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Fraud Prevention Tip #25: Resolve or Refer Suspicions

Uncertainty Makes The Elephant Anxious (and Gets in the Way of Better! Results) – Better! Results Tip #20

In their wonderful book “Switch: How to Lead Change When Change is Hard” (PLEASE go buy it right now!), brother-authors Chip and Dan Heath put their personal spin on the analogy of a rational rider attempting to lead a huge elephant in a new, unfamiliar but Better! direction. They teach us:

“Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

 Ever wonder what makes the elephant nervous and default to comfortable low-results practices? One word: uncertainty.

Baby elephant bathing in the river, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

And that’s true whether it’s a six-ton pachyderm or the tiny elephant in our heads.

Yes, that’s right. We all have an elephant in our heads. The mental elephant is all of the inefficient and ineffective habits we’ve built over the years. The patterns of behavior we don’t even think about. The prejudices and irrational fears. It’s the knee-jerk reaction we have to uncomfortable situations we encounter as part of life – meeting new people, tight deadlines, trying new food, attempting new solutions to old problems, traveling to an unfamiliar location. Even electing a new president we know virtually nothing concrete about. The elephant wants to go with the rest of the herd – its peer group – to what it believes is a safe place even though it may know little about where the leader of the herd is headed.

Again from Switch:

“The Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment …”

 To which I respectfully add, “to think beyond the sound bite to research the facts.”

Depressed handsome man sitting in office

These are times of great uncertainty. Politically, economically, even spiritually. People are anxious, nervous and downright scared. Many are angry as well. Angry that they aren’t heard. Frustrated about the daily lies from so-called leaders. Scared of people who are ‘different’ from them with their different languages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and even different expressions of love.

Result: there are anxious elephants all around us, and we’re all at risk of getting trampled.

So what does the informed, self-aware, loving, giving human who is interested in Better! Results do? (That’s you, by the way.)

You bring calm to emotion-laden situations. Your bring truth based on researched facts to conversations. You allow that uncertainty makes us all nervous, but you embrace the role of leader and help others think Better!, decide Better!, and then act Better!

Above all else, you lead by example. The example of calm, informed, confident action every day.

Do these things, and then look over your shoulder. You’ll be leading the herd of anxious elephants. In a Better! brighter direction.

Fraud Prevention Tip

Manage Your Energy (Because People Can Read It) – Better! Results Tip #19

Charlie let loose with a world-class yawn. Right in the middle of the meeting. And we all saw it.

“What”, he said. “I’m soooo tired.”

Which was apparently soooo true.

Handsome businessman working in the office

But it wasn’t anything new. We all knew Charlie was always tired. We ‘saw’ it every day in his work, his pace, his attention to detail, his suggestions, and especially in meetings when he thought no one was watching.

About 20 years ago, I listened in on an interesting presentation. It was about the ‘energy signature’ we all leave. The lesson of that program was simple: be more aware. People notice.

One of the foundation principles of Better! Results is the conscious elimination of barriers to our success. You know, those little and not so little habits and other things that we put in the path of our progress. And unless we have a medical condition, are working two or more jobs, or are raising one-year-old twins, it’s very possible that we have more control over our energy level and resulting signature than we believe.

So here are a few ideas to lean us all towards Better! Results through Better! Energy.

One, turn off the TV and get an extra 30 to 60 minutes of sleep each night. Such a simple step with extraordinary potential results.

mix fruit and vegetable salad

Two, eat Better! Food is fuel. Bad food, bad fuel. Real food, good fuel. We wouldn’t dream of intentionally putting bad fuel in our $30,000 car. But most of us put bad fuel in our bodies every day. Does that make any sense? It’s that simple.

Three, watch the sugar intake. A 12-ounce can of ‘regular’ Coke or Pepsi has about 39 grams of sugar. I was never very strong on the metric system, so I had to look it up. Conversion is 4 grams per teaspoon (a measure even I can understand). So a 12-ounce can of pop has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Result – a raging sugar high followed by a hard sugar crash. No wonder they call it ‘pop’!

