Use These Two Communication Secrets to Get What You Want

A mother said to her three-year-old daughter, â€œWhen you get a chance, can you please clean your room?”

The young girl responded, â€œMom, no, I’m not gonna get a chance.”

A colleague told me this story about her daughter, and after I stopped laughing, I had to tell her that she hadn’t used a little-recognized, yet powerful communication tool. Since she had hired me to teach assertiveness for her organization, I felt comfortable giving her this feedback.

Her stumbling block? My colleague had used a question instead of a direct assertive statement. Using a question (Can you please clean your room?) allows the other person to make the choice, and you may not get what you want. You are being less direct.

Using a direct statement, such as â€œSweetie, I want you to clean your room before lunch,” makes it very clear what you expect, and as a result you are more likely to get it. Of course, there are no guarantees with three-year-olds, but even with children, you have a better chance of getting what you want when you are direct.

This “secret” can also work in the workplace. Listen to the difference: â€œBoss, I would like to go to the conference next week,” versus â€œBoss, may I go to the conference?” Both are polite, but which one sounds more likely to give the speaker what she wants? The direct statement usually has more success.

The second communication secret was summed up in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. In that movie, Yoda, the Jedi Master, proclaims: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”  

Be cautious with the use of the word “try,” if you want others to be accountable for their action or inaction. If you say to your employee, â€œPlease try to meet the deadline,” he or she can always say later, â€œWell, I tried, but something else came up.”

You can be polite and still use a straightforward statement, such as, â€œI need you to meet the deadline.” As mentioned above, when you are direct, you are more likely to get what you want.

Monitor yourself over the next few days. Is your word choice preventing you from getting what you want?

For additional tips on effective communication, check out my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.  

Barbara Pachter provides training and coaching on communication and business etiquette. For more information, contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or joyce@pachter.com.

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6 Tips To Remember When Evaluating Feedback

What do these three examples have in common?

• A young woman was told by an instructor that her giggle during her presentation was cute, and fit her personality.

 â€¢ A woman’s husband, after she asked him if her skirt was too short for an important business meeting, responded “No, your legs look great. Keep it short!”

ʉۢ A young man was told by a colleague to chew gum to help him overcome his nervousness when presenting.

I believe the above business professionals all received feedback that was flawed.

It is important to receive feedback, because it helps us to grow. After numerous years of giving seminars, I still pay attention to the comments I receive from my participants. But how do you decide which suggestions really can help you to grow as a professional, and which ones to ignore? I suggest asking yourself these 6 questions:

1. Who is giving the feedback? Is the person an expert? If so, the feedback is a gift, and I would seriously consider following the person’s suggestions. If the person is not an expert, I would put the comments on the back burner. But remember, when customers make suggestions, it is a good idea to implement them where appropriate.

2. Do you perceive a pattern in the feedback you get? A solitary criticism or observation may be just one person’s opinion, but if you notice a lot of similar comments, chances are there is some truth to the feedback – positive or negative.

3. Have you learned as much as you can about the comment? Engage with the person giving the feedback. You could say, “Tell me more” to gain additional information. Or, you can paraphrase what you have heard. Saying something like, “You’re suggesting that…” and putting the feedback into your own words will ensure that you have grasped the person’s points. The woman who was told it was okay to giggle could have asked, “Are you saying that it will be professional for me to giggle in the business world?” (The answer is no.)

4. Is the feedback emphasizing your sexuality? Workplace feedback should address your competency, not your sexuality. The woman’s husband in my example was flattering his wife, but not taking into consideration her corporate environment. He didn’t understand that “sexy is not a corporate look.” He’s not alone. Based on the attire of some newscasters, or the actors portraying professionals on television shows, it’s not surprising that many people come to believe that it is okay to dress provocatively in business situations. It isn’t.

