Tag Archives: NVC

10 Tips on How to be Presentable in a Group Setting

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So you have another meeting and you want to make a great impression eh? You should definitely keep your drive and enthusiasm going because meetings are far beyond informative group sessions. Meetings are often in environments that provide your only exposure to other employees. How you represent yourself both as a listener and communicator might be far more important than you imagined. I want you to analyze and think outside of what you know about meetings and review my 10 Tips on How to be Presentable in a Group Setting:

  1. Note taking: even if you find no value, the perception of taking notes shows a presenter you care about the message. Don’t find yourself sitting in a room being the only one not taking notes.
  2. Eye contact: give whoever is speaking your undivided attention. Keeping your eyes on the speaker not only shows them you care, it keeps you engaged in…

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Leadership and Influencing

businessmen_puzzle_shake_hands_1600_wht_3191Older managers may remember the days of Blake’s Grid and the 9:9 management style; striking a balance between people and productivity. That idea has been persistent, about getting the right balance in the way you manage people to get the best out of them.

John Adair, for example developed his Action-Centred Leadership model which was all about keeping the balance between the Individual, the Team and the Task.

And Machiavelli had something to say about this too. Was it better to be loved or feared? he thought it was better to be both but because that was difficult for one person to do he decided “it was safer to be feared than loved.”

But times change and there is currently much interest in the science of influencing. Influencing ethically not in a manipulative or machiavellian way.

Many leaders believe that, particularly during those important first 100 days, they have to demonstrate competence and their strengths. But years of research by social scientists show that it’s better to first show your people side by displaying warmth, and then demonstrating your competence.

A spotlight article on Influence in July-August’s issue of the HBR “Connect, Then Lead” by Cuddy, Kohut and Neffinger, explains current thinking on this.

Basically we judge our leaders on two criteria: how much we like them (warmth and trustworthiness) and how much we fear them (strength and competence). These appear to be the two primary dimensions of social judgement which account for 90% of the variance in the positive and negative impression we form of people.

We have all met people who are competent but display no sense of caring or warmth. They may elicit envy, respect or resentment in others. We may have met people who are warm but incompetent who elicit feelings of warmth but also pity and lack of respect (and it’s hard to imagine how they would become leaders).

So the best approach appears to be to start your leadership by exhibiting warmth, either verbally or using NVC, and making connections, the network building so important early in your leadership career. At the same time you are demonstrating that you are trustworthy. Then, when appropriate, demonstrate your competence. In a study by Zenger and Folkman of almost 52,000 leaders only 27 of them were rated in the bottom quartile for likability and in the top quartile in terms of overall effectiveness. In other words only 1 in 2,000 leaders were disliked and effective.

But this approach – warmth first – is not easy and most leaders feel the need to demonstrate their strengths first. Organisational psychologists, Abele and Wojciszke from the University of Gdansk, carried out experiments about training, offering either competence-based or soft skills programmes. They found that people chose competence-based programmes for themselves but soft skills programmes for other people. And when asked to describe a life-defining event they would tell a story about their own competence but when telling a story about other people refer to their warmth and generosity.

If you want to know more including tips on how to project more warmth or more strength you’ll have to read the full HBR article, in fact the whole of the July-August issue is devoted to Influence.

My most-read business posts in 2012

P1000377It’s that time of year when the back office team at WordPress give me my feedback on which posts have been read the most.

Last year I only wrote 33 posts bringing the total up to 128 since I started the blog in 2010.

That’s far fewer than I planned (one a week) partly due to my micro-blogging ie twitter as well.

I also used a lot of photographs most of which I took myself on my travels so I hope you found them relevant and interesting.

My readers came from 100 different countries, mostly from the UK but with the USA and India close behind.

My fifth most read post was: “Is social media the key to small business marketing?” from June 2011. This was in 3rd place last year

My fourth most read post was: “Erotic Capital – boobs, Botox, and making the best of yourself” from April 2010. This was number one last year.

