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Become A Confident Communicator


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Taking care of your virtual team in a crisis – from a leadership perspective

Working virtually is natural to those of us who have done it for years, we have developed practices, disciplines and tools that help us be productive, connected into the wider team for that human connection.

The future of work is becoming more and more online as I type this, and of course the latest crisis with COVID – 19 has now pushed this to a new level.

For those of you who are suddenly leading teams that are being forced to work remotely, here are some tips from our experience of leading virtual teams.

  • Offer daily touch points, live on something like ZOOM or teams etc, if you have had people working closely in an open plan office and now suddenly they are working from home, some could potentially feel isolated and this can lead to lack of motivation
  • Have an online chat tool going for people to interact like they would if they were in an office
  • Help people to be set up well to work from home, check on their environment, family situation, desk set up, internet speed, skill set level for digital platforms, never assume everyone is all good.
  • Make sure you spend extra time on your ‘pulse’ checks with your team, these are individual regular meetings that are happening normally, if not now would be a good time to start. 30 mins is fine for these one on ones usually, a check in at the start to see how they are feeling right now, before the call is over, then offer any support you can to help them through this time.
  • Brainstorm ways to stay focused for those who are working from home around kids working from home! Do work hours need to shift?
  • Check in staff are still having regular breaks for morning tea and lunch, perhaps consider having set times where people do this virtually on Zoom

Wherever possible try to create a supportive, connected culture online where people feel motivated, and supported to do their best work.

Put a positive spin on people learning new ways of working and connecting, so those who are resistant or fearful feel like they are gaining some great new skills that will pay off in the future.

This challenging time can either strengthen teams, so when they get back into an office environment they thrive or drive them further apart.

We get to choose, we get to choose the way we manage the things we can control right now.

Always happy to chew the ‘fat’ on this one if you want some more ideas and tips, please get in touch.

Jen Tyson,

PS: If team culture and communication was not great going into this, working as a remote team may feel like a welcome relief right now from the obvious tensions that come from people working together, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, because if the issues are not addressed they will actually create bigger gaps that will cost a fortune to fix and take precious energy and time to sort.

If you want to hit the ground running when this is all lifted, make sure you use this time to strengthen your team culture

www.simplyconfident.net

Switched website


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Spreading love not germs – Tips for what we can control

Photo by Dimitar Belchev on Unsplash

Words are powerful – as a writer and communication coach, I have been mindful of this for many years.  Words are only one part of how we communicate but for every word spoken or written, there is impact.

I believe we each have a responsibility for our own communication – the ripples we are creating.

Words can feed love, compassion, confidence or hatred and fear

The thing is, most of us know and understand that at an intellectual level, however fear is an emotion and when we are stressed, overwhelmed or emotionally triggered our logic and reason and things we ‘know’ can fly out the window.

The headlines are full of emotional words on any given day, even more so now because the media has something hot and global, so they are running with it at an alarming rate and people are drinking it up like its truth.

People are mostly intelligent and for the most part very informed from proper channels through work and schools, like Ministry of Health, and World health organisation. These organisations have no hidden agendas, you can tell by the way they write, NO emotional headlines just updates and fact-based information.

FACT: Be aware of the media’s agenda

The media is not paid or funded to tell the truth, or even report the truth, they are paid to get readership, they are all climbing over each other to get more readers, more followers and more money.

They don’t care about the impact of their words, or peoples mental or emotional well being, they count clicks, likes and money that comes in from sponsored ads etc.

“What we reap we sow – what we feed grows”

We can’t control many things in this situation but there are some things we can control

Tip #1: Watch what you read

Be careful what you read and where you get your information from – always be discerning and aware of the information source, social media is responsible for much of the panic, stress, negative social and emotional impact right now. Take care of your own mental health, be discerning.

Tip #2: Mind your language

When communicating, mind your own language. What you share (spread), the language you use, the words you say and write. Even if you decide to ignore tip #1 and choose to read emotive media reporting, then please THINK before you share it. What is your purpose for sharing it? Will sharing it help others in a positive way or just spread more fear.

Tip #3: Connect with your team on a personal level

Communicating with your organisation if you are a leader, business owner etc, is vital and you will need to be keeping people informed. Please remember to connect in on a personal level with your people, ASK how they are feeling, how their family is coping, do they need any support emotionally or physically to get through this unsettling time.

