Keep Your Career on the Tracks

90% of communication occurs silently.

So many people don't understand this, which is why we often see careers derail like a speeding train, full of passengers, ideas, and dreams. Everything inside is destroyed.

Naturally we don't want that to happen to us. 

What we read, what we watch, the people with whom we associate, the organizations to which we belong, the neighborhood in which we reside, the clothing we wear . . . everything we do and say, in other words, sends a message about who we are.  Outfluence identifies this form of communication as Constant Messaging®.

One aspect of Constant Messaging® involves sensory gateways and how they function in communication.  As individuals approach us at a network gathering we first observe their general appearance, and we make a judgment.  Then as they get closer, we see their facial expressions, and we make a judgment.  The final gateway is the greeting, when we hear and possibly experience their handshake, and we make a judgment.  We often know at the conclusion of the sensory gateway process whether this initial meeting will develop into a relationship.

Other components of Constant Messaging® are active and passive listening, message interpretation including bias in interpretation, feedback, barriers to communication, intentional and unintentional messaging, and more. 

Kay Betz, MBA, is a recognized expert in the subject of Constant Messaging®.  It has been a part of her curriculum as adjunct faculty at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland for the past 20 years.  On September 27th, 2016, Kay will be a Featured Speaker at the Outfluence Fall Workshop Series. 

Her presentation yields necessary communication tools to ensure that your career and your business stay on the tracks to success.

Register today atwww.outfluence.com/fallworkshop.     

(Three mornings - 9/27, 10/12, 10/27 - Westminster Conference Center, Westminster, MD.) 

Perspective From Higher Ground: Business and Problem Solving

I remember as a kid always talking to ankles and knees when an adult approached to greet me.  And then there was that awkward look up to try to see his or her face.  As an adult I'm sensitive to that moment, so I bend down to get at eye level with a youngster. 

Recently I visited the Gettysburg Battlefields and I felt a little bit of that looking at the ankles feeling as I looked at the base of large trees that surround portions of the grounds. 

As we got to Cemetery Hill, we found ourselves atop the tree line, overlooking the battlefield, and what happened there became very clear.

As I reflected on the moment later, it got me thinking about how some of us conduct business today.  You know ... a few years ago the "big thing" movement  in business was to think outside the box.  The battle cry was if you want to advance in your career, don't do what you've always done.  That will just get you what it's always gotten you.  You must think outside the boxif you want to move your business forward.  So, business men and women began to look increasingly to technology for creativity in leadership and for new ideas in communication and in management.  And now as we move to higher ground and we review where thinking outside the box has led us, we find that what's happening outside the box isn't all good, and in some significant areas.

For example, communication has grown exponentially digitally.  Voice mail, email, text messaging, video conferencing, while great tools, have left younger entrants into the business world lacking in face-to-face communication skills.  Leadership sometimes delivers bad news digitally, coldly, mercilessly to save difficult face-to-face moments.  Teamwork is conducted in less than a civil manner often initiated by carelessly crafted e-mails.  Here are some other thoughts about outside-the-box thinking. 

A website called Lateral Action states,"The research evidence suggests that thinking outside the box fails to produce the expected creative solution. And far from being a hindrance, past experience and training can actually be the key to creative problem-solving."

So, before you think outside the box to create new solutions to age-old problems in business, take a look from a higher perspective.   Like experience maybe?  Training is a good idea, too.  It just so happens that Outfluence is conducting a 3-part series this Fall in Westminster, Maryland that will address this question:  What did we leave behind when we began thinking outside the box?  Visit Outfluence.com in a few weeks when we will begin publishing information about the series.  It begins in September.

This event occurred in the Fall of 2016.


Will Robots Need the Soft Skills, Too?

I read an article this morning about robotics.  It is estimated that 30% of the workforce in Europe will be replaced in the next 20 years.  The United States will face the charge of the robotics brigade, too.  A number of restaurants are already considering the move to robotic servers.  Even lawyers are not immune to robotics entering their world.  This article will tell you more.  You can also find it here,  http://bit.ly/1YZ3zUa.

