How To Stop RBF From Killing Your Communication

 

“Body language is fluff.”
I was told this recently. I didn’t say a word. My responding body language to that statement said it all, and the message was heard loud and clear by this person. They immediately started backtracking and justifying their statement.
The irony of that was not lost on me. Here they were telling me that body language is not important yet changed their tune to pseudo-apologetic mode in response to my body language.
You’re right, fluff.  Not important at all. Using my not so subtle sarcastic voice
My passion about body language came from a fascination and a necessity.
The necessity came from the fact that I have a Scarlett O’Hara Resting Bitch Face (RBF). This face is when you look mean, unintentionally, when your face is expressionless. During an interview coaching exercise, I accidentally slipped into this when working with a client. She stopped midsentence, laughed a bit and told me that I scared her because I looked really mean.  Oops.
The fascination came when I realized by just changing my body language I could elicit different responses from people.  I elicited a change in the conversation by employing the RBF in the above conversation.
This phenomenon happens more for women than men, although there are some men that naturally have RBF. Think Kanye West and Jeremy Renner.  Jeremy Renner is completely aware of this, as he discusses in this funny clip from the Graham Norton Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50-Rr6ZgHQ   He states that he is quite comfortable with his resting face because, as he says, he built a career on it.
That will not work out so well for the rest of us who aren’t playing Avengers. Research using face recognition software has stated that this look registers twice the amount of emotion as compared to a neutral face.
However, the emotion registers as contempt, which is one of the worst and most dangerous emotions for communication.  Contempt is a mix of disgust and anger, two things that can destroy any relationship.   As businesses are built on relationships, you don’t want RBF anywhere near the people with whom you interact.
What causes RBF? Many people’s mouths or eyes naturally turn down when at rest. In other words, we are born with it.
Not sure if you suffer from RBF? Do you find people ask you out of the blue:
“Are you okay?”
“Are you mad?”
“Did something happen?”
Or one of my personal favorites – “You should smile more!”
There are a few things you can do if you feel that you are slipping into RBF:
  1. Look up at the person. You might have to tilt your head a slight bit down to do so in but it will open your eyes.
  2. Slightly raise your eyebrows, this naturally opens your eyes a bit.
  3. Open your mouth, this will change the form of and can more easily lead into number four.
  4. Smile slightly. This breaks the downward lines associated with RBF.
As silly as it sounds, look in the mirror to see where you fall on the range of RBF. Then practice the above tips so they feel comfortable and natural. You will then, on command, transition from RBF to engaged face when needed.
Yes, I said as needed.  I have found RBF to come in quite handy when my son is being unruly or someone questions the importance of body language.

 

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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach specializing in Master Level Resume/LinkedIn writing, NLP and Body Language. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to all aspects of their career, including: LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence, and influence.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Build Better Business Relationships With 2 Simple Steps

coffee meeting

How many times have you met someone through networking or business connections and want to build a business relationship with them? What is an almost knee jerk action to do so – invite them for a coffee meeting (or lunch/drinks/dinner/etc).

Before you do, let me give you the two steps to dramatically improve your budding relationship:

1. Stop wasting their time
2. Know your why

I used to get asked for coffee meetings a lot. Used to – now I rarely have them.

For one thing, I don’t drink coffee, but more importantly – they were a huge waste of time. The person either had no idea what they wanted to talk about or they wanted to sell me the entire time.

My secret in killing the coffee meetings – I started asking people why they wanted to meet. It is amazing to me the number of people who cannot answer that question. Mostly I get a stammering close to, ‘so we can learn more about each others business.’

Not to be unkind, or rude, yet this is a media age: look up my LinkedIn, my website, my articles; email me to start a conversation. Requesting me to commit to the most time consuming event – of scheduling an outside meeting – to find out what I do is nutty.

Even if they have an idea of what I do and wanted to schedule a coffee meeting ‘to find out more’ or ‘get clarification’, I would ask them – right there on the phone or in the email –what is it they would like to know?

It can really take the wind out of a coffee meeter’s sails when you fill them in either right there on the phone or by email thereby eliminating their whole reason for getting together.

I cut to the chase to eliminate time wasters.

I am very happy for the coffee meeters – those that seem to have an endless supply of time on their hands to joyfully go around town and drink lots of java, then have lots of lunches followed by lots of cocktails or dinners.

