Types of World English

US English US English is of course particularly influential, on account of America's dominance of cinema, television, popular music, trade, and technology, including the Internet. Many terms that enter an Oxford dictionary from the US quickly become established in British English: some examples from the last ten years or so are geek, nerd, school student, and 24/7. Many US equivalents for British terms are familiar: sidewalk for pavement, checkers for draughts, cookie for biscuit, and vest for waistcoat. Other differences are more subtle. Some words have a slightly different form, e.g. dollhouse (US)/doll's house (Brit.), math (US)/maths (Brit.), tidbit (US)/titbit (Brit.), while American constructions that are strange to British ears include I just ate, teach school, and a quarter of ten (rather than a quarter to ten). Canadian English Canadian English is subject to the conflicting influences of British and American English. In vocabulary there is a lot of US influence: Canadians use billboard, gas, truck, and wrench rather than hoarding, lorry, petrol, and spanner; but on the other hand they agree with the British in saying blinds, braces, porridge, and tap rather than shades, suspenders, oatmeal, and faucet. Australian and New Zealand English The vocabularies of Australian and New Zealand English are very similar. Both have been enriched by words and concepts from the hundreds of indigenous languages that pre-dated European settlers, only about fifty of which continue as first languages. The line between formal and informal usage is perhaps less sharply drawn in Australasian English than it is elsewhere: suffixes such as -o and -ie, giving us expressions such as arvo (afternoon), reffo (refugee), and barbie (barbecue), are freely attached to words even in more formal contexts. South African English Since 1994 South Africa has had eleven official languages: English, Afrikaans (descended from Dutch), Zulu, Xhosa, and other largely regional African languages. English is the first language of only about 10 per cent of the population, but the second language of many others. The English of native Afrikaners has inevitably influenced the 'standard' English of white South Africans, examples being such informal usages as the affirmative no, as in 'How are you? - No, I'm fine' and the all-purpose response is it?, as in 'She had a baby last week - is it?' Indian English The role of English within the complex multilingual society of India is far from

straightforward: together with Hindi it is used across the country, but it can also be a speaker's first, second, or third language, and its features may depend heavily on their ethnicity and caste. The grammar of Indian English has many distinguishing features, of which perhaps the best-known are the use of the present continuous tense, as in 'He is having very much of property', and the use of isn't it as a ubiquitous question tag: 'We are meeting tomorrow, isn"t it?' The first example rejects another characteristic of the language, which is to include intrusive articles such as in or of in idiomatic phrases. Verbs are also used differently, with speakers often dropping a preposition or object altogether: 'I insisted immediate payment', while double possessives - 'our these prices' (instead of the British English 'these prices of ours') - are commonplace. West Indian English Standard British English has traditionally been the linguistic model for the Commonwealth Caribbean, although recently the import of US television, radio, and tourism has made American English an equally powerful influence. The many varieties of Creole, influenced by West African languages, are also productive. A characteristic usage is that of the objective pronoun where British English would use the subjective or possessive, as in me can come an go as me please or he clear he throat. Jamaican Creole is the most widely known, and has spread beyond the region, especially to the UK, where it influences the speech of black Britons.

Indian English comprises several dialects or varieties of English spoken primarily in the Indian Subcontinent. These dialects evolved during and after the period when Britain exercised colonial rule over India. English is the one of the official languages of India, with about ninety million speakers, according to the 1991 Census of India, but fewer than a quarter of a million people call it their first language.[1] With the exception of some families who communicate primarily in English, as well as members of the relatively small Anglo-Indian community (numbering less than half a million), speakers of Indian English use it as a second or third language, after their indigenous Indian language(s), such as Hindi, Bengali, Kannada,Telugu,Marathi,Tamil,etc.[2] Several idiomatic forms, derived from Indian literary and vernacular language, also have made their way into Indian English. Despite this diversity, there is general homogeneity in syntax and vocabulary among the varieties of Indian English.

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1 Influences: British and American o 1.1 Influences from other languages 2 Idioms and popular words/phrases o 2.1 Medical terms o 2.2 Food o 2.3 Addressing others o 2.4 Interjections and casual references o 2.5 Divergent usage 3 Grammar o 3.1 Grammar quirks 4 Phonology o 4.1 Vowels o 4.2 Consonants o 4.3 Spelling pronunciation o 4.4 Supra-segmental features 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

[edit] Influences: British and American
The form of English that Indians and all the other people of the subcontinent are taught in schools is essentially British English. A socially-superior accent is deemed to be that of Received Pronunciation. However, even during the time of the British Raj, before the partition of Pakistan and Bangladesh, Indian English had established itself as an audibly distinct dialect of the language with its own quirks and specific phrases. Indian spellings typically follow British conventions. After gaining independence in 1947, Indian English took on a divergent evolution, and many phrases that other English speakers consider antiquated are still popular in India. The legacy of the East India Company and its practices still prevails in official correspondence in India. Official letters include phrases such as "please do the needful," and "you will be intimated shortly," which are directly lifted from East India Company correspondence from the seventeenth century. Because of the growing influence of American culture in recent decades, certain elements of American slang are now used by some Indians, especially younger ones. AmericanEnglish spellings are also widely prevalent in scientific and technical publications, while British-English spellings are used in other media.

[edit] Influences from other languages

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Tag questions: The use of "isn't it" as a generic question tag, as in "You're lying, isn't it?" (instead of "You're lying, aren't you?"). More recent tag questions include "no?" (used colloquially) as in He's here, no? ('na' often replaces 'no' in Hindi speaking areas; the South replaces 'no' with the 'ah' sound, as in Ready, ah?, an influence of colloquial Tamil and Kannada.) Use of the words but or only as intensifiers such as in: "I was just joking but." or "It was she only who cooked this rice." Or even "I didn't go only" to mean "I didn't end up going after all." (Influenced by Hindi syntax.) Adding "U" to all english words e.g. LeftU for left, BusU for Bus; especially people from South Indian states mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have the habit of when speaking Tamil and Kannada and Telugu respectively Use of yaar, machaa, abey, arey in an English conversation between Indians, mainly by people of native Hindi-speaking origin; 'ra', 'da', 'machaa' is more frequently used in the South. Use of "baazi"/"baaji" or "-giri" for the same purpose, as in "business-baazi" or "cheating-giri." (Also prevalent mainly in Hindi-speaking states.) Use of word "wala" to denote occupation or 'doing of/involvement in doing' something, as in "The taxi-wala overcharged me.", "The grocery-wala sells fresh fruit." or "He's a real music-wala: his CD collection is huge." Use of the word maane (Bengali) , "Yani" (Urdu) and matlab (Hindi/Urdu) to mean, loosely, "meaning" ("What I mean is..."), as in "The problem with your idea, maane, what I feel is missing, is ki it does not address the problem of overstaffing." or "Your explanation, matlab, your feeble attempt at one, was sorely lacking in cohesiveness."

[edit] Idioms and popular words/phrases

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B.A. - fail - used in matrimonial ads to describe someone who did not pass the final examinations but was admitted to college and did take college classes, as opposed to someone who did not go to college. 'Higher Secondary (fail)' and 'M.A. (fail)' are similar. B.A. - pass - used as the opposite to the above Gone for a six - to mean something got ruined. (Origins linked to game of Cricket) Eve teasing - 'Sexual harassment' Convented - 'A girl educated well in Christian convent-style school' I got a firing/I was fired by him - 'I got yelled at by him' Where are you put up? means 'Where do you live'?. Heard often in S.India. Where do you stay? is the same as 'Where do you live?' or 'Where's your house?'. This is also used in Scottish and South African English Shift - to move as in "I shifted my things from my old apartment to my new one". I don't take meat/milk/whatever - 'I don't eat meat/ drink milk' etc

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She is innocently divorced or divorced (innocent)- part of matrimonial advertising terminology, it means the marriage was not consummated. Wheatish complexion - Seen in matrimonial ads. Means 'not dark skinned, tending toward light' "What is [your] good name?" to mean "What is your full name?" is a carryover from the Hindi expression "Shubh-naam" (literally meaning "auspicious name") or the Urdu "ism-e shariif" (meaning "noble name"), or in Bengali, bhalo-naam (meaning quite literally "good name" or "proper name"). This is similar to the way Japanese refer to the other person's name with an honorific "O-" prefix, as in "O-namae" instead of the simple "namae" when referring to their own name. Such a questioner wants to know the person's formal or legal given name that may appear on a passport, as opposed to the pet name they would be called by close friends and family. "Out of station" to mean "out of town". This phrase has its origins in the posting of army officers to particular 'stations' during the days of the East India Company. "Join duty" to mean "reporting to work for the first time". "Rejoin duty" is to come back to work after a vacation. "Tell me": used when answering the phone, meaning "How can I help you?" "order for food" instead of "order food", as in "Let's order for sandwiches". "pass out" is meant to graduate, as in "I passed out of the university in 1995." "go for a toss" means to end prematurely or unexpectedly, as in "my plans went for a toss when it started raining heavily." This phrase has origins in cricket, where to go for a toss as means to be dismissed on the first ball. "on the anvil" is used often in the Indian press to mean something is about to appear or happen. For example, a headline might read "New roads on the anvil". "tight slap" to mean "hard slap". Timepass - 'Doing something for leisure but with no intention or target/satisfaction' For example, "Hows the movie?" reply - "Just timepass man... nothing great about it." Dearness Allowance - Payment given to employees to compensate for the effects of inflation. Source:online Dictionary of Indian English Pindrop silence! - Teachers in schools may say this to the kids. chargesheet: n. formal charges filed in a court; v. to file charges against someone in court "I won't give him a single pie" to mean a "single cent". Pie is an Indian denomination of the anna, which in turn was one-sixteenth of one rupee/taka. redressal: n. redress, remedy, reparation "Hill Station" means mountain resort. "Hotel" means "restaurant" (as well as specifically "big hotel") in India: "I ate in the hotel". "Lodge" is used to refer to small hotels. Sometimes "Lodge" refers to a place where you stay (in rooms) and "Hotel" refers to a place where you eat. "stepney" refers to a spare tyre. The word is a genericized trademark originating from the Stepney Spare Motor Wheel, itself named after Stepney Street, in Llanelli, Wales.[3] "specs" means spectacles or glasses (as in colloquial UK English). "cent per cent" means "100 per cent" as in "He got cent per cent in maths."

"centum" is also frequently used to refer to 100.

[edit] Medical terms
Often the cause of undesirable confusion
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Viral Fever: influenza Jaundice: Acute Hepatitis. While standard medical terminology uses jaundice for a symptom (yellow discolouration of skin), in India the term is used to refer to the illness in which this symptom is most common. Allopathy, used by homeopaths for conventional medicine.

[edit] Food
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Brinjal : aubergines / eggplant Capsicum : called chili pepper, red or green pepper, or sweet pepper in the UK, capsicum in Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and India, bell pepper in the US, Canada, and the Bahamas; paprika in some other countries Curds : yoghurt Coriander : cilantro Sooji or Rava : semolina Pulses : pulses, eg lentils Karahi : wok Dhal : lentils Sago : tapioca

[edit] Addressing others

Referring to elders, strangers or anyone meriting respect as "'jee'"/"'ji'" (Hindi: जी used as a suffix) as in "Please call a taxi for Gupta-ji" (North, West and East India) Use of prefixes "Shree"/"Shri" (Devanagari: शी meaning Mister) or "Shreemati"/"Shrimati" (Devanagari: शीमती meaning Ms/Mrs): Shri Ravi Shankar or Shreemati Das Gupta. "Shreemati"/"Shrimati" is used for married women. "Kumari" (Devnagari: कुमारी literally meaning a virgin) can be used for unmarried (as opposed to single) women or girls. "Sushri" (Devnagari: सुशी a more recent addition and appropriate translation of Ms where marital status cannot be determined or is unimportant) As with Shree/Shreemati, use of suffixes "Saahib/Sāhab" (Mr) and "Begum" (Mrs)(Urdu) as in "Welcome to India, Smith-saahib." or "Begum Sahib would like some tea." Use of "Mr" and "Mrs" as common nouns for wife/husband. For example, "Jyoti's Mr stopped by yesterday" or "My Mrs is not feeling well" (this use of "Mrs." or "missus" is also used in the UK. Use of "Ms" (also Mr, Mrs) with first name. For example, Swathi Ashok Kumar might be addressed as "Ms Swathi" instead of "Ms Kumar". This is the only

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possible correct usage in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, where most people don't use a surname. Use of the English words 'uncle' and 'aunty' as suffixes when addressing people such as distant relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, even total strangers (like shopkeepers) who are significantly older than oneself. E.g., "Hello, Swathi aunty!" In fact, in Indian culture, children or teenagers addressing their friends' parents as Mr Patel or Mrs Patel (etc.) is rare and may even be considered unacceptable or offensive (in the sense of referring to an elder person by name). A substitution of Sir/Ma'am, while common for addressing teachers/professors or any person in an official position, would be considered too formal to address parents of friends or any other unrelated (but known) elder persons. On the contrary, if the person is related, he/she will usually be addressed with the name of the relation in the vernacular Indian language, even while conversing in English.[citation needed] For example, if a woman is one's mother's sister, she would not be addressed (by a Hindi speaker) as "auntie" but as Mausi (Hindi: मौसी) (by a Kannada speaker as Chikkamma Kannada: ಅತತ). It is interesting to observe that calling one's friends' parents aunty and uncle was also very common in Great Britain in the 1960s and 70s but is much rarer today. Use of Respected Sir while starting a formal letter instead of Dear Sir. Again, such letters are ended with non-standard greetings, such as "Yours respectfully", or "Yours obediently", rather than the standard "Yours sincerely/faithfully/truly". Use of "Baba" ('father' in some languages, but colloquially meaning 'buddy') while referring to any person, such as "No Baba, just try and understand, I cannot come today". the phrase 'the concerned person' is widely used in oral Indian English.' Sharma sir is not here - same as Sharma-ji is not here, a respectful address. No knighthood suffix.

[edit] Interjections and casual references

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Casual use of words yaar (Hindi: यार meaning - friend, buddy, dude, man, mate), bhai (Hindi: भाई meaning - brother) and bhaiyya (Hindi: भइया meaning - elder brother) much as with the American English 'man' or 'dude', as in " Arey! C'mon, yaar! Don't be such a killjoy!", "Long time no see, bhai." or "Ay, bhaiyya! Over here!" Yaar is the equivalent of mate in Australian and British English. The word boss is also sometimes used in this way, among friends but also to male strangers, as in "How much to go to the train station, boss?", or "Good to see you, boss." Use of interjections Arey!(Hindi: अरे) and acchha! (Hindi: अचछा) to express a wide range of emotions, usually positive though occasionally not, as in "Arey! What a good job you did!", "Accha, so that's your plan." or "Arey, what bad luck, yaar!" Use of the word "chal" (Hindi: चल - Imperative of the verb "to walk") to mean the interjection "Ok", as in "Chal, I gotta go now" at the end of a phone call Use of oof! or "oh fo!" (Hindi: ऊफ - an interjection in Hindi) to show distress or frustration, as in "Oof! The baby's crying again!" Use of "Wah" (Hindi: वाह) to express admiration, especially in musical settings, as in "Wah! Wah! You play the sitar so well!"

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Use of "just" and "simply" in a seemingly arbitrary manner in southern India, especially Kerala. e.g. Q:"Why did you do it?" A:"Simply!" or "Just I was telling to [sic] him. Use of "chumma chumma" (Tamil: சும்மா means simply) at the beginning of a sentence. (eg. chumma chumma dont talk) Overuse of the word "Please" as an interjection, often over-stressing the vowel. This could stem from "please" being implied within the verb conjugation in Hindi, causing speakers to overcompensate for its absence in English. Use of the verb "sit" in place of "located" e.g. "Where are you sitting?" for "Where are you located? (for one's location in a school or office but not home)" Repetition of a word to emphasise a word. Used mostly with words like Yes, No, Right, Ok etc. (e.g. A: Did you finish reading the book ? B: Yes yes !!)

[edit] Divergent usage

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Insertion of "as" in describing a designation, where it would be omitted in Standard English: "Mahatma Gandhi is called as father of the nation." "Bangalore is termed as Silicon Valley of India." "Yogurt is called as curd in Indian English." Substitution of "one" in place of the indefinite article "a": "Let me tell you one story." This is because in Indian languages, the numeric word for one (e.g. Hindi एक ek) is also used as the indefinite article. "Kindly" used to mean "please": "Kindly disregard the previous message". "Paining" used when "hurting" would be more common in Standard American and British: "My head is paining." "Cover" to mean envelope or shopping bag in South India. For example, "Put the documents in a cover and post it", and "Put the vegetables in a separate cover". In Western India, especially Maharashtra, a shopping bag is called as a 'Carry Bag'. "Today morning" (afternoon, evening, etc.) instead of "this morning." ("I met with him today morning."). Similarly, "yesterday night" instead of "last night". The word "marriage" used to mean "wedding." ("I am attending my cousin's marriage next month.") Treatment of the phrase "I don't think so" as a unit, as in "I don't think so I can do that" instead of "I don't think I can do that." The word non-veg (short for non-vegetarian) is used to mean food which contains flesh of any mammal, fish, bird, shellfish, etc or even eggs. Fish, seafood, and eggs are not treated as categories separate from "meat," especially when the question of vegetarianism is at issue (milk and its products are always considered vegetarian). E.g., "We are having non-veg today for dinner", whereas the native varieties of English would have: "We are having meat today for dinner". Also to be noticed that a non-veg joke is regarded as a joke with mature content. The word "mutton" is used to mean goat meat instead of sheep meat (and sometimes in a broader, euphemistic sense to mean any red meat, i.e., not poultry or fish). The word "hero" is used to mean a male protagonist in a story, especially in a motion picture. The protagonist need not have any specifically heroic characteristics. More significantly, "hero" is used to mean a movie actor who is

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often cast in the role of the protagonist. Thus, "Look at Vik; he looks like a hero," meaning "he is as handsome as a movie star." "Music director" is used to mean a music composer for movies. The word "dialogue" means "a line of dialogue" in a movie. ("That was a great dialogue!" means "That was a great line!") "Dialogues" is used to mean "screenplay." In motion picture credits, the person who might in other countries be credited as the screenwriter in India is often credited with the term "dialogues." (Note the usage of British spelling). The word "damn" used as an intensifier, especially a negative one, far more frequently and with far more emphatic effect, than in other dialects of English, as in "That was a damn good meal". Use the word "only" where the word "just" would be used in other dialects. For example, "These people are like this only". The word "healthy" as a euphemism for fat people, in North India and in general as in "His build is on the healthy side" to refer to a overweight person. The word "dress" (noun) is used to refer to clothes for men, women, and children alike: "She bought a new dress for her son", whereas in international varieties of English a dress is a women's outer clothing with a bodice and a skirt as a single garment. The usage of dress as clothes does exist in international varieties but only in very rare occasions and in relevant context., e.g. schooldress. Young girls in India invariably wear a dress, which is called a frock by the Indians. "Full Shirt" is used for "Full Sleeves" and "Half Shirt" for "Half Sleeves" or "Short Sleeves". Similarly full-pant means trousers and half-pant means shorts. (Telugu speakers may say "Half Hands" and "Full Hands" in a similar fashion). "Shirtings and suitings" used for the process of making such garments and also to refer to shops specializing in men's formal/business wear. "Bath" and "bathe" are also used interchangeably. In Telugu, there is no clear distinction between the words bath and shower. The use of "also" in place of "too" or "as well"; as in "I also need a blanket" instead of "I too need a blanket" or "He was late also" instead of "He was late as well" Intensifying adjectives by doubling them. This is a common feature of most Indian languages. For example: "She has curly-curly hair"; "You are showing your hairy-hairy legs"; "We went to different-different places in the city in search of a good hotel; "You will get used to the humidity slowly-slowly"; "Don't worry about small-small things" to mean very insignificant issues. Use of "reduce" to mean "lose weight" as in "I need to reduce!" Use of "this side" and "that side" instead of "here" and "there." "Bring it this side." "We went that side." Use of "engagement" to mean not just an agreement between two people to marry, but a formal, public ceremony (often accompanied by a party) where the engagement is formalized with a ring and/or other local rituals. Indians will not speak of a couple as being "engaged," until after the engagement ceremony has been performed. Similar to the use of term "marriage," a person may say "I am going to attend my cousin's engagement next month." Afterwards, the betrothed is referred to as one's "would-be" wife or husband. In this case, "would be" is used

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to mean "will be" in contrast with the standard and American and British connotation of "wants to be (but will not be)." "Gentry" is a generalized term for social class - not specifically 'high social class'. The use of 'good', 'bad', 'high' and 'low' prefixed to 'gentry' is common. "Graduation" used exclusively to mean completion of a bachelor's degree: "I did my graduation at Presidency College" ("I earned my bachelor's degree at Presidency College."), whereas in the United States it refers to completion of Highschool, Master's or PhD as well. "Metro" to mean large city (i.e. 'metros such as Delhi and Chennai') This is a shortening of the term Metropolis. This can be confusing for Europeans, who tend to use the word to describe underground urban rail networks. However, following the popularity of the Delhi Metro, the word Metro now tends to be used to describe both the metropolis and the underground rail network. Use of the word "shift" to indicate "move" (oneself with belongings to a different house or city), as in "When are you shifting?" (instead of "When are you moving?"). Use of "blood pressure" or "BP" to refer particularly to high blood pressure, as in "I have BP!" to mean "I have high BP or hypertension". Use of the word "small" to mean "a small amount of" as in "Some small smoke came out of my radiator."

Words unique to (i.e. not generally well-known outside South Asia) and/or popular in India include those in the following by no means exhaustive list:
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batchmate or batch-mate (Not classmate, but a schoolmate of the same grade) "eggitarian" for a person who is eats vegetarian food, milk and eggs but not meat. compass box for a box holding mathematical instruments like compass, divider, scale, protractor etc. cousin-brother (male first cousin) & cousin-sister (female first cousin); used conversely is one's own brother/sister (of one's parent, as opposed to uncle or aunt; English brother/sister): most Indians live in extended families and many do not differentiate even nominally between cousins and direct siblings. foot overbridge (bridge meant for pedestrians) Funda (fundamentals) as in "I cant understand the funda behind this chemistry formula." godown (warehouse) godman somewhat pejorative word for a person who claims to be divine or who claims to have supernatural powers gully to mean a narrow lane or alley (from the Hindi word "gali" meaning the same). Himalayan blunder (grave mistake) long-cut (The "opposite" of short-cut, in other words, taking the longest route). mugging or mugging up (studying hard or memorising, and having nothing to do with street crime, what the word would mean in British/American English). nose-screw (woman's nose-ring)

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prepone (The "opposite" of postpone, that is to change a meeting to be earlier). Many dictionaries have added this word. tiffin box for lunch box. The word is also commonly used to mean a between-meal snack. co-brother indicates relationship between two men who married sisters, as in "He is my co-brother" vote-bank is a term commonly used during the elections in India, implying a particular bloc or community of people inclined to cast their votes for a political party that can be best promise to deliver policies, favouring them.

Words which are considered archaic in some varieties of English, but are still in use in Indian English:
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Curd, where yoghurt would be more common in British/American English. Dicky/dickey the boot/trunk of a car[4] or rarely, to refer to someone's rear. Into to mean "multiplied by", as in 2 into 2 = 4, rather than 2 times 2 = 4, which is more common in other varieties of English. The use of into dates back to the fifteenth century, when it had been common it British English.[5] Use of the phrases like nothing or like anything to express intensity. For example, "These people will cheat you like anything". Such usage was part of colloquial English language in seventeenth century Britain and America.[6][7] ragging for fagging(UK)/hazing(US). In tension for being concerned or nervous. Phrased another way, "He is taking too much tension". Found in eighteenth century British English.[8] Use of thrice, meaning "three times", is common in Indian English. Use of "the same" instead of "it", as in "I heard that you have written a document on .... Could you send me the same?"

[edit] Grammar
The role of English within the complex multilingual society of India is far from straightforward: it is used across the country, but it may be a speaker's first, second, or third language, and its features may depend heavily on the regional origin of the speaker. While Indian speakers of English use idioms peculiar to their homeland, often literal translations of words and phrases from their native languages, only standard British English is considered grammatically correct. The distinct evolution of regional variations in contemporary usage has led to terms such as Hinglish (Hindi + English), Kanglish (Kannada + English), Telgish (Telugu + English), Tanglish (Tamil + English), and Minglish (Marathi + English). Hinglish and other variations are popular in the field of advertising. In this context, the aim of reaching a large cross-section of society is fulfilled by such double-coding. Many words borrowed from Indian languages find their way into the ostensibly-English media.

[edit] Grammar quirks

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The progressive tense in stative verbs: I am understanding it. She is knowing the answer. Also, "I am working at XYZ Company" instead of "I work at XYZ Company". This is an influence of traditional Hindi grammar; it is more common in northern states. The pluperfect tense used in verbs where International English speakers would use the simple past. I had gone for I went. Use of would instead of will as in "I would be going to New York this weekend". Use of do the needful as in "do whatever needs to be done" Anglicisation of Indian words especially in Chennai by adding "ify" to a local Tamil word, usually humorously and not used in general speech. Idiomatic English for quantification in use of preposition "of", as in "There is so much of happiness in being honest." Use of "open" and "close" instead of switch/turn on/off, as in "Open the air conditioner" instead of "Turn on the air conditioner", and "Open your shirt" for "Take off your shirt." This construction is also found in Quebec English and also among Arab speakers of English etc. Use of "off" and "on" as verbs rather than adjectives, as in "On the light" instead of "Turn on the light" or "Off the fan" instead of "Switch off the fan." Use of "y'all" for "you all" or "all of you", as used in Southern American English, especially by Anglo-Indians. However, unlike Southern American usage, it is only used as a subject or object in a sentence, never to address a group of people. Swapping around the meanings of "slow" and "soft" as in "I shall speak slower for you" meaning "I will speak softly" and "Make the fan softer" to mean "Make the fan go slower." This is because of influence from Indian languages. In Telugu, for example, the word 'melliga' can refer to either slow or quiet, and in Hindi "Deerai" can mean slowly or softly. Creation of rhyming double-words (rhyming reduplication) to denote generality of idea or act, a 'totality' of the word's denotation, as in "No more ice-cream-ficecream for you!", "Let's go have some chai-vai (tea, "tea and stuff")." or "There's a lot of this fighting-witing going on in the neighborhood." (Prevalent mainly in Hindi- and Punjabi-speaking states.) Use of the word "since" instead of "for" in conjunction with periods of time, as in "I have been working since four years" instead of "I have been working for four years" or "I have been working since four years ago". This usage is more common among speakers of North Indian languages such as Hindi where the words for both "since" and "for" are the same. Use of "Can you drop me?" and "We will drop her first" instead of "Can you drop me off?" and "We will drop her off first" Omission of the definite article: e.g. "Let's go to city" instead of "Let's go to the city" Use of "told" instead of "said". An example would be "Ravi told he is going home" instead of "Ravi said he is going home" or "Ravi told me he is going home". This feature is more prevalent in South India.

[edit] Phonology
Indian accents vary greatly. Some Indians speak English with an accent very close to a Standard British (Received Pronunciation) accent; others lean toward a more 'vernacular', native-tinted, accent for their English speech.

[edit] Vowels
Among the distinctive features of the vowel-sounds employed by some Indian English speakers are:

Many Indian languages (with the exception of Western Hindi and Punjabi) do not natively possess a separate phoneme /æ/ (as in <trap>). Thus, many speakers do not differentiate between the vowel sounds /ɛ/ (as in "dress") and /æ/ (as in <trap>), except in cases where a minimal pair such as <bed>/<bad> exists in the vocabulary of the speaker. Such a speaker might pronounce "tax" like the first syllable of "Texas".[9] Speakers of Southern languages and Sinhalese, which do differentiate /ɛ/ and /æ/, do not have difficulty making this distinction. Chiefly in Punjab and Haryana states, the short [ɛ] becomes lengthened and higher to long [eː], making <pen> sound like <paenn>. When a long vowel is followed by "r", speakers of Indian English usually use a monophthong, instead of the diphthong used in almost all other accents. Thus "period" is pronounced [pirɪəd] instead of [pɪəɹɪəd].[9] Indian English often uses strong vowels where other accents would have unstressed syllables or words. Thus "cottage" may be pronounced [kɒtedʒ] rather than [kɒtədʒ]. A word such as "was" in the phrase "I was going" will be pronounced [ʋɒz] or [ʋas] in Indian English: in most other accents it would receive the unstressed realization [wəz].[9] Another example is that many Indian English speakers often pronounce <the> as /d̪iː/, irrespective of whether the definite article comes before a vowel or a consonant, or whether it is stressed or not. In native varieties of English, <the> is pronounced as [ðə] when it is unstressed and lies before a consonant, and as [ðiː] when it is before a vowel or when stressed even before a consonant. Continuing the above point, the indefinite article <a> is often pronounced by many Indian English speakers as [eː], irrespective of whether it is stressed or unstressed. In native varieties of English, <a> is pronounced as [ə] when unstressed and as [eɪ] when stressed.[citation needed] The RP vowels /ʌ/, /ə/ and /ɜː/ might be realized as /ə/ in Indian English.[10] Bengalis often pronounce all these vowels as a, including the <r>-colored versions of these vowels. Thus, <firm> may be pronounced the same as [farm].
[citation needed]

General Indian English realizes /eɪ/ (as in <face>) and /oʊ/ (as in <goat>) as long monophthongs [eː], [oː].[10] Many Indian English speakers do not make a clear distinction between /ɒ/ and /ɔː/. (See cot-caught merger.) Unlike British, but like General American English, some Indian speakers don't pronounce the rounded /ɒ/ or /ɔː/, and substitute /a/ instead. This makes <not> sound as [nat]. The phoneme /ɔː/, if used, is only semi-rounded at the lips.[citation

Words such as <class>, <staff> and <last> would be pronounced with a back <a> as in British English but unlike American English, i.e., [klɑːs], [stɑːf] and [lɑːst] rather than American [klæːs], [stæːf] and [læːst].

[edit] Consonants
Among the most distinctive features of consonants in Indian English are:

Standard Hindi and most other vernaculars (except, at least, Bengali) do not differentiate between /v/ (voiced labiodental fricative) and /w/ (voiced labiovelar approximant). Instead, many Indians use a frictionless labio-dental approximant [ʋ] for words with either sound, possibly in free variation with [v] and/or [w]. So wet and vet are homophones.[9] Because of the previous characteristic many Indians pronounce words such as <flower> as [flaː(r)] instead of [flaʊə(r)], and <our> as [aː(r)] instead of [aʊə(r)]. The voiceless plosives /p/, /t/, /k/ are always unaspirated in Indian English, whereas in RP, General American and most other English accents they are aspirated in word-initial or stressed syllables. Thus "pin" is pronounced [pɪn] in Indian English but [pʰɪn] in most other accents. In native Indian languages (except Tamil), the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated plosives is phonemic, and the English stops are equated with the unaspirated rather than the aspirated phonemes of the local languages.[11] The same is true of the voiceless postalveolar afficate /tʃ/. The alveolar stops English /d/, /t/ are often retroflex [ɖ], [ʈ], especially in the South of India.[12] In Indian languages there are two entirely distinct sets of coronal plosives: one dental and the other retroflex. To the Indian ears, the English alveolar plosives sound more retroflex than dental. In the Devanagari script of Hindi, all alveolar plosives of English are transcribed as their retroflex counterparts. One good reason for this is that unlike most other native Indian languages, Hindi does not have true retroflex plosives (Tiwari, [1955] 2001). The so-called retroflexes in Hindi are actually articulated as apical post-alveolar plosives, sometimes even with a tendency to come down to the alveolar region.

