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Is E-Mail Diluting Your Message?

communicate Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is the author of Silent Messages. This book discusses his legendary research into the relative importance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Mehrabian’s rule

When you’re trying to communicate emotions, think about the three V’s: verbal, vocal, and visual. They are the three parts of what has become known as Mehrabian’s Rule – 7% of your message is given verbally (the words you use), 38% comes vocally (the tone you use), and 55% is delivered visually (your facial expressions and body language).

We see from his research that, when we’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes, the overwhelming majority of the message comes through non-verbally. If the verbal and non-verbal don’t agree, people will rely on the non-verbal.

Choosing your medium

Therefore, understanding the three V’s of communication helps you prevent misunderstanding. If the recipient of your message can’t hear and see you say the words, your message may get diluted.

E-mail is convenient, but it can be easily misunderstood because it’s only words. What about text messages?

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marylynnA friend of mine told me that her husband’s ex-wife texts her husband about problems with their kids. My friend gets frustrated after several rounds of nothing getting solved. She says she tells him to just call his ex-wife.

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So choose your medium carefully if you’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes. Some media only use one part of the communication trio, and a very minor one at that!

If you’re just relaying facts, e-mail is fine. If you want to express more than that, your message may get diluted. A phone call enriches the conversation because you bring in the voice. And while it’s not always possible to meet face-to-face, it is your best bet for your most sensitive communication.

Speaking of which …

Let’s apply this to a presentation, whether your audience is one or many. How you say what you say, and what you do when you say it, are actually more important, in getting your message across, than what you say.

What?

It’s hard to explain this in just words. Hey, that illustrates our point!

You can say, “I’m excited.” If you say it with enthusiasm in your voice while standing straight up, your audience will believe you. If you say it like Droopy says, “I’m happy” and slouch while you’re saying it, your audience may doubt you.

People remember the impression more than the words. So if you want to connect with an audience, it’s important to practice your inflections and your gestures to make sure they’re congruent with your words.

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We really appreciate you reading our post today. If you listened to our show, you could’ve heard our appreciation in our voices! Join us next time when we get a visit from a very special guest – Santa Claus. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Directions that Discourage

twisted_directions We saw the results of a fascinating study over at Medical News Today. The researchers tested how the directions about a task affect the perception of the task itself. They started by trying to motivate college students to exercise.

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They gave the students directions on how to implement an exercise program. Half of the students got directions in an easy-to-read Arial font. The other half received the same directions in a Brush font (think paint brush), which is difficult to read.

Then the researchers asked these students:

  • to estimate how long the exercise routine would take
  • how easy it would be
  • if they would make it part of their regular routine

The “Arial” group thought that it would take less time and be easier than the “Brush” group, who also was less likely to make it a part of their daily ritual.

It’s amazing how something as simple as the font we choose could make so much difference. Just to be sure their results weren’t skewed by the students’ preconceived notions about exercise, the researchers performed a similar experiment with a recipe for sushi.

The outcome was similar. They concluded that if instructions are easier to read, people respond positively.

Enough about fonts, let’s put all the pieces together

We need to think about the directions we give to make sure they’re not discouraging our people. We don’t want to make a simple task sound complicated by our directions. Since people equate the ease of a given task to the ease of the directions about that task, we need to think about our:

  • Message
    Be sure you’re clear in what you’re saying. Also be concise. Eliminate the fluff. Focus on writing high-impact copy.
  • Design
    Obviously, the font you use plays a role. So does      white  space     . Graphical elements are always good. You should also use headers and bullet points when possible to make your directions easier to digest.
  • Words
    Sixteen-syllable words don’t impress many people; they have the opposite affect on far more. Jargon doesn’t help either. Use words that your audience will easily understand.

Look at the following two sentences:

You’ll save money if you buy gas today.

Buying gas today could be economically advantageous.

Which one conveys the message better to you? Which words do you like? Which structure if preferable?

We often make the mistake of thinking “fancy” words said in our passive voice make us sound smarter or more professional. Usually it’s the opposite. We’re deemed smart when we connect with the audience we’re trying to reach.                

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to be a good winner (or loser). Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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Is Passion Overrated?

quote For our discussion on passion today, we talk with one of the most awesome people we’ve met since we started BIGG Success: Jim Bouchard. He’s a black belt turned motivational speaker. He does a great job helping you get in touch with your personal power. Recently, Jim turned the table on us – instead of us being the interviewers, we were the interviewees!

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t take the opportunity to send a few questions Jim’s way – we love to hear his fantastic insight! So today we thought we’d share some of the highlights with you.

Let’s check into the conversation as we talk with Jim about passion …

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jimThere’s a lot of rhetoric about getting into a business that expresses your passion. The business I’ve been involved with for a long time is the martial arts business. Most martial artists will go into business – start a school – because it’s our passion, but it’s not always the best way to make money. I think that’s a very important, and often overlooked, factor when entering an entrepreneurial life. Passion is necessary, but it’s not the only ingredient that’s necessary.

