Recently I watched a YouTube video in which a customer became frustrated because she could not find what she wanted. She asked the store agent for assistance, but she was unable to clearly articulate what she was looking for. The store agent tried his best to find the item in the system based on the description the customer gave. The delay caused by his search frustrated the customer even more. The company took the high road and apologized for the interaction. However, the issue really was the customer’s inability to articulate what she wanted.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. In the telecommunications industry we are charged with the responsibility to take the information the customer provides and understand it enough to provide solutions. This is not always easy with interdepartmental communication gaps. Since communication is a 2-way process, it is time to figure out how we can alleviate our own frustration by communicating better.
As a customer, do your research before going to a store or calling a company. Especially if you are a customer who becomes easily frustrated. As a representative of a company, be patient. In addition, it does not hurt to make yourself the expert on customer terms and company knowledge.
The end goal of any communication is to send and receive the intended message. Knowledge is the linking factor in any scenario. We must do the extra work to become knowledgeable in every scenario in our lives. Knowledge is power!
We have all heard the term “I am just keeping it real”. The term is used to allow a verbal filter to be removed. By removing the filter, the speaker can provide genuine criticism or provide details that can be thought provoking. The problem is not everyone truly understands there is a difference between being real and being rude.
Being real should be a communication in which the speaker is giving genuine authentic information that is true to them and does not cause intentional harm to someone else. The reason I say “intentional” is because revealing a detail that is an insecurity to someone can be hurtful. That is why it is also important to know your audience. Try to understand if someone has insecurities and are easily hurt.
The typical example is when you see someone struggling with weight, and they ask you to tell them how they look. Think for a moment what is the appropriate response. Remember the statement cannot intentionally cause harm, but they do need your honest opinion. A correct statement would be to redirect the person to answer the question themselves. Ask them the question “What do you think?” This way they can see the unspoken statement and answer the question on their own.
In a professional setting being real can border being rude regardless of the intention. There is a way to maintain professionalism and be genuine. Divulging important and personal details about your life is not necessary at work or in a professional environment. Making any comments that describe the way a person looks or behaves is also not necessary. In fact, if you know you are someone who may have the term “keeping it real” confused, you may want to add an additional filter when communicating professionally.
I personally have a tendency to ramble on and on until I have cornered myself in a situation where I have to provide more details than necessary. When I am not speaking, people who know me think something is wrong. This is one characteristic I work on in every social engagement. I want people to know the genuine me and not the unnecessary details.
Remember being successful is more about listening and learning than speaking to be heard. In fact, studies show that listening is the most important part of communication. When you listen more than speaking you can truly understand the difference between “keeping it real” or just being rude.
Today the 45th President of the United States was inaugurated. After an exhausting election season we now face a choice. In order to be a successful country, we have to work together. We can no longer be a divided country. This very action nearly eliminates decades of struggle and peaceful protests. We have to understand our rights and work together to unite the country. We must communicate strength and unity to the world.
Although the new President and his cabinet are not everyone’s choice, the constitution and freedom are our choice. We can continue to reach out to our local representatives and use our collective voice to renew the promises of the constitution and the freedom it allows us. We can also volunteer in our communities and advocate positive change. We should continue to fight for equality for all Americans.
We are fortunate to have a political system that allows us to express our feelings of indifference. Let us use that voice to show the world that even in the face of adversity, we live for democracy, freedom and love. Regardless of who the president is, the Inauguration is still an honored tradition that we have the right to partake in. It is what we do after the inauguration that will be the representation for this great country. We can renew great strengths by showing unity. We can make America great again as a country. Let’s get to work.
The struggle to complete a conversation without using filler words is a task. We don’t even realize when we are doing it. Reflecting back on many conversations, the content is minimal while the filler words are consistent. It is important to everyone to sound or appear as if they are knowledgeable about a topic. It is equally important to represent well in situations like interviews, or work presentations. We just have to admit we use filler words to break the cycle.
Be aware that you use filler words. If you make yourself aware that you are using filler words you will be cognizant of the habit. Being aware makes it easier to break the cycle of using filler words. It is better to have a sentence filled with valuable information and words to influence the other party or parties.
