People who appear to hold a strong ethical line gain more trust and respect than those who have less clear ethical boundaries. For this reason alone, maintaining strong personal ethics becomes a key to successfully working with others.

People who cannot determine the difference between good and evil or right and wrong human actions are not the people we gravitate toward. Those people can be unpredictable, if not downright dangerous. On some level we know it and tend to instinctively steer away from them as much as possible. Imagine the effect of this steering away in a team environment.

In concept and discussion, ethics seem black and white. The list of things we will and won’t do is easy to create in the abstract. In reality, the difference between black and white is colored with a great deal of gray.

Further complicating these ethically challenging situations is how no signpost alert us to when we are about to cross the line. It’s not like the Mason-Dixon Line, which seems to be clearly noted on practically every north-south route between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

As a journalist, I can remember pontificating in college classes on the “obvious” ethical choice in a series of complex journalism situations. Information can’t be verified (don’t use it). Lying about who you are or what you are writing about to get access to information or people (don’t do it). Paying for information (don’t do it).

Those situations arose in my career as a reporter, editor and executive editor more than I would have imagined. Other ethical lines that seemed easy to cross because they became less clear involved using anonymous sources in important stories where no other options existed and allowing advertisers to have a greater say in our coverage decisions than best practices might suggest.

In the real world, too many times we made ethical decisions on the fly, unaware that we even were right up against the ethical line or crossing it until it was too late.

Once you cross the line, it’s hard to walk things back (a beautiful political phrase that says exactly what we want to do but struggle to accomplish).

If a line clearly defines good versus evil, then once you cross it, you can never restore your good. Right?

The drivers pushing us toward that line may be the powerful appeal of a promotion, a new opportunity or a bigger role in decision-making, not to mention a bigger paycheck. These reasons are often cited when someone moves a personal ethical line closer to evil.

For me, more often than not, I didn’t even see the line I was close to crossing. It seemed to happen long before I realize what was happening.

Once alerted to the situation, I experienced something akin to buyer’s remorse. You know the feeling: You bought that two-for-one thing that shows up on TV for $19.99 every time you stay up late. It looks cool. It’s just $19.99, plus separate shipping for each. Who wouldn’t do it? You do it and when it arrives, you immediately see the bad decision you made.

Crossing an ethical line, wide or narrow, feels the same way, but the repercussion can far exceed the hit to your checking account for that cool late-night offer.

The only answer after bad decisions on both an ethical dilemma and a foolish online purchase is to attempt to recalibrate. These questions can offer some guidance.

  • What was the ethical line you crossed?
  • Did you cross it, or was your prior understanding of the line faulty? (It happens.)
  • What was the first and subsequent actions that led to crossing the line?
  • If you didn’t see it coming, what are the signposts you can erect to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

Determining where and when the ethics actually became compromised can help to ensure that if the situation arises again (it rarely does), we might make a different choice.

No wonder we assign so much trust and respect to the people who seem to avoid stepping over the ethical line. My guess is that at our core, we wonder how they do it and we hope it rubs off on us.

Want more on ethical decisions? Listen to Episode 49 of our Serious Soft Skills Podcast, which explores in more detail the ethical implications of decisions.

Most meetings don’t matter. While you may dismiss this reality as “part of the job,” think about how 15% of your work time, according to consulting firm Bain & Co, is spent in those time-sucking meeting. Change needs to occur and I have an idea.

But first, we need to be clear about how bad the problem is. For most of the meetings you are called into, being there is no different than being absent, except for the fact that less air and carbon dioxide gets exchanged, fewer eyes get rolled and your doodling of that cool logo you would use if you ever get up the courage to open your own business remains in your mind, not on the notepad sitting blank in front of you.

If you are like most of us, you know as you walk into a meeting – often 3 minutes or so late because the coffee maker wouldn’t work or it took you that long to talk yourself into going because “I have to” —  that you’re about to waste valuable time. It’s time you could be fighting fires (do firefighters have meetings?) or planning or the list could go on and on.

