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  • feedwordpress 10:15:19 on 2021/07/27 Permalink
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    How to strike a balance between confident and cocky in the workplace 


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    If you read my column, you know I’m an avid Pickleball player. That’s the paddleball-like sport that combines parts of badminton, ping pong and tennis on a small sized tennis court.

    This summer I’m in a league where each division is made up of teams with players of the same skill level. I recently ran into someone whose team we were scheduled to play. This person who we’ll call Sarah told me she is more skilled than us is only playing in our division because the organizer needed to fill the spot. She said her team is better than us and the other teams in our division, but she didn’t mind playing down.

    Other than my initial disbelief at how someone could be so arrogant and condescending, it made me think about the difference between cockiness and confidence. It also made me want to obliterate her team on the court when we played them.

    The official definition of cocky is “conceited or arrogant, especially in a bold or impudent way”. Similarly, the definition of confident is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”.

    At work, one can mistakenly be confused with the other, which can lead to incorrect judgements and misperceptions about people. For example, I have a client who is perceived as cocky. He is very handsome, well-spoken and impeccably dressed. Often when people meet him, they quickly size him up as a “pretty boy” with no substance. Because he is the highest performer at his company which comes with envied perks, he is sometimes seen as arrogant and conceited by those who are perhaps jealous or don’t know him.

    I have gotten to know him, and he is anything but cocky. He is kind, funny, smart and even a bit insecure. If anything, he sometimes doubts himself because he’s always striving to improve. He is confident about his abilities, yet always craves coaching and honest feedback to help him continually enhance his skills.

    In my experience, cocky people tend to brag or show off even when they don’t have the skills or know how to back it up. Confident people like my client recognize their strengths but are also keenly aware of their challenges and vulnerabilities.

    So, what about the girl on the pickleball court? Cocky or confident? My judgement says both.

    She’s cocky because she knows she’s good. She’s confident she has the skills to back up her words and she’s not shy about singing her own praises. Traits that are not always unattractive unless you don’t know how to display them which in her case came off as cocky.

    Yet, here is where cockiness and confidence differ on the court or in the workplace. Unlike a confident self-assured person who can admit a mistake, seek help and strive to improve, a cocky person often rationalizes, passes the buck and rarely apologizes.

    At first her team was winning but as the match progressed, we began to take the lead. That’s when she started blaming her missed shots on high winds of the day. When we began to amass points, she started correcting her teammate’s approach, not her own. Good players know to aim put away shots at their opponent’s feet. Sarah slammed one directly at my upper body and when it hit me, she didn’t apologize. I had been looking forward to this match because I wanted to make her eat her words. Unfortunately, we lost.

    Striking a balance between cocky and confident is a delicate form of communication that requires a certain level of finesse. Here’s how to achieve it:

    Use facts, not sweeping statements

    Instead of declaring her team is better and they don’t mind playing down, if Sarah had said her team is undefeated and they hope their winning streak continues, that would have sounded less boisterous and more factual.

    Offer praise, not sour grapes

    Telling someone they did a great job or complimenting their work doesn’t detract from your skills. It actually makes you appear more self-assured and confident. Studies show when people compliment others, it makes them feel better about themselves. Research says at work, praise increases morale and makes people feel more valued.

    Have something to learn

    If you are a know it all, you may alienate people, loose opportunities and damage your reputation. Perhaps Sarah doesn’t care what her opponents think of her, but just as business colleagues talk to other colleagues, players talk to other players and Sarah’s arrogant behavior is spreading throughout the league. There are people who have told the league organizer they don’t want to play with her again.

    Admit mistakes

    No one is always right regardless of skill or expertise. If you make a mistake, apologize or own up to it. Admitting wrongdoing makes you look confident, not weak.

    At the end of our match, my team congratulated Sarah’s team and said nice playing with you. She responded, “maybe we’ll run into you again sometime” to which I replied, “maybe we’ll see you at the playoffs.” Cocky? Not really. Admittedly, I was just trying to get under her skin. Yet, at this point in the season, we are right behind Sarah’s first place team in league standings. That means we may face them again if we get into the playoffs.

    If that happens, we’ll play with confidence because we have worked hard at becoming skilled players. However, win or lose, we’ll leave arrogance and egos at home. Poor behavior in any environment doesn’t look attractive on anyone.

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  • feedwordpress 23:41:50 on 2021/01/06 Permalink
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    Quick Tip #101: How to Get Rid of those Fillers 


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    Nothing damages a speaker’s credibility and distracts listeners more than those ums, uh, ah, you know, and other fillers so many speakers lean on. Learn how to get rid of them so audiences pay attention to your message.

