Posts filed under ‘Leadership Communication’

A Subtle Reminder of the Significance of Soft Skills

By Lauren Moody

We must not underestimate the importance of communication. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Heading into the internship with no corporate background, I did not know what to expect. However, as soon as I figured out how the company’s complex matrix worked and the communication style it used, everything seemed to gel much quicker. Every company is different, and one must research its communication style based on its website and by interacting with its employees via LinkedIn or information sessions. This post provides insights to communicating in a corporate environment and highlights the importance of: listening, thinking, and speaking, working with a team, and adapting to every environment.

In today’s business world, we rely on the ability to understand numbers and obtain a multifaceted number of technological skills, but people often underestimate the power of soft skills. Soft skills are personal characteristics that enable someone to connect with others in an effective way. They are everyday activities in a work setting, ranging from sending a clear and concise email to presenting in front of a board room or a crowd. The way one communicates affects how others perceive their information and determines whether their message is delivered in the most coherent fashion. According to a Harvard research study, 85 percent of job success comes from having the soft skills necessary to relate to others, whereas only 15 percent comes from hard skills such as technical and knowledge.

Listen, Think, Speak

Something that we often overlook: listening is the key to holding a relatable conversation. Listening is more than hearing something, it’s being able to understand and interpret what that person is saying. In every setting, listening enables us to understand people’s need and wants. In fact, good listening leads to overall business success, from employee and customer satisfaction to more creativity. It is an engaging process, as the listener utilizes both verbal and nonverbal body language to portray their concentration and interest in the speaker.

Maximize Your Ability to Work with a Team

As the world’s leading sports athletic wear company, Nike emphasizes teamwork throughout every department. Every work setting requires the ability to work with others. During the summer, I had the opportunity to listen to Stephanie Strack, Vice President of Nike Express Lane, and she said the ability to bring out the best in others is a crucial requirement to success. In order to do this, you must understand others’ needs (through listening) but also through clear communication. While speaking with the Vice President of Global Sales, Mike Best, I learned that he sends a weekly reminder to his teams that clearly outlines their goals. This weekly reminder illustrates both his individual team’s goal and the company’s goal, while also uniting the team towards its common goal

Stay Agile and Adapt

“Stay open. Stay agile and adaptable.” – John Hoke, VP Global Design

In order to maximize your role’s impact, you must be able to conform to each role and task you are faced with. Things may not always go as planned, and you define yourself by how you react to each situation. A workplace makes changes rapidly and requires its workers to adopt the same mentality. Whether encountering a new update in technology or relaying a difficult message, understand what requirements are necessary and take the most appropriate approach.

Despite all the technological innovations of today, we must remember the importance of personal interactions and relationships are necessary. With practice, you will see overall improvements in your career and personal life. Prioritize listening in order to understand others, leading to better team work, and remain adaptable to every situation. What may seem small ultimately plays a large importance and determines the strength of your impact.

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November 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Optimizing Communication in the Workplace: A Guide for Young Professionals

By Aaron Arvizu-Arguelles

Don’t text and drive. Keep your cellphone screen off at the movie theater. Apply silent mode to your cellphone when listening to a presentation. Don’t speak too loudly at church. Throughout your life, you have learned proper communication etiquette that allows you to have functioning social and personal relationships. Now, as you leave the comfort of your university’s zip code and enter the workforce, you must have a firm grasp of effective communication in the workplace. This guide presents a theory, its practice, and importance.

Strategizing early and often will lead to improvement

If you do play or have ever played sports, you probably had a coach who taught you the fundamentals in order for you to get acquainted with the activity. This coach or mentor, however, was not ubiquitous during all practices and games. His or her aim
was to get you to understand a particular process so that you could perform it on your own and self-improve based on your execution. This idea of learning, iterating, and improving is what drives the habit of continually refining communication skills ppvin the workplace. Allow me to tell you a story – In ninth grade, after an altercation with a student, I had the opportunity of speaking with the school’s intimidating vice principal. The interaction taught me how to properly introduce myself to those in positions of authority and when to speak. As the tall, lanky middle-aged vice principal listened to my side of the story, he nodded his head while firmly holding a clipboard to his chest. He interrupted me before I could finish, yet I attempted to continue. The interruption had apparently meant my turn to speak was over and his began. As I walked away from the conversation, I thought about student-faculty communication. Through experience, I learned to add these skills – ceding word to superiors and exhibiting patience – to my communication arsenal and use them in the future. For example, when I encountered similar authority figures, such as vice principals, I knew how to handle myself. The Preparation, Importance, and Versatility (PPV) strategy to effective communication in the workplace requires you to use the same intuition because you must perpetually develop communication skills as your career develops.