So a Hindi speaker normally cannot distinguish the difference between their own apical post-alveolar plosives and English's alveolar plosives. However, languages such as Tamil have true retroflex plosives, wherein the articulation is done with the tongue curved upwards and backwards at the roof of the mouth. This also causes (in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) the /s/ preceding alveolar /t/ to allophonically change to [ ʃ ] (<stop> /stɒp/ → / ʃʈap/). Mostly in south India, some speakers allophonically further change the voiced retroflex plosive to voiced retroflex flap, and the nasal /n/ to a nasalized retroflex flap.

Many Indians speaking English lack the voiced postalveolar fricative (/ʒ/), the same as their native languages. Typically, /z/ or /dʒ/ is substituted, e.g. treasure /trɛ.zəːr/,[12] and in the south Indian variants, with /ʃ/ as in <"sh'"ore>, e.g. treasure /trɛ.ʃər/. All major native languages of India lack the dental fricatives (/θ/ and /ð/; spelled with th). Usually, the aspirated voiceless dental plosive [t̪ʰ] is substituted for /θ/ and the unaspirated voiced dental plosive [d̪], or possibly the aspirated version [d̪ʱ]. is substituted for /ð/.[13] For example, "thin" would be realized as [t̪ʰɪn] instead of /θɪn/. South Indians tend to curl the tongue (retroflex accentuation) more for /l/ and /n/.
[citation needed]

Most Indian languages (except Urdu variety) lack the voiced alveolar fricative /z/. While they do have its nearest equivalent: the unvoiced /s/, strangely, it is not used in substitution. Instead, /z/ is substituted with the voiced palatal affricate (or postalveolar) /dʒ/, just as with a Korean accent. This makes words such as <zero> and <rosy> sound as [dʒiːro] and [roːdʒi:]. This replacement is equally true for Persian and Arabic loanwords into Hindi. The probable reason is the confusion created by the use of the devanagari grapheme < ज > (for /dʒ/) with a dot beneath it to represent the loaned /z/ (as < ज >). This is common among people without formal English education. Many Indians with lower exposure to English also may pronounce / f / as aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive [pʰ]. Again note that in Hindi (devanagari) the loaned / f / from Persian and Arabic is written by putting a dot beneath the grapheme for native [pʰ] < फ >: < फ >. This substitution is rarer than that for [z], and in fact in many Hindi-speaking areas /f/ is replacing /pʰ/ even in its native words.[citation needed] Inability to pronounce certain (especially word-initial) consonant clusters by people of rural backgrounds. This is usually dealt with by epenthesis. e.g., school /is.kuːl/. Sometimes, Indian speakers interchange /s/ and /z/, especially when plurals are being formed. Whereas in international varieties of English, [s] is used for

pluralization of a word ending in a voiceless consonant, [z] for that ending in a voiced consonant or vowel, and [ɨz] for that ending in a sibilant.

Again, in dialects like Bhojpuri, all instances of /ʃ/ are spoken like [s], a phenomenon which is also apparent in their English. Exactly the opposite is seen for many Bengalis.[citation needed] In case of the postalveolar affricates /tʃ/ /dʒ/, native languages like Hindi have corresponding affricates articulated from the palatal region, rather than postalveolar, and they have more of a stop component than fricative; this is reflected in their English. While retaining /ŋ/ in the final position, Indian speakers usually include the [ɡ] after it. Hence /riŋ.iŋ/ → /riŋ.ɡiŋɡ/ (ringing).[citation needed] Syllabic /l/, /m/ and /n/ are usually replaced by the VC clusters [əl], [əm] and [ən] (as in button /buʈ.ʈən/), or if a high vowel precedes, by [il] (as in little /liʈ.ʈil/). Syllable nuclei in words with the spelling er (a schwa in RP and an r-colored schwa in GA) are also replaced VC clusters. e.g., meter, /miːtər/ → /miːʈər/.[citation

Indian English uses clear [l] in all instances like Irish English whereas other varieties use clear [l] in syllable-initial positions and dark [l] (velarized-L) in coda and syllabic positions.

[edit] Spelling pronunciation
A number of distinctive features of Indian English are due to "the vagaries of English spelling".[13] Most Indian languages have a very phonetic pronunciation with respect to their script, and unlike English, the spelling of a word is a highly reliable guide to its modern pronunciation.

• •

In words where the digraph <gh> represents a voiced velar plosive (/ɡ/) in other accents, some Indian English speakers supply a murmured version [ɡʱ], for example <ghost> [ɡʱoːst]. No other accent of English admits this voiced aspiration.[12] Similarly, the digraph <wh> may be aspirated as [ʋʱ] or [wʱ], resulting in realizations such as <which> [ʋʱɪtʃ], found in no other English accent.[14] In unstressed syllables, native English varieties will mostly use the schwa while Indian English would use the spelling vowel, making <sanity> sound as [sæ.ni.ti] instead of [sæ.nə.ti].[citation needed] Similarly, <above> and <ago> can be heard as [e.bʌv] and [e.go] instead of [ə.bʌv] and [ə.go]. English words ending in grapheme < a > almost always have the < a > being pronounced as schwa /ə/ in native varieties (exceptions include words such as <spa>). But in Indian English, the ending < a > is pronounced as the long open central unrounded vowel /aː/ (as in <spa>) instead of schwa. So, <India> is

• •

pronounced as /ɪn.ɖɪ.aː/ instead of /ɪn.dɪ.ə/, and <sofa> as /soː.faː/ instead of /soʊ.fə/.[citation needed] The word "of" is usually pronounced with a /f/ instead of a /v/ as in most other accents.[13] Use of [d] instead of [t] for the "-ed" ending of the past tense after voiceless consonants, for example "developed" may be [dɛʋləpd] instead of RP /dɪvɛləpt/.

• • •

Use of [s] instead of [z] for the "-s" ending of the plural after voiced consonants, for example <dogs> may be [dɒɡs] instead of [dɒɡz].[13] Pronunciation of <house> as [hauz] in both the noun and the verb, instead of [haus] as noun and [hauz] as verb. The digraph <tz> is pronounced as [tz] or [tdʒ] instead of [ts] (voicing may be assimilated in the stop too), making <Switzerland> sound like [svit.zər.lænd] instead of [swit.səɺ.lənd].[citation needed] In RP, /r/ occurs only before a vowel. But many speakers of Indian English use /r/ in almost all positions in words as dictated by the spellings.[13] The allophone used is a mild trill or a tap. Indian speakers do not typically use the retroflex approximant /ɻ/ for <r>, which is common for American English speakers.[citation

• • •

All consonants are distinctly doubled (lengthened) in General Indian English wherever the spelling suggests so. e.g., <drilling> /dril.liŋɡ/. <Here> is pronounced as [heə(r)] (like in <hair> and <hare>) instead of [hɪə(r)]. English pronunciation of the grapheme < i > varies from [ɪ] to [aɪ] depending upon the dialect or accent. Indian English will invariably use the British dialect for it. Thus, <tensile> would be pronounced as [tɛn.saɪl] like the British, rather than [tɛn.sɪl] like the American; <anti> would be pronounced as [æn.ti] like the British, rather than [æn.taɪ] like American.[citation needed] English words borrowed from French are often given a French-influenced pronunciation, but in India, such words are sometimes pronounced according to the rules of English pronunciation. e.g., <bouquet /bu.kɛt/ or /bau kwɛt/ instead of [bu.keː] ;[citation needed] <entrée> as [ɛn.ʈriː] instead of [ɑn.t̪reː].

[edit] Supra-segmental features
Any of the native varieties of English is a stress-timed language, and word stress is an important feature of Received Pronunciation. Indian native languages are actually syllable-timed languages, like Latin and French. Indian-English speakers usually speak with a syllabic rhythm.[15] Further, in some Indian languages, stress is associated with a low pitch,[16] whereas in most English dialects, stressed syllables are generally pronounced with a higher pitch. Thus, when Indian speakers speak, they appear to put the stress accents at the wrong syllables, or accentuate all the syllables of a long English word. The Indian accent is a "sing-song" accent, a feature seen in a few English dialects in Britain, such as Scouse and Welsh English.[17]

[edit] See also
• • • • • • • •

Hinglish Indian English literature Regional accents of English Regional differences and dialects in Indian English Indian numbering system Languages with official status in India Republic of India Sri Lankan English

[edit] References
1. ^ Census of India's eCensusIndia, Issue 10, 2003, pp 8-10, (Feature: Languages of West Bengal in Census and Surveys, Bilingualism and Trilingualism). 1991 statistic. 2. ^ Wells, p. 624 3. ^ BBC. Also see the OED. 4. ^ dicky, dickey, n., Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on July 1, 2009 5. ^ multiply, v., Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on July 1, 2009 6. ^ like, a., adv. (conj.), and n.2, Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on July 1, 2009 7. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=like%20anything Reference.com, Accessed on July 1, 2009 8. ^ 1756 BURKE Subl. & B. IV. iii, "An unnatural tension of the nerves" 9. ^ a b c d Wells, p. 627 10. ^ a b Wells, p. 626 11. ^ Wells, pp. 627-628 12. ^ a b c d Wells, p. 62 13. ^ a b c d e Wells, p. 629 14. ^ Wells, p. 630 15. ^ Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 1995), page 360 16. ^ http://www.linguistics.uiuc.edu/sala25/verma.htm "Onset of Rising Pitch in Focused Words in Hindi: an Experimental Study" 17. ^ Varshney, R.L., "An Introductory Textbook of Linguistics and Phonetics", 15th Ed. (2005), Student Store, Bareilly.

[edit] Bibliography

Wells, J C (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521285410.

[edit] External links

English in India

• •

• • •

'Hover & Hear' pronunciations in a Standard Indian English accent, and compare side by side with other English accents from around the World. "Linguistic and Social Characteristics of Indian English" by James Baldridge : A rather thorough analysis of Indian language published by the "Language In India" magazine. On the future of Indian English, by Gurcharan Das. An exploration into linguistic majority-minority relations in India, by B. Mallikarjun. 108 varieties of Indian English, Dharma Kumar, India Seminar, 2001 (Volume 500).

Date:17-09-09 Collected Articles:
Soft Skills Training

Have a look at our Business Soft Skills Training page
Soft Skills

People's ability to handle the soft skills side of business - influencing - communication - team management - delegating - appraising - presenting - motivating is now recognised as key to making businesses more profitable and better places to work. Increasingly, companies aren't just assessing their current staff and future recruits on their business skills. They are now assessing them on a whole host of soft skill competencies around how well they relate and communicate to others. We now find it a bit shocking and somewhat disturbing when someone displays the old autocratic style of bullying management tactics (though we know it is still unfortunately far more prevalent than is desirable). Many companies simply will now no longer put up with it (bravo!). Measuring these soft skills is no easy thing. But in the most progressive companies, managers are looking for people's ability to communicate clearly and openly, and to listen and respond empathetically.

They also want them to have equally well-honed written skills so that their correspondence (including emails) doesn't undo all the good work their face-to-face communication creates. Good soft skills also include the ability of people to balance the commercial needs of their company with the individual needs of their staff. Being flexible and able to adapt to the changing needs of an organisation also qualify as soft skills, as do being able to collaborate with others and influence situations through lateral and more creative thinking. The ability to deal with differences, multiculturalism and diversity is needed more than ever. Very few companies are untouched by the ever-widening influence of other cultures and good soft skills facilitate better communication and people's ability to manage differences effectively. Everyone already has some form of soft skills (probably a lot more than they realise) They just need to look at areas in their personal life where they get on with others, feel confident in the way they interact, can problem solve, are good at encouraging, can schmooze with the best of them. All these skills are soft and all of them are transferable to the workplace. Not only that, the best news of all is that soft skills can be developed and honed on an ongoing basis through good training, insightful reading, observation and of course, practise, practise, practise.

Focus On Soft Skills: A Leadership Wake-up Call
by Carole Nicolaides © 2002 The rules for succeeding in business are changing daily. Yet people are still asking for the magic formula that contributes to a successful organization. Is it talented, knowledgeable people plus innovative products? That's a great start, but something vital is missing from this equation. More and more corporations around the world recognize that, in order to gain a competitive advantage, they also need to make sure their people know how to handle themselves at work and how to relate with their customers and peers. From showing

empathy and optimism to extreme self-awareness to knowing what's going on around them, these vital competencies are an integral part of a progressive organization. They fall under the umbrella of Emotional Intelligence (EI). These soft-skills, or emotional intelligence skills, revelations open the door to a lot of discussion. The western civilization and our traditional management theories tend to lead us in the direction of individualistic promotion. They display our strengths rather than the demonstration of our humanness. These ideas have been so tightly woven into our leadership mentality that they can be challenging to break. Unfortunately, most graduate schools don't teach you how to cultivate your soft skills. While courses such as Business Writing and Public Speaking are offered, I have never seen a course entitled, "The Effective Art of Listening to Your Customer." We live in a society that measures intelligence through quantifiable metrics. A professor will give you good grades once you know XYZ, but he or she will not increase your grade for being able to deal with a difficult situation, showing compassion, or solving an unexpected problem. Yet most compliments that you or your employees receive deal more with the use of soft skills than with your actual knowledge about a particular situation. Most customers appreciate a "willingness to help" and the fact that "she listened to my complaint." The use of these skills is what elevates your organization above the competition. You don't compete only with products anymore, rather with how well you use your people. Too often we focus on what employees need to "know" when evaluating and hiring them instead of "who they really are." I will illustrate this with an example. John was promoted to Technical Project Manager at his consulting company. Some people wondered why John had risen to this level of management. His educational level was lower than others in the firm and his degree wasn't in an area that pertained to consulting. However, one of the strengths that was nowhere on his resume was his ability to be positive in all situations and to naturally motivate people. He was quick to smile and see the positive side of every project. He was generous in praising people and was consistently happy. These were his strengths - his natural attributes. They made up the sum of who John was. These soft skills are just as important as what John knows. The challenge nowadays is to introduce a program that will allow your leaders to learn and capitalize fast on their soft-skills competencies. Soft skills are important and always have been. It seems we have laid them aside and opted to emphasize too much on expertise and credentials. Let's get back to our values and the basics of good internal and external customer service. Soft skills are the underlying principles that trademark a company for professionalism and excellent customer service. They provide differentiation between all the cookie-cutter look-alikes and play a vital role in customer loyalty. In today's working environment, where customers and employees are demanding more, instilling the use of soft skills in your team members is something you simply can't survive without.

When it's time to focus on soft-skills training as a tool to improve performance, leadership potential, and bottom line organizational success, consider the following: 1. Start Slowly - Instead of getting a large number of people in a room and preaching to them about their soft skills - move slowly. Introduce the concept with an informative and fun workshop. The program should also be designed to enhance their skills. 2. Involve Your People From the Start - Involve as many employees as you can on the decision to create a program, what to include within the program, and how to maintain the program. People support what they help create. Engage them, give them the possibility to make changes with your training curriculum, do a pilot program with key people, and use the pilot program as an introduction to the group. 3. Hire Expert Help - Coaches and Organizational Consultants are experts in building rapport and establishing the right culture for these initiatives. With the right culture and the appropriate training, managers can continue the task of training and cultivating good relationships. 4. Recognize Individual Achievement - There is so much talk about teamwork today that we forget to emphasize how important it is to praise individual achievement as well. From time to time praise your stars. Recognizing personal contributions to the team is an excellent morale booster. 5. Discover the Group's Soft-Skill Identity - All people are not the same, so their soft skills and strengths are not the same either. Once you know who you have on your team, leverage their strengths and differences because these are the facts that will help distinguish you and your organization from the competition. Illustrate how they can leverage each other's strengths inside the team to develop a new group "identity." The essence of your business is your people. Making soft-skills development a priority will bring your team to a new level because it focuses directly on them. By allowing the human aspect of your employees to shine through, you are encouraging them to do what comes naturally to them. Don't overlook these all-important skills when evaluating areas of improvement for your team. Find a way to incorporate soft skills into your leadership development programs and see results immediately.

Communication Skills Training
Tailored and In-House Communication Skills Training

Our Communication Skills Training (Basic and Advanced) can be tailored as an in-house management programme to address specific issues within your company. (Click here to send individuals on our Public Communication Skills Course)

Communication Skills Training Objectives

* Raising Awareness * Understanding Communication Dynamics * Working with Body Language * Dealing with Assumptions * Working with Differing Points of View * Understanding Patterns, Habits and Beliefs * Developing Great Listening and Responding Skills * Developing Individual Strengths and Qualities * Understanding Active vs Passive Choosing * Using Positive Reinforcement * Conflict Management * Being More In Charge * Gaining Confidence
Communication Skills

All Businesses talk about needing better communication skills, but often don't know exactly what that means or they don't know how to go about making it happen. And without doubt, unless you are a company of one, at some point or another, communication will go awry through no one's fault or intention - it's just the way it happens. You might have pockets of 'them and us': marketing vs finance, IT vs admin, HR vs operations, consultants vs full time staff. You might have cross-functional or virtual teams whose ability to communicate efficiently is vital. If your business has groups of people who simply have to communicate more effectively then giving them communication training may be just what you need. Effective Communication takes real skill Communication skills have to be developed, honed and added to on an on-going basis. They are at the heart of interpersonal skills and the greater your awareness of how it all works, the more effective your communication will be. Most people in business think they communicate pretty well, and in our experience that's generally true. However, even the best communicators can have their communication skills undermined when they get wrong-footed, face potential humiliation, feel misunderstood or get really surprised by someone else's behaviour. That's when it all seems to fall apart and people regress to all kinds of inappropriate and unhelpful behaviour.

We deal with communication skills training by unpicking what happens - if you know how the dynamics work, you can be in charge of them. Then you can choose from a whole range of tools and techniques that fit your personal style. We're big on personal style because when it comes to communication under pressure you can't be anyone other than yourself. Therefore, we like to develop the communication skills people already have and the things they already do well, rather than focusing on what's wrong or what needs to be fixed. Being a good communicator is often about feeling confident in those situations where you don't always feel comfortable, so we make life easier for you by enhancing what's already there. In other words, you don't have to learn a whole bunch of radically new things. Being an effective communicator means that other people take you seriously, listen to what you have to say and engage in dialogue. Our work on Communication Skills Training includes influencing, negotiation, making an impact, dealing with conflict and difficult people - really, anything that has to do with people dealing with other people with far more confidence, assurance and authenticity.
Communication Skills Training - Effective Communication

Find the next available Open Communication Skills Course
Good Communication Skills are essential

Being an effective communicator takes real skill. Communication skills have to be developed, honed and added to on an on-going basis. They are the heart of interpersonal skills and the greater your awareness of how it all works, the more effective your communication will be. To be effective in business, you have to communicate well. To be a good manager, you have to communicate exceptionally well. Here we look at basic communication dynamics, learning skills to improve your communication, using effective communication to improve and promote interpersonal relationships, creating an effective communication strategy. We could write a book about the importance of communication key skills, but for now you can content yourself with some essentials for becoming a more effective communicator.

Communication Core Skills - The Essentials

• • • • •

Communication is Individual How Communication Happens What can get in the way of Effective Communication Conflict Resolution Improving Communication Skills

Communication is Individual We're Not All The Same

When you look at communication, presentation skills are not all there is to it. Far from it. Everyone communicates differently and sees the world differently. The greatest skill you can have in order to instantly and significantly improve you communications skills is to understand the other person's point view and how they see the world. Then you can adjust your own communication to take that into account.
Change Yourself to Change Others

Alongside this has to be the knowledge that the only person you can be sure of changing in any communication is you. Therefore, the most effective way to be in charge of what happens in any communication dynamic is changing what you do. When you can do this you are well on the way to promoting better relationships.
You are the Only One of You

There's never one right way to communicate. Authentic effective communication always happens when we reply on those things we know to be true about or for ourselves. Remember your personal style probably says more for you that all the words you use can.
What's Already Working?

Most people tend to look at what's wrong with themselves and other people rather than focusing on what already works. Remember, something (more than one thing, of course) has to be working well for you to have got this far already!

How Communication Happens Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Interpersonal skills. Everything communicates. Remember! If you aren't clear about what you mean and what your intention is, the other person (or people) could easily (and sometimes deliberately), misinterpret what you mean.

What you do matters as much as what you say. It's now accepted that the words account for only 7-11% of a communication. Your behaviour will 'read' unconsciously to other people and you can certainly be more in charge of the reading matter! Language is one of the most powerful reflections of how we think and feel about ourselves and others. You need to be aware of the padding, justifications and excuses you use and whether they are appropriate. You can make a big impact simply by changing some of your language and developing your verbal skills, This way you can significantly improve your communication skills.
Communication Cycle

There is a neat communication cycle we've come across that can help you understand how to make communication work better. It means that you can take responsibility for every stage on the Communication Cycle: Spoken - Heard - Understood - Agreed To - Acted On - Implemented. Be aware of where you or others tend to fall off the cycle.

What can get in the way of Effective Communication Here are some Common Barriers to Effective Communication. We all make Too Many Assumptions

Be aware of the assumptions you make, especially making something up and then acting as though what you made up was true. Notice if you alter your behaviour with certain people because of the assumptions you make about them. Also be aware of the assumptions you think other people make about you. Assumptions aren't necessarily 'bad'. Sometimes it's important to let people keep their assumptions (or some of them at least!) about you. One effective way to deal with assumptions is to say to the other person, 'I've assumed such and such. 'Is that true?' or 'I'm making an assumption here about... Do you agree?' Good communication in the workplace is often sabotaged by too many unconfirmed assumptions.
Patterns/Reverting to Type

We are pattern-making beings, which is good. However, sometimes we get so used to behaving and responding in certain ways that it's hard to see that there's any other way of doing things. When the pressure is on or we are under stress, even our best intentions may go out the window as we revert to type.

Habits, patterns, routine ways of thinking and behaving are difficult to change. Noticing your patterns at least gets you aware of them! One way to practise this is to see how many communication habits and patterns have crept into your workplace. Try not to judge them. You can always decide if you want to change them or not.
Needing to Be Right

This is one area we all know about - the need to be right and in turn for the other person to be wrong. One skill that does need practise is to let go of needing to be right. Think of it as presenting information or a point of view rather than having to bludgeon someone else with your arguments. If you want to promote effective relationships, this is one of the greatest communication key skills you can have is to be able to change what you want from a communication. You may have started out wanting the other person to agree with you, but by giving that up you can change your want to letting them know you understand their point of view.

Conflict Resolution Conflict

One of the purposes of conflict is to arrive at a resolution, so if you avoid conflict, the problem usually (though not always) gets worse. The earlier you can identify that there is a problem and intervene, the better it will be. Good communication skills require you to be able to resolve conflict.

Find something (anything will do) in the other person's argument which you can genuinely agree with. This is a great way to take the wind out of someone's sails and ensure you don't get drawn into an insoluble argument. People usually won't listen until they feel heard.
Bridge Building

Really listen to what the other person is saying - they usually give a lot of information without realising it. Building bridges by making an offer can help enormously, as can changing what you want.
'I' not 'You'

Use 'I' statements, not 'You' statements to avoid blaming. This also means that you take responsibility for how you feel, rather than making the other person responsible for making things all right for you.

Improving Communication Skills Be a Good Influence Attitude

You can change the direction of a communication if you change your attitude. There is no one attitude that's the 'right' one to have, though being direct and clear certainly helps.
Effective Listening and Responding

You can have tremendous influence on a communication as the listener and the responder. When we get little or no response from the listener, we often project our assumptions onto them about what they are thinking (and usually we assume they aren't thinking good things about us!).
Be Positive

Use affirmation and encouragement to get the best out of people. Notice when others do things well (even if it's part of their daily routine). This shows you're being attentive; most people respond well when they know that others are aware of what they do. Quite simply, the workplace can be a far better place to be if you consciously sprinkle your communication with positive feedback.

The Importance of Basic Communication Skills

What's most important is that you don't leave the business of communication to chance. Raise your awareness, develop your skills and you'll be a role model for effective communication.

Communication Skills Course

Public Communication Skills Course

(Click here for Tailored Communication Training) This one-day entry level Public Communication Skills Course provides participants with the opportunity to understand how communication works and how to communicate with confidence and flair. Commununication Skills courses are run by

Julie Wales - Liz McKechnie - Tom Bruno-Magdich - Jeremy Todd Anthony Etherton - Tina Lamb - Katherine Grice - Joe Britto - Sara Jordan You'll look at what works about the way you communicate, what gets in the way of you being a more effective communicator and then a raft of tools and techniques to help you be more adept and self-assured. This is a practical day filled with exercises, games and discussion which will give you skills to handle difficult and tricky situations and give you more choice in the way you communicate with others. Click here for our Conflict Management Course - Customer Service Course - Influencing and Negotiating Skills Course - Negotiation Skills Course - One to One Communication Skills Training
Communication Skills Course Objectives :

* Understanding how communications work * Gaining active listening and responding skills * Seeing things from other points of view * Managing your assumption more effectively * Understanding your own strengths * How others may see you * Looking at body language * Increasing confidence * Difficult people or situations * Filling up your communications tool kit
Communication Skills Course Programme


We will share Impact Factory's underlying principles, how we work and explain how we intend everyone gets the most value out of the communication skills course. Everything we do is participative and interactive. There will be work in pairs, small group work, games, processes and exercises designed to stimulate, challenge and develop people's knowledge and skills. They are also fun!
What else would you like out of a communications skills course?

A chance for our delegates to add anything they would like from the programme. The Communication Skills Course will be adapted and changed as we go along to better fit their needs.
Communications dynamic - how it works

This is an introduction to the dynamics of face-to-face communication skills - looking at what affects the participants and how they might take more charge of situations.

It gives an overview of how communication works at its best, identifying where it can go wrong. We 'unpick' all the elements that go into effective communication and explain to people how they can be more in charge of the communication dynamic. The day will be based around this key aim, with delegates being given the opportunity to practice and experience each section.
Vocal Tone and Communication

We have a range of exercises which experiment with the effects of variations of tone. Each person will have the chance to identify their usual default style and also consider how their tone affects the way that they may be perceived. From there we will practice ways to turn up and down different aspects of our natural communications style. In unpicking how to achieve the tone you choose, participants can see how they can do so consistently.
How Words Communicate

We have fun looking at ways to deliberately mangle our message and bury its meaning under waffle, padding and jargon. The premise being that if we know how to make our communications worse, we can also see how to make them clearer. From here, we may get to share one of our best communication skills exercises which offers everyone a failsafe way to deliver a clear key message.
Impact of Body Language on Communication

We have a variety of exercises to demonstrate the power and control the listener has, through body language and attitude. Making ourselves consciously aware of our options means that we can remain on a front foot when it comes to communicating effectively. From looking at the effect of our listening skills, to creating the first and the lasting impression we choose, we will offer a range of communications tools and techniques that can really make a difference.
What does your History have to do with Communication Skills?

What makes us who we are inside and outside of work? What is our history or our form with particular sorts of people, particular subjects in particular scenarios? We will chew over those challenging situations and interactions that trip us up. Over the course of the communication skills day we will practice some do-able and positive approaches which may help us next time. In particular, we will look at how to ensure that our history only gets in the way if we want it to. We will be looking for those small changes to our words, tone and body language that might make a big difference next time.

How Head Stuff affects Communication Skills

What makes us who we are inside and outside of work and how does that impact on the sense we make of others and they of us? When was the last time you got something wrong? When were you last misunderstood? Mis-communication seems to happen most when we base what we do on assumptions, perceptions and misconceptions rather than upon objective fact. After exploring why and how it happens, we will look at what you can do about it.
Communication by Eye Contact

One of our most vital communication skills is eye contact and its effect upon the communications dynamic. Back to assumptions again, but what do we make of those who avoid looking at us directly or else those who seem to hold our gaze too long? We will discover what happens when we deny or intensify our eye contact in difficult communications. Our intention will be to uncover what the most effective ways might be to approach the situation next time.
What does the Environment Communicate?

Being aware that non-verbal factors may either help or hinder effective communication is vitally important. How far do those more subtle or not so subtle details swing things one way or the other? As well as the physical environment generally and the effect of rearranging the furniture or opening a window, we will consider those other things that can make a difference. How does a family photo, symbols of status or the provision of simple or expensive refreshments affect a meeting, an interview or a difficult interaction? In reality there may be things about the environment that we can't necessarily change, like the choice of space, the colour of the walls or the temperature. During the communication skills course we'll play with the room and our participants will experience the effects of the physical changes they make. Of equal importance is the effect of breaking natural physical boundaries, we will investigate how they too affect our communication skills far more than we might realise.
Geography and Communication

What is the effect of being on your territory or theirs? We will look at how the familiarity of a place and where we are geographically can dictate who dances to whose tune. Certainly culture, in its widest sense, influences how our behaviour and words are perceived. Being attentive to what is likely to cause a ripple means that we can be deliberate in our intentions. Its obvious, but successful communicators are sensitive to the culture and geography of a place and can predict the effect of their words and behaviour.

Communication Cycle

We will invite everyone to visualise how they believe communication works... or doesn't! In sharing our visions we will also see how complicated it all is and justify why we need to spend so long unpicking how it works. Remember we believe that mis-communication is normal for that very reason, its complex.
Communication Skills and Timing

How does it help or hinder us? When are the best and worst times for you? What about for those you want to speak with? We will have some fun looking at what happens when we don't consider if it's the right time to have that conversation.
Difficult Communication Situations

Throughout the day participants will have applied some of our exercises to their real life experiences. Where we have extra time we might also look to recreate communications when they were unsatisfied with the outcome. The idea is that we will draw upon any of the tools and techniques covered over the course of the day.
Working to Your Communication Strengths

Everyone will give a brief description of what they already do that they know works about them. They will then have chance to reflect upon how others see them through the feedback of others.
Communication Skills Course Support

The final exercise of the Communication Skills Course is for each delegate to devise a personal Plan of Action, identifying their personal take-out of the programme, where they know they will practise and areas for their development. Finally we have people identify what will stop them putting this into practise and what support they need to help themselves put the communication skills course work into practise.

The weekly column
Article 28, September 2000

The Soft Skills of Business English
By Dr Goeran Nieragden, Cologne
Abstract This article deals with the importance of the recent notion of soft skills for work-related language coaching, especially its role in Business English. It is argued that soft skills form not only a crucial and increasingly important topic in careers and career negotiations, but are also part and parcel of adult language tuition which tries to take seriously learners' (and teacher's) personalities. Both a number of general principles and concrete examples of making Soft Skills 'work' in the class-room are discussed.

