Human communication skills Archive

Fridge choice overwhelm issue

Using the analogy of a child stand in front of a fridge full of cold drinks to understand the impact of choice overwhelm. The fear of making the wrong choice leads us to feel less satisfied with the decisions we make. When our decisions have disappointing results we tend to blame ourselves.

Slide design tips: Avoid Data overload in presentations

Avoid dumping data and confusing your audience in your presentations. “Consultant’s disease” is giving too much information, without discovering what the listener’s actual needs are. A simple example is when asked how to write a letter on the computer the “consultant” explains about the processor speed, the operating system, and the stability of the software. 90% of the information given, in this case, is …

Performance feedback: Three times tips

The Tipping Point, for teams and individuals, is a Positivity Ratio of at least three times (3:1). Every interaction impacts your positive to negative ratio. Operate inside the three-times-positive zone and your team will flourish, achieving a state of flow.Fall outside this zone and your team will become sluggish, work together less effectively, and easily get caught up in the pull of a downward spiral …

Slide design: Using Presenters view (PP and Mac)

Learn how to use Presenter's View. Stop boring power point where the presenter reads what the audience reads and everyone falls asleep. Presenter's View, on Power Point (2007+) or Keynote (2004+), allows you to see your notes on your laptop, while the audience sees just the current slide.

Slide design: Lessons from TED

TED talks aim to persuade, influence and change the way we Think and Act. We should be aiming to do the same thing in our business presentations. No more “Death by Power Point”, ever. Microsoft comes with Power Point, Excel and Word - they are meant to do different things. Word is for documents to read, PPT is to visually augment what you are …

Performance feedback speaker: Make KPI’s easier

Giving and receiving feedback is potentially some of the most important communication we can engage in with the members of our team. Once, or twice, a year we deliver a pile of “stale constructive criticism" to each employee and are surprised by the negative responses. Giving feedback effectively is a skill, that takes practice to build competence and confidence. Without a tried tested process which …

Performance feedback: Make KPI’s easier

Giving and receiving feedback is potentially some of the most important communication we can engage in with the members of our team. Once, or twice, a year we deliver a pile of “stale constructive criticism" to each employee and are surprised by the negative responses. Giving feedback effectively is a skill, that takes practice to build competence and confidence. Without a tried tested process which …

Create a positive Feedback Culture

What leaders do the rest of the organisation will imitate, bad or good behaviour. Organisations with a strong feedback culture tend to perform better. The transparent approach ensures the focus is on problem solving; it reduces speculation which damages engagement levels and the brand of the organisation. Behaviour acknowledged gets repeated.

Performance feedback tips: Don’t Bottle or Blurt

When we don’t have an appropriate method to express ourselves we may bottle up the emotion, or blurt out our feelings at the wrong moment. Both are destructive in business, or personal, relationships. If the lines of communication are not kept open we may miss out on important information relating to our skills, or relationships with clients and co-workers.

Performance feedback: Don’t Bottle or Blurt

When we don’t have an appropriate method to express ourselves we may bottle up the emotion, or blurt out our feelings at the wrong moment. Both are destructive in business, or personal, relationships. If the lines of communication are not kept open we may miss out on important information relating to our skills, or relationships with clients and co-workers.

Performance feedback: Three times positive

The Tipping Point, for teams and individuals, is a Positivity Ratio of at least three times (3:1). Individuals and Teams with these high ratios had higher profitability, better reviews, and customer satisfaction scores. Teams and individuals with a positivity/negativity ratio below 3:1 tended to be less engaged, receive lower customer scores, and were less profitable.

Chunk it, feel and repeat your way to success

You may have try an element of a process numerous times before you succeed. It is essential to pay attention to the process and get feedback as to what elements work, and those that do not. Our brains are elastic and will build up new pathways as we practice.

Performance feedback speaker: Praise effort not talent

When we praise intelligence we tend to put people in a fixed mindset where intelligence is fixed, and they have it (increasing the fear of new challenges as they may not have it after all). When we praise for effort we tend to put people in a growth mindset where they are developing skills as they are working hard.

Speech design tips: Speaking lessons from snakes

As speakers we can learn to overcome our fears through the vicarious experience of watching others grow personally and professionally. Then, when we are ready, we try it for ourselves. Over time we learn we don’t die when we get up and speak. Initially we protect ourselves with lecterns and notes, then eventually we are able to stand up and shine.

