Small Talk Desert

Small Talk Desert

Are we in a conversational crisis?

Even before the pandemic the emphasis has been on digital communication. During the pandemic you may have experienced minimal conversation especially in person.

Now you might be feeling the pain of resuming small talk back in the office.


Jim and I meet in-person with our financial advisor group after two years of periodic virtual meetings. I find myself saying, just seconds after sitting down, “Ok, what’s our plan? Do we need to review, reframe, revisit…?”

Tommy replies with a smile, “First… how are you? What’s going on with your work and family?”

Oh… that’s right … I forget the chatting part of our visit.

What is the value of small talk?

According to Fast Company, “From the polite chitchat among coworkers that eases the start of a stressful meeting to building powerful bridges at networking events, small talk has always been an important ‘social lubricator’ that builds trust and relationships across cultures—even more so for early-career professionals after graduation.”

Is small talk a waste of time?

You might say “yes”. Covid created a time warp. Namely – 30 minutes is the new hour. You’re busy, stressed and want results… now. You only have so much Attention Economy.

And yet.

Small talk is not a waste of time.

Think about an interaction you’ve had with a barista. Smiling, making eye contact and exchanging a few sentences while ordering your Venti Chai has been found to boost happiness and feelings of belonging.

A quick chat with someone you barely know can uplift your mood or avert feelings of loneliness.

A few brief interactions help gauge the mood of a room and the tone of a discussion.

Professionally, small talk presents opportunities to get to know and hear your clients. You may learn something new about the customer that you can then use in later conversation, or one interaction may turn into someone signing a deal with your company.

Most of all … according to psychologist Susan Pinker, social interaction (including small talk) is the #1 secret to living a longer life.

So, how are you? What’s going on with your family and friends these days?


#communication    #SpeakForYourself     #KarenCortellReisman   #SmallTalkDesert

Photo Copyright: preserver


Ask these 3 questions to get what you want

Ask these 3 questions to get what you want

He was “everyone’s favorite rumpled television detective”, writes historian David Fantle about Peter Falk, the star of the 1970’s series Columbo. Falk plays Lieutenant Columbo and the beauty of Columbo was watching how he unraveled the mysteries and crimes.

Columbo’s method

He asks insightful questions in a humble manner.

Relevance to you

A client said to me the other day, “Karen, I use the Columbo Method to negotiate, sell, and diffuse any situation.”

I commented, “I remember Peter Falk wearing his wrinkled raincoat in Columbo and always liked him.”

He said, “Exactly! He solved the crime, and got people to tell him everything. Even the bad guys trusted him… until they lost the game.”

My client explained, “Columbo got the job done by asking three strategic questions. And I use those same questions to diffuse anger, get agreement, get the sale, talk to my teenage daughter …whatever.”

Columbo’s 3 question method

1️⃣  What did you mean by that? (Allows the other person to further explain the situation)
2️⃣  How did you come to that conclusion? Or – What makes you think that way? (This allows you to really get inside the other person’s head)
3️⃣ Have you ever considered __________ Or – Another way to look at this is ___________ and you fill in this blank with your alternative solution.

Ask these 3 questions to get what you want. Good luck in solving your next crime or negotiating your next deal with your board, team or teenage kid.

#communication #SpeakForYourself #KarenCortellReisman #ColumboQuestionMethod

Photo © chudtsankov

The Cost of Poor Communication

The Cost of Poor Communication

▪️ A study published by David Grossman in The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “The Cost of Poor Communication” reported that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.

▪️ Another stunning piece of data from SHRM: Debra Hamilton asserted, in her article “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that miscommunication costs even smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.

These findings were reported BEFORE the pandemic. Can you imagine what these numbers might be now?

While worldwide surveys confirm the importance of good communication, SHRM shares that most companies are deficient in their communication skills.

Speak For Yourself® take-aways on communication & leadership

  • The inability to communicate your understanding of your business will leave you unable to leverage your knowledge for the effectiveness of your organization.
  • Those with strong communication skills will be strategically positioned to have a greater and more visible impact.
  • All aspects of running an organization, from staffing to training to implementing policies to making more money, require effective communication.
  • “Effective communication” means appearing approachable and conversational while you present info logically – with good “Velcro” – using open body language, and channeling your nervous energy into positive energy.

How can poor communication cost you?

  1. You could land your company in court (worst case scenario!).
  2. You could make your company unable to recruit key talent.
  3. You WILL cost the company money.

What can you do?

▪️ Increase your value by improving communication skills across your company.

▪️ And we’d be happy to work with you!

#Communication  #SpeakForYourself  #KarenCortellReisman  #CostOfPoorCommunication



4 presentation clues you might be missing

4 presentation clues you might be missing

A compelling presentation is NEVER just about your data.

4 questions to ask yourself – and answer (!) –  before giving any speech

1️⃣ How much time do you have?

