Tag Archives: #Communication

MAKING IT WORK with GENY

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Making Work Meaningful

Millennials want to know that what they do matters. They want to understand the context and contribution of their work, particularly if they feel the work is menial and entry level. Management can help keep these workers interested by involving them immediately in an onboarding process. From the start, a new-hire Millennial should be enlightened about the organization’s mission and how his or her job, however mundane, fits into those goals.

Older workers often complain that they never had to be told how their job fit into the big picture. They were willing to start at the bottom and work their way up, regardless. However, those in Generation Y need to feel that they belong and make a difference. A company that welcomes Millennials into the workplace will freely share and reinforce its vision with workers. It will delineate how the work of an individual and team affect the company’s mission. Finally, it will acknowledge a larger purpose by being actively engaged in the community. This can be achieved by:

  1. Offering employee match donations.
  2. Focusing on one to three nonprofits that are aligned with the company’s mission.
  3. Replacing client gifts with donations to charities.
  4. Assisting employees in their volunteer efforts.
  5. Sponsoring volunteer team days, where employees spend a workday helping in the community.A Good Fit on a Good Team

    Chemistry in the workplace is an important aspect of company culture. Many Millennials have seen their working parents deal with people they do not respect or do not want to associate with, and prefer not to do the same in their own careers. A Millennial wants his or her job to be a good “fit” from the start. Management can help make that fit work for everyone involved by clarifying the team’s and the company’s values. Fit can be determined even before the application process. For example, the company’s values, and a description of the company’s culture, should be stated on the posted job description.

    Employees’ personalities also play a part in whether they are a good fit for their teams. Personalities can be assessed using a variety of tools, such as a personality indicator (e.g., the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Strength Finders assessment). Once the personality of each team member is better understood, it will be easier to make adjustments to ensure that everyone’s contribution is maximized.

    It is a good idea for managers to review the team dynamics on a regular basis. They should check in after 30, 60, and 90 days to determine how new team members are fitting in.

    Meaningful Acknowledgement and Appreciation

    Parents, coaches, teachers, and camp counselors of Millennials gave them trophies, ribbons, and medals to reward them for just participating. Many Millennials have been conditioned to expect that same level of acknowledgment and appreciation in the workplace. Because of this expectation, they now have a reputation for being needy.

    Showing appreciation in the workplace is beneficial for employees of all ages; however, it must be authentic to be effective. Managers need to establish a culture of true appreciation that reinforces real contribution. Once such a culture has been established throughout the organization, it can significantly improve morale and performance for the entire team.

    The words “thank you” go a long way in reinforcing true appreciation in the workplace. Expressions of such appreciation can take many forms, such as an email, text message, or handwritten note; a group thank-you at a team meeting or a planned team celebration; company appreciation days for support staff or those in particular roles; and recognition of a birthday, anniversary, or other personal milestone. Regardless of the method used, the acknowledgment must be sincere to be effective.

    Give Clear Direction

    Just as Millennials need to know why their work is meaningful, they also need clear direction about how to accomplish that work. While conveying those directions, managers can use the opportunity to solicit Millennials’ input and ideas.

    Ambiguity can be avoided by providing clear and specific directions to all employees. When deadlines are given, there should be enough specific details that they cannot be misinterpreted. For example, instead of saying that a task needs to be completed by the end of the day, a manager should give a specific time. Terms like “shortly,” “end of day,” “end of the month,” or even “tomorrow” are ambiguous and can be interpreted differently by team members.

    Generation Y in particular has a different sense of time than older generations. For example, a Millennial may not anticipate that a particular task will require as much time as a manager expects. He or she may have a different view of what defines high-quality work. Both Millennials and their managers should never make assumptions; rather, managers should describe the quality of work required and the specific time involved, while Millennials should ask for further clarification when needed and communicate any delays or unexpected results.

    Feedback Is a Gift

    Millennials want and need feedback. Managers are constantly asked for check-ins so their Millennial employees can make sure they are “on the right track.” On the other hand, these same managers cannot understand why their Millennial employees appear to be so clueless. This, of course, has been a common theme among managers and young employees for many generations, including with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

    Feedback can be a gift, given to employees and coworkers, to help them capitalize on what they are doing well and improve other skills. Feedback does not cost anything, but it can prove invaluable in reducing time and frustration for all involved.

