Marion's Communication Tips
Marion Grobb Finkelstein offers practical, proven and powerful communication tips you can put to use in the workplace. She'll help you increase morale, confidence and productivity by changing the way you communicate. You'll have communication tools to connect with colleagues, clients, employees and bosses... fast!
3 Tips to Control Emotions When Presenting
Do you ever get emotional when presenting? Picture yourself in front of a Board of decision-makers, pleading approval for a project in which you desperately believe. Maybe you're on a platform relaying personal details of your life for a fundraising event. It could be a meeting with your bank manager asking for a loan that you know is the life blood to the business you've worked hard to build that now rests on this decision. Whatever it is that you're presenting is wracked with emotion, and if you don't keep that emotion in check, it may come spilling out.
Showing some emotion is wonderful. In fact, it's a strength. It speaks of passion and commitment. Emotion is what connects you to others in your life. It's one of the very things that makes you human. It's a good thing.
Like any good thing, too much is not so good.
When you're presenting, whether it's one on one or to a conference of hundreds, displaying too much emotion is awkward, uncomfortable, and difficult to witness. It makes you and your audience feel out of place. Think about the last time you felt yourself go over the top with emotion to the point that you burst forth in tears of sadness or utter frustration, and then that silence that followed. The seconds just crawl by. You find yourself thinking, "Oh boy, just let the earth open up and swallow me now!". The tension hangs in the air, thick and oppressive. You can bet your audience is feeling it too.
In my session, "ABCs of Presentations", we touch on lots of challenges and solutions in giving presentations. A question that often comes up is how to control emotions. When you feel yourself on the edge of control, when you know you're about to lose it and say or do something so full of emotion that it will not serve you well, there's three things you can do immediately to grab back control. Here's another "ABC" you can use.
3 TIPS TO GET CONTROL OF EMOTION WHEN PRESENTING:
A - Adjust how you think
B - Breathe
C - Change your position
1) ADJUST HOW YOU THINK -- Think of something that is void of emotion. I suggest something from nature that is calming, allows for your mind to focus and clear out, and makes room for calmness. Think daisies in a field. Or a fish tank. Or a tree with leaves waving in the breeze. Or a flake of snow falling gently to the earth. Or the beauty of a brilliantly cut diamond. Think of anything that puts your mind into a zen state of passive observation. You choose -- and choose BEFORE your presentation, so you have the visual ready when you need it.
2) BREATHE. Yup, sounds basic, doesn't it? It is. And just as basic is the response of your body to hold your breath when you feel overwhelmed. Emotion increases your stress levels and physiologically, your body responds by releasing stress-inducing brain drugs and chemicals like cortisol and adrenalin. The antidote to these feel-stress drugs is oxygen. So stop for a moment, just a second or two, and take a deep and discreet breath. No one even needs to know you're doing it.
3) CHANGE YOUR POSITION -- Physically move. Change your position. Motion changes emotion. Let me repeat that -- motion changes emotion. When you shift your physical state, it shifts your mental state. The very gesture of shifting your seating position, moving a bit or a lot, changes your perspective and helps you to transition to a different frame of mind. If you're angry or frustrated beyond words, you could excuse yourself and politely leave the room for a moment. When you return, the world will look different to you. If you're on stage or presenting in front of a group of any size, take a couple steps to the left or right, and then begin fresh with another point, or a controlled and eloquent summary that is not dripping in emotion.
Allowing your emotion to control your communications doesn't serve your purpose. Instead, too much emotion muddies your message. People will remember the emotion, not the message.
Let's be clear here -- emotion in a presentation is good. We're talking degree here, and too much. Displaying your emotion in the right amount adds value to your presentations. When you do so, you move the audience to a place of understanding, compassion and action. By showing your emotion versus being controlled by it, you demonstrate that you are very human, have faced difficulties and (here's the key) have come out the other end. You give hope and leave your audience on an upbeat note.
If you find that it's just too difficult to share yourself publicly without being swept away in a tidal wave of unstoppable emotion, then perhaps this story is not quite ready to be shared. The audience wants resolution, and the knowledge that you've found a solution to your challenge, and that's what you deserve too. When you find that happy ending of some sort, and only then, bring that story and a degree of controllable emotion to your audience. And if, in telling that deeply personal experience, you find yourself near the precipice and about to slip over the edge of emotion -- change the way you think, breathe and move, and you'll change the way you communicate.
Remember, someone needs to hear your message.
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Until next time, here's to ...
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
© 2011 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
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Think about the last time you were upset, so ripping mad you could scream. Now think about the words and language you told yourself or others. Did your language become more, um, er ... "colorful"? Was it exceptionally emotive and passionate? Did it make a sailor blush? (No offence to sailors ;o)
Sure, there's a time and a place for just about every type of language and vocabulary. Chatting with friends or a confidante, go ahead and let it all hang out. Vent until your heart is content. However, when it comes to matters of the workplace, choose your words carefully. Once you say them, they can't be unsaid. Sure, you can apologize, make a joke of it, treat it as lightly as possible, and that might work. It might not. Just like trying to unscramble eggs, there's no undoing words that have been spoken. They will hang in the air and affect relationships and reputations.
Before someone lashes out and says something inappropriate, there's usually an event or series of events leading up to this climax. It's often a small incident that triggers what seems to be an overreaction. Here's the key:
COMMUNICATION TIP: speak out while you still are in control
Sometimes, you're upset and you tell yourself to say nothing. You squish down the anger, the sadness, the disappointment. You tell yourself to suck it up and move forward. Yet, deep in your heart, that "something" still bothers you. It keeps you up at night. It consumes your free moments. You find yourself fantasizing about really telling a person off. You have make-believe conversations to this irritating work mate as if he or she were standing beside you and you were saying what's really on your mind ... and boy, do you! These are all signs that you're reaching a limit. Address the issue before a straw breaks the camel's back and you snap. Be aware when something is bothering you, and then (this is the tough part), manage the situation.
Like many tough times in life, it boils down to you having three choices:
CHOICE #1) accept it (which means that truly, in your heart, you're OK with the situation, the person, the status quo. You have no more right or compunction to complain)
CHOICE #2) change it (change your reaction, how you respond)
CHOICE #3) leave (remove yourself from the situation or irritant)
Suppose you choose to "change it", to do something about how you are reacting. It might be that t ...more
Clean Up Your Image
Until next time, here's to ...
© 2011 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
TAKE A WALK IN THEIR SHOES
A number of years ago, one of my best friends shared with me a rather interesting question she'd been posed in a job interview. The person considering her for a position leaned across the table and asked, "If you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be?". Say what? (Don't worry, this is not a "shoe" article ... read on and you'll see where I'm going with this).
It sounds a little out there, maybe even odd, to present such a whimsical question during a serious job interview. Some may even call it flippant. I believe it was brilliant. Shoes speak volumes about what people value. Think about it -- what type of shoes do YOU wear? What are you wearing right now, and how do they make you feel? Comfortable, sporty, sexy, powerful, authoriative, rich, poor, newbie or professional? Any red-blooded fashionista worth his or her weight in salt will tell you that you can change the whole look of an outfit simply by changing the shoes. They change your perspective both when you slip them on, and in how you appear to others. Shoes suggest if you consider comfort over style, or sacrifice feel-good for foot-pinching to obtain a certain image. Shoes and how well they fit, affect your mood and confidence. When you're wearing certain shoes, they provide a unique perspective of the world and of yourself. Hence, the importance of stepping into someone else's shoes to really understand his or her perspective. That's how you connect.
COMMUNICATION TIP: To understand, take a walk in their shoes.
There, I told you at the start that this article is not about "shoes" literally, just figuratively. You can see how physically changing shoes would allow you to feel differently and appreciate how someone else might feel in them. The same is true figuratively and in how you communicate. It changes your perspective and breeds understanding -- and that, right there, is the essence that feeds good communication: come from a place of understanding.
Sometimes things look pretty good at first blush and it's not until we actually try on the situation for size that we realize it's not quite as comfy as it appears. Just like a pair of shoes that look perfect, we don't know what they feel like until we have them on. We begin to appreciate that someone appears grouchy and off-balance because something in their life isn't fitting right.