5. Have you checked with other seasoned and successful professionals? The young man who was told to chew gum did check with another professional, who pointed out that the gum chewing would create another problem – his audience would be distracted. She then gave him other suggestions to overcome his nervousness, such as practicing out loud and telling yourself positive things. (Additional suggestions on presentation skills can be found in my book: The Communication Clinic.

6. Have you done research on your own? Read books on the topic. Read articles on the web. The internet makes it very easy to research any topic. Just make sure the authors of the articles are experts in whatever topic you are researching.

Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills and communication. For more information, contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141.

Looking for a job? 10 tips to help you succeed in a coronavirus world

The world is falling apart, so why bother looking?

I was just laid off. I’m too shocked to do anything.

Why look for a new job? There is nothing but the virus out there.

If you have avoided looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. As the comments above — culled from my coaching sessions — illustrate, many people have not started their job search, or are approaching it in a half-hearted way.

I understand. The pandemic has really shaken the business world as millions of jobs have been lost. It is a difficult time to look for work, and it’s easy to think, “Why bother?”

But there are openings. Some businesses are hiring.
Earlier this month, LinkedIn stated that more than 180,000 people had recently been hired through its connections, and in May the United States added 2.5 million jobs.  Do not give up. Job seekers who are persistent and determined are more likely to succeed. 
Here are 10 suggestions to help you in your search:

1. Update your resume and social-media sites. This should be among the first things you 
do. Your resume may not be current, as you weren’t planning to be unemployed. Add any new jobs, promotions, activities, awards, or additional studies. There are lots of online resources that may help. Google “resume writing” and you will find numerous examples of ways to structure your information. Or hire a professional resume writer. You may need to create more than one resume, depending on the types of jobs you are seeking.
2. View your search as a full-time job. Since you are unemployed, you need to use the time you would have spent at your old job looking for a new one. Yes, I do mean 9 to 5!  Of course, you can be kind to yourself and take a longer lunch break and a day off occasionally. But the bottom line is this: At the end of the day, you want to feel that you worked.  (If you are taking odd jobs to help make ends meet, your day gets even more complicated.)

3. Have a quiet, dedicated work space. This is the place where you keep your job-search materials, and do your searching. If you have young children at home because of the pandemic, this may be harder to achieve. Get creative. One man I know took over half of the dining room table.  
4. Create a daily work schedule. List the activities you need to do. This makes it more likely you will actually do them. Some of these activities include:
      
–Checking online job sites, such as indeed.com or simplyhired.com
–Checking the websites of companies you want to work for – many companies list job openings  
–Spending time on LinkedIn, applying for jobs, and connecting with your network
–Reading articles on the web about conducting a job search 
–Taking an online class to enhance your skills
–Allowing time to exercise! Yes, build that into your schedule, too
5. Respond to openings quickly. You don’t want your application to get lost in the shuffle. Many people may apply, and you want your resume to be one of the first to arrive. This makes it much more likely to be reviewed.  
6. Stay in touch with your colleagues and network. Let people know you are looking. More people get jobs through networking than any other way. Your friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and friends of friends can’t help you unless they know you’re looking. 
7. Participate in your professional associations. Though you may not be able to network in person, you can still interact with other professionals online through virtual training, conferences, and networking events. For example, my son’s professional association recently held a “Cocktails, Conversation, & Connections” Zoom meeting. 
8. Be prepared to interview via video conferencing. In addition to preparing answers to questions you think you may be asked, you need to prepare to present yourself professionally online. Know how to use the technology. Practice. Position yourself in front of a neat, uncluttered, and quiet setting. Be aware of what others will see behind you. Make sure there are no controversial objects in bookshelves or on the wall. Dress appropriately – as though you were being interviewed in person. Your location needs good lighting. You want to be seen clearly, without any shadows hiding your appearance. 

9. Use your college career center.  Though most centers have suspended in-person meetings, they still provide many resources, including reviewing resumes, holding virtual workshops, and posting job openings. 

