Monthly Archives: September 2014

The 3 C’s of Sales

Understanding how Connection, Curiosity and Confidence apply to your interactions with clients can improve your performance in remarkable ways. 

Establishing an initial Connection with a potential client or customer is essential.  That initial connection sets the tone for your relationship and as with first impressions, is critical that it is a positive connection.  Connecting with a client can take shape in many different ways, but it serves to establish trust from which you can build a relationship.  Finding common ground is a connection that is polite yet effective.  A compliment, a shared interest or goal, a genuine willingness to serve the client all forge a positive connection.

Once this connection has been established, exhibiting a sincere Curiosity determines the integrity of the relationship.  Discovering the client’s goals through asking questions will strengthen their trust in you, as a Sales Professional.  Allow the customer to describe their situation by asking open-ended questions; this puts the customer in charge of the conversation and allows them to feel heard and understood, building on the trust you have already established.

Attending the client with Confidence throughout this process will solidify your relationship and lay the foundation for future business with them.  Operating with confidence lets the client know that you understand their goals and you are knowledgeable about how to meet them.  Confidence is an admirable characteristic and one that leads the customer to believe that you are trustworthy and fair. 

Putting these key components into action with clients will boost your integrity as well as your sales.

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Sharp Skinned Hawks

85% of Sharp Shinned Hawks born in late spring die before the first snows of winter. Why? Well, like yours, their lives are hard. They need to quickly learn the difficult but critical skills involved with flying through their environment’s maze of leaves and limbs to catch swift and quick-turning small birds. They fail 9 out of 10 times. So, unfortunately, most starve to death.


Yes, your life is tough. But unlike these small hawks, most of us are protected from such immediate failure by having a long protection period provided by parents and society. We go through many years of learning at school. And we gather additional skills and insights on the job, in relationships and some through parenting, hobbies and more.


Early on, learning is encouraged, even forced upon us by those around us. But as we age, those outer determining forces diminish. We are left more on our own. But it just makes sense to take up the learning on your own. Vision what you want and who you want to be on the journey. Do an inventory of the skills, talents and character traits that will further your success. Be relentless in your pursuit of multi-dimensional excellence and your resulting happiness and resilience need know no bounds.

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Managing through Conflict

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it” –Anonymous

Conflict is a part of our lives, both personally and professionally. It has to be accepted as such, but some deal with conflict far better than others and ultimately live more peaceful lives as a result.

In a workplace setting, Conflict can arise from a variety of sources such as power struggles, poor communication, or personality differences. All of these factors can present rather complicated challenges and often have multiple sub-factors going on for each party involved.  However, as a Leader in your organization, it is essential that you discover methods for diffusing conflict with creative, mutuality-based solutions.  Our own personalities play such a big part in the way we approach a conflict; some choose to simply avoid dealing with it.  However, no resolution will be made with this tactic.  Some will acquiesce if they are not confident in their leadership skills, but giving in also does not resolve the conflict in a mutually fair way.  Some leaders will compete and insist that they get their way with no room for the other party to feel gratified.  Some will compromise which far closer to a resolution than any of the above approaches, but both parties have to give plenty to receive only some.  Finally, some leaders understand the value of collaboration.  This is the best scenario, but also the hardest to achieve effectively.  It takes time, understanding, emotional intelligence and perseverance.  However the result of collaborating through a conflict is that both parties receive far more in the end while strengthening the relationship.  This mutually satisfying resolution is the goal of any conflict and natural leaders will be able to employ this method due to the trust they have built with their team members. 

For more information on managing through conflict, please read Managing from the Inside Out by Jim Hornickel.  Available at

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Energizing your Workforce – Part 2 of 2

  1. Catch People Doing Something Right – Too many managers spend too much time catching people doing something wrong. Of course you have to address problems and correct failures but there needs to be a balance of positive and negative coming at someone for them to be or remain energized. I suggest using three levels of positive feedback to raise esteem or energy, each used based on timing, degree of right actions to be reinforced, and the individual’s personality.


  1. Praise – this is short, positive and general. “Good Job!” “Nice Going!” “Well Done!” People feel good (energized) in receiving these words of praise.


