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Listen up or Lose out: Advancing Your Listening Skills

When we think of holding engaging, powerful conversations, the first thing that comes to mind is mastering the art of persuasive speaking. While there is magic in persuasion, one of the most powerful tools of a leader is the ability to listen.

You are tossing the idea around in your mind, right? Surely, the way to control a discussion, direct the flow of ideas, and get someone to jump on your bandwagon is to use your words to convince and even manipulate. Yet, think about how much more likely you are to hear someone out and consider their point of view when you feel like they’ve been paying attention to you. You’re more willing to do something they’ve requested or give them what they’re asking for if you feel like that person has taken the time to listen to you and has shown a deep interest in what you think or feel. Beyond that realization, consider that the only way to know how to build an argument to budge others from their stance is to listen to them and figure out from which angle to approach their way of thinking. There within lies the compelling strength of a master conversationalist. If you are striving to become a great leader and influential figure, it’s worth it to acquire the following listening skills:

1. Don’t cut others off while they are talking. It’s disrespectful and it makes them feel like their ideas are being devalued. Be patient and let them finish their thought.

2. Actually pay attention. Avoid getting so caught up in coming up with a rebuttal or good come back line that you completely miss what the other person is expressing.

3. Use the various nonverbal gestures that let a person know you are present and connected. Try these nonverbal cues:

  • Lean forward, without slouching.
  • Make eye contact, instead of letting your eyes wander, but don’t stare.
  • Nod your head, not like you’re falling asleep, but like you get what they’re saying.
  • Smile/Laugh if they say something cheerful or funny.
  • Put away any distracting devices, i.e. cell phones, mp3 players, etc.

4. Ask questions related to what the other person is talking about. That is a surefire way to let someone know you were not only paying attention, but that you’re interested.

Before I run off to another meeting, I’ll share with you one of my personal secret weapons: the head nod and furrowed brow combo. When my eyebrows move closer together and I nod my head as in “yes, I get what you’re saying,” without fail, the person who is speaking stops talking to everyone else in the room and directs his/her words towards me. If you need a big dog, power player to notice you, if even for a moment, then give that one-two punch a try.

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Bottoms up! – It’s No Panty Day

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Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

 

Apparently, today, June 22nd is No Panty Day. Uh… Hurray? The day upon which every woman can free herself of the lacy undergarment contraptions. What better timing than in the middle of a nationwide heatwave?! Ahhhh – sigh of relief.

What remains a tad confusing to me is why we need a special day for it. If the spirit moves you and you want to go commando, then just do it! Before you break loose, though, a word of advice to all my lovely exhibitions out here:  There is no need to announce your bare-bottomness to everyone. Air it out quietly, wear something that covers your cheeks, and wax/shave just in case, please and thank you.

Public Displays of Protocol – April 2012

As a communications professional and scholar who keeps an eye and an ear (just one of each) glued to the media, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to recognize the t.v. legends who passed on during the month of April.  I’d like to dedicate this Public Displays of Protocol to three men of media who exemplified dignity, class, and high ethical standards:  Gil Noble, Mike Wallace, and Dick Clark.

ENTERTAINMENT

Dick Clark Photo Credit: Alan Light

On April 18th, we lost “America’s Oldest Teenager.”  Dick Clark, known to the younger generations as the cool older dude who made an appearance every New Year’s Eve, built a long-lived career of so much more.  His extensive work in show biz made him the most well recognized pop culture icon spanning several generations.  Mr. Clark was adored as the host of “American Bandstand,” TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” the “American Music Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” and countless other television and radio shows.  Always a vision of effortless sophistication, he dedicated his career to bringing young talent to the forefront as well as entertaining his youthful audience (regardless of age) in a respectable way.

Gil Noble – the journalist, the gentleman, the giant – whom I watched religiously each Sunday, departed on

Gil Noble Photo Credit: WABC-TV

April 5th.  I must admit that Mr. Noble’s passing touched me as though I lost a dear distant friend.  For as long as I could remember, he sat in my living room every week, educating my siblings and me on historical and current events, on people who were making a difference in the community, and on the ways every individual can improve the quality of life.  Mr. Noble dressed impeccably, spoke articulately and welcomed us into his realm on the television show “Like It Is,” which aired for 43 years.  He built his career as a journalist, bringing us fair and accurate news, and continued this practice as a host shining light on issues as well activism well into his later years.  He never faltered from his journalistic standards and he always kept the well-being and empowerment of his viewers in mind.

We lost more than one phenomenal journalist in the month of April.  The great Mike Wallace, best known for

Mike Wallace, 1957

his role as the legendary host of “60 Minutes” also died on April 5th.  He subscribed to the old school practice in which journalistic integrity really meant something.  His reputation stands tall on his lengthy track recorded of providing insightful, balanced investigative reporting and interviewing.  Mr. Wallace didn’t take it easy on his guests.  As a matter of fact, he developed a whole new style of tough interviewing techniques by which he dug out the information he knew his viewers tuned in to hear.  Yet, he remained a gentleman and did not make his work a personal attack on those who sat face-to-face with him.  He kept his guests honest and gave his audience what we needed.  What more could you ask?

