Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

The 5 Golden Rules of Interviewing:

• Get your predetermined message across.

• Let nothing go by default.

• Keep off other people’s business.

• Only answer the question asked.

• Avoid sounding defensive or that you’ve been ‘got’.

Though the ‘media monster’ may bare its teeth every once in a while, you can actually enjoy going into the fray, have your say and leave them wowed and yourself intact!

Giving simple straight forward answers is not enough. The good TV or radio interviewers are looking to create something that is both entertaining and informative. It is essential therefore to understand what makes for a good interview and will keep the audience’s attention.

Afterwards, encourage those around you to tell you the things you did well. Very few of us make progress by being told what was wrong with our presentation. When we’re up in front of an audience we all have very fragile egos.

Finally, someone once asked Dan Rather what he’d learned in 30+ years of broadcasting. He replied, “Don’t eat spinach before you go on the air.” Good advice. During those 15 minutes of fame no one wants to be remembered as the person with a green glob on their teeth.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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My team know how to persuade me to complete tasks when I’m prevaricating, postponing, and procrastinating. They already have established a common ground and an emotion connection with me. They know how to make their cases compelling by appealing to my values, including my desire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. They offer help and gear their approach to my decision-making style. And when all else fails, they direct their efforts to what drives me in combination with my needs and desires. While my latest book Persuasion & Influence For Dummies (P&IFD) is filled with useful techniques and insights into how to persuade people to do what you want them to do, here I share a few simple thoughts and tips that can lead to a big difference.

Get to know what matters to people. The more you know, the more able you are to affect their behaviour. When you know what inspires people and what they can’t live without you’ve got a guide for persuading them to follow your plan. How can you do this? Pay attention when they talk about what’s important to them. Listen not only to the words they say, notice how they speak and move. What’s their tone of voice? What words and phrases do they use to express their thoughts and feelings? What is their posture like and how are they gesturing? If the other person is speaking quickly and talking about feelings, and you’re speaking slowly and discussing thoughts, chances are your attempts at persuasion won’t fly. The most successful persuaders are those who communicate in a similar way to the people they want to persuade. P&IFD as well as Body Language For Dummies (now out in its 2nd edition), have many tips for communicating with people in a similar way.

The most successful persuaders are those who can render sound judgment at appropriate times. When your judgements are condemnatory, self-righteous, or constantly critical of another person’s beliefs and behaviours, don’t be surprised if s/he disregards your demands. The ability to stand outside of a situation and look at it clearly in an unbiased manner is one of your greatest tools for persuading others to do your bidding. If you force your agenda on people whom you want to persuade, without taking into account their situation, your chances of persuading them to do what you want are slim.

The cornerstone of persuasion is credibility. Credible people are trustworthy. You can believe what they tell you and you can trust them to listen. Fundamental to establishing your credibility are integrity, consistency and the ability to resist radical mood swings. If you lack sufficient credibility, don’t expect to be able to persuade others to take on board your suggestions. The good news is, you can develop and nurture your credibility. For more about building your credibility, pick up a copy of Persuasion & Influence For Dummies.

Remember: Support, encouragement and trust are fundamental to influencing people who want to make a difference. For these people, the work and the opportunity to make a difference is more rewarding than money, prestige and incentives.

Warning: When you’re persuading someone to do what you want them to do, don’t deliberately make them feel anxious or ashamed. While both approaches may yield temporary gains, someone who’s been shamed won’t want anything to do with you in the future and will be disinclined to speak positively about you.

Anecdote: I recently had to terminate the services of a supplier. I wrote to her that while I value her efforts, results and our working relationship, my business model has changed and I no longer require her services. I finished by saying that I would happily recommend her and her company to others. Her response? Expressions including “I have to say that I’m very disappointed that you have chosen to end our relationship in this way…”, “would have been more appropriate”, and “you did not have the courtesy to…” peppered her reply. While I appreciate that she may be worried about her business, I did not appreciate her approach to persuade me to change my mind. As for recommending her services in the future? I’m less inclined to do so now.

Tip: Rather than trying to talk someone into doing what you think is the right thing to do, persuade them by appealing to their personal beliefs and values.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Having a wonderful vision of what you want to do in life is not enough. You need to know how to turn that vision into a reality. And in order for that to happen you need to support your dreams and goals with knowledge and skill. Only then can you create a coherent and solid foundation for the future you want.

Some people seem to have a natural ability to achieve their goals. Others struggle. The good news is that achieving one’s vision is an ability that is available to anyone who can model excellence.

Achieving your vision encompasses more than what you want to achieve in your life now. There’s a part that has to do with what you want to leave behind – your legacy. Being clear about your legacy will focus your attention on what you need to be doing now to achieve a future goal.

Exploring what we want to achieve and leave behind is more than making a list and prioritising. It is about looking deep within and discovering what really matters. The effect on ones behaviour, once having connected with these highest values, is extraordinarily powerful and influential.

• Make your dream manageable and achievable

• Identify specific beliefs and strategies to create a vision and bring it to fruition.

