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It doesn't matter if you're an accountant, engineer or a public relations expert.
 
 
It also won't matter if your entrepreneurial endeavours are steeped in the oil sector or birthed in tech.



 
At some point in your professional journey, you'd be required to emerge from the field, corner office or that workstation, to articulate your ideas in an important presentation to a boss/potential client/investor, or to pen a convincing memo/ report/proposal for a worthwhile venture.

 

 
This fate will soon befall you if you haven't yet experienced the sheer panic that will engulf you when you learn of some communication that you'd be required to deliver. 

 

 

You can of course reassure yourself that you're the expert in your field and are thus exempt from the extra hassle of communicating effectively.
 
 
But you'd do yourself a disservice. The reality we face is that information is no longer the sole preserve of the elite, and it can be accessed at lightening speed via the internet and by innovations in technology. Indeed, the ease with which we retrieve information, even personal data, as evidenced by  the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal is unprecedented.
 
 

Here’s the paradox of this information age:

 

 

The more data that circulate the waves, creating the overload we've come to dread, the more tuned off we've become. We're simply overwhelmed by too many choices competing for our time.


 

This means that unless you make concrete efforts to stand out and become memorable by communicating effectively in speech and in writing, you're contributing to the clutter online. Moreover, without above-average communication skills, you'd be considered irrelevant - the death knell in your professional advancement.


 
Interestingly, research-backed benefits of good communication skills include the following revelations:
 
1) They’re the most desirable quality in a new hire.

2) They aid in the development of leadership skills.

3) They make you more money as a highly skilled communicator at the workplace.
 
Therefore, elevating your communication skills is necessary for advancement. To help you on this journey, below are three truths about communication that you must embrace in your career and business:
 
 
1) Becoming a convincing speaker is achievable
 
Anyonecan become a memorable speaker..

 
 
 
 
 
Don't let people convince you that your background, limitations or unimpressive education automatically disqualify you from that exclusive group of dynamic speakers.
 
 
But it takes time, effort and discipline to achieve mastery in communication.
 
 
You must become almost obsessive about self-education as a non-negotiable requirement. You should ideally also seek sign up for formal training.
 
 
The popular saying—a goal without a plan is just a wish—rings true.
 
 
I've addressed the issue of improving your oral communication skills in different articles on this blog, but a recap is pertinent here, so:
 
 
a) Volunteer for more speaking gigs
 
To hone your oral skills, put yourself out there. From pro bono programmes and work-related activities, to networking sessions and conferences -  seek opportunities to speak. You must be willing to work despite your fear of speaking in public.
 
 
b) Join your local chapter of Toastmasters Club
 
There, you'd be critiqued but supported. Many speakers have attested to the usefulness of being held accountable for their progress by participating in regular speaking activities.
 
 
c) Seek help online
 
Numerous resources abound online and on social media to help you improve your speaking and presentation skills. From blogs, webinars and seminars, to workshops, courses and books - there's no excuse for remaining complacent.
 
Many of those resources are free, so take advantage of this information age and arm yourself with knowledge that would sharpen your communication skills.
 
 
d) Get coached by experts with proven records (bonus tip)
 
Although this option might be expensive, consider formal training in public speaking and effective presentations as an investment that will continue to yield favourable returns in your business and your career long after the programmes.
 
One-on-one coaching sessions by experts who speak professionally would be particularly invaluable in terms of the feedback you’d receive, as well as advice on tools/resources they’d recommend for you to continue to hone your craft.
 
 
 After the education in public speaking, painstakingly practise what you learn. With discipline in continuous learning and practice in proven methods, you'd yield consistent results that translate to quicker career progression and more business opportunities.
 
 
Remember that anyone is capable of being a memorable speaker. If you need more reassurance, this post explains how effective communication can be learned; it isn't an innate skill a select few are born with.
 
 
 
2) Speaking with purpose wins over more people
 
"Speak clearly if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall ".
 
- Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894).


 
 
 
It takes certain wisdom to speak only when you've got something meaningfully to say.
 
 
From team meetings, focus groups deliberations and committee hearings, to tense debates, negotiations and media engagements, practise active listening and weigh your words before you speak.
 
 
Speaking with purpose communicates two crucial things: i) that you've thoroughly considered the topic and will bring insights necessary for action; ii) that you're a thoughtful, credible professional who's the best person to lead/handle the issue.
 
 
Therefore, speak in a simple manner; speak in a succinct fashion; and speak in clear terms. The higher the stakes, the more readily you should adhere to simplicity, brevity and clarity - the three beacons of effective communication.
 
 
Note also that those who are deliberate in their utterances and whose words are seasoned by their credibility (ethos), by emotion (pathos), and  by logic (logos)—adhering to  Aristotle's suggestions for persuasion—are seen as trustworthy and would win over more people.
 
 
Strive to be one of them.
 
 
 

 
3) Writing concisely leads to quicker results
 
"That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time".
 
- Caleb Charles Colton (1780-1832).
 
 
 
 

Brevity was relevant in Colton's time, but it's more pertinent now because of the fast-paced era of the 21st  century.

 

People have little time (and less patience) for confusing emails, ambiguous articles, long-winded reports or tedious white papers, even if the grammar is impeccable and the style is flawless.
 

If you master the art of conciseness in all your communications, especially in your business writing, you'd get quicker responses to requests and stronger actions from your recipients.

 

 
Then there's the bonus  of  being  considered the subject matter expert for the issue you're handling, and of being assigned leadership in an initiative because of your perceived mastery.
 
 
However, note the caveat - it's challenging to write in a concise, compelling manner, if you don't truly understand your topic, or if you haven't used certain methods to trim the clutter to emerge with crisp content.
 
 
This post on achieving conciseness  in your business writing gives tips you could use to become a convincing writer who achieves goals. The expanded version is available on website of the  Case Center organisation.

 
Regularly practice those suggestions for optimal results.
 
 
 
 Conclusion
 
 
 
 
Good communication is no longer a desirable skill at the workplace. Now a pertinent ability, it is expected in all professional feats if you want to succeed.
 
 
New hires, mid-level managers, C-suite executives, and leadership pundits, should all realise that excellent communication skills distinguish one professional from the next.
 
 
You won’t always be the most experienced, talented or knowledgeable person at the workplace or in your business circle. Nonetheless, you can significantly differentiate your profile from others by displaying persuasive communication skills.
 
 
So dare to be different. Use the suggestions made in this article and advance boldly.
 

And now, over to you:
 
What other communication truths have you learned that bring results?

 
Kindly post your comments below.
 
If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

 
ØShare this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons below.
 
ØSign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar on the homepage so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!

 
 
Need help with improving your communication skills?

 
Hire me for:

v Communication training and  sessions for  your staff and executives;

v One-on-one coaching in speeches/presentations and in business writing;

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events;

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.).


Let me help you get results.

 
Contact me:
A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.
 
B) Call for a free consultation: 
 
Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
International: +234 704 631 0592  
 
---------------------------------------------
N.B:   First and fourth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second and fifth images are courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Third image is courtesy of Iosphere, via freedigitalphotos.net.
 

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As I approached the sixth year of my blogging journey, several things happened in quick succession.
 
 
 
 
First, more consulting opportunities came along; I was also approached by a reputable organisation for an interesting assignment. I was both excited and apprehensive but challenged myself to provide exceptional service, given the caliber of the client.  The astounding feedback received after the session delighted, but also humbled me. I realised I would need to continue to strive for excellence to surpass expectations. That plan is still work in progress.

 


Second, two awards were given to this blog by two completely different, but important organisations. I was unaware that many readers across the globe appreciated my articles, given that only a few comments are regularly posted. Nevertheless, because the criteria used for selection of the awards were objective and based on the quality of posts, Google reputation and social media influence, I was elated.

 

 
Third, I made my first media appearance. I was contacted by a host of the official radio station of the Lagos State Government, and invited to give a 30-minute discussion on how effective business writing lead to more opportunities.
 
 
Then, there were the seminars, pro bono programmes and other activities that I was  invited to participate in, mostly because of my body of work as a communications blogger.
 
 
So blogging continues to stretch me professionally. It has not only made me a better communicator, but has also exposed me to opportunities whereby I could share my knowledge to make a real difference in society.
 
