Good or Bad Signals?

You walk into a meeting and there are several people in the room. Two people are scowling, another has his face in his hands, and one person has his body turned away from the others with his arms crossed. It’s not hard to surmise that there are some unhappy folks in our midst. Entrepreneurs will do well to pay attention to body language and non-verbal forms of expression – not only to understand how others may be feeling but also to know what signals he/she may be sending.

So quick – here’s a bit of trivia. What was the television commercial that coined the phrase “never let them see you sweat?” Give up? It was a commercial for a deodorant product called Dry Idea and was released in 1984. Though the product is long forgotten, the phrase is apropos for every entrepreneur. Let’s focus on how we want others to see us.

As a leader, the last thing I want is for anyone else to sense that I’m having a bad day. Fortunately this seldom happens, but when it does I don’t want members of my team to be nervous or concerned about how I’m feeling. Putting on the happy face is important when others are looking to us for leadership. Members of our team often take their cues from us. That’s why I do my best to try and always send positive vibes.

How we dress can send a powerful message. A number of years ago our companies went from casual Fridays to casual every day. It seemed to be the way of the world and there was a lot of enthusiasm for making the shift. After a few months, I realized that I did not like it. However, once a policy has been changed giving something like this to the team, it’s very hard to take it away. But that didn’t mean I had to dress down myself. Instead, I started wearing suits or sport coats and ties every day but Friday. I’m just more comfortable attired this way. And being one of the few business people still dressing up, I have been the recipient of many a comment as to how nice I look. If nothing else, others are noticing that I am representing our organization in a sharp and tasteful manner. Perhaps they’ll draw a positive conclusion about our brand as well.

I’m working with my oldest grandson (age 11) to help him learn how to shake hands. The handshake should be firm but not crushing. It’s important for the hand to be dry and warm. A cold or wet handshake is a turnoff. At the same time as the handshake is occurring, we look the other person in the eye, SMILE and introduce our self – “I’m Lee Harris.” I teach my grandson that when he does this in a confident manner the other person will almost always reciprocate with his or her name. At this point it’s a good idea to repeat the other person’s name – “Hi Dylan, it’s nice to meet you.” So you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I already know this stuff.” You would be amazed at how many entrepreneurs don’t know how to shake hands! Oh, and one other thing. When wearing a name badge, stick or pin it on the right side – not the left. This way, when you reach out to shake someone’s hand, it’s easy for them to see your name badge.

We tend to sit a lot in the business world. Our days are consumed with meetings and there are many levels of unspoken communications constantly occurring while we are seated. Are we rocking in our chair? Do we have a fidget-prone foot or leg? These movements can be distracting to others and may lessen the impact of what we have to say. Are we slouching in our chair? Is our phone in our lap and are we looking down for extended periods of time as we check e-mails, texts, etc.? As entrepreneurial leaders we want to set a good example for our team. Good posture and ongoing attentiveness sends the right message.

Finally, I can’t overemphasize the power of the SMILE and regular eye contact. This form of non-verbal communications puts people at ease and is vital to establishing a positive rapport.

Even though we may have learned about body language and non-verbal communications long ago, it’s always a good idea to periodically review and refresh. Better yet, spend a few moments to teach a youngster what you’ve learned.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 82 – “No” Flippers.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Death, Taxes and . . .

We’ve always been told that there are no guarantees in life except death and taxes. I submit that there is one more guarantee that’s much more pleasant. We can be guaranteed that every day will be a good day . . . if we make it so. How? Read on.

Whether our day is good or bad depends upon our state of mind. By extension, we make the choice as to whether or not we will generally be happy in life. Being an entrepreneur is a tough gig. There are plenty of obstacles – way too many to list here. We can allow these obstacles to eventually overwhelm us, or we can look at them as opportunities for growth and success. But how do we get our mind right to look at our challenges this way? Here are some ideas that work for me in guaranteeing that every day is going to be a good day and that I’m able to be happy about my life overall.

Smile before answering or making a phone call. Smiling helps to release neuropeptides that counteract stress. Also, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin all go to work when we smile. So there is a positive physiological reaction to smiling that can’t be ignored. And no doubt the conversation will be more pleasant and may result in a positive outcome – all because of a smile.

You know all those e-mails we send every day? We probably send too many because it’s such an efficient way to communicate. Yet, I find life can be pretty dull if we just keep to ourselves. I like to convert some of my e-mail conversations into face-to-face meetings or phone calls. I also find it hard to build relationships exclusively via e-mail. Thus, I build stronger relationships with the personal touch and it makes me feel good to have human interaction throughout the day.

Express gratitude every single day. We have so much for which to be thankful. My day is more fulfilling when I tell someone how much I appreciate them and what they are doing. Gratitude helps me to feel more optimistic and contributes to building stronger interpersonal relationships.

