In today’s fast-paced business world, effective communication is everything
. Without it, things can fall apart in a heartbeat. Combine that with the stress of today’s economy, where many employees are terrified of losing their jobs, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. So here are a few ways to ensure effective communication is taking place in your place of business. 1.) Listen.
Yes, this means you are going to have to stop interrupting. By far the most important part of effective communication
is listening to the other person. So many people are already forming ideas in their heads of what they want to say in return before the first person is done talking that they are missing out on important information. Give the speaker your undivided attention; it will be easier to make an informed decision when you have all the information anyway. 2.) Have some perspective.
This tip could also be called, “Know your audience.” Understand that it can be particularly difficult for an employee to communicate with their boss. Regardless of how warm or welcoming you attempt to be, you are still going to be at least slightly intimidating to your subordinates. Understanding where they are coming
from will help you understand what they are trying
to say, even if they are having a hard time getting it out. 3.) Be clear.
One of the most important parts of effective communication is the communication part.
Nothing is going to be resolved
if you can’t actually articulate the information. Rambling for 20 minutes is only going to waste everyone’s time, so before you get started it might help to write down some bullet points, the main concept and a couple examples to help you illustrate your point (keep in mind you don’t need to use every example). Keep the information as short and simple as possible. 4.) Be open to ideas.
Communication is a two-way street. If you ask for feedback and then become defensive with each critique, no one is going to want to voice their opinion. Likewise, if you need ideas for a project but laugh at the first idea to come your way, you’re going end up with very few ideas to look over. More so, understand that you don’t know everything. There are going to be ideas and concepts that you aren’t going to come up with. Someone else is going to have a brilliant idea
once in a while, and don’t you want that person to be able to come to you when the genius strikes? 5.) Be genuine.
No one wants to talk to a robot. Showing that you have a sense of humor and a warm heart will go a long way in making others feel comfortable around you. I’m not advocating an inappropriate amount of self-disclosure here, I’m just saying that it’s important for others to understand that yes, in fact, you are
a fellow human being.
What are your tips for effective communication?
Ah, the age old battle between productivity
and procrastination. I have to admit, I’m quite skilled in creating a clever way to avoid boring tasks that need to be done, but at some point even I have to just bear down and do it. There are a few things that tend to help though, so here are my top 10. 1.) Be healthy.
This means you need to eat well, get enough sleep and make sure to make time to exercise regularly. Feeling unproductive can be a vicious cycle; you feel exhausted so you don’t exercise, so you feel even more
exhausted. Go for a run in the morning or a swim after work, eat an apple with peanut butter for your midmorning snack and get to bed at a reasonable time. All of this pays off dividends in the end. 2.) Make a list, prioritize it and stick to it!
Making a list of everything you need to get done is a great way to jumpstart your productivity. Often, just seeing everything written down and organized (instead of jumbled up in your head) will help you calm down. Put your most urgent and important tasks at the top, and get started. And feel free to use a little secret of mine; write down a few things that you have already done and cross them off. Look; you’ve already made some progress! 3.) Make a schedule.
That means setting 2 or 3 constant times to check your email. Checking it constantly throughout the day is a huge productivity killer. 4.) Time each task. Setting a goa
l for how long you’ll work often makes a task less overwhelming. Think about it; instead of telling yourself, “Okay, I’m going to work for 10 hours today,” say, “I’m going to spend the next 30 minutes working on this spreadsheet.” At the end of the 30 minutes, re-evaluate, and set another timed goal. 5.) Remove distractions.
While you may think
you work better with the television on, basic psychological principles beg to differ. Your brain has to use energy to focus on each individual thing going on around it, so that background noise is actually taking up valuable energy. It’s the same reason it’s recommended to focus on one specific job rather than multi-tasking.6.) Think, “Would I miss this?”
This is a simple trick to be able to tell if you’re procrastinating or not. If you think about everything you’re trying to do in a day, would you miss the current task you’re working on? If you didn’t get a chance to play that game of solitaire, would your day really
suffer for it? Probably not. 7.) Stay positive.
As stressful as you may be, remember, you’re making progress. You have more done now than you did this morning, and you’ll have more done in a few hours than you do right now. 8.) Do what you love.
You really should love what you’re doing, even if it’s not particularly enjoyable at the moment. Make sure you’re thinking big picture; writing that report may be daunting, but it’s going to be putting you one step closer to your dream job, right? And spending hours analyzing statistics may sound dreadful, but if the results could help make a positive difference
, isn’t it all worth it? And if you can’t find any enjoyment out of what you are doing, it might be time for a different list of priorities. 9.) Reward Yourself.