What are soft skills? Not normally found on a CV, soft, or social skills are those personal values and interpersonal skills that determine a person's ability to fit into a particular structure, such as a project team, a rock group, or a company. The skills include personality traits like emotional maturity, eagerness to learn, and willingness to share and embrace new ideas. As regards the future of work, soft skills are fast becoming the deal breaker in many of today's hiring decisions. Executives, after all, are rarely measured according to how well they can re-iterate the technical specifications of their products and services, but rather on their ability to motivate an organization, to assess the performance of their staff, to make clear and well-balanced decisions, and, first and foremost, their ability to develop and communicate ideas and visions. A list of the most crucial skills would look something like the following: Interaction attitude awareness conflict handling co-operation diversity tolerance (n)etiquette interlocutor orientation teamwork willingness Self-Management compensation strategies decision making learning willingness self-assessment self-discipline self-marketing stress resistance

Communication delegating skills listening skills presentation skills Figure 1: Soft skills in four categories (1)

Organization problem solving systems thinking troubleshooting

Though the total of 20 skills is grouped under four headings they are, of course, all closely interrelated: 'Learning willingness', e.g., is difficult to manifest if your 'time management' does not work. And it is also true that soft skills are not exactly 'easy'; if they were, it would be easy to teach everybody to be a Managing Director. In what follows, I will try to show that soft skills are gaining in importance in two contexts which are relevant to English in Adult Education, in native, but even more in non-native contexts: DOING BUSINESS and DOING BUSINESS ENGLISH both feature soft or social skills as objects, effects, and prerequisities.

The skills are of growing importance in a world where business is marked by 'hot' buzzwords such as globalization; decentralisation; and lean management. Of course it is a truism that in real life soft and hard skills (such as subject competence, resource handling, and market knowledge) go hand in hand. Hence, the selection instrument of an 'Assessment Centre' is gaining in significance especially for high potential recruitment. Through its exercises in strategy development and strategy implementation, many companies and employment agencies argue, this two- to three-day intensive group performance session brings to light candidates' abilities in 'conflict handling', 'co-operation' and 'stress management'. Admittedly, a traditional job interview or an old-fashioned IQ-test hardly warrant these results. Thus, though it is certainly helpful to know what technical terms such as benchmarking, 'B2B' vs. 'B2C', business process re-engineering, customization, downsizing, outsourcing, and empowerment stand for, a mere word-list knowledge ignores the complex interpersonal problems these terms carry. If we want to teach learners of Business English how to deal with these problems interpersonally, soft skills handling is indispensable.

The Teachability of Soft Skills Though the skills would be difficult if not impossible to teach 'straightforwardly' in any course, teaching can create contextualized tasks, and thus provide skills-related learning experience. Collateral learning seems to be the key word here, that is, the notion of a learner learning more than merely the subject that he or she is studying at a given time. If 'attitude awareness' and 'problem solving' are what count in the future, then, ideally, teaching should have a share in attitude formation and comparison. A soft skills framework should permit Business English to emphasize the interpersonal forces of languageuse in a work-oriented context, and teachers should keep a sharp eye on the function of any language item which they want to highlight. In other words, they must teach the pragmatic force along with the words, evidenced, by textual (= structure-giving), propositional (= intention-determining) and interpersonal (= status-fixing) functions. Any mismatch of linguistic form and speaker's intention leads to confusion, annoyance and misunderstanding, that is, causes havoc: 'I'm not prepared to show my homework', e.g., can signal unwillingness, inability, criticism of unclear homework assignment, simple forgetting, and other things. Social Theorist Erving Goffman (1955) made that very clear with his theory of 'FACE' and its twofold workings: In human interaction, Goffman argues, people strive for a positive social value, i.e. the approval of others (= a positive face, PF), while at the same time they also want to avoid other people's impediment (= a negative face, NF). Criticism, negative comments and disapproval of an interlocutor's personality or performance usually endanger his/her PF; requests, offers and compliments may threaten his/her NF: An invitation to golf causes offence (for the inviting party) if refused, debt (for the invited party) if accepted. Thus, what we normally tend to think of as plain and straightforward communicative exchange, in fact is a very thin layer of ice on which successful skating can be dangerous. If we take some very ordinary English sentences like the ones in Figure 2, it is apparent that they are not harmless and ordinary at all if we consider what might be implied for the involved people's 'FACES': (2) SITUATION 1.Pointing at a colleague's desk: 2.On the way to the company car park: 3.On returning to your desk: 4.During a business meeting: 5.Knocking on a colleague's office door: 6.Asking a colleague in the canteen: 7.Sitting in a lecture theatre: Figure 2: Sentences as threats to interlocutors' 'face' UTTERANCE That mouse-pad does look funny! Do you have your mobile phone with you? I thought I put a cup of tea here. Is anybody else here cold? Are you busy right now? Isn't that Mr Lawson over there? Sorry, there's a lot of noise at this end.

These sentences turn into downright traps if understood as a demand for action, an allegation of stealing tea, a request for assistance and so on and so forth. Rather than teaching students only how to construct and employ phrases like these, we should try to heighten their awareness of the inherent power relationship, trust and intimacy levels of the interlocutors; in short, the sentences' challenges to the category of 'FACE'. Language coaching, in turn, should adapt to the constantly changing 'face' of English, and keep in mind the cognition-based concept of 'KAL' (Knowledge About Language) which Ronald Carter has been promoting since the early 90s. The flexible character of this concept is meant to go beyond older ones, such as grammaticality, formal correctness and linguistic awareness. Carter wants language learning and teaching to (re-) start from scratch, i.e. to acknowledge insight into the 'new view': "A view which recognises Englishes as well as English and which stresses variable rules accords with a multilingual, culturally diverse view of society. [...] A critical language pedagogy does not so much aim simply to produce competence in use of a standard language, vitally important though that is, as to enable learners to reflect on the kind of English they use and how far it allows them to express their own personal voice as language users." (Carter. 1997: 9, 226) This notion is closely related to the new standard of "ISSE (International Standard Spoken English)" which David Crystal (2000: 57) forecasts to emerge as the result of the increasing global use of and diversified influence on the language. He cannot be far from the truth, as it so happens that English is an immensely (and increasingly?) flexible language, crammed with idiom and slang, unusually hospitable to new words. It is not only the language of business and international politics, but also that of travel, sports and science, computer software and the music industry. Moreover, in times of boundless globalization, the idea of 'FACE' is gaining particular importance in business contexts that involve cross-cultural aspects: In a business world where a German marketing officer is sent to Japan by her employer, a Finnish telecommunication corporate, in order to negotiate joint ventures for the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, it is certainly good to know about the main differences between British and American English, but what this person is very likely to encounter (and to use) herself, corresponds to neither variety.3 Given these conditions, English tuition should ideally proceed from linguistic competence => linguistic awareness => cultural awareness => cultural competence.

Implications for Learning Phraseology, lexis and collocation are of primary importance in this approach of which grammatical accuracy is no longer the be-all and end-all. Our syllabus will have to pursue complex aims besides those of planting words and structures in students' heads. This will of course remain the precondition of all attempts at soft and social skills. But whichever way the 'basics' of structural grammar are brought to a learner, the techniques of drill patterning, total immersion or suggestopedia even, will not do when 'handling English aptly' rather than 'using English correctly' is at stake. Ideally, learners in the new position do not experience themselves as voiceless, and subject to external authority, not only as passive receivers, but rather as active discoverers, communicators and - most significant - creators of knowledge. The objectives of this idea of teaching become visible as improving learners' active and passive knowledge of styles, registers and functions of language items (4); furthering their knowledge of the working mechanisms of business; involving them as far as possible in tasks of teacher-guided learning; and encouraging them to set up, implement and realize their individual learning strategies. These objectives, in turn, ask for a learning process that is fundamentally social, interactive, and self-directed - if we want to encourage our learners to take home 'more than Business English' from 'a lesson in Business English', manifest in topics like Negotiating with Foreign Business Partners, Defying the Angry Customer or Serving International Markets, we must select, prepare and set tasks that involve reflective assessment and active training of one or more of the soft skills. Some general guidelines to make the upper-intermediate to advanced English class more learner-centred will be suggested now. When venturing on a new topic, teachers might start with a brainstorming session and elicit what students already know. Thus they will give the students a chance to start from their true personal vantage points; any accompanying material will then be taken not as a spoon- and force-fed medicine, not as the final word, but

as one of many possible options. Space and room-allocation permitting, one could also ask students to write upon notice boards, flipcharts or whiteboards those aspects of a topic which they would most like to learn about. Tasks that are suitable for pairs or groups should tend to be open rather than closed, i.e. they should permit a variety of possible answers or solutions, or in any case, they should provide room for choice. In this way, they transport respect for any student's individual attitude, and ask them to balance rather than venture their arguments. Two short examples might help to outline possible ways of realizing insights from soft skills training in the class-room. The first example is from the realm of 'Financial English' and could run like this: For the topic of 'Takeovers and Buy-Outs' we might begin with a list of relevant technical terms, strategies, model cases, pros and cons, etc. But students will only experience the position-dependent forms of emotional involvement (e.g., enthusiasm, greed, pride, low vs. high self-esteem, sense of failure, satisfaction of 'winning'), if we can get them to approximate the atmosphere in which talks about the takeover process are likely to be conducted. So any group of four advanced students could be assigned the roles of the CEO of a failed start-up-company under threat (also its founder and main shareholder); the potential buyer (i.e. the representative of the 'bigger fish' trying to 'swallow' the 'smaller' one); the 'white knight' (senior business expert or other company backing the threatened company's case); and, especially in the case of 'leveraged buy-outs', i.e. buy-outs financed by third parties, the bank expert or financial organizer who backs the buyer's interest. We could then ask students to prepare and simulate preliminary or final negotiations, arguing their individual cases, taking into account the other, 'hostile' viewpoints all the time. The second example stems from the very crucial, and frequently requested topic of 'The Job Market'/'The Application Process'. Very often, teachers confront students with real job ads and ask them to sketch an application, a cover letter, or a CV. Though this is certainly good training, it seems a rather lonely task in class, apart from the exchange of technical terms. These, I think, should be pre-taught for a lesson which uses job ads as a trigger for more group-oriented exercises. Referring to the well-known study The Human Side of Enterprise (1960) of American sociologist Douglas McGregor, we might outline his theory of two distinct types of work motivation and work performance: In what McGregor calls THEORY X, people are considered 'lazy' by nature, disliking work, and in permanent need of supervision and control through a threats-and-rewards system. THEORY Y, by contrast, treats people as inherently self-motivated, committed to their workplace, willing to take responsibility and to make personal achievements, in short it assumes a psychological disposition to work within a framework of structures. Obviously, THEORY X provides a high degree of certainty and plannability, and is therefore easier to put into practice on the workshop floor, or in mass and largely automated production than THEORY Y. This, however, is good for managing staff promotions, salary negotiations, and for effective management. In class, we could then make further subclassifications by conceiving e.g. two representatives of each of McGregor's theories (Y1: 'The entrepreneur'; Y2: 'The leader'; X1: 'The team worker'; X2: 'The backroom worker'). Then, an authentic job ad could be scrutinized as to which of these types - the profiles of which should be established in class or in teams - best fit the job description. (5) Similarly, we could use the model which social psychologist Frederick Hertzberg puts forward in his study Work and the Nature of Man, i.e. the crucial difference between SATISFIERS and MOTIVATORS as determining factors of people's job performance: SATISFIERS, as guards of AVERAGE POTENTIAL, concern the working conditions and environement, the wages, the benefits, and the degree of job security; whereas MOTIVATORS, as stimulators of HIGH POTENTIAL, comprise challenging and creative tasks, recognition by peers and seniors, personal responsibility, possibilities for promotion, and the subjective feeling of forming part of corporate culture. It is easy to see that some basic questions such as 'Which type do you think you are?', 'Which type is your boss/your spouse/your best friend?', 'Which type would you (not) hire?' etc., can lead to intense discussions or team listings and, especially, will put all of the soft skills to the test in unforeseen ways. A lesson model with the benefit of reducing TTT (Teacher Talking Time) and increasing STT (Student Talking Time) is shown in Figure 3. As we see, a lot has happened in teaching methodology since the days when PPP (Present, Practice, Produce) was the answer to all questions (6):

Traditional: TEACHER'S ACTIONS 1. Presentation of a pattern 2. Elicitation of a pattern 3. Controlled practice (slight pattern variations) 4. Free practice (more expanded variations) 5. Written reinforcement EFFECTS ON LEARNERS Look, listen, memorise Repeat with whole class Repeat and vary in pairs Repeat with more variation in groups Repeat in writing Revised: LEARNERS' ACTIONS 1. Look, discuss and guess the point 2. Receive confirmation or correction 3. Repeat, vary, discuss 4. Invent questions/exercises for other groups 5. Exchange questions; discuss and write answers 6. Discuss as a class with teacher EFFECTS ON TEACHER Display pattern, stimulate discussion Give solution on board or to groups Guide practice, encourage discussion Monitor groupwork Encourage exchange, monitor writing Guide discussion, summarize findings

Figure 3: Teacher-centred vs. student-centred lesson plan

New Media and Soft Skills As regards the 'overkill' of media and new media development directed at the teaching professions, any teaching material's qualities in featuring any number of the soft skills is what should guide our selection, preparation and employment. It is certainly true that a well-produced CD-ROM can work miracles for the beginner's faltering steps towards listening comprehension, and can make word learning less tedious. Also, e-mail-controlled homework - or even teamwork-tasks - solve a number of logistic and organisational problems. But most of the training forms that focus on 'attitude awareness' and 'conflict handling' are probably not really 'cyberworthy', not least because their teachers would not embody these skills themselves if they were only 'cybereducators'. And though NEWSWEEK recently painted a glorious picture of the future of online-learning, "[b]y the end of 2000, 75% of all U.S. universities will offer online course work to a logged-on student body of about 5.8 million, in most cases as supportive to personal teaching" (McGinn 2000: 60), I do not fear for the future of print-based and classroom-located teaching, if understood as a common enterprise of both the teaching and learning personalities involved. Moreover, if communication theorists are only halfway right in claiming that up to 70% of any information is communicated not via language, but by other systems, such as personal appearance and body language, we are still a long way from the moment when personal teaching can be fully discarded. Machines can do the drilling and controlling of drilled patterns, but they do not reach beyond that stage. Many of the greatest benefits of training, after all, are unintentional. When you come out of a training program, you often perform better. But is it the training that's critical or the interaction during the training? Now it might be replied that with the growing significance of 'e-commerce', the use of internet and e-mail will become standard features of business that we cannot afford to ignore when teaching people who will go on to do, or are already using 'e-commerce' in their jobs. Even learners in internet-related fields, however, I would like to hold, are in need of communicative, self-managing and problem-solving skills: If, say, 20 years ago students learned the conventions of business writing through letters and telexes, this may now have changed to faxes and e-mails, yet the obstacles to 'winning' your addressee for your ideas, or the dangers of 'striking a false note' have remained very much the same. So, instead of saying: 'Here's a new

piece of technology - let's see if we can think of some way of using it', in soft skills teaching we should steer a more relaxed course and begin with: 'Here is an educational need - let's see which technology we can best apply to it'.

Implications for Teaching A soft skills-centred agenda in Business English has to emphasize the personal, the subjective and the constructivist; it must challenge the expected, the usual, the traditional and the positivist. An authoritarian and teacher-dominated style of teaching will certainly not come to terms with the objective of conveying this armada of extra-linguistic skills through language teaching. Only a co-operative and learner-centred style, it appears, will do justice to the newly-defined roles of both teacher (who becomes more of a facilitator, and less of an instructor) and student (who is upgraded to a discussion partner and ideas generator, and by no means an empty vessel to be filled from outside): "Language is an immensely democratizing institution. To have learned a language is to have rights in it" (Crystal 2000: 56). This should not be taken to mean that teachers let go of their right and duty to monitor and organize the goings-on in the classroom. Rather, their 'interventions' especially in tasks of an open, multidimensional nature should be a careful, situation-adopted combination of facilitative and authoritative contributions. They must hold the balance between releasing tension, encouraging self-exploration, and providing both challenges and strategies. You need competence and experience to do this job, but you need commitment, enthusiasm, patience and role-consciousness to do it well. In short, you need the soft skills; not only, but quite urgently if you would like to teach them to others. To re-iterate the old saying that 'Teachers are the ones who understand, know, and can', is certainly not enough here. You need a healthy ego to teach, but you also need to be strong enough to check it at the door. Teaching 'interpersonal skills' is not about making yourself more powerful. It is about making your students more powerful. And you will only earn their trust and respect when you know who you are, convey a strong sense of mission - and when you 'walk your talk' (7). What counts in soft-skills-framing, obviously, are the qualities of intellectual and interaction stimulation: Teachers should get students to use reasoning and evidence; they should encourage them to think about old problems in new ways, and to re-think ideas that they had not questioned before. Ideally, teachers trigger off conversations even among groups of students who do not normally interact with each other, e.g. in a class on Business Correspondence where future engineers and architects sit next to economists and IT specialists. Thus, teachers should see those patterns which allow innovations and improvements for both the teaching and the learning process.

Conclusion For the teacher the framework of soft skills confirms the ideas that 'good English teachers will always remain diligent English learners' and also that 'students learn best from what their teachers enjoy teaching'. The two qualities inherent to all of the abovementioned requirements of teachers, i.e. their essential soft skills, are the notion of holistic, situational problem solving, and the willingness to continuously revise one's own sense of meaning. It is not a closed shop we want to provide access to; it is not a finalised book we have to work through and press home on the learners. Rather, we should try to do our best in achieving two results simultaneously that are vital in view of the ever-changing 'face' of English: to enhance our students' linguistic competence; and to pave ways towards (inter)cultural competence, i.e. prepare them for the extra-linguistic demands that 'handling language aptly' via soft skills will undoubtedly put on them in their careers.

Notes (1) This is a list comprising those skills that form the focus of a number of relevant recent sources, it is assimilated from Campbell 1996; Conrad 1997; Harrison et alii 1995; Leigh et alii. 1998; Murnane & Levy

1996. In addition, the listed skills are those that are named most often by my own adult students of Business English in Germany. (2) My argument in this article owes a lot to Hollett (1998: 18), who first brought my intention to the integrability of Goffman's work into the more recent notion of soft skills training. (3) This also surpasses older notions of a rudimentary and somehow simplified version of English as a means of international communication in business, such as CCE (Common Core English), ESP (English for Specific Purposes), PEL (Polyethnic Englishes), or Working English. (4) Established frameworks in linguistics might be successfully integrated into these attempts, such as Speech Act Theory (J.L. Austin, J.R. Searle), Discourse Analysis (D. Burton, D. Schiffrin), Pragmatics (G. Brown, G. Leech, S.C. Levinson, G. Yule), or Relevance Theory (D. Blakemore, D. Sperber, D. Wilson). (5) Some guidelines might be found in these rough, and deliberately stereotyped, characteristics: Y1: adventurous type who enjoys new challenges and is always 'on the go'; looks forward to taking risks, and actively seeks new paths and manners; wants success in fields that rate personal drive and 'congeniality' highly. (Examples: stock market dealing rooms, inventor, software marketing, ecommerce); Y2: confident in personal abilities, prefers to be in charge rather than to take orders and work to rule; sets objectives, develops and decides on strategies to achieve them; enjoys a big audience or 'following'. (Examples: selling, servicing, managerial and organisational work); X1: works well with others but dislikes shouldering responsibility alone; prefers to implement other people's plans rather than his/her own ones; does not bear disagreement easily, but strives for co-operative solutions. (Examples: civil service, clerical and secretarial work, military); X2: a little shy, or even timid, may have difficulty mixing with other people; does not like facing new challenges all too often, but is good at a behind-the-scenes-job marked by routine tasks and regular duties; might be tempted to 'pass the buck' to someone else in case of problems. (Examples: laboratory, research, library). (6) This is taken, with minor alterations, from Rogers (1998: 29). (7) Adopting the theory of the American educational psychologist Carl Rogers, we could argue that the teacher's primary tasks in this model would not be to instruct and control, but to permit the students to learn and to feed their curiosity in the subject and in people (Rogers 1983). For an interesting poll on recent images of teachers, ranging form 'actor' to 'sales rep.' and 'sports coach', cf. Weber and Mitchell (1996).

References Campbell. J.O. 1996. "Interactive Distance Learning and Job Support Strategies for Soft Skills." Journal of Interactive Instruction Development 91: 19-21. Carter, R. 1997. Investigating English Discourse. Language, Literacy and Literature. London: Routledge. Conrad, C.A. 1997. Soft Skills: An Annotated Bibliography. Prepared for the Annie Casey Foundation Seattle Conference. Washington, DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Crystal, D. 2000. "English - Which Way Know?" SPOTLIGHT 4/2000: 54-58. Goffman, E. 1955. "On face-work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction." Psychiatry 18: 213-231. Harrison, B., M. Weiss and J. Gant. 1995. Building Bridges: Community Development, Corporations and the World of Employment Training. New York: The Ford Foundation. Hertzberg, F. 19? Work and the Nature of Man. ? Hollett, V. 1998. "Effective Communication." English Teaching Professional 8: 18-19. Leigh, W.A., D.H. Lee and M.A. Lindquist. 1998. Soft Skills Training: Selected Programs. Washington, DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. McGinn, D. 2000. "College Online." NEWSWEEK April 24: 58-64. McGregor, Douglas. 1960. The Human Side of Enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill. Murnane, R.J. and F. Levy. 1996. Teaching the New Basic Skills: Principles for Educating Children to

Thrive in a Changing Economy. New York: Free Press. Rogers, A. 1998. "Up-front Feedback." English Teaching Professional 8: 29-30. Rogers, C. 1983. Freedom to Learn for the 80s. New York: Merrill. Weber, S. and C. Mitchell. 1996. "Drawing ourselves into teaching: studying the images that shape and distort teacher education." Teaching and Teacher Education 12: 303-313. (c) Dr. Goeran Nieragden August 2000 Biographical Note: Goeran (male) Nieragden, Dr. phil. (Cologne, 1995), M.A. (Cologne, 1992), born 1965, studied English, Philosophy and Linguistics in Cologne and Southampton. Day Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Cologne; freelance teacher of Business English in a number of Rhineland companies (banking, insurance, engineering, automotive industry). Has published books and articles on English literature, linguistics, grammar, and idioms. Affiliation: English Seminar, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Cologne, Germany.

Correspondence: 57, Scherfginstrasse, 50937 Cologne, Germany, Phone/Fax: ++49/ (0)221/466 094; Email: goeran.nieragden@online.de

Personal stuff
This section contains articles, fun processes and our take on lots of personal stuff. Assertiveness Quiz - Just how nice are you? This quiz will help you define whether you really are too nice for your own good. Assertiveness Skills - The Art of Saying No This document outlines a practical approach Saying No. Without actually using the word you can develop the ability to resist or sidestep being manoeuvred into doing something you really don't want to do. Coaching and Mentoring (using one) This article looks at finding and developing a useful relationship with a Coach or Mentor. Confidence Confidence is something we all could do with a little more of, however you can't just pop down the shop and buy it by the kilo. Dealing with Change and Change Management This is a helpful document for those of you Dealing With Change issues at home or in your work life. It tries to help you think about Change Management as something you can work with rather than be the victim of Impact Factory's Infamous Desire Pack Use with caution!! This could change your life (or at least make you think about it a lot). Reconnect with your real desires for 2006 and remember that Impact Factory is more than just work.

Influencing Skills - How To Influence People Influencing Others is a skill, an art without which working in todays professional workplace is very difficult. This article introduces ideas about what can be done to make yourself a more Effective Influencer. Job Interview Skills - Going for a Job Hints and Interview Tips on CVs, Job Interview Questions, Interview Technique and Interview Advice. Leadership Quiz Want to know if you've got what it takes to lead? Are you prepared to take the helm, or would you shine as a team player? Take our 'Transforming Leadership Quiz' to find out! Loser Magnet with Relationships Jo Ellen Grzyb explores her own past as a 'loser magnet' with men and shares how she became less nice, less magnetised and much happier. Making Personal Development Personal A look at how to make Personal Development really about you, rather than someone else's idea of how you should develop. Motivation - Going for It! Follow your dream - so what are your dreams? And what is preventing you from realising them? Some ideas from Impact Factory on dreaming with feet still on the ground. Procrastination? - Do it Now 'Don't put off until tomorrow...'. Somehow always turns into 'Don’t do today (or even tomorrow) that which you could possibly put off till forever'. And if we have such busy lives (as we increasingly seem to have), we don't really have time to procrastinate, do we? Professional Personal Development and Training How to keep good Professional Development more about your Development rather than how other people would like you to be. Public Speaking Article Public Speaking article based on an interview with Robin Chandler the founder of Impact Factory's presentation skills work written and published by Emma Pomfret. Self Esteem Training and Development Without a firm foundation of your own view of self worth, your self-esteem can be knocked back quite quickly and easily. This article examines ways of building a good self image and raising self-esteem. Simplify Your Life The next article in Jo Ellen's series for Woman and Home magazine explores the idea of

simplifying your life: stopping for breath, remembering what (and who) is really important and streamlining your commitments.

Assertiveness Quiz - Just how nice are you?

Impact Factory runs tailored Stress Management programmes We also run Open Assertiveness Training Courses and personalised One-to-One Executive Coaching for anyone who is interested in Assertiveness Issues
Just how nice are you? Find the next available Open Assertiveness Skills course Just how nice are you?

It is important for you to define where you find your behaviour beneficial and where you find it a liability. See where you fit into the wide spectrum of our definition of nice behaviour. Below is a list of some of the things that adaptive people do. It will help you identify for yourself the areas where you find it difficult to be anything but accommodating and the areas where you feel you are in balance and have a say in the outcome of the transaction. This is a chance for you to self-assess the degree to which you modify your natural inclinations and to identify some of the feelings you get when you do modify your behaviour when you don't want to. We can't stress forcefully enough that none of the behaviours listed below are right or wrong. Only if you recognise it as a liability is it one. For instance, avoiding conflict at any cost might be perfectly all right for some people and never cause them any problems at all. While for others, avoiding conflict means they never get to disagree, never get to stand up for themselves, never have the experience of achieving a successful conclusion to a confrontation and then they end up feeling bad. We are often too hasty to put a judgement on our actions: this is good or that is bad. If you personally identify something as a problem then it is a problem for you. It may not be a problem for someone else. Therefore, to declare that all overly nice behaviour is wrong would be a mistake on our part.

This quiz is for you to determine where you have difficulties and what you can do to alleviate them. It is not to make a whole new set of rules about the correct way to run your lives! Here are our self-assessment questions. Mark each question 1 for Never 2 for Occasionally 3 for Often 4 for Always Do you: Apologise even when you haven't done anything wrong? Ask for permission when getting permission is unnecessary? For instance: "Is it OK if I make a cup of tea?" Worry about what other people think, even if you don't even know them? Find it impossible to say no? Smile when you are giving or receiving bad news? Believe people don't want to hear what you have to say? Ask redundant questions such as: "Can I ask a question?" or "Would it be all right if...?" Agree to things because they're expected of you? Go on holidays you don't want because everyone else wants to go there? Lend money and then are unable to ask for it back? Have friends that overstay their welcome? Seek confirmation when you make a suggestion. For example: "Is that all right with you?" Get asked to stay late at work or do work nobody else wants to do? Find it impossible to take the initiative at meetings?

Find yourself saying "Whatever you want to do is fine with me" when someone asks you what you want to do? Wait to be offered a raise instead of asking for one? Eat food you don't like rather than send it back? Put up with unwanted noise rather than ask someone to stop using their mobile phone, personal stereo, etc.? Feel you're not allowed to have an off day? Evaluating your responses: Manageable: If most of your answers are 1s and 2s ( Never or Occasionally), then you probably are a good judge of the appropriate behaviour for the appropriate situation. You may sometimes do things you'd rather not or mentally kick yourself for altering your behaviour when you wish you hadn't. But in general, your life probably works the way you'd like it to. You're not afraid of being disliked because you know it's impossible for everyone to like everyone and therefore it is unlikely you feel compelled to alter your behaviour to make others happy. You are well integrated, which means that your inner and outer worlds match. You don't edit your thoughts and actions to such a degree that you diminish yourself. It would be useful for you to fine-tune those few uncomfortable areas of your life you'd like to be more in charge of. Borderline: If most of your answers are 2s and 3s (Occasionally and Often) then there are most likely some areas in your life that don't work as well as you'd like and where things feel like they are in someone else's control. For you, niceness doesn't rule your life, but it exerts a fairly strong influence on it and you'd like to be able to readjust those parts of it that are stopping you feeling truly comfortable with yourself. You may feel that your life is made up of contradictions: at times you have no problems sticking up for yourself, getting what you want, going against the status quo and feeling comfortable doing so; and then there will be other times when you buckle under, feel paralysed to do anything and/or get angry without voicing your feelings.

Since you know there are times when you can affect the outcome of tricky situations in your favour and other times when you seem completely powerless to change anything, it will be the contradictions which are most puzzling. Problematic: If most of your answers are 3s and 4s (Often and Always), then you already know how serious this is for you. You know you feel compromised and let down a lot of the time. Your head says "No" but your mouth says "Yes". You're afraid of offending and you continually adapt your behaviour to what you think other people want. You are probably a people-pleaser because you fear that not pleasing could somehow land you in a great deal of trouble. You play the game of life by rules you've made up. Not only that, you really do believe these rules are in other people's control. You feel bad a lot of the time: uneasy, unsure, anxious, frustrated and worried. And then you think you ought not to feel bad; that's it's silly or pathetic and that you ought to pull yourself together. Your level of compassion for yourself is often nil and you imagine other people think you're pathetic as well.

Assertiveness Training Course

Public Assertiveness Skills Course

(Click here for Tailored Assertiveness Training) This one-day public course is designed to explore and understand issues around assertiveness. Assertiveness Skills courses are run by Tina Lamb - Katherine Grice - Doug Osborne Sara Jordan - Julie Wales It's not possible to turn a gentle soul into Anne Robinson - thank goodness! Instead we look at how to be less accommodating and set clearer boundaries for others. The idea is to feel better about saying 'no' without having to change who you are. This is a practical assertiveness training course, which will leave the participants feeling more confident in their ability to handle others, and feeling better about themselves. Click here for our Body Language Course - Interview Skills Evening Course - Interview

Skills Training Course - Personal Impact Course - Stress Management Course - One to One Assertiveness Training
Assertiveness Skills Course Objectives

* Dealing with delegate's own feelings * Setting boundaries for others * Presenting clear messages * Closing conversations * Gaining increased confidence * Tools you know you can use * Handling difficult people and situations * Practising The Art of Saying No * Moving awkward situations forward * Managing conflict
Assertiveness Skills Course Programme Assertiveness and your Feelings

This assertiveness exercise specifically recreates the feelings that people have when they have to do something they find particularly difficult. For instance what happens to them when they are in an uncomfortable or new situation. We then look at the ingrained behaviours associated with those feelings.
Assumptions get in the way of being Assertive

Here we help identify the assumptions individual participants make about other people and look at how that can affect how any communication then happens.
Setting Assertive Boundaries

This section of the assertiveness course deals with personal space boundaries as well as internal issues that people would rather not talk about. It is particularly useful for people who have a hard (if not impossible) time saying 'No'. It's particularly useful for people who have a hard time setting priorities because of other people's demands.
Holding an Assertive Status

This set of assertiveness exercises looks at situational, rather than hierarchical status. They demonstrate that it isn't always necessary to be assertive in order to get your message across. Participants learn to lower and raise their status depending upon the situations they are in, in order to change the outcome of the interaction. It helps people begin to see how a change of behaviour can be an easy, unassertive way of not getting involved in other people's agendas.
Assertiveness and Conflict

These are two assertiveness exercises which deal with conflict resolution and defusing potential arguments. We look at the reasons for conflict and ways to build bridges between people.