 
And that’s why I continue to cherish the journey.        
 
 
Therefore, in keeping with our tradition, as this blog clocks six this month, it’s my pleasure to share quotes from the articles that were posted during the period under review. You’d find that many posts are didactic. They would also provide value to inspire you to achieve your goals.
 
Without further ado, below are the quotes:

 
1) “People will thank us when our addresses are short but sweet; they will support us when our reports are brief but comprehensive; and they would act swiftly when our emails include one-liners that hit the spot.

 
Post: 
Conciseness - How Effective A Communicator Are You?

Date:  
April 2017.

URL:
 
Description:
Being concise in your communications gets quicker results. Learn how to master this skill for greater effectiveness in your career.
 
 
2) “There has to be some spark, some moment in your long (or short) professional life, whereby you felt truly fulfilled because your efforts lead to results that made everything you had endured up until that point worth it.”
 
 
Post:
Discussion Forum  #5 - What Has Been Your Proudest Career Moment?
 
Date:
May 2017.
 
URL:
 
Description:
Despite the stress, disappointments and failures, there is one moment in your professional journey that made everything worth it.  In this discussion forum, you’re given full rein to share your proudest career moment and to highlight the lessons learned.
 

 

3) “The allure of value is undeniable in all communication, particularly in business writing. Therefore, explicitly state the benefit you would provide to your recipient for the response you seek”.

 

 
Post:
How To Write The Most Compelling Content Of Your Career.

Date:
June  2017.
 
 
URL:
 
 
 
Description:
 
At 2,200+ words, this article provides valuable advice on how to write compelling emails and formal letters. Whether you need to write an important email, report or formal letter, the tips given will eliminate the dread faced when you’re required to compose the most important content of your career. Share widely.

 
 
4) “We did not suddenly lose vital brain cells when we became mothers”.
 
 
 
 
Post:
An Open Letter To Management - From Working Mothers. 

 
Date:
July  2017.

 
URL:
 
 
Description:
Working mothers, hitherto silent about their career concerns, finally bare all in this candid letter to management. Members of the Big Boys’ Club, ignorant HR executives or other professionals - learn what makes these professional women tick for a more productive workplace.

 
 
5) “When considered alongside with passion, perseverance produces grit, and grit is a predictor of success”.


Post:
Perseverance - The Invaluable Tool For Successful Careers.


Date:
August  2017.


URL:

 
Description:
Perseverance forms character and leads to lasting results. For success in your career, find out why you should prioritise this admirable quality and develop grit, as advised by Angela Lee Duckworth, whose TED talk is included in this article.
 
Also, be inspired by the personal account of the author's eight-year journey to landing a dream job.
 
 
 
6) “…Being able to dispassionately address a volatile situation to try to find common ground is important when dealing with conflict”.

Post:
How To Deal With A Maddening Professional.

 
 
 
Date:
September  2017.

 
URL:

 
Description:
Sooner or later, you'd be required to handle opposition from a galling individual. Arm yourself with these two practical tips to preserve your credibility.
 
 
 
7) “Once you know the rules, there’s no one on this planet you wouldn't be able to write to”. 
 
Post: 
Your Business Writing Skills - Where Do You Stand?

 
Date:  
October 2017.
 
URL:
 
 
Description:
A declaration is necessary here: This is the only article that you’d need to read this year about improving your business writing.  It covers all the bases.
 
In this post, the author gives away useful nuggets that are often only revealed in paid seminars or training sessions. This post thus provides undisputed value.

 
 
8) “Aim to boost clarity in your business communications, and you would soon be known as a professional who consistently delivers results”.
 


 
Post:
The Case For Clarity In Business Communication.

 
Date:  
November  2017.
 
 
URL:
 

Description: 

Clarity is sometimes the unappreciated sibling to simplicity and brevity. This post thus makes a compelling case for the importance of clarity in both oral and written communication. Learn how to strive for clarity in your business communication and get concrete results.

 


 
9) “I bided my time and believed that my discipline in posting high quality posts would pay off”.

 
Post:
Adieu 2017…
 
Date:
December 2017.

 
URL:
 



Description:


 

The editor of the Rethinking Business Communications Blog highlighted the blog's award for being one of the top 30 communication blogs on the web in 2017. She also recommended three articles that every professional should read for success. 
  

 

 



10) “Simple doesn't mean simplistic”.


Post:
Mastering Simplicity In Business Communication For Speedier Results.

 
Date:
January 2018.


 
URL:

 
Description:
Simplicity in your business communications paves the way for speedier results. Learn why you must simplify your messaging, and use the practical tips provided to fulfill your communication goals.
 

 
 
11) “What will get you through those hallowed corridors of reputable organisations is one indisputable fact: The value you bring”.
 
Post:
Dear Nigerian Jobseeker: It's A Jungle Out There But...

 
Date:
February 2018.
 
URL:
 

Description:

As a (fresh) Nigerian graduate, you could increase your chances of landing a good job. Learn practical tips on how to make you desirable to reputable organisations. And it's not always about your qualifications. Not just for Nigerian graduates, the timeless advice given in this article will resonate with all.




Conclusion
 
 
 
 
 

 
And that concludes the review of this blog in its sixth year of existence.
 

 
Which is your favourite article in the list and why?
 

 
I would love to hear any accounts of how advice provided in the posts above lead to results, so kindly give feedback.

 
As I continue to expand my knowledge and grow as a blogger, I hope you’d join me in exploring the interesting ways that communication influencesmanagement, careers and professional feats.
 
 
Thank you all for reading this blog, for sharing articles and for the display of support. I believe in great things for this blog so continue to watch this space!
 

 
See you soon!
 


 
If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:
Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons below.
 
Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!
 
Need help with improving your communication skills?
 
Hire me for:
v  Communications training sessions for your executives;
 
v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);
v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.
 
Let me help you get results.
 
 
Contact me:
A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com .
B) Call for a free consultation: 
 
Nigeria:             0704 631 0592
International:   +234 704 631 0592  
 
 
----------------------------------------
N.B -  First image is courtesy of Stuart Miles, at freedigitalphotos.net. Second image is courtesy of Ddpavumba, at freedigitalphotos.net. Third and fourth images are courtesy of Iosphere, at freedigitalphotos.net. Fifth image is courtesy of KROMKRATHOG, at freedigitalphotos.net. Last image is courtesy of Naypong, at freedigitalphotos.net.

 
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You still have a good chance at landing your dream job, or positioning yourself for that great opportunity.
 
 
 
 
It however won't be easy.
 
 
 
You've heard the disheartening stories about how many qualified and energetic graduates remained unemployed for months, even years, after their university studies. Those gradually  became disillusioned shells of themselves.
 
 
 
You've remained mute when you were bluntly told that without 'connections' you'd never get a decent job. To worsen matters, you've come to realise that unemployed graduates are worse off than semi-literate entrepreneurs, because the latter at least use their knowledge and skills to earn a living, no matter how little.
 
 
 
You've also been advised to use social media (especially LinkedIn) to form alliances. Indeed, professionals have often lectured you about the need to network tirelessly to tap into 'hidden' job market, because many opportunities are not advertised and are only available via referrals.
 
 
 
 
There's some truth to all you've been told.
 
 
 
 
In a nutshell, the Nigerian economy has been brutal to your career aspirations, and the effects of the recent inflation are still being felt.
 
 
 
But rather than resigning yourself to the 'predictable' fate of becoming jobless, you should take concrete steps  to improve your chances in the corporate jungle.
 
 
 
Realise that what will get you through those hallowed corridors of reputable organisations is one indisputable fact:
 
 
 
The value you bring.
 
 
 
Your mindset and actions must be steeped in displaying value to your prospective employer. That perception must govern your thoughts, and should be evident in the application and interview processes for you to stand a chance of being selected.
 
 
 
The allure of value in the organisationis undeniable, so ensure you address this crucial theme in your profile.
 
 
 
Recently, I was invited to participate in two events where the notion of value was brought to the fore.
 
 

 
Event #1
 
I was a panel judge in mock interviews for soon-to-graduate MBA students. My role was to simulate real scenarios whereby they would face a panel's tough interview questions. I was to comment on their performances, but also decided to assess their communication skills.  Each 'interviewee' endured  five minutes of brutal questioning. Afterwards, their classmates who observed the exchanges highlighted strengths and weaknesses.
 
