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4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

Roman sculpture of a face with a water spiget placed where the mouth is.

Know when to turn your faucet on and off!

Your Speak For Yourself® guide

Conversation topics that can best be handled with Zen minimalism

Don’t be the one that shares too much detail on subjects with limited interest to others.

🎤  Tedious Topic #1: Your driving mishaps

🤯  You have a wreck. Or you almost have a wreck. You delve into the details. “I was in the left lane on Northwest Highway, going west, and this other guy who is two lanes over veers into my lane…” Stop right there! We are already lost trying to figure out where you are.

✅  Try to pare down the details and say, “I’m shaken by an almost wreck last week. I got lucky.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #2: Your technology hassles

🤯  Technology – you can’t live without it, and sometimes you can’t live with it! Your Wi-Fi goes away, your calendar doesn’t sync, you get to the last step and the system doesn’t accept your zip code. I won’t even mention worse tech nightmares. Stuff happens. And the less you tell us the better. It’s horrible for you and boring for us.

✅  Try saying, “I’m having tech issues. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been a bad Monday morning!”

🎤  Tedious Topic #3: Your medical challenges

🤯  “First I had a twinge of pain on the back of my left knee. It hurt whenever I took a step. Then …” Stop!  “I take xxx for high cholesterol, yyy for high blood pressure and zzz for insomnia, and my test results were …”  Stop! Too much info!

✅  Try being very broad and make sure you have empathy for the other person’s situation. Say, “It’s been a rough time but it’s temporary. It makes me even more aware of your strength in dealing with your [fill in the blank] chronic issue.”  Or, “I have good days and bad days. I’m taking this one day at a time. Thanks for asking.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #4: Your vacations

💤   Do not give us a day-by-day rundown of your itinerary, meals and adventures. It’s boring.

✅  Try picking one story of something that went wrong! While that sounds counterintuitive, we love to hear how you handled a travel snafu. We can relate and it helps us figure out how to handle calamities on the road or at home. Plus, good stories include conflict.

Exceptions

Only go into detail if your listener keeps asking questions. Their interest stems from having similar experiences. They had a wreck in the exact same place as you. They have a very similar medical experience or they’re going to the same vacation destination. Or they are your beloved family and friends who really care. Talk away.

Truths

  • You and I have made all of these errors… sharing too much detail/pain/aggravations on these topics.
  • Why? We want you to share in our pain and joy.
  • Try the Zen approach going forward. I will too.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo taken by Karen in Rome, Italy

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Cross out your deletes!

If you’re like me you have thousands of digital pics on your phone or some other cloud storage. You spend precious time scrolling through them to find The One You Want To Show At Your Dinner With Friends.

Wirecutter expert, Max Eddy, has some advice on cleaning out your camera roll. The solution? Build in a “delete day” habit. Take a few minutes daily to search that day’s date in past years and then whack away. Delete, sort into albums, or save. With time you’ll see a transformation from photo warehouse to “curated gallery”!

Everything in life needs a good edit from time to time.

I’ll leave your diet, closet and photos in your hands. As for your words, build in this Wirecutter strategy. Here’s how to clean it up.

“Words ‘n Phrase Delete” habit

Salty Sailor Words. I am walking again! I had a knee surgery 10 weeks ago that left me non weight bearing for 6 weeks that meant using a walker and a wheel chair,  followed by just the walker and then a cane. Why am I telling you this? Because I found myself using curse words to describe my situation! Yes, I admit that my frustration over the whole deal brought out some graphic phrases. I am deleting these words NOW. They detract from my gravitas.

🎤  What words belie your personal brand?

Overused Cliches and Phrases.

  • “At the end of the day” – this one wins an award for excessive use.
  • “To be honest” – is everything else you say not honest?
  • “You know what I mean?” – ummm, yes I do, unless you confused me, in which case I’d ask you to clarify.

🎤  What phrases are you using that add nothing to your meaning? Be intentional.

Verbal Clutter. The main offenders include ➜

  • “Umm”, “You know”, “And, so… anyway”.
  • I also can’t stand the “Illy Family” – filler words we can all do without. “Really”, “Actually”, “Basically”, “Truly”, and “Literally”.

