5 Easy Ways To Enhance Communication at Work — Communication Strategies from “Entrepreneur”

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

Anita Zinsmeister, President — anita.zinsmeister@dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

By Han-Gwon Lung

Co-founder of Tailored Ink

There’s a fantastic video on YouTube of babies vigorously talking to one another. It’s impossible to watch that video without cracking a smile. They’re trying so hard, but they just can’t quite seem to get their meaning across.

It’s a lot less funny when it’s two grown adults yelling at one another in the office. Or, even worse, a whole team failing to communicate in a healthy way and devolving into “Let’s see who can shout the loudest and interrupt the most often.”

Communication is tough. Ninety-seven percent of of employees and executives agree that a lack of team alignment negatively impacts performance, and 86 percent believe that ineffective communication leads to workplace failures.

Since Tailored Ink is still small, communication hasn’t been too difficult. At a startup, everyone knows everything. But as we scale, keeping in touch with everyone will become harder and harder.

Related: 3 Secrets to Effective Communication During Rapid Business Growth

If you are struggling with team communication, try out these five ways to enhance communication:

1. Get it down in writing.

The first rule of office communication: Don’t expect anyone to remember what you say to them, even if you are the boss.As our personal and work lives become increasingly digital and filled with online distractions, human attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter. At last count, the average adult has an attention span of eight seconds — worse than a goldfish. On top of that, stress negatively impacts our short-term memory.

If you have a particularly old school manager who refuses to write things down and expects you to take dictation, do just that. Write down what they say as soon as they say it so you can hold them accountable for things they didn’t say.

2. Know your personality types.

Another great way to communicate better both in one-on-one interactions as well as team meetings is to know the Myer’s Briggs personality types of each of your coworkers.

For example, I’m an INTJ (“The Architect”). The “I” in “INTJ” stands for “Introversion”, and if I’m to be totally honest, I prefer as few in-person meetings and phone calls as possible. My partner, on the other hand, is the exact opposite and we’ve had to compromise to figure out the right communication balance.

Related: Workers Without Borders: Managing the Remote Revolution

If you’re rolling your eyes right now, or if you believe that personality tests are inaccurate, science disagrees with you. While it is true that our personalities can change slightly through life via learned behaviors, big personality traits like introversion and extroversion are determined at birth, and are based on how you process dopamine.

In other words, don’t try to force someone to communicate the wayyou do. They could literally be hardwired differently.

3. Have an open-door policy.

We’ve all worked at corporations or cubicle farms where managers in corner offices always keep the door closed, and can be visited by appointment only. One of my managers was so ornery during work that she would snap at anyone who distracted her in a shared office space.

Guess what? A closed door is like the Black Death of team communication. Leaders set the tone and culture of their teams, so if a manager is inscrutable and impossible to pin down for a chat, the whole team clams up in turn. No one will have the confidence to speak to anyone, the office will become as quiet as a library, and morale will plummet (along with productivity).

Instead, keep your door open. Just do it. Even though it may lead to a few more distractions, few employees will abuse an open-door policy. And you’ll be amazed at the conversations you never had with people you thought you knew.

4. Do a daily stand-up meeting.

In what feels like another life, I interned at an indie game studio. And what stood out to me the most (aside from the awkward coders and the whimsical break room) was the daily morning scrum.Also called a stand-up meeting in non-tech circles, this type of daily meeting should never go over 10 minutes and is mostly for the sake of managers who will get a quick status update from everyone on their teams. It’s a fantastic way to make sure everyone is on the same page and also a sneaky way of project managing without having to rely on messy schedules and timesheets.

Related: 7 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Another, less obvious benefit of the stand-up meeting is that it keeps everyone accountable. Instead of forcing someone to follow a static, complex schedule, you give each team member personal responsibility for finishing their work on time.

5. Encourage team members to blog.

Finally, you don’t have to be a content manager or marketer to find value in keeping a lively company blog. When only 28.9 percent of millennials are engaged at work (71 percent are not), being able to contribute on a regular basis to a part of the brand that’s very public, like a blog, is incredibly empowering.

As I mentioned earlier, not everyone’s a talker who can dominate an in-person meeting or conference call. You’d be surprised at what your coworkers will say and contribute when they’re given the freedom to write on company time.

There’s also a lot of great team communication software. I believe in understanding and internalizing the reason for doing something before learning how to do it. That being said, there are a lot of fantastic and affordable team messaging and project management software solutions.

You probably already know about Slack, Trello and Asana — but have you tried Smartsheet, Wunderlist or Zip Schedules? Since most of these apps have free trials (some are even permanently free for small teams), you should try out as many as you can. Find out what works best for you and your team.

And remember the old saying — people quit their bosses, not their jobs. Communication is what ultimately determines whether you retain talent or lose valuable team members to competitors. If that’s not worth investing time and effort into, you’re doing things wrong.

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

Speechwriting — 10 pieces of sage advice for public speaking success

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

How to balance enthusiasm and detachment, passion and logic, factuality and eloquence, in your public speaking? One veteran offers some practical wisdom on these delicate subjects.

By Nick Morgan | Posted: September 9, 2016 by Ragan Report

From time to time it’s important to take a step back to put public speaking into perspective. I take it seriously, and I am passionate about it, but it’s important to recognize that public speaking is one human activity out of many.

We don’t burn people at the stake any longer for disagreeing with us, and life is about love and work, as Freud said, so at the very most public speaking should only occupy your thinking 50 percent of the time.

Here are my 10 rules for thinking rationally about public speaking, whether it’s something you dread or love, whether it’s a career or a religion, and whether you ever will try to master the art and science of it—or not.

