The Most Influential Word (WT431)

The Most Influential Word (WT431)


WT 431 The most influential word

Would you like to know one of the most influential words in the English language?

I was shocked to learn this recently, yet it makes perfect sense. 

You might be surprised to learn the word is “Because”.

According to Robert Cialdini, in his classic book “Influence”, “A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.” 

In his book, Cialdini refers to a university study that tested people’s willingness to let others push in front of them in a line to photocopy. The results were astounding: 

  1. In the first experiment, about 60% of people agreed to let the person in. The stated request was “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
  1. In the second experiment, the request was slightly changed to, “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?”  Ninety four percent agreed to let the requestor go in front.
  1. In the third experiment, 93% allowed the requestor to push in, with the request “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” 

The third reason was hardly a reason, yet it appears that we are more likely to agree when someone gives us a reason for their request.  

Something for you to think about. 

Similarly, we like to hear reasons when someone needs to break a commitment or change plans. I don’t know about you but I am much more accepting of someone rescheduling an appointment if they give me a reason, as opposed to simply communicating, “I can’t make it” or “I need to reschedule”.

Blogger, Gregory Ciotti, suggests that we flag features and product traits to create an incentive for customers to act, but to remember to use “because” when pointing out the compelling reasons. In other words, be sure to mention the benefits and the benefit of the benefit.

Focus On the Bigger Picture (WT430)

Focus On the Bigger Picture (WT430)


WT 430 Focus on the bigger picture

When I was studying to become a school teacher, I learnt one of the most impactful lessons of my life. 

It was during my practicum at a high school in a seaside community.  

Enthusiastic and passionate about learning and education and wanting to deliver the most fun and informative lessons to my students, I found myself preparing lessons and creating games well into the early hours of the morning before heading off to school to teach them. 

One particular class was scheduled to be tested and I was devastated with their results. 

“How could they not study? How could they not learn this?” I cried to my supervising teacher. “I put so much time and effort into making their revision lessons so much fun.” 

“Shirley, it’s not about you”, she said. “These kids have a different set of values to you. They don’t value education. They would rather surf and smoke pot.”

This was totally confronting for me. I experienced so many emotions. I wanted to give up. I wanted to scream at them. I resented them for not appreciating the effort I had gone to to make their lessons interesting. I was distressed for them that their future depended on them learning and none of this seemed to matter to them. 

“Shirley, if you are going to make it in this system, you have to accept that the kids you will be teaching will not all share the same values as you, and that despite that, you still need to show up and give your best effort”, counselled my wise and experienced supervising teacher. 

Sadly, I accepted her advice. She was right. I needed to focus on the bigger picture. I was there to teach and do the best job I could, to help as many as I could. 

It’s been 30 years since I learned that lesson and it still applies today.  

The people you are working with in your organisation may not share the same values as you. 

That doesn’t make them wrong and you right. It doesn’t mean that you have to convince them, rather, focus on the bigger picture.    

What outcome do you want to achieve? What is best for the organisation and your people? 

Focus on that.  

Invest your time, energy, passion and enthusiasm into achieving the end result. 

Focus on the bigger picture.

You Have to Be Organised (WT429)

You Have to Be Organised (WT429)


WT 429 You have to be organised

One of the analogies I use when training is that of a sailing boat. Unless you are Jessica Watson and sailing around the world by yourself, you need a crew or team to help you get where you are going.

Recently, I listened to an interview between Real Estate Director, Robert Sheahan and Lee Woodward of Real Estate Academy, where Robert shared his experience of growing a team.

“You have to be organised for them to be able to help you”, he said.

It reminded me of so many instances when I have been challenged to be organised in order for people to help me as well as those of my clients and their teams.

I recalled one such executive assistant who was in tears as she shared about the number of times her boss changed his mind and therefore the goal posts. It undermined her ability to succeed in the role and reduced her self-esteem and confidence.

This isn’t helpful for those who want to support us.

We need to remember that they need time to do their work and that whilst many of us fly by the seat of our pants, our support team need the time and resources to organise themselves to help us.

Recently, I added a virtual team to my organisation to implement campaigns for my customer relationship management (CRM) software program which also doubles as a marketing platform.

I pay a monthly fee and they complete tasks during the month according to my priorities.

They have been extremely efficient with their implementation and sadly I confess it is me who is holding up the projects with simple things like subscribing to plugins, or giving them the information they need to create campaigns.

This week’s topic is a really important topic. How often do we hear others complaining about the lack of support they receive and yet when you drill down on it, it’s not a lack of support, rather a lack of organisation, instruction and clear communication; all in a timely manner.

