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Tips and Talking points
Boost your business IQ and workplace savvy with these stats and tips from Harvard Business Review online. For a closer look at these topics, go to hbr.org.
Improve your public speaking by being yourself
Those who find public speaking daunting—and who doesn’t to some degree?—may think they need to become better actors to improve. Acting rarely helps, though. Don’t try to be someone else or channel a smooth-talking alter ego. Focus on being exactly who you are. While some people may be natural public speakers, most have to work hard at it.
Practice organising your thoughts, modulating your voice and connecting with your audience. This isn’t a matter of rehearsing what you’re going to say. It’s practicing the skills that allow you to be flexible and capable every time you’re up in front of the room.
(Adapted from “Improve Your Public Speaking with a More Effective Mindset” by Peter Bubriski.)
Surviving difficult conversations
No one is immune to workplace tensions: It is inevitable that you’ll have some trying conversations with colleagues or clients. Here are three ways to reach a productive outcome, no matter how tough things get: Keep it civil. Don’t turn the conversation into a combat with a winner and a loser. Everyone looks bad when the discussion turns toxic.
Don’t rehearse. When you know things are going to be tough, it’s tempting to practice what you’re going to say ahead of time. But this is a conversation – not a performance. Instead, know where you stand but be open enough to listen and react. Resist making assumptions. You don’t have access to anyone’s intentions but your own. Don’t assume that you know where your counterpart is coming from or how he views the problem. Instead, ask for his perspective.
(Adapted from “Difficult Conversations: Nine Common Mistakes” by Holly Weeks.)
How to encourage meeting participation
You know the drill: A meeting is called to discuss an important issue but only the usual suspects participate. Everyone else is quiet and their opinions go unheard. Meaningful contribution is the key to success. Here are three ways to get more people involved: Don’t dominate. This not only gives others less time to speak up but also conveys that only your ideas are important. Let at least three people speak before you talk again.
Be positive. Demonstrate that all ideas are valuable by restating important points. Thank people who are usually reticent for their comments. Ask directly. To get input from everyone, ask each person for their thoughts. Don’t do it in a confrontational way. Try, “Do you have anything to share?”
(Adapted from “Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter.”)
Don’t settle for one network—build three
We all know how important networks are to succeeding in business. But most people mistakenly focus on building only one. Instead, you need to think about three separate networks:
— Your operational network is comprised of the people you rely on to get work done: your peers, direct reports, bosses and external contacts. Often, you don’t choose these folks, but you still need to cultivate them.
— A developmental network is a group of individuals whom you trust and can turn to for advice. Select people who bring a diversity of perspectives.
— Your strategic network helps you prepare for and succeed in the future. In this group, include people who work and live at the edge of your current world and can help you see what’s on the horizon.
(Adapted from “The Three Networks You Need” by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback.)
Increase your chances of success
Natural talent gets far too much credit. Achieving your goals is less about who you are, and more about what you do. Here are two ways you can give yourself better odds of succeeding: Be specific. Be precise about what you are trying to achieve and when you will do it. It’s not enough to say you’ll clean out your inbox three days a week. Write in your calendar the exact days and times so you can hold yourself accountable.
Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t. When trying to change behaviour, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the bad habit. Focus on the substitute instead. If you want to keep your temper in check, don’t dwell on the times you’ve lost it. Think about what you’ll do the next time you get angry.
(Adapted from “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” by Heidi Grant Halvorson.)
Harvard Business Review
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