Become centered. Life moves at warp speed for most of us. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and all of a sudden things can spin out of control. Spending a few moments from time-to-time with deep breathing and visualization exercises helps to ground me and restores my calm.

I was a Boy Scout and we committed to doing a good deed every day. I know it’s going to be a good day when I do something for someone else and am rewarded with their smile. This can be as little as holding the door for another person or helping someone put their bag in the overhead compartment on an airplane.

If exercise isn’t part of your daily routine it’s certainly worthy of consideration. A good morning workout and long walk set a pattern for the day. I feel great after sweating and burning calories. I’m able to control my weight as well as ward off stress through physical activity.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. One of the healthiest things we can do – multiple times each day – is to laugh. And if we can laugh at ourselves, that’s even better. As with smiling, laughing offers innumerable health benefits and it’s usually the result of something funny. When we take ourselves too seriously we may become self-conscious and begin to doubt ourselves.

Do at least one creative thing every day. But I’m not a creative person you say. That’s beside the point. We all have the ability to be creative at some level. Find something large or small where we can stretch our minds in a creative fashion. And guess what, you’ll find a nugget of good somewhere in the process.

Finally, be present. This can be very hard for us as entrepreneurs when we’re caught up in the fast-paced life we lead. It’s been my experience that I make fewer mistakes (that can erode the feelings of a good day) when I focus on the moment. Maybe that’s concentrating on a task at hand or something as simple as giving my full attention to someone with whom I’m meeting.

Yes, every day is guaranteed to be a good day if we take the necessary steps to make it happen. I can’t wait for my feet to hit the floor each morning because I’m stacking the deck in favor of this guarantee!

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 41 – To Proposition or Not to Proposition?

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Innie or Outie?

Are you an “innie or an outie?” And I’m not talking about belly buttons. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Before you answer you should know that there are many common misconceptions about these terms. The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung developed extensive research on this subject. In fact, Jung actually used the term “extravert” instead of “extrovert.” Over the years the word seemed to have morphed into the “extrovert” terminology we use today. So, when you hear these words, what do you think? An introvert is shy and an extrovert is outgoing? As with many things, this is an oversimplification. Think about how we recharge our batteries. Do you find that you gain renewed energy from being alone in solitude or by being around other people? Technically, introverts seek renewal alone and extroverts recharge through interaction with others. But enough with the technicalities. Let’s explore introversion and extroversion in the more traditional sense.

How can introverts and extroverts survive and thrive with each other? How can an introvert succeed when many situations call for a high degree of sociability and gregariousness? And how do extroverts avoid coming across as a bull in a china shop in situations that need reflection and finesse?

I know a person who has a position that requires considerable interaction with others in a public setting. This individual makes outstanding presentations to large groups of people but struggles mightily with one-on-one interaction. I and others question his genuineness and authenticity as a result of this challenge with his personality. People see him as a masterful “performer” on stage but are frustrated because the “act” doesn’t translate into personal charisma.

For those of us who might find it challenging to engage easily with others, here are some ideas. Step into it. Play offense instead of defense. We can put ourselves in situations where we have the opportunity for interaction. Maybe it’s at a conference or a gathering of some sort. We find someone who isn’t already talking to others and go introduce ourselves. Be strong. The handshake is firm and we make friendly eye contact. The person I mentioned in the preceding paragraph has a tendency to either avoid eye contact or look over my shoulder. Smile. Always smile. It helps us to put ourselves and others at ease. Relax. Don’t try too hard. We just need to be who we are – not someone else. And yes, we can be strong and relaxed at the same time. This actually projects confidence.

On the other end of the spectrum some of us may be somewhat supercharged with extroversion. In certain situations this can be overwhelming to others and can come across in a high pressure salesman manner. Of course we don’t want to be perceived this way. Many extroverts have a great deal of nervous energy and perhaps even a touch (or mega dose) of ADHD. This reflects in their speech patterns and mannerisms.

As extroverts we need to work to “dial it back” at times. Zip it. We may have a tendency to dominate conversations. Instead, we need to make a concerted effort to create a dialogue where we make sure that others have a chance to express themselves. Chill. Somehow we have to resist the urge to outwardly manifest all of the energy that is pent-up inside. Calm. We need to replace the pent-up energy with calmness. Don’t worry; our charisma is so strong that we won’t be seen as a shrinking violet. Smile. A friendly smile is disarming and sends positive vibes to others. As extroverts we may have a tendency to be too intense. Remembering to always smile will put others at ease.

Introverts and extroverts must make a mutual effort to co-exist and collaborate. When they succeed, they can do great things together.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

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