  1. A presentation is a brief phenomenon. It’s measured in minutes, and the trend is to shorter and shorter speeches. Unlike chess games that can go on for days, or agriculture, measured in seasons, speeches are planned and timed to the minute. Many implications follow from this observation; here are three: (1) You should always give a few minutes back to the audience; in other words, end early, not late. (2) If your speech goes badly, and inevitably some will, realize that you will live through it. (3) Seconds are important to this art form too. Good public speaking is about timing. Use your seconds wisely. Don’t just fill them up with words. Use pauses, gestures, and silence as well.
  2. Your most important job as a speaker is to find your voice. Clients ask me if their messages are new enough. But there’s very little that’s truly new in the advice we humans give to one another. Aristotle figured out most things a couple thousand years ago. Rather than obsess about novelty, realize that what is new is your voice. If you draw on your own experience, insight, and stories, your message will be a new version of what may be an old truth, but no one will be able to say it just the way you can. Human voices, when achieved, are unique. That’s your real job-find your unique voice. Don’t quote someone. Say it the way only you can.

[FREE DOWNLOAD: How to turn your executive into a brilliant speaker.]

  1. Slow down and pare down.The mistake most rookie speakers make is to try to tell their audiences too much, to cram everything in, to tell them everything the speaker knows. I’ve learned as a coach that different clients need different messages. Brilliant advice to one person falls on deaf ears for someone else. They’re at different places, or differing levels of skill, or have different issues. One size doesn’t fit all, and that goes for the presentations and their audiences too. Rather than dump what you know on everyone, spend time figuring out what to leave out, what you’re going to not say, and how you’ll use silence to best effect.
  2. You’ll learn more from audiences that don’t love you than audiences that do. Early on, most speakers just want to be loved. They want an endless, ongoing standing ovation from their audiences from the very start. And so presenters placate their audiences, tell them what they think the audience wants to hear, and avoid challenging audiences to think hard. The result is an endless stream of mediocre presentations. Only when you get the courage to make your audience hate you will you find out what you really need to say to them.
  3. You can’t give speeches in your head. Speakers run through speeches in their head and believe that this is rehearsal. It’s not. Use your body to give a speech, and to rehearse one, because we embody our emotions first to find out what they are. In your head, you can say it quickly, smoothly—and blandly. In your body, you find the clumsy moments and the issues with connections from one part to another. Never rely entirely on the mental. Public speaking is performance art.
  4. Let it go.A speech is the product of the speaker, the message, and the audience. When it’s done, it’s gone. Let it go. Don’t let the accumulating weight of all your successes and failures define you. If you do, you’ll stop being capable of being truly present and creating performance art. You’ll just start phoning it in. Never, ever phone it in. You, your message, and your audience deserve better.
  5. Not all audiences should hear you.I can always tell rookie authors because when I ask them “who’s your audience?” they say, as if it were obvious, “Well, everyone!” Those are writers who haven’t thought clearly about what they are writing about and who should read it. Not every audience will respond to your message. It’s everyone’s job—you, the meeting planner, the speakers bureau, the organizers, whoever’s involved—to get this right beforehand. It’s always obvious after the fact.
  6. Take care of yourself, but not too carefully.Some clients, when successful, become divas. It’s hilarious to watch, and I love it because it’s a sign of success. You get the only-brown-M&Ms-in-the-bowl phenomenon. It happens. But you’ll have more fun if you remember that you are just another glorious human being, with all the rights and limitations pertaining thereunto. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  7. You are not your speech.Never confuse yourself with your message. You are more (and sometimes less) than your message. The message can change. The speech should change. Speeches are not sculptured objects; they are monuments to a moment in time. You should never give the same speech for more than a few years running. Knowledge changes, audiences change, you should too.
  8. In fact, you should never give the same speech twice. Speeches need to be tailored to each audience. The main points may be similar, or even the same, but you always need to customize your presentation to a particular audience because if you don’t it means you’re not thinking about that audience as much as you need to.

Public speaking is important, even life-changing and world-changing, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it with desperate seriousness. All human endeavor is ultimately temporary, and we are but dust in the wind. So enjoy yourself, make it as perfect as you can, and trust to luck. Good hunting!

A version of this article first appeared on Public Words.

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

Protect your kids’ IDs — FRAUD

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]

From The Detroit Free Press comes this story by Zlati Meyer on Aug. 29.


They wear helmets.

They’re told not to play with matches.

They’re warned not to talk to strangers.

But this is one crime it’s tough to protect them from.

Children are the newest victims of identity fraud — and sometimes, they don’t even know they’ve been exploited.

How to guard your children from identity thieves

  • Don’t give out their Social Security numbers. If you’re asked for it, find out if it is mandatory information. If it is, ask who has access to it and how the data, be it a paper form or an online database, is kept safe and, when no longer needed, destroyed.
  • Protect their dates of birth and mothers’ maiden names.
  • Have a talk with older children about the importance of keeping private information private. Instruct them to ask you for permission before sharing it with people who ask them for it.
  • Freeze their credit with the three credit reporting agencies:  Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

Signs your children’s identities may have been stolen

  • Pre-approved credit card offers are mailed to your home, addressed to them.
  • Collection agencies call and ask to speak to them.
  • Your children are served notices to appear in court for unpaid bills.

What to do if your children’s identities, in fact, have been compromised

  • File a police report.
  • Contact credit agencies.
  • Contact creditors.
  • Keep a journal, detailing everyone you’ve contacted, on what dates, what you said and what they said.

Source: Free Press research

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]