I do not have that kind of time.

I am not special or better than anyone else in my network or business circles – all of our time is valuable. I have a thing – I will not waste your time and you are not going to waste mine. It is very simple.

Coffee meetings, or lunches, dinners – anything outside the office – may not be the most conducive to your audience. Perhaps a half hour phone call is better for them. Be considerate and ask what is best for them and their schedule. It is not all about you. You may be dying to get out of the office; but some of us are not.

Knowing your why is critical. Before you even attempt to engage someone in any type of meeting – you must know your why. What is your agenda, what are you looking to get out of it and equally as important – what are you bringing to the table for them?

Relationships are give and take; if you have nothing to give what is their reason for going? Be clear when you request time with the other person, give them the purpose.

Sometimes you may not have an exact why. For example perhaps you have met someone in networking that you think there might be good synergy between your businesses. This is your why, yet you should explain why you think there is potential synergy. How could you help each other. No one is going to jump at the chance to meet with you because you have a golden book of business for them with nothing in return.

Perhaps your why is information. If you are breaking into a business and you know of this person and are looking for advise – be honest and tell them. Do not try the ‘get to know each other’ bit when you are looking for an hour of schooling. That is disrespectful and trickery.

Do not feel as though you are being rude by asking them to qualify the meeting. I once was given the name of a woman that a mutual friend said I should call, using their name, because we should connect. I was an idiot. I did not ask why. But she did! When I called her up I told her our mutual friend had given me her name and said we should connect.

Her response was, “That’s nice – why?”

I was stumped. I told her that I honestly had no idea and apologized for intruding and wasting her time. She was very kind and told me no problem and that if I found that we had a mutual business interest perhaps we could reconnect then.

I ran into her a year later, luckily she did not remember me, and we had a great conversation. We did have many shared interests and we began to speak frequently. I did tell her about the first meeting we ever had and how it had really helped me. Sometimes looking like an idiot can be a great learning experience.

On behalf of your business and networking community – I gently request that before you type up that email or make that call to know your why and offer options that do not waste their time. We thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

Know What You Are Not To Excel In Your Career

my toolkitMy grandfather was an electrician and my father was a diesel mechanic. I am neither an electrician nor a mechanic. I use two things: duct tape and WD-40, what cannot be solved with one is solved with the other. Okay, occasionally I use a hammer…

I do have my own set of tools, a jigsaw, sawsaw (that’s what I call it), circular saw, table saw, levels, socket set, wire cutters and lots of other toys. I can use each one, although I do not have mastery of any.

This was quite obvious in a recent project.

I was changing out electrical outlets and light switches in all the rooms in my home from the almond to white. I love the white, so clean and fresh! I followed all the appropriate steps: turned off breakers, ensured no power to each item, had my wire cutters, flat head and Philips screw drivers and new switches/outlets.

I did pretty well, actually getting on a roll. I learned how to change plug in from the back to screw in to the side outlets and light switches. I made sure to put the wires in the new reciprocals exactly as they were in the old ones. I am woman, hear me roar!

I roared alright, right after only one of the three light switches worked in both bathrooms. Are you kidding me? I did it exactly as it was before – what happened?

What happened is I am not an electrician. That’s what happened.

My boyfriend provides gentle reminders that I am not a mechanical wizard. I will be working on a project and he will come up, in the most gentle and respectful way, and say, “Here honey, let me help.”

This is code for “good lord girl, let me take this over before you blow up the house.”

Do you know how frustrating it is to struggle with something for a half an hour and have someone come up and complete it in thirty seconds? Very. Very, very, very frustrating.

But here is the thing – I am not an electrician or a mechanic. My boyfriend pretty much is. Those are his strengths, not mine. The reason we work so well together is that we appreciate and recognize each other’s strengths – and weaknesses. We are that weird couple that actually enjoy finding and doing projects together.

We cannot individually be all things to each other in our relationship. He is the time/calendar structured person that can herd cats in a single bound and accomplish more in one day than most people can in a week. I am the creative, communicative, go with the flow, “flower child” as he calls me that adapts easily to whatever is thrown in the path and finds a way to make those lemons into garnishes for mojitos.