How does PPV work?

Preparation, Poise, and Versatility (PPV) intends to establish a habit in your routine. This habit starts with the art of preparation. As a young professional, opportunities to communicate with colleagues, management, and customers, are incredibly diverse. As such, you must always be ready for what your day presents. Let’s assume you’re taking part in a department-wide meeting which features a regional director.

  • Preparation: This meeting could present various communication opportunities, such as a quick introduction and handshake or a cold call in the middle of the presentation, requiring you to present a well-formed response. As you prepare for this meeting, emphasize all conceivable avenues of communication with the regional director and other attendees. Specifically, researching the director’s educational and professional backgrounds, as well as his contributions to the current company project, may be helpful in establishing rapport with him. Other examples of preparation for this meeting could include: 1) researching cultural background of regional director, 2) preparing a response to documents sent to attendees before the meeting, and 3) composing a plan that solves the problem at hand.
  • Poise: I have heard the following from multiple men and women: confidence is the most attractive feature in a partner. You don’t want to seem nervous or out-of-control during a first date, right? Likewise, you must hold your physical and mental composure when communicating in the workplace. As a young professional, a disposition with heavy doses of evident self-assurance enables you to demonstrate strong communication skills. Using the above example, when attending the meeting, remain mentally prepared for the potential encounter with the director so that you’re not caught off guard. During the encounter, follow proper professional etiquette and have the belief that you are the most important person in the room as you speak. This does not mean to display arrogance–rather demonstrate comfort with the situation and willingness to participate in challenging professional scenarios.
  • Versatility: Every opportunity to communicate in the workplace as a young professional is different. As such, you must be willing to adapt to each scenario and apply different communication strategies. The above mentioned meeting is ambiguous in that you’re not aware of the director’s expectations. If he or she wishes to see the quick-thinking of his recent hires, he or she may instruct you to lead the meeting. In this case, you must be flexible and adapt to the situation, understanding how you must use what you have prepared or how you may need to adjust prepared material. Flexibility when dealing with a communication opportunity allows you to successfully accomplish job objects while validating your credentials as a worthy employee.

Why should this matter to you?

The transition from academic to professional life poses various challenges with differing solutions. Figuring out how to communicate effectively enables a young professional to effectively launch a successful career. That is, as you start to move up the corporate ladder, differentiating your skills and results will propel you to new heights. If you’re able to display a robust competence in communicating with others through any medium and under any circumstance, your peers will have a more positive perspective of your abilities and reputation.

PPV relies on self-awareness and self-motivation. Assuming you don’t have Barack Obama’s orating skills or Kevin Spacey’s quick-thinking, you can always improve your communication effectiveness. PPV implores young professionals to exhaust preparation for potential communication opportunities to: 1) better display knowledge of the subject to others and 2) feel more comfortable and be poised. Preparation facilitates the idea of poise and versatility. After a particular communication opportunity, such as meeting with your regional director or giving an elevator speech to your manager, you must use the results and feedback from the encounter and use them when preparing for another opportunity. The repetition of this process catalyzes positive habits in your routine when communicating in the workplace.

December 7, 2016 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

5 Powerful Ways to Turn Introverts into Top Performers

By Joe Pantuso

Throughout my life, I’ve heard others talk about introverts in a negative manner, speaking as though something is wrong with them: Why does he need so much alone time? Why is she so quiet? What are you always thinking about when you stare off into the distance rather than talking to me? What’s wrong with you?

There’s a one in three chance you’re an introvert. I am an introvert.

Introverts play an important role in our world; however, because we live in an extrovert’s world—loud, confidence-led—you might not even know what it means to be an introvert. You might think you’re alone in an introverted existence. You might even think of introversion as a hindrance, which is just not true.

Introverts like to keep a low profile. We’re often quiet, but not all of us are shy. We may avoid anything that remotely approaches conflict. However, introverts possess positive qualities that make us valuable employees. We like to think through things before we take action. We’re analytical by nature, and we listen to understand. We actually do enjoy social interaction and attention, but in a way that is different from extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from large social gatherings, while introverts prefer smaller settings.