10. Be a resource for others. Let other job seekers know if you learn of openings that might be suitable for them. When you help others, they are more likely to help you. 
    
Additional information on job-search activities may be found in my book, The Communication Clinic:99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes. 

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com. (www.pachter.com) 

Don’t Whine About Your Job. Do Something!


My coworker hates her job. She keeps complaining to me. I have tried to talk to her about what she could do, but she is not listening. She is worried about finding a new position during the coronavirus pandemic. 
 

My husband keeps threatening to quit his job. He only comments negatively about his job and the people who work with him. I wish he would just do something.

My friend was having difficulty with her schedule, but she didn’t go to her boss to discuss alternatives. She just quit. When I had a problem, my boss adjusted my schedule. My friend’s might have been adjusted, too, if she had said something.

As these comments from participants in my seminars indicate, tackling problems that affect our work lives can be difficult. 

When some people become dissatisfied with their work, they do nothing. Perhaps they don’t know how to proceed, or maybe they don’t believe there is anything they can do to improve the situation. Usually, the only action they take is to whine about their bosses, their colleagues, or the work. 

Unfortunately, complaining doesn’t accomplish anything – except having your friends, colleagues and others stay clear of you.

Some, on the other hand, get so frustrated that they impulsively quit their jobs without having another lined up, or without even a plan for the future.


 Both reactions can affect your career negatively. However, there is an alternative that can help people evaluate their work situations. Answering the following four questions encourages people to take action and decide their next steps. 

1. Ask yourself, what is the real issue? It is easy to say, “I hate my job,” but it is important to identify why. What is the real issue that is causing you to be unhappy? Be honest and be specific. Is it the type of work you do, or just one aspect of the job? Is it the commute, the money, your boss, the people you work with, or any number of other causes? One man I coached liked most of the facets of his job, but wanted to quit because he had to make frequent presentations. Another realized that her new position involved using unfamiliar technology, which made her feel uncomfortable and unqualified.  

2. Can you solve the problem? Now that you have identified the issue, is there something that can be done? Is there a realistic solution? If so, what do you have to lose by asking for it? Make the case for your suggestion, including any benefits to your department or to the company. Remember that if you don’t speak up, chances are nothing will change. 

3. Are there advantages to this job? If you can’t solve the problem, think about what you are gaining from the position.  Don’t just quickly say, “Nothing.” Here are four possible things to consider: 

–Is the job a stepping stone?  Will you need the skills you gain from this position to qualify for a job on the next rung of the ladder? One of my early jobs involved working for a horrible boss. Yet I stayed until I had gained the experience I needed, and then I left.   

–Is there any education or training perk to which you have access? Some companies will fund part or all of your ongoing education. This can be a major benefit for many people. 

–Who are you meeting? Does the job allow you to interact with people and build your network? If so, it is possible that by having a strong network, additional job opportunities will come your way. 

–Can you learn to manage your boss? Learning to work with difficult people is an important skill that almost certainly will be beneficial to you at some point in your career.

4. Is it time to start a job search? Depending on how you answer the above questions, you may decide that it is time to start looking for a new position. (Specific suggestions for looking for work during the pandemic can be found in my blog, Looking for a job? 10 tips to help you succeed in a coronavirus world). You may even decide to change careers. Any number of alternatives may now be available to you. This doesn’t mean you just quit your job. Generally, it is best to look for a new job (or career) while you are still working at the old one. 

Information on conducting a thorough job search can be found in my book The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.   


Whether you decide to stay at your current job or to look for a new one, feel good about your choice. You are doing something: You have taken charge of your career. 

I post regularly on communication and etiquette. We can connect via LinkedInTwitterFacebook or my website:pachter.com
  
About: Barbara Pachter is an internationally-renowned business etiquette and communications speaker, coach and author of 11 business books. She helps individuals communicate more effectively and enhance their professional presence.  (bpachter@pachter.com)