    Timing is extremely important when providing feedback. Corrective feedback should be given as soon as possible to action that required it. This makes the feedback more meaningful to the employee and allows for immediate revision; also, it prevents a manager’s frustration from growing and influencing the conversation.

    Managers and coworkers can use effective language to provide feedback in a constructive manner. The communication circle, developed by two executive coaches, separates facts, feelings, reasons, and blame. People offering feedback should be careful to avoid accusatory questions, such as “why” questions, and instead use questions that get to the matter at hand, such as “how” and “what” questions.

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Kids These Days

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In 2014, there were over 77 million Millennials between 22 and 34 years of age. The number of Boomers is roughly the same. Each of these generations outnumbers the Gen Xers by about 68 percent. The large size of Generation Y suggests it is likely to have as significant an impact on the culture, and in particular on the workforce, as the Boomers did.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, a number of myths about Generation Y have emerged. The six most prevalent are:

  1. Millennials feel a sense of entitlement.
  2. Millennials expect to be rewarded, and even promoted, just for showing up.
  3. Millennials do not work hard.
  4. Millennials do not complete their work and will not take initiative.
  5. Millennials are casual and disrespectful.
  6. Millennials are not willing to do their part and pay their dues, and they want freedom, flexibility, and work-life balance as soon as they begin their careers.

To be able to work with and manage Millennials, Boomers and Gen Xers must discover the truths behind the myths. Additionally, Millennials must do their part to understand why their older coworkers are frustrated.

Generation Y is the first “digitally native” generation. Its members have grown up with technology touching almost every part of their lives. This technology has fostered a sense of immediate gratification. Technology has also contributed to a different concept of time and place for Millennials. They can connect with anyone at any time, and access any information they want when they want it.

Millennials are also the most educated generation in the workplace today. Caraher blames grade inflation by colleges and universities for a part of the problem concerning Millennials’ work ethic. Secondary education has labeled most Millennial graduates as above average and allowed for negotiation with grades and feedback. Such practices have not helped others’ reservations regarding this generation’s ability to get work done. Parental over-involvement also hinders Millennials’ job satisfaction and tenacity.

Given that Millennials will constitute nearly half of the workforce by 2020, companies need to understand, appreciate, and effectively work with them without changing their standards of performance.

CREATE YOUR OWN UNIVERSE

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In the business world, individuals must attempt to understand their unique gifts and contributions and use that understanding to effect change in their organizations. This process requires self-reflection and having the determination to follow one’s “passion, imagination, and vision.”

Study–Finish What You Start

For many, the path to success begins with formal education. Lessons learned in that process can be applied to the business environment as well. Succeeding in college requires:

*Doing due diligence and carefully selecting the right school and program.

*Properly finishing what is started. Even if a class or program is dropped, it should be dropped in accordance with established procedures.

*Trusting one’s instincts about continued education (i.e., graduate school versus joining the workforce).

*Learning to love the concept of studying (education does not stop at the school doors).

The following practices will help make the most of the formal education experience as preparation for a successful career:

*Tailor curriculum to the business sector one seeks to join.

*Create a written plan for managing both school and non-school commitments.

*Develop and maintain a good study environment.

*Know and use one’s best learning style (i.e., auditory, visual, kinesthetic).

*Ask questions and build relationships.

*Gain experience and volunteer.

*Celebrate successes.

Networking for Novices

Networking is a business fundamental, and it is all about showing an interest in others. Networking can occur both in-person and online. The college campus offers abundant opportunities for networking. It is as easy as striking up a conversation with the person in the next seat in a lecture hall. Lastly, networking is mutual; it is not about getting something but about helping one another.

Students can build their networking skills by:

*Leveraging friends and family as resources for new contacts.

*Tapping online resources like LinkedIn to identify potential new connections.

*Spending time meeting people at face-to-face events like conferences, workshops, and social activities.

*Not being deterred by nerves; feeling nervous about meeting new people is natural.

*Creating personal business cards.

*Being real; authenticity should be at the core of everyone’s behavior.

