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

When Being Too Smart Hurts You

Is being too smart getting in your way of being more effective as a leader?

In his article “Leadership that Gets Results” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2000), Daniel Goleman reported on studies, which rated emotional intelligence as a predictor of success in business as more significant than intelligence and technical skill. He states, “New research suggests that the most effective executives use a collection of distinct leadership styles—each in the right measure, at just the right time. Such flexibility is tough to put into action, but it pays off in performance. And better yet, it can be learned.”

Do you know someone who was a good employee who was promoted to a supervisor or manager and failed at that position? Think about why they were not successful. Typically it is because they lack the skills required to manage people which are different from the skills required to manage a task. How well do you balance your tasks and the people you manage or report to? Balancing tasks and relationships requires emotional intelligence. Our knowledge and technical skill can only take us so far. It is usually what gets us hired. However, it is our emotional intelligence that gets us promoted or fired.

Most of us understand that emotional intelligence is important. We have heard of it, yet just knowing about emotional intelligence does not make us emotionally intelligent. Talent Smart surveyed 500,000 people around the world about their emotional intelligence in business. Only 36% were able to identify their emotions as they happened. This means, most of us are controlled by emotions and are unaware of how to handle them effectively. Perhaps you have worked with some of them, perhaps you are one of them.

Why do so many have low emotional intelligence? I believe it is because we are conditioned to be right. We judge ourselves by how right we are or how smart we are. We are rewarded for being smart, for having the correct answer. Relying only on intelligence and wanting to be right might work if we all worked alone and never with a team.  As a leader, how do you get things done? You get things done through other people’s efforts. You must be aware of how to accomplish goals by creating engagement and teamwork.

There is nothing wrong with intelligence unless it is getting in your way from being an effective leader. The research suggests, the smarter you are, the less effective you may be in a leadership role when you are unaware of the impact of your emotions. It does not matter how smart we are when our emotions take over. Author Malcom Gladwell argues dedication and practice opposed to raw intelligence are the most crucial determinants of success. If you want to improve as a leader, please read, “Cure For The CEO Disease”  Remember, unlike IQ, EQ can be learned.

Improvement takes constant effort. Success to you!

Silence Your Saboteur!

Learn How We Derail Our Goals And Steps To Get Back On Track

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with a personal coach. I learned how I (and others) self-sabotage when working towards our goals. In my initial meetings through various processes, my coach discovered my values and goals in several areas of my life. Subsequently, I would meet with her weekly on the telephone and discuss how I was doing in my business and in my personal life. I would report on my progress toward achieving my various goals. Through this process, I discovered a saboteur that would show up from time to time and stop or slow my progress towards my goals. This saboteur was no foreign or domestic terrorist. This saboteur was grown much closer to home.

I had declared I really wanted to achieve certain financial goals. When I didn’t achieve these goals as expected, I would become frustrated. This caused me to push harder to achieve my goal. You might be thinking, “bravo Spencer, push on!” What I found was the harder I pushed the further I would get from my goal. I would become cranky and curt with co-workers and loved ones. In these moments, my way of being was blocking me from achieving my goals. My coach asked me to give my sabotaging behavior a name so I could recognize it when it showed up.

6292317_std
Captain Insano

The purpose of this exercise was to help me identify my saboteur. I worked to understand what my saboteur would sound like when he talked. I identified his fears and more importantly, his values. I needed to understand how the saboteur’s values would hijack and terrorize my declared values for his values. The name I gave my saboteur was Captain Insano, made famous by Adam Sandler’s “Water Boy”. In the movie, Captain Insano is a wrestler who the Water Boy idolizes. He offers his services to Captain Insano through a nationally televised fan show. When captain Insano learns the Water Boy is 31 years old, he maniacally laughs at him in front of the TV audience. In this moment his vulnerability is exposed, and his hopes and dreams of working with his idol have been sabotaged.Block What you think

After this original inspiration for the name of my saboteur, I learned that the Urban Dictionary defines “Captain Insano” as an individual who may or may not be at fault for their habitual stupidity due to their bi-polar nature and lack of general common sense. My saboteur would show up at vulnerable times and stop me in my tracks. Many of us construct saboteurs as a self-protection mechanism. Most often they protect us in an awkward way. They will say to us, “stay where you are at, it is more comfortable here!” “It is okay to be mediocre because not as many demands and expectations are made of you!” In a relationship, a saboteur might tell us to avoid taking a chance so we won’t get hurt.

