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06 Dec Am I supposed to be a mind reader?

Jeff and Nina were at a Christmas party all of the thirty seconds when Nina whispered in Jeff’s ear, “I think Joan [one of the women in Jeff’s office] is getting divorced.” Jeff thought Nina was nuts, but a week later Joan herself told him that she had separated from her husband. When Jeff asked his mystical wife how she knew, Nina said, “Easy. She looked relaxed, had a great new haircut, and was playing with her wedding ring.”

For centuries, women’s interpersonal discernment has been acknowledged as “women’s intuition.” Now researchers have confirmed females’ superior skill in interpreting gestures, posture, and facial expression from fifth grade through adulthood. Since men in traditionally female professions like teaching and nursing excel in mood reading too, it’s not due to chromosomes but to socialization in pleasing others and practice in adjusting to others’ moods.

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

27 Nov Why men should attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women in December 2018

I have always learned so much about the male mindset through my brother and many times it was contrary to what society was teaching. He was always a great ally to my sister and I when confronting our irrational and impulsive mother. I continue to learn from him by having very candid conversations about male/female dynamics and perspectives. He is angered about the #metoo stories coming out and couldn’t imagine taking advantage of an incapacitated female. He’s the type of man that women need as an ally to change the world for the better.

 

My brother was more emotionally sensitive than his two older sisters and that annoyed our dad. My sister and I would tease him until he cried, then my dad would chastise him for crying. Needless to say, I don’t think we helped him feel safe around women and I now shudder at the memories. When I was 19 and he was 16 we got into a physical fight only this time he realized he was finally bigger and stronger than I was. It took a minute for it to sink into my brain as he grabbed me by the arms and lifted me off the ground. I think we were both scared of the new stakes of this common interaction and decided it was best to stop physically fighting especially since I could no longer win (LOL).

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

19 Nov When Insults Had Class

Time for some wordplay and levity…

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” – Abraham Lincoln

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend… if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second…if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in reply

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about…” – Winston Churchill about Clement Atlee

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” – Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” – Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

“They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” – Thomas Brackett Reed

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”- Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

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Jeff Turner
Jeff Turner
jturner@speechimprovement.com

08 Nov Improving Your Speech Patterns

Working as a speech coach, one of the successful techniques I use to help people speak clearly is to figure out where there may be snags in their speech patterns. Here are two of the most common.

1. Are you dropping volume at the end of sentences?

It is normal to soften your volume at the end of a thought, but don’t trail your sentences into oblivion.  Assess your volume by taping yourself and checking to make sure you can hear the last words of your sentences.  Practice speaking or reading aloud with conscious attention on lessening the decibel drop.  Use these practice sentences:

“Let’s meet in the lobby of the downtown Marriott.”

“Sarah James was finally promoted to regional manager.”

In these examples, if you don’t keep your volume up, you’ll be swallowing your main point.

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

02 Nov Cry Like a Little Girl

Communication fascinates me. This is one of the reasons why I love being a communication trainer and coach.  Communication is like breathing, it’s happening through every person every minute of the day. Communication breakdowns are inevitable no matter how thoughtful we are. As a communication trainer, I can become an observer/researcher to distract myself from negatively reacting (sometimes) as I did on a recent family visit.

The opportunity to learn came from my 19 year old daughter when we were meeting a new significant other (SO) of one of my sisters.  The new SO is an affable guy and everyone really liked him.  We had a busy day of talking and storytelling.

When I was alone with my daughter she said she was upset by something the SO said.  She relayed this by lumping me and everyone else in with him saying “You guys say stuff all the time that is so offensive, stuff people my age would never say.”  I asked her for an example and she said when SO was telling a story he said “I cried like a little girl.”  This statement did not catch my attention when it was uttered however my irate daughter now had my full attention.  She repeated “No one my age would ever talk like that, it’s so insulting.  I used to be a little girl, how does he think that makes me feel?”  Normally I would roll my eyes and tell her she was overreacting however this time, post #metoo, I thought about it.  She was right, this is exactly the kind of insidious language that reinforces the idea that females are weak or worse, that showing vulnerability is a loathsome act.

In order to become more conscious as communicators we need to help each other become aware of these common, insidious phrases and change the narrative.  Everything lives in language and starts with language, it is how we co-create reality.  It’s important for us to speak up in the moment (instead of hours later to our mother).

The challenge: 

How do you gently create awareness when conversation is fun and friendly and in addition you have a new member who is just getting to know the family?

How do you do it without seeming like a nudge?

My advice:

Keep the delivery short and lighthearted.  Possible comments:

  • “I’m glad there are no little girls in earshot.”
  • “At least you didn’t cry like a little boy….right?”
  • “How about crying like a baby so you don’t offend little girls?”