Performance feedback should be Immediate, encouraging and clear

Imagine your parents had tried to help you learn to walk like most managers try motivate their employees? Would criticism, cajoling and feedback once a quarter have helped you learn to walk? As parents coaching kids we give them immediate feedback, rather than waiting for the end of the quarter. We are encouraging, in tone and words, rather than being sarcastic, critical and using negative …

Visibility, Mattering and Impact an Employee Engagement bottom line

We want to be acknowledged, to be recognised as individuals, and to know we matter. Take these first steps to Employee Engagement and see the impact on the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit). Miserable individuals infect each other, and this misery ripples out to the people who must work with them, live with them - their colleagues, families and friends. Visibility, Mattering and Impact …

Benefits of a positive workplace

Positivity creates the opportunity for human moments that transcend a smiling face and hopeful thoughts. A positive work environment impacts our body chemistry, reduces stress and improves creativity and problem solving abilities. Just as a negative environment increases stress, negatively impacts our body chemistry and reduces tolerance and empathy.

Demonstrate Leadership in business

Walk the talk. As a leader what you do gets noticed, even when you are not in the front of the room. Whether as a leader in your work, or in your family life, demonstrate the behaviour you want to see from others. Nothing makes your point more powerfully than demonstrating a desired action or behaviour. We are more likely to follow a leaders example, …

Effective training tips for development

Start by determining what training is required, in order to deliver products or services to the customer (internal or external customers), in a manner that increases customer engagement and retention. Get a training buy-in to ensure motivated trainees.

Engaging people in business change

Change is a part of every organisation. Unfortunately many change initiatives fail to consider how the changes impact the people involved, and thus most change initiatives fail. In order to make change stick, to drive and enable successful change, the communication and implementation needs to take the people into account.

Communication in Change Management


Change efforts often succeed or fail on the strength of communications. Research shows it’s almost impossible to over-communicate when instigating and leading change. Focus on the “Why should I care angle”, send a clear message to employees as to why they should get behind the change. How the change will prevent pain for them, or positively impact them, once completed.

One Clear Message Google Search tips

Do your staff waste valuable time with poorly formatted search queries? Use this simple table of our top Google search tips to make communication with this amazing search engine easier. Save time and money by searching more efficiently.

The power of the Pause in speaking

Too many speakers rush to say something. Allowing too little time for you and the audience to engage each other, and settle in. The pause before you say a single word allows you to own the stage, and creates a presence that attracts attention and invites the audience to settle and listen.

You are the message as a leader

A lack of information can cause more harm than an oversupply, as fear can start rumours. Congruent Communication should be a priority for managers at every level of the organisation, especially in a change process. They need to demonstrate best practice, walk the talk.

Emotional buy-in in speaking

When building a relationship, speaking or making a sale remember to appeal to the emotional nature of your audience. People make decisions, and buy in, emotionally and then intellectually justify their decisions.The greatest skill any speaker or sales professional can develop is the ability to connect with their audience emotionally.

Demonstrate self esteem at work

We teach other people how to treat us .... by the way we treat ourselves and others. We each have different experiences - frame of references ...how is anyone supposed to know what you mean unless you clarify what you mean? Our actions clarify those references. In business and all other types of relationships this is true

Change management tips for business

Change creates a path that is easy to follow with small wins along the way, to enable a successful change process. Be patient with yourself. Significant change does not happen right away. Give yourself a break, and don’t expect to become a change wizard overnight. Change takes time and has key steps that make change easier to manage.

Communication in Conflict Resolution

Conflict can be an opportunity to build relationships ... or the demise of one. Here are some communication tips to help manage and build your relationships in the face of conflict. Use effective feedback (3-2-1), humour and other tips to engage your listener and find creative solutions.

Need 4 Clear Steps

In our business and relationship communication this means we need to create a clear path for clients or our partner to take once we raise the issue. If we raise a problem or fear tainted issue it will cause anxiety but is unlikely to lead to change unless clear action steps are agreed to in the moment and action is taken immediately. Otherwise actions will …

Performance feedback: Crave feedback

When customers give us feedback that something should be better, we can take it as an attack ... or as an opportunity to grow and develop better service. We live in a world where more attention is paid to the issues, problems and failures - the squeaky wheels. Unfortunately it is hard to hear the "helpful" advice when it comes in torrents. It is far …

Smile power in business

Don't wait for others to smile at you ... take this life altering step first ...Smile! :-D Nothing changes things like the power of a genuine smile. A smile can change your day. Turn a bad experience positive. If you enter a store and a greeted with a smile, made to feel welcome your shopping experience is made better.