Being an introvert has advantages. For example, in classroom discussions, I am engaged but slow to contribute. I hesitate because I want people to think that I have thought through my responses before speaking. As a result, when I do participate, my contributions are typically both accurate and valuable.

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, up to 50 percent of all employees are introverts. Susan has started a movement called The Quiet Revolution, which celebrates and empowers introverts to embrace their quiet power. As a business leader, you ought to enable the full potential of all your employees. Leaders must ensure introverts that they have opportunities to become top performers and that they won’t be ignored in favor of their louder, more extroverted counterparts.

quietSusan Cain’s Quiet Leadership Institute helps companies and organizations empower their introverted employees by training both introverts and extroverts to communicate in a way that enhances everyone’s ability to work together. This research inspired me to create the Q.U.I.E.T. guidelines to address the needs of introverted employees.

Qualify interruptions. Reducing unnecessary interruptions will help introverted employees consistently perform at higher levels. Distractions overwhelm introverts, who are sensitive to interruptions. In the workplace, interruptions are frequent. Workers may take up to 25 minutes to get back on track when interrupted. Try to avoid interrupting your employees’ workflows unless absolutely necessary and encourage your people to avoid interrupting one another.

As an introvert, I understand the correlation between distractions and performance. I lose focus and patience when interrupted. Disruptions cause me to become irritated and aggravated, and, as a result, I become less efficient.

Utilize quiet space. According to research, 90 percent of workers say they need quiet, private places to do their work; however, more than 40 percent of workers report that they don’t have them in their workplaces. Employees, especially introverted ones, struggle to focus when the environment is noisy or coworkers are loud and rowdy. Help improve performance by providing quiet work areas where introverts can easily focus without distractions.

Today, open-plan offices are common in business. The open-office model promotes large open spaces, shared work areas, and few private offices. Despite their popularity, open-plan offices create huge problems by making work difficult for introverts. The environment damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. This trend is negatively impacting the workplace.

Implement environment controls. Introverted employees are sensitive to their surroundings, and, therefore, must be able to control their environment. Noise, light, and the temperature are external factors that may affect introverts. When possible, allow introverts to change or modify their environment. Examples include light dimmers or desk lamps and thermostats or windows that open.

Establish a safe place. Establish a psychologically safe place to work for introverts. Open-office environments are not ideal for introverts because these environments tend to make them feel like the center of attention. Introverts may think that their coworkers are scrutinizing them. This scrutiny makes them anxious and uncomfortable and reduces their ability to focus and be productive. One must provide work places where others cannot constantly observe and scrutinize introverts.

I understand the value of a safe and private place to work. When I perceive others judging me, I feel self-conscious. This perception is a distraction that creates anxiety, reducing my performance and limiting my productivity.

Tolerate independence. Introverted employees work differently than extroverted ones and often need solitude during the workday. Give them permission to be alone. Solitude helps them to think more thoroughly and focus more intently on their work while mentally preparing for social interactions with customers, vendors, and coworkers. Allow introverts alone time without fear of penalty so they can function effectively.

Society expects everyone to speak up, compare experiences, and to socialize. These interactions can be difficult for introverts, who would rather spend their time alone. There is no shame in preferring solitude to socializing. We can only truly be ourselves when we’re behaving our natural way.

October 30, 2016 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

Persuasion: The Art of Selling

By Lucas Grabbe

Do you believe you are an effective salesperson?  No matter the area of business, everyone will have to sell, whether it is a product or service or a pitch to your boss. The ability to sell is one of the most important business skills. Ben Carlson of Business Insider argues that it is also one of the most overlooked skills in today’s business schools.

When you speak to an audience, your purpose can be to perform, persuade, or build a relationship of trust. This past year, I sold Carolina Hurricanes tickets for one of my classes. For those of you who don’t know, the Carolina Hurricanes are one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League, making selling tickets extremely difficult. I found that the best way to sell was to persuade. In sales, persuasion is necessary and accomplishable in a number of ways. Learning how to effectively persuade will help you become a better salesperson.

What is Persuasion?

