First Impressions and How To Leave Them…

What does a great first impression consist of and how do we make them.

An impression is the effect an object or thing has on it’s environment after it is no longer present. An Asteroid leaves a crater, an artist leaves an impression in the soul.

Top tip: Be like the artist…

There are a lot of things that go into making the perfect first impression. Nearly all are under your control, or to some extent influenced by you. So lets begin with the factors you can manage.

Appearance – It goes without saying, but a well turned out person; who carries themselves with confidence and self respect will nearly always make a good first impression. See to it, that if you plan to meet someone or suspect you will, make the effort to tidy yourself up and give the best representation of yourself. Disregard this advice if your name is Mark Zuckerberg and just turn up in a dressing gown…

Social Rituals/Cliches – Another obvious, but often overlooked hurdle in the first impression rule book is the presence of a firm handshake or similar social gesture. The french offer a cheek and the Japanese bow. Different cultures and social settings call for differing levels of appropriate social ritual. If in doubt, lead with a handshake!

The HALO/HORNS – Within ten seconds of meeting a new person, that individual will have made several initial judgments. Based on what they see, hear and feel. A mixture of verbal and non verbal communications will be computed. Often to confirm biases, opinions or self held beliefs. This is a factor that has as much control as luck. You could be nothing but polite and respectful in an initial meeting and not be liked by another person. Solely down to their own self held beliefs and biases. While this is a rare event, we can have some control over this. The best defense against negative judgement in the initial moments of meeting someone is to push the exchange to about 80%/20% talk from you. By that, I mean introduce yourself and your reason for being there, then ask thoughtful and relevant questions. Always address them by their name in this initial stage. It will disarm them and completely sever any inference judgments the person would otherwise make.

Priming – Priming is a technique used in all manner of things in order to lubricate your mind and warm you to something or someone. In a social setting, priming is as simple as an MC introducing a performer. It could be a car company showing you images of exciting and freeing locations and adventures to make you correlate cars and freedom as mutual things, before showing you the price! In a first impression scenario however, being introduced by a mutual contact or friend, is enough to prime the other person. They will have no doubt been told good, positive and reassuring things about you. This bypasses a lot of the HALO/HORNS and/or unconscious biases being sought. Remember also, when you are introducing someone; a positive and light-hearted but reassuring introduction will suffice. This short but relaxed approach, gives a solid start point for their conversation to take place. Plus you will be seen as the very friendly, helpful, honest and witty person who brought people together!

Personal Space – This one is the single biggest ‘bad impression’ behaviour. We have all met someone or know of someone who is a bit too forward, over-familiar or inappropriate when in a social setting. If you are ever in doubt, remember the following:

  • Do not touch someone after shaking hands. Unless you saving them from a venomous animal… 
  • Resist all temptation to make a joke or comment that would make someone uncomfortable, awkward or blush.
  • Scientifically, ‘personal space’ starts at eighteen inches and finishes at four feet. If it is too loud or too crowded, take it outside or elsewhere. Trust me, no one wants to talk into your ear…

Your Legacy – By this, I mean the positive and/or negative memories you leave your acquaintance with. Having a short but interesting conversation. An exciting yet unfinished discussion or perhaps just a mutual love of something. These are all positive legacies that you can re-kindle. The person will be left with fond memories and hopefully a new connection they wish to spend more time and energy getting to know.

“I met this gentlemen/lady at the company day out at the races the other day, we spoke about X and I was blown away by how much money we are leaving on the table at the moment.”  – Leave someone with questions, they will come to you for the answers…

To finish, I would suggest that every time you talk to a new acquaintance, be confident that when you part company; there is a conversation or promise that the other person wants to fulfill with you.

“Leave them wanting more and you know they’ll call back.”

Bobby Womack – American Singer/Songwriter

For more public speaking advice, follow our page and receive weekly articles. Alternatively, please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com for coaching and assistance! 

Advertisements

Employ a Little Empathy

How do we improve our empathetic muscles and raise our ‘EQ’?

Nowadays, we are bombarded with articles and business interest pieces that tell us ’emotional intelligence’ or ‘EQ’ is the new ‘soft skill’ to have. People with high EQ are this decades and/or millennial generations future leaders. It makes sense in essence, people who are more attuned and able to tap into another persons feelings will be able to leverage the mutual understanding and excel. Effectively showing someone, that you understand and recognise their feelings or thoughts on a situation will win over and earn the trust and respect of more people.