Meetings as Punishment

One person I know scheduled weekly staff meetings (the worst of the worst) for 4 p.m. routinely, figuring that if he was going to waste an hour that the best one to waste was the last one of his work day.

Another person I know attends a Friday afternoon meeting every week, even his vacation weeks, because it’s required. Talk about punitive and counter-productive. No one’s going to bring their A game to a Friday afternoon meeting, where every debate means that much longer until the weekend.

Holding a good meeting these days is challenging. Getting the right time, the right people, the right agenda, the right tone to encourage an open exchange, and on and on. I have coached leaders and teams on these matters.

A New Approach

A few weeks ago, I shared my strategy for creating better meetings on our award-seeking podcast, The Serious Soft Skills Podcast. Compressing meetings to the bare essentials seems to encourage the most effectiveness. I’ve tried stand-up meetings, fewer meetings with longer agendas, more meetings with shorter agendas and various other techniques.

But the Rule of Fours seems to work best. My Rule of Fours suggests that whatever time you are going to devote to meetings, cut it by four. If it’s slated for one hour, then cut it to 15 minutes. If it’s a half hour, then cut it to 7½ minutes. (If it’s a 15-minute meeting, scrap it. Do one-on-one, in-person meetings instead.)

This rule, which I have shared with a few people to good results, works for several reasons. Most importantly, the Rule of Fours shows you mean business. You want to get to the core of the matters at hand. No chit chat, no long stories, no bad jokes, no grandstanding, no crazy PowerPoint presentations. This approach doesn’t even allow for time to dim the lights, which is a guarantee for a bad meeting.

Taming the Meeting Madness

Second, this rule forces you focus on one, maybe two, main topics. Too often, with the exception of a brainstorming meeting where wild ideas are encouraged, teams take on too much in one meeting. It’s all issues on the deck, when focused meetings show success.

Third, if people have booked the hour for a meeting and get out after 15 minutes, they actually might have time to work on their action items from the meeting. Too often we leave meetings frustrated and after planned, which forces us to consign any action items we had at the meeting to later. If we even document them at all.

In our hyper-competitive business climate, wasted time costs us dearly. Making meetings matter again could help you regain the advantage you are seeking against your competitors.

Unleash the Hidden Power of Soft Skills

The interpersonal skills your employees bring to the workplace can make or break your organization.

Technology cannot — and will not — solve every workplace issue.

The time has come for organizations to recognize the unique value employees can bring with their soft skills.

More productivity. More collaboration. More innovation.

We are Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham. In 2014, we started researching how employees engage with each other to achieve results. We formed our team at Serious Soft Skills LLC to share what we are doing. Since then, we’ve:

  • Uncovered the 55 soft skills that employees can use at work
  • Written a book and podcasted about those skills and how people employ them
  • Created an individual soft skills assessment tool
  • Developed training programs and strategies to help businesses harness these hidden talents

…and more. Our team’s goal is to help organizations of any size (for-profits, non-profits, governmental and others) put these interpersonal skills to work to improve their growth and innovation.

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham

The SOFT Method

Survey icon

Survey your current team or teams to determine what their soft skills strengths and areas for improvement are.

Survey icon copy

Optimize employee effectiveness through engaging them on each other’s soft skills strengths and areas of improvement.

Survey icon copy

Find people to complement your team, using our comprehensive approach conducting a job search with a new focus.

Survey icon copy copy

Transform your culture as employees rely on others’ strengths to improve their engagement, morale and productivity.

WE TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH

We have been in the situations we address. We aren’t the people who look down from on high and say how things should be. We base our systems and strategies on real-world situations and our constant daily interactions with people like you. We help people discover for themselves. We don’t do boring PowerPoint slides and lectures. No way. We use interactive activities, modeling, role-playing and other forms of engagement to make it fun – and educational. We take a holistic approach toward change. We do not address issues with leadership, management or employees specifically, but rather on the overall organization through the lens of soft skills. This approach enables us to identify and help you overcome issues more quickly and effectively. We like the trenches. We work with small business owners and managers, line managers, new managers and teams to enhance how they go about their work. We REALLY focus on results. Our success is when teams are more productive, collaborative and innovative. No one needs a report to see the results of our work.