We also have similar qualities that work well: we are independent, driven, family oriented, big picture, very sarcastic, appreciate the moment kind of people.  We are a true partnership and it works very, very well for us.

Your career is a series of relationships.

You may have one that your partner does nothing but take from you and never supports your needs or goals. You may have one that they are unfaithful, giving all the best opportunities to someone else. Another might be a great learning experience, with them teaching you more about yourself than you knew. Eventually you find partnerships that allow you to contribute and receive, fulfilling your needs and goals and theirs.

There are two key factors to any relationship. The first is knowing who you are, what you like, what you want, what you will accept and what you will not.

The second is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. What can you give, what can you not, what are you willing to learn to be able to give and what are you not. These things change as you grow older and experience different situations, environments and relationships.

Remember, during each phase of your career – each relationship – it is your choice. You are never stuck anywhere. If it does not suit you it is not your obligation or requirement to stay just to make someone else happy. This makes you miserable and as such you cannot possibly give your greatest gifts to others.

If I were to give one piece of advice it would be this: be selfish. We have put such a negative connotation to being selfish. Oh, you will hear others tell you that you should think of others, that you are being selfish. What they are really saying is that you should not think of yourself, you should think of them.

You deserve to be selfish, it is a requirement! I mean selfish in a way of taking care of yourself. Define what makes you happy, pamper yourself by unplugging and enjoying only what it is that you enjoy doing. To get really flower child on you – until you learn to love yourself, how can you love anyone else?

Until you know your strengths, how can you provide real value to others? Until you know your weaknesses how can you appreciate and ask for them from others? Knowing yourself is a matter of respect. You learn to respect your strengths and learn to appreciate the strengths of others that happen to be your weaknesses.

Each relationship, each job or team, is a balance of individual strengths and weaknesses, respect and honor. When you find that balance between yourself, others and the relationships you know you have found a winner.

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I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

My Anti-Networking Secret Weapon: Shoes

I am a shoe freak.  When traveling most people get trinkets with the name of the local on them, I get shoes.  Boots from Dallas, killer pumps from Ocala – no matter where I have been I have a pair of shoes from there.

My grandmother started it.  When I was growing up she had a full size walk in closet lined in shoes, rows and rows of shoes.  It was heaven.  She knew every shoe store in the tri-state area.  I have proudly continued what she began.  It is one of the things I am known for – my shoes and boots.

I will admit, I do not always love networking.  Sometimes on the walk in phrases like “necessary evil” pop into my mind.   Then there are events that are just not good.

You know the ones; you are expecting one thing and end up in an environment that is completely different.  Whether that environment is a low turnout, the feeling of a singles bar or a complete different venue than what was offered.

This is when I find it difficult to network because there is a disconnect in my mind and the environment. I call it being in the ‘anti-networking’ mode.  You are there, but you just do not want to do it.

That is when I use my secret weapon: shoes.  I start looking at people’s shoes and I make a game out of it.

I will walk up to someone and compliment their shoes.  I do not try to talk about business, certainly not mine; I talk to people about something as random as their shoes.  I give a genuine compliment that is personal to them.  It is amazing how many people are thrown off by compliments to their shoes.

Instead of being approached with a horrible networking line or a fake conversation, they hear “I love your shoes” or “my son would love your shoes”.  Yes, my son has inherited the shoe lover gene.

This leads to fun conversations, real conversations, relaxed conversations that take the pressure off ‘networking’.  It helps draw in the introverts, exclude the creepy card handers and forms a sort of unique dynamic.

Not every networking event is going to be a business success.  But that does not mean that you cannot have fun and engage people from a different perspective – through a genuine compliment.

Sometimes when I run into those same people at other events they greet me warmly with, “It’s the shoe lady”.  That works for me because if nothing else, I did make a connection.

Isn’t that the whole point of networking?

Do You Have More Than One Worth?

apples and orangesYou probably define yourself in two different ways but do not even realize it.  Most people don’t.

 

I can ask someone what they want in life, in a career, in a relationship in any area of their life and they can normally give me an idea.  What is important to them, how they want to be treated, how they define their ideal, what makes them happy, what they will not tolerate are all things that they can at some point define.

 

However, when you compare this to their actual life, career, relationship or area of their life it is in direct conflict.  Perhaps they want to be healthier yet they do not exercise in any way and eat a very unhealthy diet.

