How To Make Yourself Instantly More Valuable

The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is 4.2%, 6.2% in Canada, 4.3% in the U.K., and 5.5% in Australia. Employment is considered to be at “full-employment” when the unemployment rate is at 6%. At this level, most people who want to work, have a job. At 4.2% unemployment in the U.S., companies are struggling to fill open positions with the best candidates. It is common practice for companies to poach the best talent from the competition. Making yourself valuable to your current employer may also attract the attention of other employers. Your ability to communicate effectively will give you options. If you are not currently satisfied with your work environment, learning to communicate with power and influence can help you interview more effectively and improve your upward mobility.

Communicate With Power & Influence

Learning the art of communicating with power and influence will pay big dividends in your career and life. Much of what you as a leader, manager, or project manager do requires the support of your teams, and support from cross-functional teams. In today’s workplace there is a premium on collaboration. Managers that can do it well will find their services in greater demand and their responsibility and earning power increasing. Communicating with power and influence can help you advance in your career, earn more money, effectively navigate conflict, and get buy-in for your ideas.

I graduated with a master’s degree in economics in 1992. I remember having little initial success in my job hunt. As I felt less and less confident, it hurt my chances for several opportunities. I remember interviewing with Mark, the Vice President of the International Division of Franklin Covey. He asked me how much I was worth. I was so beat up I said the minimum I would take was $30,000/yr. He said if I was not worth $100k why would he hire me? If I had learned to speak more powerfully and feel more confident in the moment, the outcome might have been different. Instead, I actually started to cry in the interview. Mark had compassion on me and encouraged me. Though I never worked for the company, we became friends and we are still in touch 25 years later.

After this experience, I was hired by an international public company and I soon became the vice president of operations. As part of the hiring process, I was taken on a trip together with my wife to see the site of a future project development. My experience is that my behavior and ability to communicate was under the microscope. With my wife by my side my confidence was high. When the CEO trusted that I had the character and qualities necessary secure the support of the shareholders, I was offered the job.

Trust Me, This Is Important

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, says that when people meet you they instantly judge if they can 1. trust and 2. respect you. Psychologists describe these two factors as warmth and competence. While most business professionals and certainly job seekers believe respect and competence rule, Ms. Cuddy argues that trust must come first. Of course competence is a prerequisite for any job. Let’s call it a ‘pay to play’ or threshold requirement. If we are not trusted, we may never have the opportunity to demonstrate our competence. It is not just what we do and say that matters, but how we do it and how we say it that matters today. It is not merely style over substance. Substance is required. But substance with no style is often a non-starter. To emphasize this point, HR.com reports that 90% of companies hire for skill, yet 90% fire for behavior. So hiring mangers are getting wiser, your style, your brand, and how you engender trust matters.

Enhance Your Brand

Your brand and how you engender trust are influenced by your communication style. Some people are naturally assertive and controlling. Others are encouraging motivators who appreciate recognition. Some are naturally supportive and avoid confrontation. Finally, some prefer accuracy and rules and have a need to be correct in everything they do and say. Knowing your natural communication style will help you manage your brand. Armed with the knowledge of your natural tendencies, you can begin to enhance your natural style for improved results.

I eventually became a CEO of leadership training development company. Over the years I developed a reputation or ‘brand’ as a manager. I was most interested in people doing what I wanted them to do. To be sure, I wanted their buy-in, but if I didn’t get it I would bulldoze them. This also showed up at home with my kids. I was more focused on the task than on connection. I was not getting the results I wanted. I decided to change my brand. I worked hard at changing my natural style to become more empowering and motivating. I worked with coaches and mentors to help me improve. I have become a personal and executive coach. My experiences have been a powerful catalyst in my life and the life of my clients.

You May Be Creating Your Own Problems

In the workplace, it is common for managers to create problems with their employees based on their individual communication and leadership styles. One way managers create their own problems is by controlling employee behavior instead empowering them to solve their own problems. When we have problems with our employees, what do we usually do? Tell them to fix it. Sometimes we tell them how to fix it. Usually how we would fix it. The problem with that approach is if they are not fully in agreement with your idea and it doesn’t work, they blame you!

