“Will You Marry Me”?

Building business relationships

 

You would never ask someone to marry you on a first date, so why would you expect someone you’ve met for the first time to refer business with you?

We have all heard the expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” and in many cases we use that expression in a less-than-complimentary way. In those situations, perhaps we should respond by assessing our own skills in developing relationships that can help us build business and careers. Professional relationships that help us along in our career do not happen by accident or without significant effort. They require nurturing, constant contact, and a host of other important ingredients that, when properly applied, can create a support team as dedicated to our success as we are.

We begin developing close friends early on in life. What we might not have realized in our developmental years is that the friend we sat beside while learning our ABCs may indeed be our doctor, tax adviser, or our children’s grade school teacher later on in life. However, as adults we can visualize that the people we meet at networking events may indeed end up changing our life—or more importantly, we may be able to change theirs.

Building career relationships is all about capturing relationships as an ongoing and fundamental part of our life plan. Life is about who you know; the common ground we find with our associates; and the commitment to engaging with our friends and associates, those we know now and those we have yet to meet. The most important relationship in the world may be just around the corner, or waiting for you to say hello at that next mixer.

5 Keys to Building Business Relationships That Should Be Considered When Networking

  1. Contact: Assess your availability to meet and be met by others. Are you in the right professional associations? Do you attend events regularly? Are you an observer or participant? How many people in your associations do you know on a first-name basis?
  2. Commonality: Seeking commonality with others is important, as it is the means by which you communicate in an interesting and outgoing way. Finding activities, interests, and even exercise plans that you have in common offers the easiest way to interact on different levels, broadening your communication.
  3. Credibility: Associates, especially new ones, need to see us as credible people. This means that we need to mean what we say, say what we mean, and always follow through with the commitments we make. When people say, “Do you walk your talk?” What they mean is, “Are you credible?” While we never know how many demonstrations of credibility we have to perform so that people believe we are who and what we say we are, there is a universal answer to how many times we can NOT be credible. One! That’s why it’s important to take our commitments seriously, each and every time we have the opportunity.
  4. Confidence: Only when we have had the opportunity to demonstrate that we “walk our talk” over time and with enough interactions will our friends and associates be willing to show confidence in us. When people have confidence in you they will follow your lead, your example, and your direction. They will allow you to influence their thoughts on particular issues and they may even see you as an expert in others.
  5. Trust: Most relationships never really make it here! You see, trust allows a relationship to flourish because it makes no difference which party leads and which follows. One respects the other in any given interaction and works to unconditionally support the direction, philosophy, and commitment of the other. When you achieve this level of trust in a relationship, you’ve made it! The relationship has achieved intradependence!

It takes time to cultivate relationships, which is why attending just one networking mixer won’t do it. It requires the dedication keep attending, having a plan when you arrive, and the patience for building those relationships over time. Next time you decide that networking isn’t worth the effort, think about this: People who have made time in their schedule to network have gotten results like these:

  • 87% of top-level executives network 2–3 times weekly
  • 80% increase their business development
  • 45% increase their sales
  • 95% build their business relationships
  • 90% increase their business opportunities
  • 80% have found their next job through networking
  • 65% receive a return on their investment
  • 76% get in front of the type of business that they would like to meet

Sharon Jenks is the CEO of 6 Degrees Business Networking, #sd6degrees

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Clarifying Your Core Values

Values

 

A key element of “knowing thyself” is sorting out what’s really important to you. Without a clear sense of your personal principles and priorities, it’s almost impossible to bring the picture of your preferred future sharply into focus. Investing the time and effort to uncover and articulate your personal principles has many important benefits.

You’ll have a strong foundation to build your leadership upon. James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s study of credible and effective leaders led them to conclude, “Values are directly relevant to credibility. To do what we say we will do (our respondents’ behavioral definition of credibility), we must know what we want to do and how we wish to behave. That’s what our values help us to define.”

Clear personal principles give you a much stronger sense of your personal “bottom-line.” Knowing where you stand clarifies what you won’t sit still for.

It’s easier to make choices between conflicting opportunities that arise, where to invest your time, what behavior is most appropriate, and where you need to concentrate your personal improvement efforts.

You’ll be much closer to finding your personal energy source and developing that critical leadership passion.

Your self-identity, self-confidence, and sense of security will be strengthened.

Your principles will provide the stable and solid core you need to transform the rapid changes coming at all of us from terrifying threats into exciting opportunities.