 

Maybe they want to pursue certain opportunities yet they do nothing to move forward from either getting more education to just reaching out to people to initiate steps to create relationships or avenues for growth.

 

They want a solid, healthy, supportive and happy relationship yet they are in a relationship that fails to make them happy on all levels.

 

It is the “not ideal but good enough” scenario.

 

What you are actually doing is saying to the world that you desire what you want but only deserve good enough.

 

That is not good enough.

 

If what you desire makes you happy than that is what you deserve.  Period.

 

Stop settling.

 

It is not better to feed bad habits when you crave to be healthy.

It is not better to feel unappreciated or underutilized rather than go after the job you really want.

It is not better to be with someone to eliminate lonely rather than be alone.

 

It takes more strength to hold out and go after what you really want rather than settle for what is convenient.

 

Convenient does not equate to fulfillment.

 

Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “it shouldn’t be this hard!”  But then a voice in my head (I am assuming it is my grandmother or dad) says, “why not?”

 

If everything came easily I wonder if I would appreciate it as much.  I doubt it.  When I work hard at something and I accomplish that goal I feel on top of the world.  Exhilarated, triumphant, ten feet tall and bullet proof.  Convenient doesn’t feel like that.

 

So it is hard for a reason.  Sometimes the hard part is waiting and passing up on the easy.  That sucks.  When little tests are thrown your way in the middle of your journey.  You have been working really hard at what you want to accomplish and an opportunity pops up.  It isn’t ideal, it has hints of what you want but you know it isn’t the whole package.

 

Ah, temptation.  I could stop now and settle for this opportunity or say, thank you.  But no, I choose to keep pushing forward for the whole enchilada, a bite is not enough.

 

I spoke at a group yesterday and there was one gentleman there who just made my day.  He is in a specialty field and has been working hard at making connections, pursuing leads, keeping positive and keep going.  He has some opportunities and is in a holding pattern; yet he took a job as an “in between”.

 

He needs some income.  He could have looked at is a failure that it is a much lower status that what he had been doing, but here is the impressive part: he looked at it as having some fun.  He said he is making a few bucks, getting some exercise and being able to do something while he keeps moving forward.

 

Sometimes you have to take a pit stop – and that is all they are, a pit stop not an ending of the destination.  He recognized it, chose to look at it as a positive and while still looking at the road ahead.  That is why I know he is going to land on his feet and be a positive inspiration to his new company and coworkers.

 

Get your values in alignment.  If you want certain things in a job, career, relationship or in your life then stand firm and own up to the fact that you are worth it.  You deserve it so don’t settle.  Period.

 

It may seem the stronger your values and commitment the harder the road; that only means the sweeter the reward.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

http://www.CareerPolish.com

Six Steps For a Genuine Apology

The screw up – it is what makes us human, what helps us learn and grow, it can be something we can look back at and laugh at one day or, untreated, it can cause major damage to professional and personal relationships.

 

I found a great quote the other day: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” ~ Orlando A. Battista

 

We all make errors, but to correct them, to salvage relationships and to create moments that we can actually laugh about one day takes one key event: the apology.

 

It has been said, or sung – I know there is a song about this, that saying sorry is the hardest thing to do.  No, not so much.

 

I’m sorry.

 

See, pretty easy.

 

The hard part is meaning it, saying it correctly, understanding the ramifications and the willingness to follow through with the appropriate actions.  Oh yes, there is far more to saying you are sorry than just spitting out those three little words; or two if you are using a contraction.

 

The Preparation

 

Do not say it on a whim. 

 

If you have messed up with a boss or co-worker do not simply pop your head in their office or cube on the way back from the break room and say, “sorry” then go on as though nothing every transpired.

 

If it is a personal relationship – don’t simply text them “sorry” or “sry”

 

Both of these convey lack of effort, care or consideration.  In other words they are empty or fake apologies.

 

Do not say it just to shut them up.

 

Sometimes when in the midst of a screw up you want to say “I’m sorry” just to shut the other person up and stop the verbal assault.  This will not work.

 

Understand why you are saying it.

 

Do you even know why the other person is upset?  If not, do you know why you want to apologize?  Do you need to keep peace with your boss or co-worker or keep a friend in your life?