*Remembering that networking is not an opportunity to brag; it is an opportunity to listen and share.

Get LinkedIn

A great networking first step is to create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has become a highly regarded professional networking platform that regularly adds value for professionals, not only in terms of making connections that can further their career goals, but also in terms of idea and opinion sharing.

Some ways to make the most of the LinkedIn experience include:

*Posting a professional-looking photo.

*Creating a strong headline and summary statement (look at other profiles for examples).

*Maximizing experience, including volunteer and extra-curricular activities.

*Including education and related activities.

*Asking for endorsements from others (and endorsing them in return).

*Highlighting achievements, honors, and awards, but only if they apply to career goals.

*Getting recommendations from teachers, employers, and fellow students.

*Joining LinkedIn groups, companies, and influencers.

Creating a Résumé That Gets Read

A résumé is much more than a list of skills and achievements; it is a view into an individual’s personality. Revealing personality in a simple, meaningful, and engaging way is what will make an individual’s résumé stand out from the crowd. Some tips for creating a standout résumé include:

*Avoiding clichés.

*Proofreading carefully.

*Including a well-crafted cover letter that is job-specific, showcases personal achievements, matches key job requirements to personal qualities, and illustrates potential contributions.

*Listing all contact information.

*Syncing online profiles with the résumé; and keeping them professional.

BEST COMMUNICATOR : IN NEW JOB

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T’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE

The best communicators are first and foremost keen listeners and keen observers. Speakers engage their audiences by listening to and observing audience members, then tailoring their communications to appeal and engage those members. These principles apply to the work environment as well. New employees’ first order of business will be to observe, learn, and test their communication skills, all while paying attention to the responses they receive. This is how individuals build rapport and respect.

A common mistake new graduates entering the business world make is to “over share” their knowledge. This can be off-putting to colleagues. Ultimately, the workplace is more about people than it is about information. Success comes from improving relationship-building and people skills.

The First Day of a New Job

The first day on a new job can be nerve-wracking. Common expectations are that the initial weeks and months will be a learning experience. Much like in the interview process, new employees should seek to make good impressions, listen more than they talk, be respectful, and focus on learning.

Tips for making good first impressions include:

*Dressing in alignment with others in the office.

*Being punctual, always.

*Being observant, polite, and helpful.

*Showing confidence.

*Being friendly while respecting boundaries.

*Thinking things over before asking questions, then asking good questions.

*Absorbing as much learning as possible.

*Syncing online profiles (like LinkedIn) to reflect the new position.

Establishing a Rapport with Your Colleagues

Though individuals can choose their friends, they cannot choose their colleagues. Successful people find ways to develop rapport with everyone in the office, whether they like them or not. Good communication is critical. A respectful, open-minded, and nonjudgmental approach helps ensure good relationships.

Ways to develop good rapport with colleagues include:

*Initiating get-together events like lunches and celebrations.

*Showing respect for others by being punctual, honoring deadlines, offering help, and embracing diversity.

*Keeping a light attitude.

*Seeking out commonalities with others.

*Being conscious of body language.

*Focusing on others, not on oneself.

*Recognizing others’ achievements.

*Building honest relationships.

*Staying out of office politics.

Remembering and Using People’s Names

Remembering someone’s name makes a great impression, but many people have a hard time doing so. This is a weakness that must be corrected, and it can be overcome with practice. Individuals can try these methods to improve their ability to remember names when introduced:

*Listen very carefully with a focused effort to remember.

*Ask again immediately.

*Probe for more information about the name to facilitate memory.

*Create a mental picture to go with the name.

*Get the person’s business card.

Teamwork and Poor Performance

Teamwork can be difficult when personalities clash or someone is not carrying his or her weight. However, the sign of a good leader is to be able get along with everyone, set aside differences, and help the team meet objectives.

When a team is dysfunctional, a leader can get it back on track by:

*Having an open dialog to probe for the underlying reasons for the dysfunction.

*Being a positive influence.

*Making sure to listen to others respectfully, and then acting from knowledge gained.

*Being inclusive of team members who are being left out.

*Seeking out more information if there are knowledge gaps.

*Creating socializing opportunities for the team to avoid “all work and no play.”