If and when this move to robotics occurs in what I call the regular workplace, in other words the middle class, opportunities for humans may become limited, and those opportunities that are available will demand ever-increasing amounts of skills.  No longer will humans be able to climb the ladder from entry level positions to higher-paying positions over a number of years.  In the future humans will need to advance their skills and look sideways for advancement.  This will require excellent communication skills and inspired performance every day. 

I listened to the McDonald's robot accepting a service order from a customer.  The robot was polite and helpful, and even had a smile on its face.  The robot's designers seem to have built into the robot soft skills very often found lacking in their human counterparts.  I must say I was pretty impressed by what I was seeing from this early version.  What could possibly be next?

My grandchildren, your grandchildren, and possibly some of your children will be facing robotic competitors in their workplace.  Some humans are already sharing the workplace with robots.  The jobs the robots take will likely be gone from human attainment forever.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with a highly technical, very competitive workforce.  Skills such as effective communication of all kinds - oral, silent, written, body language - and inspired performance that gains an advantage for its practitioner - as well as the Outfluence form of teamwork called The Silent Storm will be sought after by employers.  The unprepared, uncaring, disinterested employees of today will not, are not now, being tolerated.  The move is afoot to change.  

Many park benches, seaside lounges and oceanfront arcades will be filled with unemployed citizens who ignored the call to action this article is calling for.  It's time to train yourself and your young family members communication and performance skills that will be needed to compete in the years ahead.  Outfluence is offering community-based small group training to help you prepare for the changes that are arriving as you read this article.  Contact us attraining@outfluence.com for additional information.

Business Owners: Who Are We Listening To?

If you are a business owner, you most likely receive a lot of unsolicited advice and unwelcome comments.  You may also receive advice that you pay for.  Who do you listen to and who do you ignore?  I listen to all of them.

Here's why:  The unsolicited advice and the unwelcome comments keep me motivated.  Not too long ago I ran into a guy who went into business a few years after I began Outfluence.  He took on a lot of debt and constructed an impressive facility for his business.  He got off to a great start.  The visuals were excellent.  But now the doors were closed and litigation was looming.  As we spoke, he asked me how my venture was doing.  I told him we were still "climbing the mountain."  He laughed and commented about how long we had "been at it."  I chose not to incur outside debt in my venture but instead chose to invest time and personal funds to gradually improve my product and slowly position my company.  I was still climbing while he had been derailed by debt. 

Another person told me that his friends told him that my business would not succeed because I didn't have the ability to make it work.  Now, how many times have you heard stories of successful people of whom similar comments were made?  Oh, he'll never be able to do it; or, she's too weak to withstand the pressure.  I chose to listen to successful people who were encouraging me to keep going, people who were leading me to resources that would support me, people who were where I wanted to be.  Why would I listen to someone who was going south when I wanted to go north? 

I have written before about my friend who counseled me that it sometimes takes 10 years for a business to reach maturity.  I am in a business that requires others to make a commitment to change.  Change does not occur quickly.  It took us six years to reach maturity in our business.  Most businesses fail in the first three years.  Had Ilistened to the naysayers, I may have ended my business journey too soon. 

Remember that clear vision you had for your business in the early days?  Chances are your vision has been changed by circumstances, or opportunity, or market conditions, or knowledge gained over time.  Listen to the marketplace, listen to your customers, listen to your heart, and persist.  Never quit.  Be open to change. 

Listen to everyone but listen most intently to people who are where you want to go.


Why Not Finish?

Is it important to finish what you start?

Yes, say these finishers:

The Importance of Finishing What you Started, by Larry Lewis –    

But to me once you start something you’ve got to stick with it no matter what. You’ve got to finish what you start. Success in whatever it is you do is very much down to self-discipline and perseverance. But there is one element that to me is absolutely key, and that is …..

Our inner thought process is what is behind our successes and failures, it is responsible for us completing a mission that we set out on or giving up. It’s when we start to think: this is so difficult; I can’t do it. Or I hate this; it’s not fun anymore.

Well cut the crap. No longer allow your negative self- talk to stop you in your track and prevent you from finishing what you started. When paralyzed with doubt, remind yourself that you have gone that far in the project and you can complete it if you stick with it.