If you’ve been good at sticking to your to-do list, make sure you reward yourself at the end of the day. Personally, I might choose to watch one of my favorite television programs with a glass of wine, completely undisturbed, meaning no email
. 10.) Just DO it already.
Yes, you have to take the first step! Turn off the television, put your cell phone to the side, get a glass of water, make a list and get going!
What are some tips you have for being productive?
The Art of Collaboration
“I loved making a decision by myself!” is the first thing I heard when Susan stepped away from the completed canvas. The second thing I heard was from Todd; a loud, unmistakable, “ugh.” Todd rolled his eyes and then smiled because it was just ‘so Susan.’ Apparently, she had to ask everyone’s opinion before she could settle down and get some work done, get dressed for a party, or decide what to order for supplies. Todd, on the other hand, didn’t need opinions; he just wanted to get some work done and often went his own way and avoided Susan with her endless neediness.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There is an art to collaboration and few people are artists, which is why Canvas Creek Team Building
actually uses art for their premier event. When people step to the canvas, 95% of them have no interest in painting, no idea what they are going to do, and no reason to become engaged in the process other than the directive “you will be there at 9am” from their boss. They come with reluctance, much like Todd when entering a conversation with Susan.
It’s what happens in the next few minutes that is important. After beginning the task, participants act in a completely singular fashion until they realize, often with baffling surprise that others could help them complete the task. They wrestle with this idea for a while then they begin to work together, leaning on each other, supporting each other and finally presenting a completed piece of art they are truly proud of.
This is exactly what is needed in the development of an energy frontier: the act of recognizing others are available with expertise, complimentary abilities and an eye on collaboration. Collaboration is not the act of indecision or ram rodding an idea, it is the display of ideas, the collective wisdom of those gathered together and the delightful moment when everything comes together for a win that each person has a stake in and can be proud of. So, how can collaboration be accomplished
? 1. Look at the possibilities-what could be accomplished if you had a bigger team, more players or a different skill set. 2. Know what you do, and what you offer. 3. Listen to what others do, what they offer. 4. Give up ‘ownership’.
When collaborating, it does not matter who came up with the idea or who will get the credit. You must know that when everyone participating in the process wins, you also win
. There are few things in this world that are so specific that only you can do them. Embrace that. Help others and they will help you. 5. Move; get out of the way.
Collaboration moves fast and it gets things done. Don’t stand in the way with “it’s not how we do things” or “oh gosh, I don’t know.” Jump in and see what can happen
and trust the collective knowledge…or don’t play the game. 6. Appreciate others.
Share applause. Know that together you are accomplishing what you could not have done alone, whether a multi- billion dollar company or a start -up, say “Thank you for your help,” and mean it. You are collaborating and it feels good.
If you and the people you are collaborating with would like a dose of creative juices (a jump start to your collective success),
try jumping into Canvas Creek
. Like a splash of cold water it will refresh you, energize you and teach you the art of collaboration.
While you may think this seems like a topic that is only applicable to small business owners, think again. What about your daughter that’s in Girl Scouts? Or your son that will be selling coupon books around town in for his baseball team? What about that fundraiser at work you’re throwing? No matter what walk of life you’re involved in, knowing how to increase sales
when you need to is quite a valuable skill. 1.) Have a goal.
Simply saying, “I want to sell as many cupcakes today as I can!” may seem like a good idea, but you’re probably setting yourself up for smaller sales numbers. Instead, create a realistic goal that you would like to achieve, and then break that down into smaller goals
. For example, maybe you’d like to sell 100 cupcakes by the end of the bake sale. That means, if you’re going to be there for 4 hours, that you need to sell cupcakes per hour. This smaller goal will let you know if you are on track to make your larger end objective
or if you are falling off the pace. 2.) Create an incentive.
Sure, just the small fact that you’re bringing in money by selling your product seems like a great incentive, but adding a different dimension, like making it a competition could really up your game. Going back to our bake sale example, maybe you have two tables set up. So create a competition between the two tables. Whichever tables sells fewer cupcakes has to take the other table out for lunch after the sale. 3.) Try to upsell.
A classic example of an upsell is “supersizing.” They’ve already bought the product (maybe it’s an electronic device), so an upsell would be asking, “And do you want the two year warranty with that as well?” If you aren’t attempting to upsell, you’re missing out on quite a bit of business. 4.) Be good to your customers.