The Language of Assertiveness

Language is one of the most powerful tools we have for conveying overt or covert messages, or ones we didn't intend. We look here at the phrases, words, clichés and axioms accommodating people use to apologise, justify and defend themselves and generally use to pad out what they are saying rather than get to the point.
Assertive and un-assertive Patterns

This exercise is designed to demonstrate to delegates that even when offered wider latitude in choices of behaviour, we will revert to type and do what we normally do.
Assertiveness Behaviour Model

We use a visual model to explain assertive behaviour and unassertive behaviour that is too accommodating and what happens to people under stress.
The Art of Saying 'No' and other Useful Assertiveness Tools

Using material already identified by the delegates we will look at some of their more common difficult assertiveness situations and people to see what other choices they could make to create a different outcome.
Assertiveness Support

The final exercise of the Assertiveness Skills Course is for each delegate to devise a personal Plan of Action, identifying their personal take-out of the programme, where they know they will practise and areas for development. Finally we have people identify what will stop them putting this into practise and what support they need to help themselves put the Assertiveness Skills Course work into practise.



Find the next available Open Assertiveness Skills Course
What a wimp!

That's what it feels like. You're a wimp if you feel like you have no confidence or selfesteem. People will walk all over you, take advantage or just ignore you. You'll be the last one picked for the volley ball team and certainly you won't be trusted to make the big presentation in front of your company's major new client.

Then the cycle goes on. You try something and fail and get humiliated, so it makes it harder to try again. Because you don't try, even thinking about it feels impossible. That, of course, gives you a whole lot more inventive an arsenal with which to beat yourself up.
Boy, you really are a wimp!

As the cartoon on the front cover says, 'It's easy'. Just entirely change who you are. Because that's also what it feels like; that you'd have to change everything about yourself in order to feel like tackling the world's challenges.
Doesn't all that sound just awful?

When you lose confidence it can genuinely feel awful, and for many as though there is nothing you can do about it. We've heard over and over again, "If I could just get some more confidence." It's as though we want to walk into a shop and buy a pound of confidence please (or should we say 500 grams). We know that there are times when you feel you could do anything, conquer any fear, take on any project, deal with any problem. Those are the good times!
It's the difficult or tricky situations that erode confidence.

We also know that though confidence may take a while to build, it can be undermined or lost in a nanosecond. All it takes is to feel wrong-footed, tripped up, embarrassed and you'll feel demoralised, deskilled and at a loss. It only takes one episode where you feel humiliated or were 'caught napping' or weren't sure what to do next, and the whole wall of confidence cards comes tumbling down. Wouldn't it be great if we could just avoid those situations? Well, you'd need to lock yourself in a room to do that and then, of course, you'd be left with yourself, and we already know that people with low self-esteem are particularly good at making matters worse by the things they tell themselves. Depressed enough, yet? Never fear - the good stuff follows.

What trips you up and what doesn't?

There will be some situations that undermine your confidence more than others. Take a piece of paper and divide the page in two. On the left side make a list of the areas where you know you feel more confident. Look at the list of things you do well as your starting point. If you know you're a good listener, for example, you probably feel relatively confident when you take on the listening role.

On the other side of the paper make a list of the places and situations where you don’t feel confident. Meeting new people, giving a presentation, defending a decision, challenging someone further up the food chain than you, etc. Now do a confidence inventory. What do you have on the left hand side of the paper that you could 'borrow' to use in the right hand side? Let's say you don't feel very confident meeting new people, but you do feel confident as a good listener. Combine the two by 'featuring' your listening skills when you meet someone new. People love to talk about themselves, so you only need a good opening question (see below under The Practise Cycle) and they'll be off. Then you can listen to your heart's content because you know you're good at it, only having to interject the occasional comment to keep them going. There will be plenty of other places where you can borrow one skill to help you overcome a deficit in another. If you can get your head around this idea, you can become a whole lot more confident much more quickly than you think. Not only that, if you look at the places where you do shine and feel good, make sure you put yourself into those situations more often. If you're good at riding a bike, go on more bike rides. Simplistic we know, but it's another small thing that really does work. There's also nothing wrong with every once in a while deliberately avoiding those situations that do trip you up. There's nothing so confidence-undermining as putting yourself in situations where you know you're vulnerable. So take a holiday from it if at all possible when you're having a bad hair day. You'll have given yourself a break and will feel stronger to enter the fray when you choose.

The Practise Cycle

We've already commented right at the beginning that there's the undermining cycle of feeling unsure, getting humiliated, being less sure about trying something out and then dribbling away to not trying at all. Of course, we know we're being a bit extreme here. We know it isn't always like that. Everyone has some areas of their life where they're really confident, or at least confident enough. This is when those lists of qualities and skills come in when we look at the Practise Cycle. This is how it works: when you feel confident, you'll try new things, and the more you try the better you'll get. Like public speaking, for instance. Any good presenter will tell you that the more they get out there in front of an audience, the more confident they feel about handling whatever happens. NOT that they feel less nervous (some people, no matter how practised they are, ever get over being nervous), just that they know what to expect and also feel able to deal with the unexpected. If they get wrong-footed they have enough belief in their skills to get themselves upright again.

But you won't try new things unless you're feeling confident - real chicken and egg. Where do you begin? The one and only place you can begin is to practise. Practise lots. And don't practise where the stakes are highest. Practise where no one will necessarily notice; where the spotlight isn't on you; where feeling a bit foolish won't undermine you. Alongside practise goes preparation. Whatever the situation is you can prepare for at least some of the eventualities. Like meeting new people. To prepare for this situation you can make a list of opening gambits that you can try out. We'll go back to our public speaking example. If you feel you have zero confidence speaking in front of a group, don't start practising in front of a group: all your fears and concerns will simply multiply. Practise in front of the mirror first; then practise in front of a trusted friend. More than once. Yah yah we know it can feel false and embarrassing, but practising with an audience of one who's on your side is a whole lot better than going into the lion's den of an audience you think isn't. Now if you take that example and look at the areas of your life where you don't feel confident, see if you can identify the simple, unthreatening places where you could practise. If you have to have a difficult conversation, for instance, take some time before hand to write out the main points you want to get across (this is the preparation bit). Whatever you choose, don't throw yourself in the deep end. The shallow end will do; the paddling pool will do.
To Sum Up

Years ago, when we were bemoaning the absence of confidence, someone gave us some very wise words: "confidence is when the need to 'do' outweighs the need 'not to do'". All of us have the choice: we can either let our fears (and other people) run the show, or we can choose to build our confidence by practising every chance we get.

Influencing Skills - How To Influence People

Impact Factory runs tailored Influencing Skills Courses and Open Influencing Skills courses for anyone who wants to develop better Influencing Skills

Influencing Skills

Find the next available Open Influencing Course
Influencing Skills

There is no right way, nor is there only one way to influence others. Everything, but everything, is a factor when influencing people. And we are, all of us, influenced by people, places, events and situations at all times. Sometimes we are affected more or less by these things, but we are continually being influenced by what happens around us. So what about the specifics in the workplace? Your job requires you to influence people just about all of the time. It may take the form of gaining support, inspiring others, persuading other people to become your champions, engaging someone's imagination, creating relationships. Whatever form it takes, being an excellent influencer makes your job easier. An interesting point about people who use their influencing skills well, is that other people like being around them. There's a kind of exciting buzz, or sense that things happen when they're about. It's because they don't sit around wishing things were different while moaning there's nothing they can do about it. They don't sit around blaming others or complaining about what needs fixing that will make things better. They see what needs doing and set about getting it done. Truly excellent influencing skills require a healthy combination of interpersonal, communication, presentation and assertiveness techniques. It is about adapting and modifying your personal style when you become aware of the affect you are having on other people, while still being true to yourself. Behaviour and attitude change are what's important, not changing who you are or how you feel and think. You may try to exert your influence through coercion and manipulation. You might even succeed in getting things done; but that isn't really influencing. That's forcing people to do what you want, often against their will. You won't have succeeded in winning support. Pushing, bullying, bludgeoning or haranguing DO NOT WORK! Like elephants, people will remember the experience.

Indeed, if you force someone to do something you want, without taking their point of view into consideration, then the impression that person is left with is how they will see you forever. You're stuck with it, unless you deliberately change what you do in order to be seen differently. People are far more willing to come halfway (or more) if they feel acknowledged, understood and appreciated. They may even end up doing or agreeing to something they wouldn't previously have done because they feel good about making the choice. Influencing is about understanding yourself and the effect or impact you have on others. Though it can, on occasion, be one way, the primary relationship is two way, and it is about changing how others perceive you. In other words, the cliché, perception is reality, makes perfect sense in the context of influencing. It doesn't matter what's going on internally for you - if it isn't perceived by the other person, then it doesn't exist, other than in your mind. You could be doing the most brilliant presentation you've ever created, but if you haven't brought your 'audience' with you, the brilliance is wasted. And that's about being able to see what's going on for them, which will be different, however much you may have in common. Influencing can sometimes be looked at as the ability to 'finesse', almost sleight of hand. The other person isn't prodded into seeing your view of the world, but is persuaded, often unconsciously, into understanding it. Sometimes you can get so used to your own personal style or way of being or pattern of communicating, that you don't think of how it is being received, and you don't think of behaving in any other way. Influencing is about being able to move things forward, without pushing, forcing or telling others what to do. Now what we know is that one of the most powerful forces that affect people's behaviour is the avoidance of humiliation. No one wants to embarrass themselves if they can help it. So changing your behaviour entails a certain risk. But if that behaviour change is deliberate, and you have made an effort to see the world from the other person's point of view, then humiliation can be avoided on both sides.

Whatever the arena you work in influencing others is about having the confidence and willingness to use yourself to make things happen. Influencing people is also the ability to 'work' a dynamic, whether it's a large group, one to one or over the phone. By 'working' the dynamic, we mean using everything at your disposal, both verbal and non-verbal communication, to create the impact you want, rather than letting things just happen.

Influencing and Negotiating Skills Course

Public Influencing and Negotiating Skills Course

(Click here for Tailored Influencing or Negotiation Training) This one-day Public Influencing and Negotiating Skills Course looks at Influencing and Negotiation as skills that work differently for each individual. Influencing and Negotiation courses are run by Tina Lamb - Katherine Grice - Liz McKechnie Bronia Szczygiel - Trixie Rawlinson - Jeremy Todd Let's face it there are times when all of us need to get other people to see things slightly differently, or to get them to do something we need them to do. There are also times when we need to negotiate conditions, timings or price and here it can be vital to be able to get what you want. Most people's jobs require them to influence other people a lot of the time. The best influencers have good interpersonal and communication skills and an ability to get other people to want to give their support. The best negotiators are subtle, fair and know what to give away, when to make demands and how to compensate when there are difficulties. Click here for our Conflict Management Course - Customer Service Course Communication Skills Course - Negotiation Skills Course - One to One Influcencing and Negotiation Skills Training
Influencing and Negotiating Course Objectives:

* Expanding your sphere of influence * Compensation rather than compromise * Personal Negotiation strategy * Making impactful briefings * Creating the right first impression * Using pressure rather than coercion * Seeing the other point of view * Using status to stay in charge

* Knowing what to give away * Creating a circle of champions * Understanding group dynamics * Giving positive feedback * Making "weaknesses" work for you
Influencing and Negotiating Course Programme Icebreaker

Introduction by Impact Factory on our style of working Delegate Input Here delegates will be asked what they specifically would like from the programme. We will let people know that the workshop is adaptable to their specific needs.
Setting the Influencing and Negotiating Scene

Who do you have to influence? Where and with whom do you have to negotiate? What currently happens?
Influencing Definition

Building on their preparation, delegates define influencing in small groups. This moves into a discussion on how people are influenced.
Types of Influencing and Negotiation

A very brief look at different influencing arenas and types of negotiations people may find themselves in.
Influencing and Communication Dynamics

What skills and qualities does a good influencer need? How can we use aspects of the dynamics of communication to increase the choices people have around influencing. Here we will also introduce the idea of covert vs overt influencing and negotiation.
The View from the Other Side

A key piece of work that uses a series of visuals to explore the idea that everyone sees the world differently. Not only does everyone see it differently, they think their view is the right one, and can't understand why someone does something that in a different way to them - it can feel completely alien and why would anyone want to do that? The real skill is being able to see a problem from someone else's vantage point and deal with it from that place. Taking the time to see a situation from someone else's view gives us a great deal of information that we can use to influence them effectively and is much quicker than trying to convince the other person that you're right and they are wrong.

Bridge Building This simple listening and responding exercise can have a powerful outcome. We examining the use of agreement, but not compromise, to diffuse conflict and 'charged' situations, and to move things forward. This exercise builds on the View from the Other Side work.
Influence By Numbers

This is quite simply the best exercise we have ever created where we look at what we call 'situational status' rather than hierarchical status. We demonstrate how to deliberately raise and lower your status to stay in charge of and/or to influence a situation. This can affect the outcome of conversations, meetings and negotiations, whether face to face or on the phone.
30 Second Influencer

This is a model which gets a message over clearly and concisely and is particularly useful if there is the tendency to increase the amount of words as the level of personal discomfort increases. I Noticed That... A simple model that's useful in trying to pre-empt difficulties or bring a tricky situation to someone's attention in a neutral, non-judgemental way. Blame Vs Effect We look at two approaches and the knee jerk reactions that are commonly caused by blame and how concentrating on the effect of something that has (or hasn't) been done can avoids this and so allows situations to move forward. Attitude This is a quick exercise that looks at how changing your attitude can have a significant impact on how people respond to you. The Art of Effective Messages Here we look at delivering effective messages and at taking charge of the influencing arena by communicating clear surface and underlying messages.
Negotiation Rules

On flip charts, each person to list what rules they follow. Which work best? Which could actually get in the way? Why?

Where do you consider yourself weak or vulnerable when negotiating? Outline a strategy that utilises the most effective rules you have.
Negotiation Tricks

Here we explore a variety of negotiation techniques to suit individual styles and situations.
Difficult Styles and Situations

Here delegates work on the personality styles that they find difficult to influence or negotiate with and we will look at delegates' own individual situations and give them the opportunity to practise all the techniques covered in the day.
Personal Influencing Style

Each delegate will identify their own influencing strengths and qualities and then receive positive feedback from their fellow course participants on what they perceive as their strengths and /or what they have seen them do that works for them.
Influencing and Negotiating Personal Take Out

Each person will have an opportunity to say What they are taking away from the Influencing and Negotiation Course What specifically they know they will use Where they will practise
Influencing and Negotiating Final Handouts

Documents: Influencing with Flair Negotiation Web cards These cards give details of access to our extensive library of helpful documents.

Coaching and Mentoring Course

Coaching and Mentoring Skills for the Workplace

(Click here for Tailored Executive Coaching) This one-day Public Coaching and Mentoring Skills Course is for people wishing to

develop their coaching or mentoring skills at any level of business. Coaching and Mentoring courses are run by Bronia Szczygiel - Trixie Rawlinson - Joe Britto - Graham Bennett It aims to give participants a clear insight and understanding into the dynamics that happen between people when they work one-to-one. The temptation when coaching or mentoring someone is to provide the solution to their problem or difficulty. This course helps you find ways to hand the issues back to the person and encourage them find the solutions for themselves. Click here for our Train the Trainer Course - One to One Training
Coaching and Mentoring Course Objectives:

* Provide highly effective coaching skills you can put into practise immediately * Listening and responding skills * Motivating and guiding * Giving effective feedback * Dealing with confidence issues * Assisting with professional and personal development
Coaching and Mentoring Programme One size doesn't fit all

Increasingly people are being asked to use coaching skills when managing their workplace relationships. This isn't exclusive to people in management positions, but to just about anyone who works with others. It's not enough to tell people what you want them to do and expect they'll do it, you need to be able to understand what it takes to get the best out of each individual. One size doesn't fit all. This is true whether you are a manager or someone working alongside peers - you will probably have to use coaching skills as part of your everyday communication. We aren't aiming to teach you how to become a fully accredited coach, we are aiming to provide you with some highly effective coaching skills you will be able to put into practise immediately.
Benefits of these new tools and techniques

These tools and techniques will be useful whether you are asking someone: to take on a new task Following up when someone hasn't done what you've asked Working with a colleague who may be at odds with your approach Handling conflict between colleagues or between yourself and someone else Ensuring goals are met Helping and supporting when someone is struggling or having a difficult time.

In short, learning to use coaching skills requires a bit of practise but even in the short term will produce excellent results.
Why Coaching and Mentoring?

Discussion on the advantages of coaching/mentoring as a tool in business. What do you think it is? Why have it? Are there any rules around coaching/mentoring? What are the pluses? The pitfalls? What are you looking to achieve with a coaching/mentoring programme? Discussion on 'You as a Role Model'
The Roles of a Coach and Mentor

Some suggested roles of a mentor are: Coaching - To assist in professional development - carrying out specific tasks or activities Facilitation - To create opportunities for the mentee (or learner) to practice their new skills Counselling - To help the mentee (learner) to explore the consequences of potential decisions Networking - To refer the mentee (learner) to others when the mentor's experience is insufficient Participants will further develop these roles, as they are perceived within your company. What roles do they currently play and where do they need to develop?
Skills Needed For Effective Coaching and Mentoring

Building Relationships- Relationships that provide backbone to a good coaching/mentoring relationship are built on trust and mutual cooperation. Positive and Empowering Attitudes - Wanting the mentee to succeed requires a generous and positive spirit. Success depends on this attitude being present. Building Confidence - Catch people doing things right and praise and acknowledge their actions and achievements Effective Feedback - Giving and receiving feedback is a skill that can make or break the relationship. Confidentiality - Agreements need to be established as to confidentiality within the relationship. Establishing these agreements from the start will helps establish a relationship of trust and facilitate the mentoring process for both parties.

The rest of the day will be about developing skills and hints and tips for the group in relation to the four main areas mentioned and in accordance with the perceived needs of the group. Building a Coaching or Mentoring Relationship Dynamics of Communication What happens in face to face communication - an examination of the dynamics of communication as it relates to the mentor and the mentee Impact of body language A simple exercise to demonstrate the power and control the listener has, through body language and attitude.
Building Confidence as a Coach or Mentor

These exercises help with a whole variety of issues: Gaining confidence Feeling and behaving as a Coach/Mentor Communicating upwards and downwards Not being manipulated Setting clear boundaries for others
Understanding Feedback as a Coach or Mentor

What is it feeding? Feedback often says more about the person giving the feedback than the person receiving it - WE will tend to notice things that are not working in accordance with our own belief system and idea of what is 'right' or 'wrong.' Awareness of what you are feeding and why is the key to being an effective mentor.
A Movable Feast of Coaching and Mentoring Exercises

There will now be a series of pairs exercises with a variety of tools and techniques people can use as mentors/coaches. Not all of these will be done, only those that are determined to be useful for the group.
Keeping good Coaching and Mentoring Boundaries

An exercise to develop a crucial skill in a mentoring relationship: how to spot when you have overstepped the mentee's boundaries and they haven't told you.
Emotion vs Objectivity

An advanced listening skill that is crucial to give mentor's objectivity in being able to separate emotion from fact.
Conflict Defuser

A tool to calm down difficult confrontations. This skill is great for moving things forward.

Blame vs Effective Behaviour

Understanding the difference in using You, I or We statements in order to get away from blame and making someone wrong. This helps people get to a place where mutual solution-finding is created.
Coaching and Mentoring Styles

Everyone has a different style of communicating. Some we find easy to work with, some difficult. This exercise looks at the styles people find most difficult to work with and what they can do to make it easier for themselves.
Helping your Mentee choose what to do next

The temptation when mentoring someone is often to provide the solution to their problem or difficulty. This looks at ways to hand the issue back to the person and help them find the solution for themselves.
Coaching and Mentoring Hints and Tips

Hints and tips to provide guidelines and best practise for mentors.
Personal Coach - Mentor's Declaration and What's Next

What do you know you will be bringing into the Coaching and Mentoring arena? What do you want to do next - Buddy up with each other? Support Group? How do you want to take your learning forward?

Train The Trainer Course

Public Train The Trainer Course

(Click here for Tailored Trainer Training) Impact Factory's flagship two day Public Train The Trainer Course is suitable for all levels of training professional. Train the Trainer courses are run by Graham Bennett - Trixie Rawlinson - Tina Lamb Liz McKechnie - Julie Wales - Christopher Heimann It can feel really daunting standing up in front of others as the 'expert'. People expect a lot when they go on a course, and a 'run of the mill' training puts people to sleep. Spending two days with us will keep you awake - guaranteed. Our approach to trainer training is about enlivening, inspiring and motivating the people who work with us, giving them simple usable skills, and making the training room a really fun and expanding place to be.

No matter what kind of training you do - sales, IT skills, financial planning, commercial awareness, interpersonal skills, shop floor skills - you need to be well prepared and able to handle whatever happens in the training room with panache, flair and professionalism. Click here for our Coaching and Mentoring Course - One to One Training
Train The Trainer Course Objectives:

* Adapt your style and material to suit the situation * Work with difficult situations and people * Change tack quickly and without fuss * Meet people's needs and expectations * Handle your delegates' anxieties and nervousness * Surprise your participants and yourself * Make learning and development exciting and creative Most of all, we build confidence; the confidence to know that whatever is thrown at you, you will be able to make it work. Impact Factory's Train The Trainer Training is interactive, insightful, refreshing and fun. Nothing 'run of the mill' about us.
Two day Train the Trainer Training Programme:

Day one - Running the room effectively and using your Personal Style

Understanding group dynamics Identifying your personal training style and staying true to it Working the room Turning the volume up and down Setting the tone Using anecdotes and personal stories to exemplify your training work Knowing how to treat those in the room Animation - knowing when to turn it up and down Dealing with difficult participants and situations
Train The Trainer Training Day Two - Seeing

Discover your ability to actually see what's going on in the room 'Removing' yourself from proceedings Knowing your own behaviour A look at patterns and beliefs Realising that everyone sees things differently Seeing and dealing with sudden changes within your training environment Recognising and dealing with potentially undermining situations An opportunity to play out or rehearse specific scenarios Designing a Training

Wrap up and review
Final Train the Trainer Handouts

All delegates will be issued with relevant hand-outs to remind them of the Train the Trainer Course work, including our memorable visual cue cards. Delegates will also be able to take away Impact Factory web cards, which will give them access to our extensive e-library of useful documents.

Making Personal Development Personal

Making Personal Development Personal

Find the next available Open Personal Impact Course
Professional Personal Development

We've written before about Impact Factory's brand of Professional Personal Development (Professional Personal Development What is it?), but we're just going to take a little side step here to talk about the broader issue of Personal Development. This is because there's an awful lot of talk about personal development and for some people, they're not quite sure how it relates to them. Often when we become adults, learn new skills, have a job, a relationship (or not), friends, colleagues, we're pretty much set in who we are, how we think and behave and what the nature of our emotional selves is. Personal Development can sometimes seem like a pretty daunting 'task' rather than something to be desired or pursued. Do I have to change everything about me? Won't it be painful and emotionally wrenching? Do I have to change everything about me? I'll lose my friends if I change too much. Common myths. And myths they are if you look at the gentler, more humane way to approach personal development. It shouldn't be wrenching; you don't need to have an 'epiphany' and change your ways forever; it should be a natural evolution of who you already are, not a tearing apart and a putting back together again. Although Impact Factory primarily works with people in the workplace, the issues surrounding personal development are the same in any area of your life. And here are a few reasons why:

Reverting to type and dealing with the feelings

What is very clear to anyone that works with people is that under pressure, people will 'revert to type'. In normal circumstances, when there's no pressure, everyone knows how they would like to deal with things differently. However, when decisions need to be made quickly, when things aren't working as you would wish, when others become more demanding, most people under stress will behave as they always have. They will not have the time, nor will they make the time to weigh and measure their options. What they will do is react to the current situation and do what they've always done to get a speedy result. What they have always done may not - often is not - the most appropriate choice to make; but it seems to be the only one available to them at the time. It is in hindsight that other options become clear. People cannot help reverting to type. It is how the species has survived: when a mastodon came into view, people didn't take time to ponder their options; they acted immediately. That vital mechanism is within us all: under threat we will react without conscious thought in order to survive. However, without well-developed people skills, pressurised communication in all areas of our lives can look like bullying or blaming where it's easier to accuse or order someone around rather than encourage. It can mean that people will avoid conflict and back down from useful confrontation where differences could get resolved. People will make incorrect assumptions and then act on them. Reverting to type can also mean avoiding getting support from others because you feel you have to do everything yourself. When people revert to type, they are usually driven by their feelings, and it will usually be feelings that get in the way of being able to change behaviour constructively. Most people know how they would like to behave, so teaching the 'how to' is not at issue here. Feelings that can get in the way of effectiveness can be anything from nervousness about presenting, to fear of humiliation for saying something stupid, to being intimidated by a particular person who seems to wrong-foot you all the time. Feelings can make you shy away from handling tricky situations from saying no to Christmas dinner with the parents to asking for a raise or communicating more honestly with a colleague. At Impact Factory we address the fact that at times (more often than not) uncomfortable feelings will make it difficult, if not impossible, to create the outcome you want. Otherwise, people are trying to cope with new information and new techniques without acknowledging that their emotions can, at times, stop them making any change whatsoever. That's not personal development, and trying to learn new things without that essential acknowledgement usually means the learning won't stick.

Changing yourself to change others

We hear over and over again in people's personal and work lives that things would be much better if only someone else would change the way they do things. "If my sister wasn't so stubborn, we'd have a much easier relationship." "I'd get on much better if only my line manager would give me more time to get things done." "My job would be easier if only my secretary was more efficient." "My parents are so frustrating; if only they would start treating me like an adult." In these and many other examples, the solution seems to rest with someone else. Therefore, the responsibility for moving things forward rests with others as well. There will always be situations where life would be far better if someone else would just shape up and do things the way we think they ought to be done! However, that attitude puts all the power and influence into someone else's hands and leaves us feeling impotent and often inadequate. You can have a good moan, but nothing changes. Changing what you do, changing the way you speak to others, changing your attitude towards recurring difficulties will change the normally predictable outcome. When we talk about change, we are looking for simple changes; tweaks, adjustments, small alterations, rather than looking to change everything about a person. At Impact Factory we talk about the least amount of change for the greatest impact. Striving for small but effective changes rather than complete transformation. That's' how true personal development needs to happen: not massive life-changing upheaval, but easily manageable, incremental changes that don't require you to change everything about yourself (or expect everyone else to change as well). When we work with people's personal development on our workshops we make it easy and enjoyable and filled with variety, so that there is 'something for everyone'. What works for one person, won't necessarily work for others. We believe that the way forward is to find a few things that you know you'll be able to do, to have fun doing them and to experience enough small wins as you practise them. These are the things you'll be able to remember in the heat of a difficult situation. You will revert to a new type that feels familiar because it's developed from who you already are, not about becoming someone you'll never be! Real life, not make believe Here's one way that we do that: we use real-life, everyday situations that people encounter on the job or in their personal lives, rather than giving people made up, textbook scenarios they then have to 'act out'. Working with real issues helps people recognise and understand their feelings rather than ignoring them or wishing they would go away. We know that if you spend time learning and developing new skills on a course there needs to be a realistic bridge between the workshop room and real life.

We always ask people to bring in their own experiences - a challenging presenting situation, a recurring difficult person or problem, an upcoming meeting, etc. Within those real-life scenarios, we use some of the tools and techniques that the individual has practised during the training and has already found works for them. By letting people work on their specific issues and then incorporating their favourite techniques into the re-enactments, they get to choose what they feel able to do, rather than ones they ought to do. And if we could sum up our entire philosophy in one word it would be: choice. When people feel they have choice, they feel more confident and better able to deal with the ordinary and the extraordinary of work and personal life. And that's how we make personal development personal as well!

Personal Impact Course

Public Personal Impact Course

(Click here for Tailored Personal Impact Training) This Public one-day Personal Impact Course is a day devoted to understanding how all of us impact on others. Personal Impact courses are run by Graham Bennett - Tina Lamb - Katherine Grice - Julie Wales - Jeremy Todd Liz McKechnie - Trixie Rawlinson - Doug Osborne - Sara Jordan Personal Impact is an intensive course that includes key elements of our Communication, Presentation, Assertiveness and Influencing programmes. It's designed to bring these elements together to give you a real experience of the Impact you make and how to make the Impact you want. Starting generally on how 'making an impact' works, we then move on to take a detailed look at how you can improve your ability to work with and influence others. The emphasis is on creating insight, increasing confidence and raising self esteem. Click here for our - Assertiveness Training Course - Body Language Course - Interview Skills Evening Course - Interview Skills Training Course - Stress Management Course One to One Personal Impact Training

Personal Impact Course Objectives:

* How 'making an impact' works * Understand how you impact on others * Knowing how and why things go wrong * Improving your ability to influence others * Understanding rules and conventions * Speaking your mind without offending * Finding out how others see you * Verbal and non-verbal communication * Appreciating conventions and boundaries
Personal Impact Course Programme:

Making an Impact

An in-depth look at what makes an impact and how people impact on one another. Followed by a breakdown of the components that go into making an impact.
Analysis of each person's style and strengths

Each person gives a short analysis of their personal style and what works for them, paying particular attention to how they think they impact on others. They will get feedback from their colleagues on what else they see working. We then look at what gets in the way of making the Impact they want?
How Feelings can affect the Impact you make

This exercise specifically recreates the feelings that people have when they have to do something they find particularly difficult. For instance what happens to them when they are in an uncomfortable or new situation? We then look at the ingrained behaviours associated with those feelings.
Personal Boundaries

This section deals with personal space boundaries as well as internal issues that people would rather not talk about. It is particularly useful for people who have a hard (if not impossible) time saying 'No'. It's also helpful for people who have a hard time setting priorities because of other people's demands.
Assumptions and Personal Impact

A look at the assumptions we make automatically and how they affect the way we behave.

As a tool for defusing polarised arguments.

60 seconds of passion

This is a chance for each participant to look at the power of expression and just how much they limit themselves in that expression.
60 seconds of silence

This exercise allows the participants to experience the dynamic of silence and to see how they react to it.
Presence exercise

This is an awareness exercise to help deal with self consciousness.
Everyday objects

An exercise to stretch the capacity to communicate non-verbally.
First impressions

A group exercise where each person gets to practise a variety of first impressions.

A group exercise looking at the words we use habitually and an exploration into how the choice of language can ensure a specific response. This is followed by an individual exercise to demonstrate the effect of the deliberate use of emotive words.
Persuasion, motivation and inspiration

An individual exercise where people choose a work-related subject they feel strongly about and present it using the work of the day to consolidate their message with the aim of persuading, inspiring and motivating others.
Assessment of the Personal Impact Day

Participants are asked to present what they have learnt from the Personal Impact Course and how they intend to make use of it, identifying specific situations, people and areas of their work to illustrate.