Why It’s Important To Finish What You Start, by Alex Mullan –

Every morning, people awake bursting with brilliant ideas. Many of these ideas have the potential to change the ways of the world. Some of these ideas hold the potential to shape one’s surroundings into something fresh, invigorating and alter their course to take him or her on an entirely new path. These ideas, if fulfilled, have the power to transform the life of the creator.

Yet, these brainwaves are often ignored, neglected and cast aside, much like trash and last night’s stale meatloaf.

Looking back now, I realize I was afraid of failure and rejection, two things which I believe are the guiltiest culprits of the ever-accumulating wasteland of abandoned ideas and shattered dreams.

The Secret of Finishing What You Start, by Time Management Ninja

Are you good at starting things? Can you get a project or idea in motion quickly? Some people are fast to charge into a new task. However, finishing them is another matter. Undone projects litter their desk, inbox, and to-do list. How are you at finishing things?

Being good at starting things is an important skill. After all, you cannot finish if you don’t start. However, being good at completing things is an entirely different skill. Many people spend their lives “starting”things…However, the ones who are successful are the ones who actually finish them.

Lots of people come up with great business ideas. Few people actually make a business a success. Many people start writing a book. Few people actually publish one. Most individuals have a dream. Few fully realize it. As a general rule, we are good at starting things but we tend not to finish them.

Here are a few Things You Should Finish…

  1. The Thing You Should Have Done Last Night 
  2. The Promise You Made to Someone Else
  3. The Item You Forgot
  4. The Todo That Is ALMOST Done
  5. The Never Ending Project
  6. The Dream You Started

The attributes needed to finish what you start include tenacity, integrity and creativity.  The subsets of those attributes are what Outfluence can help you to understand and to develop.  Those subsets include awareness of the soft skills, knowledge of communication elements particularly the 90% of communication that happens silently, ability to inspire your performance, and familiarity with sensory gateways and sensory perimeters.  These subsets form the foundation of success in your personal life as well as in your business life because they enable you to put your focus on others and relate to their motivations.


Tweet Your Heart Out.

75% of businesses own a company page, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

But only 69% of that percentage actually post.

Who cares? Well, it seems, everyone does nowadays.

A shocking 73% of Americans use social media today. (1) That's a large potential audience for your business. And not everyone is micro-blogging about what brand of dental floss they use, or Instagraming their duck lips. For the business professional, social media can be the most valuable tool in your kit, whether you are an owner, a marketer, or just a member of the workforce.

In the business world, the quickest way to sell  is through visibility. The consumer sees your product, likes it, and thus considers buying into it. Social media can be your best introductory 'handshake'. You  present your cause the way you want it to be seen, more easily than ever before. Most sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are free to use, which effectively eliminates other costly methods meant to increase visibility, like newspaper ads, or radio segments. 

You also have the opportunity to attract more customers. In 2013, 52% of all marketers attracted new customers via Facebook alone. (2) The relationship between the company and the consumer has become closer, and easier to nurture, with the advent of immediate personalized messages.

Customer service is easier than every before, too. Every consumer can reach out, and feel like they are safe in your company's hands. Check this out:

Possibly your greatest advantage, when using social media, is the ability to observe your audience first hand. What do they need? How can you better serve them? These are questions your marketing department is asking themselves everyday, and now we have exact answers. Got a new idea? New product? Share it with your followers and friends, and get instant feedback. You can also distinguish your group of people with a hashtag, like #Outfluence, to promote a feeling of unity, and keep up with everyone's latest  point of view.

"If you can write with a smile and insert emotion into your respectful and coherent messages, you are again sending a silent message. The person you are communicating with will know that he or she is important and worth the extra time you take to get the message just right."
-Al Betz, Co-founder of Outfluence

There is such a thing as online etiquette, though. For example, you may want to avoid doing this:

And this.

Bottom line? Start Tweeting.

Need help? Have questions? Chat with us today on Twitter @OutfluenceLLC, or visit our contact page http://www.outfluence.com/contact-us/. We are always happy to help you.