• Clarify your legacy and build its foundations

• Know the space between Vision and Action is Hesitation

• Learn how to deal with natural doubts and concerns

• Model success

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com 

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Whether you’re speaking or not, you’re always communicating. Research consistently suggests that over 90% of a person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions are conveyed through non-verbal channels, including the voice and body language.

Through careful observation you can gain insights into a person’s state of mind, emotions and attitude. A person’s pitch, pace and tone of voice, movements, gestures, and expressions, as well as posture, dress, and spatial distance communicate even when no words are being spoken. By observing and responding to others’ non-verbal behaviours you can influence their thinking and persuade them to agree with your suggestions.

Because many people have learned how to put a mask on to hide their true feelings, if you sense that someone’s face is concealing what’s going on inside, observe the whole body. Legs, feet, arms, shoulders, hands and fingers give valuable indications of consistency and authenticity, or a lack thereof.

Through astute observation you can figure out what’s being communicated even when the verbal output is turned off. Questions to ask yourself when observing others include:

• Are the messages coming from the spoken words consistent with the messages coming from the non-verbal behaviours?

• Is the person being consistent in displaying non-verbal behaviours?

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Technical Stuff: Individuals cannot control normal eye dilation. When you are looking at something that pleases or arouses you, you your eyes measurably dilate; when you see something that you don’t like or that threatens you, your eyes constrict.

Regardless of what a presenter is saying, if he looks at his audience as he speaks, his listeners will perceive him favourably and view him as confident, credible, qualified, and honest.

If someone speaking doesn’t want to be interrupted, she will glance away and continue talking. If she wants someone else to speak, she will pause and make direct eye contact with that person.

If, while you’re speaking, someone is checking his BlackBerry, texting on his iPhone or looking at his watch, he may be indicating that it’s time for a break or that you’re boring him.

Tip: Words are accentuated and punctuated by movements, gestures, and facial expressions. When there is a lack of congruency between the verbal and nonverbal message, people believe what their eyes and ears tell you, not what the speaker is saying.

Warning: While certain gestures and expressions – such as a genuine smile in which the eyes as well as the mouth are engaged, or a clenched fist slamming down on a table top – convey specific messages, interpret them carefully in the context of the situation that is occurring at the time. Because observing non-verbal behaviour is open to interpretation, practice your observation skills and when appropriate ask the people involved to verify your observations and interpretations.

Anecdote: I recently ran a session for a global corporation on the Body Language of Leaders. During my presentation I noticed that while most of the women in the room were smiling and nodding as I spoke, several of the men had serious expressions on their faces, which I initially interpreted as unconvinced or doubtful. In order to gain rapport with these individuals (see Body Language For Dummies and Persuasion & Influence For Dummies on how to establish rapport) I reflected back their expressions as I directed my comments to them. What I observed was that the men relaxed and engaged with me as I mirrored back what I observed them doing.

Remember: No single non-verbal sign is a reliable indicator of mood, attitude, or intention. To support a particular conclusion, observe and interpret several consistent signals.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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I used to believe that in order to make a difference one had to make a grand gesture. With time I have come to understand that the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact. Little deeds can make a major difference

Since my mother’s death, I have been sorting through her documents and papers. As I’ve been trawling through years of bank statements and receipts I have been overwhelmed by her lifelong consistency in supporting charities and aid organisations.

My mother was raised to give to those in need. As a child she would put 10 cents – 1/5 of her weekly allowance – into the collection plate at church. As she grew older, she continued donating to her church, the Red Cross and the United Way, as well as a scattering of local museums and arts organisations. Most of the organisations my mother contributed to weren’t ‘high profile’ and all contributions made a significant difference to the balance sheet.

Not a wealthy woman, Mom managed her finances with care. While many of her friends gave thousands of dollars to support their chosen charities, ensuring them a place at the top table, autographed photographs of world leaders, and their names emblazoned in gold on donors’ plaques, Mom would send cheques for $10 and $20 which earned her pads of paper and gummed labels with her name and address on them. (I treasure those pads of paper and think of my mother whenever I write myself a note.) For Mom, it wasn’t about the recognition. Or even the tax deduction. My mother contributed what she could because she wanted to make a difference to people in need.

Remember: A small contribution is better than none at all.

Tip: Making a difference can take many forms. Fix a meal for someone who’s feeling poorly. Help a child with homework. Take the garbage out. Say a kind word to your partner or child before going to sleep. Smile.

Anecdote: A few years ago I had an operation and had to stay in bed for several weeks. One day my friends Belinda and Nicky came to visit. While Nicky helped me bathe and put on a fresh nightgown, Belinda replaced the rumpled sheets on my bed with freshly laundered linens and laid out a picnic lunch for the three of us to enjoy. I felt loved and nurtured. Belinda and Nicky continue to make a difference in my life.