 

You need to try to understand their point of view; but you also need to understand your motivations.  If you are okay with the screw up completely severing the relationship then there really is no need for an apology now is there?

 

If there is a need – swallow your pride and step up to the plate.  If you are waiting for the other person to come to you to open the door to make it easier for you to apologize to them then I hate to tell you but you will be waiting for a very long, long time….

 

The Execution

 

Make it real.

 

If you are saying you are sorry just to keep the peace the other person can spot that a mile away.  It will do more damage, not only is there a screw up but now you added insult to injury.

 

Do not use it as a way to justify.

 

The apology is not the way to sneak in one more attack on “I was right and you were wrong.”  You may need to explain your point of view but it is not the time to attack their thinking or actions.

 

Saying things like, “I did not see or consider your viewpoint.  I may not see it the same way that you do but that is no reason for what I said to come across as dismissing your viewpoint – I am sorry.” Goes a lot further than, “I don’t see how you can see it that way but I’m sorry I snapped at you.”

 

Take responsibility.

 

“I really thought that I understood the parameters of the project and your expectations, I should have clarified, I am sorry I screwed up, I should have come to you” let’s your boss know that you are taking ownership and that you were not being dismissive.

 

Do not blame your screw up on someone else, they did not make you screw up or be a butthead.  You did that all on your own.  You may have misunderstood something, and that is what you need to let them know – you misunderstood and therefore you screwed up.

 

The apology is about you meaning you are sorry and making amends to them – not the other way around.  Do not use the apology to try to make them feel guilty into apologizing to you.  The only way this apology is about you is in your admitting your error and correcting it.

 

If action needs to be taken – do it.

 

If you screwed up due to lack of knowledge or skills now is the time to recognize it and ask for help in getting the required skill set to make sure it does not happen again.

 

Sometimes it is a matter or learning a process or procedure better; sometimes it is utilizing the resources that are right there in front of you: your teammates.

 

Maybe you continually put something off to the last minute and it is a critical piece for your teammate in order to complete their job.  You need to take steps to make sure that you stop giving it to them at the last minute or the apology was empty.

 

Use language and delivery that they will understand and appreciate.

 

My most scary work apology was when I potentially created major damage with a new and lucrative client and could have cost the office a lot of money.  I was in my role for just a few months when I did my major screw up.

 

As soon as I realized it the first thing I did was panic.  My boss was going to kill me, I was out of my league here and I was going to be fire, life on earth would end as I knew it and the cosmos were going to come crashing down on me.  I told you, I panicked.

 

The next thing I did was go to my team and tell them what happened and asked for their help.  What do I need to do to correct this is the first thing I asked.  I didn’t ask them to fix it for me, I asked for their expertise and guidance.  (Emphasizing the above point here.)

 

I then put their plan in action and started unraveling the damage I had done.

 

Then my boss came back into the office.  With this kind of screw up I was not going to call him on the phone, I knew it best to be face to face with him.  I gathered all my information and documentation and forced myself to walk into his office.

 

This is where I used a delivery he would appreciate and understand.  My boss was a man of few words and wielded a great deal of respect and fear.  I knew I had to be short, to the point and direct – very direct.

 

“I need to talk to you for a minute.  I didn’t just screw up, I really fu@%ed up.  Here is what I did…and here is what I am doing to correct it.”  I then outlined in a professional and succinct way where I was in the process, who was helping, what the timelines were and the anticipated results – what the possible negatives were and how those could be corrected if they happened.

 

I then braced myself in my little high heel shoes for the onslaught.

 

He looked at me and said, “Ok, keep me posted.”  Then he left for the day.  Holy crap!

 

The whole experience was one of my biggest professional training sessions ever.

 

Don’t expect anything in return.

 

Once you apologize the recipient has choices: to forgive you, to work through it or to continue to be upset.  That is their choice, not yours.  Do not expect that just because you feel bad, apologize and take steps to make sure it never happens again that all will be sunshine and roses.  It may not.

 

But that should not be a deterrent for apologizing.  If an apology is the right thing to do then do it for that reason, not for an end result.

 

Be prepared that you may be put to the test to see if you really mean it.  This means that your actions from here on out need to support your apology and subsequent words.

 

Saying you are sorry is hard, as is any follow up actions that you need to make.  However, if the relationship is worth saving then it deserves a genuine apology.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com

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