Lose the “but”

The word “but” often causes trouble in interpersonal communication. Consider the following statement: “You did a great job, but….”

Of course, you expect to hear something negative next and the part about doing a great job is forgotten. Instead, try this “You did a great job, and if we could just fix this one issue, things will go even smoother next time.” Another alternative would be to replace the first comma with a period and delete the “and.”

The power of “Must”

One word can turn an impotent goal into an effective goal. Consider the following “goals”:

  • I’d like to be financially independent.
  • I want a bigger house.
  • I hope I get promoted this year.

Just changing a word or two makes your goals more effective. Consider these changes:

  • I absolutely must become financially independent.
  • I must have a bigger house.
  • I must get promoted this year.

Adding “must” makes your goal more definite. Committing to a date is the final step of defining a goal. Exact dates are better than “within 5 years” or “by next November” as you may have forgotten the date you set your goal.

20 Things

My friend Mark once told me a way to help me achieve my goals: each day, write down 20 things that you can do to that will help you move closer to your goal. Mark had used this technique while earning his MBA when his goal was to win a contest at his school. He did this diligently every day and sure enough, he won.

Through the years, I’ve played around with this technique and created some rules to make it most effective. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Moving beyond your comfort zone

Do you ever look back on a time in your life where you regretted not taking a risk? Personally, I can think of several opportunities I missed out on ranging from not asking someone out on a date to not taking a chance and starting a dot com business when those businesses were thriving.

Chances are, there’s some kind of fear or discomfort that’s separating the current you from the you that you want to become. If your goal is to find an ideal mate, maybe it’s fear of rejection or discomfort of trying something new like speed dating. If your goal is to get promoted, perhaps it’s fear of the unknown – you don’t know what to expect and if you can handle it.

A quick note about politics

Something I see all too often is people allowing their political beliefs to ruin their relationships. I’ve heard people in business settings say things like “I can’t stand him, he’s a Republican” or “don’t waste your time talking to that Liberal.”

Those of us that are interested in politics have some strong beliefs that we’re really passionate about. And yes, it’s fine to think that people on the other side of a particular issue are wrong. But don’t let it get in the way of your friendship or relationship.

Distractions – How to prepare so you’ll look like a pro.

It seems like you can never be fully prepared for distractions while speaking or giving a presentation. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced everything from loud coughing to a person walking across the room to ask someone else a question WHILE I was speaking.

Not calling attention to such things takes experience and practice – it’s the mark of a true professional. Most audiences are courteous and respect the speaker, so it may take years of speaking before you run into major distractions. But the first time it happens, you find it breaks your concentration to the point where it negatively affects the rest of your speech.

A quick tip for overcoming shyness at networking events

Networking events are tough for many people. You have to go up to a complete stranger, introduce yourself and carry on a conversation with the hopes that either or both of you will find some benefit of knowing each other.

A little research about the organization hosting the event, the people attending, and even the venue will help put you at ease as you’ll have something to talk about. But even that is sometimes not enough – especially if you attend an event where it seems like most of the people in the room already know each other.