 
 
It was interesting to watch the reactions of participants - nervous tics, fumbling explanations and weak eye contact on the one hand; while on the other hand, strong postures, passionate answers and good interpersonal skills.
 
 
 
 
What became clear rather quickly was that the participants who were highly rated by both their classmates and the panel judges were those who articulated the value they would bring to the roles. Those students were confident, likeable and answered questions in a simple manner; they also reiterated what they would do to help the prospective 'employers' (i.e. the panel judges).
 
 
 
Value was an attractive trait that made the difference, and that was an eye-opener to all present.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Value was an attractive trait that made the difference, and that was an eye-opener to all present.

 

 

 

Event #2

 

 

I was selected to handle a pro bono session for recent graduates, most of whom had completed their mandatory national youth service corps (NYSC) stints. Some had already begun applying for jobs. My 75-minute session tackled writing effective CVs and preparing for interviews.
 
 
 
 
I began by requesting all participants to stand up; I told them to applaud themselves for completing their university studies and for obtaining decent degrees, despite all odds. Initially their eyes widened  in confusion but at further prompting, all 50+ of tem erupted in thunderous applause.
 
 
 
 
 
That move was deliberate. 
 
 
I told them never to underestimate their hard work. I also reassured them that despite whatever difficult processes they might undergo when applying for jobs, they were capable of succeeding.

 
It was crucial for them to first believe in their worth because that would be the motivation to press forward.

 
The session turned out to be engaging with participants asking questions about CVs and sharing their interview experiences. It ended with my suggestion that they should consider the entire application process as an opportunity to allude to the value they would bring to their potential employers. The theme of value should be evident in their CVs, should be explicit in their cover letters, and should be the foundation for their interviews.  
 
 
I also implored them to the mindful of the importance of the three types of communication in the application process. In particular, I shared the benefits of strong nonverbal communication cues, and highlighted how those increased their chances of being liked - a key to being selected.
 

Since value was the common link in both events, dear graduate, value is what you should prioritise while searching for your next opportunity.

 
So how do you ensure you boost your profile to display value? The actions below will help you stand out from the crowd.
 

 
1) Get/hone transferable skills


 
Transferable skills are skills that could be applied in a wide variety of roles, across different sectors.
 
 
So certain IT skills, (e.g.  practical knowledge of Microsoft office suite), leadership skills, analytical skills, teamwork skills, language skills, time management skills, knowledge of social media, etc. will all be useful to your prospective employer.

 
How to get transferable skills 
 
a) Via volunteering.
 
b) Via formal work experience, placements or internships.
 
c) Via entrepreneurial activities.
 
Even if you have limited 'formal' work experience,  become actively involved in some volunteer work, no matter how humble the activity. So lead that community outreach programme that aims to teach literacy skills to children in low-income neighbourhoods. Offer to help out in a relative's auto shop, or  manage the staff of your friend's food store. Do whatever you can to gain some 'life experience' while job hunting. 
 
Not only do these skills make your CV attractive when relevant to the positions that you're applying for, they also highlight the potential value you could bring to any organisation.
 
 
2) Improve your communication skills
 
 
 
These skills are increasingly demanded in corporateville, and it won't matter what role you'd be assigned; you'd be required to display such skills on a daily basis.
 
 
Communication skills, which are also transferable skills, should be continually honed to be useful. Note that even seasoned professionals with decades of experience, are regularly challenged to display advanced levels of these skills. Therefore, the sooner you begin to improve your skill levels, the more prepared you'd become when the date for that assessment-cum-interview process approaches.
 
 
There are three types of communication: oral, nonverbal and written. Proving that you could use these skills effectively will make you very desirable to many companies.
 
 
How to update your communication skills

 
A) Oral and nonverbal skills
 
Ample advice on how to polish these two skills is available on the internet. Nonetheless, this  article highlights some habits that will strengthen your speaking ability, as well sharpen your awareness of body language cues.
 
 
I) Oral skills
 
You’d need these skills when giving speeches, talks or presentations. You could easily learn tips and begin implementing practical actions to increase your competence. Numerous resources online give valuable information - from blogs, articles and YouTube videos, to TED talks and advice from the Toastmasters organisation. The information is out there, so do your research.
 
However, note that for you to become an effective speaker/presenter, you'd need to consistently practise whatever you learn. With continued practice comes the ease of execution, as well as the mastery of this skill.
 
And despite your phobia of public speaking—for you're not alone in this—or the constant dread you'd feel when facing an unfamiliar crowd, go ahead and do it anyway.
 
Over time, it becomes easier.
 
I promise.

 
II) Nonverbal skills/body language cues
 
These skills cover everything you do with your body without speaking.
 
Therefore, gesturing, smiling, and maintaining eye contact, are all positive nonverbal signs when used appropriately. Similarly, a confident pose, a firm handshake and mirroring techniques make you a candidate of interest. Finally, your facial expressions, as well as your use of movement and pauses to connect with your audience, will strengthen perceptions of your credibility.
 
Nonverbal communication is often underestimated but becomes invaluable in interviews and in other tense interactions where speech is limited.
 
Learn how to use it wisely.

 
B) Business writing skills
 
These skills are arguably the most difficult to master, but with regular practice, you'd tremendously improve your ability.
 
Strong writing skills are one of the surest ways for you to stand out from the gaggle of intelligent, talented candidates.
 
For practical advice and useful resources to help you perfect this skill, read this informative article on business writing.
 
If you're desirous of becoming a persuasive writer, you must seek opportunities to write. If all fails, then start a personal blog. Choose free blog templates online such as those from Blogger, WordPress, Wix and Medium. Be disciplined in this quest and your efforts will soon pay off.
 

Conclusion
 
 

So dear new jobseeker - even though it's a jungle out there, and you know how tough it will be to land a decent job, keep your head up.

 
Concentrate on what you can control, and ignore how the odds are stacked against you.
 
In addition to other valuable advice you receive about networking, use this 'free' period in your job search to update your transferable skills. Also take concrete steps to sharpen your communication skills, so that you get quicker results. If you do these things, you’d provide value in the application process.

 
As a result, doors will open for you because of your qualifications, knowledge anddogged efforts at self-improvement.

 
Then tell me all about your experiences when you receive multiple offers.
 
 
Over to you:

 
What other advice can you give fresh graduates to land good jobs?
 
Kindly post your comments below.


If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

 
Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
 
Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!
 
 
 
 
 

Need help with improving your communication skills?


Hire me for:
 

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.); 

 
v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

 
 
Let me help you get results.



 
Contact me:

 
 
A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

 

B) Call for a free consultation: 
 
 
Nigeria:           0704 631 0592.
 

International: +234 704 631 0592.  
 


 
--------------------------------

N.B:   First image and fifth images are courtesy of Jscreationzs via freedigitalphotos.net. Second and third images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net. Fourth image is courtesy of Arztsamui, via freedigitalphotos.net.

 
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Simple doesn't mean simplistic.




So this year, champion this mantra for your company's vision, business strategy, or change initiative. Your influencing skills will be heightened once you take concrete steps to simplify everything.




Yes, in the past we used the veneer of complexity to illustrate our elite education or knowledge.



As professionals, we were advised that long, unusual-sounding words made us look smart, so we sprouted statements we scarcely understood.




Or we used foreign terms such as the je ne sais quoi to refer to the delightful, indefinable trait that someone had.





Or we complained that a colleague's laissez-faire attitude irked us because he wouldn't get involved in anything.





At the organisational level, business-speak and clichés became rife. Phrases such as 'leveraging resources for optimal effectiveness', 'riding the tide of favour', or 'chasing after the low hanging fruit' were silently approved. Moreover, companies often released long statements 'apologising' without actually saying they were sorry for anything; or to avoid culpability, they stated that certain unfortunate incidents were 'regrettable'.



Then while we were deliberating whether  'utilise' sounded more important than 'use', the information age emerged and with it came along social media.




Now, with the deluge of data, and easy access to the internet, we've become overwhelmed. Attention spans have dwindled and tempers have become shorter. Impatient investors, business partners, consumers and clients now demand simpler, quicker and clearer messaging in our oral and written communications.