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georgeThat’s a great distinction. It’s the old story – I have a hobby I love that I turn into a business. Now I don’t love my business or my hobby. Think about your hobbies, but also reflect on the elements of that hobby that you really enjoy. Teaching has been my hobby, because I had my businesses full-time. What I got out of it was the joy of helping people and seeing the light bulb come on. Bigg Success fulfills me in the same way.

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jimThat’s what people really need to look at. When you open these doors, you find passions that you never knew existed. I didn’t set out to get into the speaking business. I did always have the ambition to write a book at some point, but I never thought I’d go out into the speaking world. Like you, George, I found it was just a natural extension of the teaching that I liked to do – in my case within the martial arts world.

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marylynn You’re such a great presenter, Jim. How did that happen for you … that you ended up getting into the speaking business?

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jimThat’s a great question – it actually came from some of my martial arts students. I was sharing the martial arts philosophies that helped me create an anchor and a sense of value and worth in my life. They found themselves applying these philosophies to their business and personal life. A few of them encouraged me over the years to take my message to a different audience – not everybody wants to learn how to punch and kick, but everyone wants to learn how to develop their personal power, their capacity to act effectively. That’s how it got started. Then one of my mentors told me that I was already presenting every day anyway – I went on the floor and taught! So for me, it was a very natural transition. But I’m going to mark it this way … one of the greatest gifts that I learned from the martial arts was the idea of beginner’s mind. The whole world is open as a learning experience for us and we should never stop to pat ourselves on the back too long. Perfection is not a destination … it’s a never ending process. So I’m going through the same process as a speaker that I went through as a martial artist. I want to learn, I want to grow, and I want to be a better presenter every day. And I know you guys feel the same way!

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georgeAbsolutely, Jim! The thing that strikes me from your story – you said some of your students made a suggestion. With that one little suggestion, and you listening carefully and then processing it, you found this opportunity. That’s something we all need to be aware of – opportunity doesn’t hit you like a train. In most cases, it’s very subtle. But that’s where you’ll find that thing that you really want to do!

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12 Ways to Make Your Next Meeting Your Worst Meeting

Studies show that we spend about 15 percent of our work week in meetings. If you’re lucky, right? Many of these meetings are a huge waste of time … and money.

We thought we’d list some ways to make sure the next meeting you run is a bad one:

#1 – Call a meeting even if you don’t have anything to discuss.
Better yet, just call a meeting on the fly because an important issue has come up for you, and you need answers now! It’s important to you so it must be the most important thing for everyone else.

#2 – If in doubt about whether someone should attend the meeting, invite them.

Or just call an all staff meeting, even if it only affects a small percentage of the group. It may be peripheral to their jobs, but they should hear it anyway!

#3 – Make your agenda so vague that no one knows what the meeting is about.

Don’t distribute it in advance so people can come to the meeting prepared. Keep them in the dark about what’s going to be discussed. The best way to do this – don’t have an agenda at all.

#4 – Don’t start the meeting on time.
Or up the ante … don’t be on time for your own meeting. It doesn’t matter if everyone is waiting for you. Your time is more valuable than theirs.

#5 – Kick off the meeting on a negative note.
Tell everyone how bad things are. Look for scapegoats – call them out in front of their peers. People just love that.

#6 – Don’t stick to the schedule.
Or don’t have a schedule at all. Who really cares when this meeting will be over? Nothing is more important than your meeting. Nobody else has anything to do.

#7 – Don’t ever defer a conversation to a later date.
Even if a point of discussion starts eating into precious time, keep it on the table. It was on your agenda, so it must be dealt with today. The meeting can either go long or you can just give the other points less attention.

#8 – Do most of the talking.
Don’t plan for participation. People love to hear you talk. Dominate the conversation. There’s no need for you to listen during a meeting. That’s certainly won’t help solve any problems.

#9 – When someone presents an idea, be quick to shoot them down.
There will be no free flow of ideas in your meeting! You’re in control. Who do they think they are anyway?

#10 – No matter how long your meeting runs, don’t take any breaks.
People love to just sit and sit and sit. It’s best to introduce new ideas to your staff or try to find the solution to an ongoing problem after they feel lethargic from a lack of activity. And of course, no one needs to use the restroom.

#11 – Let that guy (or gal), who loves to hear himself (or herself) talk, go on and on.
Don’t cut them off. Don’t bring the meeting back to its focus.

#12 – Make sure nothing gets accomplished.
When the meeting is finally over, there should be no plans for action, no decisions should have been made, no issues should get resolved, and no follow up should be scheduled. People love sitting around in meetings that don’t accomplish anything.

Our bigg quote today is by Steve Kaye:

“An employee who needs permission to buy a box of paperclips can spend
tens of thousands of dollars worth of employee time on bad meetings.”

Waste is waste … whether it’s paper clips or time.

What are your pet peeves about meetings? Leave a Comment and let us know.

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