  1. Acknowledgment – this is positive feedback telling your team member what specific behaviors were done well. “Rachel, you ran that meeting well. Your time management was superb. You engaged everyone in attendance and gave them positive feedback after each of their comments. And I also know that you ran through each item on the agenda quite thoroughly and effectively.” Acknowledging encourages doing these same things effectively again.


  2. Appreciation – this attends to the inner qualities or character traits that were exhibited when doing the activities mentioned in “acknowledgment”. “Rachel, you truly seemed to care when people spoke up. You were attentive to time, receptive to new ideas, and found ways of balancing people’s interest on the subjects with knowing that you had lots of business to cover.”


Using all three when appropriate is another set of tools to bring positivity to people. Humans are energized when treated this way, especially on a regular basis.


  1. Play – We can get so darned serious at work and lose sight of enjoying ourselves. The fact that 83% of people surveyed don’t want to go to work on Monday mornings is a clear indicator of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. An unhappy work force is an un-energized workforce. Lightening up encourages greater energy. There are innumerable ways to have some fun thrown into the needs of a business day. Pot luck lunches, trivia contests, family photo boards, weekend group picnics, joke-of-the day and on and on. Get creative and see what works. More enjoyment translates to more energy.


We are all creatures of energy. That is simply biologically true. It makes every business sense to step back, assess your team’s level of interest, and find practical and creative ways to tap into the inner spark in yourself and your team. You can light the way!





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Energizing your Workforce – Part 1 of 2

Every mentally/emotionally healthy human being has a spark within them. But that spark’s intensity varies for lots of reasons. The fire burns brighter in good times, when we are happier. The flame can diminish to just an ember when times are challenging or our resilience is down. That’s life. But the spark is always there to be rekindled.


Lots of people, including your team members may have yet to learn how to fan their own flame; that’s still not widely taught. If you are reading this piece, you are in a great position to inspire increased interest in those around you. But first of course you personally need to have a higher degree of energy, passion if you will, for the work you’ve chosen to do.


Let’s talk about a few additional factors about energizing your workforce before expanding on some key specific energy-boosting subject areas. First, think about the internal spark, large or small about any given task or topic, as being the motivational drive from within. You therefore can’t “motivate” anyone as that is an internal job. What you can do is inspire or invite others to get in touch with their own innate interest. In order to meet your staff where they are before leading them to where you want them to be, you need to understand them. Studying their behavior style or personality type through a four quadrant models or the more complex Myers Briggs indicator is a good start. Raising your emotional intelligence (EQ) of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and managing relationships will help you to tune into team members and also model these skills and insights for their own usage.


With these foundational pieces strengthened, you can be more adept at using the following tools:


  1. Empathize – Empathy is relating to others, particularly other’s emotional states. Empathizing is especially related to another’s problem areas. Let’s be honest; lots of managers are task oriented to the exclusion of accepting that like it or not, we are always in a state of some emotion. That is a bio-chemical truth. Not allowing for people’s emotions is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. It is simply counterproductive.


So what does empathy have to do with inviting out the fire within someone? Well, until you uncover what is blocking the interest in participating fully, the enthusiasm level will remain low. Work to uncover the things that are dampening enthusiasm. Find ways of relating to these concern areas. You don’t have to agree with nor even understand what is going on for someone to empathize with their circumstances. You just need to know that these exist and accept that the condition(s) is true for them. When you actively empathize, the other realizes they are not alone in this and you become an ally. That is a powerful place to begin in turning retarded positive attitude around.


  1. Inspire – As we said at the start, everyone has a spark within. The truth is that we have many, many sparks or varying places of interest. A team member’s particular set of interests is what makes each and every one of them unique. That is both the challenge and opportunity. There are lots of ways to gain the information about what lights up anyone’s interest level. For the sake of this brief article, I will offer just one approach. You have limited time, resource and energy while your team members have the answers to the question of what interests them. So stop guessing. Ask them directly. And when you ask, steer them toward pathways to added internal motivation that you can actually offer in support.


The following is a list of motivational areas that can be of interest to your employees. My suggestion is that you copy and paste only the areas over which you have control (budget, resource etc.) Create your own doable list and give it to your team members, letting them pick and choose the ones that agree with them. Guessing is over as they tell you what jazzes them.


