Category Archives: Articles

FAQs About FAQs

How often does a customer call, text or email you with a question? If you said ‘rarely’, then you’re either very good or very lucky. Stop reading now and go do something fun in stead. If you said ‘often’ or ‘a lot’, then read on …  this one’s for you.

How important are customer questions?

Our operational assumption is that effective, efficient and engaging customer communication is essential for any business to survive, let alone thrive. That said, responding to customer questions quickly, clearly and courteously is a critically important aspect of customer communication strategy. Read More »

Embrace the Platinum Rule

Many business professionals diligently attempt to practice the ‘Golden Rule’ at work that we all learned as youngsters. A workplace communication version of that philosophy would be ‘Communicate with other people the way you want them to communicate with you.’  While a nice warm and fuzzy concept, a quick reality check indicates two serious flaws in the logic: the ‘Golden Rule’ assumes ‘everyone is the same and that ‘everyone is the same as you.’

While the ‘Golden Rule’ doesn’t work at a certain level of specific application, the ‘Platinum Rule’ does. Rather than communicating with other people the way you want them to communicate with you, it stresses communicating with other people they way they want you to communicate with them. I first learned about this strategy from Dr. Tony Alessandra in the 90s. It is 10 times harder to do well, but 100 times better than the ‘Golden Rule’. So, you do the math and see how much value you see using it. Read More »

That’s really a dumb question

You know that old adage, ‘There’s no such thing as a dumb question’? Sorry to spoil your fantasy, but that’s wrong. There are plenty of dumb questions.

Three of my faves are:

1.  Excuse me, do you know what time it is? 

2.  Hey mister, got any spare change?

3.  Honey, do you want to take out the trash? Read More »

Lose Lame Lines

An often-overlooked element in any workplace email or memo is the simple little Subject Line. Depending on their content, they can add to the message or detract from the workplace writer’s image of competency. So … here are a few tips to Lose Lame Lines:

  • No Subject’ – the absence of a subject line is really lame. That says the writer was too lazy to think of something or too unimaginative. While either could be true, neither reader assumption helps the writer’s credibility. So … anything is better than nothing.
  • ‘Meeting’ – at least better than ‘no subject’, but not much. It does tell the reader something about the message. Less helpful if the reader attends lots of meetings, however. Read More »

Create Positive Ties With Former Employees

A business reporter recently asked for my thoughts on building positive ties with ex-employees, so I turned my interview comments in to the piece  below. As you’ll see, the answer is simple to understand, but complicated to accomplish.

The solutionis to create positive relationships with all employees from the moment they accept your job offer. This concept must be a credible core value and a visible part of your workplace culture:

  • Also maintain a positive employee performance culture. Clearly define expectations, regularly evaluate.
  • Create a proactive employee communication commitment from the top down and be one of its champions.
  • Also maintain a positive employee performance culture. Clearly define expectations, regularly evaluate performance and fairly reward results.
  • Be more than their boss; be their Success Coach and Mentor. Embrace the philosophy that you can’t succeed in your job until you help all of your team to succeed in their jobs. Read More »

Slow Down … You Talk Too Fast!

(Now that many organizations have returned to in-person presentations and pitches, it’s time to polish up those delivery skills that may have gotten rusty with lack of use during the pandemic. So let’s consider that most workplace presenters talk to fast … )

That’s right, it’s time to slow you down.  An important component of vocal delivery, your pace or rate of speaking can impact your audience’s attention, interest and opinion of you along with your ability to pause effectively.

Slow Down

Just as audience members tend to perceive a soft-spoken speaker as lacking in confidence or credibility, they react similarly to a fast-talking speaker. It doesn’t matter if this perception is accurate or not, because their perception is your reality. You are what they think you are.

Each of us has a normal comfort zone range of speaking rate, influenced by varying physical, psychological and cultural factors. And for some people, that comfort zone is too fast for the typical audience. It makes listeners work too hard to keep up with them. Since they don’t like to work hard, they often tune out and turn off. They also can perceive fast-talkers as insincere, nervous or inept. Read More »

It’s ShowTime!

Many entrepreneurs and business owners use business expos and smaller local trade shows to market their products and services and network with prospects, clients and colleagues. If that strategy works for your business, here are some Best Practices to help you maximize your experience, ROI and value by Asking the Right Questions.

The Attendee Experience

Business show attendees are usually in a hurry and most attend for specific reasons. They’re looking to connect with providers of products or services they may need. They cruise the isles quickly, looking for what they want, or good SWAG or … as in my case, snacks.

Read More »

Introverts Arise!

Now that many organizations are returning to in-person events, people are getting back into the networking game. I recently got a call from a reader who admitted to being very introverted, but still wanted to improve his networking results. I thought other introverts might benefit from what I shared:

1.   Introverted people have the potential of being better networkers than extroverts … really.  They talk less, but listen more.  They’d rather ask than tell. These are great qualities for a networker who wants to make the best possible first impression when engaging strangers. Extroverts tend to talk too much and mostly about themselves.  They can’t listen effectively when they’re talking all the time.

2.  Introverts should create and practice a simple elevator speech response to the often-asked question at networking events – ‘What do you do?’  They can practice it with friends they’re comfortable with until it is short, focused, engaging and interesting.

Read More »

Communicate with Style

(A reader recently commented that her written style and verbal style are often different. My reply … )

Lots of people feel that way and communicate accordingly. However, that doesn’t need to be the case in the contemporary and more casual business culture many of us work in. If you view workplace writing as ‘people talking to people on paper’, then you value and use a more conversational style. Read More »

Do Your Emails Definitely Suck?

Last month’s piece on email ‘worst practices’ really hit home with several readers who asked for even more content. I love it when that happens. So … your emails will definitely suck if you:

  • Use ‘cc’ that displays a long distribution list instead of concealing the names with a ‘bcc’.
  • Don’t keep it short and simple so the whole message can fit in a single screen without scrolling down. Read More »