Firstly, we need to understand what ’emotional intelligence’ is… Essentially, EQ is a persons ability to empathize with others through identification, evaluation,  controlling and expressing ones own emotions; perceiving, and assessing others’ emotions, the use of emotions to facilitate thinking and to understand emotional meanings.

Simply put, it is everything that goes into your every interaction with another living thing. It can be recognising that your pet is acting differently, seeing your work colleague’s behaviour and presence become withdrawn or distant. EQ helps you tap into a world of non-verbal communicator and cues, a lot of the time these initial ‘clues’ are what your natural EQ picks up on, then you can interact verbally; addressing the situation or person and demonstrating a caring, open and judgement side. This is key to raising your EQ and becoming that empathetic person.

Read – Wrapping Your Head around Rapport

In my work, I would categorise Empathy into three different streams or rivers. Think of these streams flowing from a mountaintop and down to a sea. Put yourself as the mountain, the start point so to speak. The sea is the person or thing that is the subject in question. Finally, the three rivers/streams are the different flows of empathy working towards the sea. Each river has its own unique features, meanders and waterfalls.

The three flowing rivers we have at our disposal are:

  • Emotional Empathy – Perceiving and articulating that you feel the same feeling.
  • Cognitive Empathy – Assessing, formulating and articulating a solution.
  • Compassionate Empathy – Sensing/Recognising a feeling and articulating it.

These three rivers run independently at times, merge at points and can sometimes be non-existent. It is your responsibility to always have at least one river that you can navigate. Work on these and make an effort in the next conversation you have, see if you can pick up on someones feelings and make them aware that you have noticed.

Packaging our new ‘EQ’ skills into a ready to use tool box. We have to add a few extra tools. This will make the whole thing easier, and it will draw people to you, by showing others that you are a genuine and understanding person. Here are my personal ‘pillars of empathy’.

  • Stop Talking – People can’t convey themselves if you are taking up all the airwaves.
  • Be an Active Listener – Actually be conscious and attentive when listening.
  • No Judgement – Recognise and resist the urge to pass  judgement. *BIG TIP*
  • Avoid unnecessary interruptions – If it is of a sensitive nature take it to a quiet space.
  • Share responsibility for communication – No one wants to be alone in a conversation
  • Over-reacting or silly? – Understand this an issue for THEM, don’t write it off as ‘silly’.

Practice the three flowing rivers and remember to use the ‘pillars of empathy’ to aid in your conversations. All together, they will show people you are a safe port in the storm and that you can be relied upon to help. This goes for personal and business matters.

My friends laugh at me and make fun at my sometimes exhausting ‘soap opera life’. I am an agony aunt and a friendly ear to many people, in business too. As John Donne said, “No man is an island”. This still rings true today, no one can shoulder all the burdens, all of the time. It is essential that we offer ourselves and our time to be someones trusted and reliable confidant and friend.

“I believe that lack of empathy is behind many problems, and I believe that it’s disrupting our society. There is a steady decline in the willingness to be truly generous, and by that I don’t mean monetary generosity, but friendship and sympathy for others.”

JK Rowling – Author and creator of Harry Potter

How To Get Payed What You’re Worth

How adding value adds dollars to your paycheck…

It is simple in essence. You work harder, you get paid more. Right?

Wrong. You get payed whatever the going rate for your skill and what the market demand is. Heart surgeons are in short supply and are very skilled. Warehouse operatives are in surplus and can be replaced almost daily. Put yourself on the scale of skill and demand and be brutal with yourself. What is your current market position?

So how do you go about becoming the metaphorical heart surgeon of your field? Firstly you need to understand value and its relative nature. Everything has a value, however small or seemingly irrelevant. Like the saying goes, “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”. What you think might be useless might be useful to someone else. Understanding what the ‘other person’ wants is the key to adding value.

Value can be subjective, but if it is coupled with insight, experience and evidence it is undeniable. You want the final idea and piece of ‘value’ to be objective though. By doing so, you further demonstrate your ability and knowledge.

The aim of adding value is to draw people to a new idea or a way of thinking that is beneficial to them or the company’s bottom line. It could be to solve a problem the company has been experiencing, it could solve a problem that the company didn’t even know it had! These ‘pain points’ and areas in friction, might have solutions. You may be the person who recognises and resolves them!

