Advanced Communication Skills: Bring People to the Table and Keep Them There

The person who can bring people to the table and facilitate a consensus has influence and power because the pool of people who already agree with and want what you have to offer is relatively shallow. But, if you’re skilled at persuading those who are undecided or even hostile to your point of view, the pool of people you can work with is deep and wide.

If you’re in business – no matter the business – you’re in the business of communication.

In this context, all communication is about persuasion.

Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Everything you say, write, and do should persuade the other party to engage with and eventually work with you in some way, but it’s critical to understand that persuasion is a process that results in them changing their mind from one way of thinking to your way of thinking and that action must be taken in line with that shift.

You can get people to act the way you want without persuading them. People will act against their goals and values when forced or manipulated to do so. We’ve all seen how people who yell, threaten, and subvert can get their way. Force and manipulation are ways to get results and gain power quickly, but that way is never acceptable or a good long-term strategy because as soon as the victim can get away, they’ll revert to their former way of thinking and doing. We all know that once the pressure is off or more information comes to light, the victim of that behavior goes right back to the way they thought about and did things before.

I define persuasion as respectful communication based on pure motives the result of which is an action that benefits all parties.

What’s your move?

Why Persuasion Matters

If you’re self-employed or a salesperson, you must be able to articulate the value of your product or service and make sales.

If you’re a leader in a company or the chair of a committee, you must inspire confidence in those who follow you and empower them to act quickly and enthusiastically to get things done.

Unless you’re selling on price alone, this is not a one-time thing. You must continually be engaged in conversations that demonstrate the value of your proposition and partnership to everyone around you.

Persuasion requires mindful interaction.

People, not Facts, Persuade

Persuasive people understand that facts alone do not persuade. It is how the facts are presented and how well they fit with the other person’s perspective that matters because if the other party views the facts as irrelevant to their situation or the solution presented as too onerous, they’ll look elsewhere for a better solution to their problem.

Worse, if they agree on the facts and solution proposed and are willing to take the action required to solve their problem but do not like the presenter or the idea of entering a strategic partnership with that person, they will go elsewhere. The result of that is frustration and lack of results and possibly income for the presenter/would-be persuader.

Therefore, your communication must be strategic, based on shared values, and solution-oriented. It cannot be those things if you don’t identify the most pressing problem the person you want to work with is facing, what motivates them (personally and morally), and exactly where and how you who you are and what you do overlaps those things.

To identify the needs and wants of the other party, you must gather around the table.

Bring People to the Table

The table can be conversations on social media, email exchanges, phone calls, or in-person meetings. The platform doesn’t matter as much as the interaction that happens when you meet there. To attract people to and keep them at your table, you must demonstrate your professionalism and that you have the social skills to be good to work with.

Here are some tips:

• Find common ground.
• Use language that appeals to the person you’re trying to persuade. For example, when I talk to athletes, I use sports metaphors and language that includes “finish line,” “competition,” “win,” etc. When I talk to a new father or mother, I use words and phrases that connect to their concerns and our shared experience as parents.
• View yourself and your offering from the perspective of the person you’re talking to.
• Anticipate challenges and offer options that address the real obstacles the other party may have implementing your solution.

It is during these conversations that you will come to understand the needs and wants of the other party and how what you have to offer can satisfy both. You will also be building a connection and trust with the other party and offering a solution to their problems. The goal of this stage is agreement. However, verbal agreement alone doesn’t get the job done, nor does it mean you’ve persuaded.

The True Test of Your Powers

A call to action is the true test of your persuasive powers because many humans are agreeable by nature, finding it difficult to challenge others in conversation. However, when it comes to a buying or buy-in decision, something that requires them to act in a way that costs them something, people are more likely to say “no” or put the decision off. This may seem like a failure, but it’s not the end of the discussion. This is an opportunity to ask more questions and to verify that you’ve understood the problem as the other party sees it. It’s an opportunity to creatively solve a problem together using the skills and resources at your mutual disposal.

However, this may also be an indication that you’ve given all you can and should, and now the other person needs time to digest and answer your call to action after they’ve tested your ideas and verified your credibility.

Give People Space to Digest and Reflect

Persuasive people understand that time can be their friend and that high-pressure tactics are the tools of forcers and manipulators. Few people have the stomach to stay at the table with manipulators. Keeping people at the table requires respect and patience.

Always leave a seat at and keep inviting people back to the table because those who return are often the ones who become the most loyal clients and vocal supporters.

Remember, negotiation is a process of communication. Persuasion is a series of small yeses, the result of which is action and long-term, meaningful change.

Whether you’re a board member, executive, committee chair, salesperson, or freelancer, the better communicator you are and the longer you can keep people at the table, the better your chance of creating long-term success for all parties and being recognized by others as a true leader and someone worth working with or buying from.