WHAT WE OFFER

Our Most Popular

  • From Us vs. Them to We (Overcoming Generational Differences)
  • Identifying Your Team’s Soft Skills Strengths and Maximizing Them
  • Creating an Office Culture that Powers Growth and Innovation
  • Giving Real Feedback Within Teams
  • Effective Communication to Fuel Results
  • Hiring to Actually Account for Cultural Fit
  • Hiring with a Soft Skills Focus
  • Making Performance Reviews Matter
  • From New Manager to Effective Leader
  • Delivering Difficult Messages Gracefully, Powerfully and To Achieve Results
  • Ditching Job Descriptions so People Can Really Shine

Formats

  • Keynote Speeches
  • Breakout Sessions
  • 90-Minute Workshops
  • Two-Hour Workshops
  • Four-Hour Workshops
  • Day-Long, In-Depth Training

Types of Training

  • Live, On-Site Training
  • Live Webinar/Remote Training
  • Recorded Webinars
  • Conference Sessions
  • Workshops, Breakout Sessions
  • Retreats, Employee Training Days
  • Online Courses, Videos, Module
  • Individual Coaching/Mentoring
  • Team Coaching/Mentoring

WHAT YOU GET WITH SERIOUS SOFT SKILLS

We have been in the situations we address. We aren’t the people who look down from on high and say how things should be. We base our systems and strategies on real-world situations and our constant daily interactions with people like you. We help people discover for themselves. We don’t do boring PowerPoint slides and lectures. No way. We use interactive activities, modeling, role-playing and other forms of engagement to make it fun – and educational. We take a holistic approach toward change. We do not address issues with leadership, management or employees specifically, but rather on the overall organization through the lens of soft skills. This approach enables us to identify and help you overcome issues more quickly and effectively. We like the trenches. We work with small business owners and managers, line managers, new managers and teams to enhance how they go about their work. We REALLY focus on results. Our success is when teams are more productive, collaborative and innovative. No one needs a report to see the results of our work.

HOW IT ALL WORKS

We help teams and organizations determine the unique role of soft skills in what they do because each group has its own unique strengths, areas for improvement and issues. Then we work with you to implement training and changes to unleash those soft skills. All of our training is engaging and interactive, with a strong focus on discovery. We aren’t cookie cutter. We give teams space to uncover, process, discover and enact what fits their needs – because we want it to have a lasting effect.

WHO WE HELP: ORGANIZATION THAT WANT TO GROW

Survey icon copy

Managers

Whether new or veteran, the landscape at work has changed dramatically. We help you sort it out so you can lead your team to success.

Survey icon copy copy

Teams

The people who often have the least success improving teams are its members. We empower teams in new ways, by shifting the focus toward unleashing soft skills.

Survey icon copy copy copy

Owners/Leaders

Hiring more people, avoiding and praying won’t help a struggling organization. We can give you tools and strategies to position your employees to fuel growth.

Unleash the Power of Soft Skills

Ready to unlock these hidden talents in your team or organization.

Copyright 2019 Serious Soft Skills LLC  All Rights Reserved.

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Unleash the Hidden Power of Soft Skills

The interpersonal skills your employees bring to the workplace can make or break your organization.

Technology cannot — and will not — solve every workplace issue.

The time has come for organizations to recognize the unique value employees can bring with their soft skills.

More productivity. More collaboration. More innovation.

We are Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham. In 2014, we started researching how employees engage with each other to achieve results. We formed our team at Serious Soft Skills LLC to share what we are doing. Since then, we’ve:

  • Uncovered the 55 soft skills that employees can use at work
  • Written a book and podcasted about those skills and how people employ them
  • Created an individual soft skills assessment tool
  • Developed training programs and strategies to help businesses harness these hidden talents

…and more. Our team’s goal is to help organizations of any size (for-profits, non-profits, governmental and others) put these interpersonal skills to work to improve their growth and innovation.

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham

The SOFT Method

Survey icon

Survey your current team or teams to determine what their soft skills strengths and areas for improvement are.