Try This: The next time you notice someone in need, consider how you could make a difference to that person’s life and act upon your thought.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Quick Tips from Kuhnke Communication on How to Present Yourself with Confidence:

1.Claim your space. You have the right to be heard and the right to speak. People ask you to speak because they’re interested in getting to know you and hearing what you have to say.

2. Move with purpose. No fiddling with your clothes or fussing with your hair. When you move, make sure your gestures and expressions support and illustrate your message, not detract from it.

3. Connect with your listeners. Before you speak find out about them: their interests, needs, concerns. The more you know about your audience the better able you are to gear your remarks to them.

4. Articulate. No matter how smart you are, how powerful your message, and how compelling your story, if you can’t be understood you might as well send a memo. Warm up your vocal mechanism by going into the ladies room before you speak and do a few horse blows, hums, and tongue twisters to loosen up your vocal mechanism.

5. Resonate. Make sure your message touches your audience and calls them to action. No matter what your subject, leave your listeners thinking about what they’re going to do next. If your speech is about politics, encourage your audience to vote and volunteer. If your speech is about cooking, encourage your listener’s to host a dinner party. Etc.

6. Tell stories and anecdotes. Include examples. Use vivid language, including metaphors and similes.

7. Structure your content. Have a clear introduction (10% of your presentation) no more than 3 main points (The Rule of Three. 70%) and your summary (20%)

8. Speak only when you are looking at your audience. Have your opening and closing remarks memorised. If you need to refer to your notes, pause, look at them, then look up at your audience and speak. They want you to do well. No one wants to see a speaker fail.

9. Breathe from your boots. When you’re nervous the tendency is to breathe from your upper chest, causing you to be top heavy and unbalanced. Stand with your feet placed squarely beneath your hips and shoulders to give you a solid foundation from which to speak.

10. Before you speak, visualise yourself presenting as you want to. Make the picture real. Hear your voice – strong and resonate. See your audience looking at you with pleasure and interest. Feel the energy in your body focused and flowing easily as you make your point. Feel yourself smiling and enjoying the experience. Create the reality you want to achieve.

11. Have fun. If you enjoy what you’re doing, so will your audience.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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When my mother died, she willed me one of her charm bracelets. On this bracelet is a charm that says: Live, Love, Laugh. When I think of my mother, these are the words that come to mind.

My mother died 3 ½ years ago after a 7 year battle with cancer. She was 83 and lived her life with dignity, courage and determination. In addition to cancer, my mother suffered from schizophrenia throughout her life.

I recently came across one of my mother’s journals written in the 1970s in which she documented her breakdowns and feelings about her mental illness. Without complaining or playing for pity, Mom spoke of her life with gratitude. In spite of her condition, she felt fortunate to have been financially astute so that she could provide for her daughters and afford treatment for her disease. (Mom and my father divorced when I was nine, and she raised my sister and me mostly on her own.)

In contrast to her mental frailty, Mom was physically fit. A club champion golfer, tennis player and swimmer and the first woman to be invited to join the USA Olympic Equestrian Team, she excelled at sport. Only in terms of her sense of self was she a fragile flower who struggled with life’s challenges. Friends and family would step in when Mom’s illness rendered her incapable, filling our house with love and laughter during times of stress and sadness. The tough times didn’t last long, and although Mom would come out of an episode feeling weak and embarrassed by her behaviour, she was able to laugh at her antics and express thanks for the love in her life. Frank Sinatra’s song, Nancy With the Laughing Face, could have been written for Mom.

Several days before my mother died she asked me to publicise her mental illness in order to enlighten people about what continues to be a taboo topic. This, in spite of mental illness – in its varying forms – affecting millions of families across the globe. I have yet to speak with anyone who doesn’t have some form of mental illness in their DNA. My current aim – in honour of my mother – is to build awareness and eliminate fear and prejudice around the subject. If I can contribute to ridding the world of mental disease, so much the better.

I leave you with this final thought: My mother exemplified fortitude, faith and fun. She would often say, “I know that if I can laugh at it I can live with it.” She did. I wish you a life filled with love and laughter.

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Remember: There’s a lot of sadness, loss and strife floating in the universe. Counterbalance the negative effects by bringing love and laughter to your life and those of others. Find the beauty. Seek the good. You’ll feel better for doing so as will the people whose lives you touch.

Tip: When all else fails, find the humour in life. A bit of verve and vivacity goes a long way in helping you tackle life’s challenges.

Remember: If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.

Anecdote: Shortly before my mother died we invited a group of her friends to the house for chocolates, champagne and conversation. At a time when most people in her position would have preferred to be alone, Mom wanted to surround herself with people she cared about and who cared about her. At one point during the evening, Mom, who was seated in her easy chair with her friends surrounding her said, “It’s so nice to be at my own wake!” and burst into laughter, in which her friends joined. Mom could find happiness in the most unlikely events. As one of her friends wrote to me, shortly after she died, “Your mother laughed like she meant it and loved her friends and family. She lived her life with bonhomie and good will and people left her company feeling upbeat and good about themselves.” Another friend said, “You mother always made me feel welcomed and valued. I valued her enormously..”

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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