Why I Split My Website in Order to Streamline My Business

A box of office supplies

When confronted…Well…confronted is too strong a term…Let me begin again….

When some boss friends confided that the religious undertones in my website were a turn-off, it became a concern for me. They admitted that if they didn’t know me already, they would worry about being judged, preached to, or that I would try to convert them into nuns standing on street corners, in a sandwich board, screaming lines from Exodus. (Can you picture it?)

I am a United Methodist through and through BUT I don’t preach and don’t judge when talking to my clients (although, I have cussed out my computer and bad drivers from time to time). A while after I met my boss friends, they learned that I have a strong faith and want to help churches and faith-based organizations spread their word, their work, and their good. I also want the local bread shop, barber, tattoo artist, or any other small business to succeed. I don’t believe that a church has to work strictly with a faith-focused business and also that a secular business can’t work with a Christian business owner. We should all be able to work together to make the client’s goal a success no matter if we are Bible thumpers or Marilyn Manson concert goers (great concert by the way.  A bit too long between costume changes, but great show!). We should be able to see the business’s or organization’s vision and help it come to virtual reality.

Everybody get together try to love one another right now.

As a digital marketing specialist, I thought it would be smart to create a second website called Covered-Dish.com. Covered-Dish.Com focuses on digital marketing and web design for faith-based organizations. On my original website, PetreyDish.com, I removed all mentions of faith. Well, almost all. I kept some details in my bio.

Here’s why I split my business (web-wise) in two

Major reasons:

• Clarify target market
• Remove possible confusion
•Remove religious undertones
• Strengthen religious tones

Minor reasons:

• Better SEO
• Better targeting for faith based groups
•Prevent secular businesses from being biased (no preaching or quoting
scripture here!)

Katey at work
(Photo credit: Sarah Kane Photography)

Does it take twice as much time to market?

Surprisingly… No! Yes, I did create a separate Facebook Page and Instagram account. I’m not really focused on those at this time, but they are there and I post sporadically. When I do spend time on social media marketing, it takes about ten extra minutes. Hootsuite has been a great help with that. Hootsuite allows me to schedule out posts in advance so when the ideas are flying and get knock them out and get them scheduled. I also make sure to spread them out so it’s not ten posts one week and then nothing for the next two weeks. Some consistency is important.

I am focusing more on the websites for now. Using the same article, I can change “business” to “church” or “faith based organization” and change “clients” to “community” to create two different pieces. One for each site. I also reword the content a little so it’s not exact because Google is a smart bot and doesn’t like it when posts are too similar.

No, I didn’t get a second business license. I did not set up a second billing system. I do not have a separate location or a different pet to have in the office for my Covered-Dish.Com clients. For clarity and to appease the Biblically sensitive, I made a simple change in marketing strategy and use the same email on both websites. Have my main site and marketing more secular and have a second site be more Peace, Love, and Joy. Now go and be blessed.

Can’t we all just get along?
For crying out loud!
Come on!

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Get The Skill Development You Deserve (Without Emptying Your Wallet)

Learning

It may seem like a no-brainer, but if we want to grow our businesses, we need to continue to expand our knowledge and skills. We need skill development.

There are many ways to increase our aptitudes. We can read and research on our own, sign up for webinars, participate in online chats, and watch YouTube videos. We can attend conferences, read blogs, Google, and try the classic trial and error. Maybe you haven’t done all of these. Maybe you should! Maybe you’ve been so busy dealing with the work fires you haven’t had time. Forcing yourself to block out an hour or two a few times a week to develop your talents sounds like a monster task. Where are those hours coming from? But, let’s be honest, it’s needed if you want to develop your skills and talents. To stretch yourself. To grow.

Have you added to your to-do list to read a particular development book? Do it!

Have you been meaning to search YouTube videos to learn or develop a particular skill for your business? Do it!

Have you found others in your industry that are willing to collaborate or share information? Make time!

Do you think your industry is so tight-lipped that you feel isolated or need a security clearance to be in the know? Think again because we are becoming a society of supporters and helpers. Keep looking and you’ll find friends in your industry.

If you’re like me and can’t afford a $900 (or more) weekend conference (not including hotel and travel), then look for other alternatives. Free and low-cost alternatives. Maybe you haven’t thought of these opportunities or maybe you don’t know where to start looking.

So, check out my ever-growing list of ways to continue becoming even more of an expert as you grow and develop your skills, talents, business, health, life, and badassery without having to go into debt.

 

YouTube

If you go to YouTube and do a search, you find several suggestions to advance and learn just about everything you need to know. I did a search to learn if I had wild onions growing in my yard and if they were editable. (As long as they are not in a pet potty area, they are edible and what I had growing wasn’t wild onions). I’ve used videos to declutter, learn more about YouTube itself (yep, searching YouTube to learn more about YouTube), connecting my computer wirelessly to a printer, how to fix a photo issue via editing and more. YouTube is more than dogs being clumsy.