Public Speaking Article

Impact Factory runs tailored Public Speaking Courses Open Public Speaking Courses and personalised One-to-One Public Speaking Coaching for anyone who has to Speak in Public Click here for our One Day Presentation Course - Advanced Presentation Course Two Day Intermediate Presentation Course - Public Speaking Course - PowerPoint

Presentation Course - One to One Presentation Training THE ART OF SPEAKING By Emma Pomfret, PA Features Find the next available Open Public Speaking Course As Britain's top politicians gear up for the forthcoming General Election, their publicspeaking skills will be pushed to the very limits as they try to persuade voters with their velvet-toned rhetoric and grand gestures. But unless you are a trained public speaker or have a natural talent for captivating an audience, most people tend to dread standing up in front of a crowd - fortunately a few simple pointers can make sure you shine on stage rather than sending your listeners to sleep. "Public speaking creates anxiety in all of us - even those who do it all the time," says Robin Chandler, partner at Impact Factory, a professional and personal development company specialising in tailor-made public speaking and communications. "Every trick people use when they are preparing to speak in public is tied up with sound bites, gestures, tone of voice and focusing on grabbing people's attention rather than giving them information. "Tony Blair for example uses a certain 'look' when he pauses in speaking, which acts as a stopper and gives you a poke to make you wake up and listen." Another great technique, according to Chandler, is to ask rhetorical questions during your speech to make sure that your message is communicated as clearly as possible. "For example, 'So, why are we doing this? I'll tell you why', which has challenge in it as well as a question," he explains. When planning your speech - whether it's a Best Man speech or a work presentation - you also should be looking to use gestures which you know are your own, he says. "The only decision you have to make is whether to make the gestures big or small, and it is important for people to remember that they don't have to learn new stuff. "If you want to really affect people, work out what your natural style is and then alter it slightly - so if you're chatty, smiley person then take your smile away, become less chatty and slightly monosyllabic at certain points, and that 'No More Mr Guy' approach really grabs people's attention," he advises.

COMMON MISTAKES :: REPETITION "The most important thing to remember is that repetition is death in terms of public speaking," says Chandler. "Repetition of a gesture is guaranteed to upset people and repetition of vocal tone will make your audience fall asleep. "If you do something that others can actually see you doing, they will no longer listen to you or take you seriously," he says, picking out false gestures or overworked phrases as ones to avoid. "However, it it just stays below the level of their conscious awareness, then it works." :: BEING UNCLEAR ABOUT YOUR MESSAGE Politicians tend to talk a lot about being on or off message, and Chandler says deciding on your own message is vital - something that many amateur public speakers overlook. "Decide exactly what you want them to be thinking and saying when you stop speaking," he says. :: OVER-USING POWERPOINT AND SLIDES During a work presentation, don't rely on PowerPoint or lots of slides. "By hiding behind it, you are really saying that the slides have more personality than you do. PowerPoint can't present and you can - the best thing you can do is to turn it off," he laughs. :: TRYING TO BE FUNNY You should never attempt the use of humour if you are usually a stoical, un-smiling person, Chandler adds. "If you need to inject some humour bring someone else on who can make people laugh - there's no shame in just bussing them in!" :: BECOMING MR OR MRS MONOTONE Successful public speakers always make sure that their speeches are loud and varied in tone, he points out. "Never use the same tone of voice all the way through - vary tone so that it goes up and down frequently, and remember that gestures are also very important aids to precipitate changes in your voice. "You can actually make a difference to how you sound so that if you point a finger, stand up, or smile - the physical changes the vocal." TOP TIPS FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING :: MOVE AROUND A LOT

"Don't get stuck in one place - there's nothing worse than seeing somebody rooted to the spot with terror," jokes Chandler. :: GET TERRITORIAL "If you simply take something with you, such as notes or a glass of water, and put it down somewhere it demonstrates that you occupy the space and it's yours. "It also gives your body something else to do - when standing on a stage often people suddenly become super self-conscious and find they have hands on the end of their arms which they have no idea where they came from!" he smiles. :: BEND YOUR BODY "One of the most important ways to relax is to bend in the middle of your body beforehand - what this does is release the muscles around your midriff and lower back, which are the ones that are stuck. "You will physically loosen up and you'll be off and running." :: STAND OFF TO ONE SIDE "Never go centre stage - you'll be in trouble as everyone will look at you and you'll feel like a rabbit in the headlights." :: CONCENTRATE ON YOUR OPENING AND CLOSING "Don't over-rehearse but do make sure you get your opening and closing right - this will make a lasting impression on people and ensure that you don't just dribble off at the end," Chandler says. :: SAY THANK YOU AND TAKE A BOW "Whether you think you've done well or badly, always take a bow and say thank you you can actually fool people into thinking you've done better than you have by doing a good walk-down." :: ALWAYS TEST OUT TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT BEFORE HAND For obvious reasons! Find the next available Open Public Speaking Course

Public Speaking Course

Open Public Speaking Course

(Click here for Tailored Public Speaking) This one day Public Speaking Course concentrates on effective public speaking, particularly dealing with nerves and anxiety. Public Speaking courses are run by Tom Bruno-Magdich - Liz McKechnie - Trixie Rawlinson Graham Bennett - Tina Lamb It offers simple, easy to practise tools to help you cope with nerves, get your message across memorably, structure your material for the best impact and speak effectively to audiences of varied sizes. It is fun and effective with plenty of opportunities to practise. Click here for our One Day Presentation Course - Two Day Intermediate Presentation Course - PowerPoint Presentation Course - Advanced Presentation Course - One to One Presentation Training - Media Skills Training Course
Public Speaking Course Objectives

* Dealing with delegate's own feelings * What already works about you as a speaker? * How face to face communication works * Why we get public speaking anxiety? * How to overcome fear of public speaking? * Instant hints and tips for public speaking * What happens in front of an audience * To Practise a whole range of techniques * How to cope with hecklers and awkward questions.
Public Speaking Course Preparation

1) Prepare a brief description of your thoughts and personal experiences of speaking in public, placing particular emphasis on what you feel you do well. 2) Bring along any specific situations (and related material) in which you find public speaking particularly challenging.
Public Speaking Course Programme : Delegate input

Delegates will give a brief summary of their public speaking experience.

Dealing with the Fear We open the day by exploring what happens when you have to speak in public? Your hands may sweat and your mouth goes dry. Your knees may shake and a quaver affects your voice. Your heart may race and those well known butterflies invade your stomach. When all that happens most people don't think of getting their message across in a compelling and interesting way; they just think of getting off the 'stage' as quickly as possible! The good news is that it's normal to be nervous and have a lot of anxiety when speaking in public. In a way, it's less normal not to have nerves or anxiety; in fact, to feel you have a phobia about public speaking.
Public Speaking Stretching Exercises

A series of short exercises designed to stretch people's awareness and capacity:

An exercise in audience contact that helps with managing the Fight or flight response
Everyday objects

An exercise in overlaying an ordinary text with an extra-ordinary message

An exercise in the use of passion to communicate
Talking up and talking down

Exercises to raise awareness of how attitude, body language and mood can affect the way people feel about your message.
Turning points

This is an exercise in using personal material to produce empathy and strong feeling in an audience.
Public Speaking Dynamics - how it works

This is an introduction to the dynamics of face-to-face communication - looking at what affects the participants and how they might take more charge of situations. It gives an overview of how communication works at its best and identifying where it can go wrong. We 'unpick' all the elements that go into effective communication and explain to people how they can be more in charge of the communication dynamic.
The IMPACT model of public speaking:

Using the mnemonic IMPACT as an easy to remember tool on the main points of public speaking we will take a look at the dynamic in which it takes place and a look at the fundamentals of public speaking: The use of the Individual's best skills to convey a clear Message, well Prepared, with

good Audience interaction, presented with Conviction and supported by the right Technical backup
Location Location Location!

A brief discussion on the various arenas in which participants speak. This is to get a picture of some of the challenges that arise in certain settings.
Preparation Tools

Here we have a number of different processes that emphasise the value of preparation and rehearsing different approaches to any speech.
Use of media and structure

An exercise that looks at the various media available during a speech A look at the uses of modular vs linear structure
Speaking to Different Levels of Understanding

This exercise looks at assessing the levels of understanding within the audience, and delivering information with varied emphasis, without appearing to patronise.
30 Second Presentation

Each delegate will work with a model that allows people to put across a powerful 'presentation in 30 seconds. This is a terrific tool for strongly influencing people when under pressure.
How to build confidence by defusing your assumptions

Your audience can be your friend. Unless you know you're absolutely facing a hostile group of people, human nature is such that your audience wants you succeed. They're on your side! Therefore, rather than assuming they don't like you; give them the benefit of the doubt that they do. We look at how mind reading assumptions is a confidence killer.
Keep them awake

The one thing you don't want is for them to fall asleep! But make no mistake public speaking arenas are designed to do just that: dim lights, cushy chairs, not having to open their mouths - a perfect invitation to catch up on those zzzzs.
Ways to keep them awake

Here we explore some sure fire techniques to keep your audience engaged including working with story, metaphor, humour (where and when appropriate) the five key questions, body language and eye contact.
Prepared Speeches

The second part of the day is work on prepared speeches. This is not intended to rehearse the actual speech but rather to use it to incorporate the principles worked on earlier in the day. As always the session is modified according to the level of the attendees.

Before and After the Speech

Techniques for interacting with your audience before and after the talk. How to make yourself available to as many people as you are comfortable with, and to join and leave groups with ease. Staying relaxed and dealing with last minute anxiety.
Confidence by Numbers

These two exercises look at the power of instantly changing your confidence and sense of importance when relating to others.
Handling Difficult Questions

Techniques to: Help stay on the front foot Remain confident and professional when you don't know the answer Practise saying you don't know Refer people to others Be able to say what you do know Treat each question as an opportunity, rather than a missile
Deliberate Misunderstanding

To demonstrate how effective analogies can be, we have a light-hearted exercise where people have to deal with being wrong-footed by the rest of the delegates who deliberately misinterpret what they are trying to talk about.
Public Speaking Summing up and Personal Take Out

We will spend a short time reviewing the Public Speaking Course work. Each person to identify and talk briefly about: What they know they will take from the day that they know they will use What support or development they need over the coming months What they need to do to ensure they practise. We would highly recommend that people do some kind of presentation or public speaking event as soon as possible to reinforce the work of the programme.
Assertiveness Skills

Find the next available Open Assertiveness Skills course

Assertiveness Skills

• • • • • • •

What is the Art of Saying No It's not Assertiveness Not Nice - Not Nasty Managing Feelings Saying No The Nice Factor Book Change Yourself to Change Others

What exactly is The Art of Saying No?

A lot of people just don't like the idea of having to tell people they can't do something. Or they feel obligated when a colleague asks a favour; or feel pressurised when someone senior to them needs something done. There are even some work places where saying no is definitely frowned upon; and in, say, the police force, could be a sackable or disciplinary offence. After having worked for some time with people where saying no either feels impossible or just isn't allowed, we created a body of work to address it. In some cases it is indeed, how to say no without ever saying the word. Of course, there are times when saying the 'n' word is a necessity. But in our experience, there is so much anxiety around the possible consequences of using it, that people don't say anything at all, or agree to things they'd rather not, or get landed with work that isn't theirs and so on. That can't be good for anyone, but especially the person who finds themselves staying late at the end of the day to get their own work done after they've finished everyone else's; or who swallows their resentment when they are 'volunteered' for something they don't want to do; or who quakes at the idea of having to be a bit tougher with a supplier or even someone they manage. This is one issue we have felt so passionately about that we even wrote a book that deals with it: The Nice Factor Book (Are you too Nice for your own good?) This document is going to focus on one aspect of that book, which is about how to say no in a way that's manageable, deals with the difficult feelings and actually might be some fun. For a more in-depth look, do have a peek at the book.
It's Not Assertiveness

Impact Factory has been running programmes on The Art of Saying No for nearly seven years and we are often asked what the difference is between our work and assertiveness training. The reason we've been asked this is that assertiveness training has been around

for some time, and people wonder if this art of saying no business isn't just more of the same. Well, no it isn't, and here's why. We believe the very term 'assertiveness' is limiting. For instance, people say you should be assertive rather than aggressive, as if assertiveness is the only way to deal with a difficult situation. It isn't. If you are being attacked or abused, then aggressively fighting back may well be an appropriate thing to do. The key word here is appropriate. So yes, aggressiveness may be appropriate, assertiveness may be appropriate, but there's a greater range of choice of behaviour than those two types that could be equally appropriate. Before we discuss them, though, we want to talk about some of the things that happen to people when what they think and feel is different from what they do. Many 'unassertive' people recognise that their pattern of behaviour is to be nice or compliant for far longer than they really want to until they reach the point of no longer being able to hold it in; then they explode nastily and inappropriately all over whoever happens to be around. There are three ways this 'explosion' can happen. The first is that the rage happens inside the head and remains unexpressed. The second is that it is inappropriately expressed, and someone not involved, like a work colleague or secretary or even a bus conductor, becomes the recipient. The third is properly directed at the 'offending party' but is out of all proportion to the probably small, but nonetheless final-straw-event that unleashes it.
Not Nice Not Nasty

This leaves people with the impression that there are only two states or behaviours they can do: Nice or Nasty. When, in fact, they have forgotten a whole range of behaviour that lies between Nice and Nasty that can be termed Not-Nice (or even Not-Nasty). What we've seen with assertiveness, is that it is often seen as a single form of behaviour: just say no, stand your ground, be a broken record - all quite difficult if you are truly unassertive, or in our jargon - simply too nice for your own good. The concept of asserting yourself, (getting your voice heard, being understood, being taken into account, getting your own way) needs to be broadened to include all forms of behaviour. It can include humour, submission, irresponsibility, manipulation, playfulness, aggressiveness, etc. The key point here is that the behaviour - nice, not-nice, nasty - is chosen. We emphasise the word key, because until people are able to choose behaviour that's free from the limiting effects of their fear of possible consequences, they will not be able to act no matter how well they are taught to be assertive. They will still feel overwhelmed in difficult situations.

Managing Feelings

It needs to be acknowledged that the strong feelings associated with changing behaviour are real and valid. Once people do that, then these (usually difficult) feelings can be looked upon as a good thing, a sign that something new is happening. At this point people can start to 'choose' to have these feelings rather than having to endure them or trying to pretend they are not happening. The idea of choice is very important. If people feel they have real choice about how they behave, they start to realise that it can be OK to put up with something they don't like. They can choose it because they want to; it is to their advantage. They then avoid the disempowering tyranny of always having to assert themselves. (Which is almost as bad as feeling you always have to be compliant or nice.) Many people think that in order to be assertive, you need to ignore what you are feeling and just 'stand your ground'. In fact, you ignore those feelings at your peril. Often the magnitude of peoples' feelings is way out of proportion to what the situation warrants. They may well reflect a previous difficult event more accurately. But because that previous difficulty was so difficult, it feels as though every similar situation will be the same. It is only by beginning to experience and understand how crippling these feelings can be that people can start to do anything about changing their behaviour. Many people know what they could say; they know what they could do. Most 'unassertive' people have conversations in their heads about how to resolve a conflict they're in; but still, their mouths say 'yes', while their heads say 'no'. Knowing what to do or say is not the issue here. Therefore, in looking at practising 'the art of saying no', it is wise to broaden the brief to so that it isn't about becoming more assertive; rather it's about changing your behaviour to fit the circumstances. While in many circumstances assertiveness can be a straight jacket of it's own (often creating resistance and resentment), the full lexicon of behaviour can be freeing, because there is choice in the matter. Using charm, humour, telling the truth or even deliberate manipulation, may well get you what you want without having to attempt behaviour that may go against your personality. If you add a dash of fun or mischief, The Art of Saying No becomes a doable prospect, rather than another difficult mountain to climb.
Saying No

Here are some pointers of what could make it easier to say 'no'.

If you're saying something serious, notice whether you smile or not. Smiling gives a mixed message and weakens the impact of what you're saying. If someone comes over to your desk and you want to appear more in charge, stand up. This also works when you're on the phone. Standing puts you on even eye level and creates a psychological advantage. If someone sits down and starts talking to you about what they want, avoid encouraging body language, such as nods and ahas. Keep your body language as still as possible. Avoid asking questions that would indicate you're interested (such as, 'When do you need it by?' or 'Does it really have to be done by this afternoon?' etc.) It's all right to interrupt! A favourite technique of ours is to say something along the lines of, 'I'm really sorry; I'm going to interrupt you.' Then use whatever tool fits the situation. If you let someone have their whole say without interrupting, they could get the impression you're interested and willing. All the while they get no message to the contrary, they will think you're on board with their plan (to get you to do whatever...) Pre-empt. As soon as you see someone bearing down on you (and your heart sinks because you know they're going to ask for something), let them know you know: 'Hi there! I know what you want. You're going to ask me to finish the Henderson report. Wish I could help you out, but I just can't.' Pre-empt two. Meetings are a great place to get landed with work you don't want. You can see it coming. So to avoid the inevitable, pre-empt, 'I need to let everyone know right at the top, that I can't fit anything else into my schedule for the next two weeks (or whatever).' Any of these little tips can help you feel more confident and will support your new behaviour. For that's what this is: If you're someone whom others know they can take advantage (they may not even be doing it on purpose, you're just an easy mark!) you need to indicate by what you do that things have changed.

Here's an Analogy we use in The Nice Factor Book:

Let's say you're a burglar. There's a row of identical houses and you're thinking of having a go at five of them. The first house has a Yale lock on the front door. The second house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door. The third house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door and bars on the window. The fourth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window and burglar alarm. The fifth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window, a burglar alarm and a Rottweiler. Which would you burgle?

When you make it easy for other people, they will naturally keep coming back. By learning more effective ways of saying 'no' you make it harder for others to expect you to do what they want without taking into account what's going on for you. You become more burglar-proof.

Changing Others by Changing Yourself

A lot of us wish that the person we are in conflict with, or feel intimidated by, would change. Then everything would be all right. We've all heard this from a colleague, friend, partner and even said it ourselves: 'If only he'd listen to me, then I wouldn't be so frightened.' 'If only she'd stop complaining about my work, I'd be much happier.' 'If only' puts the onus on the other person to change how and who they are and makes them responsible for how we feel. By using some of the tools outlined above, people can get a sense of being in charge of situations, rather than being victims to what other people want. It does seem to be part of human nature to blame others when things go wrong in our lives, or when we're feeling hard done by. If you take away the 'if only' excuse you also take away the need to blame and make the other person wrong. It's also rather wonderful to think that rather than waiting for someone else to change to make things all right, we all have the ability to take charge of most situations and make them all right for ourselves. What also makes it easier is that we all just have to get better at 'the art of saying no'; none of us has to change our whole personalities to create a more satisfying outcome!

Negotiating - Have Easier Negotiations

Find the next available Negotiation Skills Open Course
How to Negotiate Better Heads I win, tails you lose. That's the way to handle Negotiations, isn't it?

Well, no. Good negotiation isn't about winning and it isn't about someone else losing. Good negotiations are about both sides leaving feeling they got what they wanted, or at least better off than when they went in. Unsuccessful negotiations are when either side feels they've compromised too much, given way when they didn't want to, felt undue pressure; felt threatened; made sacrifices they didn't want to.

In those situations the other party might believe they've won and go away feeling good about themselves; but that's not really successful negotiation. They may have won, but the other party will never trust them again and may not want to repeat the experience. As the cliché says, they may have won the battle, but they won't have won the war. Indeed, negotiations can often feel like war (more on the differing types of negotiations below), which is why there is an inevitable expectation of win/lose in so many of them. Well, we at Impact Factory believe that the best negotiation skills don’t have to have such an inevitability about them.
never the same twice

There are many good books written about negotiating. A lot of them hold the view that there is a right or good way to run negotiations; that there is a model you can follow that will get you better solutions. This view may be a good starting point, however, there are several flaws to this way of thinking. Firstly negotiations are never the same twice. Sometimes they are not even similar. Even if you have to go back and deal with the same person about the same issue, it will be different. Time will have passed, things will have shifted, something new might now be involved. Secondly negotiators are never the same twice. Even when you get the same person they could well be in a different mood. You could be in a different mood. One or both of you may have re-thought your position and, furthermore, you are almost certainly not a standard, regulation model human being with no idiosyncrasies and foibles. Finally, things should change. You know how the press bleats on and on about political u-turns, as though they were a sign of weakness? Well, they aren't. Changing your mind is part of being an idiosyncratic, real person, therefore negotiations can change in midstream and become something completely different from where they started.
Know why you're there

Now, not only are negotiations and negotiators different, the reasons for entering into a negotiation can differ widely as well. There are at the very least five types of negotiation that most people will be involved with in both their personal and their working lives: Adversarial: fight, opposite ends, polarisation. In this type of negotiation it can feel as though you need to go in armed and armoured; well defended and prepared for a fight.

Consensual: team model. In this type of negotiation it feels more like give and take, a co-operative working out of strategy, roles and rewards. Non-adversarial: everyone has an interest in making it work. Here negotiation is often about what's the best way to arrive at a mutually agreed outcome. Brainstorming: talking issues through, a 'drains-up’. With this type of negotiation people bat around ideas to see what's there, what needs to be done and who's to do what. Diplomatic: sensitive issues that need to be handled as though walking through a mine field. With diplomatic negotiations there are usually hidden agendas and a need to be aware of the politics and ramifications of any decisions made. We know that people will sometimes go into one kind of negotiation, discovering as they go along that it's quite another. For instance, we've recently seen a team meeting disintegrate into mayhem because one person came along anticipating a fight (and therefore creating one), when everyone else was expecting co-operation. It took a lot of diplomacy to get it back on track! The thing is, these five types of negotiation are neither right nor wrong. There can't be a right or wrong when it comes to negotiations. What's important is that you know why you're entering into a particular negotiation and that you prepare for what you might encounter along the way. You're never going to be able to second-guess everything.
Develop your own approach

Really good negotiators are able to read the other person/people. They are able to let go of their positions, giving up one want and choosing another. They can take the role of an Objective Observer, retaining a calm, inner state of mind. They can fight tooth and nail and yet lose with good grace when necessary. Though this may be something you aspire to it is certainly not the place to start. Start with the idea that it's a game. And in the game there are a few rules and some skills that you can learn. However like all games it's more about tactics and playing to your strengths. Before we get into that let's say a word about "good" negotiating. Any advice that starts with "It's a good idea..." is likely to be of little help in the heat of a negotiation unless it happens by chance to fit in with your personal rules and patterns.

Here's an example. "It's a good idea to pitch your opening price a little above what you are willing to settle for". Sounds good? Not if you're negotiating style is to stick to your guns or give way too soon it's not. What would be a good idea is to start with what your negotiating style is and work from there. Notice we don't say "Define your strengths and weaknesses" or "Work out what you do well and use that". No. Just work out the patterns and rules you follow when negotiating. If you realise that you habitually either fight too hard and refuse to give way or give in too easily, then you can create some additional rules of you own that will help you immensely. For instance, you could decide to set your opening price too high and then give them anything they ask for, or you could set your price too low and then not give them anything. Because it suits your style you will be happy working this way. What's more you will be happy even if it goes wrong. In the first instance, you could get more than you thought you would; and in the second you will probably lose work from someone who doesn't value your services very highly. What if negotiating were about giving away as much as you possibly could, without feeling unhappy about it? What do you have, that you're willing to give away, that the other side wants? What pressures can you bring to bear that won't feel like pressure, but rather will feel more like good hard bargaining. As in all Impact Factory work, we think good recovery is far more important than getting it right the first time, or even getting it right at all! Using the approach outlined here you can start to develop a negotiation style that is easy to do and works well for you.

Presentation Skills

Impact Factory runs tailored Presentation Skills Programmes Open Presentation Skills Courses and personalised One-to-One Presentation Skills Coaching for anyone who would like to give more Effective Presentations

Click here for our One Day Presentation Course - Advanced Presentation Course Two Day Intermediate Presentation Course - Public Speaking Course - PowerPoint Presentation Course - One to One Presentation Training
Presentation Skills Good Presentation Skills Training

Many of us are now required to make presentations as a part of our job. Indeed for some people it will limit their career prospects if they are seen to be reluctant to make them. For the lucky few it doesn't seem to be a problem: they seem to have always been able to do it and thrive on it. For the rest of us, however, presentation skills are something we learn. Given that it can be a daunting and even frightening area of learning for most of us, it would seem sensible to use an approach that seeks to make it easy and enjoyable rather than one that makes it even more difficult. The difficult presentation skills path is the one where you learn to get it right first time, to be flawless in your delivery and to make no mistakes. This is "how to" learning. Learning what to do and what not do. The easier path is the one where you learn how presentation skills work and develop a style, which includes your idiosyncrasies and quirks (this way you don't have to learn to behave differently when you present). Let me give you an example of what I mean. Most presenters are concerned about their body language when presenting, and rightly so: what you do matters as much as what you say. So you have a choice. You can learn the rules for what you are not allowed to do and apply them. For instance, as a presenter you shouldn't cross your arms, put your hands in your pockets, touch your ear or nose (apparently this means you're lying), sway from side to side… The list is a long one and fortunately you don't need it. You can take the easy route.
The Second Law of Presentation Skills

(the first law will be along later) Repetition is Death When you understand how presenting works you discover that all these things only look wrong if they are repeated. A gesture used over and over again becomes at first irritating and then all consuming; your audience won't be able pay attention to anything else. The easy presentation skills route then, is to do all the things people will tell you are "wrong" one after the other. This has the magical effect of freeing up your body language and, very quickly, your hands will start working in concert with your words. Incidentally, the reason we feel so self-conscious when presenting is perfectly rational. You are stood in front of a group of people who are looking at you, judging you, trying to interpret and understand you. It is important that you are aware of what you are doing.

Your options, however, are not to start using different body language. No, your options are how much to use, or feature, your present body language. So, in place of all those 'don't do' rules, you can have just have the second law - no repetition.
The Third Law of Presentation Skills

Feelings are a poor indicator of how you are doing An area of presentation skills that seems rarely to be addressed is how we feel about ourselves when we are presenting. This is the area of self-image and confidence. Here, there is also a hard route and an easy one. The hard route is to do everything yourself. To be your own critic and to monitor your own performance. This means that you have to learn to be objective about yourself. For any type of performer this takes years of dedicated work. The problem is that we are always the worst person to give ourselves advice about how we are doing. For instance. You're stood in front of a group of your peers talking through an idea you've had. You lose your train of thought, somebody interrupts with a question about an aspect you haven't thought through, you struggle to regain your composure, limp through to the end and sit down mortified (worst case scenario here). Now, how do you think you've done? Chances are you will base your assessment on how you feel and the little voices in your head (you know, the ones that tell you how stupid, useless, silly etc. you are). However ask some of your colleagues how you did and they will say things like. "I'm always impressed by the way she brings new ideas to the team " or "She handled Charley well. He's always so negative about new ideas". People don't see everything that's going on inside us. They just see what they see. This means that the best information you need about how you are doing lives in other people. You remember that old saying "Perception is reality"? Well this is it in action. The point of making a presentation is to communicate ideas and concepts to other people. If they clearly get your message it makes no difference that you feel you didn't express it clearly. It would be nice if you felt good, but that can be just as deceptive! You can be having a great time banging on about something with a group of people who don't care and aren't interested. The good news in this is that you don't have to do any of the "how am I doing?" presentation skills work. They do it all for you. All you have to do is watch. If they are smiling, you must be saying amusing things. If they are not paying attention, you're obviously not being very stimulating. If they are arguing, you must be challenging them. So exactly how does presenting work and what's the point of it all?

The Fourth Law of Presentation Skills The Presentation job is to get them to want more of what you've got

Presentation works if you impact your audience in some way. They can even be impacted in a way you don't want and didn't choose and the act of presentation is still working. Not as you'd like, but it is still working. The point of a presentation is to get the audience to want what you've got. This is important to grasp. The hard way to present is to gather all the information you have, put it together in a faultless presentation and deliver it impeccably. The mistake here is to think that a presentation is a good medium for delivering information. The easy way to present is to put together the bits that will appeal to the people you are speaking to and to use them to entice your audience into wanting to know more. Once you've got there you can stop. Your job is done. They will get the information for themselves. The difference here is rather like getting someone to read a book. You don't do it by reading the book to them; you do it by reading the dust jacket blurb.
The First Law of Presentation Skills

(told you)
Presentation Audiences Sleep!

While we're on the subject of audiences, there is only one thing you really need to know about audiences, audience interaction, handling questions or anything else involving them. They sleep! That is their function. All presentation dynamics are set up to encourage this. They sit, you stand. You speak, they listen. Often the lighting and heating are soporific. It follows then, that your bottom-line function is not to present well, but to keep waking them up! Every one of us has slept through some pretty good presentations because the presenter wasn't following the first law of presenting. If they are not awake, stop what you are doing and do something different. Most people are sent to sleep by a breaking of the second law. Repetition can also be not moving (repetition of stillness); it can be even vocal tone (monotony).
The Fifth Law of Presentation Skills When you're omaking a Presentation you're in charge

Now we come to one of my personal favourites. When you are presenting you are in charge. In charge of everything. This is the way that the agreement about presenting works. When people accept the role of audience they effectively say, "Ok, over to you. What have you got?" This means you are put in a very powerful position. It may not feel that way.

The feeling we usually start out with is it's just little old me and all of them. The journey we make from there is one of 'ownership'. It is effectively a claiming of territory that most audiences will willingly give up. When you begin to work from a position of being in charge or responsible for everything, you start to realise that you are responsible for what your audience thinks and feels for the duration of the presentation. If they are excited it's your fault. If they are bored, it's your fault. If they can't keep up, it's your fault. At first glance this may seem more, rather than less difficult. But if you look again you can see that it brings with it a liberation from the straitjacket of just doing what you've already prepared (the Blue Peter approach to presenting). If you can see that they haven't understood and it's your fault, then the obvious thing to do is to depart from the script until everyone's up to speed. This can bring a gloriously refreshing approach to the preparation of a presentation, where you begin to look at a grab bag of possible routes you may take and possible things you may bring into your presentation.
The Sixth Law of Presentation Skills

There is always a message I said we'd look at easy ways of approaching presentation skills, so here's an idea that is quite complex to grasp, but once grasped, frighteningly simple in its effectiveness. Everything we do communicates. The experts who study the way communication works will tell you that in your typical face to face presentation situation, the words you say are actually a very small part of the communication. How you say them will often convey more meaning than the words themselves. For example, the phrase "It's very quiet today", takes on a different meaning if you say "It's VERY quiet today". It is possible to make the most innocent phrase vicious with hidden meaning by the way you say it. However these same experts will also tell you that it is possible that what you do and how you behave can carry more "message" than the combination of what you say and how you say it. Another example is to take a look at politicians who are delivering the 'party line' or are put on the spot about something. How do you know that they are not telling you everything? It seems that if our spirit is not in line with what we are saying, our body will give us away, no matter what's coming out of our mouths. There are two important factors at work here. The first is this: a strong message is conveyed by words, vocal force and demeanour. This means that a clearly defined message doesn't necessarily reside in the text or words you choose to say. Indeed, the most powerful messages are the unspoken ones. You can think of a strong message in sound bite terms. For instance "I want everyone to feel that I know what I'm talking about". I may never say outright "Listen, I know what I'm talking about", but if I make that the central message of my presentation, that is what most people will go away thinking.

Incidentally, if we haven't chosen a clear message we don't stop communicating, we just give a message by accident. We communicate that we're tired, or we've had a row with the wife, or anything else that happens to be hanging around. So if you haven't got a message - get one. The second factor at work here is conviction, belief, or passion. You can think of it however you like, but it is that essential ingredient that makes what you say live. If you feel strongly about something, it will affect the way you speak about it. Passion communicates.
The Seventh Law of Presentation Skills

Passion is mandatory This is easier than it sounds. If you have to present something you have no real feeling for, then you need to find something you do have some feeling for and relate it to the subject you are presenting. The fit doesn't even have to be a very good one. You can start of by speaking about last night's football game because it excites you, and then make a deliberate segue into talking about widget production. The effect of the excitement in your body lasts for quite a while and will flow over into widget production. If it suits you, you could even make bad puns and poor analogies part of your style. The reason I say passion is mandatory is simple. You can get everything else perfect, but if it doesn't have as sense of your commitment behind it, it will be dead. If it's dead, I can ignore it. The final unwritten law of presentation skills is by now somewhat self-evident. Everything we have been talking about is to do with keeping presentation alive and powerful. Keeping it in the moment so that no one can sleep through it. Keeping it so that no one quite knows what's coming next. Making it something that people can't switch off to. Making it interactive as opposed to a repetition of a rehearsed and fixed programme.
So the Unwritten Law of Presentation Skills?