Your best friend when giving a presentation is your clock or timer.

  • Don’t: glance at your watch while speaking – that’s distracting for you and your listeners.
  • Do: prepare and practice your comments to fit within your time limit.

2️⃣ How much do they know or need to know about your topic?

Your stealth bomb on getting heard above the noise is all around meeting the needs of your audience.

  • Don’t: underestimate or overestimate the topic knowledge level of your crowd.
  • Do: your due diligence on finding out their interest, experiences, pain points and successes on whatever you are about to say.

3️⃣ So what? What’s in it for them?

My clients often miss this one: the ROI – the Return On Investment for your listeners.

  • Don’t: forget to share this ROI, near the beginning of your remarks, out loud. Don’t: make it hard on your crowd to understand what they’ll gain from you.
  • Do: tell us how you’ll solve some issue, help us be more efficient, save us time and headaches, improve our bottom line. Pick any of these that work for your message, or figure out how you will help us… and then tell us.

4️⃣ What do you want them to do, think, or feel as a result of your speech or digital message?

If you don’t move the conversation forward in some way, then whatever you’ve shared in your message is a waste of our time. One of my mentors, Jeanne Robertson, of blessed memory, was a humorist. Her Call To Action (CTA) was to make us laugh and help us find the humor around us, even when times are tough. Perfect.

  • Don’t: leave us hanging!
  • Do: understand your CTA and share that with us. What are our “next steps” after reading your email or listening to your message?

Next steps for you

Be compelling when you speak by sticking to your time limit, creating your message to meet the needs of your audience, sharing your ROI, and moving your conversation forward by adding your Call to Action.

#communication #speakforyourself #karencortellreisman

Relatively Speaking from my Einstein Corner

Relatively Speaking from my Einstein Corner

You ask me, “Karen – how are you related to Albert Einstein?”

I ask you, “Do you have any cousins? If so, you may have cousins you don’t know, cousins you know and don’t like (!), or maybe even cousins that are dear friends. Think about that last category…”

Einstein and my grandmother Lina were cousins that enjoyed a lifelong friendship and their letters across time show their humor, mutual affection and positive outlook on life.

Thank you Linda Swindling for suggesting that I add this Einstein Corner to my posts and newsletters. From time to time I’ll share some of Einstein’s comments to Lina and my family that have relevance to you.

Late in Einstein’s life in a long letter to Lina he writes,

“About politics to be sure I still get dutifully angry but I do not bat with my wings anymore but ruffle only the feathers.”

In my Einstein keynote “Albert Einstein: A Relative’s Theory on Handling Life’s Craziness”, I share this quote.

Relevance to you

No, I’m not focusing on how you, as a leader, communicate to your organization about politics.

The beauty of this quote revolves around the bird metaphor. In business, every day, you face challenges. Einstein gives you a guide on how to tackle the crazy stuff. And I’ll add one more option to his analogy.

  • You can “bat with your wings” – face an issue full throttle.
  • You can “ruffle only the feathers” – approach your situation with moderation.
  • OR you can “sit on your perch” – to think, strategize and visualize your outcome.

Relatively speaking

All three of these options work, and even a combination of these choices. It depends on your timing and situation.

Einstein closes every letter to my grandmother Lina with, “Heartfelt greetings”.

Heartfelt greetings to you, my blog readers, for your support of Speak For Yourself®.

#Einstein #AlbertEinstein #SpeakForYourself #Communication

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

See pic explanation below.

You might recall last week’s post of a snake in our toilet at our ranch. 😱 This prompted my blog about dealing with the unexpected as a speaker.

Today’s focus: expecting the unexpected as a leader.

How do you, as business and nonprofit leaders, do damage control during a crisis?

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

1️⃣ Be timely. No communication when crisis hits the fan creates a huge vacuum that fills with fear, anger and confusion. You want to avert that mushrooming emotional effect by being accessible.

2️⃣ Be transparent. Share what you know and share what you don’t know. When my beloved mother suffered from what would become a terminal heart attack my sister and I sat in the waiting room for three weeks. As difficult as it was to hear, the medical community gave us their updates including the known and the unknown. We valued their clarity.

3️⃣ Be empathetic. Always, always, always. Try to understand the craziness from your team/board/department’s point of view. Communicate your concern for them and about them.

4️⃣ Be solution minded. Pet peeve: people who complain without any ideas on how to improve the situation. Don’t be one of those leaders. Bring your facts, context, and thoughts on how to handle your crisis.

🔢 THE PIC: Not to detract from the serious nature of many crises, this crisis happened because #HandsomeCowboyHusband had back surgery (a few years ago) that meant I had to clean the chicken coup. Pic key: bandana to ward off the fumes; gloves to handle the mess and my rhinestone necklace because … why not?

Pin It on Pinterest