Empower yourself and know that we are all teachers of the English language. When you are communicating with anyone, the words you say can teach language structure and vocabulary. Using filler words can water down the effects of the lesson you are teaching.
When you feel the urge to use filler words, slow down and visualize your full intended thought. It is also important to be knowledgeable about the topic. You can do this by doing your homework and understanding the topic.
Finally, people who read often tend to use less filler words. A daily passage a day, or a book a week can develop language skills and eliminate filler words from your conversations. Break the cycle now and change the way you communicate.
The norm in the recruiting process is presenting what appears to be employees of different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations. Potential candidates are excited for the opportunity to work in a diverse environment where all ideals are accepted. Once an employee is hired they show up to orientation. At that time a series of self-directed trainings and videos are required to move forward to the next point of the employment process.
That’s where an employee now learns that diversity is a concept. It is not meant to be shared or discussed. This is where we find out that you cannot speak about your race, political preference, gender, culture, or religion. Just like that, diversity is stripped from everyone and we are all the same.
This is an issue in the work environment. Companies cannot fear diversity in a way that rules are presented making everyone the same. In order for a company to truly grow and receive the best from their employees that were hired, it is time to stop the false representation of diverse company environments. A company that fears a possible disagreement between employees or a possible law suit if someone mentions the very thing that makes them diverse, is really in fear of a true diverse work environment.
In order to break this cycle, begin sharing cultural events with the company. Invite all employees to be part of these events. Allow employees to share their diverse views and trust in the hiring process that you hired mature employees who can accept each other’s difference. Discourage negative remarks and discussion that leads to argument. Establish a training program that actually teaches diversity as opposed to discouraging the true inclusive environment.
Once companies begin to truly embrace diversity, employee morale will increase. In addition, the quality of life will improve for the company as whole. The tension and fear of appreciating diversity will be gone. Employees will feel free to provide valuable input that can help the company succeed.
When I think about being confident despite anything, I think about my sons who run competitively. Before any run, they size up who is the fastest in the race. They start ranking themselves before they even take off their warm ups. By the time they actually start running, they have given themselves permission to fail. The interesting thing is they are known for being amongst the fastest on the west coast. They have won state and division races. This is still not enough for them to feel confident.
Professionally many of us fall in this same category. For example, we see a position available for advancement and think of everyone else who would be better suited for the position despite our education and experience. This thought process is essentially the reason for most failures. As professionals in this culture we pacify the reason for a loss before we give ourselves the opportunity to succeed. This shows in the way we communicate with superiors and potential employers.
In order to truly succeed, we have to be willing to see ourselves in first place. We have to be confident in our abilities and be willing to display our talents effectively. If we consistently put ourselves in last place, we will always fail. This is not the true intent of fulfilling life goals. To truly fulfill goals in life we must be confident and willing to communicate this confidence. This is the only true way to success.
In order to break this cycle, understand your strengths and separate them from your weaknesses. Be careful not give yourself strengths that do not exist or overthink your weaknesses. For example, I am great at making decisions in my household and my family is receptive to my ideas. This does not mean I am immediately a CEO. I am intuitive and a natural leader. That is my strength.
Next, review your life resume and commend yourself on your accomplishments. We have become conditioned to think that being proud of ourselves is a negative thing. It is actually a great thing. You should be the first person on the list of people who support you. This allows you to represent as a confident successful person before you even walk in the room.
Finally, avoid negative responses from people who do not have your best interests. In fact, be an advocate for positive responses and feedback. Give positive feedback where it is due, and receive positive feedback as it is given. This is another area in our lives where we are conditioned to accept negative and deflect positive. The best example of this is when someone says you look nice today, and you immediately qualify the reason why. We have to be willing to take the positive feedback and accept it.
Be confident despite what abilities anyone else has. Be confident in the abilities you possess. Create an environment where positivity and success are pillars in your life. Don’t be defined by how anyone else views you. You are your biggest supporter, and you should rank yourself number 1 every time.
Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor