Are you comfortable doing the "press the flesh" thing? When you attend workplace social functions, do you line up against the wall, frozen in position, not knowing where to begin or how to start a conversation?
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!
Calm Your Nervous Hands
Have you ever watched a foreign film and sometimes the subtitles don’t seem to quite match the action on the screen? It’s a little jarring, isn't it? The same thing can happen when we communicate face to face. The gestures you use can help underscore or undermine your message.
I recently saw a person smiling as they relayed to a colleague their deepest sympathies for the death of a loved one. Most likely that smile was from nerves and the person was completely unaware that they were even doing it. Regardless of the reason, it was oddly out of place and the result was mixed messaging and inappropriate communication. Boy, did it send the wrong impression! I remember thinking if that was someone talking to me after I’d lost a loved one, I would definitely not appreciate the grin. Mixed up gestures mean mixed up messaging.
A recent study at the University of Manchester found that the use of gestures increased the accuracy with which people recalled stories by as much as 35 per cent! This tells us that using gestures -- the right ones -- can certainly enhance your communications.
How are your actions? Are your gestures and facial expressions in synch with what you're saying and what you hope to communicate? Here's a few quick quiz questions that may help:
- When you speak to someone on a sensitive or important issue, do you:
- focus your eye contact on him or her ... OR ...
- tend to look around and be easily distracted?
- When a colleague is relaying an upsetting incident, do you:
- furrow your brows (showing focus), squint your eyes a bit, lean in (showing interest) ... OR ...
- show no facial expressions at all?
- When you are interested in what someone has to say, do you:
- actively listen (maintain eye contact, keep palms up, offer neutral facial gestures) ... OR ...
- get pulled away by distractions like the phone, other people walking by, papers on your desk?
- When you want to assert yourself, do you:
- display great, straight posture ... OR ...
- curl in your shoulders and tilt your chin downward?
- When you are happy, do you:
- smile so your cheeks rise and your eyes smile too ... OR ...
- do you forget to tell your face and not smile at all?
Your challenge for today, should you chose to accept it: ensure that the gestures you use are consistent with your message. Show them your stuff by showing them what you mean... and make it consistent. ...more
This past Sunday night, I grabbed my cuppa tea and nestled into the couch for our weekly ritual -- watching "The Apprentice". I love observing the communication between all the players and find the drama of interpersonal dynamics fascinating. This week did not disappoint. At the top of the show, Nene, a rather brash and outspoken woman, went completely ballistic on Star Jones. What an scene! And she did it right in front of the client launching the challenge for the two competing teams. At that point, I had to wonder if the client wrote off Nene's team (Nene was Project Leader) because of her outburst. Have you ever been discounted or discounted someone else due to a temper tantrum?
In the workplace, the tension and stress levels can be quite similar to this scenario, though we might contain it with a little more class. Few people (thankfully) behave as bombastically as Nene did. That doesn't mean that we don't sometimes fantasize doing so. The challenge is, how to control your temper when you feel so frustrated you could scream? These tips will get you on your way: ...more
SCAN THE ROOM. When you're entering the party room, give it a quick scan to check out if you see anyone you know. If so, approach them. It's easier to start conversation with someone you've already met. If you work with them, you can ask about that project they're in charge of, or what they think about the latest company initiative. Build on the areas you have in common.
ASK THIS QUESTION. Here's the perfect question to ask if you're at a party and don't recognize a single face. Walk up to someone on their own, and begin by introducing yourself. "Hi, I'm Marion". If they don't reciprocate, prompt their response with, "And you're ...?" People will fill the gap with their name. Now comes the biggest tip you'll ever get. Ready? Ask them, "So how do you know (NAME YOUR HOSTS)?" This launches a whole area of possible conversation. They know them through work. "Oh really? And what do you do for company ABC?" Or they golf together. "How's your game these days?" Or they met on a vacation, "I just love cruises. Have you ever gone on one?" Take what they say, and ask a related question. Before you know it, you're having a conversation.
LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE. When mixing and mingling, remember the objective is to meet several people, not just one. You can always return back to someone for follow-up conversation, and when you do, if there was any sort of genuine connection, it will feel like you're coming home. You don't need to cover everything in just one encounter. Be sensitive to the fact that people may be trying to extricate themselves from your conversation talons, so let go gracefully before they start to squirm. Remember, they want to mix and mingle too, so let them.
LOSE THE BOOZE. Having a drink is fine. Having a bottle is not. No news flash there. Besides the obvious safety issues of drinking and driving, imbibing to excess at a family or office party puts you in a situation where you are out of control. Without control, we lose our boundaries and social veneer. We end up saying things we regret and engage in what I call, "career-limiting opportunities". Or we can irrevocably damage family relations when we tell that jerk relative what we really think (some things are best left unsaid). Sure, have a toast. Just know your limit and whatever you do, don't cross it.
Get ready, get set, schmooze away! Enjoy the holiday season, the family, the colleagues and the parties. How you mix and mingle speaks to your social skills and ability to connect with others. Hopefully these tips will make the mingling all the easier. Happy holidays everyone!
Until next time,
Better communication, better business,better life,
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- Chew on This
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