🎤  Monitor your use of word clutter. Wear your “Anti-Verbal-Clutter Hat” in non-stress situations and practice deleting these superfluous words.

😳 I’m embarrassed to share that I have 21,539 photos and 641 videos on my iPhone. We all need to edit something from time to time!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

Speaker Anxiety – reduce by handling The Energy Zappers

Speaker Anxiety – reduce by handling The Energy Zappers

A recent scenario: “I’m paralyzed by speaker anxiety”, said my billion dollar investment firm CEO, during one of our 1:1 meetings. He continued, “I’m lost.” I replied, “I’ll help you get found.”

We talked. We strategized. “Here’s one way to move from speaker anxiety to speaker comfort zone”, I said. “You can learn to understand and handle The Zappers.”

For all of you (and there are plenty of you) who have a smidgen to lots of speaker nerves, read on ➜

Who are “The Energy Zappers”?

The Energy Zappers are those people in your audience (of one to many) that are disengaged. You know the one(s)! They’re distracted. They may even be sleeping, heaven forbid.

Two Energy Zapper situations & how to handle them

Everyone is disengaged.

➜ Example: During a full-day limited-attendance workshop with a tech client I saw that the entire group of 15 began to text. It looked like they were texting each other. In this instance I read the room and stopped to ask what was going on. They said, “A server has gone down.” I said, “Let’s take a break now and try to solve this issue.” They did. Phew.

🎤 Tip – If everyone is disengaged you have a problem. Either find out what’s going on, or call us later to work on your content, organization and delivery.

A few are disengaged.

➜ Example: You’ve got lots of Energy Givers in your audience. They give you good eye contact. They nod. They even take notes! BUT there are those few that are on their mobiles, or nodding off, or multi-tasking while pretending to listen to you.

🎤 Tip – Remember Karen’s Speak For Yourself® Zen Phrase:

“You don’t know what emotional baggage your listeners bring to your table.”

Repeat this phrase to yourself when confronted with Energy Zappers. Please remind yourself that this disengagement is not your fault even though you might take it personally. How do you know what’s going on in their lives? They might be on a chemo regimen. They might have allergies and taking Benadryl. They might be dealing with any manner of personal issues. You don’t know! So don’t get sucked into a mental game of trying to rouse them from drowsy purgatory. Instead, concentrate on the rest of your room.

Back to my CEO client. I told him, “I taught college classes early on in my career. I got better at it, semester by semester, and my student evaluations let me know exactly how they felt about my teaching! Fortunately as time went on the evaluations improved. In fact I might have 3 negative vs. 75 positive reviews. Guess which reviews I fixated on?” He replied, “the three bad ones.” “That’s correct,” I said.

When you speak – remember my zen phrase and try not to react the way I did with my college evaluations. You’ll reduce your speaker anxiety by leaning into the positive energy and ignoring The Zappers!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

6 Ways to Appear More Authoritative at Work

6 Ways to Appear More Authoritative at Work

Emerging leaders beware: are you undermining your own authority without realizing it?

Here are 6 ways to exude confidence and appear to be a leader, according to U.S. News & World Report writer Alison Green.

🎤  Get in synch, up front, with your direct report.

Have alignment with your supervisor on issues facing your team and company. You will lose authority if your boss reverses what you are doing and saying.

🎤  Know how to answer questions when you don’t know the answer.

You will not know how to handle every situation that crosses your path. To respond with confidence in these scenarios learn to use time as your negotiating factor. Example: “You’ve raised some valid concerns and you’ve given me lots to think about. I’ll get back to you on Friday.” Note: follow up when you say you’ll follow up.

🎤  Reduce your verbal clutter.

Fillers like “um,” “you know,” and “I think,” dilute your point, make you look nervous and decreases your gravitas. Try to erase this clutter by being aware of what fillers you use and wearing your imaginary Verbal Clutter Hat. Hint: practice this de-cluttering technique in less stressful situations and the habit will carry over into your work life.

🎤  Be aware of your tone of voice.

Don’t end sentences with a question mark unless they’re questions! This bad habit, called “upspeak”, negates your authority. Also, use declarative sentences. These are simple statements providing information or stating facts. Your tone of voice implies authority vs sounding hesitant and unsure.

🎤  Use the Power of the Pause.