Someone who sells a crappy product will only be in business for so long. The fact is, if customers feel like they’re being duped, they may
give you a chance to prove otherwise, but it’s very rare that they would come back after being burned. So make sure to treat them right. Don’t push a product on someone that they clearly don’t need, and don’t push a product on someone that clearly can’t afford it. The end goal isn’t to sell as much as you can in one shot, the end goal is to make sure your business
is in good standing with the customer so that they’ll think of you next time they need a similar service or product. 5.) Increase leads.
You aren’t going to have much business if you don’t get out there and make a name for yourself! As a writer, it’s pretty unlikely that I am going to find work through people stumbling across a random article of mine. Instead, it’s much more productive to reach out to potential clients, inform them of my services and explain how I can help their business
. If you run a carpet cleaning company, for example, don’t just put your number in the phone book, reach out to local property management companies and ask if they will recommend you for services when tenants move out. Every little bit helps.
How do you increase sales
in different areas of your life?
Running a household can be tough. From keeping track of everyone’s schedule to making sure everyone is keeping track of their own schedule, things can get a little tricky. Here’s where a little teamwork and planning becomes very, very,
1.) Have clearly defined roles and values, and stick to them.
If you’d like to pass on the value that it’s best to offer help before someone has to ask for it, then demonstrate it. Things can get very confusing when the “Do as I say, not as I do” mantra is practiced. If you want your kids to stand up
for themselves, laugh off the little things, or put something away when they’re done using it, than you should try your best to do those things too.
One of the reasons many families have an unnecessary amount of stress is that one person is doing all the work. Maybe the mother is working full time as well as keeping the house clean, dropping off and picking up the kids from school activities, making dinner, doing the grocery shopping, and much, much more. In this case, it can be hard for anyone else to even begin to help. They don’t know what to do. So define the roles
. Maybe it’s the 12 year-old’s job to make sure the dishes are done and the table is set, the 15 year-old’s job to make sure the animals are fed and the living room is vacuumed. When one parent comes to home to make dinner, it’s the other parent’s job to pick up the kids from soccer practice. When everyone pitches in, everything gets a little easier.
As advanced as modern science and technology is, it still hasn’t cracked the code that would allow us all to be mind-readers. If you or another member of your family is unhappy with the status-quo, something needs to be said, and in order for that to happen, a welcoming and non-judgmental environment needs to be set in place.
But since it’s tough to just outright say something (we all still struggle with it), help each other out. Just a simple, “How was your day?”is enough to get the ball rolling
. Showing that you’re interesting and concerned with each other’s lives will help each other feel connected and valued.
4.) Point out the good.
It’s such a small gesture, but it goes so far in keeping your family a close-knit group. “I saw you got an ‘A’ on that last test, great job,” or “Awesome job with dinner tonight, that was delicious,” is a simple way to show you care.
5.) Be polite and respectful.
Everyone is going to get testy at one point or another. It’s a simple fact that families are chaotic and not everyone is happy all the time, but as long as you agree to be respectful (that means no namecalling,
circumstance), things are much likely to smooth over.
Oh and “please” and “thank-you” never hurt anyone.
How do you help your family function?
Buying a new home can be quite a stressful process; there are so many things to take into consideration! From its proximity to your work or your child’s school, to the security of the neighborhood to the validity of the home inspection, the amount of thought that goes into buying a home can cause anyone to lose a few hours of sleep each night.
So let’s simplify this. Let’s take a look at some of the unwanted pressures of buying a home, and how to correctly navigate them.
1.) Define your reasons for buying a home.
If you’re looking to buy a home because you really have an urge to paint and design a living room, you might want to hold off a bit. Buying a home is a huge commitment, one that you may spend the next 30 years paying off. On the other hand, if you’ve researched the pros and cons of buying a home (how it’s going to affect your taxes, if you’re able to handle being responsible for all maintenance concerns, etc) you might be ready to take the first step.
2.) Get your finances in order.
Nothing adds more stress to a home-buying situation quicker than financial uncertainty. You might find the perfect home but not be able to make an offer because the bank hasn’t finished processing your loan paperwork yet, or you might end up looking at houses only to have your dreams crushed when you discover you qualified for a much lower amount than you thought you did. Before you start your search, make sure you know where you stand
. 3.) Hire an agent.
Trying to tackle the process of buying a home without the help of an experienced real estate agent is often setting yourself up for disaster. An agent will know the up-and-coming neighborhoods, the current state of the housing market and other things that you might want to consider (a swimming pool is great, but are you aware of the maintenance costs?). They will also help you make a strong first offer and negotiate properly to get the home of your dreams. In addition, they often have a significant list of contacts that will be able to help you in your process, such as a great home inspector. 4.) Cancel out the naysayers.