Here are a couple of tips to help you get organised:

  1. Have a plan for what you want to have done by when
  1. Make a list of all the tasks required to be completed by whom
  1. Allocate ENOUGH time for all parties to complete their tasks
  1. Schedule regular progress updates either in person, online or using a project management program such as Asana.
  1. Stick to the plan.

Sticking to the plan is the single most important thing you can do to alleviate stress and anxiety for your team.

You know you can’t do it alone. Please help your team to support you by getting yourself organised or at least, allowing them to organise you.

How Much Courage Does it Take? (WT428)

How Much Courage Does it Take? (WT428)


WT 428 How much courage does it take?

You know from the past few weeks that Ross and I have been travelling throughout NSW on a roadshow with the Association of Consulting Surveyors.

We had some time before travelling to the next town so we decided to explore. 

I just love being able to be spontaneous. We passed a sign on the road that read, “Bonegilla Migrant Experience”. Having worked with the late Dagnija (pronounced Dugnea) McGrath, Co-Founder of Kip McGrath Education Centres, who as a child came to Australia from Latvia and found herself in a migrant camp, I was curious to see for myself. 

Wow! The courage the migrants must have had to take on the journey to another country they knew nothing about with no more than one suitcase for their worldly belongings, just blows my mind.

It’s true, fear also played a major role, motivating them to leave their war torn countries, but it took so much courage to survive and thrive.

Families lived in two rooms in the old army barracks at Bonegilla (on the NSW and Victorian border). The rooms were not clad until the 1950’s and there was no heating or air-conditioning. 

Each morning residents had to queue to get into the ablution block. Hot water often ran out. The food was different to what they were used to and the only sense of control the women had was doing the family washing. Their meals were prepared for them and as Mrs McGrath once told me, because of her experience she could not line up for food in a cafeteria, etc. 

As we walked around the camp and talked with Alice, our very passionate and knowledgeable guide, I was reminded of what it takes to succeed in business and in life.

Alice told us that the new arrivals were terrified when they arrived by boat and were placed on a train (the red rattler) thinking they were going off to their death as happened to so many family members in Europe, only to find themselves at the end of the train journey in the middle of a large paddock in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. 

They were known as “Reffos”, (slang for refugees) and often experienced discrimination because of their situation and yet they survived and many thrived, including Karl Kruszelnicki AM, often referred to as “Dr Karl”, an Australian science communicator and populariser, who is known as an author and science commentator on Australian radio and television. Dr Karl came to Australia as a refugee and lived in Bonegilla for 3 months. During an interview with Anh Do, he recalled how, as a “reffo”, he had to walk to school in the rain whilst the other local kids would be picked up and driven.

So what does that have to do with you and business and life?

Firstly, acknowledge yourself for the courage you have shown to get to where you are now. Wherever you are in life or business, you have survived to this point. At times you would have experienced fear and would have dug deep to find your courage to continue.

Be inspired by the fact that we can overcome obstacles and that if you’re “doing it tough at the moment”, that there is hope. This too will pass.

Just as the migrants were courageous and brave, so too are you.

You Have to Trust (WT427)

You Have to Trust (WT427)


WT 427 You have to trust

This week presented two opportunities for powerful lessons about trust.

The first came as participants in my workshops reflected on their behaviours and outcomes for one of the games. Working in pairs, they competed against each other to produce a standard product in the shortest amount of time. The successful teams found that they divided the product into sections and delegated its construction to individual team members.

The not so successful teams tended to have both people working on the same thing at the same time.

The teams that delegated the tasks found that they had to trust that the team members would get their parts completed as efficiently as they could.

The game generated an interesting discussion around what it takes to delegate. For many bosses, delegation appears hard because they don’t trust their team to do the work as well as they can.

This can be easily overcome by having systems and processes in place and ensuring the team are trained. Of course, the manager has to be willing to let go as well.

The second point from the game included repetition. The teams had a number of trials before competing for the winning round. During the trials, the teams found that they were able to reduce the amount of time it took and in most cases they reduced the time by a whopping 75%.

Repetition leads to Mastery and Mastery leads to Trust and Trust leads to Delegation.

The second event occurred as Ross and I drove back from Woollongong to Newcastle. It was my turn to drive as we approached Sydney. Our GPS gave me instructions that I considered to be counter-intuitive. I was heading away from the signs directing me to Sydney.

I was nervous, and yet I trusted and followed the GPS and I was rewarded for doing so. We emerged on the motorway and completely missed the Sydney CBD, which is where we would have ended up, had I followed the signs and not the GPS.

How about you?

Do you trust your GPS?

Do you trust your team to get the job done or are you micro-managing?

Remember, your team want to come to work and succeed. You have to trust and let them do the work.

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