 

(1) According to Statista.com

(2)According Pewinternet.org


Support the Future Workforce

Businesspersons I speak to lament the unpreparedness of the workforce.  When asked what improvements they would like to see in new entrants to the workforce, the near unanimous reply is help them with the soft skills, communication in particular.  Now, soft skills and communication happen to be in the Outfluence wheelhouse, so we know how to fix that.

Business leaders generally prefer not to spend their money teaching these skills to the workforce.  They believe that these fundamental skills should be taught either at home or in school.  To bring about soft skills and communication improvement we need to reach high school students.  One method for enticing students to want to learn these skills, and an incentive for attracting the attention of busy school administrators who must approve programs such as the Outfluence program You Are Here . . . Next, You Are Hired,  is to ask business leaders to award a number of internships and other benefits to students who successfully complete the program.

This is a clear win/win/win/win - Students win because they gain valuable knowledge and experience.  The schools win because they are meeting their mission.  Parents win because not only do their children advance their personal development but parents will have the option of also participating in the program. Reinforcement at home of the skills learned in school is a valuable learning tool.  Finally, businesses win because they receive an improved workforce and they gain early access to their future workforce.

(Outfluence, LLC is a teaching and training organization headquartered near Washington, D.C. )



What Not To Do

A videographer arrived at a legal proceeding dressed in tennis shoes, blue jeans, open-collared shirt, and no sport coat. All of the other professionals were attired appropriately in business suits and related professional apparel. During a recess in the proceeding, the videographer engaged one of the parties in a conversation in which he expressed the fact that he only did legal video to keep busy, that his real passion was in making television pilots. He said, in language that matched the subject matter in vulgarity, that he was currently working on a pilot following the tasteless and crude Girls Gone Wild format. By his insensitivity to the environment in which he was working, the videographer silently branded himself as unprofessional, vulgar, and possibly untrustworthy.

The bottom line? Maintain professionalism, no matter what. Be aware of how you come across, to anyone, because everyone is watching.

(This is a story from Outfluence, The Better Way to Influence, which is the basis for our high school program You Are Here . . . now what?".)


Knowledge is Power: Communication History

 

We enjoy our traditions.  Traditions in communication have a fascinating history.  In America, and in many other countries, business greetings begin with a handshake.  This is a Western tradition with origins in ancient Greece or the Middle East.  They shook hands as a way of making a pledge.  In Russia the handshake is more of a form of male competition - a sign of confidence and power.  In the United States the earliest handshakes were between tribes.  They were open-handed to demonstrate that neither party was carrying a weapon.

Perhaps our favorite communicator is the kiss.  In its earliest days the kiss, or bringing mouths together, signified the joining of two souls.  In ancient Hebrew the word for breath also means soul.  Ancient Egyptians thought of kissing as the giving of breath, or giving life.  The Romans are credited with turning the kiss into a sophisticated form of communication.

The study of body language gained interest in the latter part of the 20th Century both academically and among the general public.  However, in the history of body language Francis Bacon got us started.  Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, politician and scientist.   In a website titled "all-about-body-language" I found this:   Writing in Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human - first published in 1605 - Bacon had the following to say about gestures of the body when discussing the concept of knowledge of ourselves.

Aristotle hath very ingeniously and diligently handled the factures of the body, but not the gestures of the body, which are no less comprehensible by art, and of greater use and advantage. For the lineaments of the body do disclose the disposition and inclination of the mind in general; but the motions of the countenance and parts do not only so, but do further disclose the present humour and state of the mind and will.

For as your majesty saith most aptly and elegantly, “As the tongue speaketh to the ear so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” And, therefore, a number of subtle persons, whose eyes do dwell upon the faces and fashions of men, do well know the advantage of this observation, as being most part of their ability; neither can it be denied, but that it is a great discovery of dissimulations, and a great direction in business.

In our book Outfluence®, The Better Way to Influence, we added Constant Messaging® to the lexicon.  Constant Messaging broadens the body language concept to include the messages we send to others from what we read, what we watch, our associations, our habits, our vocabulary and more.  

Outfluence® is a communication concept and its power lies in silence.