Tip #4: Consider the impact before sharing jokes

Be careful about appearing insensitive, there are lot of jokes going around, always consider the impact before sharing them. If you feel you MUST share it, sometimes just in a personal message to a few friends or family will satisfy this drive we seem to have to share everything on social media, carefully consider what you share on your main feed, who may see it and what that impact may be.

Tip #5: Being community minded and helping each other out

Be community minded in your communication. Understand there are people being affected by this virus, the global panic and crisis in so many ways, in many ways much worse than we are in NZ right now. Instead of sharing negative stuff, keep up the posting of positive stuff, think of ways you can help life others rather than feed the fear and hatred.

Tip #6: What to do with triggered emotions

Processing our emotions is a communication skill that not everyone knows how to do in a healthy way. Emotions are part of who we are, and they can give us information to act in an intelligent way if we know how to process them.

Instead of being driven by emotions and reacting all over the show, which can be exhausting and wear us down, learn to process emotions, work through them to understand what information they might be giving and then use that as part of  planning what to do with that information.

Stay safe, stay positive and remember to be mindful

Love and good vibes to you all – keep spreading the love

Jen Tyson

Communication Coach – Author – Trainer

https://www.simplyconfident.net/

https://www.switchedonlearning.net/

PS:

Take good care of your physical health, keep up routines of exercise and health appointments, if you were going on a holiday that has had to be cancelled, replace that holiday with a ‘staycation’ still take the time to rest, relax and do something fun, it just may look different to how you had planned


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Tip: Hit the mark with your marketing efforts

If you want better results from your marketing you need to know your audience!

Then you can set a solid foundation to build your marketing plan and activities on.

An upside to being in business for yourself is that you can choose who you work with and for. You get to define who your target market (your ideal client or customer) and then get your marketing to reach out to those people to fill a need they have.

One of the mistakes I see business owners making time and again, is coming up with their marketing slogans, words, content and stuff because they think it is cool, they are selling features rather than benefits, talking about how great they are or their product is, instead of making their marketing all about the customer or client they are trying to reach. BIG mistake, what you think is cool, clever or ‘fun’ may be way different to how your target audience thinks, speaks or makes purchasing decisions.

TIP: Research is not asking a spouse, friend or family member what they think looks or sounds good, unless they are a marketing expert and know your product inside and out and use it themselves, even then it is one opinion only. So many try to do this stuff on the ‘cheap’ and ‘save money’

TRUTH: Business owners often waste way more money on their marketing by doing it on the fly, using guess work and on the cheap using friends and family for advice, design and content, getting it wrong costs way more!

I always start marketing planning with some key questions about the audience:

  • Who are you marketing to?
  • Who is your ideal (favourite) client? What makes them ideal or favourite?

Defining your target market – when sitting down with a multi-talented small business owner, this question is usually answered with a loud and enthusiastic, “Everyone!”

People often get really stuck here, so here is an example, some tips and a bit of myth busting for you.

Example to prove my point:

Let’s just say you are selling high performance sports watches with a GPS function, they are waterproof, smash proof, measure exercise, water depth, have a compass and some other cool sporty features.

I say: Who is your target market?

Owner says: Everyone who wears a watch! Or they think they are getting the point by saying ‘Everyone who plays sport who wears a watch’

Is this specific enough to run a marketing campaign from? Not really to be honest.

I call this ‘shot in the dark marketing’, your perceived target is so wide, that you throw your ‘dart’ (marketing efforts) at it and hope that it will hit somewhere in there. This can be costly and time consuming.

When you get specific and narrow your market down you are ensuring you get more of the clients you want.

MYTH busted: “I will miss out on business if I narrow it down”

Not true, you will still get other types of clients or customers along the way, it just won’t be your target.

The research factor:

To ensure you get results from your marketing, you need to understand some other things about your customer

TIP: The better you know them, their likes, dislikes, pains and language the more likely you are to be able to appeal to their need and solve their problem with your product or service

1. Who are they specifically, what sport do they play, at what level? (if we are sticking to the watch example but you can tailor this to suit your product or service)

2. What are their pain points, the things they can’t get from a possible current watch?

3. Where do those people look for products like yours? What are they reading, and why?

4. What language do they speak? (not necessarily about native tongue but what words to they use when they talk about their sport and lifestyle needs, what slang or acronyms might they be using)

How do you find this stuff out?

