Category Archives: Communication

Tough Conversations

7 Tips on How to Have Tough Conversations

Sitting down with personnel and knowing how to have  tough conversations is never easy. In fact, it can be a manager’s most dreaded and difficult task. Before you are ever in a position where you need to let someone go or discuss with an employee their inappropriate behaviors or anything of the sort, take some time to yourself and make sure you are prepared. Here a few simple steps to make that painful conversation slightly less awful:

  • Know exactly how you will deliver the news: Whatever the feedback may be, make sure you deliver it very clearly and concisely. It’s like ripping off a bandaid, most times, people know some sort of unpleasant news is headed their way, so don’t try and build up to the moment, just as clearly and concisely explain the premise of the conversation.
  • Anticipate: Inevitably, there will be pushback. Sometimes this manifests itself in the way of questions, tears, denial or anger. Try to think of the individual you will be talking to and prepare for several different scenarios. Figure out before hand how you will address every alternative.
  • Have Closure: Often in a tough conversation, closure is hard to achieve, but to salvage any type of remaining relationship whether strictly business or otherwise, difficult talks need closure. This often will take the form of offering next steps. This could be offering solutions to avoid further confrontation. If you are letting the individual go, this could include compliments based on ways in which the employee had high performance or even recommendations for other opportunities outside your company.
  • Be Sincere: Everyone knows when you are just saying something to be nice. After you have broken hard news, nobody wants to hear manufactured compliments or words of encouragement. That’s worse than rubbing salt in a wound. Make sure anything that is said is sincere. Thumper from Bambi was right. If you truly have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Be Quick: As soon as bad news is delivered, chances are the person will tune out. Make sure that anything important that is said after the news is delivered is very direct and clear. Don’t be wordy, don’t try to turn it into a full-fledged meeting. Just put the cards on the table, allow for questions and closure then be done.
  • Tell The Truth: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is fabricate a lie or story to help ease the tense situation. Don’t make an excuse in an effort to give a ray of hope or a logical explanation. Almost always, these lies are detected and make the situation far worse, not to mention the fact they can result in legal trouble.
  • Mum’s the Word: These tough conversations should be discussed with no one. They should be strictly “need-to-know.” Talking about these circumstances with other individuals is not only damaging to the recipient of the the tough conversation but also can be hurtful to your own reputation.

Learning the art of having tough conversations is crucial. Even though sticky discussions are usually under ten minutes, it is imperative you spend double that amount of time preparing exactly what you will say. Though you never get used to tough conversations, hopefully these seven steps will make delivering the news a more smooth, win-win process.

Tips for Writing a Successful Email

How to Write Emails Professionally that Sell

Tips for Writing a Successful EmailEmail communication is critical in today’s business environment. Phone calls and hard-copy memos are becoming obsolete and all the focus from these traditional methods has shifted to emails. If you are like me, I am sure you have received some seemingly rude, abrupt, robotic and unthoughtful emails.  Have you ever thought how your emails come across? I decided to look through my sent messages to see just what attitude I was conveying. My findings were surprising.  In this post my aim is to help you learn how to write emails in a professional manner that ultimately sell you as a person.

Professional Emails that Sell

Nearly every email you write is a sales pitch. You are trying to motivate someone with your words to do something, change something or simply respond. Whether you are a manager or an entry-level worker, emailing professionally is crucial. People at all levels expect to be respected. Amazingly, your emails can alter how someone views you as a person. Do they think you are abrupt, long-winded, cold, generous, kind, caring, etc.? It is critical to realize that every time you hit “send” that person is going to read your note and either decide to respond and act on your email or move it to the trash. The way you write needs to sell you as an individual.

Word Choice Sells

Word choice is crucial in writing a professional email. After clicking through countless messages, I discovered several trends in emails that made me feel good. Emails need to be more personal so that your clients and contacts feel like they are truly cared for on an individual basis. The solution–inject more of you.

The whole concept of words that sell your emails revolves around taking the time to incorporate your reader into your emails. Below are some concepts that can serve as a great checklist to writing and excellent, thoughtful email.

  • Use More of You. Instead of saying “How’s it going?” say “How are you doing?” Instead of “Thanks” say “Thank You.”
  • Use Names. Often, we will respond without using anyone’s name, especially in quick emails. If you are  addicted to your mobile phone, you need to make an extra effort to still address the person by name.  Find a way to incorporate the recipient’s name even if you are not saying, “Dear so-and-so.”
  • Say Thank you. Find a way to say thank you (not thanks). You could thank the individual for their time or for their ideas. There is always a reason to say thank you even if it is as simple as “Thank you for all you do!” or “Thank you for taking the time to read my email.” Showing thankfulness raises a person’s self-importance and it also makes you truly value how that person contributes to your team.
  • Compliment. Tell the individual you are writing to that they had a great idea or that they are a valuable asset to your team. If you can’t find a compliment, at least tell them to have an awesome day.
  • Use Details. This is probably the most challenging and might not always be applicable. However, if you are responding to an email, try and comment on a detail in their email that most people would overlook. This shows the original sender that you took the time to read what they had to say and it shows you care. You could write something like, “You mentioned that…” This technique is always a winner because the individuals feels important that you took the time to read their note in detail.