Communicate One Clear Brand

Think of your Brand as the promise you make to the consumer. If a promise is made it needs to be kept. If this promise is made on behalf of the organisation, every member of the organisation has to keep that promise, not just the salesman or marketing department. A clear congruent message needs to be sent and delivered to the customer. Service and quality …

Self Appreciation a key to growth

We teach others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. Self esteem is how we honestly feel about ourselves, appreciate and value who we are. When we look after ourselves, value and appreciate our strengths and beauty we demonstrate to others how we expect to be treated. We filter comments and interpret the actions of others based on how we see …

Clear writing tips for increased understanding

Multi-page wads of reports just don't get read, especially when they are dry and dull. Top management don’t have time to read your multi-volume ramblings, start with a synopsis of the facts then expand. The use of the news pyramid is useful to put across the important information. Think of a news article. Start with the headline. Then the most important facts in the first …

Clear writing engages in business

Do you know how to engage your readers? Clear writing helps engage our readers and communicates our message more effectively. Clear writing is logically arranged making it almost effortless to read and understand, leaving you wanting to read more. It has a clear meaning and uses short sentences and simple words. Clear writing keeps to a theme, rather than dotting around, making the facts easy …

The Miracle Question for coaching and mentoring

The Miracle question forces you to think about exactly what it is you want from life, how it will look and feel. Without a clear idea of what you want, change is hard and there can be a tendency to drift through life. Knowing what you want allows you to develop a clear action plan. Unless you can answer the miracle question with a clear …

Tapper and listener study a communication essential

How often have you wondered why someone listening to you talk is "slow" or "stupid"? The message seems blatantly obvious to you. Maybe you are falling into the tapper, listener trap. The ideas and feelings you hold are like music to the tapper. We cannot engage our customers or staff with poor assumptive communication.

Mirror neurons in the brain

Storytelling is a great way to activate these 'mirror neurons', allowing us to experience new behaviour or a new culture. We can watch someone do something then trying it ourselves, or live the experience through stories that engage our imaginations. In the fight against HIV and the abuse of women, radio programmes have been used to create a vicarious experience in their audience, allowing …

Choice paralysis in decision making

Does too much choice cause paralysis? Whether it is medical aids, retirement funds or jam, if it's a lot of work to choose among the options many people will put off the choice, and may never sign up. Limiting choices, or having a default option, can eliminate choice paralysis.

Connection based service delivery

The customer is a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It is our job, as customer service, sales people or management, to listen and ask questions to discover what they need, then deliver that in a win-win manner.

Business coaching, cultivating the bottom line

The person who is engaged, feels like the company cares, what they do matters is more energised, has less sick days and presents a better face to your customers. Engagement is directly linked to profitability, retention of key staff and absenteeism. Engaged employees build your brand.

Adding meaning through the business why

We all look to add meaning to our lives, if we are able to discover and craft that meaning; we can deal with far more in our lives. When we find meaning in the work we do, we discover more meaning in our lives. After all work takes up more than half of most people’s waking hours.

10 top speaking tips

The audience and message matter. Focus on your audience, answer their questions “Why should I listen, why should I care?” Forget your own anxieties and focus on your message, and your audience. .Engage the audience. It calms your nerves and makes you seem more confident. Pause, smile and really look at the audience before saying anything.

Clear Writing tips for clear business communication

Be careful of assuming we all understand what you mean. Write so you aren't misunderstood. Write so the meaning is clear. Using longer more complex words don’t make you sound smarter. In fact according to studies, the use of long words where a shorter, simpler word would do, makes the writer look less intelligent. Control sentence length by reading what you have written out loud. …

Clear writing – The Clarity Index

Long words and sentences make the writing more difficult to read. If we shorten the length of sentences and words, we can make the writing easier to understand and read. There is a difference between written and spoken English. If your writing is easy to read out loud it will normally have a great clarity index score. We tend to speak in shorter sentences, as …

Team skills building through power point karaoke

PowerPoint Karaoke is also a form of Improv comedy (think, “Who’s line is it anyway?” on TV) and can be used effectively for team building and PowerPoint skill education and training. The experience enables presenters to experience the benefits of using images rather than too much text. Different presenters will interpret the same images in different ways. Allowing for each presenter to present in his …