Therefore, unless you make concrete efforts to ensure that you adhere to the three beacons of effective communication: simplicity, brevity and clarity, you won't get lasting results. Of the three beacons, simplicity opens the door to effective communication because it hastens comprehension.



You should simplify your business communications because:




1) Simple communication leads to quicker decisions






The easier it is for your audience to understand whatever you're championing, the quicker decisions are made.



A) For the professional:



Using simple language in your presentations, speeches and addresses demonstrates your knowledge and aids credibility.



As a result, members of your audience are likely to make up minds sooner rather than later. Even a barrage of questions or criticisms can work in your favour, if you're able to explain your viewpoint in a simple, engaging manner.



For your writing, realise that simple language is a byproduct of clear reasoning; therefore endeavour to understand the topic. From an uncluttered mind also comes the ability to convincingly express views in different ways.



B) For the company:

You can boost your corporate reputation with communication by using these tips.


Nevertheless, inside your organisation simple communication promotes employee engagement, which in turn, as research has revealed, leads to favourable outcomes such as increased productivity and higher levels of trust.




Externally, simple messaging via your website, with the media, (including social media), helps people quickly form opinions about issues they understand. Thus, they'll react to your communications in a timely manner. This development is useful for getting the 'pulse' of stakeholders so that your company knows what actions to take in specific scenarios.




Even a backlash from the public is a good lesson on what not to do in the future. Nothing is worse for any business than no engagement. You can't fix what you don't know is broken.



2) Simple communications win over more people








This is important when influence becomes a game of numbers.



For example, winning over a skeptical colleague with your simple argument is thrilling.


But more rewarding would be convincing your bosses to support your idea by highlighting simple reasons why your suggestion is beneficial.



The most impressive feat however, would be getting the board to approve a major change by the strength of your simple, declarative closing that swings opinions in your favour.




Moreover, when you break down a concept to its simplest form, people will conclude that you're knowledgeable about the subject matter. They'd thus be certain that you're the best person to handle the issue.



The number of 'converts' increase in the public arena. Committees, groups and even demographics are won over with simple communications.



In politics, simple messaging helps to win elections, especially when coupled with charisma. When you recall President Obama's 'Yes You Can' campaign and President Trump's 'Make America Great Again' slogan, one perception becomes difficult to beat:




If it is simple, it is believable.




In corporateville, such a conviction could be manipulated for selfish ends by influential leaders, or by powerful organisations.



Nonetheless, realise that simple communication gains you advocates when paired with honesty.



And that's a powerful tool to have.



Tips for mastering simple communication


 
  
Despite its relevance in persuasive communication, simplicity is actually difficult to get right. Nevertheless, the tips below should help you to communicate more precisely:
 
 
I) Replace 'big’ or complex words with simpler versions
 
Use small words if nuances in meanings are negligible. So use 'stop' instead of 'desist'.
 
 
II) Write shorter sentences
 
Preferably, sentences should be no longer than 15-20 words when feasible. Note that the longer the sentence, the more likely that it would become confusing, especially if the required punctuation marks are absent.
 
 
III) Priortise the active voice
 
Yesterday, the new management approved the budget for the IT system upgrade in the company's outstations.



Instead of:



Yesterday, the budget for the IT system upgrade in the company's outstations was approved by the new management.


The first version is more direct and quicker to grasp.

 
 

IV) Edit and proofread thoroughly

Be mindful of your word choice, especially with synonyms (words that have similar meanings e.g. clever/sharp, big/burly etc.); and homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings, e.g. peace/piece, discreet/discrete, etc.).



Bonus tip:


Remember the first rule for effective communication: always tailor your content to suit the needs of your audience/recipients.





Conclusion






So this year, master simple communication to get quicker results.




Note that the simpler your messaging—speeches, presentations, formal letters, business proposals etc.—the quicker decisions are made, and the more likely you are to win people over.



Armed with this knowledge, go fulfill your communication goals.



And now over to you: What advice can you give to communicate in a simple manner?


 

Kindly post your comments below.



If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:
  

Ø Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
ØSign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!


 
Need help with improving your communication skills?


Hire me for:


v Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;


v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);


v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.


Let me help you get results.





Contact me:



A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.



B) Call for a free consultation: 

Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
International: +234 704 631 0592  



---------------------------------------------------------
N.B: First image is courtesy of Sira Anamwong, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second, third, fourth and fifth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net.
 
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And thank you for the lessons learnt and for the opportunities given.


 
 


This year began with renewed hopes that things would get better. Having survived 2016, I was optimistic that there would be interesting, albeit unforeseen opportunities to be celebrated. So l was quietly optimistic.

 
 
As the year prodded on, I settled into the predictable paces of my personal and professional lives.
 
 
And that was fine.
 
 
I continued to blog, even accepting, with calm resignation, the familiar anxiety that materialized towards the end of each month when another blog post would be due, and when I would have no idea about what to write. I nonetheless persevered.
 
 
I bided my time and believed that my discipline in posting high quality posts would pay off.
 

 
It did.
 

 
It only took some five-and-a-half years, thousands of hours of reading/researching, and painstakingly churning out 78 posts, to get recognition for this blog.
 


 
 
But the journey was worth it.
 


 
Recognition for the Rethinking Business Communications Blog in 2017
 
Recognition came when Anuj Agarwal, the founder of Feedspot  emailed me in September, informing me that my blog had been selected as one of the top 30 communication blogs on the web. He congratulated me and provided more information.
 
 
 
A sceptic by default, I was immediately suspicious of the email After all, I hadn't submitted my blog on any site  for consideration of a ranking, neither was I aware of such an organisation.
 
 
Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued so I clicked on the link provided. I browsed through the list, and when I recognised some highly respected communication blogs in the top spots, this blog's ranking became a big deal. I also realised that Feedspot was a legitimate RSS feed reader that was known in the field.
 
 
It became a bigger deal for me when I read that the selection criteria included Google reputation, Google search ranking and the quality of the articles.
 

 
Next came the realisation that the Rethinking Business Communications Blog was the onlyAfrican blog to appear on that list.
 
 
I was stunned.
 
 
 

I was so elated and honoured that I shared the information in my networks.
 



 
Then just when I thought that the news couldn't get better, the prestigious Lagos Business School was informed of the award. They wrote a brief piece and posted it on their website. They also highlighted the award and my profile in their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Their support on social media was truly touching.



For more information about this award and the recognition it brought, check out the awards and recognition page.




The award—now conspicuously displayed on the homepage of this blog—serves as a reminder to me that hard work, discipline and passion pay off. It has also given this blog credibility, and this has gained me a new clientele.



Note that it took over five years for this blog's value in the field of business communication to be appreciated by independent evaluators. That notwithstanding, my commitment to providing consistent value to all readers, has been and will remain, unwavering.



I am truly grateful that the door of opportunity has been opened for me, and I believe that there would be more recognition for this blog in 2018.



So continue to watch this space.







Top Picks for 2017


In March every year when I celebrate the blog's anniversary, I list all the articles of the preceding year up until that point.



However, for all who may have missed some useful articles this year, below are my recommendations for the 2017 posts you should read. The tips they contain would be relevant to your careers.



1)  Career Advancement: Be the ‘Purple Cow’ 

Note how insights from Seth Godin’s bestselling book, ‘Purple Cow’, could help you advance your career by using the practical advice given.




2) An Open Letter To Management - From Working Mothers 


I am a working mother, so this post is somewhat personal.

Learn what makes these professional women tick for a more productive workplace.






3) Your Business Writing Skills - Where Do You Stand?

If this is the only article that you read this year about improving your business writing, then you would have covered all your bases.


In this article, I give away useful nuggets that are often only revealed in seminars or training sessions that I am paid to facilitate. This post thus provides undisputed value.






Conclusion



As I bid you adieu 2017, I remain appreciative of everything you taught me this year.



Indeed, I’m grateful for family, friends and good health.




To my blog readers and well-wishers: thank you for the support and loyalty.










I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a fun-filled, enjoyable New Year!


Adieu 2017!              





If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:



Ø Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.


Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!





Need help with improving your communication skills?


Hire me for:


v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.




Let me help you get results.