Using these 5 points will help make your email communication more effective in today’s business environment. Always remember to sell yourself when writing an email and be sure to be professional. Using these techniques will help you be a far more effective email communicator and people will appreciate reading your emails more.

Different Ways to Say Thank You in English

Yesterday, I was sitting with a friend and we were discussing the importance of writing thank you notes. Saying thank you can be the difference between getting the job or getting your resume shredded. Taking the time to write a thank you note is a nice gesture, but it can often be difficult because starting every sentence saying, “Thank you for…” can get pretty repetitive. So my friend sat down and came up with these different ways to say thank you in English.

  1. Thank you.
  2. Thanks.
  3. I am grateful…
  4. I [truly] appreciate…
  5. I value your…
  6. I am thankful for your…
  7. I can’t thank you enough… or I can’t tell you enough how much ________ meant to me.
  8. Words cannot express how grateful I am.
  9. You have no idea the impact of ___________, thank you.


Hopefully these different ways to say thank you make your next letter or thank you note that much more meaningful! If you can think of other ways to say “Thanks” please share them in the comments!

A Glimpse from My Past – “Jail”

A glimpse into my past, an excerpt from my journal:

It was cold. The florescent lights cast a dull shadow. The men glared as I walked in. A fresh face. The door sealed shut behind me, separating me from the outside. I felt like a spectacle. The men whistled at me as if I were a dog. So, this is jail.

I never thought that I would see the day nor would I have reason to believe that I would ever stepfoot in a place like that. I was just inches away from men who have taken the lives of innocent people, men who have completely defiled women and men who have stolen, cheated, mugged, assaulted … other people–innocent people. Cement walls. Tables and chairs bolted to the floor. Communal showers. Toilets exposed for everyone to see. Prison, not a friendly place.

As a law abiding citizen, reading this might surprise you or even scare you. If you know me personally, you might be shocked. If you follow me on Twitter, you might be on your way to unfollowing me, but wait–why?

You think that I did something wrong. You think that I did some prison-time at some point in my life. You think that I was locked up with big-time criminals. Let me ask you something, where did you gather that? Did I ever tell you that? In the journal entry did I say I was in jail? No.

This entry serves as a valuable lesson, two actually, one to speakers (writers, bloggers, communicators, etc.) and one to audiences (anyone listening). Careful how you communicate and be careful how you receive communication.

Speakers, you have the ability to craft words in such a way to portray anything you want without lying, just twisting the truth or embellishing reality. This piece is truly something from my past experiences, however what I failed to include was that it was a trip to visit someone I knew who was in jail, not my actual experience in jail.

Readers, it is easy to jump to conclusions after just reading a headline or an excerpt from an article. Before you jump to conclusions and think you know the whole story, be careful to read everything. You never know what you might be missing.

This just goes as another reminder of how crucial communication needs to be in the workplace and in life in general! Be a responsible speaker and a responsible reader!

Plan Your Calls

I recently made a phone call that was fairly important. I was bracing myself for an interactive phone conversation. In my mind, I envisioned that it would start with casual greetings, the friendly “How was your weekend?” and so on, even though the subject matter of the call was strictly business. I knew the gist of what I was going to say, but I wanted to ease my way into it… Well, what I did not expect was that I was going to have to leave a voicemail. As the phone kept ringing, I knew my time to plan a thoughtful, succinct but powerful voicemail was lessening. I heard the unmistakable “beep” and I started to leave my message.

After leaving the voicemail, I sat in my seat at Starbucks and shook my head thinking about how foolish the voicemail sounded. That was when I realized how important it is to script your calls.

Telemarketers and support centers use this scripted approach. In no way am I suggesting that we script calls in that manner. Instead, I am referring to the idea of being prepared for multiple scenarios. What if the administrative assistant answers? What if the person I am calling answers, but doesn’t have time for a lengthy phone conversation? What if I get sent to voicemail?

Being prepared for different situations will make you come across as a person has your ducks in a row. In doing this, not only are you making yourself look better, you are more relaxed and will be more like your natural self on the call. And of course, always smile, you can hear a smile over the phone.