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Today’s guests are Dianna Booher, Author, Speaker and CEO of Booher Research Institute and Rena Cohen-First, Author and Vice President of Sales for Nature’s Crop International. To hear the entire show, click here.
On the show today, two enterprising women share techniques and the importance of effective communication.
Dianna Booher is a communication strategist helping organizations with effective communications and being clear in their day to day operations. She is also the author of 46 books, most of which revolve around communication strategies and effective communication. She says that communication is the basic business act. Nothing gets done at work until somebody communicates. “Even at a personal level, all of your relationships are the sum total of your conversations. It is the essence of everything we do and everything we are and all the meaningful relationships we have,” Booher says on the importance of communication.
Evolution of Communication
Technology has certainly changed the way we communicate. However, she feels that the tool is irrelevant if it’s not used well. “The problem is most people don’t think and differentiate which tool to use for what purpose or what person. It makes a dramatic difference because technology has driven the way we communicate and made it more complex and has also made everyone more aggressive,” Booher explains. Since the world is so connected, anyone around the world can say something that could result in the collapse of a division or a business. Often people do things unintentionally because they don’t know how to use the medium appropriately and can cause ramifications across the world. Also, in today’s world, it is hard to stand out because everyone out there is aggressively trying to get their message out. It is very important to be unique and creative in your messaging in order to be heard.
According to Booher, the key to good communication is collaboration and asking questions. One of the principles of clear communication is that you need to learn that communication is not about what you want to say but what the other person needs to tell you. Most people think of communication as what they need to say and how they can give out their message. However, Booher’s advice is to focus on the questions and to be known for asking questions. “When you start off a conversation – whether it’s for sales or with your team – the initial preparation should be a list of questions that you can ask in order to get the other person’s input on a problem,” she says.
Handling Difficult Conversations
When it comes to giving negative feedback to someone, Booher suggests first asking a series of question to the person. Starting off the conversation by asking what the person thought of his or her work or how they’d do the project differently if given another chance helps you handle the conversation in a better way rather than starting off on a negative tone right from the get go. Structuring a feedback with series of questions helps the other person do some self-analysis. Often Booher finds managers having trouble handling negative conversations and rely on the HR department to take care of them on their behalf. One simple advice she offers such managers is to write down their opening lines and the questions they would ask. This would make a difficult conversation easier to initiate.
What Are You Reading?
Booher just finished reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown which is about taking something out of your life and adding new things. She also just started reading “On Fire at Work” by Eric Chester which is about employee engagement.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Dianna via her company website at www.booherresearch.com or find her on LinkedIn.
Rena Cohen-First is the Vice President of Sales for Nature’s Crop International, a company that produces a vegan version of Omega 3, 6 and 9. She has been in the food ingredient industry for 17 years selling to the largest food, beverage and supplement manufacturers in the world. She loves being a part of this industry as she makes an impact on consumer health. She is also a sales coach. Early on she had realized there was a great opportunity in combining sales training and executive coaching for women and got formally trained in executive coaching. She regularly writes a blog for the Huffington Post that discusses sales tools and techniques for women. She has also written a book called “The Authentic Sale: A Goddess’s Guide to Business.”
Cohen-First says that while leading and managing people she uses the tools and techniques she picked up during her executive coaching training. “Coaching, in a nutshell, is knowing where you want to be, knowing where you are and knowing how to get there. Knowing where you want to be would include your company’s strategies, your personal objectives, your talent objectives and growth objectives. Where you are would include behavioral strengths, your personality types, opportunities for growth and knowing how to get there means knowing your strategies and techniques to keep yourself intrinsically motivated for facing success at all times. For a leader, this includes a non-hierarchal process which looks at your team mates and colleagues as experts and helping them with tools and techniques to be successful,” she elaborates.
Women in Business
Cohen-First’s book “The Authentic Sale” takes a look at various behavioral models ranging from spiritual traditions to popular psychological models such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The book helps leaders look at themselves in various models and identifying where in the seven-step sales process your behavior lends to your strengths. “I take all of that and categorize it in goddess’s archetype metaphorically. For instance, the goddess Artemis would be the hunter – the sales woman that prepares, investigates and researches and comes with the details. On the other hand, Athena would be the woman facilitating meetings and the one in charge,” she explains. The book takes all the tools that women have read about for years from prevailing sales writers who have predominantly been men and makes it authentic to women and caters to their particular strengths.
Cohen-First emphasizes on identifying the strengths of team members and making the most of them. She says that everyone doesn’t need to be an expert on everything and that everyone doesn’t need to do everything. It’s important to celebrate the uniqueness of each person and their strengths. She quotes psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote about the Flow Theory, saying “people are at their best when they’re completely engaged in their passions and their strengths and they’re stretching to achieve something specific.” Thus, Cohen-First strongly believes in engaging people with tasks they love in order to bring out the best in them. According to her, it’s the easiest way to maximize the benefit they bring.
Aligning with Company’s Strategies
According to Cohen-First, it is important to have a perspective of what the organization’s strategies are. These strategies need to be broken down to individual objectives for each employee. “I really like to have those objectives at my finger tips to use on a daily basis and then break them down to actionable points,” she reveals. She says that leaders should sit down with the team and identify the team’s mission to align it with the company’s mission and strategy. It’s all about seeing the bigger picture and focusing on the goal in the most positive way.
Cohen-First says that one of the strongest communication techniques, in her opinion, is to pause your instinct to jump in and answer a question. Her advice is to take a moment and think things through and really understand what people are trying to ask you. Another technique she shares is reaffirming a question once you’ve heard it or reaffirming a statement that a customer has communicated to you. “Often times we speak without realizing if someone is really listening to what we are saying. So reaffirming a question allows you to formally let someone know that they have been acknowledged. Another thing it allows you to do is find out if your assumption is wrong,” she explains. Her last technique is listening. The ability to listen when you communicate is something sales people can be challenged with all the time. According to her, listening is as important, if not more, as communication in any situation.
What Are You Reading?
Cohen-First loves reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill over and over again because it helps her get into a positive mindset. It’s a personal development and self-improvement book.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Rena via her website www.thesalesgoddess.com or via LinkedIn.