Buying a home is often like planning a wedding; there is going to be countless people who think they know best and want you to take their opinion. Thing is though their opinions aren’t always facts. Your mother-in-law might comment that the house you’re looking at is far too overpriced in this market, but in reality she probably doesn’t know the real estate climate at this time and the cost of that home could be perfectly reasonable. Just be sure to have a reliable real estate agent, as well as…5.) Trust your gut.
If you walk into a home, and it just doesn’t “feel right,” it’s probably not the home for you. Sure it might be the right size, have a backyard like you asked and be in your price range, but if you’ve got a gut feeling that it’s not a good fit, it’s probably not. When you find the home of your dreams, you’ll know it.
Starting your own business
is often a dream many of us share. The thought of being your own boss, making your own schedule, and most importantly, creating something you're proud of, are all some of the major benefits of owning your own business. Small question though, how do you get started? 1.) Have an idea.
Every business starts with a product or a service, so do you feel you have something to
offer? Maybe you love cleaning and feel like you can clean a house better than anyone you know, so you're thinking of opening a maid service. Maybe you're a fantastic chef and have worked in kitchens your whole life and feel like it's time to run a restaurant of your own. Maybe you live in a community that could seriously benefit from a dog-walking service. In any case, make sure you have an idea of what kind of business you would get involved in. 2.) Write a business plan.
A business plan will help you decide what you need to do now and where you want things to go. It would be great if your business is successful, but if it begins growing faster than you expected and you aren't ready for the increase in demand
, it could crumble what was originally a great start.
3.) Research business requirements in your area.
Your state may require different licensures and certifications than the next state over, so it's important to know exactly what you need to do in your area. And if you need to choose a location, there might be specific zoning regulations that affect what you can have inside your building or what kind of construction your building can undergo.
In addition, it's going to be important to determine the legal structuring of your business (LLC or an S-Corporation?) and register for state and federal taxes. It may even be necessary to get a tax identification number. There are also going to be different rules and regulations regarding how you go about hiring employees. 4.) Finance your business.
A well written business plan will be able to help you determine what kind of start up money you'll need to get your business off the ground. There are many options to financing your own business, from using money you have in savings, to taking out a business loan to finding local or government grants to help with small businesses. 5.) Train yourself and your employees. No matter what line of work you are in
, there is almost always some sort of training that you or your employees could benefit from. You'll want to make sure any employees you hire are ready for the job they're going to be doing, otherwise your business could collapse before it even gets started. 6.) Go for it! Starting a business
can be a daunting task, but as long as you go
about it the right way (doing your research, making sure you're well organized
etc), you'll have a better idea of the steps you need to take.
Ah, the idea of getting healthy. For so many of us, the phrase, "getting healthy" is really just a simple phrase that we use either A.) Right after we catch our breath after climbing up a rather miniscule flight of stairs, or B.) What we say in a drunken slur four minutes before midnight on December 31. Of course, "getting healthy" tends to be easier said than done; otherwise you would be spending your time doing something other than reading this article, wouldn't you?
So whether you have a goal of quitting smoking, getting more sleep at night, dropping that holiday weight or just laughing more, let's examine the tried and true way of getting it done. 1.) Choose a specific goal.
Make sure you know exactly what you are pursuing. Choosing a goal of "I want to be healthy" won't be doing you any favors. Do you want to want to have a slower body fat percentage? Do you want to reduce the amount of negative self-talk you participate in? Do you want to increase your endurance or strength capabilities? Choosing a specific goal
allows you to outline a plan for accomplishing it. 2.) Research your goal.
The point of this step is to make sure your goal is realistic and, in fact, healthy. Committing to lose 20 pounds in the next two weeks is probably not a very good idea. It's completely unrealistic, and any doctor will tell you that trying to lose more than two pounds a week can be harmful to your health.3.) Write it down.
Research has proven that writing your goal down and keeping it in a place where you see it often (taped to your bathroom mirror, for example) can significantly increase your chances of reaching it. 4.) Set a timeline.
Are you hoping to lose weight for your upcoming wedding? Training for a 10k race coming up in 3 months? Set yourself up with some kind of timeline. This doesn't have to be set in stone, mind you (everything always takes some adjusting as you go), but it will help you to stay motivated as your end date approaches. 5.) Make a plan.