Watch out for the hidden sugar as well. Ketchup, tomato sauce, processed breakfast cereal, yogurt, condiments, processed meats, and bread. Plus the bagels, donuts and pastries that seem to be required at too many business meetings and training events.

refined sugar cube

Just so we’re clear, I love sweet treats. (So you can skip the protesting email.) And I have to watch out every single day. But I know from experience what the hidden and not so hidden sugars can do to my energy level. All I’m suggesting is a little conscious thought and modest adjustments to intake. Find that elusive middle-ground between sugar-pleasure and Better! sustained energy

Become that person everyone wants on their project. Bring the energy that inspires confidence in your work. You’ll think Better!, perform Better!, and feel Better! And others will notice – especially your boss.

Say P-B-E – Better! Results Tip #18

I sat in the meeting and watched with wonder as results coaching client Kate delivered the script exactly as we had designed it:

P with X and Y, then B with E.

young business woman giving a presentation in a conference/meeting setting

You see, Kate is a talented professional in her chosen field. She has a deep background in research and on-the-job experience. But due to the mainly technical nature of her work, she’s had few opportunities to stand and present findings and recommendations. She knew if she could just get past those first few minutes of panic when speaking publicly, she’d be fine. And that’s where the short script came in.

Here are the three simple statements she delivered to start.

  1. Purpose: “The purpose of this presentation is (help X do Y)…”
  1. Benefit: “The benefit to you (or the organization) is…”
  1. Example: “An example of how this worked from another organization just like ours is…”

P with X and Y, then B with E.

Sorry. Too many letters. So let me break it down.

P = Purpose

When we state Purpose in any communication, we are telling the listener or reader exactly how to think about what they are about to witness. People’s thoughts are naturally scattered. All of us have a constant buzz of distractions from emails, deadlines, pre-meeting conversations and a long list of other variables.

Clearly stating “Purpose” brings focus to all present. It answers the critical question “Why are we here?” – a question that often gets missed or misunderstood if not stated clearly.

In it’s simplest form, simply fill in X and Y. “We’re here to help X (you, our customers, other stakeholders) address/solve Y (statement of need, problem, job requirement, frustration).

Now everyone understands exactly what we’re up to – our collective Purpose in that very moment.

B = BenefitPeople Meeting Communication Corporate Teamwork Concept

Every listener or reader has one thought in common: “What’s in this for me?” It’s not a selfish thought; it’s just the way we’re wired as listeners. And it’s such an easy question to answer. Just tell them how they personally will benefit. With as much precision and clarity as possible.

“The benefit to you is a possible increase in free cash flow of 15 to 17 percent in the first 60 days”

“The benefit to us is full compliance with federal lending regulations and the avoidance of additional penalties”

“The benefit to you is fewer hours to complete the required tasks – and more time available for whatever other tasks are on your plate that day.”

Did you notice that in each example, I clearly say the words, “The benefit is.” Again, we’re telling the listener or reader exactly how to think. Not because we’re smarter than them or trying to manipulate them. Just to save them time and mental energy by providing a clear path to what’s important – TO THEM!

E = Example

In my live seminars, I say that the two most powerful words in business communication are “For Example”.

Examples that illustrate the benefits of our ideas make arcane business metrics like cash flow, ROI, customer satisfaction ratings and a thousand other commonly used measures come alive in the listener’s or reader’s mind.

Metrics become visual as the listener or reader can ‘see’ the results obtained by others just like them.

“For example, our western division started using this idea earlier this year. After 90 days, their results exceeded expectations by 200%. And as our top performing division, their year-end bonuses reflected that major jump in results!”

Here’s a hint just for you. Use an example that shows a clear, measurable transition from their prior results to the potential Better! Results. 200% improvement catches every listener’s ear and every reader’s eye.

Wonder why? Because transition stories sell. (Just watch 3 or 4 commercials on television or a past episode of the Oprah show, and look for just how powerfully visual transition stories engage the brain and hold attention).

Better! Results Challenge Hand writing Results with blue marker on transparent wipe board.

I have a simple formula for any new idea: “Try B4 Toss”.

At your next meeting, try the script outlined above. Create your own tailored version, and definitely practice out loud in advance. Work it over and slim it down. Once you’re comfortable with the purpose, benefits and example statements you’ll use, it should only take about 30 to 45 seconds to deliver.

After the meeting, use a few minutes of quiet analysis to judge if this technique helped get your message across. More important, judge whether listeners paid better attention and were more focused on solutions.

Let me know if it works for you.