--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [..HOME..][..TOP POSTS..][..NEW DROP LIST..][..LINKS..][..ADVERTISE..]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy-to-Learn, Proven Communication Skills

Title: Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy-to-Learn, Proven Communication Skills
Author: Georgianna Donadio

Content: 8.5/10
It offers a practical step-by-step guide, supported by research and proven strategies to enable readers to develop a much more meaningful and effective communication relationship with the people they desire to improve their current relationships with.

Readability: 8/10
The 12 steps of Pure Presence is written in an easy-to-understand manner so that readers can pick up and acquire the skills easily to improve the quality of their communication skills.

Overall Ranking 16.5/20
Overall, Changing Behavior is a good read that offers important and timely advice for people who desire to bring transformation to their relationships, health and happiness as whole.

At the heart of Changing Behavior is the revolutionary Behavioural Engagement™ model. Developed over the last 30 years in partnership with leading hospitals and medical centers, Behavioural Engagement is the first known whole person health education and health behaviour change model developed, tested and utilized in a clinical setting.

Here is a summary on how to apply the Behavioral Engagement model with pure presence:

Step 1: Be fully and purely present - Remove any forms of distraction prior to the conversation and focus only on entering into a meaningful and effective communication with another person by being receptive, non-judgemental and fully present throughout the entire communication.

Step 2: Be physically comfortable and relaxed - Adopt an upright and centred sitting posture to enable you and the other person to be relaxed and thereby assist you in remaining in pure presence throughout the communication.

Step 3: Constant eye contact – Maintaining a constant eye contact with the other person can create a physical response in the latter that brings about trust, comfort and safety.

Step 4: Check your intention – It is recommended to keep your intention or views open, centered and non-judgemental. This will prevent you to trigger that particular emotion or ego from surfacing which cause the conversation s to go off track.

Step 5: Listen with understanding - Initiate a conversation with a respectful inquiry with the other person and seek to listen attentively without disruption while the latter respond to your inquiry.

Step 6: Be responsive without injecting – It is ok to node your head, give eyebrow gestures and short responses such as “thanks”, “ah-ha” and so forth to allow the other person continue this talking. It is however not wise to probe, ask questions or interrupt at the wrong juncture.

Step 7: Accept the silence between words – Throughout the conversation, there is surely to have moments of short silence between words. During this time of silence, we can visit our subconscious mind and integrate this with our thinking process.

Step 8: Be patient with yourself and the other person 
It takes time for people to notice and accept that you do not have an agenda or you are not going to judged them or give advice or suggestions.

Step 9: Be honest with your conversation objective 
It is important to have a pure presence intention when entering into a conversation as your intention will become your agenda. By practising this pure presence intention, it will perfect your being-in-the present skills to strengthen your communication skills and relationships.

Step 10: Use of “I” statements to convey your feelings – Using “I” statements to express your feelings will enable us to own what we feel and thereby showing respect for the other person’s experience.

Step 11: Allow for discovery – One of the transformational components of Behavioural Engagement™ model is that if you remain true to the model ad stay in your pure presence center, you will make discoveries that will bring about emotional shifts and behavioural change in you. As our behaviours shift, we will achieve a more sustainable change that can have positive long-term results in our lives and relationships.

Step 12: Keep trying to perfect your skills – Even if you experience some frustrating moments and mind wander during a conversation, you can begin again with the next conversation. It is crucial to be committed t improve the quality of communication in your relationship.

In summary, Changing Behavior is a good read that offers important and timely advice for people who desire to bring transformation to their relationships, health and happiness as whole. It offers excellent tips, substantiated by research. It also asks questions to reflect the points back at you. If you are interested in finding out more, do check out the Amazon.com page for more reviews.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: Painting With Numbers - Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You

Title: Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You
Author: Randall Bolten

Content: 6.5/10

As the book was targeted towards finance professionals, only half the book (related to report presentation and creating spreadsheets) were relevant to me. However, those parts were timely and well presented. 

Readability: 9/10
The emphasis of this book was to present financial numbers so people will understand you. And this book does present its information in a clear and concise manner.

Overall Ranking 15.5/20
The tips that Randall provides are well worth reading. However, I would only recommend to purchase the book to finance professionals involved in financial reporting.

The Good and the Bad

The Good: This book is appropriate for executive who are required to present financial information on a routine basis. The first half of the book is also useful for general presentations as well as for the creation of spreadsheets.