Team building through improv

Team building games can effectively improve the experience of empathy, enabling members to see a different side of each other. As human beings we naturally want to care. We care for people, not drones. We need to see the human side. Humour and fun games can allow us a deeper look at that humanity. A great way to build team rapport and spirit is through …

Hire your customers for increased Employee Engagement

Who has the greatest feel or empathy for what your customers need? If you need to maintain your connection to your clients then follow the example set by Harley Davidson, Nike (many runners and sport junkies), Microsoft (Hardcore gamers who helped create the Xbox) and many other successful companies and hire your customers.

The link between business relationships and dating

Is there a correlation between business relationships and dating? Definitely. If on a date, on their best behaviour with you, and they treat people like that, be aware, they will probably treat you badly soon. Long-term business relationships require manners, empathy and the ability to relate to each other as human beings. Communicating with them to improve the relationship is also is valuable … …

Basic communication model a business tool

In any communication between two people, there is a sender and a receiver; for example me writing this blog, and you reading this. The problem is that the ideas, feelings and message we are trying to send are often distorted by the means of communication. We use the word, assuming others understand what we mean. Add to that the means of transmission – the words, …

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture is the personality, values, conduct and attitude of the business or individuals comprising the business. The culture lies between plans made, the written rules and the reality of years of habits, unwritten ground rules and political vested interests. Culture is like an iceberg, what you see above the water is only a small percentage of what lies below. The culture of an organisation …

Performance feedback: Empathy in business

In a businesses where employees feel that someone cares for them, and is looking out for their progress they are substantially more engaged and it positively affects the bottom line. According to the studies by the Gallup Organisation engaged employees positively represent the brand of the company and interact more positively with each other and customers. Happier staff leads to happier customers. Empathy can help …

10 powerful speech tips

Crave feedback and improve your speech on every level. This is the difference between good and great! Also remember feedback is an opinion, one perspective. You need to own your speech. Tweak your delivery and message based on perspective and feedback, but … remember it is your message. You can’t please everyone!

HI – Humorous Intelligence a business skill

I'd like to add HQ or HI - Humorous Intelligence to the list of Quotients. The ability to laugh and see the funny side of life is a much underestimated intelligence in life. People who are able to laugh (at themselves or their troubles) are able to cope far easier.

The Importance of listening

We all love the sound of our own voices. In order to connect with clients and build relationships we need to take the time to listen, pay attention and allow them to talk so we can discover their needs and a manner in which we can fill those needs.

Performance feedback: Not all praise is equal

Beware not all praise is created equal... In work or parenting situation be aware - sometimes praise of an individual can set them back. When praising children or adults - praising their looks or intelligence can lead to insecurity and failure, as these are areas they have little control over. Praising effort and attention to detail can have great rewards as this is an area …

Kaizen – small steps

Why Kaizen? It helps bypasses fear, fight-or-flight, amygdala flooding response, and helps creates new connections in the brain. Small steps are far easier to make that large steps. Many people procrastinate as a project or task as it seems too daunting. Breaking it down into smaller steps, bite size chunks, makes it easier to begin. Once a task is begun it is often easier to …

Business relationship poisons cripple teams

The 4 Poisons that kill business and professional relationships. The combination of these are the death-knell of your business or professional relationships. Your clients or so-workers will vote with their feet and leave or refuse to work with you. By actively counteracting these, being kind and supportive you can grow your relationships, create customer loyalty and team cohesiveness.

Changing business culture through stories

What stories do you tell in your organisation? Stories are more effective at changing culture in an organisation than lists and bullet points. A study with MBA students discovered when they were given the same information in 3 different formats ... lists of bullet points, charts and graphs and in a story format they remembered the stories easiest and found them more credible.

The kiss test communicate analogy

The Kiss Test is how we kiss, or how we communicate, a business communication tip. Kiss Communication as it relates to business, an analogy of using feedback to improve communication. Poor communication, like terrible kisses can wreck relationships and your "client" may never do business with you again.

Humour tips for speeches

Ensure the humour is relevant. Humour that is simply there to make the audience laugh can be distracting, and may make your audience miss the important point of your talk. For example telling the story of your drunken uncle at a family picnic is distracting, no matter how funny, if you are trying to make the point about quality service and cannot easily tie …