It's not Television To recap here, we're looking for an understanding of the way presentation works that will make it easier and more enjoyable for us to do. These seven presentation skills laws should help.
The Seven Laws of Presentation Skills

• • • • •

Audiences sleep! Repetition is death! Feelings are a poor indicator of how you are doing! The job is to get them to want more of what you've got! When you're on, you're in charge!

• •

There is always a message! Passion is mandatory!

And remember - It's not Television!

Team Building - Building a Good Team

Team Building Programmes and Team Building Events

This is a word we hear a lot these days: 'we need some kind of team building activity'. But from our point of view, often the people saying it don't really know what they mean. It's as if we all know that teams are good. We understand the sum of the parts thing, but we don't quite know how to make a team work in the way we think we want it to. When it comes to team building, the very first question we have to ask is, what for? In other words, what are you building it to do? Sometimes it can genuinely mean building the team: new people coming together, a change of roles, new expectations, sorting out difficulties or communication issues. All good things to prompt the need for team building. But sometimes it isn't that at all. For example, we were recently asked to run a team building day for a group of people and almost as soon as we met them and started putting the programme together, we realised they were a very 'built' team already. That wasn't the issue. The issue was that their 'output' wasn't what the company expected from them and so they (the company) thought if they had a team building event the team would work better. Uh uh. That's not team building. It is, however, team development. And increasingly, we find that when people talk about team building that's what they really mean. Part of this whole process is learning about how teams work. And, get this – no matter what the books say (and there are plenty of them) - every single team is different: there is no model you can follow that will create the perfect team. You’ll read that you need ideas people, drivers, completer-finishers, etc., etc., etc. And yes, possibly you do need a variety of 'types'. But for our money, the 'types' are far less important than ensuring that your team knows why it exists and what its aims are.

So let's look first at just exactly what being a team means. You might think that the very word 'team' is clear in and of itself: a group of people working towards shared goals. We wish it were that straightforward. As it isn't, we thought we would unpick it a bit.
The common enemy

The most obvious kind of team that you'll know about is a sports team. Everyone is on the same side trying to beat the opposition. They train together, get to understand how to make the most of each other's skills, and when working well, they are able to fulfil the manager or coach's strategy. They know who their opposition is and they have very clear goals. Yes, there may be personality quirks and differences, but the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. However, it's not quite so straightforward when it comes to work teams, though, is it? Personalities, which in a sporting context might get absorbed by the team for the good of the game, often take centre stage in the workplace. The oddest thing of all, of course, is that it's not always clear who the 'opposition' is. You'd think it would be the competition - whoever your closest corporate rival is. Unfortunately, far too often, the opposition turns out to be right at home base: another team or department, the 'management' or someone sitting right beside you. Now the thing about 'opposition' is that it gives a common focus, a common 'enemy' if you will. Now that's great if it's productive. Creative ideas can pour out of a group when they have to figure out how to handle the competition. However, when the common enemy is someone or some group or some department or a 'them' and 'they' are within the same company, then the results are divisiveness, gossip, complaining. The end result of this is of course a loss of productivity and people working against, not for each other. Then it's all about 'them' and 'us', with people running around using their energies to get more of 'us' to agree just what's wrong with 'them'. We see this in company after company after company - people are spending vast amounts of time and energy having a 'go' at each other rather than using that same amount of time and energy to make things work better. This is one of the key reasons why team building is such a hot topic. People can easily recognise that something needs to be done, but they aren't quite sure what.
What can be done?

They are right. Something does need to be done because there are real payoffs and advantages to being part of a well-functioning team. To begin with, it's just pleasanter being around people who get on.

More importantly, real payoffs include:
• • • • • • • •

A feeling of identity On-going support Creative pooling of ideas Increased confidence Things tend to work better as a result of team effort You aren't alone Goals that make sense You don't have to reinvent the wheel, or if you do, so is everyone else in the team

So the first thing you have to ask yourself is this: What kind of team are you? These days we see a lot of 'virtual' teams - people who hardly ever see each other, or even work in the same office or even the same country. Then there are teams that all sit in an open plan space and chat with each other all day as things arise. There are teams where people sit in separate spaces and get together once a day/week/fortnight. There are teams that seem to do all their communicating via e-mail or conference calls. There are teams that work on projects together and others where people go off and do their own thing and come together every once in a while to report and bring everyone else up to date. At Impact Factory, for instance, our 'team' consists of a group of freelance partners and associates who come into the office as and when, some full-time permanent staff who are at 'base camp' most of the time and a bunch of associates in training and support staff who we see when they are needed. Everyone is however still a member of the Impact Factory team. What makes it a team are shared values, goals and objectives. And, of course, our old friend communication. Sometimes we fail abysmally, but a lot of the time we get it right; enough so, that people do feel part of this identity known as Impact Factory. To work effectively you need agreement on exactly what sort of team you are: what the goals are, what each member's role is, who needs to work closely with whom, what the game plan should be. Sometimes it's as simple as learning more about the people you work with, and sometimes it's a whole lot more complicated, such as working through entrenched difficulties or defining how a long-distance team communicates.

So what is your team? The better you are at identifying what kind of team you are, the better you'll be able to identify what it needs to work well. Yours doesn't have to be a classic team. This is actually where many people get confused. They have a picture of what a team is supposed to be, but then find themselves part of something that doesn't fit that picture.
Here are a couple of other things teams don't have to be:

• • • • •

They don't have to be a family People don't have to be bosom buddies People don't even have to like each enough to want to have dinner together Teams aren't group therapy Teams can, on occasion, be any or all of those things

It may still be a team; it just may not look like one. Whatever it looks like, however, it still has to be able to function well and achieve its goals. Which leads us to the second question.
What do you want your team building event to achieve?

Teams are complex machines and it's not surprising that they malfunction occasionally or need re-alignment.
• • • • • • •

Do you want people working better together? Do you want to set new team goals and agreements? Do you need to iron out communication difficulties that have crept in? Do you want a jolly - to reward the team for being terrific? Do you simply want to get everyone's creative juices going and brainstorm new ideas? Do you need to set clear parameters and boundaries so everyone knows what's expected of them? Do you want to inject some fresh enthusiasm and energy into a group that's been working too hard and may have lost sight of the goal posts?

Perhaps the goals posts have moved and you need to let everyone know that. A team event can encompass any and all of those questions. The one thing that everyone recognises is that whatever you want to call it (building or development, event or away day), 'it' needs to be done away from the office environment. The idea is to slow things right down; to get away from e-mails, phone calls, questions and demands, people dropping by, being asked to pop into unscheduled meetings. It means getting away from all the day-to-day stuff that sometimes makes it hard to see what's going on and what's needed.

Once you know what you want your event to achieve, then you can decide what it's going to look like. You can do the go-carting thing, the throwing people off Welsh mountains thing. You can have the cosy get-away in a country hotel thing. You can have it non-stop fun, be business focused or have a bit of both. The key with team building is always to ensure that your event has a positive effect on the morale, motivation, confidence and effectiveness of the team and its individual members.

Videoconferencing and Other Technologies

Impact Factory runs tailored Video Conferencing programmes and personalised One-to-One Executive Coaching for anyone who is interested in Video Conferencing Issues Modern communications technology is incredibly complex and becoming so common that we are starting to take it for granted. It is no longer just for the rich, sophisticated or geekie. We are all being required to use it. The glamour and razzmatazz that surrounds the technology, however, can easily give us the impression that it can do everything. This is just not so. Don’t get me wrong, to be able to do a videoconference halfway round the world is miraculous; to be able to access any computer on the web would have been unthinkable even a few short years ago. And mobile phones, which were quite recently a rich man’s toy, can now be seen on buses and bicycles. No, the point we miss in the glare and hype is quite simple: the technology is not able to reproduce face to face. That simple. It is limited. If we approach the use of our technology as if it will do our communicating for us we quickly get into trouble. For instance, every videoconferencing system has the camera to the side or above the screen. This means that if you look at the screen (as you will, because that’s where the image of the other person is going to be) you will look as if you are not looking directly at your co-communicator at the other end. This is a problem. So much so that boffins are working day and night to perfect a screen with a camera embedded in it to overcome this failing. When they have they will inevitably produce it as the “perfect” videoconferencing system. Again they will be wrong. Yes it will be good, but it still won’t be face to face.

With any communication using technology, the bottom line is that your communication is done by a facsimile of you at the other end. It is not you. Let’s take a step back and look at communication as a whole for a moment. Communication is the single most complex area of human endeavour. Whatever field you look in communication forms some part of the skill. Basic communication has evolved so that we can let others know of some need or want that we have. This can be seen most clearly in young babies and infants, or in the animal kingdom. As it has evolved over millions of years we can see that communication has become immensely complex. Just look at any modern language. It has thousands of words; complex rules of grammar and can be made to express an infinite number of ideas and concepts. This is before we include vocal dexterity. This is where the good speaker, or orator, is able to magnify the communicating capacity of mere language into something that can rouse people to action. Add to this the whole lexicon of body language and non-verbal communication and you can begin to see that a good communicator is one of the fundamental wonders of nature. Given the complexity of the craft, it is a testament to the human race that any of us manage to master it at all. Indeed any work that tries to help people become better communicators has to start from the view that miscommunication is the norm. If we just take the spoken word, look at the process that we go through to pass a simple idea from one person to another. First I have a thought, which I frame using my view of the world. I translate that thought into language; I then translate that language into a series of sound waves using my vocal cords. These sound waves travel through the air until they hit your eardrum, you then translate those sounds into recognisable symbols (words) which you interpret using a similar, but not identical language into an idea which you frame using your view of the world. That it happens at all is a miracle. That it often happens so poorly is hardly surprising. Now, take this complex and highly idiosyncratic phenomenon and put some distance between the two people involved. To solve this problem we invent technology.

At first it consists of smoke signals, drums, flashing mirrors, runners, Martello towers, yodelling. All effective, but pretty crude and obvious degradations to the communication process. Later we begin to improve the process and we invent Morse code, Blinking lights, telegraph, the pony express: all were attempts to increase the speed and complexity of the communication medium in order to simulate the conditions that apply when the two people are together. Recently we have come to create such wonderful, complex and clever technologies to communicate with that we have started to lose sight of the human aspects of communication. We are starting to think that phone systems, computer networks, videoconferences, digital networks and near instant data transfer, can do our communication for us. Remember that basic computer adage “Garbage in, Garbage out”? Basically what that says is that it doesn’t matter how brilliant the piece of kit is, if the person or persons using it don’t know what they’re doing, you’re stuffed. To get past this we have to start to focus on that part of the communication that translates between the person and the technology. This is the human part of the interface between man and machine. This is where the most can be achieved to help people use technologically supported communication systems better. Once we have grasped that the face to face rules no longer apply, and therefore the perception of us by the person at the other end is different, then we begin to see that to achieve the communication result we would like, we will have to change our behaviour. In face to face communication what we see and hear is almost a mirror image of what the other person sees and hears. This is not so using any form of technology to communicate. Once we understand how it is different we can adjust our communication to compensate for that difference, indeed once we get good at it we can even take advantage of the difference e.g. the telephone, everyone understands that you can get away with “Can’t talk now. Someone’s on the other line.” purely because the other person cannot tell (because of the limitations of the technology) that this is not true. So what does happen when we bring Technology into the equation? Well, first of all, technology is already in the equation. If you look at voices and ears you have a pretty complex form of biotechnology that nature has worked out to deal with close distance communication.

The key here is the distance involved All the while the people in the communication are in the same location, then communication happens in the normal face to face manner and any technology that is used is there to support the communication, not replace it. However when one or more of the people are at a different location, then the technology is the communication. An image of you is translated into signals that are transmitted to the other location and are then retranslated into an image that represents you. It is not you. It is a facsimile of you If it is sent to two different locations there will be a different facsimile of you at each location. Though this is applicable to all forms of communication technology, the easiest way to begin to understand it is to look at videoconferencing. Set up a video camera connected to a television and try to hold a conversation with someone through the camera while they are looking at the TV. Immediately you will become aware of the limitations of the setup. Instantly, you will start to think like a television director, as you want to make changes to the lighting, the focus, the zoom, the size and position of the television, the sound equipment. This basic insight into how the technology affects your communication can quickly give you an understanding and a mastery over that technology which is of enormous benefit. Another example is the telephone. Think for a moment, what is the difference in the communication using a landline or a mobile phone? If you think, ‘none, they’re both phones,’ think again. So much is communicated by the context in which a communication happens, that it is indeed possible to communicate the reverse of what you intend just by type of media you choose and the way you use it. The very medium of a mobile phone (they are not yet invisible) communicates that you are out of the office, the call is more important/urgent, your time is valuable, someone (maybe you) thinks you important enough to invest in.

This is the same difference between communications using mail, registered mail, courier or personal delivery. Every one of them affects how the message will be received. When looking at videoconferencing, several limitations are clear and important: 1. If you look at the person on the monitor, you will not appear to be looking them in the eye. To do this you must look at the camera. You can quickly develop a technique of switching your eye contact between the screen and the camera, which looks very much like good conversation at the other end. It will make you seem more “present”. 2. Unless the lighting is studio perfect it will make you look flat, shiny, shadowy or otherwise odd. Cameras cannot cope with variation in light the way a human eye can. Oddly enough, they cope best with flat, dull conditions better. 3. The zoom on the camera should be used to “frame” you in a tight “Head and Shoulders” position. This will represent you at the other end well. However, it also means that you have to be what will feel like abnormally still in order to remain in the frame. 4. Should there be two of you at one location, it is better that you sit together rather than on opposite sides of a desk. Indeed the best image is achieved if you sit side by side practically touching shoulders. Again it feels artificial but what you are concerned about is how it appears at the other end. 5. If you are together with someone else who is doing the speaking - just sitting beside them - you still have a job to do. You are “on” at the other end in a way that you are not if it is face to face. You should pay attention again not to the screen but to the camera and your partner. Looking at the screen makes you look disinterested; looking at the camera makes you look as if you are supporting what your partner is saying, looking at your partner really brings you into the action of the conversation. A tip here is to study the way the professional newscasters (especially the Americans) do it. 6. There is inevitably still some clipping and frame jumping, and time delay, particularly over longer distances and low bandwidth connections. This can easily be compensated for by cultivating slow, deliberate movements. Again this may feel awkward, but it will look good at the other end. If there is time delay you will find it helpful to use longer sentences and to repeat back questions before answering them. 7. A trick used by actors and TV presenters is what they call “Looking down the lens”. This involves you moving forward slightly (as you would if you wanted to make a point face to face) and deliberately focusing on the lens of the camera (as you would when making eye contact with a person). This has the effect of you appearing to come “out” of the TV at the other end. Use sparingly.

8. Learn how to operate your equipment. Don’t rely on others to make you look good. Get the technical person to explain how it works. It is an investment that will really pay dividends. 9. The most beneficial way to develop your videoconferencing skill is to set up a conference with a partner just to practice. Try out things and have your partner tell you how they experience you at the other end. It’s easy to get ‘lazy’ when there’s all this up-to-date technology ready to do your bidding. However, we can’t stress enough how much difference the impact you make can have if you spend a little bit of time becoming master over machine. Communications technology is wonderful stuff, but communication is a human issue, you are the one who is out there. It’s you they judge. Don’t hide behind the technology. Use it to show you at your best.

Conflict Management and Difficult People

Impact Factory runs tailored Conflict Management Programmes and Open Conflict Management Courses for anyone who wants to improve their Conflict Management Skills
Conflict Management Skills Training

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Conflict Management and Difficult People

'It's not my fault!' Most of the things that happen when communication goes wrong are usually the other guy's fault. Like driving a car: 'I'm a good driver; it's all the other idiots who don't know what they're doing.' Indeed, not only is it the other guy's fault, but if that person would only change, my life would be great. If he/she would just listen to what I'm saying, return my calls, be more patient, see things my way, understand where I'm coming from, then we would get on just fine, thank you very much.

This is kind of what happens with most of us around conflict and people we find difficult. Inside our heads, that is. Our thoughts go round and round and round as we inwardly accuse the other person of all sorts of nefarious deeds. We also make long mental tick lists of what the other person needs to change in order for there to be less conflict. Not only that, because we know just how everyone else should behave around us, when they don't (and do things we don't like), we're quite capable of thinking that they're doing it deliberately. How could they not know that what they're doing is upsetting to me? These are the kinds of thoughts that are swimming around inside our brains when we're dealing with awkward people. On the outside it's usually quite a different story. Here are a few of the options that people take around conflict and difficult people:
• • • • •

Avoid conflict as much as possible 'Evidence collect' Talk to the wrong people Be right while the other person is wrong Let them have it between the eyes.

None of these strategies help in any way to resolve conflict or deal with our difficult person effectively. They are designed to make us feel better, or at least justified in our feelings and actions, but they don't change the situation and they most certainly will make it worse. It's You Not Them If you find someone rubs you up the wrong way, someone who you find really difficult to deal with, then it is almost certainly about you and not them. Yes, the world every once in a while throws up someone who is universally recognised as difficult. But for the most part, if you have a problem with someone, look to yourself first, instead of immediately placing the blame on him or her for being difficult, and the onus on them to change to make it better for you. Get this: they are not responsible for how you feel - you are! If you make them responsible for how you feel, you give them a whole lot of power, and you can easily make yourself a victim to them. Under these circumstances, they are in control of the relationship, whether they know it or not (or even want it or not).

Yes, of course, there are people who bully - and that's horrible. You may have a client or colleague who takes every opportunity to try to humiliate you - and that's awful. But the bottom line is still that you can either choose to be a victim to their personalities and communication styles, or you can take charge of the relationships and manage them, instead of letting them manage you. When it comes to defining difficult people, it's completely subjective. One person's difficult person is another person's friend. You might be the only one in the office who doesn't get on with this 'monster'; alternatively, you might be the only one who does. I'm Fine. It's Everyone Else Here's something else even more startling to think about. You are someone's difficult person. Yes you are. We all are. Someone, somewhere finds each of us really difficult to deal with. Just as in the above example at Impact Factory, it can feel quite disturbing to recognise that someone else thinks we are a problem. Inside ourselves we think we're OK. When we look out at the world through the filter of our own eyes, it can be very hard sometimes to 'see' that the world looks very different to someone else. That in turn makes it difficult for us to 'see' that they approach communication differently as well. When we expect other people to treat the world the way we do: to be attuned to the things we are attuned to; to respond the way we do. When this doesn't happen; when someone else's communication style seems diametrically opposed to our own, then real conflict will come to pass and we may find it hard to know what to do. First let's look at you. How are you difficult? What do you do that might get up someone's nose or that they might find problematic? We're not saying they're 'right'. We just want you to give some thought to the fact that there are people out there who find you just as difficult as you find your difficult person. Given that it's you and not them; given that you are someone else's difficult person, how likely is it that you're going to get a personality transplant and become how they might wish you to behave?

Pretty unlikely. In turn, how likely is it that your difficult person is going to go out, get a personality transplant, and become how you want them to be? Equally unlikely. If things stay like this, you get to maintain the status quo, but you're still no closer to resolving conflict, are you? The Good News Yes, in all of this there really is good news. Earlier we mentioned that the more you make your difficult person responsible for how you feel, the more power they have in the relationship. If you do nothing to change the current dynamic you stay passive and let things happen to you. You have the power to change the communication. By change the communication, we mean change what you do and what you say. What you do, what you say and how you say it will all create changes in the dynamic between you and other person. You may not always get what you want, but you will certainly be in charge of what happens between the two of you. Here are some things you could try to help resolve conflict and help you get on better with your problem person.
• • • • • • • •

Figure out what's really going on Deal with things as they arise Avoid blaming Build bridges Set clear boundaries You don't have to go it alone Stop colluding Walk Away

Conclusion You are always going to have difficult people in your life. You'll find people difficult; someone else will find you difficult. However, with a bit of practise you can ensure that they don't rule your life, your thoughts, your feelings.

You might even get to the place where you initiate conflict just so that you can get to a resolution!

Creative Report Writing

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Creative Report Writing Creative Report Writing

Creative report writing? You want me to be creative? Report writing is hard enough without this extra pressure! Hey! Remember essay writing in school? There were some weirdos (like Jo Ellen) who loved writing essays, but for the majority of students, essay-writing was a homeworknightmare. For some of you, report writing may be a breeze, not daunting at all. But for a lot of people those same essay-writing feelings come flooding back: "Oh my god, I've been given a report to write. Now what am I going to do?" Homework nightmare all over again. Something we've noticed with people who hate report writing, is that they don't feel that's what they were hired to do. They were hired for their expertise, their experience, their professionalism and didn't quite take in that writing was going to be part of it all. See, even if it's just a tiny part of it all, it can feel really, really BIG, and it's those exaggerated feelings can throw people off guard. A lot of people think of report writing as an onerous task, which is why creativity hardly gets a look in. People huff and puff, tear their hair out, cry, leave it to the last minute, try to get someone else to do it for them. Suddenly they're under the cosh, suddenly they're going to get 'graded'. All those feelings of inadequacy come up: What am I supposed to do? I'm going to be judged. My neck is on the line. I hate writing reports. I didn't know this was going to be such a big part of the job, etc, etc. You might be right. That might be what's going to happen: you may very well be judged, your neck might be on the line. But it's the overwhelming feelings we're interested in, because they tend to create that blank-page horror: what do I do next?

What personality?

So this is what people tend to do: they constrain themselves, they lose their unique personality, they become dull, they have to give every piece of information they have and cover all the bases, they shut down and fail to bring their information to life. OK, maybe it isn't as dire as all that, but we do see that people tend to rely on their facts, figures and statistics to tell the story instead of them telling the story and using the facts, figures and statistics to embellish it. Now, of course, there are some organisations that only want the facts and figures. They like the denseness; it makes them fell they're getting what they paid for. But the reality is that in this day and age, report writing has to be more. Things are changing: an information-packed, fact-packed, dull report usually implies a dull person. Not fair, but there it is. See, what report writing is all about is that you've taken research and information that you've gathered, you've assessed it, you've brought your expertise to, and then you have to present it to someone else so that they have the information that you have and an understanding of it so that they can then use that information. What happens, however, if that often people feel they need to 'park' their personality and become someone else. Whereas what you need to be doing, is taking all that information and filtering it through who you are and how you naturally express yourself. Here's an experiment to show what we mean. Pick something you know something about: how much your favourite football team spent on new players this year, how much your council spends on policing, what percentage of your salary goes on mortgage payments/rent/groceries. Now sit down and write an 'essay' about it (it doesn't have to be long!). Read it to yourself. Now find a friend and just tell them about the same subject. We can pretty much guarantee the two versions won't be the same. Most people will go into 'writing' mode that's vastly different from their talking mode. When relating something to another person you will have a whole collection of skills you use unconsciously that reflects your personality, your individuality. You'll enliven your verbal 'report' with anecdotes and the feelings you have about those stories. The difference is that if you were talking about it, telling someone about it, your voice would be conversational, it would have colour and changes in tone, inflection and

volume. Your voice would do as much (if not a lot more) to convey you message than the actual words you'd be using. You'd be using your body, arms and hands, facial expressions to layer more feelings and expressiveness about your chosen subject. Because the written word is open to interpretation (read, misinterpretation) even more than the spoken word, then it is your job to get the colour, tone and inflection into your report that would otherwise be missing. This is what we mean when we say people adopt a report writing voice. They write with overtly professional, filled with jargon, complicated, lengthy sentences. They think that because they are committing themselves to paper and won’t necessarily be around to answer questions and explain something in more detail, they have to present differently than if they were giving the same information face to face. That's what we mean when we say people pack far too much in because they think they need to give the reader everything they know. They don't! - You don't! It's like putting on new shoes for an interview that you've never worn before. If any of you have ever done that, you'll know it's a bad move. No matter how great they looked and felt in the shop, walking in them gives you blisters, takes your attention away from everything else (oh my aching feet!) and makes you wish you had your lovely, old, comfortable, familiar shoes on. Well, report writing is the same thing. Trying to write in 'reportese' is uncomfortable, it takes your attention away from your main message and you wish you could just tell people what you have to say rather than having e to write it.
Reportese vs Conversation

Begin to think of report writing as a conversation. It may feel as though you are doing all the talking but let's see if we can help you create that voice. You know how when you're talking to someone or giving a really fantastic presentation, you can see people nodding in agreement or frowning in disagreement? You've hit the target when you can see a non-verbal response. You see how people are reacting. Well, when you write something you can't see whether people are nodding in agreement or nodding off to sleep. YOU HAVE TO KEEP THEM AWAKE, the same way you have to keep people awake during a presentation. You're conversing with them but you don't have their input. What you want is for them to have some kind of reaction: they love it, hate it, agree, disagree, feel comforted, feel

panicky, get angry or frustrated. Something is better than apathy, disengagement, indifference. Boy, do you know how many dull and turgid reports there are out there that create just that: indifference. See, it's even easier for people to get bored and lose their way with the written word. They can allow themselves to get distracted because you're not there to say, 'Now read this bit - this is the bit that really tells you what's going on.' That's what you have to be able to do with the written word - give people a really clear road map of what you want them to get from your report. You have to make sure they read 'this bit'. People love stories, they do. And for the most part, people love telling stories: they love setting the scene, giving things a big build up, getting to the punch line and then finishing up with a 'tie up all the lose ends' conclusion. So tell a story when you report-write.

OK, maybe we're going to state the obvious here, but unfortunately in our experience, it needs stating. You need to know why you're writing the d**n thing in the first place. See, we told you it was obvious. You absolutely must have a message you want people to get. It really isn't OK just to pile fact upon fact and hope it will make sense to the reader. Part of the purpose of stating your purpose is so you can give the reader a road map of your intentions. If you don't have a purpose, the reader will give you one you may not want. Next, have a point of view. Again, if you don't have one, your readers may well project one onto you. So ask yourself a few questions: Who is this report for? What do I want it to achieve? What do I want to 'leave' them with? What do they definitely need to know? How do I feel about all of this?

Once you've answered those questions, you can filter your information through your purpose and your point of view, and this is actually quite a good way to make the material come to life and give it some of your personality.
Lies, damn lies and statistics

Ah, we hear you say. But what about all those statistics? OK, let's take statistics. Here's a little game. Pick any statistic that you know. Doesn't matter what it is. Write it down as a 'cold' fact. Just the actual statistic. Now do a kind of 'riff' on it, embellishing it. Tell a story about it, actually give people some relatively useless information about it but that will peak their interest. Here's one that's a classic in business: In most companies 80% of their business comes from 20% of their client list. This is the 80/20 rule. This is how we could write it if we were just giving you the facts: 80% of Impact Factory's business comes from 20% of our client list. Our regular clients are A, B, C, D, etc. They give us X, Y, Z amount of work each quarter. We run marketing campaigns for both our existing client base and potential clients in order to develop the business. We've given you accurate information, but there would be nothing behind it. You wouldn't actually have the full picture. Or we could try this: 80% of our business comes from 20% of our client list. Our clients really love us because we rarely break a promise, we exceed expectations, we communicate with them regularly so they feel connected to us, and they know how much we enjoy working with them. We have a range of long-term clients including Fidelity Investments, Barnet Council, Merrill Lynch, Lewisham Council, Proximity London, all of which shows the depth and breadth of the kind of people who like our work. We like them in return and enjoy developing our relationships with them. And this is what we do to ensure a continued interest in what we do: we have unusual marketing campaigns, we give stuff away free, we really listen to the clients' needs and rectify any mistakes we might make as quickly as we are able, we send interesting email newsletters, we take them to lunch, etc.

It's simply more interesting, and if we then added in the actual figures, they would enhance the story, not be the story. Did you need all that extra information? Probably not. But what it did, was to paint a picture of Impact Factory that lets you know how we achieve what we achieve. Anyone can take a statistic and give it a dry reading; writing it creatively takes something extra. You want people to look forward to reading your stuff.
Who are you writing for?

Impact Factory stuff is written by real people for real people. We always have a cartoon on the front page of our documents. It's a signature (long live The New Yorker magazine!). Our stuff is written colloquially and is filled with stories, anecdotes, analogies and examples. This means that our work is true to us and our style. You need to be true to your style rather than producing something that anyone could have written. Here's another story from Robin: I once was sitting in the reception of a perspective client and picked up a report that was in a stack for people to read. I realised after five minutes that I hadn't understood a thing I was reading, and I consider myself very competent when it comes to interpreting statistical material. One of our clients, Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, on the other hand, has material that's clear and really easy to read. On the outside you might think actuarial information, human resources consultancy - going to be pretty dull. But their material is written for the customer, rather than for the person writing it. For us, that's the key. Really good report writing is written in language that's accessible to your readers rather than in your language. Technical reports for the lay person are nearly inscrutable. The language is dense, packed with jargon, usually with an assumption that you actually know what they're talking about. People tend to write from their knowledge rather than from the perspective of the person reading it. Do you know why there are so many books on the market for computer dimwits? Because most manuals are written for the people who created the programmes, not for the people using them! The same is often true of reports. Take care of your audience - coddle them, indulge them, look after them.

OK, let's get practical

People tell us that one of the hardest things about report writing is getting started. Blankpage syndrome. One of the problems is that a lot of people think they should be able to just sit down and write something from beginning to end, their thoughts all ordered, the facts and figures tripping off their fingers easily. Ha! Well, some can. Most can't. You may have tried some of these methods, but it's worth having a go at all of them till you find which one/s help you get more creative.
Brain dump

Forget order. Just throw everything that's related to your report onto a flip chart or a large piece of paper. OK, OK, a small piece of paper will do. Don't edit, don't try to have the stuff make any sense. Random words will do, phrases, even whole sentences. Let it be chaotic. Step back. Study it for a while. Then with felt tip pens or coloured pens/pencils, start circling related topic or issues. You can have a great time with arrows, squiggly lines. Draw (oh no, I can't draw). No one is ever going to see this stuff. So draw. Stick figures, weird-looking charts and graphs, illustrations. It doesn't matter. The idea is to start freeing up your creativity, so draw. Then you can put everything related to each issue or topic together on a separate page. And then you can start writing.
Mind Mapping

This is a hugely popular way of ordering information and letting your brain run free at the same time. If you haven't tried it before. It's really well worth having a go, because it can do wonders for your creativity. Here's how it works. Write the topic of your report in the middle of a blank page and draw a circle around it. Then draw lots of lines off the circle and write along the line anything that pops into your head about that topic. Or you can draw a picture. Then draw lots of little branches off each of those lines and write (or draw) whatever pops into your mind about each of those subtopics. This can go on for a long time, with branches, and sub-branches and more sub-branches.

