Most people take offense at being told what to do. Telling others how to be and how to feel and what they should do immediately puts them on the defensive. Effectively offering advice is all about communication skills. A small alteration in the language can reduce the degree of defensiveness, increase the ability to be heard and create an effective dialogue. Imagine if you simply asked the person, "I have an opinion, would you like it?" If the relationship is based on trust, then the listener will understand that what you have to say is in their best interest. Furthermore, once they say yes, the onus of responsibility is on them to listen (remember, they said "yes"). One way to understand communication is to view it as a process between people rather than a language process. A defensive reaction is defined as a reaction which occurs when an individual perceives threat or anticipates threat. The person who responds defensively, uses an appreciable portion of energy to defend himself or herself. Besides talking about the topic, he thinks about how he is right, how he may win, and/or how he may avoid or mitigate a perceived attack. Once a defensive posture is in place, there is usually a defensive reaction in return. Then a circular response ensues, which becomes increasingly destructive. Defensive reactions, in short, elicit defensive listening, which in turn produces postural, facial and verbal cues which raise the defense level of the original communicator. If the receiver felt that the speaker regarded him with the respect of being asked, "Do you want an opinion", or "I have an idea, do you want it?", or "Do you want to know what I am thinking?" the situation would become less confrontational and the receiver could become better able to concentrate upon the content, the cognitive meanings and the intent of the message. When someone says to me, "ya know what you should do.....my entire self says "mmmmm, really ya know what you should do!" Try asking first before delivering! What is your reaction when people tell you what you should do? How do you offer your opinion?
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Multitasking is a word that gets tossed around a lot today. It is important to understand what it is and why it doesn't work. Multitasking is when we are trying to manage things (thoughts and actions) at the same time. It may be a surprise to know, however, that people who multitask are actually less productive than those who just concentrate on one project a time. A recent Harvard Business Review post says that multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ (Bergman, 2010). Finally, for those who still argue that they're great at multitasking, research indicates that even though we think we're "multitasking" it's actually our brain rapidly switching from one task to another, rather than processing them simultaneously. People who seem to be good at multitasking are simply good at being faster at switching back and forth between two things not doing two things at a time.(Scientific American, 2009). It is important to make our to-do lists, but it is more effective to understand the 3-5 imperative things you need to do and get them done first. Anything more than 5 immediately moves you into the same overwhelm. When we can think of compartmentalized thinking, like invoicing, client work, business development, research, etc it is more focused. Then within each topic list the highest level activities for each compartment and then pull the top level task from each one. It is very helpful to time your activities and then move from one to the next. There is scientific evidence that shows that people who are task oriented are much more productive and efficient. How do you manage your priorities? Do you think multitasking works?
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It's not a matter of having a bad or good attitude. It is an attitude that comes from a core belief that that we are the captains of our own ships. It is a belief that our thoughts control our feelings and that we are in control of our thoughts. We can steer the ship by believing that all can change and will based on our own reactions and attitudes. If we do the work to understand what's driving our thoughts, then we can change them. Attitude, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, education, money, circumstances, failures, successes, or what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, or skill. It will make or break a company. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change some of life's events. The only thing we can do is be responsible for how we react, how we greet the day and how we affect everybody around us. In this culture of overwhelm, demand and possibilities, one of the most important aspects of building success is our attitude. When there is so much we do not have control of, attitude is something we can control. Controlling our attitude converts the present to the future. One of the greatest ways to change your behavior or responses is to change your attitude. To change your attitude, you must separate the stimulus from the response. We have the ability to choose our response to any situation. There is a space, a bit brief, in which we may choose how to react in every situation. Often we allow our subconscious to make decisions, which is why we feel so out of control. We can take back control. It is not what happens to you that counts, it is how you react to what happens to you, especially when you have unexpected problems of any kind. If you think nothing can change, then you're are right, nothing will change, but by taking control of your attitude you open the door to all things possible! As as result of changing this attorney's attitude and committing to a few strategic business development steps, he was able to retain a few new clients and turn things around in his business very quickly. Here are four strategies to keep your-self thinking and acting positively: Decide to Be Positive Believe that a Positive Mental Attitude is indispensable to you professionally, personally and physically. Having an 'I can do this' or 'I can handle this' attitude changes everything. You can be as positive as you want to be if you will simply think about the outcome you are looking for, and focus on the solution. Become aware every time a negative thought appears and turn it around! Use your mental control to turn the negative thoughts to positive. Look for the Learning Although sometimes painful, practice assuming that whatever situation you are facing at the moment is exactly the right situation you need to ultimately be successful. This situation has been sent to you to help you learn something, to help you become better, to help you expand and grow. Look For the Good Always look for something good. Develop the belief that good is hidden within each difficulty or challenge. Everyday situations will happen, sometimes bigger than others. Practice looking for the good. If you look for it, and assume it is there, you will always find it. Think about the Solution Whenever you are faced with a difficulty, focus on the solution rather than on the problem. Think and talk about where you are, where you want to be, what the obstacles are and create the solutions! Rather than wasting time rehashing and reflecting on the problem, move to the solutions. Solutions are inherently positive, whereas problems are inherently negative. The instant that you begin thinking in terms of solutions, you start to see thing change. How does negative thinking get in your way? What strategies do you use to stay positive?