Take the first step to understand and improve your communication style. Find an effective behavioral survey. I have used many and I recommend the ProScan for accuracy. Take the survey here and schedule a brief initial consultation today! This awareness will instantly make you more valuable. Armed with this information you will be able to immediately make adjustments to enhance your natural communication style.

Improving you are ability to communicate with power and influence has many components. This is just the first article of many on the topic.

Related topics: How To Make a Stronger ImpressionLeadership Is About Impact Not Intention, What Is Innattentional Blindness Costing You? How Asking Questions Strengthens Your TeamWhen Being Too Smart Hurts You,

The Author, Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC

How To Make A Stronger Impression

One thing you are doing is hurting your efforts to make a strong impression in sales, networking, or job hunting. This one simple change will improve your approach.

Have you ever wanted to make a stronger impression? Either during a job interview, landing a new account, on a first date, making a speech or presentation or networking? If you are like me you want to put your best foot forward in these situations. You want to let a potential employer know why you are the best person for the job. You review all your skills and abilities, which you believe to be a perfect match. You let the potential client know how knowledgeable you are about the product. You believe this will motivate them to buy from you.

For example, This past week, I was working with a leadership group to help them improve alignment and communication. The topic came up of “trust versus competence.” I asked the team, which they thought, was more important in their working relationships. The newest member of the team, (just five days), eager to demonstrate his knowledge and skill to the rest of the team, said “competence” without hesitation. He explained that he “had” to know the people he worked with knew what they were doing. Throughout the meeting he took opportunities to explain his competence. He thought he was proving his worth. Not true.

Also, I was recently at a networking event. Most people I know go to networking events to meet new contacts and gain potential clients. Some people go just to be with friends. Others seem to take the networking challenge seriously. I had two very different interactions with people that evening. At one point, I was sitting with an acquaintance having a serious conversation about the Hubspot marketing approach (Stop interrupting. Start connecting.). During our conversation, the hostess interrupted and asked for our attention. During this time when we were being polite to our host, a man walked up and thrust his cards at us informing us if we should every need a personal injury lawyer he was the one to call. The irony was not lost on us. I kept the card as a reminder to never call.

I was introduced to several other people who immediately began to tell me why I should use their services or expertise. These people only seemed to be interested in what they had to say or sell. They wanted me to respect their competence. You may ask, isn’t that what you are supposed to do at a networking event? Yes and no. Let me explain by sharing another experience at the same networking event. The event was held on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay in the House of Blues Foundation Room, Las Vegas. There was an open deck where you could look out over the city. I was standing by the edge admiring the view when I noticed two ladies gingerly approaching the railing. I let them know I would make sure they would not fall. We started a conversation and learned about each other’s families and professions. We started to involve other people in our conversation, which was fun and full of energy. Only after getting to know them a little did the discussion turn to business. Because of their interest, I offered to give a brief demonstration of what I do for my clients. We exchanged cards and moved on to other conversations. Of all the people I met, these are ones I was most interested in following up with.

I have always believed developing relationships is key to successful outcomes. I believe most people are more comfortable working with someone they trust and someone they know. They prefer someone who has their best interest at heart, rather than someone who is merely competent. Harvard Psychologist, Amy Cuddy, argues that when people meet you, they judge if they can trust and respect you. She says most people believe it is more important to be respected than trusted. That is why they spend so much time convincing others how smart, reliable, effective, capable, eligible, and competent they are.

Of course it is a given you must be competent. If you are not, you will soon be found out and lose the opportunity you hoped for. Amy Cuddy suggests it is more important to be trusted first, based on my experiences, I agree. Once someone trusts you, then you can demonstrate your competence. Then you can make the impression you desire.

Suggestions to build trust and make a stronger impression:

  1. Get to know others:

    Ask questions about their interests, hobbies, family and business. Learn what is important to them. Be courteous and polite. Be present and give them all your attention.

  2. Smile:

    Make good eye contact, be interested, shake hands firmly.

  3. Be relaxed:

    Avoid nervous habits like jangling keys or coins in your pocket, touching your face or hair, fidgeting, etc. Have your hands relaxed at your side when listening. Use some gestures with open hands when talking.