Survey icon copy

Optimize employee effectiveness through engaging them on each other’s soft skills strengths and areas of improvement.

Survey icon copy

Find people to complement your team, using our comprehensive approach conducting a job search with a new focus.

Survey icon copy copy

Transform your culture as employees rely on others’ strengths to improve their engagement, morale and productivity.

WE TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH

We have been in the situations we address. We aren’t the people who look down from on high and say how things should be. We base our systems and strategies on real-world situations and our constant daily interactions with people like you.

We help people discover for themselves. We don’t do boring PowerPoint slides and lectures. No way. We use interactive activities, modeling, role-playing and other forms of engagement to make it fun – and educational.

We take a holistic approach toward change. We do not address issues with leadership, management or employees specifically, but rather on the overall organization through the lens of soft skills. This approach enables us to identify and help you overcome issues more quickly and effectively.

We like the trenches. We work with small business owners and managers, line managers, new managers and teams to enhance how they go about their work.

We REALLY focus on results. Our success is when teams are more productive, collaborative and innovative. No one needs a report to see the results of our work.

WHAT WE OFFER

Our Most Popular

  • From Us vs. Them to We (Overcoming Generational Differences)
  • Identifying Your Team’s Soft Skills Strengths and Maximizing Them
  • Creating an Office Culture that Powers Growth and Innovation
  • Giving Real Feedback Within Teams
  • Effective Communication to Fuel Results
  • Hiring to Actually Account for Cultural Fit
  • Hiring with a Soft Skills Focus
  • Making Performance Reviews Matter
  • From New Manager to Effective Leader
  • Delivering Difficult Messages Gracefully, Powerfully and To Achieve Results
  • Ditching Job Descriptions so People Can Really Shine

Formats

  • Keynote Speeches
  • Breakout Sessions
  • 90-Minute Workshops
  • Two-Hour Workshops
  • Four-Hour Workshops
  • Day-Long, In-Depth Training

Types of Training

  • Live, On-Site Training
  • Live Webinar/Remote Training
  • Recorded Webinars
  • Conference Sessions
  • Workshops, Breakout Sessions
  • Retreats, Employee Training Days
  • Online Courses, Videos, Module
  • Individual Coaching/Mentoring
  • Team Coaching/Mentoring

WHAT YOU GET WITH SERIOUS SOFT SKILLS

We have been in the situations we address. We aren’t the people who look down from on high and say how things should be. We base our systems and strategies on real-world situations and our constant daily interactions with people like you.

We help people discover for themselves. We don’t do boring PowerPoint slides and lectures. No way. We use interactive activities, modeling, role-playing and other forms of engagement to make it fun – and educational.

We take a holistic approach toward change. We do not address issues with leadership, management or employees specifically, but rather on the overall organization through the lens of soft skills. This approach enables us to identify and help you overcome issues more quickly and effectively.

We like the trenches. We work with small business owners and managers, line managers, new managers and teams to enhance how they go about their work.

We REALLY focus on results. Our success is when teams are more productive, collaborative and innovative. No one needs a report to see the results of our work.

HOW IT ALL WORKS

We help teams and organizations determine the unique role of soft skills in what they do because each group has its own unique strengths, areas for improvement and issues.

Then we work with you to implement training and changes to unleash those soft skills. All of our training is engaging and interactive, with a strong focus on discovery.

We aren’t cookie cutter. We give teams space to uncover, process, discover and enact what fits their needs – because we want it to have a lasting effect.

WHO WE HELP: ORGANIZATION THAT WANT TO GROW

Survey icon copy

Managers

Whether new or veteran, the landscape at work has changed dramatically. We help you sort it out so you can lead your team to success.

Survey icon copy copy

Teams

The people who often have the least success improving teams are its members. We empower teams in new ways, by shifting the focus toward unleashing soft skills.

Survey icon copy copy copy

Owners/Leaders

Hiring more people, avoiding and praying won’t help a struggling organization. We can give you tools and strategies to position your employees to fuel growth.

Unleash the Power of Soft Skills

Ready to unlock these hidden talents in your team or organization.

Copyright 2019 Serious Soft Skills LLC  All Rights Reserved.