When I declared I wanted to write a book. Captain Insano showed up and asks, “what have you got to say that people want read?” He convinces me I am neither interesting nor unique. When I became CEO of a company that had been struggling, I would hear Captain Insano tell me the fight I was experiencing was not one I could win. He said I should just give up and not put myself through unnecessary pain and misery. He told me I deserved to be successful and perhaps that could be achieved elsewhere. He justified for me why it was okay to give up and give in. If you are like me and want to achieve your goals, it is time to stop the saboteur inside your head for good.

Steps to defeat your merciless saboteur:

  1. Identify your saboteur:

    Notice when you feel frustrated, angry, sarcastic, dismissive, afraid, unmotivated or upset. Your specific block to success could be fear of failure, fear of success, conflict avoidance, verbally attacking others, steamrolling others, need to be right, focus on problems, inability to say no, controlling, inflexible, have to work too hard, need to be liked, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, overly skeptical, overly agreeable, analysis paralysis, critical, procrastination and many more. Consider asking someone you trust for help identifying your self-sabotaging behaviors.

  2. Name your saboteur:

    Notice what is happening when the above negative feelings arise. Begin to understand what situations give your saboteur power. Recognizing that you are recognizing will help you regain control of your thoughts and behaviors. Naming your saboteur will help you to not take yourself so seriously and become more objective about your behavior.

  3. Focus on the outcomes of success you have declared:

    When you hear the saboteur talking negatively in your ear, Block focus-on-where-you-want-to-go-not-on-what-you-fearstate the outcome you desire. For example, when Captain Insano tells me no one wants to read or hear what I want to say, I tell myself “people are interested in what I have to say. I have ability to influence people to achieve positive results.” As I focus on these positive statements, I hear the saboteur less and I begin to program my subconscious thoughts to start supporting my goals declared by my conscious thoughts.Block celebrate-what-youve-accomplished-but-raise-the-bar-a-little-higher-each-time-you-succeed-mia-hamm

  4. Celebrate your progress:

    Recognize that you are making improvement. If your saboteur is strong, understand it will take time to defeat and be kind to yourself. You may have years of practice listening to your saboteur. Avoid letting your saboteur talk bad about you. When you start to notice any improvement, it is okay to cheer yourself on. Gain confidence with each small victory and keep moving forward, even after a challenging time where you may have taken a step or two back to your old habits.

  5. Get out of your comfort zone:

    Look for opportunities to get outside of your comfort zone. This is where you will learn new empowering behaviors. Recognize the conversations with your saboteur are designed to keep you in your comfort zone. When that happens, you will not move towards your goals. Do something uncomfortable everyday. Call a new prospect, ask for help that you need, get up and give a presentation, etc.

  6. Breathe:

    When you are frustrated upset or angry, often during these moments you are not breathing effectively and the lack of oxygen encourages your saboteur. Slow down and breath. Oxygen helps Captain Insano fall asleep.

As I have gotten control of my saboteur, my results have dramatically improved. He still shows up from time to time. I am more equipped to deal with him. As a result, I feel much happier and more confident.

Start now to defeat your saboteur. Achieve the success you deserve! If you feel you are getting stuck, work with an expert who can help you, do it today! Remember…Block insanoThe author Spencer Horn, is President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. You may also enjoy these additional articles: “The Help You Need To Achieve Your Resolutions”,“The Power of Accountability;” “Act As If Today”

Sharpen Emotional Intelligence By Observing Others

My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

One strategy to increase emotional intelligence is to observe behavior in other people. I have found two places that I enjoy watching behaviors in people. One is in films and the other is at airports. Movies and television are a good place for me to identify behaviors that I recognize in myself. It seems that behaviors are often exaggerated for effect. This helps me  identify how people react under pressure. Then I can practice identifying behavior triggers that might affect me. I notice that I get uncomfortable in awkward or tense situations. My wife can always tell if I am getting nervous. If she is holding my hand, I heat up and she has to let go.

Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant

I also get fidgety and if I am watching television at home, I sometimes get up and go to the refrigerator for a drink which always elicits a laugh from her. It seems that the place I usually feel the most uncomfortable is during sitcoms or romantic comedy’s where the guy is making a fool of himself. Hugh Grant always makes me nervous because of his halting and nervous style. His stuttering in awkward moments can have an immediate impact on me. Over the past several weeks, I have made a conscious effort to pay attention to my feelings and reactions in movies and I have become more aware of my feelings and therefore am more able to manage how I react.