 

Or whatever creative and humorous comment you can think of, remembering the objective is to just create awareness about what was said not to correct, lecture or change the person.  A little bit here and a little bit there will help all of us start to become more conscious about our language.  We owe it to our collective consciousness.

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

26 Sep Learning to Listen

Hearing and listening are not the same process.  Hearing is the physical act of sound striking the eardrum.  Listening is differentiating among those sounds. Hearing is an involuntary and reflective act.  Listening is a voluntary and initiative act.  As you read these words, you are hearing sounds in the room or outside the building.  You are probably hearing an air-conditioning system or a furnace, or voices in the hallway. Perhaps you are hearing street traffic or an airplane.  Hearing these sounds simply means that the sounds are striking your eardrum.  It’s not until you focus on these sounds that you are actually listening to them.  Now that we’ve mentioned them, do you hear the sounds around you?  Are you listening to them?  In a business environment, you will hear many sounds that could demand your attention. (more…)

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Dennis Becker
Dr. Dennis Becker
dennis@speechimprovement.com

20 Aug Why doesn’t she appreciate my advice?

In Nan and Billy’s house it goes like this:

Nan: I wish I could find a cause to get into, maybe volunteering or just doing something worth-while.

Billy: So call the College Club – I heard they need help, and the hospital gift shop might be looking for    volunteers.

 Nan: Forget it, you don’t even know what I’m interested in.

Billy: Geez! Why bring it up if you don’t want my opinion?

Billy means well, and his ideas might be valid, but Nan finds his approach annoying. In giving advice you anoint yourself as an authority, and if no one asked for it, you come across as know-it-all. More important, like many women, Nan is (more…)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

31 Jul What?!? No PowerPoint?

Three different speech coaching clients have told me how they are planning to follow the steps of Amazon and do away with PowerPoint in their senior executive meetings. Fortunately, I was able to stop this colossal mistake before it was too late.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unaware of the torture and mis-communication that can happen when PowerPoint is used.  I agree and support that certain types of meetings are best conducted without it. But to toss it out completely, as a blanket absolute, is just lazy and poor judgement.  It’s also helpful to know that I’m a minimalist when it comes to the use of slides, so I’m not a PowerPoint pusher.

Because use of visual aids done poorly can render meetings a waste of time, I’m agreeing with Jeff Bezos. Why should any of us spend an hour or more to meet where there is no productive communication, no one being persuasive, no one able to successfully share ideas, so we walk away with no information?

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Dr. Ethan Becker
Dr. Ethan Becker
ethan@speechimprovement.com

24 Jul The Transformational Effect of Live Storytelling 

The ability to speak with impact directly correlates with one’s salary. As an Executive Communication Coach, I have helped many nervous professionals hone their speaking skills in order to advance their careers. Typically, the coaching and training focuses on content organization and delivery skills for maximum effectiveness.    

I love communication so much that it is not just my day job, but also my hobby. I’m a storyteller and participate in story slams. These are events where regular people tell a personal, true story to a crowd, based on the theme of the night. Many of them have never used a microphone before and some require coaxing by their friends to tell. (more…)

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

10 Jul I’m always more interested in talking than he is

Welcome to the one way conversation club. Though plenty of men turn somersaults to get conversational action going with their mates, more often women end up exasperated with silent partners. It’s not that women bore men – watch a man salivate over her every syllable on a long-awaited first date. Rather, whereas women tend to need a daily dose of conversational closeness, men value just being together and doing things together, even mundane activities like eating quietly side by side. For guys, verbal interaction is one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of the whole relationship picture. This frustrates women who judge closeness by the number of words exchanged per evening. If wives and girlfriends had their druthers, the time couples spend in conversation would surely rise from its measly weekly average of nineteen – yes, nineteen – minutes.

To defuse conversational frustration –

  1. Don’t let it get to you. In a fundamentally sound relationship, conversational reluctance doesn’t mean rejection. Recognize that for you, conversation is a form of coupling, while for him talk may be just words.

  2. Stop taking the initiative in verbal interactions. Change your conversational patterns and watch what happens. If you’re generally the driving force for dinner talk, try holding back. There’s a fifty-fifty chance that silence will stimulate your taciturn partner’s vocal cords. Maura seemed to stump husband Cal with the question, “How was your day?” which she asked every night like clockwork while they were lounging around before dinner. Three days into Maura’s assignment of not prompting conversation, Cal did a surprising thing. He said, “Don’t you care about how my day went?” Managing to restrain her eagerness to hear, Maura responded casually, “Oh yes, how was it?” He talked about ten times longer than his usual “All right” or “Nothing special.”

  3. Bring up the subject of your conversational needs. When both you and he are in a decent mood, be direct without blaming. Let your partner know what’s important to you. “I know you like a lot of quiet. I need to talk everyday to touch base and feel close.”