The Bad: I found the latter half the book to be not quite relevant, as presenting a balance sheet and GAAP reporting was not relevant to me.

Summary and Review

Painting with Numbers is a book that teaches consultants, accountants and finance professionals to present numbers in a clear and concise manner. Written from the perspective of an ex CFO, it presents timely information as to the proper way by which financial information should be presented.

Bolten says it best when he says that "reporting is an act of communication, not an act of compliance." 

When presentations or reports are not well communicated, the audience is often left either missing the key points, or left confused from a poor choice of words.
In the best version, the largest 
important  numbers stand out visually, 
the commas line up vertically, and it 
mirrors the way we were thought to 
add up numbers. 

The author's points are demonstrated in a clear manner through the use of examples that are easily understandable. In addition, as a book that emphasizes on the clarity of presentation, Randall practices what he preaches by presenting his points in a clear and readable manner.

Key points are boxed in red as "deadly sins", examples, notes and advice are similarly boxed with their separate colors. The result is clarity and variety as the important information is communicated.

An example of this can be seen from the example in the picture on the right. Randall presents this example and questions the reader as to which version is the best. The answer is version A. Can you guess why?

The book is divided into three main sections.

In part 1, "The Rules", Bolten focused on the rules that every report or presentation should follow.

In part 2, "The Tools", Bolten provides advice using the tools of excel, graphs and PowerPoint to help create your reports.

In part 3, Bolten puts everything into context of the organization.

Ultimately, the information presented in "Painting with Numbers" could mean the difference between an audience that is able to absorb the content, and an audience that did not understand what you are presenting. Although not the entire book was relevant to me, the parts that were relevant was timely and well presented.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to Use Tone of Voice to Your Advantage

'It is not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages.'
-William Carlos Williams

The name Albert Mehrabian probably isn't very familiar to many of us. It should be though, because he is responsible for one of the most quoted findings in the field of human communication.

Mehrabian was responsible for his discovery that the words used in face-to-face communications account for only 7% of messages received, while body language and vocal tone account for 55% and, 38% respectively.

This is called the rule of 7/38/55%. Professor Mehrabian's findings are frequently trotted out at personal development seminars, emphasizing the importance of body language and vocal tone over the words which we use.

The implication is clear: good communication goes beyond the words you use to convey a message. Speech writers spend hours crafting their speeches to perfection. How many of these dedicated people invest as much time in their presentation skills as they do in their vocabularies? It is clear that top communicators rely far more heavily upon appropriate body language and vocal tone to get their message across more effectively than reciting from a dictionary.

The Science of Speech 

Plenty of research has gone in to determining which vocal tones are more pleasing to the human ear. First, a little biology: the tones of the voice originate from the triangular chamber at the upper end of the trachea, or windpipe. The front part of this chamber forms the 'Adam's Apple' visible in men (women have one too, just smaller). The vocal chords are comprised of two strips of tissue that, which, when air is passed through, vibrate to produce a vocal tone (a fascinating YouTube video stroboscopy, or camera view, of the living vocal chords can be found here.)

Power of the Pitch

While preferences for particular vocal tones can vary from person to person, there are a few rules that have been revealed through research. For example, lower vocal tones have been shown to generally possess more authority than higher ones.

According to a study recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, vocal pitch (highness and lowness) is perceived to have an effect upon the perception of the leadership capabilities of the speakers. This is shown to be heavily influenced by their gender.

Women with higher pitched voices were perceived as more attractive, while those with lower pitches were more socially dominant. Men, on the other hand, who possess lower voices, were perceived as 'more attractive, physically stronger, and socially dominant.'

Research conducted in 2011 linked deep male voices to improved memory in females, while a further study conducted at McMaster University in Ontario discovered voters were more likely to favour candidates with lower voices.

Use your Vocal Tone to become a Better Communicator 

The use of body language is one thing, but how can we work on how we use vocal tones to become better communicators? Salespeople are adept at this. Whether it's a telemarketer calling to compare credit cards, a charity collector on the street, a shop assistant or salesperson, many people involved in sales implement these skills instinctively.