Don't edit or judge what you're writing/drawing on each line, if at all possible. You may find yourself repeating yourself under different sub-headings. That's OK. The idea is to let your ideas free-flow. At some point you can stand back and see if you can find any pattern at all in the little off-shoots. Look at the repetitions if there are any. After that it really doesn't matter what format you then use: you can sit down and write up each sub-branch into sentences. You can re-order the information. The important thing is that you've accessed your mind in a new way. Let's ask google for a few examples Hi google - Find me some examples of mind maps
Classic outline format

Yes, we see nothing wrong with this method either. Anything that works, we say. So, in case you didn't get this at school, the outline method is: Report Title A. Introduction 1. First piece of information 2. Second piece of information 3. Third piece of information and so on. B. First issue to be addressed 1. First piece of information 2. etc C. Second issue to be addressed 1. First piece of information a. Sub piece of information b. Next sub piece of information You get the picture! Some people really like to work in this format. We, personally, think it might be a little stifling and creativity limiting, but we don't want to stop people using it if they find it helps them. We tend to think that's what you could do after you've tried one of the other more fluid techniques.

In other words, once you've been a bit anarchic, you can take all your information and order it in outline form.
Technical aids

One way to overcome the blank-page syndrome is not to write at all (at least at first). Use a Dictaphone to just talk. Much like having a conversation with a friend, use the tape recorder to babble. It most certainly doesn't need to make sense. Once you replay it and type it up you can have a go at making it make sense. You don't even need to have blank-page concerns. Indeed, most of this document was 'written' on a Dictaphone. This is a way to let the subject stew away in your brain for a while. If you keep your Dictaphone with you at all times, or if you're not near a computer, you can at least make a record of your thoughts. Without it, the stew might just bubble away. Keep the recorder next to your bed as you might wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. Great way to get it 'off your chest' if you don't want to turn on a light to write it down. You might sound like a drunken sailor the next day, but the idea will have been saved. The next important technical aid is a notebook. Yes, the simple notebook, also kept with you at all times, to jot things down, make notes, keep tabs on those fabulous ideas that pop up.
30 Second Influencer

A few years ago, we created something called the 30 Second Presentation or 30 Second Influencer. We did this to give our participants a simple model they could use to get information 'over' to others in a punchy, enlivening style: Here it is: Get people's attention Make it relevant to them Give them your central message Use an example they can relate to Tell them what you think they should do next/ what the next step should be The idea is that you write about 60-70 words in total, and if you read it out loud it should take just about 30 seconds. It forces you to get really, really clear using the minimal amount of words. Here's an example: Jo Ellen: I happen to be passionate about recycling and I could go on and on boring you with statistics, who's doing what where, how everyone should make sure they recycle everything they could. If I go on for too long, I lose my audience. If I give too little, you won't care.

By starting a report on recycling, using the 30 second influencer, I can lead people into my story before they know it. Here's how it could work: Rubbish! Like me, I bet you use tons of it every week. We could all benefit from recycling more of our rubbish. For instance, in Bury St Edmunds where I live, we have one of the best recycling records in England. Next time you unwrap a package, fold up your newspaper, finish a bottle, think before you toss it into landfill and bin it where it will do some good. Hopefully, I will have got your attention, whether you agree with me or not. By opening a report on recycling with my 30-second presentation, I've given you a précis of my entire report in 5 sentences. Then, it would be my job to enliven those 5 sentences even more with the rest of the report. I might even break down the issues in more detail, and start every section with the 30 second influencer. What its purpose is, is to get you to distill down everything you want to say in a concise, yet vibrant way.
The red editing pencil

Most people write waaay too much, as we mentioned earlier. They feel they have to stuff their reports with every piece of information they have. You don't. So you need to get ruthless, heartless and pragmatic and start slashing your report. It isn't as hard as it looks and the advice on the next page might help you see what needs to go.
Looking good

Looks help. It's not just about the information, it's about the way you present that information. Long paragraphs don't work. Give the eye a break! Most people, when they look at a page with very little white space, will already assume it's going to be boring. Short punchy paragraphs are better than long technical one. Lay things out; be careful of 'orphans' and 'widows', those single words on a line, or a heading that's on the bottom of a page with the information on the next page. If appropriate, use pictures, graphs, and charts to illustrate a point, and then talk people through them. This is a great opportunity to use stories because the facts/statistics will be there in graph/chart form. People can 'see' what you're saying, so you can use your text to bring the facts to life.

And finally

What a relief. You've finished. Wait! Before you press the print or send button, one last thing to do. Read it out loud. More than once. Then, if you have courage, read it to a friend or colleague. It should flow easily; you should be able to spot mistakes the eye couldn't see, but your ear can hear. We'd be surprised if after reading it out loud you didn't want to change a few things, even if they're minor. Reading it out loud allows you to put some expression into it - if you find that your words aren't mirroring that expressiveness, get that red pencil out and start editing like mad!
And finally finally

The most important thing to remember is that there is information sitting in your brain that you need to present in such a way so that other people want it to sit in theirs. When someone finishes reading what you have written they need to have the information you want them to have and the understanding for it to make sense; they know what it is that has to happen next; It doesn't matter what the report is about, who it's for, what it's going to be used for, if you can keep to that one objective - the transfer of useful information from you to others - then your reports should get easier and a whole lot more creative. You know that piece of advice that people give to presenters? Tell your audience what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you've just told them. Report writing is like that too. You set out your stall, putting it in digestible chunks, perhaps using the 30 Second Influencer. The bulk of your report is what you want/need the readers to know, and then you pack up your stall, summarising the key points. And like any good verbal presentation, make sure your last couple of paragraphs are the ones they're going to remember. There isn't a right way to right a report, but there are lots of things available to help you make it more accessible, more entertaining and more likely that people will read it right to the very end. The end.

Cross Cultural Issues

Find the next available Communication Skills Open Course
Cross Cultural Issues Cross-Cultural Differences Problems and Solutions

The good news Multinational companies have the great advantage of working in and with different cultures to make their products and services accessible to a far wider community. The impetus for reaching beyond their own borders makes commercial sense. The less good news When multinationals develop into or with other countries there may be an assumption that because everyone within the company is working for the same goals and to the same values, they will automatically communicate, think and view the world in the same way. When multiple cultures begin working together, problems or difficulties arise that many people within these companies are not skilled or adept enough to deal with effectively. This can simply be because they've never had to deal with the issue before. Language is often the least difficult barrier to breach. When we know there may be language differences, we have a greater awareness of the potential for problems. However, much more often it's a completely different way of seeing things and an inability, or unwillingness, to see what the other person is seeing that causes the difficulties. Misunderstanding is the norm At Impact Factory we say that 'misunderstanding is the norm'. We assume that because the other person knows our language (or we know theirs) that we speak the same language. Often we don't. Even when our 'Mother' tongue is the same, we don't speak it the same way. When we work with other cultures, it's easy to be influenced by common stereotypes, misconceptions and prejudices about our new colleagues. Without realising it, we carry those misconceptions and stereotypes into meetings, conferences, trainings or even social gatherings that can make communication difficult and hard work.

In our own culture (where we feel at 'home'), we are all individuals with a host of differences; yet there are so many similarities that the differences can seem negligible. There appears to be more in common than may actually be so, but somehow we absorb and adjust to the differences. When we are abroad, or even in our own home territory working with others from abroad, the differences are far more apparent and it becomes much harder to see the similarities. 'Home' is that place where we feel most comfortable. The landscape looks familiar and we know the signposts that tell us where we are. When we are away from 'home' we may try to recreate that landscape: we surround ourselves with people who are like us; we join clubs where we're all similar; we may even try to get the 'aliens' to be more like us so that we feel more comfortable. Not only that, if we start having difficulties with someone, it seems easier to focus on the differences and to start gathering 'evidence' to support our case about how difficult they are, than to look for the common ground which might lead to a resolution. We might even create a hurdle out of a hillock! Changing you to change others Life would certainly be a lot simpler if other people would just shape up and see things our way! As ridiculous as that statement looks when written out, that is often what we think when things aren't going well, particularly when communication starts breaking down. We wait for the other person to change so we’ll be all right ('If only he'd listen to me I'd be fine.' 'If only she'd be clearer I could get my work done more efficiently.'). All of us at some time or another have thought something similar. The reality is: the only person you can change is you. When you are the 'interloper' you can't afford to wait for the other person to change and see things your way. If you are in trouble and it feels as though people won't meet you halfway, unless you change and do something different, communication will continue to disintegrate. Even if you aren't the interloper but are working at 'home' with someone from another culture, waiting for the other person to change could mean a long wait. The really good news The really good news is that something can be done about these difficulties that doesn't require you to change everything about you. It is far easier to make small adjustments, tweaks and fine-tunings in order to become a more effective and aware communicator when working cross-culturally.

On an Impact Factory Cross-Cultural programme delegates: Examine how to look after themselves whilst changing the outcome of difficult or complex communications. Practise how to be in charge of the way communication happens. Look at some of the things that separate cultures and create unnecessary misunderstanding. Discover how they can adapt their behaviour without being in conflict with who they are. A Cross-Cultural Programme looks at: Diversity of Difference Terms of Reference and Language Assumptions Projection and Perception Images (media, historical) Beliefs and Traditions Avoiding Avoidance Finding Common Ground Spheres of Influence Blame vs. What CAN I do Conflict Resolution and Negotiation (Creating Win/Win solutions) Dealing with Misunderstandings Getting what you want Delegate's specific situations and difficulties Companies that have asked us to include material on cross-cultural issues have been concerned that the vital work of their companies can get compromised (or at least, slowed down) if problems (or potential problems) are not brought into the open and addressed. For instance, Nokia Communications knows that there are communication issues between Finland and Britain, because in general Finns and Brits communicate differently (sometimes very differently). People from each culture think they are making adjustments and accommodations to suit the other, but those changes are not necessarily the ones that are needed: they are often the ones that people assume are needed! Impact Factory would be pleased to provide a complete proposal with a more detailed outline of the course content. Naturally, a full day's training will provide a comprehensive look at the issues involved. However, Impact Factory is able to offer a Cross-Cultural Programme in a four-hour module to individuals who already communicate at a relatively high level.

Project Management Skills and Training

Find the next available Project Management Open Course
Project Management What's your project?

A fund-raiser to fix the church roof? A five-year programme to completely re-organise the way services are delivered in your Borough? A special event to celebrate the launch of a new product? A marketing campaign to increase sales? Installing a new kitchen? Running an IT project with contributors in six different countries? With, perhaps, six different employers? Planning your summer hols? The list is endless: we are all of us surrounded by projects, and they all have some things in common. They have a beginning, middle and end (and here you thought we were just a bunch of pretty faces!). Yes, we know it's common sense, but it is amazing that this is one thing that can get missed right from the get-go: all projects have a beginning point and an end point and they set the parameters for what's possible to accomplish and when. More on this anon. Some projects are more complex than others. Some projects rely heavily on the input of a vast range of people, while some only rely on one person to get them done. Summer hols planned by Committee can be a disaster! For the sake of this document, we will concentrate on work-related projects, but do know that anything we suggest in this context can (and 'should') be used in just about any project you've got on the boil (or about to be boiled).
Getting started

Having an idea of what you want to achieve is a good place to start. Most of us recognise that a project should have a good business outcome but what about the people involved? Including you!

Most people involved in a project will get something personal out of it – even if only a headache. Putting your focus on that personal outcome, deciding what it is and why you want it gives you a better chance of getting it and of finding the motivation to keep going when things aren't going to plan. You might want to start by asking yourself: What do I want from this? Is it possible? When and where do I want it and with whom? What might I have to give up or lose to get it? And is that OK? Who or what do I need to have to make it possible? What you want might be fantastic and it's great to shoot for the stars but a reality check is good for your sanity. So, work out the workable options for your great outcomes. Knowing where to stop is often a problem, whether it's a project pushing back the boundaries of science or decorating the spare room – so how will you know when your project has reached its intended end? What will it be like? The clearer you are at this point the easier it will be to recognise when you get there – a bit like planning a journey, you usually want an idea of the destination before you set out.
What do you need?

OK so now you know where you are going and how you'll know when you've got there so all you need now is to kit up for the journey. Take a look at what you need for your ideal outcome – people, kit, space, money, time, etc. Add to that list the inner resources that you or others will need - commitment, enthusiasm, motivation. The best-planned projects can fail because the hearts and minds of the people involved have not been won over. On the other hand there are lots of projects that would never have got off the ground but for one or two champions who didn't understand the concept of failure. Their self-belief, enthusiasm or sheer bloodymindedness carried them through. What inner resources would give your project a momentum all of its own? Oh for a project where all the people, time and commitment we need are all available! Life is rarely that simple. Take a look at what you realistically have got or can beg, borrow or steal (figuratively speaking of course!) to make your project a success. Who will you have to negotiate with to get the best resources? What can you trade? Who do you know and who can you influence? Bribe? Blackmail? Most of us have a friend with a cousin whose partner's uncle works for a guy with just the thing that you need for your project. So where there is a gap between what you need and what you've got, you might want to take a look at who you know and who they know. Take a look at the person that has what

you want and work back from there. Who is in their inner circle? And how can you get at them from your circle of influence? It might take a few connections along the way but worth the effort if it gets you what you want. At the end of the day you will have a set of resources that are available to you in your project. It may be that the budget is less than planned or the ideal member of staff isn't available. How does that affect your planned outcome?

Planning is a joy to some and a nightmare to others. If planning is second only to having teeth extracted without anaesthetic on your list of pet hates then try to enlist someone who loves it. They'll have it mapped out for you in full Technicolour with delivery dates, critical paths (see below), resource allocations and budget projections before you can say 'Millennium Dome'. Otherwise knuckle down and look at what you want to achieve, draw up a list of actions and get going with who will do what by when, how long it will take and how much it will cost. There are some things that can happen pretty much any time during a project as long as they happen. Others are vital. When we were having our loft converted the painter couldn't start until the plastering was done, the plasterer couldn't start work until the electrician had finished wiring up, but he needed the plumber to have finished plumbing in the shower before he could connect it up. The plumber was waiting for a very small but vital part that was missing from the shower. The part was on a six-week order so work ground to a halt till the very small part arrived in the post! Some things on the critical path will only become obvious when they arise but most can be built into the plan. The crucial thing is to let people know what the critical bits are so, if they are responsible for them, they know what the effect will be if they are late. Others need to know which bits they have to wait for before they can start work. A little bit of forethought and clear communication can avoid heated discussions, frustration and late delivery. Once you have your plan of what needs to be done and your critical path you can schedule all the tasks to take you through to your delivery date. Till you get stuck and can't think what needs to happen next….. A really effective way of planning that can help – especially when stuck – is to work backwards from your ideal goal. For example, if I have to deliver a new software package by the end of December, I will need to have the client acceptance tests by the end of November to allow time for final adjustments. So internal testing will have to start by beginning of November. That means

development will have to be complete by end of October. If I have a 1 September start date I have eight weeks for the development. If the end date can't move I might have to limit what I can deliver to what is feasible in that eight weeks, rather than the all singing, all dancing, whizz bang development I had originally planned.

A project that comes in on-time and on-budget is as rare as a perfect summer. Now, of course in this year of 2006 as I'm writing this, we do seem to be having a perfect summer - blazing hot Mediterranean days, barbecues, lazy days. Does seem perfect. Oh! I spoke too soon. No rain. See, we told you perfect summers are rare. We all set out with optimism and a real belief that it will happen and we make our plans accordingly. We are then surprised and disappointed when it doesn't work out that way. Budgets overrun and we wonder how it happened, much as we wonder where the rain is when we've just planted up a new flowerbed. Budgets should always have some leeway in them for the things you have forgotten, the disasters that emerge or the miscommunication that always happens along the way. Letting the people responsible for various tasks know what the budget is that they are working to is always a good idea and the sooner the better. Preferably before they order the individually hand-crafted, bejewelled, designer fountain pens as a giveaway on your exhibition stand at Manufacturing Today.
The team

Take a look at everyone in your project team and think about the role you want them to play. Too many... ... cooks spoils the broth. ... chiefs and not enough Indians. ... projects fail because no-one knows what their roles are. Take your pick. So be clear who is responsible for what, who the decision makers will be, who is going to manage, who is going to do what, who just needs to know what is going on and who needs to agree to something. Then tell them. Sounds obvious but sometimes we don't do it because we don't want to offend someone who is expecting a bigger role or because we think everyone knows what is expected of them. At Impact Factory we think you can't clarify enough. Let everyone know where they stand and what's expected of them. You may decide to adopt a laissez-faire management style, just assigning tasks and letting people get on with it. Great if that is your style. It is good for the confidence and

self esteem of the members of the project team to have a measure of independence and trust shown. But if there is a part of you that worries when you don't hear anything, or if you think that some members of the team might not have the confidence to speak out when things start to go pear shaped, for your own sanity you might want to consider a balance between how much you trust people to get on with things and how much reassurance you need that they will do it. The balance is to make clear what you need to feel OK about letting go of the day-to-day detail. It takes a sizable measure of will power and a good dose of allowing mistakes to happen, or sometimes just accepting that things won't necessarily be done the way you would do them or as well as you would do them (face it, who could do it as well as you?). It can be very easy to rely on people to tell you when they need help - they won't most of the time, until they're glubbing down for the third time and all you see are the bubbles on the surface of the water. Putting in place some kind of support mechanisms such as regular scheduled check-ins and reviews, both individually and as a team can keep things in balance. Sometimes things need to be more formal, in larger projects with a buddy system and other things that can be built-in so that people feel well looked after.
The creative stuff

Ever set out on a project that you know will be great if only you knew where to start? Or maybe one where you need some ideas to get past a rather vague bit in the plan? So thinking caps on and see what you can come up with. Great! But sometimes all anyone comes up with is the same old, same old. We have a few ideas for getting those creative juices flowing. It's like a train setting off on a journey and just going down the same railway lines each time. If you want it to go by a different route try giving it a different starting point. So to cut some new paths in the brain we start with something different. There are lots of different techniques for brainstorming – we give you a couple of ideas here but feel free to come up with your own! The jelly method With this one you start with a word that has nothing to do with your project or the problem you are brainstorming. Like 'jelly'. Then you list all the properties of jelly- it's wobbly, sweet, different colours, fruity, children like it, good for parties, etc. Then you look at making connections between those properties and the subject, sometimes with a couple of other steps in between - stepping stones. So if you are looking at a project to redesign your office space you might go from wobbly to flexible to hot-desking. Or to a new concept in supportive seating. It doesn't matter if you can't see the 'logical' connection; the important thing is to generate lots of ideas that

you can sift later. The ridiculous With this one you start with a ridiculous condition. So, for the office redesign project you might start with something like: The staff are all lobsters OK so we get things like: Water tanks, special food piped in daily, temperature control, specially modified equipment, translation services… Again the more ridiculous the ideas the better because it might trigger a humdinger of an idea for something real along the way. Inversion Turn the world upside down. How could you make your project fail miserably? What would it take for the worst-case scenario to become a reality? And then before you curl up in the kitchen in a foetal lump, turn it all over and see what you have to do to protect your project and make it a success. What could go right? If all went swimmingly well (indulge me) what might happen? Take a look at the ideal outcome for your project and the ideal happenings along the way. Just thinking about the things that could go right might give you some ideas about how to make them happen. Probability x impact = priority for plan B Similarly putting some effort into thinking about what could go wrong allows you to put a plan B (C or D) in place. This is a really good idea when the probability of something going wrong is pretty high. Like the most crucial delivery being late - it's always the crucial deliveries that are late so plan for it.
Getting people on board

So you have your gantt charts, work package descriptions, critical paths and resource allocation sheets but what about the hearts and minds of the project team? Tapping into what makes people tick is a sure fire way to motivate them. Bribery is underrated as a management tool. You just need to figure out which bribe works best for each person! In our experience the list of things people say motivates them is delightfully varied. It includes things like praise or acknowledgement, challenge, responsibility, promotion, satisfaction of seeing a job through, achievement and learning something

new. OK so money is usually in there too but it is just one of many things and often not top of the list. One thing is sure - if you can't find anything to motivate someone to get on with some part of your project then things will be a bit harder than if you can. So for the important bits on your critical path it could be worth putting some effort into working out why they should care. Especially true when you have no direct control over the people or resources concerned. You might need a bit of kit that Fred in supplies keeps under lock and key or a few weeks of Jane's time from IT and she is overloaded with other work. So how do you get what you want? Well, who has the say so? Having worked out who the person is that you need to be nice to you have to see things from their point of view. Fred may be precious about the bit of kit because it is costly to replace or because other people haven't brought it back when they borrowed it. Acknowledging how Fred sees the world is a good starting point for the discussion. Is there anything you can offer to the person you are trying to influence that might help? An assurance, extra resource, a favour returned? Think outrageously – bribery, corruption, illegal acts and then see if something real springs to mind – we definitely don't recommend the illegal!
The C Word

All the way through the project the key to success is often communication - keeping people informed about deadlines, expectations, progress, changes etc. It may seem like a big job but the job will be bigger if you don't. Cleaning up after a miscommunication, or a missed communication, often takes much longer than telling people stuff from the start. It's a really good idea to have a communications plan in place right from the off and review it just as you do your project plan; 'What's worked, what hasn't, what else do we need to do?' Getting heard upwards, downwards, sideways Occasionally you want to get a message through to someone higher up the chain. If you have ever felt like a voice crying in the wilderness at this point then take some comfort from the fact that you are not alone - that's the problem really. There are so many others trying to get the attention of that person you might as well be crying in the wilderness. In fact that's not a bad idea because at least it would be something different and that's what you need to get noticed above the general hubbub of lost souls needing the bosses attention. So take responsibility for being heard, make your message clear and concise then SHOUT. Not literally (unless you think it might help) but get your message across in a

way that gets the attention of your target audience. If you're communicating downwards or sideways its not that different. Being concise helps, as does being absolutely clear about what you want the person to do. Put some attention on how you want the message to be received for a really impactful delivery

Your project is underway, you have communicated well and often, things are taking their proper course so you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong! It's a bit like spinning plates, you have to be constantly looking for the one that's about to drop off, slow down or spontaneously combust (it happens!). Monitoring the progress of your project, keeping a wary eye on the areas where problems are likely to arise and anticipating difficulties ahead of time can save time and grief later. Even if everything is going to plan it is important to let people know. We have seen many projects lose momentum because the project manager has sat back when everything is going to plan. Keep your project in the front of everyone's mind with regular progress reports.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

(….and contractors who don't deliver on time, reports that don't get written, deadlines that don't get met, people who don't show up, promises that aren't kept. Etc., Etc., Etc.) When it doesn't go according to plan or someone/something throws a spanner in the works... PANIC!!!! Alternatively, take a deep breath, notice that this happens to other people too and decide how you want to handle whatever disaster has occurred. At this point you may have to put plan B into operation but if this is an unforeseen disaster then you may want to stand back from it and take a new look. And by that we don't mean looking for someone to blame for the sorry mess. As the Titanic sank I suspect there were one or two people worrying about whose fault it was and why it happened. Most people were probably looking for a lifeboat. The captain's job was to look at the situation as a whole and decide how best to proceed given all the variables – what are the priorities, best use of current (!) resources, how much contingency help could be at hand but how to get them on board (!!) in time, who needs to know and what do they need to know, etc. Your project is no different.

Taking Care of Your People

Do you like to be thanked for putting in an effort on something? How often does it happen? If what we hear is anything to go by, then not nearly enough as we would like. When we look at what motivates people acknowledgement is almost always on the list and often near the top. So taking the time to acknowledge a job well done is worth a few moments of your time. Even if things haven't gone so well it's worth making the effort to give feedback. At Impact Factory we like to think about feeding something in someone. So what is it you would like to feed in your project team or in one individual? A sense of…. achievement, urgency, pride, responsibility, etc. Choose the impact you want and then deliver your message holding that as the intended effect and see what happens. Take a look at the other stuff that motivates your team. Is there anything you can do part way through your project to make sure they stay motivated through to a successful conclusion? This is especially important if you have had a disaster or two along the way. What has gone right? What successes can you celebrate so far? Who has gone the extra mile? One of the things that keeps people motivated and pulling together is the sense of having some say in what is going on so try getting input from the team on how they think things have gone and what the future direction should be. So why not let them have it?
The End is in Sight - Now What?

Imagine the church roof is fixed, the new product is launched or the kitchen is fully installed and operational. What do you do now? Most end-of-project reviews will take a look at lessons learnt and they usually focus on what went wrong and how to do better next time. A good thing to do. We feel that knowing what went right and how you did it is maybe even more productive – it means you have more chance of doing it again! Take a look at all the things you have achieved, how you (the team did it) and then celebrate your success: a slap up meal together, a bottle or two of bubbly, a bonus, a box of sinful chocolates, an extra day's leave. Doesn't matter what - just make sure you celebrate! For your next project you just might find that people come with a level of motivation already because they know that you will end on a high. Talking of your next project – the church organ or the bathroom or the new widget the research department wants to launch, off you go again with a bundle of experience under your belt. So what will you do this time? How can your next project contribute to your personal goals and build on your success so far?

Before you get carried away with the excitement of breaking new ground, you might want to consider giving your brain a break. Too often people just plunge themselves into projects or juggle more than one and feel they have to keep at it and at it until it's done. They come in early, work late and as we know can get less productive the more they work on it. So give yourself a break. Take an hour to walk in the park, or a day to do mindless paperwork or filing, play computer games, phone a friend, do Sudoku, go for a swim pretty much anything that allows the right brain to have some breathing space and gives the left brain a rest for a while. Even a short break can recharge the batteries and have you back rearing to go on your next ambitious undertaking.

Business Presentation Skills Training Tips

Impact Factory runs tailored Presentation Skills Programmes Public Presentation Skills Courses and personalised One-to-One Presentation Skills Coaching for anyone who would like to give more Effective Presentations Click here for our One Day Presentation Course - Advanced Presentation Course Two Day Intermediate Presentation Course - Public Speaking Course - PowerPoint Presentation Course - One to One Presentation Training
Presentation Skills Training and Coaching Tips Find the next available Public Presentation Skills Course Presentation Skills Training and Coaching Tips

Good presentation skills are within everyone's reach. For many people, if not most, presenting can be a daunting and unpleasant experience. It needn't be so, and here we'll give you some simple tips to help you hone more effective presentation skills. Presentations are an effective way to communicate to large numbers of people at the same time. However, it is not just about communicating information, but more importantly, to have advanced presentation skills you should be able to create interest and excitement in your subject and trust and enthusiasm in you.

Let's have a look at some presentation skills essentials preparation developing presentation style dealing with presentation nerves working your audience structuring effective presentations developing as a presenter


Practise your presentation skills Practise on a colleague or friend. Think about who your audience is and what you want them to get out of an effective presentation. Think about content and style. If you video yourself get someone else to evaluate your performance and highlight your best skills; you will find it very difficult to be objective about those skills yourself. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Reconnoitre Go into the presentation room before the event; practise any moves you may have to make, e.g. getting up from your chair to the podium. Errors in the first 20 seconds can be very disorientating. Avoid 'Blue peter syndrome' Try not to over prepare. Trust those skills you know you have. Don't rehearse the whole thing right through too often. Your time is better spent going over your opening beginning and your finish. Pick a few choice bits to learn by heart. Technical support Test the equipment before the presentation; get familiar with it before you start. PowerPoint and OHPs often seem as though they're out to get you, so make sure you have enough technical skills or backup so that you look like you're in charge. Visual aids The skill with visual aids is to use them to give a big picture quickly. Graphics, pictures, cartoons bar charts etc; you can then use words to elaborate. Slides with words on are of limited value. If you seem to have a lot you may find you are showing your audience your speaker notes!

Presentation style

Be yourself Your most useful presentation skills are the skills you already have. Use any personal gestures or vocal inflections to your advantage. It's very hard to change the way you express yourself. More effective presentations are ones where you actual put the energy into the presentation (this is a message you will hear again). Similarly, do not try to be anyone else or copy another presenter's style. Wave Be more expressive rather than less. These days 'good communicators' are more and more frequently seen on TV and held up as models. When you are giving a presentation is not TV. This is you communicating live. Gestures help understanding and convey your enthusiasm for the topic.

Dealing with presentation nervousness

Be nervous A certain amount of nervousness is vital for a good presentation. You need the extra energy to communicate: What you feel when you stand up in front of people is the urge to either run away or fight. If you endeavour to stifle those feelings you will be inhibited, restricted, artificial and wooden. The added adrenaline will keep your faculties sharp and your presentation skills ready to engage with your audience. Breathe Extra adrenaline, however, can result in shallow upper chest breathing and tension. Taking a slow, deep breath, breathing fully out and then in again, will relax you. Strangely having something to pick up and put down tends to release your breathing. Get something else to do It may seem an odd idea, but our bodies seem to feel better when they have some sort of displacement activity to occupy them. It's the reason people hold pens and fiddle with things. A limited amount of this sort of activity will not be too obtrusive and can make you feel a lot more secure. Hold on to something When you start your presentation you are at your most insecure. Avoid all the well-meant advice about what you are and are not allowed to do. Until you feel settled do anything

you can find to make yourself feel secure. This includes holding on to a lectern. Even just standing next to something solid will make you feel less wobbly. Go slow The breathing tip above will help you to slow down your presentation. Go more slowly than you think necessary to avoid gabbling. Your audience need the time to assimilate and interpret what you are saying. It's a fact that when adrenaline is flowing your sense of time is distorted and what seems OK to you may look like fast forward to your audience.

Working your audience

Presentation as Conversation Make your presentation a conversation with your audience. They may not actually say anything, but make them feel consulted, questioned, challenged, argued with; then they will stay awake and attentive. One of your best presentation skills is the ability to stimulate your audience into wanting to get more of the information you have, not just to present that information at them. Interact Engage with your present audience, not the one you have prepared for. Look for reactions to your ideas and respond to their signals. If the light bulbs are not going on find another way to say it. Monitor their reactions; it's the only way you'll know how you're doing and what you should do next. If you don't interact you might as well send a video recording of your presentation. It's why you came. Show conviction Give an expressive presentation and an enthusiastic presentation and your audience will respond, which is what you want. At the very bottom line disagreement is preferable to being ignored. Use your excitement, pace yourself to give an exciting presentation, use something you know you feel strongly about to build up to an important point or as a springboard to another idea. Get some perspective The odds are that someone in the audience will not like your presentation, or may disagree with you. There will probably be someone else out there for whom you can do no wrong. As a rule of thumb, the majority of most audiences want to like you and what you have to say - they want you to be good. They didn't come hoping to be bored or irritated by your presentation.

Structuring effective presentations

Use metaphors Metaphors and analogies are vital presentation skills to develop. 'It's like climbing a greasy pole', for example, conveys far more than just literal meaning. It conveys image and feeling and enables others to empathise through similar experiences of their own. And remember the light bulbs - if they're not lighting up try a different metaphor. Examples Effective presentations are full of examples. Giving an example always helps your listeners to see more clearly what you mean. It's quicker and more colourful. The point Stick to the point using three or four basic ideas. For any detail that you cannot present in 20 minutes, try another medium such as handouts or brochures. Your Presentation Finale End as if your presentation has gone well. Do this even if you feel like you've presented badly. First, you're probably the worst judge of your presentation, and second, if you finish well you'll certainly fool some of the people into thinking it was all pretty good. And anyway a good finish to a presentation will get you some applause - and you deserve it!
Developing as a presenter

Trust yourself and your skills If you do not think you are up to a particular presentation either get help (do training courses and rehearsals), or get someone else to do it (there's no shame in recognising your limits). However, most people have better presentation skills that they think they do. Recognise what skills you have. If you doubt your ability to think on your feet, for example, then defer questions till after the presentation. Similarly, do not use a joke as an ice breaker if you are not good at telling them. Success is the best presentation training Don't over reach yourself. Several short presentations that you feel went well will do you far more good than one big one that makes you sick with nerves and leaves you feeling inadequate. Feedback

Encourage those around you to tell you the things you did well. Very few of us make progress by being told what was wrong with our presentation. When we're up in front of an audience we all have very fragile egos. Follow these essential tips and your presentation skills development will blossom.