I encourage you to consider these two facts:
1) Everyone behaves how they do for a reason
2) That reason is an explanation, not an excuse. ...more
Why People Interrupt (and what to do about it)Have you ever been speaking with a colleague, client, boss or employee and it seems no matter what you do, you keep getting interrupted? You begin a sentence, then suddenly, someone jumps in to complete it. Even if the person is right on target with your thoughts, you find it frustrating. Worse yet, is when the interrupter takes your half-finished thought in a completely different direction than you'd intended. And he or she would have known that, if he or she had only let you finish without interrupting. Grrrrrrrr ...
Maddening, isn't it? Makes you feel like you're not being heard. If it happens often enough, you may even stop injecting comments into the conversation. "Why bother?", you tell yourself, "I'm only going to be cut off". Soon you convince yourself it's not worth the effort. Further, you conclude that the person interrupting is an insensitive boar who is so intent on getting his or her message out, that they walk all over yours.
The end result? Your relationship suffers. You feel a great sense of disconnect toward this person, perhaps even anger and resentment.
At a moment like this, you have a choice. You can allow negative emotions to usurp you, or you can choose an alternate path (and I hope you choose this one): you can shift your thinking by asking yourself if their behavior is intentional.
COMMUNICATION TIP: ASK YOURSELF IF THEY INTEND TO OFFEND? (They probably don't).
Connecting with others and communicating well begins with considering the other person's perspective. At the root of relationships is a magic seed called, "intent". Sometimes people can be painfully irritating AND simultaneously, blissfully unaware. If there is no deliberate intent on their part, it makes the behavior much more tolerable -- not necessarily acceptable, just tolerable. It will buy you a little more patience for them and their behavior if you acknowledge that you are not being deliberately targeted. They are not deliberately setting out to irritate. So why spend your limited energy being offended when none was intended?
It may be how they process.
- Here's the reality: some people interrupt because it's how they process and interpret information. In their exuberance to show you they're on the same wavelength as you, in an effort to express enthusiasm in the subject at hand, they interrupt and ironically sabotage their very efforts to connect with you. It's not meant to be rude or disrespectful. Actually, quite to the contrary -- it's often intended as a sign that they are actively engaged in what you're saying. They want to demonstrate to you that they understand so well what you're saying, that they complete the sentence for you.
It may come from a place of service.
- If you are the type of communicator that requires long pauses between thoughts as you process information, you might unknowingly be inviting this interrupting behavior. Sometimes people interrupt thinking that a prolonged pause is an invitation to fill in the blank. Or they believe they are helping provide a service to find the words for what they see as you grappling. They fill in the blanks, the voids, the dead air with thoughts they believe you are trying to express.
It may be time pressures.
- Other times, people are just rushed and need to speed up the communication process and get on to the other million tasks that beckon them. Interrupting is their way, albeit ineffective, of keeping the conversation moving at breakneck speed. They are juggling so many balls and are so time-crunched, they are oblivious as to how they are potentially damaging a relationship so they can run to the next urgent matter yelling for their attention.
It may be anger or frustration.
- If someone has tried several times to speak up and feels that they are not being heard, they may resort to interrupting. It's not right or necessarily effective. It is, however, a very human response, and we all do it from time to time. Ask yourself if this person is constantly interrupting you, or is it only when you're discussing certain volatile, emotional subjects? If he or she is angry or passionate about the subject being discussed, as frustrating as you being interrupted may be, it's less about you than it is about his or her need to be heard. It's not necessarily against you; it's for them.
POINT: people seldom interrupt with the specific intent of irritating you.
Once you understand that we're all different, it helps to build bridges between communication styles. If you're dealing with someone who interrupts, you might not be able to change his or her behavior, but you can sure change yours. If you find you're constantly being interrupted by all types of people, it might be YOUR communication style that needs tweaking. Here's some suggestions:
1) Speak faster
2) Invite comments before you complete your thought
3) Ask the interrupter to give you a sec to finish what you were saying
It all begins with how you think. Take responsibility for that piece and your role in the communication dance, and you'll be amazed at how you can change the dynamics between you and others.
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