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Is Workplace Change Making Your Job More Difficult?

 

 

Our technology-driven, hyper-competitive work world is only going to get worse as we all continue to deal with more globalization, generational differences and greater uncertainty.

That hum and spin of uncertainty is only going to get louder and faster.

Are You Ready?

We work with organizations and individuals in a wide range of industries, providing them with tips, tricks and strategies for succeeding in this climate.

  • Are you or your team stuck?
  • Do you struggle to regain your key employees?
  • Has your career stalled?
  • Do you feel unprepared to interview or take on your next job?
  • Are differences hurting productivity and your company culture?

We have developed a suite of services to help individuals and organizations to negotiate this ever-changing landscape.

For Individuals

For Companies

  • 1-on-1 coaching to position you to lead better or to make greater contribution
  • Affordable, easy-to-understand, actionable lessons on the latest trends and tricks for greater career success
  • The latest techniques for winning that next job or The Job of Your Dreams 
  • Training to transform your managers and leaders into greater assets
  • Customized workshops to foster a more inclusive, stronger company culture that improves productivity, morale and retention
  • Strategic process improvements designed to more easily identify the best job candidates

Our Story

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham have been researching, analyzing, writing about, podcasting and training on these changes in the workplace. They saw these trends emerging as they worked with college students to prepare them to be successful in their careers. They saw the same issues arising during their careers in various industries and among their friends and associates.

The same strategies they applied to help their students apply more universally, and they are on a mission to share what they have uncovered with as many people as possible.

They  can help you solve these and a host of other common workplace issues with our proven strategies that get at the heart of the problem quickly and powerfully.

Contact them to discuss how we can help you.

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Testimonials

“Trying to get employees to understand the nuances of communication is one of the most difficult
aspects of my job. As information professionals, our community depends on my team for computer
access and help navigating the internet, for heath resources, and even assistance with their reading
choices and entertainment options. Libraries aren’t just books anymore. According to the Pew Research
Center, libraries are one of the most trusted organizations in a community. So how can we best leverage
this? Our interpersonal relationships with our patrons, our stakeholders, our community partners, and
our colleagues are what drive our success.

“Bringing Bob Graham into our employee training day was an important part of my staff development
plan. I found Bob through his Serious Soft Skills Podcast. While the tips and tools touched on are
invaluable for anyone working in public service, I knew having Bob onsite would really shift our team’s
focus on how we communicate internally and externally.

Bob was amazing to work with. We set up goals and areas of growth that needed to be tackled by our
team, and even identified key staff that would benefit from one on one coaching. This holistic plan is
exactly what my library needed. I saw almost immediate results.”

Lesley Mason, MLS, Director, Caldwell County (N.C.) Public Library


“Bob, thank you for speaking to our group! You did such a wonderful job. Our members and guests loved your storytelling and presentation. We took away a lot of practical ideas and learned a lot!”

— Christina Snyder, President, Women in Insurance and Financial Services (Baltimore chapter)

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Want Soft Skills Expert Bob Graham
to Speak to Your Organization?

Keynote Speeches, Workshops & Breakout Sessions Unleash the Transformative Power in People

Bob Graham is an expert on soft skills, those tools we use when we interact with other people like empathy, good listening and teamwork. You probably didn’t learn about soft skills in school, and sadly, most businesses are overlooking their power. When unleashed, soft skills can quite literally transform an organization by making its employees more productive, collaborative and innovative. Graham can help you unlock this power.

Bob Graham, keynote speaker, trainer and author

“Bringing Bob Graham into our employee training day was an important part of my staff development plan. While the tips and tools touched on are invaluable for anyone working in public service, I knew having Bob onsite would really shift our team’s focus on how we communicate internally and externally. Bob was amazing to work with. We set up goals and areas of growth that needed to be tackled by our team, and even identified key staff that would benefit from one on one coaching. This holistic plan is exactly what my library needed. I saw almost immediate results.”   (Read full testimonial)

— Lesley Mason, MLS, Caldwell County (N.C.) Public Library

Soft Skills Are the Overlooked Tool for Improving Any Organization

Bob Graham draws on his wide range of business experience to deliver insights on soft skills, using an engaging combination of cutting-edge research, real-life scenarios and humorous anecdotes. This combination helps people in any organization to better understand how soft skills can help them and how when unleashed can ignite careers and organizations.