You can more clearly see to what extent your personal values are aligned with your team and organization’s values.

To clarify your core values, develop a comprehensive list of all your possible values. Now rank each one as “A” (high importance), “B” (medium importance), “C” (low importance). Review your A and B values. Are there any that you feel are essentially the same value or one is an obvious subset of the other? If so, bring them together and rename it if necessary. Rank order the remaining list from highest through to lowest priority. You should now have your top five core values.

FOCUSING ON YOUR CORE VALUES:

Ask yourself whether these are your true, internal “bone deep” beliefs or an external “should” value. We often don’t recognize a lifetime of conditioning that has left us with other people’s belief systems. Replace any “should” values with your own.

Examine each core value to ensure that it is your end value and not a means to some other end. For example, wealth is seldom a value in itself. It’s usually the means to status, power, security, recognition, freedom, accomplishment, pleasure, helping others, or some other end value.

Write out a “statement of philosophy” that outlines and explains each of your core values. This is for you own private use, so be as honest and candid as you can.

These exercises are rarely done quickly. It could take you dozens or even hundreds of hours to sort through the “shouldas”, “oughtas” and “couldas” and get to your basic, core principles. The more meditation, contemplation, and writing time you put into this, the truer and more energizing your core values will become.

“VALUING” YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS

Your values largely affect how you behave and how others perceive
you. Identifying them is important to understanding what makes you effective, satisfied and personally successful. Once you are aware of the dominant attitudes contributing passion and purpose to your life, you will be able to clarify what drives your actions, as well as what causes conflict. For example, if you are currently questioning whether you are in the right career, knowing your attitudes will help you decide. In addition, applying an understanding of attitudes to your relationships with others will deepen your appreciation of them and clarify the “why” of your interactions.

Another way to learn more about your “values” which are your intrinsic motivators, you can take an assessment. To learn how visit http://www.thejenksgroup.com or call 858 525-3163.

 

10 Things Dogs Teach Us About What Matters Most

Dogs live in the moment

 

I’ve been around dogs since my childhood and have always loved being in the company of our four-legged friends. When I told my husband I wanted a dog, he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea at first. I was traveling a lot for work at the time, and he knew he’d have most of the responsibility. The compromise we made was to let him choose the breed. I wanted a small, non-shedding, off-leash dog. What we adopted, however, were three husky puppies. A large breed known for shedding and wandering. And despite the years of constant vacuuming up dog hair, we loved the breed so much that when our original three passed away, we adopted two more huskies! Our dogs have been a constant source of love and amusement, but even more so, they’ve taught us some of the greatest life lessons.

Here are 10 things dogs can teach us about what matters most in life:

1. Live in the moment.
Although dogs remember things like where the treats are kept, what street takes them home and who they’ve met before, they only access that information when they need it — in the moment. Whether they’re eating a bowl of kibble or chasing a ball, dogs live for the present moment. The past is gone; you can’t do anything about it. The future is unknown. The only thing you can really enjoy and affect is the present moment.

2. Overcome fear with love.
There are plenty of stories about frightful, aggressive dogs who transformed into kind, gentle dogs after they were placed in a loving environment. Dogs can overcome their fear and insecurities through love, and so can humans. Love truly does conquer all, and the first step for us is to love ourselves. If you can replace fear and self-criticism with self-love, no matter what situation you’re in, life gets easier.

3. Don’t hold grudges
A grudge is a feeling of resentment toward someone. It originates in our mind. Humans are probably the only species that holds a grudge. A dog will never be angry with you because you didn’t give him a treat after dinner last night. Holding a grudge weighs you down emotionally and keeps you from moving forward in life. Let grudges go and you will create your own personal freedom.

4. Play every day.
Dogs love to play, which usually involves lots of movement, whether it’s running, chasing or jumping. This is a good reminder for us to play and move our bodies every day as well. Playing opens up your mind and spirit to all kinds of new ideas and creativity. It’s a needed break from the constant 24/7 work environment. And if you can exercise while you play, even better. Dogs actually give you a reason to get out and go walking, hiking, running, biking or even Rollerblading. (Although, I wouldn’t recommend Rollerblading if you have dogs that pull like I do. Very fun for them. Very scary for you!)