  • Ask around, ask your current customers if you have them, why they purchased from you
  • Use a cool free tool like google forms or survey monkey to help you out here, have a little fun and create a survey. Get specific in your questions, record and compare the answers and offer an incentive.
  • If you have had favourite clients before or do currently, sit down and write up why they are you favourite, what you know about them, what solutions you solve for them etc. Then just build your ideal client profile around that information.

TIP: This is also a good process to go back to and revisit for any product or service changes or editions, always come back tot his as your anchor, if your marketing gets off track or isn’t bringing results, perhaps a few tweaks in this space will help.

Marketing is about ensuring that the right audience links to the right message, links to the right timing, links to them seeing you have the solution for a problem they have, which then links them to take action to purchase your services and products.

See the links? The links are where the work needs to happen, and in order to link them to the next step on a buying journey, you need to know as much about them as possible.

TIP: When you ask, make sure you listen.

Any questions let me know in the comments section of this article, I hope you found it valuable

Happy marketing

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net 


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The under-resourcing of education – working with a broken system

I am taking a stand for adequate resources and our children’s education!

Check out my short 3 min video log here

People think the ‘standing for teachers’ campaign is about teachers’ wages! It is so much more than that. In my own experience as a mother of 5 and a grandmother of 4 I am deeply concerned about the under resourcing of the education system and the disconnection between agencies in order to provide an appropriate level of support required in the right place at the right time.

It was not until my eldest granddaughter attended school that the fractured system really become apparent to me. I had already educated 3 adult children through the system and presently my youngest two are still in it. As a family we have been to hell and back in the past 2 years + trying to get the health and educational needs met for a child with complex presentations who still needs to be educated.

The principal, the teacher and the teacher’s aide have been amazing but they too have struggled from within the system to get the adequate funding and support they needed to help the child and in turn help our family.

The impact of this ONE case is far reaching and affects the teachers, the other kids, our family, our community, our health care and mental health care system – the ripples flow out continuously.

Here are the lessons and observations

1. When the teachers are under resourced and have to attend to our child in meltdown mode this affects the learning of all the kids in her class, it takes a teacher and resources away from those kids doing what was planned that day.

2. These kids are our future! The people that have the biggest influence on that besides parents and family are the teachers, teaching staff, aides and principals of the schools.

3. If my daughter loses her job because the school doesn’t have the resources to cope with her child she will be on a benefit, another burden to society long term and not great for her mental health either or our already stressed mental health system.

4. The stress on the teachers is massive, causing at times sick leave to happen more often, then the system has to pay for relief teachers as well as sick pay.

This is all false economics, it is time for the Government to see the long-term ripple effects of this very broken, underfunded education system in NZ and do something about it

There is money, so much money is being poured into things that are not impacting the future generations of this country, it just needs to be shifted over and re assigned.

We have seen so much good this Government has done lately in the humanitarian space, Christchurch attacks, Pike River etc… its time to take the humanitarian approach to the education of our children!

Our country is going to be run in the future by the kids of today – we need to see HUGE improvements in the system that is supposed to be educating and equipping them, the system that perhaps has the biggest influence on them besides family for the biggest part of their growing up years.

We know change can happen, now we need to see the same intense focus on our education system followed closely by our mental health system.

Jen Tyson

www.simplyconfident.net

Business owner – Communication Consultant – Mother/grandmother – Wife – Sister – Friend – Advocate – Daughter.


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What have tomato plants and corporate or business environments got in common?

It can take ONE thing to increase productivity and healthy growth, the trick is finding that ONE thing and then applying some positive action on a consistent basis.

A healthy plant/organisation versus on struggling to survive!

When I first learned to grow tomatoes I learned ONE thing, just ONE, that made a huge difference in me producing edible delicious cherry tomatoes.

Pruning the laterals!

Laterals: Nice leafy green bits of the plant that grow fast and in abundance but produce NO fruit!

When you don’t prune them……they end up choking the fruit producing parts of the plant, blocking sunlight, taking nutrients, sucking the LIFE out of the branches that need all that good stuff to be productive.

Once I learned this ONE thing, and watered my plant, I grew great tomatoes.

I have found this when working with large corporate organisations through to small and medium businesses, in these environments the laterals can represent many things that distract from or prevent healthy productivity and growth.

Laterals in an organisation:

Cluttered systems, outdated processes, people in poorly matched roles, culture and environment, double handling, micro managing and the list can go on…. Don’t just look at the ‘who’ but also the ‘what’ these things can be about people but also about systems and processes.