  4. Be a tease:

    When someone asks what you do, be brief. I believe the 30 second elevator speech is too long. Can you explain what you do in 10-15 seconds? Tease them by giving just enough information that you leave them wanting more. Think of this conversation as a first date. Leave more to be discovered. If they are interested, they will ask further questions. Show restraint with your additional answers.

  5. Be indispensable:

    Be willing to offer your services or expertise for free as an audition. Let people know you are willing to help. This builds trust and helps other’s quickly discover your competence. Most reasonable people do not expect free services in perpetuity. The sample should just be enough to encourage a formal business agreement. Be willing to start small before you propose all your goods and services. Remember, build trust, and then you will become indispensable.

  6. Use a wingman:

    Have others introduce you or talk about what you do. Third party endorsements add credibility. Be sure to return the favor.

  7. Be of service:

    Help people anyway you can. I introduce my clients to each other all the time. I have construction clients whose services I don’t personally need. I introduce them to my other clients who do. Interestingly, I only introduce my clients who I trust to my other clients. I feel making the introduction reflects on me. So again, trust comes first.

  8. Be aware:

    Learn how your behavioral traits may be helping or hurting you. For example: A highly extroverted person may have a compulsive need to be heard and speak leaving little time to listen to others. They can also get bored if the conversation is too serious. A high dominant person may want to get to the point too quickly or may be thinking about what they want to say next instead of listening. A highly patient person may be too accommodating of others and miss an opportunity. Their quiet approach may be perceived as weakness by more intense personalities. A high conforming person may look at things pessimistically, bury people with facts, can be closed-minded and have a fear of embarrassment. Awareness of your tendencies will go a long way to help you make a stronger impression.

As a business owner, I am constantly in the market to buy goods and services. I also want to hire the best candidates. I prefer to buy from those people I know and trust. I also prefer to hire people I feel would be a great with our organization. Sure they need to be competent, but if I don’t trust they are a great fit with our current team, it doesn’t matter how smart or competent they are. I would rather have a better cultural fit and train for the skills I need. It is harder to find someone that understands how to build trust than it is to find someone who is ready to tell you all they know.

Related topics: What Is Innattentional Blindness Costing You? How Asking Questions Strengthens Your TeamAct As If…Today, When Being Too Smart Hurts You, 5 Suggestions To Achieve Your Dreams.

The Author, Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC

How Asking Questions Strengthens Your Team

Effective Questions Help You Motivate, Coach, Mentor, Challenge, Engage, Discover, Understand and Improve

So often leaders feel they need to tell their employees what to do and answer all their questions. This can cause them to miss valuable opportunities to help teach and develop their people. By asking your people to come up with their own solutions, you let them struggle which causes greater learning and learning retention.  By asking questions and for input in meetings and on proposed initiatives, you get great feedback which may improve outcomes and avoid mistakes. You also increase engagement. Telling people what to do causes them to be less engaged. If what you tell them does not work and they are not bought in, they blame the leader instead of taking ownership.  Asking questions helps reduce emotions during conflict and challenging conversations by engaging the logic center of your brain. Learning the art of effective open ended questioning will help you be a more effective leader. Take time to learn this skill today!

Another really effective tool for getting the information you need is “help me understand…” or “please give me a specific example…” You can ask about thought process, how confident some is about a decision, how they made a decision, or why they took a specific action, etc. This is especially helpful when you are frustrated with someone and you want to ask “why did you do that?” Instead, take a calm and curious approach. You may find the the decision or action was exactly what was called for and you will maintain a professionalism the ensures the confidence and trust of your team.

10 Stress Reducing Habits

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress.

Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.

  1. Talk with family and friends.A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.

    Regular physical activity relieves mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Go walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.

  3. Accept the things you cannot change.

    Don’t say, “I’m too old.” You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.

  4. Remember to laugh.

    Laughter makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you’re alone.

  5. Give up the bad habits.

    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now.

  6. Slow down.

    Go for “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.

  7. Get enough sleep.

    Get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression (See other 9 steps). Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.

  8. Get organized.

    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.

  9. Practice giving back.

    Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you.

  10. Worry less.

    The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time.