Contact me:


A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation:

Nigeria:            0704 631 0592.
International:  +234 704 631 0592.

 




-------------------------------------------------


N.B:   First image is courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second image is courtesy of Jesadaphorn, via freedigitalphotos.net. Blog award is courtesy of Feedspot. Animation is courtesy of gifgifs.com.
 
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Knowing how to say what you mean, and mean what you say, should be as effortless as breathing.



In reality however, the process is as tiresome as watching paint dry.



Then there is the written word - knowing what to write, and how to tweak your written communication to meet your recipient's expectations should be straightforward. After all, Ernest Hemingway once quipped that writing was easy: all you had to do was to sit down at a typewriter, (substitute 'typewriter' for computer, laptop, tablet, IPhone etc.), and bleed.



To complicate matters, interesting  research revealed that since 2000, the human attention span of 12 seconds has dropped to eight seconds, (less than that of a goldfish, at nine seconds). Whatever opinion you have about the study, know that the stakes are higher in this digital age. You would need to simultaneously hold the attention of your audiences, and communicate with clarity if you want results.



Therefore, before you proceed to craft that speech, organise that presentation, or  pen that document to inform/persuade your audience, note the statement below:



Communication is only effective when it either achieves a purpose, or brings you closer to completing a goal.



This means that the rationale for the communication should be at the forefront of your plans. With a defined objective, it becomes easier to achieve clarity in your overall communication.



Note also that the three beacons of effective communication---simplicity, brevity and clarity---are invaluable guides that will help you to fulfill your intentions.


Of the three beacons, clarity is often relegated to the fringe because it is mistaken for simplicity. Yet, without clarity, your communication will fail to prompt action.



So, what is the case for clarity in business communication?


Without clarity, you would 'die' a hundred times when delivering that address because from the nonverbal cues, you would know that you have lost your audience.



Or, you would 'bleed' in front of your desktop/laptop etc. when you realise that your written piece failed to convince your recipient, and consequently, that you are required to re-write the content.


In defence of this underrated beacon, below are the reasons you must seek to provide clarity in all your business communications:




1) Without clarity, you will not convince people








Imagine this scenario:



You have been invited to give a ten-minute address at the United Nations about how education in STEM-related fields (i.e. in science, technology. engineering and mathematics) is instrumental to driving innovation in the 21st century.



Below is a breakdown of how your once-in-a-lifetime speech at the renowned international institution was regrettably structured:



First two minutes:

You gush on about how important the opportunity is for you and how grateful you are to have been selected for such an honour. You also briefly explain the selection process.



Next five minutes:

You narrate your inspiring overcoming-all-odds story. In particular, you emotionally share the accounts of your difficult childhood and early adolescent years. You however highlight how you overcame challenges. You also explain that by hard work and good fortune, you received a full scholarship for advanced studies in computer science and artificial intelligence, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S.


Final three minutes:

You enumerate your most impressive professional feats and declare that you could attest to the many opportunities a STEM-related career brings.

You end by thanking your audience for their attention; and then you sit down - pleased as punch.



In that contented state, you do not notice the incredulous expressions on the faces of the distinguished audience members. Indeed, they are perplexed about your speech because it is unclear, from your background story or professional accomplishments, how STEM-related careers could drive innovation on a global scale, thereby translating to positive outcomes for all. (This is the United Nations, after all).



So, despite your eloquence and engaging body language, your communication failed to achieve its goal to inspire and convince people.



Do not be that person.




2) Without clarity, you will not drive people to take action






You are faced with another scenario:



You are a business owner and through a referral, you have secured a meeting with an influential U.S-based investor who is visiting your country. After a short, but successful pitch, the investor requests that you email him a brief note about the joint venture partnership you propose. He warns you that the email must be clear and concise, given that he receives hundreds each week and can only attend to a few.



Excited that you have proceeded to the next stage, you send the email below:


Dear Mr. Jones,


It was a pleasure pitching my idea to you two days ago.


As mentioned during our company's presentation, Venxot Ltd. has been a leader in the manufacture of bespoke African leather footwear for 20 years.


With an average annual turnover of $36 million, we operate in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. Attached for your perusal are our audited accounts for 2017, as well as  our brochure.


Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Thank you for your consideration.



Sincerely,
Benjamin Smith
President
Venxot Limited
Mobile: +234 070 000 0000
Email:   ben.smith@venxot.com.



Now at first glance, the email does not look disastrous; it is written in a simple manner and in Standard English. It is also concise.



But that is where the good points end.



Two major flaws are evident in the piece:



I) Important details are missing


You did not mention the date or location of the pitch. Providing these details will help jog his memory given that he travels frequently.


Another concern is that you did not explain what your pitch was about. Your potential important, (and busy) investor, may have listened to other presentations since the time you delivered yours. There is also a possibility that your competitors might have pitched to Mr. Jones. So, how would he differentiate your business interests from the pack?


He would not be able to do so.


This means that your business will be considered irrelevant.




II) A clear call-to-action is absent


Not anywhere in the email did you clearly state what you want Mr. Jones to do.


Not once.


After reading your email, Mr. Jones will also be puzzled about what your business interests are.


Put yourself in the investor's shoes. Are you likely to respond and request for clarity, when other options are available to choose from? Is it not Mr. Smith's responsibility to communicate in a simple, concise and clear manner?


Furthermore, there is the perception that if you, as Mr. Smith, could not send a clear email about your business interests, how could you be trusted to handle an investor's finances?


Mr. Jones will thus be inclined to discard your email, unless you immediately email an apology for the gaffe and provide the relevant information.


Again, do not be that person.





Conclusion









Yes, it might be nerve-racking to speak with clarity at important functions. Nevertheless, by remembering the goal for your communication in your preparation, your preparation, you would deliver speeches/addressed/presentations that will inspire and convince people.



Similarly, for effective business writing, you must cultivate certain habits and stay the course. That notwithstanding, by using strong calls-to-action, you would successfully coax your recipients into action.



Be determined. Aim to boost clarity in your business communications, and you would soon be known as a professional who consistently delivers results. 




Over to you:


What other tips can you give for achieving clarity in your business communications?



Share your experiences in the comments below.


If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:


Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.


Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!




Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for:

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;


v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.


Let me help you get results.


Contact me:

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation: 

Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
International: +234 704 631 0592  



----------------------------


N.B: First image is courtesy of Master Isolated Images, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second and third images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image is courtesy of Aechan, via freedigitalphotos.net.


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Facing an audience of male and female executives, some of whom worked in multinational oil companies and in other reputable organisations, I mouthed with some flourish:



"Nothing will kill your career faster than incompetent or ineffective business writing skills".



Having amended the original slogan from The Language Lab, I used it as my opening remark for the business writing sessions that I recently facilitated for a seminar.



As the audience visibly pondered on the veracity of my claim, I slowly repeated the sentence.


I explained that not only did I completely agree with the statement, I also believed that because business writing was so instrumental to our careers, we'd be required to write convincingly to  influence people at some point in our professional journey.



So whether you go on to conquer new professional feats, or fail miserably, will depend on your (in)ability to express your views to sway your audience to take the desired action.





And it wouldn't matter what role you have, or the sector in which you work.




Here's the thing about business writing:



It's difficult to write really well in the business context; so if you can hone this skill, you immediately differentiate yourself from the pack.



Below are some insights from my sessions:



1) To write well, you must take into account the other types of  communication





You can't write well without having a good understanding of the context that will shape your writing.



And this often means that you'd need to consider verbal and nonverbal cues, whenever appropriate. 



For example, if you're required to write a letter rebuking an undesirable behaviour, knowing what was verbally uttered and the nonverbal cues that accompanied the action, will guide you on how to word the letter.




Business writing shouldn’t  thus be done in a vacuum.




Moreover, in sensitive matters, a good deal of emotional intelligence is required to maintain a delicate balance between professionalism and empathy.




For example, in a case involving a tragedy, it might mean the difference in impact between the two options sent by your employer:





A)"Please accept our condolences on the loss of your loved one. Regretfully, because of time constraints, we must insist on your decision by 4pm".






B)"Please accept our condolences on the tragic loss of your loved one. We can appreciate that this painful circumstance is emotionally draining for you. Therefore, we would wait for a convenient time to be informed of your decision".



