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Is criticism is a threat to survival?

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Whether you have the formal title of manager or not, you will give and receive lots of feedback during your career. If you're like a lot of people, you have a difficult time doing either. Certainly, receiving feedback often stimulates our fight-or-flight impulse.

Does it have to be this way? Is criticism really a threat to our survival?

Of course not! That would be silly.

Our brains are, however, wired to see criticism as a potential threat and it is this underlaying fear that makes receiving feedback so difficult to take.

Feedback is also very hard to give. No one wants to be the difficult boss or cranky colleague. (Unless you already are, in which case, you are likely oblivious and that's a whole other post!)

Here's how to do it effectively.

When giving feedback:

Be timely. There is no point in offering constructive criticism when it's too late for anything to be done about it. Be clear. Don't use waffly terms that leave your colleagues scratching their heads, wo…

The risky proposition of not knowing your key message

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Communication people spend a lot (A LOT) of time talking about key messages, writing key messages, and coaching clients how to use key messages.

Why all the bother about a simple statement?

Because if you do this one thing well, people (read: clients, customers, staff, your kids) will remember the crux of what you're talking about. Do it poorly, and they remember nothing -- or, perhaps worse, the wrong thing.

The thing about memory that has been shown to be true is that it's a patchwork at best. We may remember bits and pieces of different events and cobble them together to create inexact recollections.

We often remember bad things as being more significant than they were (Like that old performance review when the boss said lots of nice things, but you've focused on the one area she said needed improvement.) and tend to remember those things that struck an emotional cord over things that don't.

When we deliver a lot of information, we're asking people to decipher …

1 little adjective

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We've talked about branding on this blog a number of times. Today, I'd like to tackle it from a different perspective.

We know that people have crummy memories, right? If you tell your kids to do five things, you're lucky if they'll remember two. Whenever you go to the grocery store to pick up a few things, how many times do you return home without the most-needed item?

That's why communication folks say to only have one to three key messages and to repeat them over and over. People will remember very little of what you tell them; I've read that words account for as little as seven per cent of the impact of a presentation, for example.

So, what's the one thing -- the ONE thing -- you want people to remember about you? The one thing you want them to tell others about you?

That you were helpful? Professional? Friendly? Expert? Inspiring?

Have a look at these adjectives. Think of these as a jumping off point and use other words if these don't do it.


Maybe…

Friends of The Spire: Proof that a small group can make a big difference

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We love our clients and like to promote the great work they do in our city. We became involved with Friends of The Spire in 2017 and are delighted to share with you the success the group has had in renovating and reinvigorating a welcoming (and affordable!) space for nonprofits and community groups in Kingston.


Where do nonprofit organizations and community groups find affordable and safe space for assembly, celebration, reflection and social action?
For some, that place is The Spire. And Friends of The Spire – a dedicated small group of tireless individuals – are committed to preserving this beautiful heritage building for Kingstonians.
You can help.
First, a bit of background.
Known for generations as the Sydenham Street United Church, The Spire is located in the heart of the Old Sydenham Heritage Conservation District and has been a gathering place since long before Confederation. Originally serving as the city’s circus site, the land was donated in 1851 by the city’s first mayor, John…

That fear-inducing question: What's your budget?

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Some months ago, I met with a networking group and we got on the topic of the inherent challenges of writing quotations for clients. One of the things that makes this process difficult is the awkward and sometimes fear-inducing question we ask: What's your budget?

Why do consultants ask you about money?

Let's begin with you.

You need some work done so, you call or email a consultant or two or three to get quotations for services.

"How much it will cost to do "x?"

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Yet the truth is, I can't always answer that seemingly simple question in a direct way because (and here's where a bit of scepticism may enter on your part) I want to be sure that what you're asking for will get you what you want.

I pepper you with questions like:

What do you want to achieve?How much time do you have to achieve it?Who is your audience?Who is your competition?Is everyone on board with the goal?And finally, the killer question: Wh…

Networking without fear

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Networking.

The idea of it gives many people knots in the stomach. I used to be one of them.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

The best advice I ever received was to stop thinking about networking as a way to sell yourself and to think of it as an opportunity to help others.

"Attend networking events with the intent to be a connector."

Ask others about themselves and their work. Listen to what they do and who they need to meet. Think about how you might help them through your networks.

When you make networking about service to others rather than focusing on yourself, the fear of facing a crowd melts away. At least it did for me.

Sure, you still need to have an elevator speech because when you are interested in others, they usually ask you about you, so be prepared.

But, when you attend to others, the spotlight changes direction and that's a lot more comfortable than feeling like you're at a speed dating event.

Since those bygone days, I often carry the business…

What's culture got to do with it?

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I've written and spoken (a lot) about brand. What it is and what it isn't.

It's a favourite soapbox of mine.

Over the years, I've been asked many times to "create a brand."

As soon as I begin to ask questions about their customer service, internal culture, market position, etc., I am often met with that deer-in-the-headlights look.

They aren't really asking for help with their brand. What they are saying is: "Create a logo for us."

Your logo, motto or slogan, the colours, fonts and images that you use represent your brand -- or what you think your brand is or want it to be.

Brand itself is quite different.

To define your brand, ask yourself some questions.

How would you describe your business's culture? What behaviour do you recognize and reward among your employees? How do you think your customers would describe their experiences with you? How responsive are you to requests for service after the sale? Do you give back to your community? Wha…