Linux-Babies-Angry_01Another place I like to watch people is at the airport. This is a great place to observe people under stress. Two weeks ago just after I had taken my emotional intelligence assessment, I traveled to Houston to conduct training for one of my clients. On my way home to Las Vegas, I was getting ready to board the plane. The customer service representative taking our boarding passes stopped a couple in front of me and told them that their carry-on was too large and would have to be checked. The man became irate and began shouting expletives. He said that he travels all the time with no problem carrying his bag on. He had gone into a full-blown emotional hijack. The representative was adamant that he must leave the bag at the end of the jet-way.  He continued down the jet-way swearing and proceeded to board the plane with his luggage ignoring the direction he had been given. This couple was assigned the seat right behind me. The man was visibly upset. His wife was consoling him and I heard him say, “I have to calm down”. I was pretty disgusted with his behavior. I really wanted to tell him what I thought. Instead I  suggested that he take deep slow breaths, which is one of the best ways to regain control of emotions. Oxygen helps fight the chemicals that flood our system when “fight or flight” kicks in. The more I observe people, the more I become aware of my own feelings increasing my ability to manage my emotions.

The next opportunity I had to observe people at the airport happened last Friday.  I was boarding a plane in Chicago on my way to Jackson, Mississippi. This time I was flying Southwest where you line up by number. I was seat A36 and the person who had A35 was right in front of me. As I stood in line I was profiling the other passenger in line just to practice. Soon, a well dressed woman who I guessed was a high dominant personality got in line next to and slightly in front of me. I noticed her boarding pass said she was A39 which should be behind me. Since I am also high dominant, I wanted to tell her to take a step back to her proper place in line. Instead I decided to hold my boarding pass so that she could see it. I wanted to see what she would do. I decided that no matter how she acted, I would not respond and let it go. She never looked around to see if she was lined up in the proper order. She stood firm in her spot and as we boarded she went right ahead of me. When I told my wife about this, who has a highly flexible and steady personality, she said “that person” used to be me. That was very hard for me to believe. I may have  a dominant personality, yet I thought I have been fairly aware and sensitive. Apparently not then, hopefully I am more aware now.

The last event happened Sunday on my way home from Jackson to Las Vegas. My itinerary said the flight was direct. I soon discovered we would stop in Houston and Los Angeles. I felt this was a bait and switch by the airline. When we arrived in LA, we were told that our flight was terminated and we would be rerouted on another flight three hours later. Apparently, hurricane Irene was to blame. Four people were on the original flight from Jackson. Each of us was anxious to get to Las Vegas sooner. We were told that there was a flight leaving in one hour that was full, however, we could go on standby. We arrived at the gate counter which was vacant. Soon many of the passengers that were waiting for our canceled flight begin to line up behind us. People were tense and I watched the frustration level rise from the front of the line. A gate operator came to the counter to call for help. He said to the people on the other end of the phone he needed help because an angry mob was lined up out the door and he was afraid for his life. The women next to me who had been on the flight from Jackson, said to me that she was offended that he was saying we were an angry mob. She thought we were calm and civil.

I was observing all these behaviors and I was doing a pretty good job staying relaxed and in control. I explained to the woman next to me, I was sure the gate operator only said those things so he would get a more immediate response from his supervisors. In essence, he was doing us a favor. The gate operator returned to the counter as the phone rang and he repeated the dire situation imploring them to send help immediately. When he hung up, he said he did that to get their attention. The woman looked at me and smiled. As it turned out, all five of us were able to get on the earlier flight and things worked out great given the circumstances.

If you have had similar experiences becoming more aware of your behavior or the behavior of others, please share them with me. If you have had experiences with me where I have been unaware of how I impacted you, I would like to hear about it, I think.

My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

In my job, I help organizations and individuals everyday to develop behaviors that will create optimum results. In my conversations with clients, the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ) comes up a great deal. Over the last decade, emotional intelligence has proven to be a commodity that leaders are looking to increase in themselves and their people. A highly simplified definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to function effectively under stress or in difficult situations. It is also an understanding or awareness of how our behaviors impact the people around us. Data shows that 90% of top performers have high EQ.

As a teacher and consultant, I have a desire and an obligation to constantly work on my behaviors. With that in mind, I decided I would take a closer look at my EQ and track my progress as I work to increase my EQ. Since I am in a profession that teaches EQ I figured this would be fairly easy. I should have known that looking closely at one’s own behavior objectively is never easy.