Despite your grief, you're likely to consider the second option more favourably; you’d also be inclined to promptly respond to that subtle request.



Comparatively, your reactions to the first statement may range from disbelief to disgust. You might even become emotional detached from your employer and reassess your continued tenure in the organisation.



Choosing the appropriate words, style and delivery in business writing may take time to master but with practice, you can write persuasively, even in delicate matters.




2) You need to replace bad habits with effective alternatives








We've been guilty of the following:


- Bad grammar, (made worse because we didn't know we were using bad grammar). Included here is the laziness to verify constructions that are suspect.



- Poor or nonexistent habit of reading good content.



- Persistent unwillingness to write. We either get people to write for us or we avoid writing altogether.



The habits above over time further weakened our writing. Then when placed in competitive environments, our ineffective writing skills lost us business opportunities or cost us promotions.



So while we're all educated and can write passably, we often struggle with writing effectively in the business context.



The solutions are simple but must be consistently applied. To change those bad habits, you should:



A) Brush up on grammar


Do some grammatical exercises online and brush up on the standard rules. The University of Bristol has an online section where you could do exercises, as well as read simple explanations about different topics on grammar. Do as many exercises as possible, beginning with exercises on punctuation marks, subject-verb agreement, and common confusions.


Another online resource, the Purdue Online Writing Lab is also useful for testing your understanding of grammatical norms.


Nonetheless, note that (re)learning good grammar in isolation is no more effective than memorising the dictionary and not putting that knowledge into practice.


Consider good grammar as a solid foundation. You must build upon that foundation by writing regularly to hone your business writing skills.



B) Read well-written content






You'd  never  improve your  business  writing skills  if you  don't regularly read good materials. I have stressed this point in several articles on this blog. Learn from  good authors by reading their work. 


Read every day. It doesn't matter what you read as long as it's written in foolproof English. Take your pick from short stories, novels, articles, magazines and influential business sources.





There's a reason that those who write them are celebrated.


Learn from them. 



C) Understand the three 'rules' of effective business writing 



I) Consider your audience


Your audience will determine the style you use and the vocabulary you choose.

Don't write anything until you address the allure of value for the recipient. To be a persuasive writer, you should consider the what's-in-it-for-me angle.



II) Aim for simplicity, brevity and clarity


These three 'beacons' of effective writing will sharpen your content and make it compelling.


Learn how to do it right. 



III) Proofread thoroughly and edit ruthlessly


Here, your (hopefully) improved grammar will become invaluable to your finished product. Proofread your work thoroughly. Read your piece audibly and slowly. You'd catch mistakes that the spell-check won't flag.


For your editing, eliminate redundancies and jargon. Be ruthless in pruning clutter, (words or phrases that add no value). Your writing would then become crisp and succinct. 



3) Become familiar with the structures of different types of business content



For report writing, the  six components of the RBCB Communications Strategy are useful to ensure clarity in your document. Consider incorporating them in your next report for speedier results.










To write  powerful emails that get results, ensure that your elements are clearly defined and that your call-to-action is undeniable.




Don't dread mastering formal writing. When you know the structure to use and the required 'protocol', you’d be able to write convincingly.
 



Conclusion 


I ended the business writing sessions by making what many might have considered a bold statement.


"Once you know the rules, there’s no one on this planet you wouldn't be able to write to".






And I meant every word.


I assured the participants that even though we were not all gifted with superb writing skills, we could always improve if we did the work.


But change we must because business writing skills are too important to leave to chance. Powerful writing skills advance our careers and businesses, just as ineffective writing stalls our progress.


Let's choose wisely.


Over to you:




Have your writing skills helped your career/business or deprived you of opportunities?




Share your experiences in the comments below.
 


If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:
 

Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.



Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!



Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for: 


v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

 v  Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

 v  Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.


Let me help you get results. 


Contact me:  

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation:  

Nigeria:            0704 631 0592
International:  +234 704 631 0592    



--------------------------------------------- 


N.B:   First image is courtesy of Zirconicusso, from freedigitalphotos.net. Second image is courtesy of Cooldesign, from freedigitalphotos.net. Third, fourth, fifth and sixth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, from freedigitalphotos.net.


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The scenario:


My first lecture to a new group of 86 professionals in an executive MBA programme.



"Breathe…” I coax myself as I rid my face of a scowl that is slowing materializing. I look at the source of my irritation.



The offender, Ms. X, whose fixed gaze is an iota short of a glare, continues in a voice that’s resigned to see our clash to the bitter end.



"Excuse me", she mouths in a tone that stills the rest of the discussion in class, "I wasn't finished".



I take another deep breath. I then graciously apologise and wait for her to make her point. This she does in a succinct manner, devoid of any ambiguity.





The communicator in me mentally commends her for an articulate, concise argument, despite her defensive body language and cold gaze.





Not the most likeable individual but one with a sharp mind, I note distractedly.





As I remind myself to breathe steadily and to keep my tone pleasant, I realise that handling this difficult professional would be important to how I'm perceived by the rest of the group—a set comprising 85+ executives in a packed lecture room—since I would be required to have one-on-one coaching sessions with them at a later date.



Knowing what is at stake, I approach Ms. X. Stopping a respectable distance from her seat, I wait for a few seconds after she stops talking and ask in an even tone:



"Ok. Have you finished?"



"Yes", she sniffs, as her colleagues turn their gazes back to me.



I nod.



"That's an interesting point that Ms. X has made..." I  declare as I return to the center of the room to proceed with the lecture.



The rest of the session goes smoothly with participants engaging in an interesting debate and asking questions...



After that session, I reflected on the lecture. I had been warned that the executive batches usually consist of professionals with at least a decade of experience. In that set, most held managerial positions and many were older than me. I realised that I'd need to use a more collaborative approach to develop rapport. I also knew that their collective experience and intellect meant that I'd learn from them as the sessions became livelier.









I however noted that I'd need considerable patience dealing with Ms. X in the future.



And I was right.




A few months later, Ms. X attended her mandatory one-on-one session with me. It quickly became a tense episode. At some point, she declared in a frustrated voice that I wasn't listening to her. In response, I regrettably quipped that she was being defensive - a remark she didn't appreciate. She then made a comment that reminded me of my role as a communications coach.



She calmly explained that if I were to help her in the writing task, then I needed to understand her point of view, so that I could advise on how best she could write the content for the reader to understand.


And that was the turning point.



We proceeded to dissect the document, sentence by sentence, and each time, I asked her to explain to me in the simplest terms what she wanted to say. Once I understood what she wanted to express in writing, I was able to advise on sentence structure, grammar, language, etc. to ensure that the content made sense and that her thoughts translated to a coherent document.





I also came to accept the fact that her personality was hers alone. I reckoned that although she needed some solid interpersonal skills and a good dose of emotional intelligence to be able to influence positive outcomes, it wasn't my job to change her character.



Nonetheless, I did wonder how far she'd go in her career if she continued to be abrasive, curt or disagreeable.



That was when I decided to 'insulate' myself against her anticipated offensive. So  when in another lecture some months later,  she interrupted me to complain that I changed the details of a question I had asked all participants to answer, I wasn't offended. In fact, I acknowledged that indeed, I had  added some complexity to the scenario to be discussed for more engaging discussions. I made no apologies for doing so.





In another session, she grumbled about not having the time to read the question that was distributed prior to the exam. In response, I handed her a printed copy of the question. Later, she whined about how she didn’t know what to do. I simply smiled. She finally settled down to write the exam. Ironically, she scored the second highest grade in that assessment.
 


Ms. X nevertheless taught me a few lessons that I'd henceforth use whenever dealing with a vexatious professional:




1) "Seek to understand, then to be understood".







As a speaker, coach, presenter, leader or in whatever role you find yourself, prepare for a sharp disagreement with your client or a member of the audience, before the event.



Some disagreements might not be civil and might be perceived as personal attacks.



Resist the natural instinct to defend yourself. First, listen to what isn't being said. Behind that rude statement, grating voice or infuriating whining, lie exasperation.



The offender  challenges you at every turn because he either doesn't understand the concept, or he requires more convincing. There may also be myriad reasons he has for being difficult which you're not privy to.