Used in both your personal and professional life, there's no escaping the fact that developing an excellent use of vocal tone will pay dividends. Judith Filek of Impact Communications suggests some ingenious techniques for improving the tone of your voice:

1. Ensure you are breathing from the diaphragm, which is the muscle beneath your rib cage. Shallow breathing will make your voice sound strained.
2. Make sure you drink plenty of water all day to keep your vocal chords properly lubricated.
3. Ensure you limit your intake of caffeine as it is a diuretic.
4. Sit up straight: posture not only influences your voice, but also your confidence.
5. Use gestures to energize your voice. This will help give your voice added power when you are tired. Smiling also helps 'warm' your voice.
6. Record your voice. This is a particularly illuminating technique for some!
7. Try speaking at a slightly lower octave, as research has shown that those who speak at a lower octave are often presumed to have more credibility.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback on your vocal tone.

If you are interested in this post, you might consider the following posts
1) First Impressions
2) How to Make a Great First Impression
3) Advantages and Disadvantages of Written and Spoken Communication

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Use Your Head To Communicate Effectively

Effective communication includes an awareness of not only what you say, but also how you say it.

However, another important tool of communication is body language. We all know that actions speak louder than words. Our bodies give away signals of how we feel, what our true intentions are, and what we’re not saying. So we may be sitting on a crowded sectional sofa during a family gathering without saying a word, yet communicating clearly to anyone who glances over.

Gestures and body language are so ingrained that we take them for granted. We are almost unaware of behaviors such as tapping a pen, stroking the side of our noses or yawning. Yet, the fact that such behavior is virtually unconscious makes it a real clue to what we’re really thinking and feeling.

Mixed Messages of Head Gestures

When looking at effective communication then, we need to examine what our body language is saying to others. Even some of the most basic gestures, such as nodding our heads can give mixed messages.

In most cultures, when we want to say “yes” or show agreement, we nod our heads. This action comes from bowing; the person symbolically begins to bow, but stops short, resulting in a nod. Bowing is one of the most submissive gestures and the head nod stemming from this indicates that we are going along with the other person’s point of view. Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of The Definitive Book of Body Language (2004, Orion), states that research conducted with “people who were born deaf, dumb and blind shows that they also use this gesture to signify ’Yes’, so it appears to be an inborn gesture of submission.

It’s easy to assume then, that a head nod means “yes” the world over. However, in India, the head is rocked from side to side to say “yes”, a gesture that most Westerners would associate with “either – or” or “maybe yes, maybe no”. Furthermore, in Japan, head nodding can be misinterpreted; it doesn’t necessarily mean “Yes, I agree with you”, it usually means “Yes, I hear what you’re saying.” Be aware too that in Arab counties, a single, upward head movement means “no”, whereas Bulgarians shake their heads to mean “yes” rather than “no”.

Using the Power of the Head Nod as a Tool of Persuasion

Once you are clear about the meaning of the head nod, head wobble and head shake, consider the power of head nodding as a tool of persuasion. Pease and Pease cite research showing that “people will talk three to four times more than usual when the listener nods their head using groups of three nods at regular intervals.” The speed of the head nod is a clue to how patient the listener is feeling. “Slow nodding communicates that the listener is interested in what the speaker is saying so give slow, deliberate clusters of three head nods when the other person is making a point,” they say.

On the other hand, if you want to tell a speaker that you’ve heard enough, want them to finish, or want a turn to speak yourself, it’s time to start nodding quickly. This is a way to interrupt and get involved in a conversation or bring it back under your control without using words.

Body language is an unconscious outward reflection of inner feelings” say Pease and Pease, so if someone’s head is nodding as they speak, it is a sign that they are feeling positive or affirmative. It iss even the case that “if you simply start nodding your head intentionally, you will begin to experience positive feelings”, almost as if agreeing with yourself generates as much feel-good factor as someone else agreeing with your point of view.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Because head nodding is very contagious, it is an excellent tool for creating rapport, encouraging agreement and getting co-operation. Pease and Pease have found that if someone “nods their head at you, you will usually nod too – even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they are saying.” They recommend finishing your sentences with verbal affirmations like “don’t you think?”, “isn’t it?”, or “wouldn’t you?”, plus plenty of nodding. In this way the listener experiences positive feelings which increase the chances of their agreeing with you. Clearly, if you want to get co-operation from other people, it’s time to start using your head.

If you are interested in this post, you might consider the following posts
1) Persuasion Tactics Simplified
2) Social Situations and Small Talk
3) Improve Your Communication Skills