5. Jump for joy when you’re happy.
Have you ever seen a dog circling around or jumping up and down at the thought of getting a treat or chasing a ball? Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all jump around when we’re excited about something? We live life so fast that we often forget to get excited and celebrate the good times because we’re already on to the next thing. We live in a miraculous world where the sun comes up every day, flowers bloom and seasons change. There is much to jump for joy about.

6. Accept yourself.
Can you imagine a terrier wishing she were a boxer or a poodle envious of a collie’s mane or a pug wanting the nose of a greyhound? We humans spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves look like someone else’s version of perfection instead of loving our unique features, our unique life, and yes, our unique problems. How boring it would be if all dogs (or all humans) looked and behaved alike! Love everything about yourself — the good, the bad and the ugly!

7. Enjoy the journey.
When dogs go for a car ride, they stick their head out the window, smell the air and feel the wind against their fur. They don’t care where they’re going. They’re just enjoying the journey. Although goals are great to set, we often forget that it’s the journey that matters most. When we get too attached to the outcome, we set ourselves up for frustration, depression or even anger if our exact expectations are not met. Next time you set a goal, be open to other possibilities and enjoy every moment of excitement, creativity, fun and lessons in the journey.

8. Drink lots of water.
Dogs instinctively know when their bodies need water. They usually stop eating when they’re full, and won’t eat anything that seems poisonous to them, except of course, for one of my huskies who once ate an entire platter of chocolate rum balls. Anyway… back to water. It’s a good reminder for us to stay hydrated and drink when we’re thirsty. In fact, drinking water when you feel hungry is good for weight management because often you just need some water. Another good practice is to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.

9. Be loyal and dependable.
Dogs are pack animals. They stick with their pack. They play with their pack. They defend their pack. This is a great reminder for all of us to be conscientious members of our human pack. The Golden Rule of treating others how you would like to be treated applies here. Being a loyal and dependable friend, lover, sibling, partner or parent will enrich your life in many ways.

10. Love unconditionally.
No matter what, dogs love you unconditionally. They wag their tails when they see you, no matter what mood you’re in. They still want to give you big wet kisses, even if you’ve just yelled at them. And they instantly forgive you no matter how you behave. Loving others unconditionally is a difficult task, but it’s the one that would surely make the world a better place if we all just tried.

So, we can learn a lot from our dogs. Their companionship, loyalty and unconditional love is unmatched by any human standards. And if you have huskies like I do, their singing will always brighten your day. – 

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

Toxic behavior

 

 

In my line of work, I hear from hundreds of people a month, and connect with professionals in a more public, open way than ever before. Through this experience, I’ve seen scores of toxic behaviors that push people away (including me). And I’ve witnessed the damage these behaviors cause – to relationships, professional success, and to the well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone around him or her.

Let’s be real – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another (none of us are immune to it), but many people are more evolved, balanced, and aware, and it happens only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or once in a blue moon, it’s critical for your happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving badly, and shift it when it emerges.

The 6 most toxic behaviors I see every day are:

Taking everything personally

In the powerful little book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of taking nothing personally. I teach this in my coaching programs and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough as well, and there is so much pushback. “Really, Kathy – don’t take anythingpersonally?”

People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything that happens in life is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The reality is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them. I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide. So yes – don’t take anything personally.

Obsessing about negative thoughts

It’s very hard to be around people who can’t or won’t let go of negativity – when they dwell on and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s transpiring. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.

Treating yourself like a victim

Another toxic behavior is non-stop complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no influence on the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck and small. Working as a therapist with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop whining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim of fate, chance or discrimination, then you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept that reality.

Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

One of the most toxic and damaging behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly cruel and destructive to others just because they can. They tear people down online but in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a weapon. Cruelty, backstabbing, and ripping someone to shreds is toxic, and it hurts you as well as your target.

I had a powerful learning experience about this a few years ago. I came into the house one day in a nasty mood, and shared a mean, sniping comment to my husband about the way a neighbor was parenting her child through one of his problem phases. In less than 24 hours, that very same issue the parent was dealing with came home to roost in my house, with my child. It was as if the Universe sent me the message that, “Ah, if you want to be cruel and demeaning about someone, we’ll give you the same experience you’ve judged so negatively, so you can learn some compassion.” And I did.

If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all the same.

Excessive reactivity

An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – men and women who explode over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the bank teller for the long line, screaming at your assistant for the power point error he made, or losing it with your child for spilling milk on the floor. If you find that you’re overly reactive, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality. There’s more to it that appears on the surface. An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – is critical.