A word to the wise, don’t share your idea or logical insights with your colleagues, someone always takes them and claims them, or drops you in hot water by making out you were bad-mouthing the hierarchy, going against the grain and/or shedding light on their woeful managerial skills – This is coming from experience… 

                                Read – How Do I Gain Credibility

The key to adding value is learning how to communicate effectively. Be clear in every point of your talk. If you don’t, you risk sounding like a complainer or just an old fashioned moron. Use the Lib-Orator approach and cause some HAVOC…

  • Highlight the problem/issue and any analysis used in the process
  • Allocate VALUE(S) by statistical evidence to the problem/issue
  • Volunteer a solution/practice or an entirely new system
  • Outline your new proposals benefits with statistical evidence (tests results)
  • Calculate estimates – Show how much VALUE your new proposal will deliver!

Be sure to field all questions at the end to ensure that no one is scratching their head! The point of causing HAVOC is to demonstrate your abilities, help the company and prove you have a pro-active approach to problem solving and show initiative. This adds value to everyone involved!

Now to use this golden ticket! but how? Well, there are several ways of going about it. You might be doing this by the water-cooler (is that still a thing?) or more likely, in the conference room or bosses office. Either way, stick to this format and you will be able to deliver your piece with total confidence like the true professional you are!

Like always, feel free to drop us a comment and Follow the Lib-Orator Blog for more.

A Fear of Public Speaking? 

Is it really a ‘Fear’?

A lot of people can relate, over 50% of the UK and US to be more precise. Speaking in front of people can be a daunting and uneasy affair.

Now you know that you are not alone. Even I still get cagey leading up to a talk. So it is easy to see why people sometimes lose control of their natural aversion. A natural aversion can become a fear without warning. That’s all that it is, an aversion. We just take it to an unhealthy level. So how do we grasp, identify, break and then reprogramme our minds?
Here is what we will cover in this post.

  • Understanding Fear

  • Framing Our Aversion

  • Breaking Down Our Aversion

  • Building A New System

Understanding Fear

A lot of people ‘fear public speaking’ apparently. A lot of mentors and coaches have products and systems that sell you the ‘silver bullet’ with offers like -“Overcome your fear of public speaking with our one week course”. Overcoming a fear is not a simple fix that takes a week or can be solved by a one day workshop. Genuine fears are things that are deep rooted and often stem from traumatic events in the past.

These boulders in a persons mind can’t be ‘blasted out’. They need to be chipped away with a pick-axe, with consistency and patience over time. We don’t sell silver bullets or quick fixes here. If you want to up your game, you have to work at it.

While 1% of us may have a genuine old fashioned Phobia of public speaking. 99% of us just have a plain and simple healthy aversion to it. As the Oxford Dictionary states, FEAR is –  An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

Fear is a response, and automatic sensor suite if you will. A suite designed to protect you from the aforementioned threats stated above. Ironically, as good as our evolved brains and bodies are at getting us out of the path of danger and jeopardy. They also get us off the path of success and recognition.

How many times have you kicked yourself for not answering a question? Held yourself back from saying what everyone was thinking only to see someone else get the praise? In trying to keep us safe and secure in our safe zone, our nervous system actually holds us back from the success and credit we deserve.

We internalise emotions. Our stress levels and heart-rate increase. Whether in a conference room, under pressure to deliver. Or on a backstreet being held at knife point for your personal possessions. To your brain, you have found yourself in a situation you do not want to be in and so a “fight or flight” instinct triggers. It begins to take control of your body, kind of like a master override switch. Once switched, the system then has one purpose. SURVIVE.

In a conference room, you are not at knife point and no one is threatening you. But your brain does not distinguish between scenarios. It has emotions to feed it’s sensors. Your brain has it’s wires crossed and needs to be reigned in!

We have to turn the SURVIVE switch off. Then in it’s place, we build a new switch. One that YOU control and turn on when YOU need it. One that makes you THRIVE.

Framing Our Aversion

Now we know what fear actually is, we can go about framing our own aversion of public speaking. Fear is not a factor. Aversions are what keep you out of discomforts. An aversion is a dislike or a disinclination to do something. For example, a lot of people don’t like Sushi. I.e. They have an aversion to it.

Public speaking is the same, we are averse to it. But if we try both, continue to sample and test small bits. We learn to appreciate and understand the thing in question. For example, I like Sushi and hate wasabi. I like to speak on scientific topics and I am terrible at Improv/Comedy. We learn about each new thing and its nuances, at the same time learning about ourselves.