  4. Once you have discussed your different needs, explore some middle ground. For example, set up a regular talking time. Nothing formal, just a time like dinner or before bedtime that you agree to devote to catching up with each other for five or ten minutes. You’ll know the connecting time is coming, and he’ll know it will end at some point. Not conversational heaven but a good couples compromise.

  5. Don’t be conversationally monogamous . Having other people in your life to chat with besides your mate lessens the pressure on both of you. When Maura came home dying to complain about her boss and found Cal engulfed into a video game, she learned to call up her chum Kathryn instead.

  6. If all else fails, talk to yourself. Self-gratification can be a great tension release.
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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

28 Jun Where Should I Look When I’m Speaking to a Group?

If you view the listeners as piranhas, you’ll grab any chance to avoid looking them in the eye.  Lisa, a friendly, charming woman who had just been elected president of a large national church group, was dreading her first talk to the state leaders in her organization.  She asked me if it was OK to aim her speech at the clock in the back of the church she’d be speaking in.  “Surely,” I suggested, “you can find a face in the audience more friendly than the one on the clock.

In order to see people in your audience for what they are – people – master the eye-contact techniques I taught Lisa. Your listeners will see you as warmer, more influential, and well-versed in the art of communication.

Warm up.  Get the good feeling of relating well to your audience by making small talk with several individuals before your talk begins.  Then when all eyes are on you, you won’t be confronting a mass of strangers.

Follow the “Rule of Three.”  If you’re new at public speaking, pick three specific people to focus on – one in the middle, one on the right, and one on the left of the room.  These audience members will be your eye-contact landmarks as you scan the room. Be careful, though, not to look at any one person for more than about five seconds.  It’s creepy being stared at by the speaker!

Do the one-minute scan.  Include everyone in your audience by scanning the people in the room about once a minute while you’re talking.  You will have a tendency to focus more attention on the folks directly in front of you.  That’s all right, but be sure you don’t ignore those to your right and left.

Learn the art of “nose contact.”  If you are speaking to a small audience (three to thirty people), it’s not necessary to look right into their eyes.  Just glance at the center of a listener’s face (usually his nose).  It’ll suffice.

 

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

31 May The Best Choice

How many decisions do you make in a day?  Hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe many thousands…?

Some of them are life critical.  Some of them are thoughtless. Yet, each one of them helps to determine who you are, what kind of a life you will have, and the impression you make on others.
When it comes to the choices you make every day and the number of people who want to influence those choices, there is no shortage. The average person makes approrximately 35,000 decisions daily. So, I’m going to suggest that you make one more.  This one may have an effect of all of the others. It’s very simple. CHOOSE TO BE NICE.

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Dennis Becker
Dr. Dennis Becker
dennis@speechimprovement.com

29 May He/She Always Interrupts Me

Both sexes can perpetrate and suffer interruptions. Yet researchers in the art of communication have repeatedly found that from the age of three on, males tend to interrupt and females tend to pass the conversational ball. The right to interrupt or dominate a conversation often serves as an expression of superiority or status. Nevertheless, when women yield the floor to men, it is not so much a display of inferiority as an indication of the importance they attach to accommodating others in conversation.

Even conversationally accommodating people can come off as interlopers. Women like to overlap a speaker with words of encouragement, agreement, or a parallel situation. (“I know what you mean, Bill. My family also had to struggle to make ends meet.”) Though she intends to establish empathy, she may annoy a man who doesn’t value verbal displays of support. (“That wasn’t my point. Let me finish.”)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

21 May 3 Ways to Handle Difficult Questions Confidently 

Why do people ask difficult questions? 

  • They need the information 
  • They want attention from the group 
  • They want to look smart 
  • They use the questions to influence and persuade 
  • They want to intimidate 
  • Because it’s culturally appropriate 
  • They want to challenge the presenter 
  • They want to make the presenter look unprepared/foolish/dumb 
  • Questions are safer to ask than providing answers 
  • They want to be disruptive 
  • They want to change the subject 
  • They want to give their opinion indirectly 

 

Dealing with difficult questions: 

Questions are a normal part of most business meetings. It is also normal for questions to be somewhat confusing or unclear.  (more…)

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

02 May Should I take fear of public speaking medication?

Thinking about fear of public speaking medication?  Consider these 5 points.

1. Medication can reduce the uncomfortable physiological signs of nervousness (heart rate increase, sweating, shakiness).

Three other approaches: learning effective presentation skills, controlling breathing, and developing helpful thinking patterns are proven non-medical strategies.

2. Beta  blockers, originally developed to control cardiac problems, are often effective and can usually be prescribed on an as needed basis.

Beta blockers inhibit the flow of adrenaline  in the body, reducing the physical symptoms of the stress response.  Your physician will help you decide whether medication is the best route for you, and can review any potential side effects.

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com