A plan needs to be put in place for two main reasons: 1.) You need a plan to outline what you need to do each day to reach your goal, and 2.) You need to have a way to measure your progress. Creating a step by step plan to reach your health goal will also help things seem less overwhelming and help to keep you on track.
So think about what you're going to do each day to reach your objective
. If you're hoping to fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy pair of jeans before your high school reunion, what do you need to do each day? Perhaps you could start by doing some kind of cardio activity, three days a week, for at least 30 minutes a day. You could also commit to swapping some of your most indulgent foods for lower calorie options (skim milk instead of heavy cream in your morning coffee). And how are you going to measure your progress? Maybe you could weigh yourself or take body measurements once a week.
6.) Make a relapse plan.
This is probably the most important step in your "get healthy" regimen. Understanding that sometimes you will slip up
, and then having a way to get you back on track will make sure you don't fall off the wagon completely. Sure, everyone is going to backslide once in awhile, but that doesn't mean all is lost. A cookie one day does not justify three cookies the next day.
Get the idea? Good, now go for it!
Are you one of the lucky masses in the Bakken, huddled together, with people you barely know in an apartment or man camp? It’s a little crazy isn’t it! Even worse, are you just hoping to be lucky enough to find someone to share an abode with so you can accept work? If living together, without the elixir of ‘true love’, is your fate I have a few tips for you. You may be asking, "Why does Karen, a middle aged homeowner in Billings, Montana think she can give me tips about living with others?" And that, as they say, is the rest of the story
I grew up in a tiny house- lots of people. I married a man who likes big houses- and I like to fill them with lots of people. Through all of the people, all of the challenges I’ve learned to make it work for everyone. Right now my daughter and her husband have lived with us for 5 years. They added a grandson to the mix and, lo and behold, we are all still speaking. I also have a brother, a consummate bachelor, living in our basement, and I invite various friends and relatives to stay at a moment’s notice. Our guest list has included two Swedish bicyclists who were about to camp in the local park when I invited them to stay in our back yard. They stayed for six days and we are still fabulous friends.
Here are 5 tips you can use to live with others…no matter who or where.
1. Avoid saying “This is my house.” You may be the owner or the name on the lease, but you have invited people into the structure so they would have a home. Nothing ever ends well when you say “In MY house.” Even though you very well may mean it. Instead try this “In our home,…” the simple change will improve a lot of attitudes. Everyone wants to take care of their home, and if you keep staking your territory by saying ‘in my house’ they have no reason to take the desired ownership attitude of upkeep and improvement.
2. Have a chore chart. When people take turns doing the dishes or cleaning the floors, they are more apt to be careful with those things. The other benefit of a chore chart is on the day you are really cranky, the floors are dirty, the sink full of dishes and there are your house mates watching TV and you are ready to scream “IN MY HOUSE” all you have to do is pick up the chore chart, say “I wonder what I have today?” and everyone will get the point. Our chore chart includes the reminder that everyone does their own laundry and if you pee there you clean there.
3. Leave once in a while. Nothing kills the mood like everyone hanging out, fighting for space, being obnoxious and just when it is really getting to you, you might as well know you are really getting on their nerves too. Take a break. We often do one night get a ways, or weekend trips. When you come home you have something to talk about and life is great. You are no longer sick of them and they are no longer sick of you. An added bonus…they may have tackled their chores while you were gone.
4. Don’t be an ass. I know, that is kind of blunt but if you behave, clean up after yourself, share the remote, pay your share of the bills-on time, things will go more smoothly. Be the one who sets the good example. Make your mama proud. Be the one who cheers for the others. Every communal living arrangement needs a good guy and an ass. Choose wisely.
5. Develop an identity
. People in our neighborhood know us as the crazy people who wear Christmas shorts (don’t ask) when we shovel their drives the morning after a big snowfall. (Being nice to neighbors is a good idea too). One communal family is known for their music jams. One family we know has a ‘for the love’ doll. It gets passed around as a nod to the things in life that makes you say “Oh, for the love.” and having it in your possession is a perk. Your homes identity will probably come upon you by accident and you get to decide if it is “Animal House” or “The Waltons” but embrace it and make it who you are
. Identity makes the chaos of living together easier to bear.
Living together is a sign of the times and it really can be fun. Here are a few resources for more on the idea of sharing housing:Learn how to share housing---save your sanityHow to live with relativesLegal advice for cohabitation http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/sharing-book/chapter6-1.html
This was written for Synergy Station
copyright 2011- Karen Grosz and Canvas Creek