Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tap the Power of Whole Brain Thinking with Mind Movies

I was first introduced to mind mapping more than 15 years ago. It had been touted as a superior way to understand, organize, recall, and communicate information. Mind mapping supposedly uses more of our right, creative brain which organizes information in picture form. Mind mapping is said to be creative, fast and fun.

The traditional way of organizing information linearly in text and point form uses more of our left, logical brain. Bullet points are supposed to be dull, slow, and boring.

Attracted by the touted benefits of mind mapping, I have tried many times to use it over the years. I never did work well for me, especially in the recall of a complex network of ideas. I have difficulty recalling the connections between the parts when it is spread out across a sheet of paper with the key ideas radiating away from central core idea.

What works best for me is the story telling or mind movie method. The key ideas are organized as a story with the key ideas lined up in a story line. The information is stored in my mind as a movie and recall is accomplished by playing back the movie in our mind.

The mind movie method is a combination of the traditional linear, logical structure with the graphical appearance of mind mapping. It uses the whole brain. It has the logical flow of the left brain and the artistic, visual flair of the right brain.

I have used the mind movie method in public speaking with good results.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It Pays to be Honest in Celebrating Your Uniqueness

When you want to be persuasive, consider if it pays to face up to your flaws squarely up front. This way you gain the trust of your audience, and turn your weakness to your advantage.

The advertising campaign of the Volkswagen Beetle when it was first launched in the US was based on this principle. The Beetle was cheap, reliable and fuel efficient, but good looks was certainly not one of its selling points.

Instead of pushing the merits of its looks, or trying to divert attention to its mechanical merits, the Beetle’s marketeers flaunt its unconventional looks.

The company promoted the Beetle’s unique look with wacky tag lines like:

          “It will stay uglier longer”

          “Ugly is only skin deep”

Once the customers can get pass its looks, the Beetle’s mechanical and economic virtues sold by themselves. Before long, the Beetle became a much sought after car because of its distinctive look, and remained so till today.

I can think of another example, again from the automotive industry.

The tiny Morris Mini was created at a time when good sized cars with spacious, roomy cabins were the norm.

Instead of competing with the “normal” cars on size, the Mini touted its minuscule size as a virtue.

Like the Beetle, the Mini turned its biggest shortcoming into its selling point, was a sensational success, and remained a trendsetter till this day.

The Beetle and Mini became cultural icons because they dared to celebrate their uniqueness instead of cowering in self doubt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ask for a Favour from a Stranger!

How can you turn around someone who doesn’t like you now? Or, how can you break the ice with someone who is a stranger?

You may want to try the great US inventor, diplomat and statesman Benjamin Franklin’s way.

There was an opposition member in the Pennsylvanian legislature whom Benjamin Franklin needed help from but the gentleman was cool, if not hostile, towards him.

Human instinct would tell us not to approach the person for fear of rejection. But not Ben Franklin who knew the ways of humans well. What did Ben Franklin do?

Ben Franklin found out that the gentleman who was an ardent fan and expert on a certain authour, had a rare and precious book by that authour.

What Ben Franklin did was counter-intuitive.

Ben Franklin approached the gentleman and asked to borrow his precious book by the authour. The gentleman though surprised by Ben Franklin’s request and was hesitant at first, eventually relented because gentlemanly politeness required him to accede to Ben Franklin’s request.

Slowly but surely a friendship developed between the gentleman and Ben Franklin, all because Ben Franklin had the audacity to ask his rival for a big favour.

How does this work?

It is based on the principle that the mind and body are one.

When the gentleman was initially forced to be nice to Ben Franklin, his mind had to follow; otherwise it will be very uncomfortable for him. By lending his precious book to Ben Franklin, the gentleman unconsciously had to convince himself that Ben Franklin was a good man worthy of such a big favour from him. In this way, the gentleman achieved congruence in mind and body.

Once the ice was broken, Ben Franklin had the opening to build a long and fruitful relationship with his rival.

Had the gentleman rejected Ben Franklin’s request, the approach would not have worked. So, this approach is a risky one but the payoffs can be big, if it succeeds.

So ask a favour from someone who doesn’t like you or who is a stranger, and he may become your best friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Watch Your Language - Cut the Word "Don't" from Your Vocabulary

Be careful with the word “Don’t”. It can unintentionally create the opposite effect on your audience from what you wanted to convey.

Have you ever wondered why when people are asked NOT to do something, they often end up doing exactly that?. Often it is because of the word “Don’t”.

You see, the word “Don’t” cannot be pictured in the mind. This causes the mind to try and make sense of the sentence by focusing on the words that follow the word “Don’t”. The mind focuses on things that it can picture. The result? More often than not, the word “Don’t” is ignored and your audience gets the exact opposite of your intended message.

