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  • feedwordpress 15:40:42 on 2022/11/30 Permalink
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    Advice to the Working Mother 

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    When I was a young mother, I worked outside the home. My job as a television news reporter was demanding and time consuming. Juries. Stakeouts. Crime scenes. Long hours that couldn’t always be predicted. My husband traveled so we hired a babysitter to make sure someone was always home.

    Many of my friends traveled a different path. When children arrived, they quit their jobs to be full time stay at home moms. They shared stories of Mommy and Me classes, holding their babies for a first swim lesson, being present at every milestone and activity. Sometimes they made me feel guilty.

    I always adjusted my schedule and swapped shifts to be present for important moments like school plays, sporting events and volunteering in their classrooms. I was there for their first words, first steps, potty training and transitioning from crib to big boy beds. We enjoyed family dinners, holiday gatherings and great vacations. But these so-called friends had a way of making those who worked outside the home feel they were less of a mom than those who stayed home full time. Once, one of them asked if I ever felt guilty about “having someone else raise your children.”

    Seething, I told her our babysitter wasn’t a replacement for us and I remember defending myself. But why? Because she made me feel guilty? My husband reassured me that I was a great mom, and I shouldn’t let others tell me how to feel. He was right.

    We’ve always been a great team. If I was away, he did what was needed. Laundry. Shopping. Driving. Attending events. When he was gone, I did the same. Unlike the stereotypical TV shows of the 1950’s where Dad earned the money and Mom put dinner on the table, in my house Dad also put dinner on the table. We parented equally. This was not the case for some of my stay-at-home mom friends. Like their mothers before them, Mom ran the home while Dad went to the office.

    There is no right or wrong as to how people choose to run their households and raise their families. But thanks to the choices we made, our boys grew up appreciating women as equals. I’m the first to tell you it’s easier to go to work than to stay home with young children. I’m also the first to tell you not to let anyone guilt you into making you feel you’re not as good as them.

    Fast forward to present day. Our sons are well adjusted independent adults. I never think about something I might have missed, and I never feel guilty. Rather, I feel proud. Proud of the young men my boys have become and proud of everything we shared and continue to share together.

    As the years went by, it occurred to me that perhaps these women guilted me to mask their own insecurities. Maybe they envied that I worked outside the home. Maybe they resented marrying men who left the child rearing and housework to them. Maybe they needed to validate themselves and justify their decision to stay home. Or maybe they were happy and genuinely believed their way was the better way. I also realized it didn’t matter.

    One of my son’s was just married. He married a woman who shares the values we instilled in him. He knows how much he’s loved; how proud we are of him and that we will always be there for him, his brother, and his family.

    Being physically present 24/7 for your children doesn’t define you as a better mother. You are the only one who can define you. How you raise your children is your choice. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it the same way.

  • feedwordpress 00:30:46 on 2022/11/10 Permalink
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    Quick Tip #118: Power of the Pause 

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    Um. Uh. Just. Ya know. Filler words are distracting, annoying and make the most knowledgeable person seem uncredible.

  • feedwordpress 11:59:23 on 2022/11/02 Permalink
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    What Fetterman, Oz can teach us about the softer skills of debating 

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    I watched the much-anticipated debate between Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz. Both men are running for the Pennsylvania senate, a key race that may define who controls Congress.

    The pundits and journalists were highly focused on Fetterman’s stroke symptoms. The Lt. Governor has been off the campaign trail for months following his May stroke, which required surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator and revealed that he had a serious heart condition. While Fetterman spoke haltingly at times and had to have questions and answers transcribed in real time to help with his auditory processing issues, I think those who have been reviewing the debate missed the boat.

    As a communications coach, I do not think Fetterman’s stroke recovery symptoms defined his performance. Messaging and perhaps poor coaching, did. Right at the start, he was asked what qualifies him to be in the Senate. Instead of touting his credentials as a former mayor who worked to build a once-booming steel town back from collapse or his ongoing fight for criminal justice, setting up GED programs or mentoring successes with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, he answered by attacking his opponent. This was a huge, missed opportunity that should not be overlooked.

    While attacking your opponent and focusing on their shortcomings is part of any debate, setting the tone and communicating your message impactfully as soon as you open your mouth is critical. If you don’t grab your listeners attention by communicating value, much of what you say may be wasted because people will stop listening. Additionally, studies show people tend to remember what they hear first and what they hear last.

    If you search for articles on how to successfully debate, you’ll see most focus on preparation, delivery, body language, keeping calm, anticipating follow up questions, knowing the subject matter and techniques to make an argument. All are important, but I want to talk about overlooked soft skills that can help you become more successful in any arena.

