Are We Defensive In How We Communicate?

When is being on your heels a good thing? And by that, I mean, being defensive.

We’ve all seen it before in sports, most recently in the Super Bowl. One team is up, and then there’s a momentum shift and the tide turns. I’ve had sleepless nights while coaching my 4th grade son’s basketball team, after we’ve been up a good amount—we started to play it safe. We try to avoid the worst that could happen instead of trying to be the best we can be. The difference is being on your heels versus having a forward lean.

Too many people are like that with their communication. We’re afraid of the “what if?”

What if I don’t do well? What if I show that I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if they can see my nerves? All of those “what if’s?” put us on the defensive and create more nerves. The shift? Go on the offense.

Lean forward into your audience both with your content and behaviorally—like you have nothing to lose. Figure out what you want to change in your audience. Stay on the balls of your feet and move towards them. Don’t be afraid of the “what if?” Instead, look at it from the opposite end—what if they don’t? That should spark a passion—and people buy off passion. With that comes a realness and an authenticity. The amazing thing is that all of this will help to settle your nerves because you’ll stop getting in your own way.

Years ago, when Carol Bartz was the CEO of Yahoo, I was working with one of their executives. I asked him, “What do you think about when you’re on stage?” and he said, “I’m just thinking about Carol. She’s in the front row and if she’s happy, I’m happy.” That’s a defensive mindset. So, I said, “Don’t think about one person, think about the other 999 people that are in the audience—what do they need to do? Where do they need to go? Help them understand the why and lean into them to do it. If you do that, Carol Bartz, will be happier and more impressed.” That’s an offensive mindset. The same is true for you and your boss.

Have that offensive mindset and be on your toes because that’s when the promotions and raises come—and better yet—the influence and change!

Yada Yada Yada

There is so much focus on the importance of storytelling in business. From brand to leadership to managing client relationships, storytelling has become the “silver bullet” for how to approach something better. This post is not about when or why to tell a good story. Instead, I want to call … Continue reading

Tail That Wagged The Dog

“Why does a dog wags its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.” I remember in ’97, when the movie ‘Wag the Dog’ came out—it got me thinking about things or people that control things, who really shouldn’t. … Continue reading

Top 10 Communication Moments of 2016

What a year. The Olympics. A Presidential Election. So much noise this year – a colossal communications cacophony. What, then, stood out? The moments. With such a divisive political, economic and social landscape this year, we found that people heard what they wanted to hear, and we also felt it … Continue reading

Connecting Matters to Sell…and to Influence

As we ramp up next week’s reveal of our annual Top 10 of 2016, it’s always an interesting effort to trim and tuck to make the list as robust and complete as possible. We consider memorable moments, and we also think back about the people who have influenced us. This … Continue reading

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

It’s a term that doesn’t get used often, although we all talk about it quite often. You know someone who bought a car or was thinking of buying that car. Then all of a sudden, they see the same car all around them and wonder what happened? That’s Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and it … Continue reading

Think Before You Link

You wouldn’t walk into a networking event with a bag on your head or hand out business cards that say, “Call to talk more about me.” Yet too many of us are generic or self-centered in our approach on LinkedIn. Influential communicators work to create a complete communications experience for … Continue reading

Learnings from Vin Scully – A Legend Passing on Legendary Principles

As we approach the final weeks of the legendary Vin Scully announcing for the Dodgers (67 years!), it’s important that his lessons don’t go unnoticed. Tom Verducci had a great write-up for Sports Illustrated, and we recommend all to read. We took something away from his article, of course tied … Continue reading

Club Trip? Yes, Please!

So many companies reward their top people with a trip. Destination: Hawaii, Mexico, Sonoma or somewhere exotic that feels like a getaway. Earlier this year, I even saw a bunch of top medical sales professionals in Park City, Utah enjoying a club retreat (as we were on day 10 of … Continue reading

Three Reasons Your Message Isn’t Getting Through

What if almost half of everything you say isn’t getting through? Actually, if you have young kids, as we do, you’re probably thinking that about half of it getting through is pretty darn good. Well, maybe it’s debatable that it’s okay when you’re dealing with kids (although we don’t actually … Continue reading