So look beyond whatever unpleasantness displayed and ask the simplest question so that you understand what he wants to know. Until you attempt to address the offender's concerns, you won't solve the problem.



Charm won't do it, nor will some battle of wits.




Get to the root of the problem and try to fix it. Provide context, facts and/or offer more information privately. You may or may not disarm your 'opponent' with this approach but your credibility will survive the onslaught.




And if you're wrong, admit your error and state that you're happy to learn something new and move on.





We all make mistakes. Only a fool thinks he can be right all of the time.




2) Keep your cool






Irksome people could turn a speech, presentation, lecture or an address into a disaster...if you allow them.



Preempt a verbal offensive by convincing yourself that despite whatever attack you'd  face, that you won't react emotionally. This is because annoyance or distress clouds our judgement. Even the most learned among us will struggle  to give an intelligent response once we give into our emotions.




Whether or not the offender is the devil's spawn is irrelevant. If you cannot keep your cool, you'd lose your hard-earned reputation before the session ends. 





On the other hand, keeping a rein on your emotions allows you to be clear-headed enough to de-escalate the situation by asking the right questions so you can offer solutions.





If, despite your efforts, the offender refuses to co-operate, then “agree to disagree” and change the subject.





It will become evident to all present that he is the problem, not you.



You can't always win them all.



Conclusion


So I'm actually grateful to Ms. X for teaching me how to deal with a maddening professional. As a result, I'm better equipped to handle opposition.



I’ve also realised that being able to dispassionately address a volatile situation to try to find common ground, is important when dealing with conflict.



Thus, the best I can do in any testing situation is first to be open to different viewpoints. Although difficult, I should endeavour to understand other perspectives. By being open to new reasoning, I'd expand my cognitive abilities and learn new things.




Next, I should strive to keep my emotions in check when fielding off biased assumptions or deliberate digs at my credibility. I'd aim to deal with the root of the problem, and disregard the unpleasant symptoms.


If all else fails, I'd move on with quiet contentment that I did all I could.



And I'd live to do it again another day.


Over to you:

How did you handle a maddening professional? What did you learn from the experience?


Kindly post your comments below.




Great news!


Drum roll…


This blog, earlier this month, was selected one of the top 30 communications blogs on the web by Feedspot! Criteria for selection included Google reputation, Google search ranking, as well as the quality and consistency of the articles. Below is the badge of honour. You may already have noticed it on the homepage. So kindly spread the word in your network. 


Awarded to Rethinking Business Communications Blog by Feedspot 



Remember that I provide customised communications coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details if you need help. 



If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to: 


   Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.

 Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!


Do you need help with improving your communication skills? 


Hire me for: 

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.
  

Let me help you get results.  




  Contact me:


  A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.
 
  B) Call for a free consultation:  

Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
International:  +234 704 631 0592    




 ------------------------------ 

N.B:   First image is courtesy of Iosphere, at freedigitalphotos.net. Second, fourth and fifth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, at freedigitalphotos.net. Third image is courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, at freedigitalphotos.net.


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"The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity”.

Amelia Earhart, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.




Warning:

This post recounts a real professional journey. Read at the risk of being encouraged, inspired or prodded into action.



Perseverance is an endangered attribute in today's insatiable drive for instant gratification.


We want instant food, faster service and overnight successes.


Technology has made many things effortless. Our gadgets thus boast of lightening-fast capacities; our smart devices help us manage the 'stress' of our lives; and social media crowns regular people as celebrities in the digital age.


In all this manic rush for speedier results, at often a pitiable fraction of the required effort, we relegate the admirable tenet of perseverance to the by-gone era of slow progress. 


Nevertheless, perseverance is required for worthwhile feats. This is because not only is there justifiable satisfaction with achieving our goals by standing firm, but perseverance also does something powerful:


It builds character.


When considered alongside with passion, perseverance produces grit, and grit is a predictor of success. 


This is what Angela Lee Duckworth discovered after conducting studies with students and professionals. Her enlightening TED talk below explains why we should develop grit in our academic and professional feats to succeed.



   
Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth - YouTube



Now we know that we'd inevitably face challenges in our personal and professional lives. Setbacks, crises and tragedies may suddenly strike. While it's human to avoid unpleasant situations or to want to 'fix' problems as they occur, we should realise that sometimes, we'd be required to keep doing the right thing, over considerable time, to achieve lasting results.











In our careers, it can be frustrating when, in spite of our stellar  abilities, we don't receive job offers, nor are we rewarded with appointments that are worthy of our talents and experiences.




So, how could we remain positive and keep persevering in our efforts?




Hopefully, my personal journey recounted below, will encourage people seeking opportunities to stay the course and not to give into disappointments.







What perseverance taught me about career advancement






Years ago, I resigned from a respectable position that allowed me to gain valuable international exposure and build my skills. I needed to grow my family and since I was young, I decided that a few years away from corporateville wouldn't hurt my career.




What I couldn't have predicted would be the economic downturn in the country, triggered by the 2007-2008 global financial crisis which originated from the United States. What eventually happened was that when I was prepared to re-enter the employment pool, it became impossible to get a job.






Since I had started to develop an interest in communications, I decided to start a blog to explore this newfound passion, and proceeded to blog every month. Over the next few years, I blogged, applied for a few jobs, attended some interviews but received no offers.




Still, I continued to write, even when my articles recorded few views or when no one posted comments on my blog.




A few well-intentioned people advised me to get a job, any job, anywhere, to break the 'jinx' of being unemployed for a lengthy period. But I declined. I wanted a role related to communications and was prepared to wait for relevant vacancies.




In the meantime, given my desire to pursue a career in communications, I continued to research about the field. I spent a lot of time and effort in churning out high-quality blog posts. 




Favourable feedback from my articles was rewarding and I recorded a few 'wins' that encouraged me to continue with my blogging journey. For example, my first article was published in print and online by a reputable business newspaper in Nigeria:



Property of the Rethinking Business Communications Blog




Then my article on President Obama's first speech after the Boston bombings in 2012 was  ranked  in  first  position  on Google for a few weeks:


Property of the Rethinking Business Communications Blog



And a few years later, I landed my first consulting gig in Lagos.



I persevered and continued blogging on communications and management/workplace issues because I was interested in those themes. 




Nevertheless, I was 'unemployed' for eight years in total and had blogged monthly for the last three of those years, before the ideal job opportunity presented itself. It was a communications role at a prestigious business school and was designed to directly improve the communication skills of participants in the different MBA programmes. 






What happened after I applied for the role was unexpected.





In the first stage, I was advised to write a two-page document to specifically explain my proposed agenda for the role, as well as list my plans for coaching, evaluation and feedback. 



Having written numerous blog articles, read ample materials over the years and delivered my first communications’ consulting gig a few weeks prior to the application, I produced a convincing document. 



The next stage, the interview, was itself an experience. I was both ecstatic and terrified to have landed the opportunity to explain why I thought I was a perfect fit for the role.
 



I arrived at the expansive campus. With its carefully manicured lawns, superbly maintained facilities and professional staff, I immediately knew that the interview was going to be unlike anything I had experienced. 



I was briskly ushered into a room with internet access and a projector, and given 30 minutes to whip up a PowerPoint presentation on any topic. I was informed that I would give a presentation to a panel. 



Since I had no prior warning, I immediately panicked when I was left alone. I however took some deep breaths and calmed down after a few minutes. That was when I remembered that I always had my flash drive in my bag...the USB on which I had saved—as had been my habit for the last three years—all the articles that I had ever written, including images that I had collected.
 


The relief I felt was akin to the clouds parting and me sighting a helicopter in the distance, which quickly approached the spot where I had been stranded on a deserted island. 



It was exhilarating. 




So I  'assembled' the slides. Drawing upon everything I had learnt up until that point, I used images and less text. I also ensured that the entire presentation was short; it did not exceed seven slides, including the notes and references (some of which were links to two of my blog articles), at the end. I was then able to rehearse for the last 10-15 minutes before making the presentation. I finished with an enjoyable Q&A session with my audience. 





It became evident at the interview that my experience in blogging, my stint in consulting and my published article in print and online by a business daily, (all results from my blogging journey), were instrumental to my high scores. They also led to me being hired from the shortlist of seven (more experienced) professionals. 






All that would have been impossible if I hadn't persevered in blogging. 