Getting People to Say “Yes”

The ability to influence others is an ongoing leadership challenge. Some people are naturally better at it than others. However, like other leadership skills, it can be developed. The more an individual’s opinions, predictions, and actions garner positive results, the more trusted he or she becomes as an influencer. Timing, positioning, confidence, and authenticity all play a part.

Successfully influencing others requires:

*Being respectful, particularly to authority.

*Knowing one’s audience.

*Demonstrating confidence.

*Tuning in to others and then addressing their concerns.

*Communicating well.

*Doing the research.

*Providing reinforcing examples.

*Patience.

BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE

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Achieving personal goals comes from fully applying oneself in every situation. This is what earns the trust and respect of others that will catapult an individual to a position of greater responsibility. A positive work ethic gets results and is contagious. If expectations are not being met, an individual should ask the right questions, find the answers, and make the necessary changes. If expectations are being met, an individual should push to exceed them. Individuals should never become complacent.

Getting Organized and Getting Things Done

As an individual’s success at achieving goals grows, so do his or her responsibilities. Good organization and time-management skills become increasingly important. While each person might have a different process for staying on track, every individual must develop one. Planning ahead, setting priorities, and communicating well should be part of this process.

Being organized includes:

*Creating a regular, daily routine.

*Establishing a reminder system (for meetings, deadlines, etc.).

*Making allowances for the unexpected (flexibility is key).

*Breaking projects into manageable “chunks.”

*Eliminating distractions.

Spotting an Opportunity and Standing Out

Opportunities to excel are not always obvious. Networking and taking on “out of scope” tasks (with a manager’s permission) can yield hidden gems of opportunities that otherwise might not have surfaced. When presented with an opportunity, individuals should not let fear of failure stand in their way. They should fearlessly grab hold of opportunities as they come along–it will be noticed.

Some ways to bring about more opportunities include:

*Networking across the business.

*Earning a reputation as a “go to” person.

*Being analytical and always asking “why.”

*Speaking up and sharing thoughts, ideas, and initiatives.

*Leveraging chance encounters and talking to strangers.

*Taking novel approaches.

Sucking It Up

No matter how good a job might look from the outside, sometimes it turns out to be not as good from the inside, but that is no reason to quit. A willing and learning attitude that transcends difficult relationships and unrewarding tasks can result in great returns in the future. If nothing else, “sucking it up” builds character.

Below are some ways to view a bad situation differently:

*Be introspective and recognize the opportunity to learn.

*Be decisive and take action–get things done.

*Set out to win over challenging people.

*Keep emotions in check and always present a professional and positive countenance.

Pushing Back and Saying “No”

Often, new employees who are eager to please are taken advantage of and end up taking on too much. Learning to say “no” is an important part of being a productive employee. However, saying “no” is contextual. The method will vary depending on whom the request is coming from.

*Requests from peers. Clearly but politely communicate current priorities, deadlines, and commitments. This conveys that a “no” is not personal, but is tied to organizational goals.

*Requests from senior employees. These requests can trump one’s current projects. The individual should make sure he or she has a clear understanding of the request’s requirements and impacts on current projects, and then vet the request through his or her first line manager. If the request is from an individual’s manager and competes with other responsibilities, it is time to sit down and review priorities with that manager.

*The request seems inappropriate. Early on, it can be difficult to have the expertise or authority to know what is an appropriate or inappropriate request. This knowledge comes with experience. It is fine to ask questions and respectfully offer alternatives. However, a managerial edict (in the absence of an ethical or legal transgression) should be followed.

Ways to make saying “no” more productive include:

*Recognizing that the act of saying “no” is hard.

*Earning the right to say it by having built a good reputation as a hard worker.

*Understanding exactly what the request requires.

*Looking for alternative solutions to help solve the problem.

*Enlisting others to help in meeting the request.

*Communicating the reasons for saying “no” clearly and respectfully.

*Not becoming confrontational.

*Turning down the request in person.

Working Out When to Leave

The time to leave a job is when the opportunities to learn, develop, and make unique contributions end. It is very important not to leave prematurely or for reasons one has control over, such as difficult relationships or mastery of the position.