One of the first things I did was buy the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. In the book there is an access code to take an online assessment. I took the assessment while I was in West Yellowstone on August 5th while I was at a family reunion. I figured that a family reunion was a great place to practice emotional intelligence skills like patience. The assessment is not very long and is only accurate if you are brutally honest with yourself. Knowing that my self-assessment objectivity might be lacking, I turned to my wife for brutal honesty. Sure enough, she more than compensated for my rose colored view of myself.

The assessment gives you a score based on your answers from 0-100. The scale is as follows: 90-100 Means EQ is a strength to capitalize on; 80-89 Is a strength to build on, 70-79 With a little improvement, this could become a strength; 60-69 Something you should work on; 59 and Below A concern you must address. The score assesses four areas which I will discuss later. My average score was 69. I was somewhat surprised by the low number. Needless to say, my response was less than emotionally intelligence.

Kidding aside, I feel that the score reflected my EQ levels of the not to distant past. I found it interesting that my wife encouraged me to score myself based on how I perceive I used to be. So once I recognized that, I rationalized (through rose colored glasses) that I probably was higher than a 69…more like a 70. Anyway, the cool thing about the assessment is that it gives you strategies that are customized for you to help you bring your EQ score up.

My purpose is to write about my experiences and progress as I work to raise my score. Your feedback and encouragement are appreciated. Well, as long as you see things the way I do.

Seize the Moment!

Seize Title We live in a great country where every day, every moment, you and I have the happy opportunity to make choices: Each morning we can get up early or hit the snooze button; watch TV or read a book; rent a movie on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. or go to the theater; go to college or not; work in the private sector or public; meet minimum performance standards and just get by, or obliterate them. You can let work and life happen to you or seize the moment and make life extraordinary! Seize the moment cliffYou are the captain of your life. While it is true that we may not choose all of the circumstances of our lives, we may absolutely choose our response to circumstances and we may learn to influence and change our circumstances. At the end of the day do you look back at your actions and say; “I gave it everything I had!”? Does there have to be some great project, mission or opportunity for you to get engaged, or are you willing to give it everything you have with everyday things: Every phone call, every conversation, and every assignment no matter how small?! Many of us live waiting for what is next. We say things like: “I can’t wait to get to high school.” “I can’t wait to get out of high school.” When we get out of high school and get a job…”I can’t wait to get a job I like.” When in college…”I can’t wait to graduate.” When single…”I can’t wait to get married.” When married…”I can’t wait to be single.” With small kids…”I can’t wait until my kids grow up.” We can’t wait to have money when we have little, when we have abundantly, we can’t wait to have more. Many of us live on someday isle. “Someday I’ll be home in time to read my children a story and kiss them goodnight!” “Someday I’ll get in shape!” “Someday I’ll finish my degree!” “Someday, I’ll do what it takes to earn a Seize the moment romancepromotion!” We live on someday isle where opportunities pass us by while we are waiting for the “significant” things in our lives to happen. I believe a great indicator of how people will perform in a defining moment is how they perform every day. Make right now your great moment! When you share a conversation, make it great…be present, be invested! When you are given a task you think is beneath you-crush it! Come back to whomever assigned it to you and report it complete ahead of schedule and under budget. You want to prove your value on great things? Prove your value on everyday things. Otherwise, all too soon, our children are grown with children of their own, our careers are over and our short time on this earth is coming to a close and we have failed to act and seize many of the opportunities available to us. Seize the moment TeddyAs the Captain of your life, you have the responsibility to LEAD yourself where you want to go. I don’t believe you need to have followers to be a leader. Start with leading yourself. The word “leader” is derived from Greek and Latin words which mean “to act”. Leadership is not about title or rank, it is about the ability to act and “impact”. Make a positive impact on every person you meet, in every game you play, with every job you undertake! Taking charge and leading your life takes courage. Think of your life to come as Louis and Clark might have approached the vast uncharted Louisiana Territory. We have many choices: We can stay safely in “St. Louis” and enjoy vicariously the adventures that lie beyond the horizon; we can venture out, but stick to the easy trails; However, if we want real adventure, if we want to make a real impact, we must do with our life’s opportunities what Lewis and Clark did in the Louisiana Territory-get off the beaten path and seize new opportunities! It is time to leave complacency and comfort zones behind. It is time enjoy the moments of your life right now. It is time to make a positive impact. It is time to act and seize the moment and make life extraordinary!!

Extra