Graham has presented to scores of organizations, ranging from national conferences and universities, to local groups and the National Institute of Health. His hallmark is an insightful presentation that leaves people with not just a deeper understanding of the topic, but the impetus to take action to improve their lives.

Among his most popular presentations and workshops are:

  • Business Communications
  • Company Culture
  • Customer Relations
  • Dealing with Generational Differences
  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Morale
  • Hiring, Recruitment and Retention Using Soft Skills
  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Millennials and iGen
  • Presentation
  • Storytelling
  • Teamwork and Leadership

Graham customizes every presentation and workshop to meet the unique interests of the organization.

“Bob, thank you for speaking to our group! You did such a wonderful job. Our members and guests loved your storytelling and presentation. We took away a lot of practical ideas and learned a lot!”

— Christina Snyder, President, Women in Insurance and Financial Services (Baltimore chapter)

Why Invite Bob Graham To Speak?

Bob Graham has researched, written about, podcast on and spoken about soft skills to a variety of audiences. He and his business partner, Dr. Tobin Porterfield, cowrote The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success, which, drawing on their cutting-edge research, provides the first definitive list of what soft skills people can use in the workplace.

Their weekly podcast on soft skills, The Serious Soft Skills Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and Spotify, gets thousands of downloads.

Graham and Porterfield have published three academic journal articles on their discoveries about soft skills, including for the Decision Sciences Institute and the American Society of Engineering Education. They also co-f0unded and operate Serious Soft Skills LLC, a Baltimore, Maryland-based consultancy that focuses on educating and training individuals and organizations about soft skills.

In 2010 Graham launched a marketing company, Bigger Pie Strategies, which has helped dozens of small businesses, tech startups and other companies find their ideal audiences through enhanced marketing strategies. Over his career, he has worked in a variety of fields, from newspapers and trade publications, to state government and nonprofits.

He has taught business communications, presentation and marketing to graduate and undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University, and journalism and career readiness at Towson University and several other colleges and universities in the Baltimore, Maryland, area. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Towson University and a Master’s in Communications: Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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Pressure is one of the realities in today’s fast-paced business environment. To not be able to deal well with pressure is to practically guarantee you will be ineffective in performing your job. Today, we will discuss dealign with pressure and give some tips for handling pressure at work.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss:
* Finding the sweet spot in handling pressure
* The Yerkes-Dodson Law
* Pressure and control

Some suggestions for dealing with stress:

1. Accept that stress is a part of life and work. Don’t fight it. Don’t complain about it. Just acknowledge it.
2. Anticipate stressors. If you know a deadline is coming, make sure you eat well, get a good night sleep and clear as much as possible in advance of that day.
3. Don’t take on other people’s stress. Different things cause each of us stress. Listen to others, but don’t make someone else’s stress yours.
4. Make time for daily stress-busting activities. Taking a walk, deep breathing, meditation, journaling, exercise are among the strategies many people use to combat stress.
5. Don’t make stress worst than it is. Stress will come and go. Can you remember the stressors in your life two months or two years ago? Probably not. Just let them go.

Have you joined The Soft Skills Revolution? We are giving resources out for free to people interested in better understanding their soft skills. It’s free and it’s easy. Just provide your email and away you go. Nothing to buy or sell. Jut go to thesoftskillsrevolution.com.

Next week

We will tackle another soft skill. New episodes come out each Wednesday.

They it’s not what you know, but who you know. We are going to discuss that theory and much more as we look at why relationships are at the core of all business these days and how our ability to manage them is paramount if we are going to be successful in practically any job.