Sounds easy but it’s not! You rush to fill in the spaces. You might chatter nervously or do a quick laugh/giggle at the end of your sentences. Both belie your sense of authority. State your thoughts and then stop. When answering questions you can pause to formulate your thoughts before responding. Become comfortable with silence.

🎤  Be straightforward.

Say what you want to say, even in difficult or awkward conversations. You will appear more confident and authoritative by being direct. Addressing issues is part of your job.

PowerPoint Power Tips (hint – stop doing what you always do!)

PowerPoint Power Tips (hint – stop doing what you always do!)

Audiences rebel against PowerPoint

Have you ever gone to sleep at night saying to yourself, “Darn! I wish I had seen one more PowerPoint deck today.” ?

Have you ever gone to sleep saying to yourself, “Darn! I wish I had been more inspired today.”* ?

You, all of you, from CEO to Sales to Personnel to Purchasing, you are killing us with your PowerPoint.

That’s because bullets kill.

Five Main PowerPoint Offenders

  • Too many graphics on one slide.
  • Too many topics.
  • Too many bullets & too many sentences (which are worse than bullets).
  • Too many details.
  • Too many dissolves, spins or other cheesy transitions.

Every Main Offender on this list starts with “too many” because you are over-stuffing each slide. We do not know where to look first. In the midst of our confusion, we stop listening to you in hopes of being entertained by something on your slide.

Boredom + lethargy sets in and we shift over to what we really want to do – a sneaky wild round of Candy Crush Saga.

So, what’s a great slide look like?

It’s VISUAL.

Effective slides incorporate these three commandments

  1. Thou Must use good, clear (not copyrighted by someone else) pictures that support your message.
  2. Thou Must think ‘Less is More’ when putting your slides together. At the very least, can you please take one busy slide with many points and divide it into several slides so that each one has only one point/slide?
  3. Thou Must remember YOU are the presenter, NOT your slide deck. Don’t hide behind your PowerPoint deck – literally (you’re standing in the dark or hidden by your computer) and figuratively (you’re reading your slides and adding nothing else).

On the other hand, keep doing what you always do and Speak For Yourself® & Associates will remain busy cleaning it up for you!

*FYI, inspiration comes from stories that reinforce your message that can be supported by great visuals.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

 

Surprising Adds that Could Make You a Super Communicator

Surprising Adds that Could Make You a Super Communicator

Ever been to a business event, power breakfast or strategy session dominated by one person? How about a dinner party or book club? You know the one!

The best communicators aren’t always the ones who talk the most in these various settings.

Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, shares three ways we can be “super communicators” and really connect with almost everyone.

How to be a super communicator on a consistent basis

Ask questions

  • Super communicators ask a lot more questions. In fact, 10 to 20 times more questions.
  • Some questions invite you in. “Tell me more about your xxx.”
  • Some are deep questions – getting others to talk about beliefs, experiences. “How do you feel about being on the board of xxx?” Or, “Can you tell me a memory that is really important to you?”
  • Super communicators ask not just about facts but how you feel about what you are doing – all in hopes of creating reciprocal authenticity.

Be a humble conversationalist

Most super communicators were once crummy communicators. Duhigg’s research points out that these struggling communicators had to become keenly aware of having to listen intently to understand what the other person was saying. This heightened awareness propelled them to become super communicators with these attributes:  being honest, authentic,  vulnerable and nonjudgmental.

Looping for Understanding (great for conflict management):

  1. Ask a question … a deeper one. (see my first point above)
  2. Repeat back what they said.
  3. Ask if you got it right.

You don’t have to agree or disagree. “I understand where you are coming from. I think I’ve heard what you are trying to say. I have a different point of view…”

7 Super Communicator Goals

  • To listen for understanding.
  • To lower the burden of the conversation. You are not trying to get them to agree with you.
  • To find a connection.
  • To get others in the group to speak.
  • To be generally interested in what others are thinking.
  • To give credit to others when context permits.
  • To better navigate tough conversations.

Don’t dominate a conversation. Be the super communicator that makes the conversation of interest to all.

Thank you to Judy Dedmon Coyle for sharing this podcast with me.

Source: Krys Boyd’s NPR “Think” Podcast with Charles Duhigg, author of “Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

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