My third most read post was: “It doesn’t pay to be too nice” from November 2012 which made 4th place last year.

My second most read post was: “No-one likes to be average” from June 2011. This was also in second place in 2011.

And my most read post was “Stress back on the agenda” from August 2011. This was the only post which didn’t feature in the top 5 last year.

Some food for though about my performance targets for this year as you seem to prefer the older posts (4 out of 5 appeared in last year’s most-read list).

So thank you for  reading, liking, and following.

All my posts generate a tweet from @ukSGandA and you can follow me there too.

And if you want to read my posts on business psychology and related topics check out EI4U

Hope you have a prosperous and successful 2013!

Hitting the right note

Charlie Taylor, the government’s behaviour czar, suggested not long ago that teachers needed to be  more authoritative in the classroom.

One of the things he suggested for women teachers is that they should have training programmes to help them vary the tone and  pitch of their voices, to make it lower for example, to sound more authoritative.

Currently most teachers are only taught to project their voices and speak clearly.

They could also adopt more confident postures as they can give way their nervousness by fidgeting and other non-verbal signals. When teachers are tense it can result in them speaking in a higher-pitched voice which the children pick up on and  exploit with bad behaviour.

Research in other walks of life shows that women’s voices have lowered in pitch since the 1940s and this is due to social conditioning. Women with lower pitched voices are considered more authoritative. Margaret Thatcher is a good example of someone who was coached and developed her “intensive care voice” which was a far cry from the high-pitched “Thatcher the milk snatcher” voice before she became Prime Minister.

It seems women are criticised more because of their voices including accents. According to linguistics professor Deborah Cameron, women with accents are judged on their relative femininity and sexual availability – particularly if they have strong cockney and scouse accents. Men are not judged in the same way. Which is possibly why there are so many women with Scottish accents in the media. They sound neutral and authoritative.

Back in the mid-90s researchers at Kent State University, Ohio, found that you could tell who was the dominant person in a conversation by measuring the pitch of the voice. People adapt their speech depending on who they are talking to; changing their accent, raising and lowering the pitch, and changing the speed.

Measuring these fluctuations, particularly in the low-frequency bands below middle C, shows which person is modifying their speech patters to match the other and being unconsciously deferential.

Knowing this is one thing but training people is less easy as competence and confidence are reflected in your voice unconsciously. However learning to hold a good posture, how to breathe properly and using visualisation techniques can help you inject enthusiasm and confidence into your speech.

I have a colleague, Tim Lambert, who was trained as an actor and he is great at helping people develop a more confident speaking and self-presentation style. Look him up at http://www.kay-lambertassociates.co.uk/

The Language of Leaders

A great summary of Kevin Murray’s book: “The Language of Leaders. How Top CEOs Communicate to Inspire, Influence and Achieve Results” in the Sunday Times this weekend.

Headed “Say what you mean and mean what you say” the review describes how Murray, Chairman of a PR company, questioned 60 top business leaders about what they looked for when hiring leaders. 

The responses consistently said, in order:

  1. raw intellect and ability to think clearly & strategically
  2. the ability to choose the right people & align them to a cause
  3. the ability to communicate with others and inspire them
Other sought after characteristics included:
  • future focus
  • a sense of mission
  • strong values
  • integrity
  • authenticity

Murray says authenticity is about understanding your strengths and weaknesses. “Be clear about the beliefs that underpin your strength and figure out your sense of purpose. Articulate all the above. Only then can you talk from the heart”.

He says people who talk from the heart communicate better because their body language is congruent with what they are saying and people pick up on it when it isn’t congruent and then won’t trust them.

Although he doesn’t use the terms he is talking about  leaders having emotional intelligence for which having a degree of self-awareness is a good starting point.

 

Cosmetic surgery part of staff retention policy

What can we offer you to renew your contract? Free language lessons? 5 weeks holiday? How about a free breast enhancement?