Until these things that clutter a person’s space, mind, and process of working are pruned the real fruit cannot thrive and reach its potential and like our tomato plant the fruit can rot and go mouldy when laterals are left to run wild.

When managers, leaders and business owners are trapped into ‘putting out the fires’ that these ‘laterals’ produce often daily, they cannot possibly focus on things that will gain a better long-term productivity profile.

The business or organisation goes into ‘survival mode’ and everyone just scrambles to get work off their desk, mostly feeling a sinking sense of overwhelm and claustrophobia that consumes any creativity or clarity to function well.

When we do prune the ‘laterals’:

  • Light gets in to the things that need it the most
  • Nutrients get to the branches that matter
  • There is room to grow, strong and healthy
  • The plant is productive and successful in producing fruit

What to do:

  1. Take a day out to examine and reflect, use a coach or mentor, the purpose is to see what laterals need ‘pruning’ to allow more light in, more nutrients in and encourage better productivity.
  2. Put a timeline in place with actions that will implement the changes
  3. Focus on what CAN be done right away, it is sometimes the smallest things that make the biggest difference.
  4. Prune regularly, schedule it in, with the tomato if I forget to do this for a few weeks, things get choked up again fast. It easier to prune a few a week rather than let it get overrun and take double the time to clear things again.

Happy pruning

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net


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3 Things I Love About Conflict – 5 Tips For Moving Through

Did you already have a reaction to that word? If so you are not alone!

Let me clarify, not all conflict is useful or productive.

There is the nasty, pointless, destructive type – and then there is the regular old type that happens when people are just being people.

The regular type I call ‘potentially healthy conflict’, why potentially? Because it only becomes healthy when there are two sides who have the desire to move forward, move through to the other side whatever that may look like. Those who view it is a tool, a starting point for change often understand that conflict can be healthy.

Bad news for those who have decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t like conflict and have labelled all conflict as bad, scary, or even dangerous. A happy healthy live living and working with other humans cannot exist well on a functional level without the conflict.

We are all people who have been created differently, we are all unique in many ways, so there will be conflict arising from just that fact alone.

Don’t aim to be right – Aim for better understanding

How about inviting it in, getting to know it, re name it, expand your tool kit to deal with it better, learn how to use it as a tool.

I recently decided to re name the conversational side of conflict ‘Robust discussions’ Be willing to go there, have that important robust discussion.

3 Things I Love:

  1. Conflict shows we are all different and that is a GREAT thing! Let’s celebrate our strengths and differences – learn that we need each other’s strengths to make great teams and relationships.
  2. Conflict can provide the opportunity to grow, learn and gain greater understanding and knowledge about situations and people. It can bring perspective if we are willing. Knowledge and understanding are powerful things.
  3. Conflict, when dealt with in a healthy way, with good practice, framework, planning and support can lead to breakthrough that may not have happened had that ‘robust essential conversation’ had not taken place.

5 tips for being more open those robust discussions:

  1. Plan your conversations, what is your common desired outcome? What are the facts? What is the real issue without personal opinion or bias? How is the other person feeling? What are they thinking? What is their real intention?
  2. Practice using different words, if your conversations are not going well, have a think about the language you are using – both verbal and nonverbal (body language, facials and tone).
  3. Never assume anything about another person or situation, assumptions are among the top things that can cause negative conflict and reactions. Instead ASK questions like, ‘what did you mean when you…?’ ‘Can I ask if my assumption about this is correct..?’ or ‘ I would just like to clarify..’ ‘Can/may I ask what your intention is here?’
  4. Pick your time carefully, poor timing can lead to things spiralling, is the person busy? Tired? Are there others around? NOTE: A meeting is rarely a good place to work through something personal with something. Naming and shaming is NEVER a good idea.
  5. Consider the mode of delivery, is it appropriate? There are so many ways we can have ‘robust discussion’s now. Email, Txt message, instant message, intranet message, by phone and in person. My experience is that all Robust discussions must be had as close to in person as you can get, face to face is always best where possible, failing that on the phone. It is OK to follow up with an email to confirm anything you need to be in writing but there is FAR too much room for mi interpretation in written words to have the whole discussion that way. The mess can become bigger than it ever needed to be

Be Brave, Be Conscious, Be Compassionate,

Be authentic and honest, Be willing.