The List: Comfort/Relaxation, Health/Balance/Energy, Influence/Leadership, Learning/Knowledge/Discovery, Materials/Possessions, Recognition/Praise, Security/Money/Home, Social/Affiliation/Popularity/Acceptance, Status/Prestige/Stand Out/Reputation, Task Accomplishment/Problem Solving/Achievement and Teaching/Guiding Others


Once you find the topic areas that light up any individual player, you can come up with myriad specific strategies to fulfill that motivating topic.


  1. Delegate – Delegation and the motivator checklist above can go hand in hand. While there are lots of do’s and don’ts about delegating best left for another article, let’s focus here on the benefits to the employee. For best energizing effects, you need to match things you can delegate with what the employee will want to do (otherwise it will be demotivating/de-energizing). What long term tasks (along with the authority and resources to support their success) can you assign that will fulfill some of the areas captured in the motivator check-list? Have an exploratory conversation with your team member (don’t ever assume you are guessing right). Since you are ultimately responsible for the work they do, it just makes sense that you are in harmony with each other. Win-Win equals higher energy!

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“Recalling resentment”


"the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult."


Resentment is so common amongst we humans that it mostly goes under the radar of consciousness. It seems like such a natural thing. Simply a part of life you might say.


But take another look. It really is madness.


Here is a common story. A man I know began a serious relationship with a woman a few years after his divorce. They eventually married, the second for both of them. This can be hard on children from the first marriage. After seven years into the second and wonderful marriage, it came to light that one of the daughters of the first marriage had been holding deep resentment of the new wife for a full seven years.


Again, in the complex world of relationships you may say, "Oh well, that’s to be expected". Perhaps. But does it have to be inevitable?


If you reread the first part of the definition of resentment, "the feeling of displeasure or indignation…" and begin to break down the dynamics of resentment, an important truth can come to light. While the displeasure is aimed outward at the person "…regarded as causing injury or insult", who is actually experiencing the displeasure or indignation? In the case of the daughter in the story, she carried the negative feelings within her for seven full years. Seven years of toxic thoughts and feelings. Yikes!


Let’s bring that rascal the egoic mind back in. The ego delights in judging others to be wrong. In the story above, the daughter’s ego aimed its judgement at the new wife. The daughter never even expressed her resentment (judgement) to her Dad or his wife. The thoughts and feelings of displeasure all occurred within her own living environment.


So who suffered? The daughter did! The unnerving part is that our own egos don’t seem to care that the pain caused is actually inflicted on its own hosting human. And we humans are so used to this egoic dynamic that we don’t even realize that our own egos are doing this to ourselves (in the guise of aiming the resentment outward).


So at the very least, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) to use our EQ to become self-aware of the resentment and self-manage those resentful thoughts and feelings? Well, feeling better in the absence of resentment is a clearly positive outcome.


An additional relationship benefit of course is that if we have also been overtly expressing the resentment toward the person we accuse of the offending act, the cessation of that negativity will bring them more peace too. Win-Win.


What will aid in the clearing out of resentment from your system? Neutrally witnessing the negative thoughts and feelings through self-awareness is the key. Then unpack the contributing elements. Get a full understanding of what factually occurred and what you wanted to happen instead. Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. See if you might understand their intentions, their motivations; what was in it for them (WIIFT?) to do what they did? Try on some empathy for their situation. Even better, have a courageously truthful conversation with the other party. Communicate sensitively, coming from your higher wisdom and not from your judgmental, critical ego. See what clarity emerges between you two.


Note: Unfortunately, children (as used in the example) don’t have the developed skills described in the unpacking suggestions above. Thankfully, even as adults who began building resentment as children, we can access modalities such as Life Coaching, Counseling, Therapy, Hypnotherapy etc. to help us clear out the toxicity even decades after first forming the resentment.


Summary: Feeling the displeasure of resentment erodes our resilience. Feeling "better" in its absence boosts our resilience. A delightful no brainer.

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“Island Stepping Stones”

Some hundreds of storks left their African home, banded together for the long journey north to summer breeding grounds. But a severe storm arose with forceful winds and blew them far out to sea. Already an arduous journey, this now had the signs of catastrophe. If a stork’s wing so much as touches the water, they will spin in and drown. The tired flock fell lower and lower toward an unhappy ending. But just as their strength was almost depleted, an island appeared on the horizon. Land absorbs sunlight and returns the heated air upward as a thermal. Flapping with all their might, they reached the uplifting air, gained altitude on extended wings, and spied the next island in a chain stretching north toward their destination, Europe. Island-hopping, they eventually reached Istanbul and sanctuary, resting from the journey’s rigors to then move on to their purposeful activities.