The New York Times reported that nurses in the Czech Republic were being offered such perks. One private sector nurse who opted for the cosmetic surgery had breast enhancement and liposuction, worth over £3,000, which she would never have been able to afford on her €1,000 a month salary – less than earned by a bus driver.

There is a severe shortage of 5,000 nurses in the Czech Republic as they are attracted to Germany, Austria, and the UK and an intensive care unit in Brno had to be shut recently because of staff shortages.

As a former soviet republic the Czech Republic doesn’t suffer from political correctness (as evidenced by the recent survey on same-sex relationships) and still enjoys beauty pageants. And it seems both sexes see these perks as no different from giving cars or expensive holidays.

Of course some people are up in arms. Womens’ rights activist such as Jirina Siklova, a gender studies expert and sociologist, argues that offering nurses breast implants turns them into prostitutes.

The managing director of the private clinic referred to above says there is nothing sexist about helping women look beautiful. After struggling to attract qualified nurses applications are up 10% since the plastic surgery offer (which includes tummy tucks and face lifts) in return for which the nurses sign a 3-year contract.

There are many women around the world who believe that being beautiful is important even though that sometimes leads to them being discriminated against.

The nurse who was described in the report said; “I feel better when I look in a mirror. We were always taught that if a nurse is nice, intelligent, loves her work, and looks attractive, then patients will recover faster.” NHS take note! And it adds a whole new dimension to the idea of personal development.

And as we know from an earlier post not all academics frown on women making the best of themselves. Catherine Hakim, also a sociologist, is quite clear that women should use their erotic capital where necessary.

No country for grey-haired men

No country for grey-haired men In America it seems more and more men are seeking hair colouring since the recession.

Men of a certain age are trying to retain just enough grey hair to look distinguished but not so much that they look over the hill in the job stakes.

Over the last 10 years the number of men colouring their hair has doubled to 6% overall but risen to 10% for the  over 50s. Sales of DIY hair colouring have risen by the same amount.

First impressions are obviously … Read More

via EI 4u with permission

My most read business posts in 2010

Writing a business blog means that you are competing in a busy arena against some very big organisations and expert writers.

And everyone has an opinion about their company or boss don’t they?.

So it’s gratifying that so many of you have read my posts and also taken the trouble to add comments or e-mail me.

These were the most read of my posts in 2010.

No 5 (actually there were 4 sharing 4th spot)

Leaders, charisma and NVC

We had plenty of examples of leaders who were less than charismatic in 2010 but does it matter?

Female CEOs still trusted more than males

Whilst most people prefer to work for male bosses, even females, it  seems the recession has brought out the best in women CEOs.

PR=Protecting Reputations

And there were lots of reputations that needed protecting – just think BP!

Stressful Days are here again

A re-blog from EI4U where it was the second most read post. So unfortunately stress is back on the agenda. Resilient leadership needs to be the order of the day.

No 3: Leadership – the Dark Side

And talking of leadership – we all love reading about psychopaths but dealing with them at work is a different kettle of fish.

No 2: What kind of manager are you?

A bit of light-heartedness from the Chartered Management Institute but people like to know these things (but being compared with Posh Spice?).

And No 1 by a big margin: It doesn’t pay to be too nice

So no more Mr Nice Guy!

But best wishes to all of you for a happy and prosperous 2011

1, 2, or 3 buttons?

How buttoned up you are could influence your career prospects. Literally.

But many women know that already. Even if you have the brains using your “erotic capital” might give you a boost.

As a former city trader said; “do you want to get noticed or play safe?” in the Sunday Times article  (19/12/10) “Which button says I get promotion?”

On women’s shirts 3 buttons undone is too much but only one or two looks dowdy. It seems dress codes are back in style. And not just relating to cleavage but hemlines, collars, suit pockets and shoes. Swiss Bank UBS has produced on of the most detailed dress codes I have come across.