“Don’t feel you have to make a decision now” is understood as “You have to make a decision now”.

“Don’t worry” is understood as “Worry”.

“Don’t get angry with me” is understood as “Get angry with me”.

“Don’t be sad” is understood as “Be sad”.

“Don’t be shy” becomes “Be shy”.

When children are told “Don’t run along the corridor”. They understand as it as “Run along the corridor” to the chagrin of their parents or teachers.

So what is the solution? Use positive language patterns that state clearly what you are asking for.

Instead of “Don’t worry” say “Be calm”.

Instead of “Don’t run” say “Walk”.

Instead of "Don't be sad" say "Be happy".

Of course, there are those who are well aware of this “weakness” in the workings of the human mind and deliberately use it to gain an advantage.

“Don’t take me to dinner, if you don’t want to” is a sly way of demanding the listener to “Take me to dinner, you want to".

Don’t miss me by too much” is a manipulative instruction to the listener to “Miss me by much”.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Interview Questions and Answers

What do employers look for in a potential employee? According to Thomas Freese in his book Sell Yourself First, they are looking for the person from among their pool of applicants, who has the most of the following qualities:

• Knowledgeable, experienced, savvy

• Likable, easy to get along with

• Organisation-focused, not self-serving

• Able to blend in easily with the existing organisational culture

• Quick learner with short ramp up time

• Able to offer new perspectives and fresh ideas

• Independent, motivated, hard worker

• Track record of success, combined with a dose of humility

• Positive attitude and commitment to excellence

• Have solid references.

The interviewers will ask questions to tease out these qualities, or the lack of it, from the interviewees.

The savvy interviewee would look for opportunities that the questions present to demonstrate that she has these desired qualities.

As Stephen Covey said, “If I am given 1 hour to chop down a tree, I will spend 50 minutes sharpening my axe.” So, the secret to interview success is to prepare well before meeting the interviewers.

So think up possible questions the interviewers might ask, if they want to check if you have the desired qualities.  Write out your answers to the possible questions.  Rehearse the answers. There is no need to memorise the answers but do rehearse it so that you will come across fluent, articulate, and confident. Find a friend to conduct a mock interview with you and give you feedback on your answers, and your performance.

So here are some possible questions, and the suggested approach to answering the questions based on Wayne D. Ford’s book The Accelerated Job Search. (You may not agree with all the suggestions; that’s perfectly fine. Write up your own answers as you see fit. The main point is to be well prepared with answers to possible questions that will help you stand above the other candidates.)

Desired Quality - Knowledgeable, Experienced, Savvy

Tell me about yourself.

Prepare a short statement about yourself before presenting yourself at the interview. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Talk about things you have done, and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back in time and work up to the present. Limit to 3 items, otherwise it will come across as rambling.

What experience do you have in this field?

Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.

What do you know about this organization?

This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Know their vision and mission. Find out where they have been, and where they are going. What are the current issues, and who are the key personalities?

Why do you think you would do well at this job?

Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.

What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.

Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute between others.

Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique, and not the dispute you settled.

Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?

This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you have what it takes to do the right thing. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force.

Desired Quality - Likable, easy to get along with

What do co-workers say about you?

Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase. Joe, a co-worker at Smith Company, always said I was the most dedicated professional he had ever known. It is as powerful as Joe having said it at the interview herself.

Are you a team player?

Of course, you are a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.

What irritates you about co-workers?

This is a trick question. Think real hard but fail to come up with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along with folks is great.

Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor?

Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well blow the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?

Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.

 Desired Quality - Organisation-focused, not self-serving

Why do you want to work for this organization?

This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important here, and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals.

How long would you expect to work for us if hired?

Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like it to be a long time. Or, as long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.

What is your philosophy towards work?

The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.

If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

Answer yes, if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.

What is more important to you: the money or the work?

Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.

Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

Describe your work ethic.

Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.

Explain how you would be an asset to this organization.

You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.

Tell me about your dream job.

Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position, if hired. The best is to stay generic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can’t wait to get to work.

Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?

Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another job more than this one.

Why should we hire you?

Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.

Are you applying for other jobs?

Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction. If you must mention other jobs, bring up only jobs that are consistent with why you are changing jobs and applying for this one. Congruence is the key. Any inconsistencies will be perceived as lack of honestly.

Desired Quality - Able to blend in easily with the existing organisational culture

Describe your management style.

Find out the organisational culture before the interview. Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.

What qualities do you look for in a boss?

Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates, and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits.

What kind of person would you refuse to work with?

Mention only big issues. Minor objections will label you as a whiner. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or lawbreaking to get you to object.

What has disappointed you about a job?

Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include: Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction. Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.

Would you be willing to relocate, if required?

You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.

 Desired Quality - Quick learner, with short ramp up time

How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?

First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working quick learner.

 Desired Quality - Able to offer new perspectives and fresh ideas

Tell me about a suggestion you have made.

Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus.

 Desired Quality - Independent, motivated, hard worker

Do you have any questions for me?

This is often the last question at the end of the interview. This is an opportunity to leave the interviewers with a good feeling about you. This could be the only thing they remember. So always have some questions prepared. To say you have no questions could throw you back into the faceless mass of candidates who also turned up in front of the panel.

You could ask where you will be an asset to the organization. What type of projects do they think you will be able to assist on? For example, ask, “If I am successful in my application, what are the likely areas of the project that I'll be looking into?”

Ask how soon will you be able to be productive? Hint that you are confident without coming across as presumptuous. Show that you can’t wait to start work by asking, “If I am successful in my application, when will I start work?"

 Desired Quality - Has a track record of success, combined with a dose of humility

What have you learned from mistakes on the job?

Come up with something, because to say you never made a mistake would strain credibility. Talk about a specific, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned.

For example, talk about how you were working too far ahead of colleagues on a project, and thus threw coordination off. You’ve learnt to be more attentive to the challenges your colleagues face.

Do you consider yourself successful?

You should always answer yes, and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others.

What kind of salary do you need?

A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like, That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range.

 Desired Quality - Positive attitude and commitment to excellence

What is your greatest strength?

Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples: Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your ability to work under pressure, your ability to focus on projects, Your professional expertise, your leadership skills, your positive attitude.

Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.

You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.

What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?

There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver

What motivates you to do your best on the job?

This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition.

What has been your biggest professional disappointment?

Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance, and no negative feelings. For example, you are retrenched from a job you loved and in which you have invested a substantial part of your working life because your company closed down.

Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.

Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.

How would you know you were successful on this job?

Several ways are good measures: You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success.Your boss tell you that you are successful.

Why did you leave your last job?

Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons. For example, you wanted to move from a back end desk job to a front end operations job.

Have you ever been asked to leave a position?

If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved.

Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?

This is up to you. Be totally honest.

Do you have any blind spots?

Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.

If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?

Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.

Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.

 Desired Quality - Have solid references.

Do you know anyone who works for us?

Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keys to Effective Presentation

The acronym CCTV COP is a useful way to remember Kevin Hogan’s seven keys of effective presentation.

C – Client Centered. Keep the presentation focused on what’s in it for the audience. What will he gain? How will he benefit?

C – Concise. Be ready to deliver your complete presentation in a 30-second elevator ride, or in 5 minutes.

T – Tie downs. Use tie downs to get commitment from your audience. One form of tie downs is to end the sentence with phrases like “don’t you?”, “isn’t it?”, “won’t you?”, “can’t you?”, “aren’t they?” A tie down is a question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer. Line up a series of tie down questions to get “yes” answers leading towards your objective. Use tie downs sparingly as otherwise your audience may feel manipulated.

V – Visualise. Help your audience visualise what his life would be like when he agrees to your proposal. Also help him visualise what it would be like to be without your proposal. Present the costs and benefits of your proposal as a vivid movie for your audience.

C – Congruent. Make your words match your tone of voice and your body language. When words and your non-verbal cues don’t match, you lose the trust of your audience.

O – Objective. Know your objective, and make it known to your audience. Catch your audience’s attention by letting them know how the objective will benefit them.

P – Presupposition. In your presentation, use phrases that presupposes what you want. For example, if you ask your client “Before we finalize the contract, would you like something to drink?” you presupposed that your client is ready to sign the contract. Again, use presuppositions sparingly as otherwise the client may feel manipulated.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mehrabian’s 7% - 38% - 55% Rule

We often heard it been said that, “its not what we say, but how we say it that makes all the difference”. We all intuitively know this from our experience. Indeed, this phenomenon is well established by research.

Studies by professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA had found that only 7% of the meaning, attitude, and intent of our message is conveyed by our words. The remaining 93% of the meaning, attitude, and intent of our message is conveyed by our tone of voice, and by our body language (like facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and even the way we breathe).

According to Mehrabian’s research, 7% of what we mean to convey is carried by our words. 38% is carried by the tone of our voice, and 55% is carried by our body language.

Put another way, our non-verbal communication is 10 times more important than words in personal communications.

So to persuade with impact, it is vital to pay attention to our tone of voice, and our body language. Otherwise, we would be missing out on 93% of our message.

Pay more attention to your non-verbal communication, and you won’t need to say “that’s not what I mean” another time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Power Persuaders have the 3-Wins Mindset

The 3-wins power persuader seeks to get a win for self, the other person, and the larger group that both belong to.

In the context of an office, a 3-wins result would be a benefit for yourself, your colleague, and your company.

In the context of a company, a 3-wins outcome would be gains for the company, the customer, and the world in which they both exist.

In the context of a family, a 3-wins result would be a happy outcome for yourself, a family member, and the entire family (and possibly also the extended family).