Needing constant validation

Finally, people who constantly strive for validation and self-esteem by obsessing about achieving outward measures of success, are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over, and constantly want to “win” over their colleagues or peers, are toxic and draining.

Overly-attaching to how things have to look and be, and to achieving certain milestones and accomplishments rather than going with life in a more flexible, easy manner, can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down . There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve or fail at today. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning and applying, how you’re helping others, and the growing process you allow yourself to engage in.

Stop stressing over the particular outcomes like, “I need that promotion now!” or “My house has to be bigger and more beautiful than my neighbor’s.” Your desperate need to prove your success and build your self-esteem through outer measures of success is (sadly) apparent to everyone but you, and it’s pushing away the very happiness outcomes you’re longing for. -Kathy Caprino

Lost in Translation, Again!

Generations

 

Lost in Translation?  A great phrase. It means that words, once translated, can lose the original intent of their meaning.  Or for those who loved the movie, it is the name of the insightful and curiosity-piquing film by Sofia Coppola released over a decade ago.  Either way, people, we have something to talk about.  We’re missing something in our communication.

In the movie, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play mismatched souls who keep running into each other then begin a fledgling relationship.  Two different generations reach across the great communication divide to create meaning.  YES!  Oh, but wait, must it only happen in the movies?  NO!  Lest we get too excited, we must realize we do have issues when the generational communication wall is scaled.

It’s like we are talking in tongues thinking another generation understands our point of view.  We’re losing meaning in our communication because we don’t have the same meanings to start with!   Meaning is established by shared experience.  And, duh, we don’t share the same experiences, growing up in very different times.  End game?  Concepts are getting lost in translation.  We need to gen up (gather as much as information as we can) about the generations.

4 Concepts That Get Lost in Translation

 1) What Does Respect Mean?

The generational communication workshops I’ve conducted since 2007 tells me for older generations, it is about being acknowledged for status or effort.  For the younger generations it is about having their point of view understood without judgment.  We’re a little off here!

2) Mistakes?

In older generations, it could be grounds for dismissal.  For younger generations, highly influenced by the gaming culture, it’s a learning opportunity.  “What’s the big deal?” Oh, yeah, we have issues. 

 

 3) Trust?

“You have to earn my trust!” versus “Don’t you trust your own judgment…YOU hired me to do this job, now let me do it!” Ouch.

 4) Communication Choices

Why do Millennials choose texting and email over other communication vehicles?  One answer sums it up — “Text and email give me time to compose my thoughts.  I can see the content.  It gives me time to respond versus just react.” Wow, that blows what we might have been thinking right out of the water. 

Given my deep-seeded desire to illuminate generational thinking in an effort to enhance workplace communication, I am on a mission to rid ourselves of preconceived ideas and monitor our own personal bias as we communicate across the generations.  Here are my suggestions:

3 Things You Can Do to Get Your Message Understood

 1) You cannot think that everyone thinks like you. 

Now say this three times, memorize the mantra then create a post-it for your computer.  Everyone does not think like I do.  Get it?  You are judging people as if they were YOU.  I know you know this theoretically — but you may not be getting it emotionally.  Just keep saying it.  The old adage “Fake it ‘til you make it” applies here.    Resist the urge to add “ – and the world would be better off if everyone did think like me.”

 2) Don’t just walk away! Try again.

When you see that look in the person’s eyes that they really do not know where you are coming from when you communicate (or even worse, delegate), don’t just walk away!  Try again.  I know we are in an era where time seems more valuable than gold but we must make a decision.  Do you want to connect the first time or do it over and over again trying to get it right when your expectations aren’t met?  Make the investment.

 3) Tailor your message to the folks you are talking to.

After all, they do not think like you do so you must translate your thoughts into their lingo.  What does this look like in real life?

    • Use visual examples, modify those dry and boring BabyBoomer PowerPoints into something interactive and entertaining if you really want to connect with the younger audience.  (We do that for clients a lot!).
    • Use verbal examples that reference experiences that your audience can relate to and not just that you can relate to.
    • Use words that resonate with each generation.  You can find our more on that front from my May 20, 2013 article, 4 Communication Tips to Open Your Mind & Strengthen Your Vocabulary.

Conclusion

Look.  This translation stuff is tricky.  We think we are communicating because what we say makes sense to us.  In our fast-paced environments where we throw instructions like whiffle balls as we run down hallways, we are not only striking out but we are whiffing big time.  A lot of energy spent with not enough return.