The goal of persuasion is to change what others believe or to entice them to take action. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined rhetoric as three different appeals:

  • Ethos – appeal to ethics, image, or credibility
  • Logos – appeal to logic
  • Pathos – appeal to passion or emotion

Depending on the situation, you may want to use one or a combination of these appeals. Say you are pitching a stock to your boss, you could use logos to show past trends in the market and ethos to show the credibility of the company. Or if you are advertising a product, you may want to appeal to someone’s emotions.

Seven Tools of Persuasion

The following are seven different tools the Kenan-Flagler Business Communication Center provides for making persuasive appeals. Here’s how you can adapt them for selling:Seven Persuasive Tools

  • Statistics – providing numbers works well because 70 percent of people value quantifiable information to understand their environment
  • History – giving past examples provides the buyer a basis for making a more informed decision
  • Analogy – comparing  products, services, or pitches to a known idea can be very effective for making a sale
  • Example – persuading through illustration enables the seller to portray that his or her product or service is superior to another
  • Comparison and Contrast – comparing and/or contrasting what is sold or pitched to a similar product, service, or idea strengthens the argument to purchase or accept
  • Consequences – demonstrating what will occur if you do or do not buy or sell an item provides reasoning to make the purchase or accept the idea
  • Authority – supporting with a credible source of authority can make the task of selling easier

You can use these tactics in a variety of ways depending on the situation. To make your sales pitch even stronger, you may consider using many of these techniques. Many of these tools are fantastic ways to hook the buyer as well. For instance, if you are trying to obtain funds for a start-up company, an endorsement from leaders in the industry would help convince people to invest. Personally, I found that history was extremely effective in my sales experience because the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup less than 10 years ago.

To conclude, business students don’t always receive formal teaching of how to sell. At Kenan-Flagler, we are fortunate that our professors provide us with strategies to make our next sale. Therefore, I am happy to share a few tips that I have learned along the way. When making your next sale, try utilizing one or more of these seven persuasive tools in accordance with Aristotle’s appeals.

Happy selling!

November 22, 2015 at 9:30 pm 2 comments

Setting Goals and Achieving Your True Potential

By Blake Messerly

I’m an ambitious person, and I have been for the most of my life. Because of that, I’ve been setting goals for myself since a young age so I always had something to work towards. My goals gave me a reason to work harder, especially during those times when I wanted to give up.

Admittedly, over the years I’ve done a better job at achieving some of my goals compared to others, but I did manage to achieve what I would consider the biggest, and perhaps toughest, goal of my life: Gaining acceptance into UNC-Chapel Hill as an out-of-state student. And since achieving that goal, I haven’t slowed down in working hard to try to set the mark even higher and do all I can to reach it.

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned through my successes and failures in setting and achieving goals by covering the importance of goals, the S.M.A.R.T. goal method, as well as a couple other useful tips.

Why Goals Are Important 

By setting a goal, you help give yourself a future trajectory on which you can work. As a point of reference, a goal enables you to effectively track where you stand and compare that to where you want to go. You must first determine with yourself what you want – once you do that you can then effectively communicate that goal with others and position yourself so you can best achieve it.

For me, I set my goal of gaining acceptance to UNC early – in the sixth grade after I drove through Chapel Hill for the first time. By setting this goal early, I motivated myself to work hard throughout middle and high school. My parents knew what I was working towards and helped support me in all of my endeavors. More importantly, my goal helped keep things in perspective. As soon as I became a junior in high school, my mailbox became flooded with emails and brochures from other colleges and university. Even as this happened though, I kept my focus on UNC and ultimately gained acceptance my senior year of high school.

While colleges likely will not be recruiting you in the business setting, you will likely face several other distractions such as phone calls from headhunters or an inbox full of emails with pressing needs. Having set a concrete goal related to your career or even the current task at hand will help you remain focused, even if you do have to divert your attention for a little while to handle other issues.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

By making sure you set S.M.A.R.T. goals, you set yourself up for greater chances of actually achieving that goal.Messerly%2c Blake 401 Final Blog Visual (1) This method of goal setting has proven successful and has been used in various settings such as organizational behavior or health and fitness. Each letter of this acronym stands for:

Specific: Your goal needs to clearly define what you are trying to achieve. Specificity helps prevent you from bailing out later on your original goal to say that you “more or less” achieved it when it really wasn’t what you aimed to achieve initially.

Example: I want to maintain 100% accuracy in all of the financial figures I present to the client.

