Handling Difficult Conversations: have you got an elephant in the room?
28 Jun

Handling Difficult Conversations: have you got an elephant in the room?

rtt difficult conversations

Difficult conversations can be extremely daunting and all too often we choose to avoid them or dilute the message that we really want to give.

 

According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) 66% of people feel stressed knowing that there is a difficult conversation on the horizon, which would indicate that many of us have too many elephants roaming loose in our lives…so what can we do remove them? In fact, avoidance tactics are being used in abundance!

 

difficult conversations stats
 

At work, difficult conversations are often linked to poor performance, behaviours or managing personality clashes. In our personal lives it can be anything from someone leaving the lid off the toothpaste to the more serious dynamics of a relationship. Usually, these conversations need to be had on a one-to-one basis and no matter how serious the issue, they can really test our communication skills.

 

A lot of the reasons for avoidance often stem from a lack of confidence. It’s so normal for us to predict and expect a negative outcome and therefore we’re setting ourselves up to fail before we even begin. However it doesn’t have to be like that, if you are unhappy or upset about a situation or behaviour then why would you allow the pain to continue by putting up with it? We’re not suggesting that you start to go around shouting and being demanding with everyone that you’re unhappy with, in fact quite the opposite.

 

Here are five simple steps that can help you to have a meaningful and healthy discussion:

1. Don’t put it off

Stop thinking “it’s not worth it’ or ‘I’ll wait to see what happens’. Be brave, take a deep breath and start to take back control of the situation. The first step is to give you and them time to cool off and then plan a good time to meet, allowing plenty of time for reflection and consideration of each others points.

2. Prepare

Take some time to think about what you want to raise and how you’re going to articulate it. Don’t try to ‘plan’ the conversation as they rarely go the way you think they will, however preparing will help you to be confident in want you want to address and be really clear and confident in what you want to address.

3. Listen

A bad habit that many of us have is to focus on what WE want to say next rather than actually listening to what is being said to us. By hearing and acknowledging the other persons point of view you are actually showing how much you care.

4. Be respectful

Use direct and non-emotive language that focuses on the facts and describes a situation without being emotional. Natural language, facts and specific examples will stop this becoming a personal attack and help to focus on resolving the issue.

5. Expect a positive outcome

If you think it’s going to be disaster then it probably will be. Try thinking less about it being ‘difficult’ and more about having an open and honest conversation. The topic may be a little tricky or sensitive but by focusing on positive alternatives and solution’s means you’re more likely to get an outcome that is beneficial for everyone.

Watch our short Facebook Live video below for more help on having difficult conversations and join our free Facebook group to be a part of future Lives on a range of personal and professional development topics!

 

 

 

Good luck going forth and having your conversations! Find out more about our employee training and development and interpersonal skills workshops or get in touch for further support!

Do You Lead with Emotional Intelligence? (PART TWO)
01 Mar

Do You Lead with Emotional Intelligence? (PART TWO)

Emotional intelligence interpersonal skill 2

Employee’s want their managers to be mindful of their needs and are less accepting of insensitive behaviour and actions. With social awareness of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, on the increase, leaders must recognise this, respond appropriately and develop this important interpersonal skill.

 

In part one, we introduced the importance of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, highlighting the need for managers and leaders to become more aware of their own emotions and how to manage these. Now, let’s continue focusing on the range of ‘domains’ identified by Daniel Goleman:

Motivating yourself

Channelling emotions towards a goal or objective helps to keep focused. This mind-set helps you stay motivated, encourages self-discipline and avoids distractions that can get in the way of you achieving your goals. Self-motivated leaders are able to keep positive and focused on where they want to get to, often demonstrating discipline and high standards of achievement.

Re-evaluate – remind yourself of your goals, your achievements, the important things in life for you and what makes you most passionate.

Be optimistic – whilst this may not come naturally, motivated leaders are usually very positive no matter what happens. Look for at least one positive, it may only be small but you will be surprised at how this keeps you focused.

Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions

 

Leaders that employ empathy earn them the respect and loyalty of their teams, which is invaluable. Having the ability to put yourself in someone else’s situation is a must have if you want to manage a successful team or organisation.

Body Language – remember, not all communication is verbal so pay attention to what is not said just as much as you do on what is said.

Really Listen – most of us only retain 25% of what we hear. Eliminate barriers that stop you from listening and learn different techniques to enhance your listening skills.

Acknowledge feelings – don’t ignore other people’s feelings, acknowledge the situation and how they may be feeling, then see what you can do to rectify or improve things.

Managing relationships

This is a true test of leadership and interpersonal effectiveness and in simple terms refers to having great social skills. Those that are able to communicate effectively under any circumstances are often good at managing change and resolving conflict and will set examples with their own behaviour.

Communication skills – don’t think that these can’t be improved. There are lots of techniques and methods that can dramatically improve these skills and help you to become a master of communication.

Praise others – don’t be shy in recognising your team’s efforts and achievements. Be quick with praise and show your team how much they are appreciated.

The Goleman Model of Emotional Intelligence

Over the years it has been shown that leaders with a high EQ are more productive and successful at what they do. However, the good news is that your EQ is not a fixed trait; and whilst it can be challenging to acknowledge your weaknesses, it can be very enlightening to understand your strengths. Luckily our brains are capable of learning new information and skills at any age and time, so take the first step to improve your emotional skills and become a truly successful manager and leader.

 

At Right Trax Training, we can help your people to develop their Emotional Intelligence. Find out more about our interpersonal skills workshops.

How to WOW with your Presentation Skills!
09 Dec

How to WOW with your Presentation Skills!

interpersonal skills presentation wow

Presenting is commonplace for most of us, and a pretty common thing that many dislike having to do as well…but some straightforward techniques can take your presentations from the mundane to the magnificent!