And this is a subject I have first hand knowledge of. Back when I was an HR Director I suggested that a female member of the team might want to wear something that wasn’t completely backless. (And I mean totally. From behind she looked like she was topless). I felt it didn’t reflect a professional image. My boss the CEO heard about it and his only comment was “good luck with that”. It was considered too delicate a topic to have an open discussion about (we eventually resolved it by getting all the staff to agree what was acceptable and what wasn’t).

So UBS has views not only about how to dress but also about personal hygiene eg sweaty feet, garlic breath and other aspects of grooming which they believe will improve performance at work. And the detail is truly awe-inspiring: heel height, number of buttons on jackets, when to button and when not to, colour of women’s underwear, lipstick, mascara and nail polish, hair style (mustn’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare each day) and perfume strength.

So is this “uniforms r us” and back to wearing ties and cuff-links for men? The recession might have brought an end to “dress down Fridays”. It seems managers are seeing a link between smart dress, a confident mindset and high performance. Will this approach filter down to other jobs? Do you really want to look different when redundancies are looming?

But however detailed your dress code and wherever you work the article suggests one definite “no-no” for men – never tuck your tie in your trousers.

Updated 5 July 2011: Harrods are being accused of having a too strict dress code about wearing make-up (this only applies to women as far as I know).

The Guardian (02/07/11) reported that it made one sales assistant in the HMV department so stressed she felt she was driven out of her job. The 24 year-old says she was sent home on two occasions and also sent to work in the stock room. HMV were supportive but Harrods became insistent.

She says she worked for 4 years without make-up and was described as one of the best employees by her manager and had received a commendation and excellent mystery shopper feedback.

She didn’t wear make-up at her interview and had no problems until senior managers doing a floor walk spotted her and sent her home for refusing to wear it. She was later summoned to a manager’s office where it was suggested she wore some makeup. She didn’t and continued at work for several more weeks until a new floor manager said that the girls had to be made up at which point she decided she couldn’t go through with more meetings with management and resigned.

The dress code requires women to wear full make-up at all times: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss, and to maintain this during the day. When she refused to wear make-up she was offered a make-up  workshop so she could see what she looked like.

Clearly she has worked there without make-up for several years and performed well. Dress codes have to be reasonable and you might expect them to be concerned with too much or inappropriate make-up.

Harrods insist she left of her own accord but equality lawyers are probably smacking their lips.

Never mind the quality feel the width

When it comes to impressing potential partners, size really does matter.

Research conducted for Brother Europe, when it was promoting its new A3 printer range across Europe, seems to prove that.

Professor Richard Wiseman, a leading human behaviour psychologist and author of; “:59 seconds. Think a little Change a lot”, carried out the research and he found that in “Dragons’ Den-style” pitch scenarios, businesses using A3 marketing materials appeared ‘significantly bigger, more successful and professional’ than those using standard A4 prints.

Moving from size to weight, in a paper published by researchers at MIT, Harvard and Yale universities; “Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgements and decisions” it appears that our sense of touch (the haptic impressions) also influences our thoughts.

They asked people to scrutinise a job candidate by looking at a resume placed on either heavy or light clipboards. The people using heavy clipboards viewed the candidate as possessing a more serious interest in the job and as more likely to succeed than those holding a light clipboard. They conclude that; “First impressions are liable to be influenced by one’s tactile environment”.

They say that understanding how the tactile environment influences perception could be relevant in; “almost any situation where you are trying to present information about yourself or attempting to influence people“.

My colleague and I have always advised candidates to use heavy-duty paper for their CVs and covering letters rather than 70/80 gm supermarket special photocopy paper. This was based on creating a good impression (because first impressions count) but now it seems it’s not just how good it looks but how heavy.

As the researchers say; “physical experiences are mentally tied to metaphors …. when you activate something physically it starts up the metaphor related to that experience in people’s heads” eg heavy = solid, reliable, serious, and so on.

And next time someone puts a clipboard into my hands ….