Measurable: Make your goals concrete so you can both measure your progress as you go and know when you fully achieve it. If you set a vague goal, you have no way of knowing when you achieve it.

Example: I want to receive a grade of “Above Average” on at least three of the five categories on our next performance review.

Attainable: You need to be able to realistically achieve the goal that you set. If the goal isn’t realistic, then why did you set that goal in the first place?

Example: I want to arrive to work on time every day this week, leaving early if necessary to account for traffic.

Relevant: Your goal needs to be pertinent to what you want to achieve. The goal should focus on measuring outcomes as opposed to activities.

Example: I want to implement our new employee expense tracking system by Sunday so we can better track how much money our employees are spending.

Time-Bound: By connecting your goal to a timeframe, you give yourself a hard deadline by which you can achieve your goal. This provides a sense of urgency and helps give you an understanding of how much time lies between now and when you hope to achieve that goal so you can budget your time appropriately. You can even set up a couple smaller dates before the larger deadline to help hold yourself accountable and make sure you stay on track.

Example: I will set up a meeting with my manager by this Thursday to discuss my performance on the current project and to find out how I can further improve.

Other Tips

Setting the goal is just the first step – you must effectively follow through if you hope to achieve it. Communication becomes a key part in this, both communicating with others to help hold you accountable as well as communicating with yourself so you can honestly appraise your progress. Several related factors that contribute to success in achieving those goals. Some of these include:

  • Have an Accountability Partner – A recent study by Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University showed that those who gave weekly updates to a friend on their progress towards achieving a goal were much more likely to achieve their goals as opposed to those who did not. If you can effectively communicate your goals and your motivations for achieving those specific goals with someone else, he or she will be able to hold you more accountable to achieving them. Perhaps you can even convince them to become a stakeholder in the goal themselves and further increase your motivation to achieve it.
  • Write Your Goals Down – By writing something down, you’re more likely to commit that idea to memory. More importantly, writing your goal down gives you something tangible to look at. As a high school freshman I created a list of five goals I wanted to achieve by the time I had graduated. I wrote them on a piece of paper which I folded and kept in my wallet so I’d have it on me at all times to remind me over the course of my four years. Whatever method you choose to use, make sure you clearly articulate your goals so you leave no room for interpretation.
  • Have Consequences – Have a contingency plan in case you don’t achieve your goal. By creating this plan, you can potentially motivate yourself even more to achieve it on time. For example, if you don’t finish your part for the final client deliverable, you will likely face severe consequences from your manager.
  • Break Larger Goals into Smaller Ones – Putting a large final deliverable on your to-do list as your goal isn’t effective, as you likely won’t complete it for several weeks. While that may be the final goal, breaking that down into smaller segments such as financial analysis and operations implications can help you better manage your time.
  • Revisit and Revise – Revisit your goal frequently – daily, weekly, or as often as necessary. More importantly, revise it as necessary. Just like good communication skills change based on the situation, goals can change sometimes to better fit the current situation so they remain pertinent and attainable. Just make sure not to change it too much to where you sell yourself short and don’t leave yourself with an actual goal to achieve!

By adhering to some of these key principles, I’ve managed to find success in my college career and, hopefully, can continue to see that success in my professional career after graduation. Best of luck in setting and hopefully achieving all of your future goals!

November 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm 3 comments

5 Tips for Women to be Successful in the Workplace

As told by top executives at the Wells Fargo Women’s Forum 2015

By Allie Halter

Did you know that only 14.6% of executives in companies nationwide are women? More strikingly, did you know that women hold only 4.6% of CEO positions? Why is this the case?  Young women today are starting their careers better educated than their male counterparts. In fact, research shows that companies with more women in executive positions make a 53% greater return on equity and 42% higher return on sales. However, women of all ages are less likely than men to ask for raises or aspire to top management jobs. Is this difference because women leave their careers to care for their families before reaching a top position? Or are women afraid to ask as a result of attitudes towards them in the workplace?Allie

Top women at Wells Fargo, an American multinational banking and financial services holding company, believe that any woman can rise to a top leadership position. I attended the 2015 Wells Fargo Women’s Forum this October and spoke with many women within Wells Fargo who offered tips for rising to the top of an organization based on their own experiences in the business world. Here are the top five tips for reaching the corner office:

Tip #1: Be Accountable. Accountability means saying what you are going to do and doing what you said you would do. Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Treasury Management, Andrea Scalise, said she “makes sure that no matter what [she’s] doing, [she] always demonstrates accountability and responsibility by following through with commitments and showing up as a leader.” Scalise encourages women to set personal goals and be decisive when it comes to career choices. Lastly, Scalise suggests that a large part of success comes from the mistakes you make and the ability to own them, fix them, and prevent them from happening in the future. 