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In the current business climate and in the everyday churn of business we see that most small business owners and entrepreneurs are running on empty, facing more work with less people and managing one's emotions, performances and reactions are an ongoing battle. Studies show that there is a very strong link between feelings and performance. Day after day we hear complaints about how a company's leader is impeding the growth of the business and making the workplace a difficult place to be productive. When we create an organization where the workplace is positive and engaging it is more likely that when problems or obstacles occur the cost to productively and morale can be minimized. To successfully manage obstacles we must become experts at managing our emotions on three levels: Individually (ourselves), relationally (those we work and deal with), and organizationally (the whole company). By having knowledge and systems in place on all three levels, we greatly improve the climate around us as well as the company’s communication and path to becoming a solution based organization as opposed to problem based. How do you handle your emotions under stress? Are you impacted by other people behaviors and attitudes? What strategies do you use when you reach obstacles?
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Small business owners desperately need time off and when the sun is shining, the pull to be outside is great. Entrepreneurs learn that it's tough to stop in the middle of the day; even a few hours can be tough. The self-employed person pays for their 'fun' twice: the cost of lost productivity time, and the revenue lost from not working. It is tempting to just keep grinding away, but actually that can be counter-productive. By forcing yourself to take a break and a little recovery time, we come back to work with renewed energy and focus, often some of the best ideas and marketing approaches can be hatched. Here are a few suggestions on how to make your time count: Watch Your Business Day: Understand what your business demands will be for the day and schedule the breaks strategically. Use Automation: Set an auto responder for your emails to let the customer know what to expect and take the pressure off from feeling like you will miss something. When you do: I recommended make a commitment to a limited schedule of "work breaks." For example, try to schedule one hour a day and stick to that time frame. Choose three to five high level tasks you need to accomplish in that time frame. Stick to your starting and ending time! The benefits of taking breaks can be preventative in nature. Time off can curb burnout, stress, and the mental and emotional effects that tend to follow a non-stop, work-only lifestyle. Aside from these obvious benefits, a commitment to taking time off is a commitment to work-life balance that speaks to your health and understanding this is as important as or more important than work. With this in mind, get out there and enjoy! How do you schedule breaks? Do you find days that you never stopped to eat or recover? What strategy can you embrace now to schedule breaks now?
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At SBR, we believe that commitment is the most important word in the English language. With that in mind, we are also aware that making and keeping commitments can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Many factors can affect our ability to commit, such as losing passion, vision and purpose for our product/service, unexpected life events, a competitive marketplace and the lack of current knowledge about our business. People open a business because they have an idea, an interest, a passion or a skill and so they get certified or licensed. They often fail to realize that to succeed they must also know how to run the entire business, which means they need to structure and master the marketing, the selling, the policies, build a web presence, a database, a newsletter and manage e-mail communication. In the excitement of starting a business, it is difficult to anticipate how much will actually be involved. As business owners, we regularly feel that everything we are trying to accomplish at once is interfering with our ability to actually get business results! And still there is commitment. Commitment requires persistence, tenacity and realistic short term action steps because no matter what, a full commitment to you and your product or service is the key to success. The Tip: Making a commitment has three levels: I should do something, I want to do something, I need to do something. Most commitments are made when we get to the need level, whether that be increased learning, selling or hiring The Case Study: In the day to day operations of any business, no matter what else is going on the business owner needs to fill the pipeline and cultivate the relationships necessary to close sales. Time after time I meet with small business owners who say they have no revenue and that business is “really bad.” When I ask them about their sales calls, they answer, "Oh, I hate that part!" I ask, "Well, do you have clients that you worked with in the past? Can you call them?" Their answer is usually, "I really don't want to. It seems so sales-y. I know I need to do this, and I want to, but I hate it!" At this pace, their pipeline remains empty, relationships uncultivated. The Outcome: Selling requires discipline and consistency. I ask the business owner to create a list of 30 concrete names with contact information to commit to making at least one or two calls a day, and to track the results of those calls. This list should consist of past clients, friends, family, plus new leads. By committing to make just one or two calls a day, many business owners go from zero sales calls to making 20 to 40 calls a month. The result is always an increase in sales! How many sales calls are you making each day? What else are you doing to fill your sales pipeline and cultivate business relationships? What do you see as the major issues that prevent you from maintaining commitments?