    • Persuade. In a debate or pitch, your goal is to persuade listeners that your product, qualifications, or services are right for them. If the audience understands what you or your product can do for them to make their lives better or easier, they will be more likely to see things from your point of view. Fetterman missed that opportunity when he launched into attacking Oz before telling viewers why he was the best for the job.

    • Stories. Like Dr. Oz did, it’s important to use real life examples that connect your listeners to your topic. Painting the picture by creating visual help listeners feel like they are right there with you. People don’t remember all the facts and figures. They remember stories and examples which touch their hearts and make messages more meaningful and relatable.

    • Three Questions. Whenever you speak you should ask three questions. What does this mean to them? Why should they care? What’s the so what? This will help you speak from your audience’s point of view so it’s about them and not you. For example, if you want your audience to buy plant fertilizer, instead of saying “WE offer fertilizer that will help your flowers grow big and bright,” if you said, “You will grow bigger brighter plants that need less watering,” the message is about them.

    Whether debating or speaking in a variety of arenas, every speaking engagement is an opportunity to communicate your message and create awareness. You don’t have to be a professional speaker to shine. You do have to connect with your audience in the first few seconds if you want them to keep listening.

  • feedwordpress 16:55:10 on 2022/10/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , digital communication, , , , , zoom meetings   

    Quick Tip #117: Warm it up 

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    Engaging, connecting, and appearing likeable is much tougher across a screen. These few tips will help you warm it up.

  • feedwordpress 17:42:29 on 2022/10/06 Permalink
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    What toasts can teach us about business communication 

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    A few months ago, a colleague called and asked if I would write his wedding toast. This struck me as odd given I have never met his partner. When I told him I wasn’t qualified, he said, but you’re such a good writer. Thanks for the compliment but being a good writer doesn’t translate to developing a good toast. A toast is based on shared experiences and stories you can tell that involve the people you are toasting. Toasts should be personal and sentimental. A toast should have heart. You can’t do that if you don’t know the people you’re toasting.

    What goes into a good toast also translates to business communication. The starting point is knowing your audience. If you don’t understand who they are and what they care about, you can’t fully engage, influence, or connect with them which can cause problems in the workplace.

    A study published in Grammarly Business suggests over 85% of executives and employees point to ineffective communication and collaboration as the main causes of workplace failures. For companies with 100 employees, the report says poor communication costs up to $420,000 per year, while larger organizations of 100,000 or more employees can lose an average of 62 million dollars per year.

    While profit is important to any business, the pandemic has shifted the priorities of many workers. United States labor statistics report more than 4 million people have left their jobs each month so far in 2022 as they reconsider how they want to spend their time. A report  published by McKinsey and Co. in August which surveyed more than 13,000 people across the world found 40% are considering quitting their jobs in the next 3-6 months.

    No longer will focusing solely on bonuses and salary increases guarantee productivity and loyalty. Communicating honestly, transparently and frequently is more important than ever to boost morale and create a work environment others want to be a part of.

    These five tips can help you do just that.

    Say thank you

    It’s easy to tell someone what they are doing wrong. It should be just as easy to compliment and provide positive feedback to make people feel valued and appreciated. A simple thank you can sometimes motivate more than money.

    Communicate often

    In the absence of information, innuendo and rumor fill the gap. Providing accurate information to keep people informed minimizes misinformation and can lead to more effective decision making. Leaders who listen, encourage idea sharing and ask thoughtful questions are also perceived as people who care about what others think.

    Make it personal

    Ross Born, former CEO of Just Born, the company known for marshmallow peeps is one of my favorite leaders. When he was at the helm, he used to join employees in the lunchroom for weekly chats to learn more about their interests, families and life outside of work. Employees felt connected to Ross because he was genuinely interested in them as people and focused on building relationships.

    Create a safe environment

    If you’ve worked long enough, you’ve experienced the difference between a compassionate and uncaring manager. The compassionate manager creates a safe environment where people feel secure to voice concerns, ask questions and share ideas which promotes trust and loyalty. The insensitive manager can be self-absorbed and lack empathy which leads to low morale, decreased productivity and increased turnover.

    Lead by example

    I used to have a boss who was fond of saying, my door is always open. Yet, his door was always closed unless you were a higher up or someone, he considered important. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” couldn’t be truer in this situation. To lead by example, it’s important to remember what you say and what you do should be synonymous.

    Like a toast, business communication should be sincere, candid and thoughtful. Like a toast, it doesn’t need to be long winded or perfect. Say what you feel. Keep it simple. Speak from the heart.

    Unlike a wedding toast, however, please leave the bad jokes and embarrassing stories at home.

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