Personal Effectiveness – learn to do the right things right and save time
More than ever, the pressures of work – and indeed life – can make us feel overloaded, overwhelmed and unable to achieve what we need to, when we need to. As people are being asked to do even more with even less, both to-do lists and hours worked are getting longer. But are we being any more effective? Personal effectiveness is about what you do, how you do it and when you do it. If you can get these right, you’ll find that you achieve more in less time, you feel in control and relaxed, you are trusted and reliable and ultimately you get ahead in your career. Sounds good doesn’t it? But how do you achieve it? Sadly, Speak First has not come any closer to inventing an ‘extra time creating machine’ than anyone else. However, we do have lots of tips and ideas to share on how to work smarter not harder, so that you feel like you’re gaining more hours in the day and are much more effective in your role. Our new Personal Effectiveness course (which is only two hours long, so we don’t take up too much of that precious time!) tackles three key areas: task management, relationship management and self management. If you can manage these three things effectively, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with relatively little pain. At Speak First, we know that working effectively isn’t as simple as just ‘working faster’. So many things get in the way of steaming through our task list, whether it be additional requests from colleagues, misunderstandings in communication, wasting time on peripheral activities, or a lack of self-belief. That’s why this course combines time management skills with tips on how to manage interruptions and expectations, communicate assertively and believe in (and motivate) yourself, among other things. Our aim is that you come away from this personal effectiveness course with a host of skills and also the right mindset to:
• • • •

be more focused and organised prioritise effectively gets things done rather than procrastinating communicate clearly

• • •

be assertive and confident do the right things, right feel happier at work

We’ve already run the course with great success for some large clients and we know that these two hours will be well spent for many people. That’s why we’re now offering Personal Effectiveness as an open course, so that as an individual you have the opportunity to learn what changes you can make to the way you work and feel like you have indeed got that ‘time-creating machine’ on your side! Book onto our Personal Effectiveness course on Monday 21 September now. Steve Bavister, who is delivering the course has just finished writing a book on time management which will be in the shops later this year. So by attending this course, you’ll have a sneak preview of some of his soon-to-be-published hints and tips!

Presentation Skills Course

Public Presentation Course - One Day

(Click here for Tailored Presentation Skills Training) This one day public presentation course looks at all the factors that affect how confidently you deliver any presentation, anywhere. It will help you look forward to your next presentation instead of wishing you were still under the duvet. Presentation Courses are run by Graham Bennett - Anthony Etherton - Liz McKechnie Jeremy Todd - Tom Bruno-Magdich - Trixie Rawlinson Tina Lamb - Bronia Szczygiel - Joe Britto Katherine Grice - Sara Jordan The Presentation Course offers simple, easy to practise tools to help you cope with nerves, get your message across memorably, structure your material for the best impact and present effectively to audiences of varied sizes. It is fun and effective with plenty of opportunities to practise. Click here for our Advanced Presentation Course - Two Day Intermediate Presentation Course - Public Speaking Course - Powerpoint Presentation Course - One to One Presentation Training
Presentation Course Objectives:

* What already works about you as a presenter? * Exploring how presentation works

* Developing a unique individual style * Understanding what happens in front of an audience * Practising a whole range of techniques * Hints and tips for effective presentation * Stretching your capacity to present * Presenting with style, flair and presence * Using support materials * Enlivening your presentation * Maintaining confidence and handling nerves * Coping better when feeling wrong-footed
Presentation Course Programme

Opening During the opening session we combine a look at the fundamentals of presenting, with an assessment of each person's unique presention style, experience and skill, together with what they would now like to achieve. Much like our tailored presentation training, the presentation course is structured to reflect the needs and abilities of those attending on that day
The Presentation Course Challenge

We start with a good look at the dynamic in which people have to present. This section gives an in-depth understanding of the arenas in which presenting takes place: the physical space, body language, audience interaction, etc. It is based on the mnemonic IMPACT as an easy to remember guide to the main points of presenting. "The use of the Individual's best skills to convey a clear Message, well Prepared, with good Audience interaction, presented with Conviction and supported by the right Technical backup"
First Presentation

What's my Unique Presentation Style? This takes the form of a short unprepared presentation to camera. There is then discussion about the experience of presenting, what actually happens to people physically, mentally and emotionally. The presentations will then be played back followed by feedback from the trainer and their own colleagues. Here the presentation course concentrates on the strengths and unique style of the presenter. Any real difficulties in style may be noted here by the trainer, but dealt with

later in the presentation skills course. We record much of the rest of the day's work; however, this is the only time during the day that we will review the recording.
Presentation Course Exercises

This set of presentation exercises may well vary on the day, but are used to reinforce some of the principals of effective presentation. Making a presentation in under 30 seconds Putting across a clear message Using passion to present Structuring your presentation support material
Prepared Presentations

The second part of the presentation course is work on prepared presentations. This is not intended to rehearse the presentations; rather the presentation material is used to stretch the participants and to incorporate the principles worked on earlier in the day. The emphasis is on preparing the participants to develop as presenters over the next few months as they make further presentations. The session is modified according to the level of the attendees. With new or less experienced Presenters the presentation course works to stretch their capacity and to demonstrate the active working of a presenting dynamic. They are introduced to easy skills and techniques to help raise their confidence and ease the anxiety associated with presenting. With established presenters the course works more to reinforce some basic principles and introduce more advanced presentation skills as appropriate. Care is taken to acknowledge their skills and style. Then we move on to specific areas of difficulty where they seem to get wrong footed and don't do so well. Issues that are incorporated into this session: Raising confidence Clear delivery Ability to go "off script" How to make non-linear presentations How to prompt or plant questions How to talk to differing levels of understanding or experience Communicating concepts quickly Using analogies and drawing on memorable images Structuring your presentation entrance and beginning Dealing with difficult or tricky questions Working presentations round a table The relationship between presenter, material and audience

Difficult presentation issues and people Working your presentation style Developing as a communicator rather than a presenter Creating an interactive, question friendly atmosphere
Presentation Course Concluding Remarks

To include brief mention of anything that has not arisen during the presentations and individual recommendations for further practise. Participants are given a DVD of their course work from the Presentation Course and supporting documents to help further their progress.

Life Coaching

Life Coaching

Find the next available Open Coaching and Mentoring Course
Life Coaching

The popularity of this, more than almost any other 'soft skills' training has grown in recent years. Why this rise? To start, people are looking to life coaches to help them create a better work-life balance. But it's even more than that. People who are seeking career coaching, executive and management coaching, counselling, therapy, lifestyle changes and individual personal coaching are increasingly turning to life coaches to bring together all the disparate areas of their lives. There are people seeking to be more effective; who want to be more successful; who want to increase their performance at work; who know they need or want to change. There are scores of reasons for people to pursue life coaching. The most important reason why life coaching can make a huge difference is that someone outside your life can take an unbiased completely objective view and through that, see things you either haven't noticed or that never occurred to you or that you didn't think was possible. Alongside the objectivity, a life coach should give you that extra boost of confidence that can make putting it all into practise possible. Using One So if you've decided that getting a life coach is for you, here are some things to look out for:

• • • • • • • •

You have to like and respect them They need to have a proven track record They need to have done lots of different things in their own life If they have a counselling or psychotherapy background it helps Older and wiser is a good formula They aren't miracle workers but sometimes it could feel like it You need to feel you are making progress right from the first session You shouldn't have to sign up for masses of sessions

Being One The best life coaches are people who have actually had some life! We get approached on an ongoing basis by people wanting to train as life coaches. Training as a life coach isn't as straightforward as some organisations would lead you to believe. Do these many course and ta da! you're a life coach. Ok, OK, we're being a little bit glib here, but as far as we're concerned, you have to have a whole raft of skills already before you even think of training as a life coach. You need to be doing it. Whatever 'it' is, you've got to be demonstrating that you practise what you preach. You need to have a whole strong of 'tries' under your belt. Not successes; tries. Things you've had a go at: career changes, life changes, experiments, trying new things, learning and developing all the time. It helps to have a counselling or psychotherapy background because sure as damn it, people's deeper issues will arise when looking at life changes. Trying to give someone coaching when they've come up against a life pattern isn't going to work if you don't have the skills to get them through the rocky patches. Creativity is a must. Having the ability to look at situations with new eyes and coming up with unusual and yet appropriate options is a terrific skill to possess. A toolkit of confidence boosting goodies. People often don't or won't or can't change their lives because they don't have the confidence to do so. A life coach's job is to instill and develop other people's confidence, so they feel good about trying new things. Therefore, you have to be able to deal with fears, stuckness, embarrassment, humiliation avoidance; all the things that get in the way of people moving forward. Impact Factory doesn't really run courses on life coaching. We aren't some intensive life coaching academy that gives certificates and qualifications to loads of people. As a matter of fact, we think that being a really good life coach is a very special talent and not many people do it well. What we've noticed recently, is that people are fed up with their own jobs and life, look around for something interesting to do, and settle on life coaching. Nothing wrong with that, you say, and we agree to a certain extent.

However, we think the best life coaches are those who seem to have evolved into them as a culmination of years of accumulating experience and skills and a few hard knocks along the way.

Creativity and innovation - The Splosh Factor

How to be more Creative and Innovative

Find the next Open Creativity and Innovation Workshop
Job Creativity and Innovation - The Splosh Factor

• • • •

Develop your business Review some of those things that once worked so well Help people who are finding old habits hard to break Recharge your creative and imaginative batteries

The Splosh Factor allows people to rediscover or refresh their creativity. It usually takes place in a playroom environment where participants can make as much mess as they like. They may even be given overalls to wear, partly to protect their clothing but also to create a feeling of being 'different'. We use a wide variety of materials such as finger paints, cardboard, pegs, bluetack, string, balloons, balls, sticks, etc. The Splosh Factor uses games and processes that encourage creativity, self-expression and rule-breaking to overturn the normal rules of behaviour. This creates an atmosphere of slight anarchy and a wide level of permission that is very fertile. Within this environment people are enabled to:
• • • • •

Express themselves in a fashion that is normally denied to them Bond as a group in a significant way Discuss where some of the log jams are within the company or team Come up with effective ways of sorting things out Blow off steam about things that are blocking their lives and work

This workshop format is adaptable to various settings. It can be used at a conference with multiple rooms and trainers to give everyone in the company a fun workout and chance to generate new ideas. It can be done with a smaller specific team working to a specific objective. It can be the approach to a team day for an entire small company. By over throwing the conventional way of doing things for just a day, The Splosh Factor can bypass months of frustration and disappointment.

Find the next Open Creativity and Innovation Workshop
Job Creativity and Innovation - The Splosh Factor Creativity and Innovation

"There's no such thing as creativity; you just assemble what's already there." George Balanchine Well, when your neck is on the line, a deadline is looming and it seems as though all eyes are on you to come up with the next creative strategy, even assembling what's already there can seem impossible. Or there may be times when you've done the same presentation over and over, you're writing the same words, coming up with solutions that don't have that certain spark and in general your ideas seem stale and tired. You feel uncreative and uninspired. Dull. A lot of times our creativity is hampered by the 'rules' we think we are supposed to operate by: be logical, don't be messy, be structured, get it right. The very concept of rules is pretty much antithetical to the creative process and yet we let them constrict us and limit what we allow ourselves to do. Creativity comes from laying aside the rules - even for just a little while - so that we are able to reach beyond logic and structure and tap into our imaginations more easily. This is the place where we store our sense of the ridiculous, our sense of being able to do the impossible and ultimately, our ability to see things differently and find new and usable solutions. Then we can assemble what's already there. So let's begin at the beginning (not always the best place to start when trying to be creative, but we do need a little bit of logic here!). If you're working with a group of people and want to open up the whole idea of creativity with them, here are some suggestion. An interesting kick-off is to run an open discussion about what creativity is. If we pose as a given that we are all creative, we were born that way and are all able to pinpoint areas of our lives where we are or have been creative, then what we often find is that people don't usually see themselves as creative. 'Oh I'm not creative, I can't draw, I don't sing, write, play music, invent things,' etc. So it may well be that we are habitually less creative than we might be because we've talked ourselves into some very strong beliefs about what being creative actually means. We think of ourselves as not creative types therefore we habitually don't challenge ourselves to try.

Look at the way that society and the workplace wants us to follow the rules and therefore be less creative. Then look at the way children are seen as being naturally creative and are given endless encouragement to paint, draw and express themselves. To quote Picasso "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after growing up". Ditto creativity. Get your group to 'define' this elusive thing called creativity. Next, let's take a look at the next question: why do we think creativity is important? Well to start with it’s one of the ways we cope with change. If we are creative, if we are skilled at innovation we can come up with new ways of approaching situations that have changed. Another quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting different results." We are programmed to be creative, so much so that we see chronically uncreative people as ill! On a practical level being creative allows us to come up with new ideas that help us to beat the competition. On a daily level it allows us to solve every day problems. "Why don't we try this?" "How about using this approach?" - "What if we look at it this way?" In the modern world new information comes along on a daily (hourly, even) basis. Today’s problems cannot be solved with yesterday's solutions. What worked yesterday won't work now; therefore creative, innovative people are highly valued. If you want something new you have to do something different. The thing is, it doesn't have to be massively different, but it does require a shift in thinking and beliefs. What's more being creative is fun. Ok so if all this is true why are we not all creative all the time? Well quite frankly we'd go mad! Just think of a world populated with people who were all wildly creative all the time. It would be like a bunch of uncontrollable adult sized children. We need rules. So these are the Rules most adults are encouraged to live by. Follow the rules Don't get it wrong/fail

Don't be foolish Play is frivolous Be logical Be practical Get proof It must be relevant Don’t be vague This is the way we are all normally required to operate in the work place. We need rules like this in order to create efficient business environments, but a dramatic side effect is that they absolutely block the creative flow. Indeed, some of these rules so completely stifle our innovative streaks that when we are called upon to use them, they've shrivelled up. These rules are good for us some of the time, perhaps even most of the time, but if you want to help yourself or others be more creative you could do worse than taking a look at what happens when we don't follow them. So if you turn the list of rules upside down you'll get something like this. Anti Rules! Break the rules Get it wrong Be foolish Play Be illogical Be impractical Use gut feeling It must be irrelevant Be vague The most important of these we think is to get back to play. All the time things are serious, all the time there has to be an output that is judged as good or bad, people may feel that they should be creative, but only a little bit, just in case they get it wrong. Ok, Ok, you're saying. I get all that. Now how do I and my team start being more creative and figure out how to break some of those rules? The following stuff is taken from our Creativity Workout sessions - feel free to give them a go!
Innovation and Creativity Through Rule Breaking

Here is a list of some innovative games, which focus on rules and rule-breaking.

Blow up balloons, then burst them all Write your name Eye contact/no eye contact Animal Pick up Make something Make a name badge Pick something you like – destroy it From bits, make something, put it on display, now make up a story about it Name three things Take breath – listen write/draw Quick Draw: What's in the bag? Let's do this thing really badly. One word story Word tennis Group counting Just the names suggest a mild form of anarchy, a slight feeling of danger and that anything might happen. And just looking at the titles of these games, you could even begin to make up how to play them. But we'll give you an idea of how a few of them work. Eye/no eye contact Divide your group into As and Bs. Have As make deliberate eye contact and Bs not as they walk briskly around the room. Reverse it so that As make no eye contact and Bs do. Reverse it again. Animal (or dog – dog – dog) In a circle with one person (facilitator) in the middle. Give each place a single syllable animal name. If you can say the name of their animal 3 times before they can say it once, you stand in their place and they come into the middle. The name of the animal stays with the place not the person. Encourage constructive cheating. Change to 4 and even 5 times as they get the hang of it. This game encourages people to cheat, to be devious, to look for ways to win by doing unexpected things Pick up. (Can be done in pairs or in a group). Find 10 different ways to get one person not touching the floor. You are looking to stimulate inventiveness and to break down physical barriers (careful with less active or mobile people)

Name Things Wrong Have people run round the room naming things out loud and fast. Then ask them to name things wrong. This should get louder and faster and be brought to a sudden stop. Whilst people are doing the kind of activity that obviously has no point other than the game itself, they are more able to see where they block creative impulses and follow the normal rules. It can be helpful during a session like this to ask out loud "What rule are you breaking now?" or even "What rule can't you break now?" When people have got past the initial reluctance to just muck about for a while you can introduce some games and processes based more in the reality of their lives and work. For instance: The Strangest Thing Each person to briefly describe the strangest thing that ever happened to them. The Usual Suspects This exercise is about self- disclosure. It’s a powerful technique for gaining empathy. It’s not about each person rendering up dark secrets; it’s about letting out an occasional chink of non-work personality. Split into two teams. Each individual lists three things about themselves on a flip chart that the rest of the group might not know. Each team them looks at the lists and guesses which individual matches with three unknown facts. To give you an idea, we often ask people to dig back in their memory to see who won a swimming medal, who's father was a spy, who's uncle met a Hollywood star, that kind of thing. Create a Character Have the whole group or teams within the group make a list of friends, relatives, acquaintances and identify their idiosyncrasies, quirks, eccentricities. Then have them create a character incorporating all these oddities. Give the character a name and then have someone make a presentation as that character being the group spokesperson. Create a Political Party Divide the group into as many political parties you want. Get each group to give their party a name, have them create a party manifesto and then give them 2 minutes to present it. There has to be one promise they know they can’t keep. Vote.

Processes like these help people to move between the worlds of reality and make believe. It is this ability to shift from one perspective to the other that creative people have developed. When Impact Factory runs creativity sessions for various groups we find that most people need time to ease their way into rule breaking. At first everyone tends to behave and not break any rules outright. Then one or two people may not do things exactly how we ask them to. The beginnings of deliberate rule breaking are likely to arise about an hour into the session. Pushing people to get there quicker can be counter productive. You may get to a very resistant place where people are saying "what's the point of all this". Here is some feedback from people who have been through a creativity session I found it difficult to not call things by their proper name I found that I censored a lot of my first ideas and by doing so I don't think my second or third ideas were as good as the gut reaction first idea Laughter helps thing to flow I was always thinking about how much time had been taken and what was coming next Time seems very important. I kept thinking we should use it productively I've got mixed feelings about the structure within our group The 30 seconds of passion exercise was really good and useful Brilliant to discover some personal things about the team and also some hidden strengths and interests Once I'd chosen my special toy I found it really hard to smash it up, but at the point of destruction it felt fantastic I found my creativity was stimulated by new ideas generated in the room When I found myself in my comfort zone, I tried to get uncomfortable again As you focus on more serious issues you will find that people drift back into following the rules and you will need to introduce little interventions to open up people's thinking. The one technique that everyone likes and seems able to engage with is the "make it worse" trick. With this all you do is take a time out from any problem or issue the group is dealing with and spend five minutes looking at what you could do to make things worse, to make the project crash and burn. Why people like this so much is that they can be as outrageous as they like and it won't matter! Equally important, however, is that when you come up with ideas that could make something worse, you often come up with possibilities that might actually happen if you don't keep an eagle eye on things. By seeing what could indeed make a project crash and burn you can put safeguards in place to stop that happening.

Having got to the place where people are playing with their ability to "get creative" you can move to working on something serious and relevant, but with the same spirit of fun and play. Having given you the Anti-Rules, here are some more we think are really useful when working creatively with a group of people, especially around work-related projects: Everyone's ideas should be considered and debated, no matter how foolish or unfeasible they may seem. Everyone in the group should contribute something, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Don't rule things out as you go along - wait till everything's on the table and then do the weeding. Write it all down - you never know when it might come in handy. And do, please, have fun! Find the next Public Creativity and Innovation Workshop

Creativity and Innovation Course

Public Creativity and Innovation Course

(Click here for Tailored Creativity and Innovation Training) What's the Big Idea? That seems to be what a lot of companies are asking of their people right now: be more creative and innovative and come up with the next Big Idea. So do you: Need a boost to your creativity? Or think you’re not creative at all? This one-day high energy Public Creativity and Innovation workshop will help you create imaginative solutions to challenges both huge and small. Creativity and Innovation courses are run by Tom Bruno-Magdich - Dannie Carr - Philippa Waller - Liz McKechnie Bronia Szczygiel - Joe Britto By either developing your creative muscle or finding out that you actually have one, this Creativity and Innovation workshop will help you discover that not only can you increase

your creative options but also encourage truly innovative solutions to emerge, benefiting you, your team and your company. Creativity isn't just for artists, but for any of you who are called upon to think differently, view challenges from new perspectives and indeed come up with new ideas to make your companies more profitable and leading edge. You may even be someone who is 'too smart too soon' – someone who is quick to see the solution to problems because of your expert ability and technical knowledge. This skill may actually be holding you in comfortable and predictable patterns of thinking that stop you from achieving your full creative potential. This is a day where you can engage in an energising and experiential day of discovery. Click here for our Brainstorming Course - Creative Business Writing Course - Writing for the Web and Other Media Course - One to One Creativity and Innovation Training
Creativity and Innovation Course Objectives

* Explore the process of creativity * Identify your own brand of creativity and innovation * Delay the impulse to leap to solutions * Think laterally * Have a whole heap of fun!
Creativity and Innovation Programme Cycle of Creativity to Innovation

Exploring the journey from Creativity (generating ideas) to Innovation (making ideas real and usable) begins with: Delegates bring an idea, project or problem they want to work on during the day. They then begin a dynamic process called the 'Cycle of Creativity to Innovation'. During the process delegates will identify how they personally approach and experience the creative impulse, even if they think they aren't creative at all.

Throughout the day there will be a sprinkling of games to free up thinking, to energise and just to have some fun.
Generating Ideas – Five Windows™ of Creativity

Created especially for Impact Factory by Tom Bruno-Magdich, the Five Windows™ represent different approaches to the creative process and help to identify your individual style of creativity. The Five Windows™ doesn't ask the question "How creative are you?" but rather, "How are you creative?" This process reflects Impact Factory's central principle of working

with what already works about you. The Five Windows™ unpicks the actual process of creativity and shows that you have far more choices available than perhaps you realised. The Windows help you see things from a different perspective and will also help slow down anyone who tends to fit into the 'too smart, too soon' category.
A Little Bit of Mayhem

To further demonstrate the power of the Five Windows™ we have a session on rule breaking, pattern smashing, some chaos and of course, a lot of creativity. This frees you up from the usual way of approaching problems or challenges and demonstrates how to inject energy to achieve your goals.
Identifying Obstacles

Like everything else on this course, we have a creative way at looking at problems and issues you are facing. Working with the material you brought in, we turn the problem on its head by unpicking the situation from a variety of angles ending up with why it isn't working as well as it could. We still aren't looking for solutions at this point, but we have included a couple of simple but effective brainstorming tools here.
Ideas Grid: Making Innovation Happen

The final big exercise of the day is a process that someone described as a 'reverse pass the parcel' where new elements are added instead of taken away. We look at your creative and innovative challenge by examining the who, what and whys of it and to help you arrive at solutions from a completely new perspective. From there you look at the first steps you need to take to achieve the solutions you have identified.
Wrapping Up the Creativity and Innovation Day

Each of you will summarise your challenge, solution and what you'll be able to do straight away to make that solution a reality. You will then identify how else you will use the material from the Creativity and Innovation workshop in your workplace or any other part of your life.

Indian Accent Reduction - Fast and Visible Changes
If you are from India and have spoken English all your life, there is still the possibility that people around you in the USA have trouble understanding what you say - especially on the phone. 1. Speak slowly! This action alone will eliminate many miscommunications.

2. Watch out when you say words that begin with a /w/ or a sound the letter /w/ makes, such as, the word /one/. If you pucker your lips like a fish, and your lips don't touch any of your teeth, the correct /w/ sound will come out. Practice the basic words you say on a continual basis - what, where, when, why, which, etc. 3. When you say words that being with /v/, make sure that you are making the right sound by putting your upper teeth on your lower lip and then saying the words -vintage, village, voice, VC, Silicon Valley, and so on. 4. Don't speak through your teeth -open your mouth so that sounds can come out clearly. 5. Put your tongue between your teeth when you say a word with a /th/ in it - the sound /d/ for /th/ doesn't sound educated. For example, say /then/ instead of /den/ or /though/ instead of /dough/. 6. The long vowels in English take longer to say than the short ones - i.e., there is a distinct difference between /bet/ and /beat/. Therefore, if you hold that word with the long vowel for just another moment when you say it, /take/ not /tek/ - people can figure out to which word you are referring. 7. Don't swallow words that don't carry the main meaning in a sentence. For example, all words should be enunciated clearly in "this is a great opportunity," including the (main) word /opportunity/, which in American English has five syllables. 8. Take care with the short /o/ sound, so it is a /caller/ not a /color/. 9. Learn which parts of a word take the stress and which ones don't -profile, percentage, permanent, additional, etc. Usually, if the word is a noun, the beginning letters will be stressed. If it is a verb, the stress is on the end syllable. Examples: the record - to record, the project - to project. There are web sites which can teach you the rules, or come and see me and I can practice the intotations/stresses with you. 10. Avoid using the words /basically/ and /so/ all the time. I know these are nice fillers and give you time to think, but it's just as bad as if you were starting every sentence with /eh/ or /um/.

Good People Skills
We are so concerned about learning everything it takes to become successful in our business lives, if we are self employed or working for a large corporation, that we forget that one of the most important things for our professional as well as personal lives is having really good people skills. We go to prestigious universities, we learn how to write good cover letters, read books on mastering the art of marketing, develop awesome web sites, and force ourselves to make

dreaded cold calls, but we neglect to analyze and upgrade the way we work and deal with the people around us. Sure there are web sites which help us find a roommate or a job. But often it is someone who knows someone else he also recently met and who is just being helpful, and through him you find what you need; that’s how it often works– in Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and in the rest of the USA. We are a diverse population from many different countries, but what unites us is the wish to make it here and have a good life – which brings us back to people skills and the realization that they are a must. Here are some considerations on making relationships with people work to your and their advantage: Look at people and smile Have you ever seen someone on the street or in a car and he looks really grim and fierce and then you smile at him and the transformation that happens is incredible? You can have the same powerful effect on the people you meet and who work around you if you take the time to look at them and smile. For some cultures, it isn’t as natural as for others, but it’s not fake or manipulative if you smile at people, it cuts across all cultures and it works. To use an American idiom that is currently “in”, just “hang” with people In the US and in the Silicon Valley in particular, life is hectic and everyone has a full schedule – but, there should always be time to meet with friends, have some coffee, go to plenty of networking events, make new friends and enjoy being with others without having any reason to meet. Take the time to smell the roses around you and see how you connect to friends and business colleagues. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet Most people (and certainly here in the San Francisco Bay Area) have something interesting to say, they just have to know that you are interested to hear them. Ask open questions that elicit other responses than yes and no and give interested responses to what you’re hearing. Many international professionals have learned that it is important to make eye contact while listening, and while that is important, you also have to react to comments; acknowledge what is being said with a smile and a nod of your head. Smiling and encouraging people to speak will make your interactions more genuine and comfortable. Give people something of value in a relationship If you want to be a person people call on, give them something which is meaningful for the relationship. Offer support, encouragement and active help with a new job or a relationship problem, introduce them to your friends and make them feel appreciated; convey to them the importance you place on your relationship.

There are obviously many more things that are important in having good people skills, but one thing many never consider is that they can take classes or use individual coaches to improve their own people skills; it comes naturally to some, but it is a skill that can be learned. We at Blendstrup & Associates offer individual as well as group classes that go across cultures and examine which American skills you have acquired that can be expanded and which ones you can still learn. There are many coaches and communication groups where you can learn this kind of expertise as well. The main thing is that you realize it’s important and do something to about it. For futher information, please contact contact us.

Writing Effective Emails
Oh those strange emails! Writing good emails in English can be challenging for US natives, but for foreigners, it can lead them to an abyss they never would have dreamed of falling into. If you are even a bit unfamiliar with current English usage and want to write effective emails, you should focus on a variety of areas where your email is by doomed to land in the trash, if you don’t handle writing your emails with some care and conscious effort. Some areas to focus on are: Subject line Get to the point, make real, short statements that the recipient can understand immediately – instead of ‘scheduled meeting’, say which meeting you are referring to and include the date. Start checking your spelling in the subject line, if you make mistakes here, the reader will likely delete the email without opening it. Beginning of email Address the person correctly and use the name, not titles (Dr., Professor, Madame) you think will flatter the reader or which are important to use in your country. Spell the name correctly and go with the informality of the US if you send it to someone you know and work with. If not, get the correct business title from the web site or previous email. Make sure that you also use ‘he’ when addressing a man and don’t mix it up with ‘she’ in the rest of the message. Body of the email You have to understand that your choice of words will count double because no one can see you or hear your tone of voice. Use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to avoid any appearance that you are commanding someone to do something; it has to read as a polite request.

Use soft language, even in an office email to other people you work with – “I would appreciate if you could…..would you please look at this…..at your earliest convenience.” There are other phrases you can use obviously, but this kind of polite language will get a better response. Write complete sentences, many professionals with an Asian language background leave out major words in sentences. All sentences need a subject, verb and direct/indirect objects – don’t just leave phrases hanging. If you do leave out either the verb, and don’t repeat what you were talking about (i.e. the subject), people can’t guess them and won’t go on reading or your communications can lead to misunderstandings. I know many countries use SMS to communicate since cell phone usage is not as cheap as here, but the kind of shortcuts you use in SMS don’t apply to email ( unless you’re under 20 and then another set of rules apply). Spell check your writing. I know you all think that is it ‘just email’ but it does make a difference. Maybe not to the nice Americans, who are very tolerant about such things as spelling errors, but if you are writing your emails to other foreign born professionals here in the US, they will catch your errors and you can’t make a good first impression again Organize your content ahead of time if you have much to say and if you have (are required) to say much. It is worth writing an outline in bullet points and seeing how you can keep your message short and relevant to your reader. Often, foreign-born email writers have unorganized, rambling thoughts, the sentences run on forever, they are all in one line, one following the other – no neat paragraphs in between – and words are written together which makes it look crammed and unappealing to read. Don’t use all caps, that is – as most of you know already – screaming at someone, and it’s not appreciated. Correct grammar If you are unsure about your grammar, run it through Grammar Check in Word first (or send your emails first to your partner, as some of my clients do), often we get emails where – due to the poor grammar - we don’t know what the writer really wants. Message/content format Too many !!! and …. ….as well as ( ) within the message take away the importance of ideas you want to get across. Ending The endings that foreigners write are often full of apologies for bothering someone, they can be less than cordial (they end abruptly), or at the end of the email, there is no plan for action. In any of these cases, your email can be a waste of your time, because many people won’t bother answering them due to email overload.

Go back and reread your email, it is really worth finding all of those mistakes that either make you look dumb, uneducated or make the message hard to understand. Emails in the Silicon Valley, if they escape the spam filters, land in the trash very fast. You only have a few seconds to catch your readers’ attention, and if you don’t write short, well formulated emails that get to the point in the first line, you run the risk of not getting read at all.

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