Feet first. Where are your feet? Seriously. Check in and notice your feet now. Are you sitting at a desk with your legs crossed or are both feet on the floor? Sprawled in a comfy chair, your feet tucked up beside you? You could even be lying in bed, checking your email before you get up and start your day. Any of those positions are fine for article-reading. A friend reminded me the other day how important our feet are in other situations. “People need to be more grounded,” he said. And he’s right. In meetings, in virtual presentations, even in casual conversations, your feet set the stage for what we hear from you. Our conversation about being grounded took me back to a Sunday morning, and a group of seven or eight, sitting in a circle of folding chairs. Each of us with a chance to express our experience, our emotions, and our point of view.
Tell me about your sorrow. Still with me? What went through your mind when you saw that title, “Tell me about your sorrow”? Did you contemplate skipping this one, moving on to some other, cheerier subject line? “10X your business before summer” or something like that? Mostly, we shy away from even acknowledging sorrow or suffering. When it’s our own, we might ignore it, eat about it, drink about it, or use drugs to block it out. Or maybe we stay busy, trying to bury it in frenetic activity. There are a lot of ways to turn away from our own sorrow. And when it’s somebody else who’s suffering?
Do they like you? Are you sure? It’s been years, but the memory still stings. That program director, sitting across the desk, telling me they were letting me go because, “People just don’t like you.” Well, you can imagine how that felt. Not only was I unemployed and staring straight at social and financial ruin. As the guy said when I pressed for some further explanation, I was also “just not likeable.” Yikes! In hindsight, I’m not totally sure he was right about me. I am sure that being likeable is important, and not just in radio. Relationships matter, whatever kind of work we do. It’s not enough to be bright, to have an advanced degree or years of experience. What are sometimes dismissed as “soft skills” turn out to be essential elements of success. Here are five of them...
What If Your Strength Isn’t That Strong? What do you do when you can’t rely on your number one asset? When it comes to speaking on a stage, in a meeting, or even in casual conversation, we each have strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths help us make a powerful impression, state our case, and get results. Yes, all of us have some; one of my missions as a coach is to make sure my clients know their strong suits and know how to make the most of them. Me? If I had to pick my top strength as a speaker it would be my voice. I have some other natural attributes, and I’ve learned some other skills. But the quality people most often compliment, the characteristic that makes me stand out from others, the feature that was the basis for a 25-year career in radio and for early success as a speaker … is my voice. Here I sit today, without my voice. Well, I have a voice, it just isn’t my usual voice. I have a cold, and I don’t quite sound like myself.
Words, words, words. We’re having quite a debate over language in Chicago. Mayor Brandon Johnson warns us, “We have to be very careful when we use language to describe certain behavior.” You know me, I’m all for clarity, crispness, and maybe a bit of pizzazz when we choose the words we use. And I think the mayor, along with some of his allies, are muddying the waters with the language they use. Johnson was reacting to a reporter’s question about a mob of young people rampaging through city streets, breaking store windows and damaging vehicles. “To refer to children as, like, baby Al Capones is not appropriate,” he scolded.