 

MY TOP CHANNELS

Channel Notes – Where I go to learn about YouTube. (Yeah, yeah, learning YouTube on YouTube.)
Social Media Examiner – My favorite spot for all things social media.
Sunny Lenarduzzi – Great for branding and business building.
Marie Forleo – Fantastic business development videos.
MailChimp – Is platform specific, but useful for me in my business.
Google – A great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the platform.
LinkedIn – Great tips and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn.

 

Facebook & LinkedIn

Facebook is always popular and is continuing to grow. Have you joined any business-related groups? Do a search on Facebook and check out group categories or events. Joining groups or even creating a group can be a very powerful tool. Just remember to keep up with it. You’ll get the most out of a group if you’re an active participant. Not the group for you? Leave it and join a different one – or three! The same thing goes for LinkedIn.

I found a Facebook group of female bosses where we network online and in public. We ask questions, explore options, help each other find answers, give and receive referrals, hold each other accountable and simply cheer each other on. I am also part of a book study club that is reading a self-improvement business book. The group is a mix of online and meetings.

 

MY FAVE GROUPS

• Boss Babes RVA – Awesome group for women in business. (You must be with a Richmond company to join, but there are other similar groups on Facebook if you do a little looking.)
• 
Girlboss – Because who doesn’t need some all-in motivation?
Alpha Female Sisterhood – A positive active group of women business owners managed by business coaches.

 

Instagram

By simply scrolling through Instagram, I’ve found free webinars of all kinds. From these ads, I have participated in 2 different webinars about business development and improving marketing techniques, both of which I learned from. I took notes and implemented their suggestions and have seen positive results. They push you to sign up for services and it’s up to you if you want to pursue more or be content with the freebie.

 

Twitter

Even though some may say that Twitter has lost its way, it is still a great place to grow your knowledge and skills. Finding chats related to your business, hobbies or interests is one of the best ways to network and learn. By using a particular hashtag, you can find different conversations to be a part of. Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Participate in #LinkedInChat (Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET). Need help with branding? Join #brandchat (Wednesdays at 11 a.m. ET). Girl boss? #BizGalz (Mondays at 1 p.m. ET) and #PFWChat (Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET) are great suggestions. The possibilities are staggering! And don’t just lurk. Participate. Share. Ask questions. There are chats for bloggers, trainers, church, foodies, and hippies, just to name a few. Find the ones that speak to you!

 

Meetup

Meetup is a free app and website that lets like-minded people meet for pretty much anything. I dug my heels in when it came to meetups because I’m shy and an introvert. I finally put on my big girl pants and joined. I found meetings near me that cover all sorts of topics, many of which are business related! I found meetups for women business owners, photographers, media marketers, hikers, networkers, and on and on. I went to one. I clung to the wall like the floor was going to collapse and ended up leaving a little early because I was so out of my element. I left with really good notes and it gave me a lot to think about. It was uncomfortable. I’m glad I went and, I’m proud to say, I’ve signed up for more meetups near me.

 

Goodreads

Goodreads is a free app that a friend recommended. I love it!! It allows the users to create lists of books you have read, what you’re currently reading, and book you want to read. Once you start putting books in those three categories, it will give you more book suggestions. Want to read #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso or completed it? Goodreads will give you other suggestions similar to how Amazon does (because it’s connected to Amazon) like You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

Don’t forget to connect with your friends via the platform. If your friend enjoyed a book, Goodreads will suggest it to you. If you finished a great book, then you can send a recommendation to a friend. Goodreads makes reading on your own interactive. I use this app all the time when I’m at the library to help me remember titles and have also found it a great place to store recommended books your friends and colleagues mention during a conversation.

 

Audible

If you haven’t invested in Audible, I recommend it. While the app is free, be aware that the books are not.  It’s another way to listen to books, get suggestions, and grow your knowledge. You can listen from your computer or phone, while you drive, workout, cook, clean, get ready, or while having your morning coffee. The app also can adjust the narration speed so you can listen a little faster or slower. (I will say it’s pretty embarrassing when you’re at the gym and realize your headphones aren’t fully plugged in so your neighbors can hear your book in chipmunk mode.) What a great way to make great use of your time! I think Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast would be proud. If Audible isn’t right for you, there’s always the audiobooks section at your local library (obsessed!).

 

Podcasts

If you aren’t ready to invest in Audible, then podcasts may be more your speed. iTunes and Stitcher have loads of free options as well as various web resources. My personal favorite business podcast is The Social Media Examiner Show.

 

 Take these as a few of my humble suggestions for keeping your skill development on track without stressing over the money you need to invest.

What other ways have you gained knowledge and developed your skills?