Listening is a skill that needs to be practised and refined. We often think we are listening, however have we truly connected and deployed the skill required.
There are five levels of listening:-
Hopefully ignoring does not happen too often. Pretending can be easily slipped into, you can have all the right facial expressions however the button for listening has not been pressed.
Selective is the one that we save especially for the ones we love the most. Currently my husband loves nothing more than to tell me the latest on US politics. I tune in and out, bit like when you are trying to find the right radio station, every so often he relays something amazing and the rest of the time it is that annoying buzz you get from an untuned radio.
In work we are often actively listening which means we know we have to concentrate so we expertly follow and reflect the facts. It is a place of comfort however you are using a skill and need to practice regularly to check that you are not interrupting with direct questions and hijacking the other person’s agenda.
The top listening is empathetic which takes the most skill. You are not only attending, following and reflecting, you are also calibrating any non verbal indicators. As a coach I need to listen at this level and I know if it has been a good session when I feel exhausted and exhilarated. It is a privilege to listen and follow some-one else’s agenda however it is tiring if done correctly. The joy of being listened to often means you say the things you really want to say. We so rarely get a dam good listening.
As with any new skill keep practising…
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We often get stifled by organisational thinking, the systems in place and the overhead costs of new ideas, put the lid on fresh thinking. We have a great new product or service but it gets costed out and is rejected before it is even tried.
We need to dream big and start small these are the words of Elvin Turner author of the upcoming book “Be less Zombie”.
In a recent TED talk he explained how a surfer wanted to film himself and literally stuck a camera with tape to his arm to record his surfing. The implementation of his idea was very low tech and cost very little. The Go-Pro was in place and as an individual he had dreamed big but started small.
In organisations we don’t take any risks there is awkwardness, and lack of sharing of ideas which leads to creative constipation. Obviously the stats work against with 9 out of 10 new initiatives failing. However are they counted as failure on paper before any initiative is taken. We create a hierarchy of assumptions in our head as to why something would not work, rather than just trying.
We must challenge our thinking as we now have many new companies who have done just that. Amazon, Uber and AirBnB have all been a disruptive influence on traditional ways of trading.
Think this week of a new way of doing a task, focus on being disruptive, look at everything with fresh eyes. Dream big and start small.
On Friday I was very lucky to attend a TEDx at Woking. The sponsor and host created a great atmosphere with the simplest of exercises.
He asked you take your phone out and show a picture that means something to you, to somebody you didn’t know.
I connected with a lady in front of me who shared a picture of her Mum with Reindeer ears on her head. She said the photo made her smile as her Mum had been ill recently and it was a lovely picture to show her better and laughing. In that 2 mins it took to show me that photo I connected immediately with a stranger.
It is rare now to be invited to get your phone out in a conference situation, however how effective to use technology as a basis for starting a conversation.
Imagine with all the stories we hear about troubled teenagers, we got them to use their devices to share and explain more, we would be connecting both worlds. There is a great deal of “tell” language in schools, the word “ban” and just even saying “no” is making technology more exciting than it is.
This really simple exercise was a great icebreaker but actually went to the very heart of who we are as people.
Last night in “I’m Celebrity get me out of here” we saw the most amazing team work. They were all involved in a challenge and there was no-one who did not have a role and no-one who did not perform. Albeit very different to an office situation we can learn a lot from a group of people who come together and focus on a common goal.
The 7 hallmarks of a highly effective team give you an idea of how those random celebrities are learning to work together:-
- Shared vision – food seems to be the ultimate vision instead of focusing on winning as an individual this group seem to be motivated by enjoying decent meals together.
- Clear objectives – the trials are all about getting stars and the instructions are very clear.
- Team resources used to their best – sometimes they don’t get a choice as to who to deploy, but when they do, they think about the physicality and the enthusiasm of every member of the group.
- Open atmosphere – the camp is surrounded by cameras although in previous years we have seen whispering, the team at present seem very comfortable with sharing all their stories and some of their more intimate rituals.
- The team regularly reviews its progress – there is a lot of encouragement during a trial and a lot of commentary as to how much time you have left. They chat about their experience and review their own performance.
- The team builds on experience – the trials get more horrific but the team know which critters are worse than others and seem tougher every time from learning from the last interaction.
- The team can ride out storms – when there are no stars or a camp mate is particularly down the group rally and morale lifts them. Last night showed how they can work together with tight time constraints.