Life can be like the stork’s journey. Our days may pass relatively unruffled but then accumulated difficulties may produce the perfect personal or professional storm. How we weather such periodic storms (and smaller disturbances) in resilient fashion will depend on how many islands of uplift we’ve constructed in life. These saving strength points come in the form of friendships that buoy us, work lives that inspire us, hobbies that fulfill us, practices that restore us, attitudes that move us forward with positive possibility. The storms of life are unavoidable. So enlivening island-building is key not only to merely surviving but to living a life of satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfillment.

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“Tween Times”

September has rolled around again. I think of this as a ‘tween month here in New England, the transition time or interlude separating the heat and humidity of summer and the crisp leaf-turning dry air of October.


Transition periods can test our resilience. In the case of this changing season, my body was acclimated to coping with a high heat index. Now it will soon need extra layers of clothing for the chill factor. My psyche said, "slow down, it’s vacation time". Now, work productivity expectations are usually higher. Contrasts to be dealt with.



This is just one of innumerable examples of transitions we face, large and small. Perhaps you’ve lost a job and haven’t yet found the next best-match work life. Maybe a relationship has ended and you haven’t yet filled that void. Or you suffered even a slight muscle strain but your activities are curtailed until you can get back to your normal activities.


No matter the life area in flux, the stability (not necessarily fulfilling) of the known or "normal" has passed and the future is a bit uncertain. These times carry varying degrees of stress with them.


This meantime can be troubling ranging from being a little out-of-sync to feeling very depressed. What to do?


Since most of us have a track record of ‘tween times, though we may not know the specific forms the next will take, they are bound to visit us again and again over our lifetime. Resourcefulness then is the resilience key to our mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being. With this wisdom guiding our practical practices, we can constantly and intentionally build up our reserves so that when it’s time to make a withdrawal in challenging times, the resources are there to call upon.



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“Inner Social Media”

We have reached a remarkable age of communication. The world is so interconnected via the venues of the Internet including tweets, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. The expanding use of cameras in buildings and on street corners adds another degree of transparency that can at least help dissuade unwanted criminal behavior.


But all of these "Social Media" platforms and methodologies are creations of humans. And they really mirror the internal systems of human beings. That is great news for you and me.


We have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. Think of them as a tweets of information.


Each chemical synapsis we call a thought simultaneously sends a chemical to our body that we experience as emotion. These make up our daily blogs.


These messages are messengers and travel throughout our nervous system; our own complex Internet.


As we experience these messengers, they act as stimulators of all sorts of neuronic activity from posting "to" memory banks, to causing withdrawals "from" conscious and subconscious memory banks. These personal life inner activities are the Facebook aspects. And those produced in our professional life are the corresponding LinkedIn activities.


How do you tune in, observe, and put this information to use? Your prefrontal lobes (behind your forehead) is the seat of conscious self-awareness; your own audio-visual self-reflecting camera if you will. You can identify your own unwanted behavior and use the information to improve who you are and who you want to be.


Isn’t it great that we have all of this invaluable equipment! But the inner technology does have a learning curve to it. Master the tools and you will live a much more fulfilling life.



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Managing with Empathy

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  -Maya Angelou

Understanding Empathy and the role it plays in the workplace is not easy…it’s often a misinterpreted term to begin with.  People may think that it involves “understanding” how others feel but the understanding is an intellectual function.  Empathy involves emotion or feeling.  It is about relating to another’s situation through feeling their pain or frustration.  The ability to empathize with others is the ability to relate to them and relationships exist in our lives both personally and professionally.

Empathy in Corporate America is a rare occurrence to say the least.  We are driven by the bottom line and by intellect.  However, Empathy can lead the way back to honoring the human component of emotion in the workplace.  It serves to connect people and to establish support and teamwork.  As a manager or leader in your organization, be a model of wholeness for your team.  When your workplace environment is emotionally sterile, it actually costs the company in by-products such as poor performance, poor retention, burnout and absenteeism.  While Empathy will not correct all of these issues, it can go a long way toward uniting people and when people feel connected, they tend to work happier and harder.

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