In today’s episode, cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss:

  • How changes in the work world necessitate building more relationships
  • How to manage relationships
  • Examples of well managed and poorly managed relationships
  • The benefits of managing relationships with workers, former colleagues, bosses and others

Here are some hints for better managing business relationships:

  • Make amends. If you have a bad business relationship, fix it. Now.
  • Scroll through your phone contacts every week or two. I sometimes see someone’s contact information that I haven’t talked to and have called or emailed them right away. Everything happens for a reason.
  • Find beneficial ways to interact. I like to send articles to people that I think they might find valuable. They seem to like it. It shows I am thinking of them, and it’s easy enough to send an article.
  • Just say hey. Sometimes it’s great to hear from someone who you haven’t heard from in a while. I had a former coworker who I helped mentor contact me recently out of the blue. She told me she missed “my first mentor.” It made my day.
  • Use LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn. It allows me to know what other people are up to, to be able to contact them when they change jobs or locations and it’s all free. I like to see who is celebrating birthdays, job anniversaries or whatever else. I respond often, and it pays off. Ten minutes in the morning or evening can yield great fruit with LinkedIn, or do it every Sunday night.
  • Be grateful. If all else fails, contact someone at least once a week who has had a profound effect on your career and tell him or her that. Believe me, if that’s where the conversation starts, it will end much better – for both of you.

Have you joined The Soft Skills Revolution at The Soft Skills Revolution? Why not? We are giving resources out for free to people interested in better understanding their soft skills. It’s free and it’s easy. Just provide your email and away you go. Nothing to buy or sell. Jut go to thesoftskillsrevolution.com.

Next Week

Next week, we will tackle another soft skill. New episodes come out each Wednesday. Until next week, thanks for listening, good day and good soft skills.

 

 

We all have to face ambiguity, even if we don’t want to. And while few of us actually become comfortable with it, we can employ strategies that help us make it at least bearable.

The ever-faster spinning of our business lives makes the soft skill of dealing with ambiguity one most of us must face in our professional lives more and more. Managers and leaders face it constantly. The farther you go in your career, the less clear things become.

Getting comfortable with ambiguity is an essential business skill and one that many entrepreneurs especially struggle with.

We Long For Control

Most of us want to control as much of our lives as possible – what we eat, who we spend time with, how much sleep we get, where we live, what car we drive, how we will retire. And for the most part, we have control over those things; most of them are functions of our choices.

Business is different. We can make the right choices and derive a bad result because our actions are only part of the equation. Business is about working with, for and against other people and companies. They do what’s right for them, or at least what they think serves them best. We do what’s best for us. The two cannot always coincide. As a result, we find uncertainty and ambiguity permeating our business ventures all the time.

Huge Decisions Riddled With Ambiguity

Here’s a common example: A company creates a product or service and tries to set a price. The company struggles to identify the right price. They assess the competition. They assess people’s views on the product or service. They make their best guess. But if they are wrong, the consequences can be enormous. A product or service that could make a difference in people’s lives fails because it’s price is too high or too low.

Pricing is just one area of uncertainty. What if the marketing message is unclear? The website looks off? The name is wrong? The benefits don’t resonate with the ideal customer? Or if people aren’t ready yet to address this problem in their lives?

Businesses face this challenge everyday. It’s a reality.

Strategies For Combatting Uncertainty

Finding strategies to address our feelings surrounding ambiguity can help greatly.

Here are four hints for combatting the fears that arise with ambiguity, drawn from a discussion I had with Dr. Tobin Porterfield, on our Serious Soft Skills Podcast.

  1. Accept that ambiguity is real. Easy choices don’t always exist. Taking action, even if it’s the wrong action, will bring you one or more steps closer to your goal.
  2. Keep a compass. Know what you are trying to accomplish and keep true to it. People, circumstances, finances and other factors will
  3. Call in the reinforcements. Find people and other sources of information and support that are solid no matter what else is happening.
  4. Heed the signs. When things appear to be faltering, recognize it and react. Remember, inaction is the enemy of any success. A course adjustment, even if it takes you farther from your intended target, still provides you valuable insight that can help the next course correction or the one after that put you back on track.

The more we fight ambiguity, the more a toll it takes on us and our plans. Facing the reality that is ambiguity head-on can keep you moving toward your goals, when others are getting sidelined worrying about things they can never control.