The office might not be the jungle, however how many of the hallmarks can be applied to your team. As an exercise get each team member to give a score out of 10 as to where you are currently on each of the hallmarks. Revisit the score in 90 days to see if you can come up with actions to improve the score.
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Our ability to sell correlates to our revenue, and yet it is hard to sell especially when in most cases it is yourself.
We must believe in what we are selling and therefore a good starting point is to decide what result the Client will get if they buy your service. Write down 3 results they will get if they buy from you:-
- By attending a nugget workshop you will think differently about the way you work
- You will look at your team with “fresh eyes”
- Practical actions from relevant training in a shorter period of time
By focusing on results you are giving them the WIFM factor (Whats in it for me?) and you have created a strategy of being customer centric.
Work out how many people you need to see each month to convert into a sale. The ratio will be high so make sure you book as many appointments or in my case coffee and catch ups. It might be 8:1, whatever the number keep a track of your conversion rate as it will help predict your cashflow.
When you get to meet them think of the flow of the conversation:-
- Build rapport
- Questioning – understand their world – empathy
- Reflect what you have heard
- Give examples
- Tell them how you can help them…
To build rapport really get to know them and remember the things that they value (holidays, family and health) very rarely is it their job.
Think of 3 key questions to follow the rapport:-
- What sort of training have you had recently?
- Who have you worked with before?
- What outcomes were you looking for from the workshops?
Reflect back answers – using case studies “From what I hear is…we have recently worked with …”
If it is not the right fit, don’t be afraid to walk away, it is not right to sell a Rolls Royce when they were in the market for a Mini.
We can appeal at three levels:-
- Aspirational – “other companies are buying our workshops”
- Emotional – “you will feel so much better having attended”
- Fear of missing out – “we only have three places left on the workshop”
Plan your new business meetings and most importantly enjoy them so that people want to work with you.
The difference between being successful and effective is knowing how you got there. Success can be luck, it was incredible, however upon reflection there was not necessarily a process to get there. Being effective has longevity and can lead you to success multiple times.
Taking time out to analyse your process can lead to even greater results. A good example was the process of cash machines. When they were first introduced the Banks found that they had high costs on lost cards. The process they had mapped out, was as follows:-
- Insert card
- Enter PIN
- Request cash
- Collect cash
- Retrieve card
The initial process involved getting the cash out of the machine before the card was returned. Most people were focussed on the money, so, once they had the notes in their hand, they turned away, leaving their card still in the cash machine. Simply by reversing the order of two steps solved the problem – people had to remove their card before they got their money. This small change in the process saved the banks money and also was a more effective process for the customer.
We can process map anything, your morning routine, invoicing, sales, customer returns and setting up a new system.
The most effective way to conduct a process mapping session is as follows:-
- Map the process – use magic whiteboards or a roll of brown paper, then use post-it notes to log every step of the process
- Analyse the process – step back and decide whether there is anything missing and who has ownership at certain points of the process
- Redesign the process – if there are obvious points where the process gets held up, look to redesign
- Implement & communicate – Follow the process and document it (infographic) share with as many team members as possible
- Review – after 90 days review with the original process mapping team
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We find it very easy to shower every morning and clean our teeth, however in work we are sometimes at a loss to know where to start.
In work we need rituals and habits that make it easier for our brain to hit the ground running. Remember when you learnt to ride a bike how hard your conscious mind was focusing on all the obstacles in your path and now you cycle looking at the view.
There are times when we require new thinking so it is good to challenge our brain however ritualising some of the daily or weekly tasks could free the mind when you want it to really work hard.
Think about habits and routine items within your business:-
- Posting on social media, set a time each day where you go in and have the same system, of the platforms you visit, so that the tour becomes familiar and easy.
- Set aside time in the week when you read the relevant articles for your business. Accumulate them each day so when you hit that weekly reading spot you can get in the zone.
- Allocate a specific time to email and touch base with your clients, have it as an appointment in your diary so that it happens.
- Have some daily disciplines in place, write down what you want to achieve each day and check your work in progress schedule.
- Think about your daily habits, when do you open your email, when do you start project work and most importantly when do you eat.
- Connect with friends and colleagues by booking coffees and lunches, ensure you have a pipeline at all times of connections, business and pleasure.
- Review your day so that you can constantly improve your systems and processes.
Please do get in touch if we can help at nuggets to create some new rituals for you and your business firstname.lastname@example.org