Tip #2: Have Confidence. Danielle Squires, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Securities, recommends that pure confidence ensures success in the business world. Squires mentioned that the gap between men and women in the workplace has closed considerably—but not fast enough. Squires encourages women to step up and be confident in their work because we work just as hard as our male colleagues and can handle the same challenges they can. Further, Squires tells women to “stop questioning our abilities” because we are all capable of the work if we would just have the confidence to know that we are.

Tip #3: Use Effective Communication Skills and Be Self-Aware. In order for women to succeed in the workplace, Suzanne Morrison, Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo, suggests that effective communication skills and self-awareness are absolutely necessary. Morrison explained that we communicate in many different ways. For example, she explained that our body language and even the way we sit play into the idea of needed confidence that Danielle Squires noted. Morrison said that “in general, women take up less space” in a room by the way we sit and stand in comparison to men, which projects a message of insecurity or uncertainty. In order to combat this perception, Morrison suggests that women practice self-awareness by paying close attention to themselves and the people around them. She explains that “listening is a huge part of communication because you take the information communicated to you and communicate back, which enables the building of relationships and problem solving.” In many organizations, the majority of conflict usually stems from a communication breakdown. Morrison encourages all women to “think about whom you’re communicating with and, in turn, how you like to be communicated with” because leaders and employees of all levels value awareness and communication. 

Tip #4: Show Empathy and Honesty. As women, we are often empathetic and can understand what someone else is experiencing. It can be harder for men to show empathy in the workplace. This recommendation to show empathy and honesty at work comes from Linda Redding, Wells Fargo’s National Sales Manager. Redding strongly believes that success in the workplace stems from having the ability to understand where others are coming from, including their position and set goals. She notes that having empathy is one of the “greatest leadership qualities” and encouraged all of the women in the room to “develop the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s place.” Redding also noted that honesty creates value for women in the workplace, not just being honest about all matters concerning your work, but also “being honest with yourself about what you want to do and why you’re doing it.” Redding advised the women attending the forum to “show up every day as your authentic self because being honest with yourself about the traits you bring to the table and not letting other people project traits on to you will make you extremely successful no matter where you work.” 

Tip #5: Strive to be Inspirational and Optimistic. Lastly, always strive to be inspirational and optimistic. Indhira Arrington, the Head of Wholesale Diversity Strategic Recruiting and Programs at Wells Fargo, believes that all women should “reflect the change we wish to see in the world and possess the qualities that allow us to show up and be our best selves every day.” Perhaps the best and most inspiring advice I received at the forum was to “strive to be the person who opens the door and helps the people behind you.” Be optimistic about all situations, attempt to find the silver lining, and always motivate and inspire those around you. After all, being successful in the workplace is about being of service to others and making yourself and someone else better than they thought they could be.

These tips can aid any woman interested in moving up the chain of command at any organization. When working in the business world, always be accountable, be confident in yourself, use effective communication skills and be self-aware, show empathy and honesty, and always strive to be inspirational and optimistic in order to strengthen your chances of success. Women have the power to significantly influence the world of business; we shouldn’t be discouraged or doubt our abilities. When we are younger, we all believe that we will be the President of the United States, but somehow we slowly lose that faith along the way. Why should we? As women, we should raise our hands, have our voices heard, and be confident in our ideas because I believe that women can truly rule the world.

November 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm 18 comments

7 Ways to Get Your Way

By Sam Henderson

Picture this:sam you’re sitting on top of a mountain next to a creek after a long hike with your best friends during Fall Break. The sun is shining, but the crisp fall air means you don’t feel warm. You can’t be happier with how the day is turning out; however, your feelings change once you realize your friends are plotting to push you in the freezing cold creek for a decent chuckle. They have you trapped. You can’t run away, but you need a way out. What to do? You need to persuade your friends that this prank is not a good idea.