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  • feedwordpress 18:29:30 on 2020/12/01 Permalink
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    Quick Tip #100: Moving with Purpose 


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    Hard to believe but this month’s quick tip video, Moving With Purpose, is #100 from me. In monthly videos to come, I outline game-changing secrets of great speakers in a series of interviews with Dr. Jennifer Caudle.

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  • feedwordpress 23:53:46 on 2020/07/13 Permalink
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    The Importance of Every Customer Interaction 


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    We were shopping for a career coach for our son and reached out to someone who came highly recommended as one of the best in the business. “Robert” immediately sent us an email with a multi-page PDF of the services he could offer us. 

    Included was a category called interview preparation. For $250.00, Robert’s one-hour interview preparation service would provide clients with “live simulated interview practice” to help them clearly articulate their brand and answer difficult questions.

    My husband, son and I set up a phone interview using the conference line in my office.

    As the call began, we heard a lot of background noise making it difficult to hear. We were asking Robert questions, but his connection kept cutting out and he said he was having trouble hearing us. At first, I thought it was a problem with my conference connection until I heard what sounded like “Iced grande six-pump vanilla latte.”

    “Excuse me”, I interrupted, “did you say something”?

    “No, thank you, just one shot”, he answered. “Oh sorry, he continued, I’m at Starbucks.”

    Let me get this straight. Robert is being interviewed to work with our son. He offers services to help people improve their interview skills and articulate their brand. Yet his brand states ordering coffee is more important than paying attention. How can someone possibly offer interview preparation services if they don’t know how to conduct an effective interview?

    My father used to say, “actions speak louder than words.” It means people’s actions, not their words show their real attitudes.

    Someone can talk about being the best in the business, but nothing says that better than their behavior. Attitude, attention and approach to people from the moment you meet is what sets you apart. Whether pitching new business, delivering a presentation or attending a networking event, you have one chance to make a first impression.

    One of our clients calls this a “customer centric” approach. In their case, they’ve spent millions of dollars, put policies in place and re-structured their entire business model to truly become more customer centric. There are thousands of companies who claim to put consumers first. They have catchy taglines that say so, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

    How often have you sat on hold for long periods of time listening to a recording telling you “your call is very important to us”? Then there’s the customer service line that says, “this call may be recorded for quality purposes”. What does that even mean? How about “calls may be recorded to help our employees handle your inquiries more effectively”?

    If you have any interest in truly improving customer interactions, begin by becoming your customer. How would you feel if you sat on hold waiting for your call to be recorded for quality purposes? Or what about apologies that ring hollow?

    A recent example of a bad hotel experience comes to mind when I took a team of coaches to a  meeting at a high-end resort in Orlando only to experience a tsunami of problems. My air conditioner wasn’t working and when I requested a room change, the front desk manager suggested I didn’t know how to work the air properly. No apology. My colleague had a water leak and had to switch rooms. No apology. That didn’t even compare to another coworker who, to her horror, woke up to cockroaches crawling on her ceiling, bed and floor.  Again, no apology. When they moved her to another room, the toilet wasn’t working and overflowed.

    Furious, I located the hotel manager who asked me what I wanted him to do. I demanded he take room and food charges off the bill, but he refused. He told me he gave the girl with the cockroach issue a $100.00 room credit. Considering the client was paying for the room, that was hardly satisfactory.

    When I got home, I took the issue to the top and got a call from a representative in the CEO’s office. She said she was sorry and offered me 15,000 hotel points, which can’t even buy a room for the night. I told her I wanted the hotel to apologize to my colleague who was traumatized by the roaches. They never did.

    Here is what I find astounding. In today’s world of social media, my colleague, who had photos and videos of the bugs could have sent those images around the world. She didn’t and wouldn’t, but how can any brand take that chance?

    The Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact report says a happy customer whose issues are resolved tells 4-6 people about their experience.  Approximately 13% of dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people and those people will tell more people just as I’m telling you. The report says 86% of customers have quit doing business with a company due to bad customer experience.

    Every customer interaction is an opportunity to create positive experiences. When we treat others the way we want to be treated, we send positive silent signals that often speak louder than words.

    When we send silent negative signals, they can have long lasting damaging effects, sometimes without our knowledge. For example, after our call with Robert the career coach, as a courtesy, I thanked the person who recommended him. I also shared my experience. After referring him to dozens of people over the years, she is not likely to recommend him again.

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  • feedwordpress 00:48:07 on 2020/06/10 Permalink
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    Quick Tip #99: Speak with Impact 


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    What you say and how you say it are equally important. This video provides the 5 P’s to help you deliver your words with impact.

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