inCredible Messages Blog

Latest "Leadership" Posts

Got Leaky Communication?

Do ever wonder why two seemingly cooperative people can walk away from a conversation knowing they haven’t connected?   Why two people addressing the same problem can’t hear each other’s point of view?  Why communication can be so frustrating and inefficient?

Authors of Difficult Conversations (researchers at the Harvard Negotiation Project*) claim every conversation involves three levels.  When one party is addressing one level and the other is addressing a different level, misunderstanding is inevitable.  When the misunderstanding occurs, we often assume the other person is being deliberately difficult or obtuse.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Three Step to Unstuck

We all get stuck. Yet somehow, we think of this as a deficit. Whether we are on a plateau with a fitness goal, a business/career path, a relationship, an artistic product, or a sales goal, we think we shouldn’t be stuck. We think we should never be stuck.
Part of the problem is that we spend our time and energy beating ourselves up when we might use that energy to get unstuck. Seasoned professional coach, Brenda Vester, shares a three-step approach to get us out of that trap. Here is a quick paraphrase:

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Leadership, Overcome Procrastination.

Need More Information? Stop Talking

An executive, who is a coaching client, and I were discussing the use of questions to uncover what’s behind a person’s position on a particular issue. We discussed a number of open-ended questions, like the following:

  1. Can you give me a bit of the history behind this process? What problem did it originally solve? Who was on the team of developers?
  2. Here are the facts as I see them. What else do I need to look at? What am I missing? 
  3. In an ideal world, we would proceed in the following way…. What concerns does this raise for your department?

The executive expressed some disappointment: “I was hoping you’d tell me some questions to get behind these issues.”

Later, I realized the opportunity I had missed. Nothing was wrong with the list of questions. The secret the executive was hoping to find lies in the way we handle the responses we get to the questions.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence, Leadership.

Don’t Make this Stupid Mistake: #11 Fail to Encourage Feedback

Here’s the situation:  Jack Simms, owner of a speaker’s bureau had booked a speaker to give an inspirational talk for faculty and staff as a new school year began.  Jack, attending the talk, received a signal from a key administrator to cut the talk short.  The speaker was boring his audience and was completely unaware!

Here’s the stupid mistake:  Although Jack tactfully informed the speaker that his presentation did not go well, the speaker did not encourage further feedback.  Jack, a successful speaker at an international level, was prepared to give this individual some very valuable feedback and advice.  Because the speaker didn’t welcome the feedback, he missed a golden opportunity to improve!

Here’s the solution:  Feedback is a priceless gift, especially constructive feedback that points out how you can improve.  It’s a priceless gift because most people we encounter feel too uncomfortable to give anything but praise.  Express appreciation for feedback; welcome the information  and ask for details; and remain non-defensive.  

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them, Influence, Leadership.

Powerful Presentation and Influence Tip: Treat the Context as Critical to Success

Today I was reminded of a critical presentation skill while watching Gene Veno, Executive Vice President of the PA Chiropractic Association.  Veno had a mere 10 minutes to state his position about a proposed insurance merger before the PA Department of Insurance.  Since I had consulted with Veno regarding his testimony, I took the opportunity to see him in action.  Veno’s testimony was a success, and in this case at least, his success had very little to do with my consultation.

Veno submitted the written testimony we had worked on, then he used his 10 minutes to extemporaneously address his three main points.  Veno was clear, concise, and on-target.  These things contributed to his success, but none was the essence of his success. 

At the end of Veno’s testimony, Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner, Joel Ario, said how much he appreciated Veno’s involvement with his committee. The Commissioner said something like this, “We appreciate that you bring up specific issues  we need to deal with. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership, Secrets to Powerful Presentations.

Three Words to Make You a Good Listener

Recently, I attended a presentation by Sandra Yancey, founder of e-women network.  When she referred to three “X” words, something clicked for me.  These aren’t X-Rated words but X-Relationship-building words or X-Make me-a-good-listener words, or X-Now-I-get-what you-mean words.

When you really want to understand someone, or make them understand that you seek to understand them, try these three words:

  • Example—“Can you give me an example of that?”
  • Explain—“Could you explain your point in a little more detail?”
  • Expand—“Could you expand on that?”

Three “X” words.  Very simple.  Very powerful.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Persuasion Technique: Imagine This!

An article on the power of suggestion in persuasive communication relays an important lesson for business communicators.  Most of us approach persuasion as an exercise in  logic and statistics.  According to Don Price, we’ll get much better results if we appeal to a person’s imagination (   

Price claims that the power in the words of politicians, sales, and marketing professionals just might be hypnotic.  These folks can mesmerize us, moving us to fall in love with a product or a position by stringing words together in a way that “fires off your imagination” in a persuasive way.  Is this hypnotic?  You decide!  Can it help your next business pitch?  Absolutely!

Price compares a salesperson’s “pitch” to classical hypnosis, as follows (in italics with slight adaptions):

A Salesperson’s communication may go like this:

  •  When you own this home you are going to love holding her in you arms, late at night, while sitting by this fireplace.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership, Secrets to Powerful Presentations.

Definition of Influence: The Short Version

After years of studying influence, I knew the definition by rote—or I thought I did.  I’ve always seen influence defined in this way:  Influence is the ability to get work done with and through people—without formal authority. 

A statement in a blog entry by Mike Myatt pulled me up short:  Influence is built on making others successful.  Wow—that’s succinct and clear and TRUE!

Classic ways of thinking about influence as getting work accomplished without authority focus on building a base of expertise; building credibility; achieving connection with influential people and sources of information; lending a hand when necessary; appealing to people’s values and convictions; etc.  All these actions are important, but they can be summed up in the simple approach:  Influence is built on making others successful. 

Think about it:  We admire people who make us successful.  We are attracted to them.  And we will do anything we can to support their goals and aspirations.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Avoid this Stupid Mistake #6: Break a Law of Persuasion

Here’s the situation:  On Saturday mornings my family often demonstrates a business lesson.  Saturday is the day my husband, Rick, and I enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee in bed.  We relax in each other’s company and catch up on what has happened throughout the week.  Often, after we’ve been up for a long time, our adolescent daughter, Meagan, will stumble sleepily into our room and plop down on the bed.

Here’s the stupid mistake:  Rick, who is a morning person, greets Meagan in an energetic and enthusiastic way.  “Why good morning, cute stuff—how are you doing today?”  Rick’s goal is to include Meagan in our time together—to make a happy family moment.  The problem is that the tone of Rick’s wide-awake, cheery mood contrasts sharply with Meagan’s just-woke-up, let’s-take-it-easy-and-slow mood. Invariably, she makes an adolescent groan and leaves the room. 

The fact that Meagan had wanted to join us and then leaves demonstrates that Rick has broken a law of persuasion.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them, How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Lead with Influence–Secret of an NFL Rookie Coach

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers held their collective breath as the 2007 season started.  Their new coach, Mike Tomlin, was a surprise pick by the Rooney family, who owns the team.  Pittsburghers like to win, and Tomlin was an unknown rookie.

According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ron Cook, the Steeler players had concerns too when Tomlin came on board last spring.  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reminded the new coach to gain the players’ respect and commitment.  Chances are Roethlisberger didn’t have to remind Tomlin about the players’ fierce loyalty to retired coach Bill Cowher.  Cowher had led the team for 14 years, one of which featured a Super Bowl win.

By the time the 2007 season actually began, the players were solidly impressed with their new coach—Tomlin stepped up to his new position with confidence and authority.  He also, it seems, had a ready knack to lead with influence.The team responded to their new leader’s influence with a blast, decisively winning their first three games.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.