 

Easier said than done?  Just consider the amount of presentations we are subjected to, where the ‘presenter’ hasn’t done their groundwork, is still getting themselves ready once the clock has started ticking or we spend all our time wondering what they are saying and leave with no idea what the point was.  Fear not!  By following some simple steps, it really is easy to WOW with your presentations and make them stand out from the crowd.

 

1.Failing to prepare = preparing to fail.

Very few of us can stand up there and knock it out of the park without putting the effort in up front.  How long you need to prepare depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How well you know the subject
  • How much content/material already exists
  • How skilled you are as a presenter

Factor in as much time as possible, scheduling the time out in your diary if necessary – do this sooner rather than later.  It can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 hours+ to prepare your content and delivery, including time to rehearse.  Don’t forget, preparation should also cover getting set-up on time and having a Plan B just in case things don’t go to plan (technical problems, anyone?).

 

2.Tell a story.

During your preparation time, start off by thinking of how you will structure the presentation. What’s the Twitter-style 140 character intro that will grab people’s attention, hook them and make them interested in why they need to listen?  A great story connects with us on an emotional level and has a captivating introduction, killer content and a powerful ending.

 

3.Keep it real.

Realness is about bringing an idea to life and not relying solely on words, taken from ‘Sticky Wisdom‘ by What If: The Innovation Company.  There are 3 elements to how we create realness in our presentations:

  • Engage with the ‘theatre of the mind’ – we all see and feel things differently so do your best to tune into your audience.
  • Avoid ‘insider speak’ – go easy on the jargon, acronyms and corporate language (good advice to live by really!)…this alienates your audience and adds confusion.
  • Remember ‘brain styles’ – put something in your presentation that appeals to all styles.  Confucius said “I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand”, so make it come alive.

 

4.Create an experience.

During the main part of your presentation, you should now have the interest of the audience; now you need to give them the substance and create an experience.  There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Introduce the antagonist or counterargument (i.e. what’s the problem to solve or what is the benefit of your recommendations?).
  • Explain what you think needs to be done.
  • Use anecdotes, examples, testimonials, stories and relevant statistics to prove the effectiveness of your solution.
  • Pre-empt any potential arguments which you might be challenged with.
  • Give the audience a vision – something they can see, hear, taste or touch.
  • Get the audience involved to keep them engaged.

 

5.Brush up on your delivery technique.

Something that’s often left until the last minute, if considered at all…PRACTICE!  Let us repeat…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!  To yourself, in the mirror, in front of the cat / dog at home but ideally in front of real-live human beings who can give you helpful feedback, we can’t stress this enough.  Here are a few other pointers to help with your delivery style:

  • Use the space around you in the room, avoid being rooted to the spot by moving slowly and fully around your space.
  • Watch out for tells that could show your anxiety, such as clicking pens or rocking on the spot where you stand.
  • Brush up on your questioning and listening skills.
  • Observe your audience – watch out for signs of restlessness or boredom.
  • Use silence to your advantage rather than filling them with noise.
  • Give your audience time to think and reflect on what you are telling them.

 

Of course, we would argue that you can learn to love presenting, but even if not love, by trying out these tips you’ll certainly love being better at delivering presentations in a way that helps you to feel 100% more confident!

 

We hope these ideas help to refresh your presentations, but of course it really just scratches the surface.  At Right Trax Training, we can help you to deliver truly powerful presentations.  Find out more about our interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Are You Developing Your Soft Skills?
15 Jul

Are You Developing Your Soft Skills?

Interpersonal soft skills

Exhibiting attributes such as excellent communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well as part of a team, are rapidly overtaking the usual suspects such as language skills or computer programming.

 

It seems that the most sought after qualities for today’s top employers are those loosely referred to as the ‘soft skills’, or ‘emotional intelligence’.

Recent reports indicate that many employers do not recruit candidates only for what they may have learned at university, but for qualities like strength of character, determination and resolve. The thought process being that ‘business-specific’ technical knowledge can be acquired if the soft skills and emotional intelligence already exist.

The right stuff…

Do you have what it takes to claim emotional intelligence? Here are some indicators:

  • Trustworthy, loyal, dependable. Businesses value employees they can trust to get the job done. Demonstrate your work ethic by being on time, and reliable. It’s imperative to meet deadlines, show you’re a team player, and prove that you can stay focused whilst at work.
  • Creative, inventive, resourceful. Irrespective of your position, many employers will – on occasion – expect you to make a presentation of some sort. Being able to engage your audience, convey information succinctly, and gain their understanding may be the deal-breaker.
  • Problem solving, critical thinking. Your ability to overcome a challenge in the workplace will serve you well. Demonstrate your capacity to solve problems, and face obstacles at work, in a resourceful fashion.
  • Coaching, leadership, mentoring. You will always be judged a strong candidate if you show willing to help your fellow team members and co-workers. Volunteering to take the lead on a project shows courage and ambition.
  • Cultural fit, compatibility, ethics. It’s important that you reflect the company’s culture.  Prospective employers will be searching for candidates who share their corporate outlook.
  • Flexible, adaptable, focused. Have a ‘can do’ attitude, and understand that targets and tasks may need to be changed at very short notice. If you are able to quickly adapt whilst still remaining focused on the objectives then you are indeed any company’s dream employee!
  • Have an opinion, accept feedback, be open to change. Team members who are confident in their ideas, but also happily give and receive feedback, are key influencers in many workplaces. Be sure that you not only share ideas but give considered answers to any questions, and challenge others’ thoughts respectfully.

 

At Right Trax Training, we specialise in developing your business through your key asset; your people. View our range of interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you and your people to develop these important attributes!

 

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