I'm convinced that divine providence was at work and that I was fortunate to have landed the job. However, I also believe that the reasons below helped my good fortune: 





1) Strength of purpose




I persisted in reading content about communications. I knew I had no practical experience in the field. Given that such experience could only come from working in that segment, I read whatever materials I thought were relevant to the subject matter. The constant research gave me ideas and added depth to my articles. They also helped me develop a 'voice' online. In this digital age, having digital footprints in the topic was useful to perceptions of my relevance. 


Self-education was also vital in sustaining my interest and in expanding my knowledge. 




2) Mental toughness 


Some sincere people in my circles whom I respected couldn't understand why I was being 'picky' about the role I wanted to work in. They had valid points, such as why being away from corporateville for so long was detrimental to my chances of getting a job, and how it was advisable to get into any job first, and then network to search for something better. 





I listened and even attended a few interviews for companies I didn’t like, (more for the interviewing experience than for the roles themselves), so when I was rejected, I was actually grateful. 




I had to stay true to my convictions and even though I often felt defeated, I had faith that the ideal role would come. I was determined to be prepared when the opportunity arrived. 



And I was. 



Mental toughness is required for worthy causes and in our professional lives, we'd need a good dose of it to help us persevere. In the inspiring video below,  Navy Seal trainer, Admiral William H. McRaven, explains how we could change the world by persevering until the end in our efforts, and to even start with the mundane task of making our beds. 





                                                                 
Goalcast - Changing the world - YouTube





While we wouldn't all desire to become Navy Seals, McRaven's advice on persevering on the right path is universally relevant. 




Conclusion

 






  
As professionals, perseverance is a quality that we should take seriously if we're desirous of advancement.


Let's develop grit and be clear about our professional aspirations.


Let's identify the necessary paths that will lead us to success and work to achieve our goals.


As Amelia Earhart suggested, let's make the toughest decision first, which is to act, then tenaciously prod on.


If we don't do it for ourselves, who will?


And now, over to you:



Share your account of how you persevered in your career. What advice can you give to encourage others? 





   Kindly post your comments below.



P.S - I've added a new page to this blog: Clients.  You can access it from the homepage. Kindly take a look. Remember that I provide customised communications coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details. 




  If you need help. If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:


  - Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
 

- Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles! 



 Do you need help with improving your communication skills? 


  

Hire me for:


 - Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.
 



  
  Let me help you get results.

 

 
  
  Contact me:



  
  A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.
 
  
  B) Call for a free consultation: 


    Nigeria:            0704 631 0592 


       International:  +234 704 631 0592 


   


  ------------------------

 N:B- First and fourth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, at freedigitalphotos.net. Second image is courtesy of Yodiyim, at freedigitalphotos.net. Third image is courtesy of Master Isolated Images, at freedigitalphotos.net. Screenshots are provided by author.

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Dear Management,



We did not suddenly lose vital brain cells when we became mothers.


Nor, upon resumption from our maternity leaves, did we become delicate porcelain pieces easily broken at the vaguest suggestion of a critique.


Moreover, prior to taking whatever breaks we deemed necessary, we were hard-working, high functioning professionals who consistently provided undisputed value to your organisation. 


And that has not changed.


Indeed, our competencies have not deteriorated because we decided to prioritise our mental or physical health and eliminate stress-related ailments.


We are not asking for the impossible. We just want the flexibility to discharge our duties, while also taking care of our families, so that we can continue to hit those key performance indicators that justify our tenures in your establishment.


So before you dismiss this letter as yet another feminist rant worthy of scorn, the points below plead our case: 



1) We are competent professionals but humans first







We would not apologise for deciding to have children. We are life-givers.



Yes, we realise that it is a choice we freely made; we know that not every female employee might choose the path to motherhood. 


Still, that does not mean that we are demanding preferential treatment.


For example, how is it 'preferential treatment' to be given extra time—upon strict medical instructions—to recuperate after complications at childbirth? We would do your organisation and ourselves a disservice, if we do not completely recover to perform at peak performance upon resumption.


Do not force us to choose between our families and your toxic, uncaring work environment, because we would leave in droves.


We are humans first.


Remember that the 21st-century work environment is a human workplace, whereby the allure of value for both the establishment and employees is undeniable.


Therefore, if we feel unappreciated, under-valued and are covertly penalised—by unfounded criticisms, poor performance reviews and delayed promotions—for the time taken off to attend to family matters, even when we continue to go over and beyond in our duties, we will research other fairer, more flexible work cultures and abandon ship. 


Empathy for our family circumstances goes a long way. When it is genuine, we would trust you, remain loyal and would include those discretionary efforts that boost productivity and increase profitability. In other words, we would become highly engaged at work.


In a statement that you would appreciate: The benefits of engaged employees make the strongest business case for treating us as some of your most valued partners. 




2) Life happens







It is a fact for us working mothers that there would often be circumstances concerning our families that we cannot control.



A child might become gravely ill at four a.m. so we would be unable to get to work a few hours later to deliver that big presentation to your top client.



Or a husband might be involved in a car accident at lunchtime and may require immediate surgery.



Or other family crises may hit, often at the busiest or most challenging points in our careers.



We would deal with such scenarios with the strength, grace and faith we can muster but deal with them we must.



Thus, despite our most precise plans to juggle family obligations and work commitments effectively, life happens.



In those situations, we would do our best to limit disruptions to our work while we deal with our family matters. Nevertheless, we would be grateful for your understanding.



Your directors giving us ultimatums, or our bosses verbally issuing loosely veiled threats that our priorities 'do not align with organisational goals', and  consequently, that our jobs are no longer guaranteed, would not be forgotten.



For you executives who have families or are lone working parents, switch your situations with ours in those trying moments. Now tell us if your chief concern would be a deal you must close or a report you must present.



Life happens.



And life happens to us all.
  




3) We cherish a culture of meritocracy






We have read the facts about the struggles of women in corporateville and know from experience how difficult it is for women to be appointed CEOs. We are also aware that women are rarely promoted to the C-suite.


We are often at the mercy of your Big Boys' Club (the powerful, close-knit group of male executives that calls the shots) when it comes to our professional advancement.


We concede that we have come a long way from the era of the suffragettesin the early 20th century, when women took a courageous stand to campaign for equal voting rights.  We are grateful that things are changing...albeit slowly.


Yet, we would like you to consider a culture based on equity and meritocracy. Allow us to be promoted, recognised or celebrated by objective markers such as meeting (and exceeding) our targets, increasing profitability by X%, expanding your operations in new markets, or cutting costs by Y%.


No, we do not want to 'take over' the Big Boys' Club. Based on our consistent performance, moderate temperaments, and conflict-management skills, (we have saved your top male cronies from many a public relations scandal), we just want seats at the table where key decisions are made.


Then when we have earned our stripes of excellence, ensure that we are rewarded.


Your company will not be praised as a beacon for diversity if your high achieving working mothers rarely progress beyond a certain level.


Thus, you should create policies that promote the advancement for women based on merit.





Make progress with such principles and watch how those positive ripple effects reverberate in your organisation and beyond your corridors.






Conclusion




So dear Management, the fact that we are working mothers who are requesting for the flexibility to do our best work, or who would be required to attend to family crises when they occur, does not make us irresponsible or unproductive.


It makes us human.


Since the modern employment relationship is strengthened or weakened by human decisions, we hope you consider our views as valid for further deliberations.


We have been one of the most loyal groups in your establishment thus far.


Help us to help you ensure that it stays that way.


Now over to you: What are your thoughts about the concerns of working mothers?


P.S - I've added a new page to this blog: Clients. You can view it from the homepage. Kindly take a look. Remember that I provide customised communications coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details if you need help. 


If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off yet. Please remember to:


Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.



Ø Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediatelynotified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles! 





Need help with improving your communication skills?




Hire me for:

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.


Let me help you get results.


Contact me:


A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation: 

Nigeria:            0704 631 0592.
International:  +234 704 631 0592.



----------------------------------------

N:B- First image courtesy of Jk1991, at freedigitalphotos.net. Second and third images courtesy of Stuart Miles, at freedigitalphotos.net. Fourth image courtesy of Iosphere, at freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Vlado, at freedigitalphotos.net.


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