Improve Your Business – Some Surprising Ways

On the spur of the moment, several weeks ago, I decided to sign the Hubs and me up for a parenting course. Nearing completion of the 6-week program, I’ll admit on our collective behalf, it’s been a challenge keeping up with the weekly reading and homework, along with the multitude of other household happenings. Chicken noodle soup from a package for supper? Perfect when you are trying to read the last few pages in the assigned chapter, fill out a workbook page, and coach piano practice, simultaneously. What this has got to do with how you can improve your business? Just read on.

So while I was vacuuming the basement last weekend, I had time all to myself to think about the strategies we are learning in the course, and how they are working for our family dynamics…you might be wondering what that’s got to do with boosting our business. Quite possibly, everything. Read on…

The parenting course is all about dealing with children: bringing out their best, communicating better, and improving our relationships with them. During my session of sucking the cat hair out of the carpet, it struck me that all of the techniques we are learning in the course can be applied in business relationships and will have an equally positive effect!

It’s psychology folks: learn how to deal effectively with people so they will see things your way, agree with you, like you. This can be beneficial in all aspects of your life, and most definitely for your business! Now that’s good news! Here are the top tips I would like to share with you:

  1. Engage in a meaningful dialog: Give less attention to conflict, ask ‘real’ questions, seek out the opinions of others, and really listen when opinions are given. “How are you?” becomes “How are you doing with the XYZ Project?”  ”How was your day?” becomes “How did your meeting with Stan go?” Asking specific questions tells people you are paying attention and that you care about what is going on in their lives. “Next week we are going to start on XYZ project, everyone knows what they need to do” becomes “Alright, so how does everyone feel going into our project work starting next week? Do you feel ready?” Creativity Matters!
  2. Listen empathetically: Talk less, listen more, and lay aside judgments and defensiveness. Turn the floor over and be genuinely interested in the words of others. Instead of being a “one-upper” (one who always has an equally or more exciting story), practice saying things like “Really? Wow! I get that. I hear you!” and let others speak.
  3. Focus on what YOU will do: Stop wasting energy on trying to change the behavior or actions of others. “When I give up the desire or need to control you, I gain the freedom to control myself.” ~ Carolyn Myss.
  4. Turn judgment into curiosity: “I know you aren’t happy with the report…” becomes “What do you like or dislike about the report? How can I help?
  5. Communicate your expectations and needs clearly with “I Statements”: “You didn’t finish the financial report on time!” becomes “I’m really getting behind on the project because I still don’t have the financial report.” Try this a few times in various situations, and watch the magic happen!
  6. View perceived weaknesses, as strengths: A person may appear lazy, but this can be viewed as “easygoing, relaxed….” A person may appear bossy or demanding, which can be viewed as “responsible, in control.” How can we best channel these traits for the good of our organization?
  7. Recognize efforts: Remember to encourage, “thank you for all your hard work…I couldn’t have done it without you….I appreciate your dedication….You made my job easier….” Comments like these go such a long way in gaining the respect and commitment from others.
  8. Take a course and/or read a book: I’m not suggesting that you run out and sign up for a parenting course, especially if you don’t have children (awkward!). Check your local listings for opportunities in your area and just go for it. Alternatively, read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (the grandfather of people-skills books). Its a no-nonsense guide to being a better person, kind of a “Human Relations 101″ per se. A shame they didn’t offer that in high school.
  9. Write a good text for your blog: Bear in mind, though, that nothing is new. It’s all been done before…

Next steps? Think about how you can apply some of these strategies in dealings with your clients, donors, colleagues, friends. Then try them! Use Affiliate Marketing, if you like! Bill Gates was once asked: “How do I increase my rate of success?” His answer was “Increase your rate of failure.” You need to take risks and make mistakes in order to learn, grow, and achieve success. Be gentle with yourself along the way. Remember to be fantastic!