We are missing a handful of key communication concepts about the sender, the receiver and the message. It’s Communications 101 with a generational twist.  Let’s be aware of the hazards of generational miscommunication and make a commitment to translate our concepts well as we send our message by keeping the generations of our receivers in mind.  -Sherri Petro

 

The Power of an Apology

apology

 

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone saying that they felt that I wronged them with something I did. I was faced with two options, defend my position and dig my heels into the ground or accept the fact that my actions unintentionally offended the other party, take responsibility and apologize for offending them, and right the wrong that I had committed. This is something that we’re all faced with every now and then.

Through our lifetime there have been, and will be many more, instances where our actions unintentionally hurt someone else’s feelings. Our actions were so non-deliberate that we are completely blindsided when someone approaches us with a claim that we did something wrong to them.

The easiest reaction, and often our initial reaction, is to become defensive and either reject the other person’s claim as an over-reaction or returning their message with a “You completely misunderstood me.” or “You’re completely wrong!”. By deflecting the blame back onto the other person, we negate their feelings and blame them for the way that they feel. This rarely defuses the situation and more commonly escalates the matter into a full out argument and leaves both parties feeling worse about the situation.

We need to realize that what the other person is doing is not launching a personal attack at us, but instead he/she is expressing the way that they felt as a result of something that we did. How can you argue the way a person feels? Feelings are emotions and emotions are not always logical, although in this particular case they were logical.

By arguing with the way a person feels you’re attaching YOUR logic, or sometimes stubbornness, to THEIR feelings – that’s a recipe for disaster. YOU are not THEM and THEY are not YOU. Put in the exact same situation chances are that you both would react in very different ways. Usually neither of those ways are wrong or right, they’re just coming from two different people who lived different lives, experienced different things, and therefor have different perspectives on day to day events and interactions.

Getting back to my situation from the other week, I took the second stance. I sought first to understand their perspective before trying to get them to understand mine (Thank you Stephen Covey!). After listening to his point of view, I understood how my actions unintentionally wronged him. I took responsibility for my actions, apologized for the harm that I caused him, explained my reasoning and noble intentions, apologized again, and I followed through on my commitment to right the wrong.

A few weeks later we went out for coffee, and developed not only a personal friendship, but also found ways to help each other grow from a business standpoint.

Rather than gaining an enemy I made a powerful new friend and business ally.

Here are my two favorite books on the topics of effective communication, integrity, and interpersonal relationships:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie –

Steven Tulman

Here’s What Really Motivates Your Employees (It’s Not What You Think)

Dangling a carrot

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the underlying message is that a leader can provide a motivating environment but can’t motivate his or her employees; motivation comes from within each individual.

This goes entirely against the common belief that given more carrots, an employee will be motivated to behave in ways that will increase the success of a company. Yet, time and again, leaders have found that providing more money and better benefits, extrinsic motivators, only provides a short-term effect on behavior. Extrinsic motivators are not sustainable.

In yesterday’s article Top 5 Leadership Mistakes, one of them was misunderstanding motivation.

I outlined the three attributes that, when implemented effectively within the organization, can increase the long-term behavioral changes the leader is looking to instill in the organization.

And what can a company expect from its employees when they provide an environment that provides for autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

An academic study by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in 2000 issue of American Psychologist showed that focusing on internal motivators can lead to higher self-esteem and self-actualization, while a focus on external motivators, on average, leads to lower self-esteem and self-actualization.

In turn, employees driven by internal motivators demonstrated a greater level of persistence, creativity, energy, and well being, which increased the performance level of those employees.

So if, in fact, employee performance increases with intrinsic motivators, why aren’t more companies creating and implementing a plan to transition to a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose? Because it is not easy! It is a massive shift in long-term beliefs and requires both employer and employees to change their mindset as well as the way they work.

What are the critical success factors to transitioning your workplace to an intrinsically motivated organization? They are the three C’s:

  1. Creativity: Be able to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Bring in outside assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire.
  2. Communication: Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees via multiple methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.
  3. Change Management: Demonstrate how the changes will positively affect employees, create methods to identify employees who may be struggling with the changes, and have resources available to help them adjust.

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC

Author: Are You Talent Obsessed?, Leadership Development Advisor, Vistage Chair, Speaker, Executive Coach