Individuals sometimes stay in jobs when they should move on because they feel comfortable in their roles, they are earning a lot of money, or they simply like their coworkers. While these are attractive features, in the absence of ongoing challenge, growth, and development, they can actually hold individuals back from progressing in their careers.

Before deciding to leave a job, employees should make sure to:

*Clearly identify what the undesirable aspects of the job are to determine if there is opportunity for change.

*Evaluate whether or not there are continued opportunities to learn and grow.

*Determine if there is only one overwhelming negative issue and, if so, take steps to resolve it before leaving.

*Seek counsel from a trusted friend or family member to get perspective.

*View the situation within the larger picture of life.

*Consider how the circumstances would be interpreted in a résumé or interview.

If at all possible, employees should resolve the situation and leave on a “high note.”

HOW CAN YOU DETECT LIES

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Body language is very helpful when it comes to detecting lies, but it is not the only method people can use. There are 30 non-visual cues that can be used to aid in the detection of lies:

  1. Unusual eye contact
  2. Pupil dilation
  3. Change in blink rate
  4. Eye blocks (touching around the eyes)
  5. Blushing or blanching
  6. Fake smile
  7. Retracted lips
  8. Duper’s Delight (a fleeting smile after an untruthful statement)
  9. Under- or overproduction of saliva
  10. Nose touching
  11. Mouth touching
  12. Vocal cues
  13. Clammy palms
  14. Foot movements
  15. Unusual stillness
  16. Pacifying gestures
  17. Decreased illustrators (using fewer hand gestures)
  18. Hidden hands
  19. Nervous laughter
  20. Cathartic exhale
  21. Fidgeting
  22. Gestures after words
  23. Partial shrug
  24. Torso shield
  25. Distancing behaviors
  26. Forward lean
  27. Foot locks
  28. Longer or shorter response times
  29. Frequent and shallow breathing
  30. Throat clearing

Engaged employees

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Highly engaged employees know that their contributions and levels of engagement are significantly influenced by how they approach their work. A person contributes within an organization in five ways:

1. The Private: Like a military soldier of the lowest rank must learn, the basic requirements for making a contribution are first to show up and then to follow through. Sadly, those employees who do indeed show up and follow through could outperform over half the working population.

2. The Learner: When acquiring knowledge and skills needed to perform the basic and building tasks, learners must be willing to observe, ask for and receive feedback, and practice until they can accomplish those tasks on their own. They have to be coachable.

3. The Expert: As they accomplish tasks with expertise, employees build confidence and increase their level of engagement. They deliver high-quality results with a sense of pride and ownership.

4. The Coach: Expert employees naturally have the opportunity to become coaches by training, mentoring, guiding, and developing others. Highly engaged employees make deliberate plans to do so and set these goals as personal priorities. Thus, they multiply the scale of their influence and magnify the impact they make to the organization. They unselfishly seek to help the motivation and development of others.

5. The Visionary: Highly engaged employees choose to become visionaries, seeking opportunities and solutions to build the future. They understand that success is never final and that continuous improvement is a way of life. They want to make a difference and contribute to the progress and direction of an organization. They anticipate trends, network with others inside and outside the organization, and bring people together to solve problems.

As employees progress through the different levels, they spend more time behaving in ways that increases their contribution and value to the organization, as well as their level of engagement.

LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE

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People are often defined by how they communicate. There are three main communication styles:

1. Aggressive. This type of communication discourages collaboration and conversations, and focuses on placing blame if mistakes are made and taking credit for other’s successes.

2. Passive. This type of communication is reluctant to offer feedback, hates confrontation, and is unable to convey the full picture of a project or situation.

3. Assertive. This communication is objective and conversational. Such communicators think before responding to issues and see the big picture.

When problem-solving in the office, people need to use facts to back up their positions, avoid raising their voices, acknowledge other people’s stances, and learn to compromise. Additionally, understanding when to chime in and when to wait will take time to fully embrace, but can be very helpful once learned.

Written communication is important now that most offices use email, PDAs, and smartphones for daily communications. People in the corporate world are pressed for time and have a short attention span. Clear and concise emails, text messages, and memos are imperative for the busy professional. Levit stresses that proofreading is important, and that even the most basic email should be error free.