Once you can identify ‘aversions’ in your life. You will quickly be able to identify between a simple dislike and avoidance. Maybe you don’t like pork but still eat beef. Cats but not dogs. You get my drift…

Logically you can now frame public speaking and your aversion to it. Go deeper still and get into the weeds of it. I wasn’t averse to standing in front of people but I was painfully worried about getting facts wrong, or stammering/stuttering (I had a stutter as a kid). Understand what it is about being in the spotlight that makes your heart skip a beat.

Breaking Down Our Aversion

Breaking down the aversion is simple in essence. we get exposure to it. We take small steps in confidence building. Play to your strengths, use them to accelerate progress. If you are a good listener or love to read. Use those skills to research and absorb new information and techniques, (like you are doing now…).

A Break-through occurs when you consistently make small progress towards goal(s). Turn up and be consistent. This is how empires were built, how rail-roads conquered mountains and why professional success in any field occurs. Progress is progress, no matter how slow or small.

Aim to simply be slightly better than you were yesterday and ensure that you monitor your progress. People generally give up doing or trying something because they fail to notice small progress and see their goal as one huge target in the distance.

Building A New System

Stumbling into greatness does not work. ‘Greatness’ is also a relative term. I.e. what level I consider to be great might be different to what you see. If you are a terrified public speaking, don’t see Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King as the benchmark. It is about building a system in which YOU are the best speaker that you can be. Its not about imitation or replication, anyone can do an unconvincing portrayal of someone else and their style.

Instead, we want to build our own individual and unique style. A system whereby your personality, style and individuality are on show. Be great in your own way. Not by someone else’s barometer of greatness.

A new system does not happen overnight. After all, it takes times and commitment to break down an aversion and change your behaviour to something you are not comfortable doing. So make it about smaller more manageable goals and then work on them. Tiny and consistent progress on the micro level makes huge break-throughs on the macro level.

Focus on grasping and perfecting the fundamentals. Do exercises that build up confidence and muscle memory. The same principles generally apply in breaking down an aversion and then building in its place. You want to make slow and steady progress towards an end state. In this style, you can monitor the smaller details, the nuts and bolts of your grand vision. The Eiffel Tower is amazing. But if someone didn’t work on the nuts and bolts, it would have never of been built.

 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglass – social-reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman

Avoid Becoming A Yes-Man

How Do You Avoid Becoming The Captain’s Parrot?

Everyone is familiar with the image of a Ship’s Captain with a Parrot on his shoulder. The Parrot echoes the Captain, squawking nonsense from the top deck of the ship. That is what I see when working with someone who is unable to think for themselves and just agrees with the companies ideas, policies, etc… They do not rock the boat. Which is fine in most situations, however it shows a lack of drive, imagination, knowledge and initiative.

We have all worked with or know of someone who always seems to take others opinions. Taking their information from the mainstream media without questioning its validity or bias.

Those who generally do not form their own opinions or question the nature of life’s different offerings tend to be easily misinformed, refuted and led. These are the people that you are working alongside and may even find them as your superiors from time to time. A scary thought right?

Something ‘Yes-Man’ don’t have, Read – Credibility – What is it? 

So how do you avoid becoming the Captain’s Parrot? At work for instance, just echoing company rhetoric and always taking the bosses word for it are two prime examples of parroting. A business practice might be unethical, maybe even bordering illegal, the captains parrot will not speak out against his master.

But someone who is informed and knowledgeable will speak out because they don’t just take what they are told as Gospel truth. The quickest and most sure-fire way of avoiding the title of ‘Yes-Man’ is to strive to be informed. From multiple sources. Never rely on a single source when it comes to forming opinions and ideas. Everyone can be guilty of this from time to time. ‘Gossip’ is by far the most dangerous medium for information. Inaccurate, twisted, subjective and nearly always intended to undermine who it pertains to.

I take great pride when someone informs me of gossip pertaining to myself. See it as a barometer of success. The more you achieve, the more people will want to bring you down or dash your efforts.

If your success has afforded you the luxury of having people work for you. Then congratulations. But before you go ahead and pat yourself on the back, look at your talent and take stock of who you have employed. Employing a ‘Yes-Man’ is just as dangerous as being one.

Don’t be the stick in the mud or the party pooper, but always seek to question things. That is how you demonstrate your value and communicate to others you are happy to follow the majority when required but if the moment requires it, you can stand up and inform your peers clearly and concisely on an alternative idea.

“I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job”. – Samuel Goldwyn – American Film Producer