleagues
If you are usually the vocal team member, biting your tongue every so often allows shy colleagues a chance to express their ideas and contribute to discussions more freely.

Make a more impactful statement
If you pause before answering a question, you will convey a more thoughtful demeanor. People may pay closer attention to what your are saying because you took the time to think about your response, instead of blurting something off the top of your head.

Give yourself a break
As amazing, brilliant, persuasive and captivating as you may be, there may be times when even you are sick of the sound of your own voice.

Ease into it
Many people feel a sense of urgency, and begin speaking immediately after being introduced or being asked a question. A brief pause allows you to take a calming breath, tame jittery nerves, and gather your thoughts before talking.

Convey Confidence
When speaking, usually less is more. However, many people are uncomfortable with silence. The more they continue to ramble on, the more likey they are to stray off-topic or needlessly repeat themsleves. This unfocused prattling can cause a loss of credibility, and ultimately, confidence.

Of course, there are times when we want our voices to be heard (at work or at political rallies), but savor the opportunities for a little peace and quiet. The benefits are LOUD and CLEAR.

If you or anyone in your organization needs help communicating more effectively in the workplace, contact us at: wg@prospeech.com. We are happy to help!

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