So you may not actually be on a mountain about to experience a numbing bath, but you may be in a position to use persuasive techniques. These opportunities include convincing your boss to implement your recommendations or showing why a company should hire you. Business provides countless opportunities for persuasion, and these seven techniques provided by the Kenan-Flagler Business Communication Center will help you capitalize on these opportunities and become more influential.

A Number is Worth 1000 Words

People in business love numbers, so put information in a form your audience enjoys. Statistics enable you to make your point simple and clear, and you can easily convey statistics in visual graphs and charts. Visuals account for 90 percent of total processed information. Just make sure to include where you got the statistic from, for statistics can be easily manipulated and citing your sources provides credibility.

In the boardroom: My proposal for more TV ads and less personal selling could decrease costs by 15 percent.

On the mountain: I read in the mountain’s hiking guide that dangerous rocks surround 70 percent of this creek. Seems like a pretty decent chance of getting injured.

The Rest is History

Studying the past can help solve problems of the present and future. You can use an example from history to argue the effects–whether good or bad–will be the same for your proposal. Historical examples provide hard evidence, which people cannot deny; the key factor is your ability to convince your audience that similar rewards or consequences will occur this time around.

In the boardroom: Urban Outfitters played dumb and denied its Kent State sweatshirt was designed to be offensive, which caused a lot of negative publicity. We should not lie to our customers and make the same mistake.

On the mountain: A couple of years ago, someone I know jumped into this creek and busted his head on a rock.

Bright As Day

An analogy is like introducing your friend to your parents by comparing him or her to another friend your parents already know. Analogies help your audience connect your point with another familiar idea through comparison. An analogy uses information already familiar to your audience so you don’t need to spend as much time introducing your point.

In the boardroom: Our company’s target market of women needs to be more specific since not all women need our products. When looking for someone to date, is gender the only thing that matters to you?

On the mountain: You guys are making me feel like a cat on hot bricks.

Show and Tell

Examples provide details that make your idea appear tangible and plausible. In this post, I’ve provided examples that expand my main point and persuade you to apply these techniques.

In the boardroom: We all agree our office needs to be more sustainable. Let me show you examples of other companies that have improved sustainability, and let’s brainstorm how we can apply these practices to our own building.

On the mountain: Let me show you guys this YouTube video of a guy getting pushed and breaking his leg on a rock.

Apples to Apples

Comparing and contrasting are effective when trying to persuade someone to choose your idea over another. They give you an opportunity to go head-to-head with competing ideas, and your job is to ensure your idea appears better than the others. Make sure the items you are comparing are similar in some way; comparing or contrasting two completely different ideas (apples to oranges) does not work. Comparing and contrasting also provide a great opportunity to use visuals. Venn diagrams and other graphic organizers are attractive and simple for the audience to view, which helps them understand your claim and hopefully agree in the end.

In the boardroom: Project A is a better project to pursue than Project B, for both projects require the same amount of initial costs; however, Project A will provide 40 percent more profit and will last twice as long.

On the mountain: You can push me into this creek and injure me, or you can dump a water bottle full of cold water on me. If you use a water bottle, I still get soaking wet, but I won’t get hurt.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Consequences enable the audience to see the results of not following your advice. Consequences typically create a feeling of fear or dislike for what may happen. You want to affect your audience’s emotions, for emotions often drive decisions and fear is a hard emotion to ignore.

In the boardroom: If we do not update our server to the most advanced version, our competitors that have updated will serve their customers faster and then steal a portion of our customers.

On the mountain: If you push me in this creek, I will probably break something on a rock. If I break something on a rock, you will have to carry me down this mountain and take me to the hospital. You don’t want to take me to the hospital.

Two Heads are Better than One

Especially when the second head is an expert in a specific field. Experts know more about their specific field, which makes their claims difficult to oppose. If an authority supports your idea, utilizing that information strengthens your argument.

In the boardroom: We should invest in Project A since it will increase our profit and now is a great time to invest, for the Wall Street Journal stated in an article yesterday that the cost of capital is at the lowest point this year.

On the mountain: The park ranger told me that we should not jump into this creek because we may get injured.

Whether you’re in the boardroom presenting to your boss or on a mountain persuading your friends to spare you from the cold water, use these seven tools to get your way. Develop your idea and then find areas where you can use persuasive techniques. Doing so will keep you above the competition and out of the creek.

November 26, 2014 at 9:23 am 6 comments

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