Remember: It doesn’t have to be right or wrong, it can be just perspectives that differ

Now go have that next robust discussion, you never know what may open as a result, and it is never as ‘bad as you thought’ it would be

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net


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Insights From The Front Line

Insights from the front line of communications training and conflict resolution….

Plus my top tips for improvement

What a week it has been in the world of communications coaching and training, from private sessions, small business training and a full day public workshop specifically for the building industry, I have only had solid confirmations of what I already knew.

Almost all conflict originally stems from a few things, and there is something we can all do about it before there is ‘blood on the floor’.

  1. Misunderstood or misinterpreted communication
  2. Difference of opinions or perceptions
  3. Unmet expectations
  4. Assumptions, judgements or pre-conceived ideas
  5. Personality ‘clashes’

From there, how it works out all depends on how things are handled or not handled, and what type of culture or environment there is in that work place for training, support and ongoing awareness around healthy communication and conflict resolution.

We can all take 100% responsibility for our own communication and when we make positive changes, even one small thing can create a positive ripple effect on those around us, so whilst we can’t change others we can change ourselves.

Let’s unpack a little to get better clarity on what I may mean

  1. Misunderstood or misinterpreted communication

This is fuelled by our modern technology driven world, our kids being taught from a young age that communication can be done any other way than in person, faster, easier, less confronting and yes impersonal. Emails, txt messages and instant messages have their place in the world for sure, I use them every day, but they are not meant to handle every type of conversation, there is far too much room for interpretation. Important conversations should always happen in person.

I see business owners, managers, sales people ‘hide’ behind a computer or phone, and when they know they need to pick up a phone and have a chat or set up a meeting in person they send an email or txt, because its ‘easier’ ‘less confrontational’ ‘they don’t have time’ etc etc etc….

We cannot expect an electronic device or typed email to ever replace the basic human need to hear a nice voice on the other end of the phone or even better face to face in a meeting or over a coffee.

  1. Difference of opinions or perceptions

I love the saying that ‘perception is reality’ this is true for us all, and if we all approached communication with others with an open mind, consider for a moment that another person may in fact have a different view but valid because its theirs, and not try to be right all the time or win an argument, we can in fact be perfectly happy in the world by agreeing to disagree.

  1. Unmet expectations

Someone is late for a deadline, over promised and underdelivered, or didn’t behave in a way we expected – this is all fuel to a fire of conflict if not approached in a healthy way.

My biggest freedom from disappointment when it comes from others behaviour was when I learned to let go of my expectations, stop expecting people to be like me, think like me, communicate like me. We are all different – THANK goodness for that!

  1. Hot on the heals is – Assumptions, judgements or pre-conceived ideas

My rule of thumb in most cases of life and work is never assume anything, always ASK! Or find out.

We can default to making assumptions about what people meant by that comment, email or txt, in fact we can make anything MEAN anything we like, we have a choice! Isn’t that freedom?

OR we can find out what they did mean by asking a clarifying question.

Assumptions or pre-judgements about others, what they said and did is not useful for clear and effective communication, it is not useful in creating harmonious working environments, because we as humans are self-focussed we often assume wrong, make it about us personally and it was nothing to do with us in the first place! Don’t even get me started on the ‘judgement’ topic!

  1. Personality clashes

The great news is we are all created differently, the challenging news is…..we are all created differently!

We all need each other, we could not possibly have a functioning world full of one personality type.

I prefer to see other strengths as complimentary to mine, even the ones that are so opposite and I struggle to relate to or understand, they do things well that I don’t. They are often happy doing things I am not. They often see things I don’t, and like it or not that is necessary in some situations. Our goal in the world should be to better understand others around us not seek to change them.

Tips for improving our own communication:

  • Remember we are all human, not electronic robots
  • We are all different and this is the GOOD news – we all need each other
  • We can change our world by changing ourselves, even small tweaks have big impacts
  • Check in with your default methods of communicating – are they working for you? Are they being received, responded to well? If not it may be time to find out what other way of delivery may work better.
  • PICK up the phone – STOP and have a coffee/chat
  • Have an arsenal of good questions to ask – the power is always in the questions we ask, ourselves and others?
  • Improve your listening skills, if you are going to bother asking better questions be sure to listen to the answers, listen to understand rather than to respond.

Let’s change the world we live in, one conversation at a time

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net