These three men impacted us across cultures, age groups, and personal interests.  Their legacies will continue to serve as a strong, reliable foundation for the modern era of broadcast media.  For their excellence and nobility, I salute them again and again.

Little Lady Tips – 2/7/12

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Clean-up in Aisle 2: Managing Your Online Rep

Previously, in Hot Shots and the Should Nots, I talked specifically about cleaning up your online photo/video sharing to protect yourself. Here, I want to take it further and encourage you to take similar precaution with whatever you post, tag, tweet, like, or pin across social media platforms. Plus, I will provide information on companies that can help you with revamping and streamlining your online reputation. I want to make it clear that this doesn’t mean you can’t share provocative, controversial, fun or silly thoughts and items. What I want you to be aware of is the fact that whenever you do this you are forever attaching your name to it. So consider whether you’re releasing something detrimental to your personal safety, family, career or general reputation.

Do you really want to cosign the parody “Sh!t Black Girls Say,” if you’re not a Black girl? Are you sure you want to tweet about cheating on your computer science exam? Do you have to click “like” and repost 87 videos of teen girls slapping each other? All I’m saying is you should think first.

Now, if you have been sharing on the Internet in a manner you aren’t so proud of, as I mentioned in the previous post, there are several companies that can help you. Reputation Management Online, Reputation Hawk LLC, MyReputation, DefendMyName, and Naymz all provide services for managing your image and reputation in the cyber world. If you find that you are having trouble landing interviews or offers after background checks, or that people around town are just looking at you funny, these online establishments are worth looking into.

If you’re interested in handling your digital rep on your own, keep in mind that it can be time consuming but there are free sites to help you along with that ambition as well. Sites like MyPermissions.org and Reppler help you see your reputation risks across social media platforms, so that you’ll get a good lay out of the issues you would want to target.

You are now equipped with the tools you’ll need for your online reputation clean-up. In the meanwhile, think before you tweet, ponder before you post, simply be smart before you share and your image will be all sorted out before you know it.

Hot Shots and the Should Nots

With all the madness across the wild, wild web, it’s time to do a series on digital etiquette and protocol to help you protect yourself and your image.  Shall we start with the topic of photo and video sharing on digital or social media platforms?

Oh, you know which photos and videos I’m talking about!  The ones in which the girl is leaning forward with her breasts spilling out her top while making that weirdo kissy face.  The one in which the guy is cheesing at the camera with a woman bent over, grabbing her ankles, grinding on him.  The pics of you posing au naturel with the seductive bedroom eyes.  Yes, those.

I know, I know, your Twitter is private and Facebook is on all kinds of intricate custom settings.  The thing is the pictures you share on those sites are held on photo storage platforms that just about anybody can access.  And if you are sexting those snapshots to someone, you are easily leaving yourself open to a growing viewing audience.  Peek-a-boo, we see you!

Believe me when I say I’m not hating on anybody getting their freak on.  I just want you to be in control of who is privileged enough to see your goods.  If you’re looking for a job, you don’t want potential employers looking at you get it in and shake it fast on YouTube.  Well, unless that is the type of job you are hoping to get.  Then by all means shake it faster.  Even then you want to make sure that “audition” video is getting to the right eyes, or else you are working hard just to give away free shows.

If you are about to share that last clip of you making it rain, think before you upload.  If you’ve been tossing up promiscuous shots of yourself all willy nilly and find yourself prone to overexposure, it’s not too late.  There is help!  There are companies that will clean up our online personality by strategically pouring tons of positive, smart, clean posts on our behalf in order to cancel out the messy stuff.  If you are looking to join a new organization, apply to college or graduate schools, or merely broaden your network, this might be a great option for you.  Whatever your goal is, keep in mind that the only way to keep your raunchy pics and clips private is to keep them off the web and off other people’s smart phones.

Welcome! Please come in and take a look around.

Many of us are out there trying to maneuver our way through professional and social settings with at least a modicum of the social graces.  Mom gave us some great training through the years with classic etiquette tidbits, but times change.  Do business men still pause to let business women through the door first?  Should you use your knife and fork?  Do we still differentiate between “outside voices” and “inside voices?”  Should the youth still guide the elderly cross the street?  If a pregnant woman enters the room, do you offer your seat?  Can a woman pay the bill without posing a threat to her date?  Is it rude for us to assume her date is not another woman?

While trying to figure out if and how such social mores have shifted, an entirely new world of social outlets crept up on us.  Now we are left to decode the proper protocol for engaging with others in online social networks and blogs, chats and messengers, tablets and smart phones, and on and on.  Sometimes we can all use a little help with this.

The Little Lady Blog is here to explore with you and guide you through the world of modern protocol and etiquette.  Hopefully, each of you can find something of value in this blog to help you put your best image forward at each event, in different settings, amongst all types of people, every day.