Listening is more than simply hearing words. It is important to understand the type and how much information is actually being heard. The best listeners do not interrupt, stay focused, and can read between the lines. However, it is important to understand the filters people face when attempting to take in information through listening. The four basic filters are:

1. Predilection filter. Hearing what is wanted instead of what is being said.

2. Who filter. Focusing on the person speaking rather than message.

3. Facts filter. Obliviousness to emotional or non-verbal cues.

4. Distracting thoughts filter. Allowing personal thoughts or emotions to become distracting.

Further, in-person communication involves nonverbal cues like appropriate eye contact, altering tone, appearing intelligent but not pretentious, and coming across as sincere. It is important to take advantage of quick conversations, such as in the elevator or in the kitchen, and volunteer to deliver formal or informal presentations. Practice makes perfect when developing communication skills in the corporate world.

TRUST AND CREDIBILITY

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When communicating with people who are angry or worried, four factors govern the perception of trust and credibility:

  1. Caring and empathy
  2. Openness and honesty
  3. Dedication and commitment
  4. Expertise and competence

Under normal circumstances, people assume anyone they meet has these qualities, or they are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. When they are angry or worried, however, they examine everything the speaker does and assign a negative meaning to it. For example, if the speaker is sweating, under ordinary circumstances the audience would assume he is nervous. If the speaker is addressing a worried audience, they are likely to assume he is sweating because he is lying or does not want to be there.

Greenberger gives each of the four trust factors a numerical value, and together the four add up to a “CODE” score that adds up to 100. When dealing with someone who is angry or suspicious, speakers want to come as close to that perfect score as possible. Anything lower can mean an audience will not trust them and, therefore, will not accept their messages. Speakers can work toward maximizing their CODE scores in a variety of ways.

Caring and empathy is by far the biggest factor in the CODE score, worth up to 50 points. The audience decides within 30 seconds if the speaker is caring, and the best way to prove understanding and empathy is for the speaker to relate a personal story. When firing a worker, for example, bosses might show empathy by relating the story of being let go early in their careers and how they bounced back and found a job that suited them better. Not everyone has such a personal story to tell, so it helps to be prepared by gleaning pertinent anecdotes from friends and relatives.

To show openness and honesty — 15 to 20 points on the CODE score — speakers should tell the truth, admitting what happened and why. If the company is still trying to figure out why something such as a leak occurred, the speaker needs to admit that and promise to let the community know the details as soon as possible. The speaker should outline what steps the company will take to prevent future mishaps as well.

Speakers can prove their dedication and commitment to helping the audience — worth 15 to 20 points — by showing that they want to be at the meeting and are willing to answer questions. Instead of setting a time limit on questions, the speaker should let the audience decide how long questions will go on and stay after the meeting to talk to anyone who wants to ask a question in private.

Expertise and competence — also worth 15 to 20 points — is the easiest area to gain points in. The audience is likely to accept that a company executive knows the subject. However, the executive can quickly lose points by using a lot of jargon or saying “I don’t know” too often.

A FORMULA FOR RESPONDING

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When dealing with a hostile audience, business people are likely to face questions that challenge their credibility as well as those that question facts. The underlying message of a credibility question asks “Why should we trust you?” or otherwise indicates that the speaker’s CODE score is wavering. Greenberger’s formula for answering such questions is the “CAN Response.” The speaker must be caring, answer the question, and discuss the next steps, in that order:

*Caring. The speaker must establish empathy to be seen as trustworthy. A personal story is the best way to break through to people.

*Answer. This is where the speaker gets the message across. The message should be short, simple, and positive. In the case of a factory leak, for example, the message might be as simple as, “Everything is safe.” After giving that message, the speaker should provide two supporting facts. It is best if one of the facts is from an independent, third party. After the facts, the speaker should repeat the message.

*Next steps. The speaker should explain what is going to be done to rectify the situation. It helps to provide the audience with a source for more information, such as by handing out business cards or offering to answer questions to establish that the executive is dedicated to fixing the situation.

An executive can acquire and improve all the skills needed to communicate in tough situations through preparation and practice. In today’s environment, with the 24-hour news cycle and Internet access allowing any story to go global in an instant, executives must always be prepared.