3-wins is not just an ideal. 3-wins is a mindset that stretches our imagination. It certainty is not unattainable – it just forces us to be creative.

If our idea meets the 3-wins criteria, it would be naturally persuasive. A 3-wins idea sells itself, and doesn’t need much persuading.

Being prepared to have “no deal” is also part of the 3-wins mindset. If you and the other person are to win at the expense of the larger group, then it is better to have “no deal”. If you and the company are to win at the expense of a colleague, then it is also “no deal”.

Master Your Unconscious Mind to be a Master Persuader

Our mind is made up of two parts, namely, our conscious mind and our unconscious mind.

Our conscious mind has a very small capacity of only 7 bits of information at any moment. When we set an objective, we are using our conscious mind.

Our unconscious mind is the store house of our memories, beliefs, values, emotions, and attitudes. Everything that had ever happened to us, everything that we have seen, heard, or thought about is stored here. Compared to our conscious mind, our unconscious mind is infinite in size.

If our conscious mind is like an ant in size, then our unconscious mind is like an elephant. (Vince Poscente used this metaphor in his book The Ant and the Elephant, and in his trainings.)

Imagine an ant, riding on the back of an elephant. It doesn’t matter where the ant wants to go, it would not get there, if the elephant is not going the same way. Let’s say the ant wants to go to the east. No matter how hard and fast the ant walks, if the elephant is walking to the west, the ant will only end up further from his destination.

So, if we want to persuade with power, our unconscious mind must be filled with thoughts associated with passion, faith, and vision. We will not be persuasive, if our unconscious mind is filled with negative thoughts associated with apathy, fear, and hopelessness.

When our words and actions are congruent with our inner world, we will be more persuasive as we are more authentic, credible, and charismatic.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Laws of Persuasion

The acronym SCRAPE CFC can help us remember Kevin Hogan’s nine Laws of Persuasion. (CFC or chlorofluorocarbon widely used in refrigerators and aerosols, is now phased out because it deletes the ozone.) Remembering to use these Laws in our communications makes us more persuasive.

S – Law of Scarcity. People find things that are limited in supply more desirable.

C – Law of Contrast. People tend to accept the little extras throw in after the main deal as the add-ons look digestible compared to the main course.

R – Law of Reciprocity. People tend to agree to a request, if they have received a benefit from you before.

A – Law of Association. People tend to think better of people or things associated with people or things they like, respect, or trust.

P – Law of Power. People tend to agree with people with perceived power or authority.

E – Law of Expectancy. People tend to do what the person they like, respect, or trust expects them to do.

C – Law of Consistency. Once people committed themselves verbally or in writing, they tend to stick to it.

F – Law of Friendship. People usually oblige the requests of their friends.

C – Law of Conformity. People are more inclined to things which they see many other people have or do.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Know Who You Are Trying to Persuade

To be able to persuade a person, we need to know what would move the person. The acronym BP FIRE can help us remember the aspects that we need to actively peel our ears to – those elements that may provide us the necessary clues to the client’s hot buttons.

B – Behavior. What is the client doing or not doing?

P – Perspectives. What are the client’s beliefs, attitude and outlook?

F – Feelings. What emotion is the client feeling?

I – Intention. What is the client intending to do?

R – Resources. What internal and external resources do the client have or lack?

E – Experience. What is the client experiencing? What is happening to the client?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To Be Persuasive, We Must First Know What We Want

When it comes to persuasion, there are two kinds of people.

The first kind reacts to what happens to them. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality types, they are known as the Perceivers. Perceivers are sometimes described as thermometers. As you know, thermometers merely react to the temperature around them. The mercury goes up when the heat is up, down when it cools down outside. They have no influence on their environment. Perceivers or thermometers go with the flow, and can appear reactive and disorganised.

The second kind, make things happen instead of let things happen to them. In the MBTI personality types, they are the Judgers. They decide what they want happen, and then take action to make it happen the way they want it. Judgers are sometimes described as thermostats. Thermostats set and change the temperature around them. Thermostats or judgers prefer structure and order in their lives, and can appear proactive and methodical.

Since to persuade is to get people to follow our way of thinking, one has to be a judger or a thermostat to start with. It is a pre-requisite.

Being a thermometer or perceiver will not help one to be persuasive at all. How can we get people to follow us, if we have not even decided where we want to go?

To be persuasive we have to make a choice regarding what we want, and decide to take action.

As Stephen Covey said, between what happened to us and how we respond is a space where we can choose our response. We can either let the situation dictate our reaction, like thermometers, or we can make a conscious choice as to what we want and what we want to do to get it, like thermostats.

The attitude of a persuasive person is the attitude of the thermostat.

The first step to be persuasive is to know what we want the other person to agree on.