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Creating and running a business is hard work and obstacles occur all the time. Staying stuck in the problem is negative, but working on the solution is being in the positive. -Shelly Berman Rubera, SBR-Small Business Results In the current business climate, we see that most small business owners and entrepreneurs are running on empty and facing more work with less people. Managing one's emotions, performances, and reactions has become an ongoing battle. Studies show that there is a very strong link between feelings and performance. Day after day, we hear complaints about company leaders who impede business growth and workplace productivity. For their recent book, The Progress Principal, Harvard Business School researcher Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer, asked 238 employees to record their mood, motivation, productivity, creativity; in the end, they collected diaries of over 12,000 days of work! The study found- with no surprise to any of us- that when people have a positive inner-work life (the constant stream of emotions, perceptions, and motivations experienced while at work), they are more creative, productive, and committed to their job. When they have a negative inner-work life, the opposite occurs. The authors further found that making progress on meaningful work was the greatest determinant between good and bad days. The two main takeaways from the book are as follows: It is critical that managers remove obstacles that can block progress – even seemingly minor daily hassles– in getting the work done. Managers should break big goals down into smaller, achievable ones to maximize the sense of progress that workers can experience. At SBR, we have witnessed that companies with positive and engaging workplaces are more likely to minimize costs to productivity and morale when problems or obstacles crop up.. To successfully manage obstacles, we must become experts at managing our emotions on 3 levels: individually (ourselves), relationally (those we work and deal with), and organizationally (the whole company). We need to support our employees, customers, and partners in achieving small wins on a daily basis and recognize that a positive “inner working life” is the greatest determinant of a positive working environment. This would greatly improve the climate around us, as well as the company's communication and path to becoming a solutions-based organization as opposed to a problems-based one. What system or strategy have you implemented to manage the “inner working life” of your employees, clients, and partners? What have you done to create small successes for your team?
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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Whether you are currently running a business or planning to start a business, three of the major issues for small business owners and entrepreneurs are isolation, feeling overwhelmed and lack of a revenue generating model. It is easy for them to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of business and wear the sales, marketing and finance hats. Therefore, it is challenging to remain focused, to grow and to expand the business in the direction that they would each like to see. By implementing commitment and accountability tools and systems, business owners can learn how to grow revenues.
Every Monday small business owners and entrepreneurs find themselves in the same situation: with little time, a minimal marketing budget, and feeling overwhelmed about finding the right strategy to get their company seen and heard. The scramble begins. They make calls, tweet, blog, network, and by Friday, they are exhausted and frustrated with few results.
Commitment is the key to success and is based on the premise of vision, purpose and action. The problem is that commitments are hard to keep when we set lofty goals or when our goals are set way out in the future (e.g. “I want to make $100,000 this year.”) Often times, goals are better reached by creating benchmarks, which then become the baby steps taken along the way. (e.g. “ I want to make $ 8,333.00 this month.”)
At SBR, we believe in the importance of looking at thirty day increments for predicted, repeatable, cost-effective, and implemental, strategic marketing and revenue plans. As part of these plans you must determine how many sales calls you will make each day, what time a day you will make them, how you will record the results, and choose right fit networking opportunities, at least two every 30 days. Along with these strategies, you must have a concrete social media marketing plan and be able to track ROI. By having 30-day marketing commitments, at the start of your month, all you really need to do is take a look at your marketing calendar and press send. If you really track your results, in a short time you will understand what works and what doesn’t. You can apply this strategy and adjust your approach based on your success rate within your targeted market.
What goal do you have to get your company in front of your clients in the next 30 days?
What is your definition of a right fit networking opportunity?
Have you employed a system to track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy? If so, what have you that does or doesn’t work?
I'll be here all week to answer your questions, so send them my way!
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